In the history of Rome, the Latin term civitas (Latin pronunciation: [ˈkiːwɪtaːs] ; plural civitates), according to Cicero in the time of the late Roman Republic, was the social body of the cives, or citizens, united by law (concilium coetusque hominum jure sociati). It is the law that binds them together, giving them responsibilities (munera) on the one hand and rights of citizenship on the other. The agreement (concilium) has a life of its own, creating a res publica or "public entity" (synonymous with civitas), into which individuals are born or accepted, and from which they die or are ejected. The civitas is not just the collective body of all the citizens, it is the contract binding them all together, because each of them is a civis.
Civitas is an abstract formed from civis. Claude Nicolettraces the first word and concept for the citizen at Rome to the first known instance resulting from the synoecism of Romans and Sabines presented in the legends of the Roman Kingdom. According to Livy, the two peoples participated in a ceremony of union after which they were named Quirites after the Sabine town of Cures. The two groups became the first curiae, subordinate assemblies, from co-viria ("fellow assemblymen," where vir is "man", as only men participated in government). The Quirites were the co-viri. The two peoples had acquired one status. The Latin for the Sabine Quirites was cives, which in one analysis came from the Indo-European *kei-, "lie down" in the sense of incumbent, member of the same house. City, civic, and civil all come from this root. Two peoples were now under the same roof, so to speak.
Civitas was a popular and widely used word in ancient Rome, with reflexes in modern times. Over the centuries the usage broadened into a spectrum of meaning cited by the larger Latin dictionaries:it could mean in addition to the citizenship established by the constitution the legal city-state, or res publica, the populus of that res publica (not people as people but people as citizens), any city state either proper or state-like, even ideal, or (mainly under the empire) the physical city, or urbs. Under that last meaning some places took on the name, civitas, or incorporated it into their name, with the later civita or civida as reflexes.
As the empire grew, inhabitants of the outlying Roman provinces would either be classed as dediticii, meaning "capitulants", or be treated as client kingdoms with some independence guaranteed through treaties. There were three categories of autonomous native communities under Roman rule: the highest, civitates foederatae ("allied states"), were formed with formally independent and equal cities, and sealed by a common treaty ( foedus ); next came the civitates liberae ("free states"), which indicated communities that had been granted specific privileges by Rome, often in the form of tax immunity (hence liberae et immunes); the final, and by far most common group, were the civitates stipendariae ("tributary states"), which while retaining their internal legal autonomy were obliged to pay tax.
Prestigious and economically important settlements such as Massilia and Messana are examples of occupied regions granted semi-autonomy during the Roman Republic. The island of Malta was granted this status as a reward for loyalty to Rome during the Second Punic War. The new Romanised urban settlements of these client tribes were also called civitates and were usually re-founded close to the site of an old, pre-Roman capital. At Cirencester, for example, the Romans made use of the army base that originally oversaw the nearby tribal oppidum to create a civitas.
During the later empire, the term was applied not only to friendly native tribes and their towns but also to local government divisions in peaceful provinces that carried out civil administration. Land destined to become a civitas was officially divided up, some being granted to the locals and some being owned by the civil government. A basic street grid would be surveyed in but the development of the civitas from there was left to the inhabitants although occasional imperial grants for new public buildings would be made.
Tacitus describes how the Romanised Britons embraced the new urban centres:
They spoke of such novelties as 'civilisation', when this was really only a feature of their slavery (Agricola, 21)
The civitates differed from the less well-planned vici that grew up haphazardly around military garrisons; coloniae, which were settlements of retired troops; and municipia, formal political entities created from existing settlements. The civitates were regional market towns complete with a basilica and forum complex providing an administrative and economic focus. Civitates had a primary purpose of stimulating the local economy in order to raise taxes and produce raw materials. All this activity was administered by an ordo or curia, a civitas council consisting of men of sufficient social rank to be able to stand for public office.
Defensive measures were limited at the civitates, rarely more than palisaded earthworks in times of trouble, if even that. Towards the end of the empire, the civitates' own local militias, led by a decurion, likely served as the only defensive force in outlying Romanised areas threatened by barbarians. There is evidence that some civitates maintained some degree of Romanisation and served as population centres beyond the official Roman withdrawal, albeit with limited resources.
Certain civitates groups survived as distinct tribal groupings even beyond the fall of the Roman Empire, particularly in Britain and northern Spain. [ citation needed ]
Various lists regarding the political institutions of ancient Rome are presented. Each entry in a list is a link to a separate article. Categories included are: constitutions (5), laws (5), and legislatures (7); state offices (28) and office holders ; political factions and social ranks (8). A political glossary (35) of similar construction follows.
Res publica is a Latin phrase, loosely meaning 'public affair'. It is the root of the word 'republic', and the word 'commonwealth' has traditionally been used as a synonym for it; however, translations vary widely according to the context. 'Res' is a nominative singular Latin noun for a substantive or concrete thing—as opposed to 'spes', which means something unreal or ethereal—and 'publica' is an attributive adjective meaning 'of or pertaining to the public, people'. Hence a literal translation is, 'the public thing, affair' or 'the people's thing, affair'.
Citizenship in ancient Rome was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance.
Municipium is the Latin term for a town or city. Etymologically the municipium was a social contract among municipes, the "duty holders", or citizens of the town. The duties, or munera, were a communal obligation assumed by the municipes in exchange for the privileges and protections of citizenship. Every citizen was a municeps.
Quirites is the name of Roman citizens in their peacetime functions.
Latin Rights were a set of legal rights that were originally granted to the Latins under Roman law in their original territory and therefore in their colonies. "Latinitas" was commonly used by Roman jurists to denote this status. With the Roman expansion in Italy, many settlements and coloniae outside of Latium had Latin rights.
Sicilia was the first province acquired by the Roman Republic, encompassing the island of Sicily. The western part of the island was brought under Roman control in 241 BC at the conclusion of the First Punic War with Carthage. A praetor was regularly assigned to the island from c.227 BC. The Kingdom of Syracuse under Hieron II remained an independent ally of Rome until its defeat in 212 BC during the Second Punic War. Thereafter the province included the whole of the island of Sicily, the island of Malta, and the smaller island groups.
The Lex Plautia Papiria de Civitate Sociis Danda was a Roman plebiscite enacted amidst the Social War in 89 BCE. It was proposed by the Tribunes of the Plebs, M. Plautius Silvanus and C. Papirius Carbo. The law granted Roman citizenship to Italian communities that had previously rebelled against Rome during this war.
Ius Italicum was a law in the early Roman Empire that allowed the emperors to grant cities outside Italy the legal fiction that they were on Italian soil. This meant that the city would be governed under Roman law rather than local law, would have a greater degree of autonomy in their relations with provincial governors, and that people born in the city automatically gained Roman citizenship. As Rome citizens, people were able to buy and sell property, were exempt from land tax, and the poll tax and were entitled to protection under Roman law. Ius Italicum was the highest liberty a municipality or province could obtain and was considered very favorable. Emperors, such as Augustus and Septimius Severus, made use of the law during their reign.
The Romans used provincial and local governments to govern conquered territories without having to rule them directly.
In Ancient Rome, the vicus designated a village within a rural area (pagus) or the neighbourhood of a larger settlement. During the Republican era, the four regiones of the city of Rome were subdivided into vici. In the 1st century BC, Augustus reorganized the city for administrative purposes into 14 regions, comprising 265 vici. Each vicus had its own board of officials who oversaw local matters. These administrative divisions are recorded as still in effect at least until the mid-4th century.
Peregrinus was the term used during the early Roman empire, from 30 BC to AD 212, to denote a free provincial subject of the Empire who was not a Roman citizen. Peregrini constituted the vast majority of the Empire's inhabitants in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. In AD 212, all free inhabitants of the Empire were granted citizenship by the constitutio Antoniniana, with the exception of the dediticii, people who had become subject to Rome through surrender in war, and freed slaves.
The Tribal Assembly was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes (tribus).
The territory of modern Switzerland was a part of the Roman Republic and Empire for a period of about six centuries, beginning with the step-by-step conquest of the area by Roman armies from the 2nd century BC and ending with the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.
The Sanctuary of the Three Gauls (Tres Galliae) was the focal structure within an administrative and religious complex established by Rome in the very late 1st century BC at Lugdunum. Its institution served to federalise and Romanise Gallia Comata as an Imperial province under Augustus, following the Gallic Wars of his predecessor Julius Caesar. The distinctively Gallo-Roman development of the Imperial sanctuary and its surrounding complex are well attested by literary, epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological evidence.
A civitas foederata, meaning "allied state/community", was the most elevated type of autonomous cities and local communities under Roman rule.
The Cantiorix Inscription is a stone grave marker of the early post-Roman era found near Ffestiniog in north Wales and now at the church at Penmachno. It is notable both as the first known historical reference to the Kingdom of Gwynedd, and for its use of the Roman terms for 'citizen' and 'magistrate'.
The Lex Pompeia de Transpadanis was a Roman law promulgated by the Roman Consul Pompeius Strabo in 89 BC. It was one of three laws introduced by the Romans during the Social War between Rome and her Socii (allies), where some of Rome's Italic allies rebelled and waged war against her because of her refusal to grant them Roman citizenship. This law dealt with the local communities in Transpadana, the region north of the River Po,. It granted Latin Rights to these peoples as a reward for siding with the Rome during the Social War. This gave the inhabitants of the region the legal benefits associated with these rights, which were previously restricted to the towns of Latium which had not been incorporated into the Roman Republic and to the citizens of Latin colonies. They included: A) Ius Commercii, "a privilege granted to Latin colonies to have contractual relations, to trade with Roman citizens on equal terms and to use the form of contracts available to Roman citizens". It also allowed contracts and trade on equal terms with citizens of another Latin towns. B) Ius Connubii, was the right to conclude a marriage recognised by law, ius connubii of both parties was necessary for the validity of the marriage. Later it was extended to citizens of foreign communities "either generally, or by special concession". In the case of Latin rights it made marriages between citizens of different Latin towns legal. C) Ius migrationis, the right to retain one’s level of citizenship if the individual relocated to another city. In other words, it facilitated migration by the acquisition of citizenship of another Latin town. In addition to this, the law granted Roman citizenship to the magistrates (officials) of the local towns.
The Romans were a cultural group, variously referred to as an ethnicity or a nationality, that in classical antiquity, from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD, came to rule the Near East, North Africa, and large parts of Europe through conquests made during the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire. Originally only referring to the Italic Latin citizens of Rome itself, the meaning of "Roman" underwent considerable changes throughout the long history of Roman civilisation as the borders of the Roman state expanded and contracted. At times, different groups within Roman society also had different ideas as to what it meant to be Roman. Aspects such as geography, language, and ethnicity could be seen as important by some, whereas others saw Roman citizenship and culture or behaviour as more important. At the height of the Roman Empire, Roman identity was a collective geopolitical identity, extended to nearly all subjects of the Roman emperors and encompassing vast regional and ethnic diversity.
A civitas stipendaria or stipendiaria, meaning "tributary state/community", was the lowest and most common type of towns and local communities under Roman rule.