Ancient Roman Political System

By Philip Perez,2017-12-07 10:37:00
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Ancient Roman Political System

The development of Rome can be divided into the following three periods

①In 753 BC, the ancient Romans (Romulus and Lemus) founded Rome on the banks of the lower Tiber River on the plains of Latinum in the central part of the Italian peninsula.

②Republican period: In 509 BC, Rome abolished the "regal government", changed to the republican system, began nearly 500 years of the Roman Republic period.

③Empire: In 30 B.C., Octavian, a military strongman who rose after Caesar, overcame his enemies, ending decades of civil war in Rome and seizing the highest state power.In 27 B.C., he was awarded the title of Augustus by the Senate, which marked the beginning of the imperial era in Roman history.

Wang Zheng Era

The early period of the so-called Latin and Sabine period of Rome, at the end of primitive society in the military democracy stage. Bloodline is the basic link to maintain the members of society, clans, ethnic groups (Curia, Rome called the ethnic group Curia, every 10 clans form a cell), tribes (Tribes) constitute the basic form of social organization of the Romans.

Rome in the reign of kings was a "military democracy":military democracywas first proposed by Morgen, an American ethnographer, in his book Ancient Society, who considered the Aztec Union of American Indians, the Homeric era in Greece, and the social organization of the Roman monarchy to be a kind of military democracy.Military democracy is roughly equivalent to an advanced stage of barbarism. It has four main features: first, the economic system replaces the primitive public economy with a patrilineal large family economy; second, the war becomes a regular occupation; third, the military chief becomes a public servant; and fourth, the council upholds the democratic principles of the clan system.(Source: On the Differences between Chinese and Western Military Democracy) 1) Lex (king, rex), who was a military chief, supreme judge, and high priest whose chief task was to lead the battle, and who had no extraordinary executive or judicial powers; but the authority of the king was constantly being strengthened.

2) The General Assembly of Curia (the popular Assembly), the Congress is the main democratic institution during this period. It is composed of all the adult men of the clan, namely the soldiers, so the Curia assembly is also a rally for armed citizens. Proceedings and votes shall be taken in accordance with Curia in the assembly, each curia having one vote. The most important business in commune life is to make a decision here.It declares war, passes or rejects new bills, votes on the choice of a new king, makes a final decision on a death penalty case, etc. It is called by the king and is generally not discussed at the meeting. The vote is by way of shouting. It has no creation power and is basically an approving body. It is replaced by a meeting of the Hundred.

3) The Senate (Council of Elders), which has greater authority, Romulo is said to have initially appointed 100 elders. By the end of the reign of the king, the number of elders had grown to 300, and thereafter until the reign of Sulla in the first century BC, the number of elders had remained at 300.The members of the senate, known as the "father", come from the clan chief, who may be appointed by the king. Within the clan, the family that produces the elder is gradually fixed, and this family is called the clan aristocracy. The senate has the power to approve or reject the resolution of the Curia congress and approve the choice of a new king.During the vacant seats left by the new king after the death of the old king, a committee of ten members formed by the senate took the place of the king alternately, or elected the regent to take the place of the king. Formally, the senate was only an advisory body or an advisory committee of the king. Its resolutions were not binding, but its members had a prominent position and prestige among the clans, so it was often able to influence over the political situation.

Another important component of the royal system was the Senate, whose name senatus was derived from the word senex. Its members were called patres. According to the tradition of Roman writers, they were appointed by the king, and the Senate as a whole was merely an advisory body to the kingTo begin with, the king seemed not to be free to choose the members of the senate, who, if not the head of the clan, were at least the head of a family of considerable influence.According to the legend of Rome's admission of AttuSelausus, the head of the Claudius clan, and the head of the Alba II, the family and the clan organization also had considerable influence, which was probably the main factor taken into account by the king in selecting the senate.In addition, the Senate does not always exist solely as an advisory body to the king. After the death of the first king and before the new king is elected, that is, during the virtual reign of the throne, the power of the state is in fact held collectively by the elders, that is, what ancient writers call the divination weight vested in the fathers, that is, the elders.And in the case of the new king, the composition of the already existing senate could not have been his wish.According to the tradition, the senate was initially composed of 100 members, and the old Tarqulnius Priseus was added by 100, calling the small clans senators (patresminorumgentium) the old clans.As for the competence of the Senate, in addition to the election of the King and the collective control of the State during the above-mentioned period of the asphyxiation of the throne, there is an important power: any resolution made by the Curia Assembly (whether legislative, electoral or judicial) cannot take effect without the permission of the Senate (autoritaspatrum).From the above point of view, the Senate has great power and role in state affairs, and the Western European feudal autocratic monarchs under the armature secret house is fundamentally different.(Source: State system of the Roman Republic)

Servius, the sixth king of the reign, seven in all. (578-534 BC) Reformation

The inhabitants of Rome, divided into five classes according to the size of their property, each providing a hundred troops of varying numbers (units of military establishment), armed with their own weapons.

Creation of the Centurion Conference (Sendulia), which replaces the Curia Conference and gives it the power to elect Roman officials, to decide on war, to make peace, and so on. Voting rights are distributed among the Centurion, with one vote for each Centurion.(Note: Rome has 193 100 teams, while the first tier has 98. The voting rules: voting in order of rank, the majority of votes passed.)

Divide the original three clans into four tribes by region and integrate the civilian population further into the Roman Commune. Significance: First, it breaks down the clan system, divides the citizens according to the principle of territory and property, absorbs a large number of immigrants as citizens, and expands the collective basis of the citizens of the Roman city-state.

Second, it accelerated the division and disintegration of the original form of the Roman Commune; the gentile aristocracy and the gentile system were struck down, regional relations took the place of kinship, and Rome basically completed the transition from the gentile system to the state.

Roman Republic (emphasis)

Senior positions in the early Republic


2.Dictatorship means the head of a regiment, a temporary and nonpermanent officer.The Senate appoints one of the two constables to be an autocrat when the country is in serious crisis due to foreign invasion or civil unrest.

3.The Supreme Magistrate, second only to the Captains Regent, was established in 366 B.C. and elected by the General Assembly of the Hundred Men, a position first held by civilians in 337 B.C.

4.Ombudsman. Originally established in 443 BC, he was in charge of the metropolitan investigation of the former Archon, but his powers were gradually expanded. Every four years, two persons were elected by the Bayern General Assembly to fill the post, but their term of office was only 18 months.Its terms of reference include: reviewing the list of elders, deciding on candidates to supplement the Senate and removing those who fail to do so; conducting citizen surveys to monitor citizens' morals and managing state property and public works as the highest financial official.

5. Bao Min Guan

6. Construction Officer and Finance Officer. The position of Construction Officer may have been established in the early years of the Republic as an assistant to the Chief Executive in economic matters. The Civilian Construction Officer was created to assist the Civil Guard when they appeared. The Finance Officer was formed in the early years of the Republic and was initially appointed by the Supreme Magistrate as an assistant to the Supreme Magistrate in judicial matters.The finance officer is the lowest official position, generally does the official all starts from the finance official, according to certain order promotion, cannot overstep the grade to elect.

The Assembly of the People of Rome, the assembly of all the citizens of Rome, is the organ through which ordinary citizens exercise their political rights. It is composed of three assemblies of the people, namely, the Curia Assembly, the General Assembly of the Hundred People (the Sandurian Assembly) and the Tribal Assembly (the Tribes Conference), which have emerged successively in history, with different compositions and powers.

1.The Curia Congress-the oldest of the People's Congresses, since Servius established the Centaur Congress, it has lost actual power.

2.It is generally believed that since the establishment of the Selvius Reformation, the General Assembly of the Packers has replaced the Curia Congress as the main people's assembly. Its powers include approving or rejecting bills submitted by the Senate to declare war, make peace, and form alliances

3.The Tribe Assembly (also known as the Assembly of the Commons or the Tribes Conference) is an important creation in the struggle of the common people against the aristocracy and for political rights. The Tribe Assembly is convened and presided over by the Provost, the Archon, the Supreme Magistrate and the Architect.

The coexistence of the three People's Congresses is a distinctive feature of the Rome People's Congresses. There is a division of labour among them, but there is no mutual cooperation and restriction. It is a body in which citizens directly exercise their democratic rights. It has no right of creation and can only vote on bills that are referred to it. It cannot be discussed and amended. It can only be passed in whole or in whole.

The senate, the consul, the protector of checks and balances.(Source: Developments under Conflict-Democracy under the Political System of the Early Roman Republic)

Cicero believed that between the three powers of the Senate, the Archon and the public assembly, and between the legislative, executive, judicial and supervisory organs, there should be strict relations of constraint, mutual check and a state of balance.

The most powerful institution in the Roman Republic is the Senate, which has between 300 and 600 members, all of whom are venerable, politically experienced, aristocratic elders who serve for life. Important acts of the Roman People's Assembly are often discussed in the Senate, and senior consul candidates are nominated by the Senate.Before 339 A.D., the Senate had the power to approve the decisions of the People's Assembly. In peacetime, the Senate actually had the highest military and diplomatic control. The Senate also had the "right of emergency" and the power to declare a state of emergency and appoint dictators.In judicial trials, treason and murder are tried by the Senate, which, with its outstanding features of stability and continuity, has an unbreakable status as a centralized representative of the interests of the aristocracy.Every consul can perform his duty under the direction and supervision of the senate. Of course, the power of the senate cannot override that of the consul, because much of the political intent of the senate has to be done through the consul.In the political structure of the Roman Republic, the term of office of the chief executive was short, and the membership of the various assemblies was in constant flux, with only the Senate maintaining stability and continuity.

As a result of custom, the powers of the early republican consul were not so different from those of the king during the reign of the king. They enjoyed full military power, guaranteed the enforcement of the law, controlled public property, maintained public order, conducted a census, selected elders, and perhaps appointed criminal judges, held religious events, and so on.But as time went on, the system of government improved, and their power was limited. First, from the consul's form, the number of consul in the Republic has always been two, the two together for the government.On the other hand, in contrast to the lifetime of the king, the consul's time in office is extremely limited (1 year), which limits the expansion of his powers. Secondly, the law provides citizens with the right of appeal against the punishment of officials in the city of Rome, which limits the consul's judicial jurisdiction.Thirdly, from the point of view of the authority of the consul himself, the constant establishment of the new official position causes some of the functions contained in the consul's power to be gradually transferred to other officers.Although the consul's power maintains the integrity in theory, it is greatly weakened in practice, which is particularly evident in the restriction of the civil servant's power to the consul.

A position of consul elected by the Assembly of Civilians to govern a consul. Established in 494 BC, it was initially increased from two to ten for a term of one year, elected by the Assembly of Civilians.In the performance of their duties, the person shall be inviolable, and the Senate shall have no power to detain or convict the Civil Guard. The Civil Guard shall have the right to veto, resist, and defend the interests of the civilian population against measures taken against the civilian population by the Consul, the Ombudsman, etc. The Civil Guard is not a member of an organized body and cannot decide public policy as a group. The Civil Guard shall maintain personal freedom and shall be inviolable.In the form of an oath, the Assembly of Civilians declared: "Anyone who acts against the Civil Guard or viciously interferes in the performance of his duties will be cursed or suffer death."[7]Its constitutional function was to oppose the supremacy of the executive and protect ordinary citizens from arbitrary or excessive executive power; not to determine public policy and administer the Roman government, but to provide the Romans with the means or legal assistance to protect themselves.

Late Republic

First.The politics of terror in Sura-a fatal blow to the Republic. Sola relied on military force to establish a reign of terror, forcing the Senate and the People's Assembly to reform the political system. This included increasing the size of the Senate and strengthening its powers. This measure led to the abolition of the right of creation of civilian vigilantes.

"Constitutional reform"

restore and strengthen the aristocratic dominance, weaken the power of the civilian population, he restored to the Senate all the original rights and privileges.

The system of promotion of officials was also reformed to provide that any person must have served as a magistrate after serving as a judge, and must have served as a treasurer before serving as a judge.

3. The distribution of food to the urban civilian population was abolished

Second.The dictatorship of Caesar-the end of the Republic

In 45 A.D., he eliminated all hostile forces, ended the civil war, and became the sole ruler of the Roman world. He was appointed a lifelong dictator, who also served as a consul, a lifelong vigilante, an ombudsman, a high priestess, and a lifelong grand marshal.

During his reign, a number of changes were made to the Roman political system, manifested in the weakening of the Senate, which became an advisory body attached to it. The number of elders increased to 900, and the number of high-ranking officials increased.He reformed the provincial administration system. He worked to narrow the gap between Rome and the provinces and to romanize the provinces. He promulgated and actually implemented a decree that severely punished provincial officials for corruption and malfeasance, and deprived the provincial governors of their military powers. The autonomous powers of the cities of the provinces were improved.

In 44 BC, the aristocratic republicans plotted a coup that killed Caesar


The provincial system was a form of Roman rule over the conquered areas. The term was meant to be conquest and entrustment. The provincial system was the national property conquered by the Romans, and the predatory rule practised by the Romans, the tax system and nationalization were the main ways in which the Romans plundered the provinces.

The Governor-General of the province has full military, civil and judicial powers within the province. The status of the cities varies from province to province and Rome divides them.

The struggle of the commoners against the nobles (Early Roman Republic)(Source: General History of the World, Ancient Medieval Scrolls, Huashi Publishing House)


First.Civilians are excluded from the political life of the country and are prevented from sharing State power with the nobility, in particular from holding high office and entering the Senate.

Second.They shall not have the right to participate in the allocation and use of the common land.

Third.The threat of debt bondage.

The sources of the civilian population are generally of three kinds: the non-aristocratic families of the clans, the inhabitants of other Latin tribes who were conquered by Rome, and the large number of Gentiles who later emigrated to Rome and were excluded from the Roman clan organization and engaged mainly in commercial and industrial activities, who constitute the majority of the civilian population.In addition, the civilian population included a small number of dependent people who had been separated from the protective relationship and freed slaves.

2 .Process

The first stage of the struggle (around the regime) (in connection with compulsory lesson 1 (6)).

①In 494 B.C., when the first evacuation of the civilian population began and the struggle for peace began, the nobles were forced to recognize the rights of the two civilian bodyguards elected by the civilian population.

②In 462 BC to 451 BC, after 10 years of struggle, the civilian population to achieve the purpose of codification, 451 BC, 450 years before the "Twelve Bronze Tables Law" promulgated. Because the law is written into clear provisions, and sentencing and conviction shall be subject to the provisions, which to a certain extent limited the aristocratic arbitrariness.

③The first phase of the struggle ended when, in 445 B.C., the Canuri'afa passed, civilians were granted the right to intermarry with the nobles and the right to serve as guarantors of the military.

(2) The second stage of the struggle (around land and debt)

① In 376 B.C., the Lisi-Suixteau Act was introduced and passed 366 years ago.

a. The debt owed by the civilian population shall cease to be payable, the interest paid shall be calculated as principal repayments, and the unpaid portion shall be repaid in three years.

b. The maximum limit for possession of communal land shall be set at 500 JUG.

c. The abolition of the Military Civil Guard, providing that, of the two Captains Regent, one shall be a civilian.

②The Potilian Act (326 BC), which abolished debt slavery, exonerated the civilian population from the threat of becoming debt slaves.

③Hortensia Act (287 B.C.): The Tribbes Conference became a meeting of all citizens, and its resolutions had legal force for all citizens without the approval of the Senate.

Consequences of the struggle of the common people against the aristocracy

The struggle of the common people against the aristocracy, which lasted for more than two centuries, had a great influence on the development of Roman history.

Positive: (1) The civilian population was able to hold various official positions and intermarry with the nobility, not only breaking the situation of aristocratic monopoly power, but also breaking the old clan boundaries, eliminating the remnants of the Roman clan, and relations within the free people were adjusted, thus expanding the base of the Roman Republic.

The abolition of debt slavery freed the civilian population from the fate of enslavement and guaranteed their citizenship and rights, thus strengthening the system of citizen soldiers and providing a powerful military force for Rome's foreign expansion.

The establishment of new offices and the promulgation of new laws and the strengthening of the institutions of the Roman State created conditions for its external expansion and the development of slavery.

Negative:1.the vital interests of the civilian population of the land issue has not been completely resolved, small farmers and large land ownership between the contradictions and the struggle will continue.

2.The civilian political participation is only for the civilian upper class, they and the original aristocracy through the form of intermarriage into one, constitute a "new nobility", the essence of the state system is still led by the Senate aristocratic slave class dictatorship.

Roman Empire

Politics and Economy in the Early Empire

Establishment of the political system and internal and external policies of the head of state of Octavian

The historical position of the head of state, the chief elder or the first citizen, lies in the middle of the transition from a republic to a monarchy, and its essence lies in the autocratic monarchy in the form of a republic.

Measures taken: 1.improve the prestige of the senate, insert cronies into the inside 2.Divide the province into two parts, one under his own direct jurisdiction and the rest under the administration of the Senate.3. A cabinet-like structure was established, responsible to the head of state personally. Augustus (meaning "holy" and "noble", referring specifically to the Roman emperor) brought an end to the civil war and lasting peace to Rome.Because of his superb ruling art and outstanding personality in handling domestic and foreign affairs, he gained a great reputation among all classes in Rome.

From about the late 3rd century AD, the Senate gradually withdrew from the political arena, and the politics of the Head of State was transformed into a monarchy. During the period of the Head of State, the Senate was an indispensable power: it was involved in the administration, financial management, judicial administration, and legislative affairs.During the monarchy, the Senate lost its identity as a political entity and a governing body and became a political fossil in name only. The Senate's political position in the imperial governing body was completely replaced by the monarchy and its growing bureaucracy. The offices and institutions associated with the republican system became honorary.

The formal establishment of the monarchy of the Roman Empire began when Diocletian first took power in 284.

Late Empire

Diocletian Reform: (1) Administrative Reform: He divided the empire into four regions, ruled by him and three of his aides, known as the "four emperors and their rule". (2) Military Reform: Divided the armed forces into border guards and patrol guards.(3) The reform of the taxation system, which divided the imperial territory into a number of fixed tax districts, in which all rural residents were subject to a poll tax and a land tax, while the landless urban residents were entitled only to a poll tax. (4) The reform of the currency system.

Constantine abolished the four emperors and took sole control of the country. He divided the empire into four administrative districts: Gaul, Italy, Illyria, and Orientale, each of which was headed by four Guards. As the economic and cultural center of Rome had been transferred to the East, Constantine established a new capital in Byzantium in 330, renamed Constantinople.

A Comparison between the System of the Head of State and the Monarchy The Exercise of Power(Source: Changes in the Roman political system in the 3rd century)

Relatively speaking, the powers of the Head of State are limited and covert, and the exercise of his powers cannot be separated from the traditional institutions of the Republic; while the powers of the Sovereign are absolute and naked. The following four aspects are explained in terms of legislative power, judicial power, executive power and fiscal power.

1. Legislative power. First of all, the subjects of the exercise of legislative power are different. During the system of the Head of State, both the Senate and the Head of State were the subjects of legislation. As a source of legislation, Senate resolutions existed until the early third century AD.The Head of State, acting only in the name of the Chief Executive, legislates indirectly by controlling the decisions of the Senate. During the monarchy, the empire's diversity in the sources of legislation disappeared, and the monarch was the sole source of the law.Although the royal decree was issued in the name of Diocletian and the co-sovereign, Diocletian was first the superior Augustus, who controlled the creation of the law, such as in 303 AD when Diocletian and Galerius decided to carry out religious persecution, they did not consult the western monarchs Maximian and Constantius, but only ordered them to implement the persecution measures, with different scope of application of the legislation.Although the royal decree was issued in the name of Diocletian and the co-sovereign, Diocletian was first the superior Augustus, who controlled the creation of the law, such as in 303 AD when Diocletian and Galerius decided to carry out religious persecution, they did not consult the western monarchs Maximian and Constantius, but only ordered them to implement the persecution measures, with different scope of application of the legislation.According to research, throughout the 200 years of the Flavidian to Diocletian rule, virtually universal royal decrees were relatively rare, and they were not of primary concern to provincial residents. However, during Diocletian rule, a number of lengthy and detailed royal decrees suddenly appeared in inscriptions recording the same royal decree in various places.

2. Judicial power. First of all, the subjects of the exercise of judicial power are different. During the system of the head of state, whether in civil or criminal justice, the head of state and his officials exercised judicial power jointly with the republican judiciary and its officials. During the reign of Diocletian, the monarch and his officials exercised judicial power independently.For Diocletian, although the governor of the province and the chief of the Guards handled a great deal of judicial business, and in the exercise of his judicial power he was assisted by the Court Secretariat, the administration of justice was still an onerous task, to the extent that the necessary restrictions were required, and in 294 Diocletian stipulated that "the power to request cannot be granted to any person without distinction or reservation".Secondly, the scope of application of the judiciary is different. The scope of the monarchy's judicial trial extends to the whole empire, while the judicial power of the remaining republican officials is limited to the city of Rome.During the reign of Diocletian, the administrator of the city of Rome continued to exercise judicial power, but only in cases of guardianship and litigation. In 287 A.D., Diocletian and Maximian responded to the mayor by saying, "Since many slaves in the city have been abducted from Rome and free men have been abducted from time to time, you should sternly stop these crimes and kill them if caught."In 293 AD, Maximian told a man named Julinus that he could appeal to the Chief Executive for the return of property proceeds kept by his former guardian.

3. Executive power. The subjects of the exercise of executive power are different. In the period of the system of heads of state, in addition to the control of the executive power by the head of state and its bureaucracy, the traditional official position of the republic and its institutions still exist and continue to perform administrative functions.Under Diocletian rule, the monarch alone held the power of appointment, the republican office no longer had any direct political significance, and the consul was also appointed by Diocletian. Although the Senate still appointed financial officers and administrators below the consul, etc., their task seemed to be merely to hold competitions.First, Diocletian appointed a co-sovereign. In 285 A.D. Maximian was appointed Caesar, and in 286 A.D. Diocletian first promoted Maximian to Augustus. It is generally believed that in 293 A.D. Diocletian first appointed Constantius and Galerius to Caesar.

Jones commented that the imperial administration was incredibly centralized, as all senior administrators, including provincial governors, and all military officers, including legionnaires, signed their appointments personally by the monarch.

4. Financial power. The subjects of the exercise of financial power are different. During the system of heads of state, the head of state and the senate jointly manage the finances. To a certain extent, the senate participates in financial affairs, and the head of state consults with the senate on major financial decisions.Of course, with the centralization of the head of state, the senate's fiscal management functions weakened, and during the monarchy, the monarch assumed sole fiscal authority, laying the foundations for autocratic monarchy.Diocletian unified the nation's tax collection, legalizing, institutionalizing, and perpetuating the predatory practice of temporarily levying taxes in times of military chaos.In order to improve the circulation of finance, Diocletian first controlled the minting and distribution of money, abolished provincial coins, established mints in various places, and enhanced the monarch's ability to intervene in the imperial economy.Diocletian first used state power to intervene in the economy, for example, by issuing price orders in 301 A.D. in an attempt to interfere with the prices of goods and services by administrative means, thereby adjusting the circulation of goods.The monarch strengthened his control over industry and commerce by administrative means, such as when, after the restoration of his dominion over Britain in the 1990s, Constantius moved many of Britain's artisans to Gaul to build the war-torn city of Orton; Diocletian might have legislated to strengthen his control over the shipping industry, and in order to secure supplies to the army and bureaucracy, Diocletian also built factories in many countries.The monarchs of this period controlled the finances of the state, and they were likely to have a certain store of materials.Diocletian was accused of having a penchant for amassing wealth, and of having carried out extensive searches to provide for the army, frequently commandeering extra supplies and demanding donations, while Diocletian, with extreme greed and cunning, refused to use his coffers.