Roman Chess Pieces by Berkeley - Cardinal Red
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Roman Chess Pieces by Berkeley - Cardinal Red

The founding of Rome goes back to the very early days of civilization. It is so old, it is today known as ‘the eternal city’. The Romans believed that their city was founded in... Read More

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About the Roman Chess Pieces by Berkeley - Cardinal Red

The founding of Rome goes back to the very early days of civilization. It is so old, it is today known as ‘the eternal city’. The Romans believed that their city was founded in the year 753 BC although modern historians though believe it was the year 625 BC.

Early Rome was governed by kings, but after only seven of them had ruled, the Romans took power over their own city and ruled themselves. They then instead had a council known as the ‘senate’ which ruled over them. From this point on the ‘Roman Republic’ was born. The word ‘Republic’ itself comes from the Latin words ‘res publica‘ which mean ‘public matters’ or ‘matters of state’. The senate under the kings had only been there to advise the king. Now the senate appointed a consul, who ruled Rome like a king, but only for one year. – This was a wise idea, as like that, the consul ruled carefully and not as a tyrant, for he knew that otherwise he could be punished by the next consul, once his year was up. The Roman Republic was a very successful government. It lasted from 510 BC until 23 BC – almost 500 years.

The greatest challenge the Roman Republic faced was that of the Carthaginians. Carthage was a very powerful city in North Africa which, much like Rome, controlled its own empire. The fight between the two sides was a long one and took place on land and on sea. The most famous incident came when the great Carthaginian general Hannibal crossed the mountain chain of the Alps to the north of Italy with all his troops, including his war-elephants, and invaded Italy. Rome in the end won and Carthage was completely destroyed in the year 146 BC.

Rome’s most famous citizen was no doubt Julius Caesar. He was a Roman politician and general who, without having any orders to do so, conquered the vast territory of the Gauls to the north of his province in France.
In the year 49 BC Caesar crossed the small river between his province and Italy, called the river Rubicon, and conquered Rome itself which he then ruled as a dictator. His military campaigns also took him to Egypt where he met the famous Cleopatra. His life though was ended as he was infamously murdered in the senate in Rome.
So famous and respected was Caesar that a month of the year is still named after him and his heirs today, July. Also the great English poet Shakespeare wrote a famous play called Julius Caesar about his famous murder.

The Roman empire in the end was overrun by millions of barbarians from the north and east of Europe. It is believed to have happened two or three times in history that huge migrations took place across Europe, where peoples moved to settle in new territories. The great migration proved too much for the Romans to stem. Their armies were designed to defeat other armies, not entire folks and peoples flooding toward them. The collapse was completed when Rome itself was conquered by the Visigoth Odoacer and his men in the year AD 476.

But what is generally referred to as ‘the Fall of Rome’ doesn’t include the eastern empire. This, with its centre in Constantinople, managed to cling on for almost another thousand years until it was eventually conquered by the Turks under their leader Mohammed II in the year AD 1453.

The skillful craftsmen of Berkeley Chess have recreated the imperious atmosphere of Rome with this classical chess set. The details of each piece are as follows:

King: Julius Caesar

Queen: A Lady of noble birth in typical dress

Bishop: A Standard Bearer carrying the insignia of the Legion

Knight: Equestrian soldier of the period

Rook: A Roman garrison tower

Pawn: Armed Legionnaire of the period

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BC3007

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