Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Kingdom
The Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Kingdom were political institutions in the ancient Roman Kingdom. While one assembly, the Curiate Assembly, had some legislative powers, these powers involved nothing more than a right to symbolically ratify decrees issued by the king; the functions of the other assembly, the Calate Assembly, was purely religious. During the years of the kingdom, the People of Rome were organized on the basis of units called Curia. All of the People of Rome were divided amongst a total of thirty Curia, membership in an individual Curia was hereditary; each member of a particular family belonged to the same Curia. Each Curia had an organization similar to that of the early Roman family, including specific religious rites and common festivals; these Curia were the basic units of division in the two popular assemblies. The members in each Curia would vote, the majority in each Curia would determine how that Curia voted before the assembly. Thus, a majority of the Curia were needed during any vote before either the Curiate Assembly or the Calate Assembly.
The Curiate Assembly was the only popular assembly with any political significance during the period of the Roman Kingdom, was organized on the basis of the thirty curiae. The king presided over the assembly, submitted decrees to it for ratification. An interrex presided over the assembly during interim periods between kings. After a king died, the interrex selected a candidate to replace the king. After the nominee received the approval of the Roman Senate, the interrex held the formal election before the Curiate Assembly. After the Curiate Assembly elected the new king, the Senate ratified that election, the interrex presided over the assembly as it voted on the law that granted the king his legal powers. On the kalends, the nones, this assembly met to hear announcements. Announcements dealt with matters such as the exact date of a future event or any upcoming intercalary months. Appeals heard by this assembly dealt with questions concerning Roman family law. During two fixed days in the spring, the assembly was scheduled to meet to witness wills and adoptions.
All other meetings were held on an as-needed basis. The assembly had jurisdiction over the admission of new families to a curia, the transfer of families between two curiae, the transfer of individuals from plebeian to patrician status, or the restoration of citizenship to an individual; the assembly decided these matters under the presidency of the Pontifex Maximus. Since this assembly was the principal legislative assembly, it was responsible for ratifying laws. However, the rejection of such laws by the assembly did not prevent their enactment. Sometimes, the Curiate Assembly reaffirmed a king's legal authority, sometimes it ratified a decision to go to war; the Calate Assembly was the oldest of the Roman assemblies. Little is known about this assembly; the Calate Assembly met on the Capitoline Hill, was organized on the basis of the thirty Curia. The purpose of this assembly was not rather religious; the Pontifex Maximus presided over the assembly, it performed duties such as inaugurating priests and selecting Vestal virgins.
Polybius. The General History of Polybius: Translated from the Greek. By James Hampton. Oxford: Printed by W. Baxter. Fifth Edition, Vol 2. Taylor, Lily Ross. Roman Voting Assemblies: From the Hannibalic War to the Dictatorship of Caesar; the University of Michigan Press. Cicero's De Re Publica, Book Two Rome at the End of the Punic Wars: An Analysis of the Roman Government.
The Concilium Plebis was the principal assembly of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative assembly, through which the plebeians could pass laws, elect magistrates, try judicial cases; the Plebeian Council was organized on the basis of the Curia. Thus, it was a "Plebeian Curiate Assembly"; the Plebeian Council met in the well of the comitium and could only be convoked by the Tribune of the Plebs. The assembly elected the Tribunes of the Plebs and the plebeian aediles, only the plebeians were allowed to vote; when the Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC, the Roman people were divided into a total of thirty curiae. The curiae were organized on the basis of the family, thus the ethnic structure of early Rome; each curia had its own festivals and religious rites. The thirty curiae gathered into a legislative assembly known as the Comitia Curiata or Curiate Assembly; this assembly was created shortly after the legendary founding of the city in 753 BC, it formally elected new Roman kings.
During this time, plebeians had no political rights. Each plebeian family was dependent on a particular patrician family. Thus, each plebeian family belonged to the same curia. While the plebeians each belonged to a particular curia, only patricians could vote in the Curiate Assembly. Before the first plebeian secession in 494 BC, the plebeians met in their own assembly on the basis of the curiae. However, this assembly had no political role until the offices of plebeian tribune and plebeian aedile were created that year, in order to end the secession; as a result of the plebeian movement, the patrician aristocracy formally recognized the political power of the plebeian tribune, thus legitimized the power of the assembly over which the plebeian tribune presided. This "Plebeian Curiate Assembly" was the original Plebeian Council. After 494 BC, a plebeian tribune always presided over the Plebeian Curiate Assembly; this assembly elected the plebeian tribunes and the plebeian aediles, passed legislation that applied only to the plebeians.
During the years of the Roman Kingdom, King Servius Tullius enacted a series of constitutional reforms. One of these reforms resulted in the creation of a new organizational unit, the tribe, to assist in the reorganization of the army, its divisions were rather geographical. Tullius divided the city into four geographical districts, each encompassing a single tribe. Between the reign of Tullius and the late 3rd century BC, the number of tribes expanded from 4 to 35. By 471 BC, the plebeians decided that organization by tribe granted them a level of political independence from their patrician patrons that the curiae did not. Therefore, around 471 BC, a law was passed to allow the plebeians to begin organizing by tribe. Thus, the "Plebeian Curiate Assembly" began to use tribes, rather than curiae, as its basis for organization; as such, the Plebeian Council changed from a "Plebeian Curiate Assembly" to a "Plebeian Tribal Assembly". The only difference between the Plebeian Council after 471 BC and the ordinary Tribal Assembly was that the tribes of the Plebeian Council included only plebeians, whereas the tribes of the Tribal Assembly included both plebeians and patricians.
However, most Romans were plebeians. Therefore, the principal differences between the Plebeian Council and the Tribal Assembly were legal rather than demographic; these legal differences derived from the fact that Roman law did not recognize an assembly consisting only of one group of people from an assembly consisting of all of the People of Rome. Over time, these legal differences were mitigated with legislation; the Plebeian Council elected two plebeian officers, the tribunes and the aediles, thus Roman law classified these two officers as the elected representatives of the plebeians. As such, they acted as the presiding officers of this assembly; the creation of the office of plebeian tribune and plebeian aedile marked the end of the first phase of the struggle between the plebeians and the patricians. The next major development in this conflict occurred through the Plebeian Council. During a modification of the original Valerian law in 449 BC, plebiscites acquired the full force of law, thus applied to all Romans.
Before this time, plebiscites had applied only to plebeians. By the early 4th century BC, the plebeians, who still lacked any real political power, had become exhausted and bitter. In 339 BC they facilitated the passage of a law, which brought the Conflict of the Orders closer to a conclusion. Before this time, a bill passed by any assembly could become law only after the patrician senators gave their approval, which came in the form of a decree called the auctoritas patrum; the lex Publilia required the auctoritas patrum to be passed before a law could be voted on by one of the assemblies, rather than afterward. This modification seems to have made the auctoritas patrum irrelevant. Thus, the Plebeian Council became independent of the patrician aristocracy in everything but name. By 287 BC, the economic condition of the average plebeian had deteriorated further; the problem appears to have centered on widespread indebtedness. The plebeians demanded relief, but the senators, most of whom belonged to the creditor class, refused to abide by the plebeians' demands.
The plebeians withdrew en masse to the Janiculum hill. To end this movement, a plebeian dictator (Quintus Hortensiu
Lucius Valerius Flaccus (princeps senatus 86 BC)
Lucius Valerius Flaccus was a consul of the Roman Republic in 100 BC and princeps senatus during the civil wars of the 80s. He is noted for his peace initiatives, which failed, for sponsoring the Lex Valeria that created the dictatorship of Sulla; the earliest official capacity recorded for Lucius Flaccus is monetalis, a common preliminary to the political career track for young men of senatorial rank. In 108 or 107 BC, Flaccus issued coinage depicting Mars. Flaccus was elected praetor sometime before 103 BC. In 100, he was the colleague of Gaius Marius for his sixth consulship, he was so little at variance with Marius that his contemporary Rutilius Rufus, in his non-extant history, disparaged him as "more a servant than a colleague."In 97, Flaccus was censor with the Marcus Antonius, consul in 99 BC. The duties of the censors included revising the census, which not only registered citizens, but determined social rank. Although no figures have survived from this census, Italians were registered as citizens in great numbers to strengthen the political power of those to support the Marian faction.
Flaccus and Antonius expelled Marcus Duronius from the senate because as tribune he had abrogated a sumptuary law passed by Publius Licinius Crassus Dives. They reappointed Marcus Aemilius Scaurus as princeps senatus. Flaccus himself was recognized as princeps as early as 92–91 BC, but in the census of 86. Theodor Mommsen erroneously thought that Sulla had abolished the position and that Flaccus was the last princeps. Flaccus served as interrex in 82, presiding over the centuriate assembly for the election of Sulla as dictator. At this time, Flaccus was made magister equitum, remained so until 79 BC. Lucius Flaccus was flamen Martialis when he died, sometime after the cooptation of Julius Caesar to the pontifical college in 73 and before that of the Publius Sulpicius Galba, praetor around 66; the year Flaccus acquired. The iconography of coinage he issued as monetalis in 108 or 107 BC includes a flamen's distinctive cap, his father had served as the high priest of Mars, the image may refer to this heritage.
Cicero lists Lucius Flaccus among those who preferred dealing with Cinna to destroying their country through civil strife. Neither Cinna nor Sulla could lay claim to complete constitutional legitimacy, but during the period 86–83 BC, no former consuls supported Sulla; as princeps senatus and the oldest living consularis, Flaccus took the lead in attempting negotiations with Sulla, anticipating his return to Italy with troops after his peace settlement with Mithridates VI of Pontus in the fall of 85 BC. By this time, Lucius's cousin, the suffect consul who had filled Marius's term in 86, had taken up his proconsular province of Asia; the murder is assumed to have influenced the feelings of the Valerii Flacci regarding the Cinnan-Marian faction. In an address to the senate, Flaccus urged concordia and took the initiative by sending envoys to Sulla in Greece. In the meantime and Carbo arranged to prolong their consulship for a second term in 84 by spinning Sulla's imminent return as a state of emergency, against which they began to assemble troops.
Flaccus and the "peace party" at Rome appear not to have mounted any opposition to this action. The Cinnans' fears were confirmed when Sulla made it clear to the senatorial envoys that he would not dismiss his army when he reached Italy. After the mutinous murder of Cinna, Carbo rejected peace negotiations. So did Sulla. Flaccus was chosen in 82 BC by the senate — at the instigation of Sulla — as interrex, the official required for holding elections if for some reason the previous year's consuls were unable to do so. In this case, both consuls were dead: Carbo had by now been defeated in battle and executed by the young Pompeius Magnus. Sulla sent a letter to Flaccus and the senate in which he urged, given the chaotic state in which Rome found itself, that the appointment of a dictator would do more to restore order than the messy business of elections. Although the office of dictator had constitutional precedent, with frequent dictatores holding short-term military commands in the Early Republic, there had been no Roman dictator for 120 years, since the Hannibalic War.
Sulla furthermore pressed to remove the term limit of six months from the office. As interrex, Flaccus took Sulla's hint; the legislation was therefore known as the Lex Valeria by the gentilic name of its sponsor. At this time, Flaccus was made magister equitum. Flaccus is thought to have influenced his cousin Gaius Valerius Flaccus to support, or at least to accept the necessity of, Sulla's regime. Gaius was the brother of the Lucius Flaccus, murdered in Asia in 85, he thus would have commanded the largest number of troops in the western empire at the time. The concession of the Valerii Flacci was a significant factor in the establishment of the Sullan regime. Lovano, Michael; the Age of Cinna: Crucible of Late Republican Rome. Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002. Limited preview online. Ryan, Francis X. Rank and Participation in the Roman Senate. Franz Steiner Verlag
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables, to the Corpus Juris Civilis ordered by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Roman law forms the basic framework for civil law, the most used legal system today, the terms are sometimes used synonymously; the historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law. After the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, the Roman law remained in effect in the Eastern Roman Empire. From the 7th century onward, the legal language in the East was Greek. Roman law denoted the legal system applied in most of Western Europe until the end of the 18th century. In Germany, Roman law practice remained in place longer under the Holy Roman Empire. Roman law thus served as a basis for legal practice throughout Western continental Europe, as well as in most former colonies of these European nations, including Latin America, in Ethiopia.
English and Anglo-American common law were influenced by Roman law, notably in their Latinate legal glossary. Eastern Europe was influenced by the jurisprudence of the Corpus Juris Civilis in countries such as medieval Romania which created a new system, a mixture of Roman and local law. Eastern European law was influenced by the "Farmer's Law" of the medieval Byzantine legal system. Before the Twelve Tables, private law comprised the Roman civil law that applied only to Roman citizens, was bonded to religion; the jurist Sextus Pomponius said, "At the beginning of our city, the people began their first activities without any fixed law, without any fixed rights: all things were ruled despotically, by kings". It is believed that Roman Law is rooted in the Etruscan religion; the first legal text is the Law of the Twelve Tables, dating from the mid-5th century BC. The plebeian tribune, C. Terentilius Arsa, proposed that the law should be written, in order to prevent magistrates from applying the law arbitrarily.
After eight years of political struggle, the plebeian social class convinced the patricians to send a delegation to Athens, to copy the Laws of Solon. In 451 BC, according to the traditional story, ten Roman citizens were chosen to record the laws. While they were performing this task, they were given supreme political power, whereas the power of the magistrates was restricted. In 450 BC, the decemviri produced the laws on ten tablets, but these laws were regarded as unsatisfactory by the plebeians. A second decemvirate is said to have added two further tablets in 449 BC; the new Law of the Twelve Tables was approved by the people's assembly. Modern scholars tend to challenge the accuracy of Roman historians, they do not believe that a second decemvirate took place. The decemvirate of 451 is believed to have included the most controversial points of customary law, to have assumed the leading functions in Rome. Furthermore, the question on the Greek influence found in the early Roman Law is still much discussed.
Many scholars consider it unlikely that the patricians sent an official delegation to Greece, as the Roman historians believed. Instead, those scholars suggest, the Romans acquired Greek legislations from the Greek cities of Magna Graecia, the main portal between the Roman and Greek worlds; the original text of the Twelve Tables has not been preserved. The tablets were destroyed when Rome was conquered and burned by the Gauls in 387 BC; the fragments which did survive show. It did not provide a complete and coherent system of all applicable rules or give legal solutions for all possible cases. Rather, the tables contained specific provisions designed to change the then-existing customary law. Although the provisions pertain to all areas of law, the largest part is dedicated to private law and civil procedure. Many laws include Lex Canuleia, Leges Licinae Sextiae, Lex Ogulnia, Lex Hortensia. Another important statute from the Republican era is the Lex Aquilia of 286 BC, which may be regarded as the root of modern tort law.
However, Rome's most important contribution to European legal culture was not the enactment of well-drafted statutes, but the emergence of a class of professional jurists and of a legal science. This was achieved in a gradual process of applying the scientific methods of Greek philosophy to the subject of law, a subject which the Greeks themselves never treated as a science. Traditionally, the origins of Roman legal science are connected to Gnaeus Flavius. Flavius is said to have published around the year 300 BC the formularies containing the words which had to be spoken in court to begin a legal action. Before the time of Flavius, these formularies are said to have been secret and known only to the priests, their publication made it possible for non-priests to explore the mea