Roman Republic

Rome’s Transition From Republic To Empire

The Roman Republic was established in 509 B.C.E. after the last Etruscan king of Rome was deposed. The next administration in Rome was a republican representative democracy. Initially, the patricians, Rome’s wealthiest families, dominated power, and only they could occupy political or religious offices. Everyone else was labeled plebeian, and no one from this category was allowed to hold office. However, for over 200 years, the plebeians pushed for and acquired influence inside the government.

The Roman Republic revolved around the Senate. The Senate provided guidance on city and population regulations. The patrician elite served as advisors to the republic’s other governing bodies. Although the Senate did not pass laws, the prestige of its members gave it tremendous authority over Rome’s legislative bodies.

The Senate served as the republic’s sole governing body for for a short period, from the republic’s founding in 509 B.C.E. to 494 B.C.E., when a plebian-led walkout culminated in the establishment of the Concilium Plebis, or Council of the Plebs. This gave the people a say in government. As a result, the Roman Republic established new legislative, or law-making, bodies. These legislative bodies, known as assemblies, shared authority in the following ways:

  • Comitia Centuriata – This group made war decisions, established laws, elected magistrates (consuls, praetors, and censors), heard capital conviction appeals, and handled foreign affairs.
  • Concilium Plebis — This body chose its own officers and issued decrees for the plebeian class to follow; in 287 B.C.E., it gained the authority to make all rulings obligatory on the entire Roman community.
  • Comitia Tributa — The tribal assemblies, which were open to all residents (but could only be free, adult males), elected minor officials, ratified legislative decisions on local issues, and had judicial powers but could only levy fines rather than execute punishment.

Two consuls were elected by legislative assemblies to lead the republic. They ruled over the Roman Senate and commanded the Roman soldiers for a year. The consuls were virtually the heads of state, notwithstanding the fact that their power was partly constrained by the formation of additional magistrate offices.

For centuries, the republic stayed firm. However, as Rome’s authority and territory grew, internal conflicts arose as people and families vied for dominance. For example, in the first century B.C.E., the famed Roman orator Marcus Cicero revealed a plot to destroy the Roman government by a Roman senator named Lucius Catiline. Some citizens, like as the Gracchus brothers, strove to implement government and social reforms in order to assist the destitute. Eventually, factions arose (loyal to either the patrician or plebeian classes, or to a certain military leader), conflicts erupted, and the republic was afflicted by a series of civil wars.

During these civil wars, a great general and statesman named Julius Caesar rose to prominence. After conquering the province of Gaul, he commanded the loyalty of his troops and had access to great wealth.
Fearing Caesar’s power, the Senate asked that he relinquish command of his army and return to Rome as a citizen. Instead, Caesar marched his army south, directly into Rome. As a result, another civil war broke out between Caesar and his main political opponent, Pompey. Caesar triumphed and was appointed dictator for life. Previously, the title dictator was applied to a temporary leader installed during a military emergency. Other republican leaders believed Caesar would become a tyrant with this new title. A group of senators plotted and killed him to avoid this.

Augustus, Caesar’s nephew and heir, vanquished the conspirators in response to Caesar’s death. He went on to become the first Roman Emperor. The Roman Empire changed power drastically away from representative democracy and toward consolidated imperial authority, with the emperor wielding the most power. Emperors, for example, gained the right to introduce and veto legislation, as well as command the army, during Augustus’ reign. Furthermore, the emperor exercised considerable power over individuals in lower-level executive posts. Without the emperor’s permission, no citizen could occupy office. The popular assemblies that functioned throughout the republican period became less prominent and lost authority as a result of this redistribution of power.

The Senate persisted while the Assembly became almost entirely ceremonial. The Senate existed primarily as a legitimizer of an emperor’s reign during the early phase of the empire. The emperor’s powers were still delegated by the Senate. The Senate influenced public opinion since it was made up of Rome’s elite and educated citizens. The Senate may use this power to declare an emperor an enemy of the state, or after an emperor’s expulsion or death, the Senate could officially erase the memory of his reign from official history.

This expansion, while bringing Rome immense money, power, and glory, ultimately contributed to its demise. Even with the Roman road system facilitating military and trade mobility, the cost of maintaining the enormous empire weighed hard on Rome’s economy and political administration. Increased raids and attacks by alien tribes and villages added to the load. Internal reforms were undertaken by Emperors to address these issues.

For example, the emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into two half, one western and one eastern. Diocletian felt that if the empire’s lands were controlled by two administrations, they would be easier to control and support. Future emperors attempted similar changes, but internal warfare between the empire’s eastern and western portions, external pressure from foreign tribes, and the continual loss of Rome’s resources and infrastructure eventually led to the empire’s demise.

Romulus Augustulus, the last of the Western Roman emperors, was dethroned in 476 CE. Nonetheless, the eastern part of the Roman Empire, known historically as the Byzantine Empire, would 카지노사이트 continue another thousand years before succumbing to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

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