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 Roman Empire
The Constitution of the Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down through precedent. After the fall of the Roman Republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the Roman Senate to the Roman Emperor. Beginning with the first emperor, the emperor and the senate were theoretically two co-equal branches of government. In practice, the actual authority of the imperial Senate was negligible, as the emperor held the true power of the state. During the reign of the second emperor, many of the powers, held by the Roman assemblies were transferred to the Senate; the powers of an emperor existed by virtue of his legal standing. The two most significant components to an emperor's power were the "tribunician powers" Latin: tribunicia potestas and the proconsular imperium, or the power to command; the tribunician powers gave the emperor authority over Rome itself and the civil government, while the proconsular powers gave him authority over the provinces and the army.
While these distinctions were defined during the early empire they were lost, the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical. The traditional magistracies that survived the fall of the republic were the Consulship, Plebeian Tribunate, Aedileship and Military Tribunate. Any individual of the senatorial class could run for one of these offices. If an individual was not of the senatorial class, he could run for one of these offices if he was allowed to run by the emperor, or otherwise, he could be appointed to one of these offices by the emperor; the general who won the last civil war of the Roman Republic, Gaius Octavian, became the master of the state. In the years after 30 BC, Octavian set out to reform the Roman constitution; the ultimate consequence of these reforms was the abolition of the republic and the founding of the Roman Empire. When Octavian deposed his fellow triumvir, Mark Antony, in 32 BC, he resigned his position as triumvir, but was vested with powers similar to those that he had given up.
Octavian wanted to solidify his status as master of the state whilst avoiding assassination. On 13 January 27 BC, Octavian gave up his extraordinary powers, including his proconsular imperium, triumvirate authority, powers granted in the consensus universorum, back to the Senate and people of Rome. However, he kept the Senate's grant of tribunician power in 36 BC and remained consul for 27 BC, he received from the Senate, doubtlessly at his own suggestion, greater proconsular imperium for a period of ten years, giving him supreme authority over the provinces, therefore, the entire Roman military. These various powers and offices both allowed him to maintain his legal authority over the empire at large and claim that the Republic was restored; the wide-reaching grant of proconsular authority was precedented in lex Gabinia's grant of similar authority to Pompey in 67 BC. Furthermore, the proconsular powers were theoretically outranked by the consular powers held by the sitting consuls, allowing Octavian to claim he did not stand above any other magistrates of the state.
To maintain his control in Italy, not considered a province, Octavian had the Assemblies elect him to the position of consul. At this point, the Senate granted Octavian the title "augustus" and the position of princeps senatus, or the first Senator; when Augustus, as Octavian was renamed, gave up the consulship in 23 BC, the Senate granted him an expansion of his proconsular authority, with legal authority at the same level as those of the normal consuls. Furthermore, Augustus expanded the use of the tribunician powers granted in 36 BC, which allowed him to interfere in administration, convoke the people, propose legislation, veto other political bodies, etc. After these final reforms had been instituted, Augustus never again altered his constitution, although he did periodically assume the office of censor to affect changes in the Senatorial rolls and hold the consulship. When, in 20 BC, a famine in Rome led to the people offering Augustus the dictatorship, he refused, instead taking on the cura annonae: the administration of the grain supply.
And when the ten-year term of his proconsular authority elapsed, he continued the fiction of the temporary nature of his authority, having it renewed in 18 BC, 13 BC, 8 BC, 3 BC, 8 AD. While there were minor changes in the provinces which he governed by nature of his proconsular authority, its overriding nature did not change until after his death. Augustus' final goal was to figure out a method to ensure an orderly succession, something necessary in any monarchial constitution and to avoid the resurgence of civil war. Augustus could not transfer his powers to a successor upon his death, as they were given to him for some fixed term or during his life. Thus, any successor would need to influence. In 6 BC Augustus granted tribunician powers to his stepson Tiberius and recognised Tiberius as his heir. In AD 13, a law was passed which made Tiberius' legal powers equivalent to and independent from those of Augustus. On Augustus' death, Tiberius had to take control of the state, since the nominally republican constitution did not allow for the dead emperor to bequeath powers.
With the support of the Praetorian Guard and the army, he took control of the state. During his reign, the power to elect magistrates was transferred from the assemblies to the Senate and he ended the practice of proposing laws before them; when Tiberius died, Caligula was proclaimed emperor by the Senate. In 41, Caligula was assassinated, for two days following his assa
The Latin word imperator derives from the stem of the verb imperare, meaning'to order, to command'. It was employed as a title equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic, it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French Empereür; the Roman emperors themselves based their authority on multiple titles and positions, rather than preferring any single title. Imperator was used consistently as an element of a Roman ruler's title throughout the principate and the dominate. In Latin, the feminine form of Imperator is imperatrix; when Rome was ruled by kings, to be able to rule, the king had to be invested with the full regal authority and power. So, after the comitia curiata, held to elect the king, the king had to be conferred the imperium. In Roman Republican literature and epigraphy, an imperator was a magistrate with imperium, but mainly in the Roman Republic and during the late Republican civil wars, imperator was the honorific title assumed by certain military commanders.
After an great victory, an army's troops in the field would proclaim their commander imperator, an acclamation necessary for a general to apply to the Senate for a triumph. After being acclaimed imperator, the victorious general had a right to use the title after his name until the time of his triumph, where he would relinquish the title as well as his imperium. Since a triumph was the goal of many politically ambitious Roman commanders, Roman Republican history is full of cases where legions were bribed to call their commander imperator; the title of imperator was given in 90 BC to Lucius Julius Caesar, in 84 BC to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, in 60 BC to Gaius Julius Caesar, relative of the mentioned Lucius Julius Caesar, in 45 BC again to Gaius Julius Caesar, in 44 BC to Marcus Iunius Brutus, in 41 BC to Lucius Antonius. In 15 AD Germanicus was imperator during the empire of his adoptive father Tiberius. After Augustus established the Roman Empire, the title imperator was restricted to the emperor, though in the early years of the empire it would be granted to a member of his family.
As a permanent title, imperator was used as a praenomen by the Roman emperors and was taken on accession. After the reign of Tiberius, the act of being proclaimed imperator was transformed into the act of imperial accession. In fact, if a general was acclaimed by his troops as imperator, it would be tantamount to a declaration of rebellion against the ruling emperor. At first the term continued to be used in the Republican sense as a victory title but attached to the de facto monarch and head of state, rather than the actual military commander; the title followed the emperor's name along with the number of times he was acclaimed as such, for example IMP V. In time it became the title of the de facto monarch, pronounced upon their assumption; as a title imperator was translated into Greek as autokrator This was imprecise as it lost the nuances of Latin political thought contrasting imperium with other forms of public authority. This title was used in Greek-language texts for Roman emperors from the establishment of the empire.
In the east, the title continued to be used into the Byzantine period, though to a lesser, much more ceremonial, extent. In most Byzantine writings, the Greek translation "Autokrator" is preferred, but "Imperator" makes an appearance in Constantine IV's mid 7th century mosaic in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, on various 9th century lead seals. After the Roman empire collapsed in the West in the 5th century, Latin continued to be used as the language of learning and diplomacy for some centuries; the Roman emperors of this period were referred to as imperatores in Latin texts, while the word basileus was used in Greek. After 800, the imperator was used as a formal Latin title in succession by the Carolingian and German Holy Roman Emperors until 1806 and by the Austrian Emperors until 1918. In medieval Spain, the title imperator was used under a variety of circumstances from the ninth century onwards, but its usage peaked, as a formal and practical title, between 1086 and 1157, it was used by the Kings of León and Castile, but it found currency in the Kingdom of Navarre and was employed by the Counts of Castile and at least one Duke of Galicia.
It signalled at various points the king's equality with the Byzantine Emperor and Holy Roman Emperor, his rule by conquest or military superiority, his rule over several people groups ethnic or religious, his claim to suzerainty over the other kings of the peninsula, both Christian and Muslim. Beginning in 1077 Alfonso instituted the use of the style ego Adefonsus imperator totius Hispaniae and its use soon became regular; this title was used throughout the period 1079–81, which represents the peak of his imperial pretensions before his capture of the city of Toledo, ancient capital of the Visigoths. In 1080 he introduced the form ego Adefonsus Hispaniarum imperator, which he used again in 1090, his most elaborate imperial title was ego Adefonsus imperator totius Castelle et Toleto necnon et Nazare seu Alave. In 1721
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of the Roman dictator; the change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about AD 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors". For political and personal reasons, Octavian chose to emphasize his relationship with Julius Caesar by styling himself "Imperator Caesar", without any of the other elements of his full name, his successor as emperor, his stepson Tiberius bore the name as a matter of course. The precedent was set: the Emperor designated his successor by adopting him and giving him the name "Caesar"; the fourth Emperor, was the first to assume the name "Caesar" upon accession, without having been adopted by the previous emperor. Claudius in turn adopted his stepson and grand-nephew Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, giving him the name "Caesar" in the traditional way; the first emperor to assume the position and the name without any real claim to either was the usurper Servius Sulpicius Galba, who took the imperial throne under the name "Servius Galba Imperator Caesar" following the death of the last of the Julio-Claudians, Nero, in 68.
Galba helped solidify "Caesar" as the title of the designated heir by giving it to his own adopted heir, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus. Galba's reign did not last long and he was soon deposed by Marcus Otho. Otho did not at first use the title "Caesar" and used the title "Nero" as emperor, but adopted the title "Caesar" as well. Otho was defeated by Aulus Vitellius, who acceded with the name "Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Imperator Augustus". Vitellius did not adopt the cognomen "Caesar" as part of his name and may have intended to replace it with "Germanicus". Caesar had become such an integral part of the imperial dignity that its place was restored by Titus Flavius Vespasianus, whose defeat of Vitellius in 69 put an end to the period of instability and began the Flavian dynasty. Vespasian's son, Titus Flavius Vespasianus became "Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus". By this point the status of "Caesar" had been regularised into that of a title given to the Emperor-designate and retained by him upon accession to the throne.
After some variation among the earliest emperors, the style of the Emperor-designate on coins was Nobilissimus Caesar "Most Noble Caesar", though Caesar on its own was used. The popularity of using the title Caesar to designate heirs-apparent increased throughout the third century. Many of the soldier emperors during the Crisis of the Third Century attempted to strengthen their legitimacy by naming heirs, including Maximinus Thrax, Philip the Arab, Trebonianus Gallus and Gallienus; some of these were promoted to the rank of Augustus within their father's lifetime, for example Philippus II. The same title would be used in the Gallic Empire, which operated autonomously from the rest of the Roman Empire from 260 to 274, with the final Gallic emperor Tetricus I appointing his heir Tetricus II Caesar and his consular colleague for 274. Despite the best efforts of these emperors, the granting of this title does not seem to have made succession in this chaotic period any more stable. All Caesars would be killed before or alongside their fathers, or at best outlive them for a matter of months, as in the case of Hostilian.
The sole Caesar to obtain the rank of Augustus and rule for some time in his own right was Gordian III, he was controlled by his court. On 1 March 293, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus established the Tetrarchy, a system of rule by two senior Emperors and two junior sub-Emperors; the two coequal senior emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors, as Imperator Caesar NN. Pius Felix Invictus Augustus and were called the Augusti, while the two junior sub-Emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors-designate, as Nobilissimus Caesar; the junior sub-Emperors retained the title "Caesar" upon accession to the senior position. The Tetrarchy was abandoned as a system in favour of two equal, territorial emperors, the previous system of Emperors and Emperors-designate was restored, both in the Latin-speaking West and the Greek-speaking East; the title of Caesar remained in use throughout the Constantinian period, with both Constantine I and his co-emperor and rival Licinius utilising it to mark their heirs.
In the case of Constantine, this meant that by the time he died, he had four Caesars: Constantius II, Constantine II, Constans and his nephew Dalmatius, with his eldest son Crispus having been executed in mysterious circumstances earlier in his reign. In the event, Constantine would be su
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
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
Constitution of the Roman Kingdom
The Constitution of the Roman Kingdom was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles originating through precedent. During the years of the Roman Kingdom, the constitutional arrangement was centered on the king, who had the power to appoint assistants, delegate to them their specific powers; the Roman Senate, dominated by the aristocracy, served as the advisory council to the king. The king asked the Senate to vote on various matters, but he was free to ignore any advice they gave him; the king could request a vote on various matters by the popular assembly, which he was free to ignore. The popular assembly functioned as a vehicle through which the People of Rome could express their opinions. In it, the people were organized according to their respective curiae. However, the popular assembly did have other functions. For example, it was a forum used by citizens to hear announcements, it could serve as a trial court for both civil and criminal matters. The period of the kingdom can be divided into two epochs based on the legends.
While the specific legends were not true, they were based on historical fact. It is that, before the founding of the republic, Rome had been ruled by a succession of kings; the first legendary epoch spans the reigns of the first four legendary kings. During this time, the political foundations of the city were laid, the city was organized into "curiae", the religious institutions were established, the Senate and the assemblies evolved into formal institutions; the city fought several wars of conquest, the port of Ostia was founded, the Tiber River was bridged. The early Romans were divided into three ethnic groups: the Ramnes and Luceres; the original "patrician" families belonged to these ethnic groups. In an attempt to add a level of organization to the city, these patrician families were divided into units called "curiae"; the vehicle through which the early Romans expressed their democratic impulses was known as a "committee". The two principal assemblies that formed were known as the "Curiate Assembly" and the "Calate Assembly".
The two assemblies were designed to mirror the ethnic divisions of the city and, as such, the assemblies were organized according to curia. The vehicle through which the early Romans expressed their aristocratic impulses was a council of town elders, which became the Roman Senate; the elders of this council were known as patres, thus are known to history as the first Roman senators. The populus and the elders recognized the need for a single political leader, thus elected the rex; the populus elected the rex, the elders advised the rex. The second epoch spans the reigns of the last three legendary kings; this epoch was more consequential than the first, due to the significant degree of territorial expansion that occurred. Regardless of whether these legends are true, it is that, as the legends claim, a series of conquests did occur during the late monarchy; as a result of these conquests, it became necessary to determine what was to be done with the conquered people. Some of the individuals whose towns had been conquered remained in those towns, while some others came to Rome.
To acquire legal and economic standing, these newcomers adopted a condition of dependency toward either a patrician family, or toward the king. The individuals who were dependents of the king were released from their state of dependency, became the first "plebeians"; as Rome grew, it needed more soldiers to continue its conquests. When the plebeians were released from their dependency, they were released from their curiae; when this occurred, they were freed from the requirement to serve in the army, but they lost their political and economic standing. To bring these new plebeians back into the army, the patricians were forced to make concessions. While it is not known what concessions were made, the fact that they were not granted any political power set the stage for what history knows as the Conflict of the Orders. To bring the plebeians back into the army, the army was reorganized; the legends give credit for this reorganization to King Servius Tullius. Per the legends, Tullius abolished the old system whereby the army was organized on the basis of the hereditary curiae, replaced it with one based on land ownership.
As part of his reorganization, two new types of unit were created. The centuries were organized on the basis of property ownership, any individual, patrician or plebeian, could become a member of a century; these centuries formed the basis of a new assembly called the "Centuriate Assembly", though this assembly was not granted any political powers. In contrast, four tribes were created that encompassed the entire city of Rome, while new tribes were to be created those tribes would encompass territory outside of the city of Rome. Membership in a tribe, unlike that in a curia, was open to both patricians and plebeians without regard to property qualification; the Roman Senate was a political institution starting in the ancient Roman Kingdom. The Latin term, "senātus," is derived from senex, which means "old man". Therefore, senate means "board of old men." The prehistoric Indo-Europeans that settled Italy in the centuries before the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC were structured into tribal communities.
These communities would include an aristocratic board of tribal elders. The early Roman family was called a gens, or "clan"; each clan was an aggregation of famil