Early Roman Republic
The early Roman Republic began in 509 B.C.E. when the last king, Tarquin the Proud was expelled from the city.
Tarquin was an evil king. He was cruel and vicious to the people of ancient Rome. The Roman Republic gave rights to the people to elect officials to govern the city.
This new form of government consisted of many different levels, including a set of specific laws, a constitution, and elected officials like senators and consuls.
The Roman Republic, much like the ancient democracy of Greek, is what modern-day democracy is based on many countries around the world.
Elected officials within the Roman Republic
The early Roman Republic was complicated in many different ways. The elected officials were in charge of governing the people and bringing prosperity to ancient Rome.
Each elected official had specific duties to perform. There were many different elected officials in the Roman Republic. Some were called magistrates, consuls, senators, and governors.
In a republic form of government, the city or country is owned by the public.
The city’s land was not owned by one individual, and the entity was not controlled by one person, such as the king. In the early Roman Republic, the only people allowed to hold the office of magistrate or consul were patricians.
These people were from wealthy elite families of Rome. Over time plebeians or ordinary people could hold office as well.
Men that were Roman citizens voted in the Roman Republic, but women and slaves could not. This changed as the Roman Republic became an empire during the 1st-century B.C.E.
In the early Roman Republic, the two consuls elected by the people had the most power. They decided what new laws to implement and when to go to war.
The consuls worked closely with the Roman Senate that was composed of 300 men. These men were generally from wealthy families, and some held their seat in the Roman Senate for life.
What were the various offices in the early Roman Republic?
There were many officials within the early Roman Republic. Each official was in control of specific duties or something such as buildings, roads, or war. Here is a shortlist of officials in the early Roman Republic.
Consuls were the most powerful elected officials.
Originally there were two consuls voted into office by the people. The number of consuls increased increase over time. By choosing two or more consuls, the Roman Republic was assured not to be run like a monarchy.
Consuls were elected to a one-year term in office. Each consul had veto power over the other. Consuls decided when ancient Rome went to war; they made new laws and determined how much and how to collect taxes.
Senators were generally from wealthy families or royal households. These individuals advised the consuls. The consuls usually agreed with the Senate. Some Senators were elected for life.
Plebeian Council, also known as the People’s Assembly, was instrumental in proposing actions that benefitted the ordinary person in ancient Rome. Plebeians elected officials through the Plebeian Council; they passed laws and were able to hold court.
Tribunes were members of the Plebeian Council. These individuals could veto laws proposed by the Senate.
Governors or proconsuls were placed in charge of newly conquered lands. They were appointed by the Senate. They controlled the local Roman army, and they collected taxes.
An Aedile was an official that was in charge of public festivals and the maintenance of public buildings such as bathhouses. Many Aediles went on to become consuls, senators, or magistrates.
The Censor primarily took care of counting the citizens in each area. At times these individuals were also in charge of public morality and sometimes public finances.
The Roman Republic’s Constitution
The Roman Republic’s constitution was not a precisely written document.
The document offered a set of guidelines and ruling principals. Their law did offer protection with separate branches of government.
These different branches of government were used to balance power between the consuls, Senate, and plebeian council.
Twelve Tables of the Roman Republic
The Roman Republic also wrote numerous laws that lasted the test of time.
The first written laws in the early Roman Republic were known as the Twelve Tablets. These laws were created in 451 B.C.E. and written on bronze tablets for all citizens to understand.
The Twelve Tables were written to help the more unfortunate people or plebeians and to shrink the influence of the patricians or wealthy families of Rome.
Before writing the Twelve Tables, the ancient Romans studied the laws of Solon from ancient Greece.
The Twelve Tables consisted of laws that covered private law and the connection between individual citizens. Most of the law code was geared toward an agricultural area.
For instance, arson was punishable by death of fire, and if you were caught using magic on your crops, you died by crucifixion. Other laws were punishable by loss of property, citizenship, or the person was simply exiled from ancient Rome.
The Twelve Tables also allowed for settlements between two parties, and the tablets included laws on funerals, guardianship of children, marriage, and inheritance.
Facts about the early Roman Republic
- The early Roman Republic was formed in 509 B.C.E. after the ousting of the last king named Tarquin the Proud.
- Two consuls were voted into office by the people.This ensured that one person would not rule alone like a king.
- The Roman Senate advised the consuls.
- Consuls could veto another consul’s law or idea.
- At first, Senators and Consuls were elected from patrician or wealthy families.
- The Plebeian’s Council or People’s Assembly was composed of common people and pushed laws that benefitted the common people.
- Tribunes were members of the Plebeian’s Council.
- The Roman Republic’s constitution offered a balance of powers and a set of guidelines on how to make laws, operate Rome, and provided for separate branches of government.
Questions and Answers
- Who was the last king of Rome before the Roman Republic?
Tarquin the Proud
- How many consuls were elected initially in the early Roman Republic?
- What was the name of the common people’s assembly?
- How many years was a Senator elected to serve in office?
- What was the Aedile in charge of while in office?
Public festivals and maintaining public buildings