1 October 2013
Ancient Roman’s history can be divided into three main periods: early monarchy, Roman republic, and Roman Empire. The Roman Republic lasted from 509-27 BC. Roman republic replaced the monarchy.
The transition from monarchy to republic was based upon the establishment of a republic with a constitution. Rome was originally ruled by a king that was chosen, not based on heredity. After a period in which the monarchy expanded its powers, the local aristocracy, in 509 BC, overthrew the king, abolished monarchy and established a republic with a constitution.
Before the fall of the republic, Rome was very stratified. The people of Rome were divided in five classes. Some people were so poor and low that they weren’t even classified. Rome was also divided into tribes, based on geographical location. During the time of the republic, there was a great amount of economic inequality and conflicts between the rich and poor that influenced the development of the Roman republic.
The most famous division between the Romans, were the social division between the Plebeians and Patricians. This was called the Struggle of the Orders and it lasted for about two hundred years.
The Patricians were members of the aristocratic family and made up ten percent of the Roman population. They dominated the early republic through their wealth and inner marriage within their group. They refused to marry the plebeians, the common people of Rome. They ranged from being wealthy to dirt poor. The plebeians suffered harsh law code and economic inequality because their government was ran by the Patricians.
Because of the Struggle of the Orders, the Plebeians gained more rights and the rivalry between the two groups began to erase. Legally, other than social differences, there was really no difference between the two. Despite them all being citizens, there were still economic differences. Some of the Plebeians were poor while others rich.
Meanwhile, the Patricians had opposed to the Plebeians getting more rights. Therefore, a new class emerged that would dominate the republic through social influence and wealth. The new class consists of wealthy Plebeians and accommodating Patricians. The wealthy Plebeians had the money to try to gain more political power and the Patricians were willing to make a deal with them. The Plebeians demanded a law code that would protect their rights and community from the Patricians, so in 450 BC it was prepared and named the Twelve Tables.
The Roman constitution of the government was unwritten. It was a collection of traditions and laws. Because a part of it was so vague and undefined, there were conflicts with interpretation and disputes over jurisdiction. Obstructionism keep the government from doing something legally, but despite this the government worked because the people were willing to compromise and desired consensus.
The Legislative Assemblies were