The capital and largest city of Italy, in the west-central part of the country on the Tiber River. Traditionally founded by Romulus in 753 bc , it was ruled first by Etruscans, who were overthrown c. 500 bc. The Roman Republic gradually extended its territory and expanded its influence, giving way to the Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus (27 bc – ad 14). As capital of the empire, Rome was considered the center of the known world, but the city declined when Constantine transferred his capital to Byzantium (c. 330). Alaric I conquered the city in 410, leading to a lengthy period of devastation by Germanic tribes. In the Middle Ages the city revived as the spiritual and temporal power of the papacy increased. During the 1800s Rome was held at various times by the French until it became the capital of Italy in 1871. Vatican City remains an independent enclave within the confines of Rome.