The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period. The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history; when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus or Caesar. Another title used was imperator a military honorific. Early Emperors used the title princeps. Emperors amassed republican titles, notably princeps senatus and pontifex maximus; the legitimacy of an emperor's rule depended on his control of the army and recognition by the Senate. The first emperors reigned alone; the Romans considered the office of emperor to be distinct from that of a king. The first emperor, resolutely refused recognition as a monarch. Although Augustus could claim that his power was authentically republican, his successor, could not convincingly make the same claim. Nonetheless, for the first three hundred years of Roman emperors, from Augustus until Diocletian, efforts were made to portray the emperors as leaders of a republic.
From Diocletian, whose tetrarchic reforms divided the position into one emperor in the West and one in the East, until the end of the Empire, emperors ruled in an monarchic style and did not preserve the nominal principle of a republic, but the contrast with "kings" was maintained: although the imperial succession was hereditary, it was only hereditary if there was a suitable candidate acceptable to the army and the bureaucracy, so the principle of automatic inheritance was not adopted. Elements of the republican institutional framework were preserved after the end of the Western Empire; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late 5th century after multiple invasions of imperial territory by Germanic barbarian tribes. Romulus Augustulus is considered to be the last emperor of the West after his forced abdication in 476, although Julius Nepos maintained a claim recognized by the Eastern Empire to the title until his death in 480. Following Nepos' death, the Eastern Emperor Zeno abolished the division of the position and proclaimed himself as the sole Emperor of a reunited Roman Empire.
The Eastern imperial lineage continued to rule from Constantinople. Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Roman emperor in Constantinople, dying in the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453; the "Byzantine" emperors from Heraclius in 629 and onwards adopted the title of basileus, which had meant king in Greek but became a title reserved for the Roman emperor and the ruler of the Sasanian Empire. Other kings were referred to as rēgas. In addition to their pontifical office, some emperors were given divine status after death. With the eventual hegemony of Christianity, the emperor came to be seen as God's chosen ruler, as well as a special protector and leader of the Christian Church on Earth, although in practice an emperor's authority on Church matters was subject to challenge. Due to the cultural rupture of the Turkish conquest, most western historians treat Constantine XI as the last meaningful claimant to the title Roman Emperor. From 1453, one of the titles used by the Ottoman Sultans was "Caesar of Rome", part of their titles until the Ottoman Empire ended in 1922.
A Byzantine group of claimant Roman emperors existed in the Empire of Trebizond until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1461, though they had used a modified title since 1282. Eastern emperors in Constantinople had been recognized and accepted as Roman emperors both in the East, which they ruled, by the Papacy and Germanic kingdoms of the West until the deposition of Constantine VI and accession of Irene of Athens as Empress regnant in 797. Objecting to a woman ruling the Roman Empire in her own right and issues with the eastern clergy, the Papacy would create a rival lineage of Roman emperors in western Europe, the Holy Roman Emperors, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire for most of the period between 800 and 1806; these Emperors were never recognized as Roman emperors by the court in Constantinople. Modern historians conventionally regard Augustus as the first Emperor whereas Julius Caesar is considered the last dictator of the Roman Republic, a view having its origins in the Roman writers Plutarch and Cassius Dio.
However, the majority of Roman writers, including Josephus, Pliny the Younger and Appian, as well as most of the ordinary people of the Empire, thought of Julius Caesar as the first Emperor. At the end of the Roman Republic no new, no single, title indicated the individual who held supreme power. Insofar as emperor could be seen as the English translation of imperator Julius Caesar had been an emperor, like several Roman generals before him. Instead, by the end of the civil wars in which Julius Caesar had led his armies, it became clear that there was no consensus to return to the old-style monarchy, but that the period when several officials, bestowed with equal power by the senate, would fight one another had come to an end. Julius Caesar, Augustus after him, accumulated offices and titles of the highest importance in the Republic, making the power attached to those offices permanent, preventing anyone with similar aspirations from accumulating or maintaining power for themselves. However, Julius Caesar, unlike those after
Constitution of the Late Roman Empire
The constitution of the late Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down through precedent, which defined the manner in which the late Roman Empire was governed. As a matter of historical convention, the late Roman Empire emerged from the Roman Principate, with the accession of Diocletian in AD 284, his reign marking the beginning of the Dominate; the constitution of the Dominate recognized monarchy as the true source of power, thus ended the fiction of dyarchy, in which emperor and Senate governed the empire together. Diocletian's reforms to the imperial government ended the ruse that the old republican magistracies were anything more than municipal officials with powers beyond Rome itself. By the late Empire, the consuls had no real duties beyond that of presiding at Senate meetings and the duties of the lesser magistrates were just the organisation of various games. Most other magistracies disappeared. Diocletian attempted to reform the imperial system itself into a structure in which four emperors, consisting of two Augusti and two Caesares, each governed one fourth of the Empire.
Known as the Tetrarchy, this constitutional structure, failed to outlast Diocletian, who lived to see the collapse of his system and the civil wars that followed in his retirement after abdication in AD 305. He enacted major administrative reforms to the Empire, his division of the Empire into east and west, with each half under the command of a separate emperor, remained with brief interruptions of political unity. Although it remained the sole capital until Constantinople was elevated to that status in 359, the city of Rome ceased to the seat of the imperial government: it was by the Urban Prefect. A vicar of the Prefect of Italy headed the imperial administration of Italy south of the Apennines and the Islands; the Senate and executive magistrates continued to function as Diocletian's constitution had specified. Diocletian's civil and military divisions of the empire remained in effect with little change though Upper Egypt from the mid-fifth was governed by a general, the dux, who exercised civilian authority over the population.
Emperors Constantine would modify Diocletian's constitution by changing the roles of officials somewhat but not the administrative framework. It was not until Justinian I 527-565 that major changes that saw the near abolition of the regional tier of officials, severe weakening of the Treasury and Crown Estates. Under Diocletian's new constitution, power was shared between two emperors called Augusti; the establishment of two co-equal Augusti marked a rebirth of the old republican principle of collegiality, as all laws and appointments that came from one of the Augusti, were to be recognized as coming from both conjointly. One Augustus was to rule the western half of the Empire, the other Augustus was to rule the eastern half of the Empire. Diocletian made Maximian his co-Augustus, gave him the Western Empire, while Diocletian took the Eastern Empire. Diocletian made Nicomedia his capital, Maximian made Milan his capital. To make the two halves symbolically appear to be one, Diocletian called his territory patres Orientis, while Maximian called his territory patres Occidentis.
The Augusti were distinct from the old Princeps, because under the Principate, the Princeps took the place of the old republican magistrates. When a Princeps issued a decree, that decree was only valid so long as that Princeps was Emperor, whereas in contrast, under the Republic, any decree issued by a magistrate was only good so long as that magistrate was in office. Under the Republic and the Principate, only the Senate and legislative assemblies were continuous institutions, thus only they could pass laws that remained in effect indefinitely. Under Diocletian's new Dominate, the Augusti took the place of the Senate and the assemblies, thus any decree of an Augustus remained in force after that particular emperor left office; such an act could only be invalidated by a future Emperor. The logical extension of this concept meant that neither a magistrate, the assemblies, nor the senate, could restrain the Emperor; the old republican magistrates, as well as the Princeps, both had legal status.
Under the Republic, the state gave the magistrates the authorization to hold their office, while under the Principate, the state gave the Princeps the legal authorization to be emperor. Any Augusti, in contrast, did not need authorization from the state to be emperor, because the Augusti became the state; the higher authority of the Augusti was illustrated by their robes and the imperial diadem, as well as the elaborate ceremony required of anyone who approached them. Unlike the old Princeps, the Augusti were viewed as being more than mortal, illustrated by the honors that they received; these honors had, in the past, been reserved only for the Gods. While emperors had received such honors in the past, they only received these honors after their death, yet, the Augusti could receive such honors while they were still alive. In 293, Diocletian and Maximian appointed two Caesares, which resulted in an arrangement known as the "Tetrarchy"; the Caesares were subordinate to their Augusti, the only authority that they had was that, given to them by their Augusti.
Their status was so inferior to the Augusti. The powers that were delegated to them included the right to hear appeals, a set of provinces were assigned to them so that they could supervise the governors of those provinces; the reason why Diocle
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank; the cursus honorum comprised a mixture of political administration posts. Each office had a minimum age for election. There were minimum intervals between holding successive offices and laws forbade repeating an office; these rules were flagrantly ignored in the course of the last century of the Republic. For example, Gaius Marius held consulships for five years in a row between 104 BC and 100 BC, he was consul seven times in all serving in 107 and 86. Presented as opportunities for public service, the offices became mere opportunities for self-aggrandizement; the reforms of Sulla required a ten-year interval before holding the same office again for another term. To have held each office at the youngest possible age was considered a great political success. For instance, to miss out on a praetorship at 39 meant that one could not become consul at 42.
Cicero expressed extreme pride not only in being a novus homo who became consul though none of his ancestors had served as a consul, but in having become consul "in his year". The cursus honorum began with ten years of military duty in the Roman cavalry or in the staff of a general, a relative or a friend of the family; the ten years of service were intended to be mandatory in order to qualify for political office, but in practice, the rule was not always rigidly applied. A more prestigious position was that of a military tribune. In the early Roman Republic, 24 men at the age of around 20 were elected by the Tribal Assembly to serve as a commander in the legions, with six tribunes to each and command rotating among them. Tribunes could be appointed by the consuls or by military commanders in the field as necessary. After the reforms of Gaius Marius in 107 BC, the six tribunes acted as staff officers for the legionary legatus and were appointed tasks and command of units of troops whenever the need arose.
The subsequent steps of the cursus honorum were achieved by direct election every year. The first official post was that of quaestor. Candidates had to be at least 30 years old. However, men of patrician rank could subtract two years from this and other minimum age requirements. Twenty quaestors served in the financial administration at Rome or as second-in-command to a governor in the provinces, they could serve as the paymaster for a legion. A young man who obtained this job was expected to become a important official. An additional task of all quaestors was the supervision of public games; as a quaestor, an official was allowed to wear the toga praetexta, but was not escorted by lictors, nor did he possess imperium. At 36 years of age, proquaestor could stand for election to one of the aedile positions. Of these aediles, two were plebeian and two were patrician, with the patrician aediles called Curule Aediles; the plebeian aediles were elected by the Plebeian Council and the curule aediles were either elected by the Tribal Assembly or appointed by the reigning consul.
The aediles had administrative responsibilities in Rome. They had to take care of the temples, organize games, be responsible for the maintenance of the public buildings in Rome. Moreover, they took charge of Rome's food supplies; the Aedile was the supervisor of public works. He oversaw the public works and markets. Therefore, the Aediles would have been in some cooperation with the current Censors, who had similar or related duties, they oversaw the organization of festivals and games, which made this a sought-after office for a career minded politician of the late republic, as it was a good means of gaining popularity by staging spectacles. Curule Aediles were added at a date in the 4th century BC, their duties do not differ from plebeian aediles. However, unlike plebeian aediles, curule aediles were allowed certain symbols of rank—the sella curulis or'curule chair,' for example—and only patricians could stand for election to curule aedile; this changed, both Plebeians and Patricians could stand for Curule Aedileship.
The elections for Curule Aedile were at first alternated between Patricians and Plebeians, until late in the 2nd century BC, when the practice was abandoned and both classes became free to run during all years. While part of the cursus honorum, this step was not required to hold future offices. Though the office was held after the quaestorship and before the praetorship, there are some cases with former praetors serving as aediles. After serving either as quaestor or as aedile, a man of 39 years could run for praetor; the number of praetors elected varied through history increasing with time. During the republic, six or eight were elected each year to serve judicial functions throughout Rome and other governmental responsibilities. In the absence of the consuls, a praetor would be given command of the garrison in Italy. A praetor could exercise the functions of the consuls throughout Rome, but their main function was that of a judge, they would preside over trials involving criminal acts, grant court orders and validate "illegal" acts as acts of administering justice.
A praetor was escorted by six lictors, wielded imperium. After a term as praetor, the magistrate would serve as a provincial governor with the title of propraetor
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root of the English word "vicar". In ancient Rome, this office was equivalent to the English "vice-", used as part of the title of various officials; each vicarius was assigned to a specific superior official, after whom his full title was completed by a genitive. At a low level of society, the slave of a slave hired out to raise money to buy manumission, was a servus vicarius. In the 290s, the Emperor Diocletian carried out a series of administrative reforms, ushering in the period of the Dominate; these reforms saw the number of Roman provinces increased, the creation of a new administrative level, the diocese. The dioceses twelve, grouped several provinces, each with its own governor; the dioceses were headed by a vicarius, or, more properly, by a vices agens praefecti praetorio. An exception was the Diocese of the East, headed by a comes. In 370 or 381 Egypt and Cyrenaica were detached from the Diocese of the East and made a diocese under an official called the Augustal Prefect.
In the eastern parts of the Empire, dominated by Greek language and common use of Greek terminology, vicarius was called exarch. According to the Notitia dignitatum, the vicarius had the rank of vir spectabilis. For example, in the diocese of Hispania, his staff included: The princeps was chosen from among the senior agentes in rebus, from the salaried class of the ducenarii. A cornicularius. Two numerarii. A commentariensis. An adiutor. An ab actis. A cura epistolarum. An unnamed number of subadiuvae. Various exceptores. Singulares et reliquum officium. Ostrogorsky, George. History of the Byzantine State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Meyendorff, John. Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A. D; the Church in history. 2. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. Notitia dignitatum Pauly-Wissowa
King of Rome
The King of Rome was the chief magistrate of the Roman Kingdom. According to legend, the first king of Rome was Romulus, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill. Seven legendary kings are said to have ruled Rome until 509 BC; these kings ruled for an average of 35 years. The kings after Romulus were not known to be dynasts and no reference is made to the hereditary principle until after the fifth king Tarquinius Priscus; some have assumed that the Tarquins and their attempt to institute a hereditary monarchy over this conjectured earlier elective monarchy resulted in the formation of the republic. Early Rome was not self-governing, was ruled by the king; the king possessed absolute power over the people. The senate was a weak oligarchy, capable of exercising only minor administrative powers, so that Rome was ruled by its king, in effect an absolute monarch; the senate's main function was to administer the wishes of the king. After Romulus, Rome's first legendary king, Roman kings were elected by the people of Rome, sitting as a Curiate Assembly, who voted on the candidate, nominated by a chosen member of the senate called an interrex.
Candidates for the throne could be chosen from any source. For example, one such candidate, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus was a citizen and migrant from a neighboring Etruscan city-state; the people of Rome, sitting as the Curiate Assembly, could either accept or reject the nominated candidate-king. The insignia of the king was twelve lictors wielding the fasces, a throne of a Curule chair, the purple Toga Picta, red shoes, a white diadem around the head. Only the king could wear a purple toga; the supreme power of the state was vested in the rex, whose position gave the following powers: Beyond his religious authority, the king was invested with the supreme military and judicial authority through the use of imperium. The imperium of the king was held for life and protected him from being brought to trial for his actions; as being the sole owner of imperium in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate executive power and unchecked military authority as the commander-in-chief of all Rome's legions.
His executive power and his sole imperium allowed him to issue decrees with the force of law. The laws that kept citizens safe from the misuse of magistrates owning imperium did not exist during the times of the king. Another power of the king was the power to either nominate all officials to offices; the king would appoint a tribunus celerum to serve as both the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome but as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the Celeres. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office and the tribune left office upon the king's death; the tribune was second in rank to the king and possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it. Another officer appointed by the king was the praefectus urbi, which acted as the warden of the city; when the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers and abilities to the point of being bestowed with imperium while inside the city. The king received the right to be the sole person to appoint patricians to the Senate.
The king's imperium granted him both military powers as well as qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Although he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal; this made the king supreme in times of both peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could be brought before the king by any patrician during a meeting of the Curiate Assembly. To assist the king, a council advised the king during all trials, but this council had no power to control the king's decisions. Two criminal detectives were appointed by him as well as a two-man criminal court which oversaw for cases of treason. Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had little power and authority, they could only be called together by the king and could only discuss the matters the king laid before them. While the Curiate Assembly did have the power to pass laws, submitted by the king, the Senate was an honorable council.
It could advise the king on his action but, by no means, could prevent him from acting. The only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation; these issues allowed the King to more or less rule by decree with the exception of the above-mentioned affairs. Whenever a Roman king died, Rome entered a period of interregnum. Supreme power in the state would be devolved to the Senate, which had the task of finding a new king; the Senate would assemble and appoint one of its own members as the interrex to serve for a period of five days with the sole purpose of nominating the next king of Rome. After the five-day period, the interrex would appoint another Senator for another five-day term; this process would continue until the election of a new king. Once the interrex found a suitable nominee for the kingship, he would bring the nominee before the Senate and the Senate would examine him. If the Senate confirmed the nomination, the interrex would convene the Curiate Assembly and preside as its chairman during the election of the King.
Once a candidate was proposed to the Curi
A triumvirate is a political regime ruled or dominated by three powerful individuals known as triumvirs. The arrangement can be informal. Though the three are notionally equal, this is the case in reality; the term can be used to describe a state with three different military leaders who all claim to be the sole leader. In the context of the Soviet Union and Russia, the term troika is used for "triumvirate". Another synonym is triarchy. Triumviri were special commissions of three men appointed for specific administrative tasks apart from the regular duties of Roman magistrates; the triumviri capitales, for instance, oversaw prisons and executions, along with other functions that, as Andrew Lintott notes, show them to have been "a mixture of police superintendents and justices of the peace." The capitales were first established around 290–287 BCE. They were supervised by the praetor urbanus; these triumviri, or the tresviri nocturni, may have taken some responsibility for fire control. The triumviri monetalis supervised the issuing of Roman coins.
Three-man commissions were appointed for purposes such as establishing colonies or distributing land. Triumviri mensarii served as public bankers. Another form of three-man commission was the tresviri epulones, who were in charge of organizing public feasts on holidays; this commission was created in 196 BCE by a tribunician law on behalf of the people, their number was increased to seven. The term is most used by historians to refer to the First Triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Pompey the Great, the Second Triumvirate of Octavianus, Mark Antony, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. In the Bible triumvirates occurred at some notable events in both the Old Testament and New Testament. In the Book of Exodus Moses, his brother Aaron and, according to some views their nephew or brother-in-law, Hur acted this way during Battle of Rephidim against the Amalekites. In the Gospels as a leading trio among the Twelve Apostles at three particular occasions during public ministry of Jesus acted Peter, son of Zebedee and his brother John.
They were the only apostles present at the Raising of Jairus' daughter, Transfiguration of Jesus and Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. At the time of the Early Christian Church this triumvirate of the leading apostles changed as it became composed of Peter and James, brother of Jesus. One of the most notable triumvirates formed in the history of China was by the Han Dynasty statesmen Huo Guang, Jin Midi, Shangguan Jie 上官桀, following the death of Emperor Wu of Han and the installation of the child emperor Zhao. Despite the Three Excellencies—including the Chancellor, Imperial Secretary, irregularly the Grand Commandant—representing the most senior ministerial positions of state, this triumvirate was supported by the economic technocrat and Imperial Secretary Sang Hongyang, their political lackey; the acting Chancellor Tian Qianqiu was easily swayed by the decisions of the triumvirate. The Three Excellencies existed in Western Han as the Chancellor, Imperial Secretary, Grand Commandant, but the Chancellor was viewed as senior to the Imperial Secretary while the post of Grand Commandant was vacant for most of the dynasty.
After Emperor Guangwu established the Eastern Han, the Grand Commandant was made a permanent official while the Minister over the Masses replaced the Chancellor and the Minister of Works replaced the Imperial Secretary. Unlike the three high officials in Western Han when the Chancellor was senior to all, these new three senior officials had equal censorial and advisory powers; when a young or weak-minded emperor ascended to the throne, these Three Excellencies could dominate the affairs of state. There were other types of triumvirates during the Eastern Han. In Hinduism, the gods Brahma and Shiva form the triumvirate Trimurti "in which the cosmic functions of creation and destruction are personified" by those gods.." Tamil Triumvirate refers to the triumvirate of Chola and Pandya who dominated the politics of the ancient Tamil country. The title was revived a few times for three-headed political'magistratures' in post-feudal times. While French Huguenots had derisively bestowed the name Triumvirate on the alliance formed in 1561 between Catholic Francis, Duke of Guise, Anne de Montmorency, Jacques Dalbon, Seigneur de Saint Andre during the French Wars of Religion, in years the term would be used to describe other arrangements within France.
At the end of the 1700s, when the French revolutionaries turned to several Roman Magistrature names for their new institutions, the three-headed collective Head of State was named Consulat, a term in use for two-headed magistratures since Antiquity.
A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the cursus honorum. Each year, the citizens of Rome elected two consuls to serve jointly for a one-year term; the consuls alternated in holding imperium each month, a consul's imperium extended over Rome and the provinces. However, after the establishment of the Empire, the consuls became mere symbolic representatives of Rome's republican heritage and held little power and authority, with the Emperor acting as the supreme authority. After the legendary expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquin the Proud, a harsh ruler at the end of the Roman Kingdom, most of the powers and authority of the king were ostensibly given to the newly instituted consulship; this change in leadership came about when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped the wife and daughter of powerful Roman nobles. A group of nobles led by Lucius Junius Brutus, with the support of the Roman Army, expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.
Consuls were called praetors, referring to their duties as the chief military commanders. By at least 300 BC the title of Consul became used. Ancient writers derive the title consul from the Latin verb consulere, "to take counsel", but this is most a gloss of the term, which derives—in view of the joint nature of the office—from con- and sal-, "get together" or from con- and sell-/sedl-, "sit down together with" or "next to". In Greek, the title was rendered as στρατηγὸς ὕπατος, strategos hypatos, simply as ὕπατος; the consul was believed by the Romans to date back to the traditional establishment of the Republic in 509 BC, but the succession of consuls was not continuous in the 5th century BC. During the 440s, the office was quite replaced with the establishment of the Consular Tribunes, who were elected whenever the military needs of the state were significant enough to warrant the election of more than the two usual consuls; these remained in place until the office was abolished in 367/366 BC and the consulship was reintroduced.
Consuls had extensive powers in peacetime, in wartime held the highest military command. Additional religious duties included certain rites which, as a sign of their formal importance, could only be carried out by the highest state officials. Consuls read auguries, an essential step before leading armies into the field. Two consuls were elected each year, serving together, each with veto power over the other's actions, a normal principle for magistracies, it is thought that only patricians were eligible for the consulship. Consuls were elected by the Comitia Centuriata, which had an aristocratic bias in its voting structure which only increased over the years from its foundation. However, they formally assumed powers only after the ratification of their election in the older Comitia Curiata, which granted the consuls their imperium by enacting a law, the "lex curiata de imperio". If a consul died during his term or was removed from office, another would be elected by the Comitia Centuriata to serve the remainder of the term as consul suffectus.
A consul elected to start the year - called a consul ordinarius - held more prestige than a suffect consul because the year would be named for ordinary consuls. According to tradition, the consulship was reserved for patricians and only in 367 BC did plebeians win the right to stand for this supreme office, when the Lex Licinia Sextia provided that at least one consul each year should be plebeian; the first plebeian consul, Lucius Sextius, was elected the following year. The office remained in the hands of a few families as, according to Gelzer, only fifteen novi homines - "new men" with no consular background - were elected to the consulship until the election of Cicero in 63 BC. Modern historians have questioned the traditional account of plebeian emancipation during the early Republic, noting for instance that about thirty percent of the consuls prior to Sextius had plebeian, not patrician, names, it is possible that only the chronology has been distorted, but it seems that one of the first consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus, came from a plebeian family.
Another possible explanation is that during the 5th century social struggles, the office of consul was monopolized by a patrician elite. During times of war, the primary qualification for consul was military skill and reputation, but at all times the selection was politically charged. With the passage of time, the consulship became the normal endpoint of the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices pursued by the ambitious Roman who chose to pursue political power and influence; when Lucius Cornelius Sulla regulated the cursus by law, the minimum age of election to consul became, in effect, 41 years of age. Beginning in the late Republic, after finishing a consular year, a former consul would serve a lucrative term as a proconsul, the Roman Governor of one of the provinces; the most chosen province for the proconsulship was Cisalpine Gaul. Although throughout the early years of the Principate, the consuls were still formally elected by the Comitia Centuriata, they were in fact nominated by the princeps.
As the years progressed, the distinction between the Comitia Centuriata and the Comitia Tributa appears to have disappeared, so for the purposes of the consular