Roman Senate

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The Roman Senate (Latin : Senātus Rōmānus) was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome, (traditionally founded in 753 BC). It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

King class of male monarch

King, or king regnant is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.

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During the days of the kingdom, it was little more than an advisory council to the king. The last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown following a coup d'état led by Lucius Junius Brutus, who founded the Roman Republic. During the early Republic, the Senate was politically weak, while the various executive magistrates were quite powerful. Since the transition from monarchy to constitutional rule was most likely gradual, it took several generations before the Senate was able to assert itself over the executive magistrates. By the middle Republic, the Senate had reached the apex of its republican power. The late Republic saw a decline in the Senate's power, which began following the reforms of the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

Roman Kingdom Romes political structure 753-509 BCE

The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history, when the city and its territory were ruled by kings.

King of Rome the chief magistrate of the ancient Roman Kingdom (for the medieval German title, use Q782985)

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, when the last king was overthrown. These kings ruled for an average of 35 years.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus 5th/6th-century BC King of Rome

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus.

After the transition of the Republic into the Principate, the Senate lost much of its political power as well as its prestige. Following the constitutional reforms of the Emperor Diocletian, the Senate became politically irrelevant. When the seat of government was transferred out of Rome, the Senate was reduced to a purely municipal body. This decline in status was reinforced when the emperor Constantine the Great created an additional senate in Constantinople.

Principate first period of the Roman Empire

The Principate or early Roman Empire is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire from the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 BC to the end of the Crisis of the Third Century in 284 AD, after which it evolved into the so-called Dominate.

Diocletian Roman Emperor from 284 to 305 A.C.N.

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.

Constantine the Great Roman emperor

Constantine the Great, also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, town now known as Niš, he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer. His mother was Empress Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.

After Romulus Augustulus was deposed in 476 the Senate in the West functioned under the rule of Odovacer, 476–489 and during Ostrogothic rule, 489–535. It was restored after the reconquest of Italy by Justinian I. However, the Senate in Rome ultimately disappeared at some point after AD 603 (the year in which the last known senator was mentioned). Despite this, the title "senator" was still used well into the Middle Ages as a largely meaningless honorific. However, the Eastern Senate survived in Constantinople, until the ancient institution finally vanished there, c. 14th century.

Romulus Augustulus last emperor of the Western Roman Empire

Flavius Romulus Augustus, known derisively and historiographically as Romulus Augustulus, was the Roman emperor who ruled the Western Roman Empire from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476. He is often described as the "last Western Roman emperor", though some historians consider this to be Julius Nepos. His deposition by Odoacer traditionally marks the end of the Roman Empire in the West, the end of Ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Western Europe.

Justinian I major Eastern Roman emperor who ruled from 527 to 565

Justinian I, traditionally known as Justinian the Great and also Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, and his reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire".

History

Senate of the Roman Kingdom

The senate was a political institution in the ancient Roman Kingdom. The word senate derives from the Latin word senex , which means "old man"; the word thus means "assembly of elders". The prehistoric Indo-Europeans who settled Italy in the centuries before the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC [1] were structured into tribal communities, [2] and these communities often included an aristocratic board of tribal elders. [3]

Senate type of legislative body, often the upper house or chamber of a bicameral legislature

A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the ancient Roman Senate, so-called as an assembly of the senior and therefore allegedly wiser and more experienced members of the society or ruling class. Thus, the literal meaning of the word "senate" is Assembly of Elders.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Proto-Indo-Europeans Ancient ethnic group

The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the prehistoric people of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction.

The early Roman family was called a gens or "clan", [2] and each clan was an aggregation of families under a common living male patriarch, called a pater (the Latin word for "father"). [4] When the early Roman gentes were aggregating to form a common community, the patres from the leading clans were selected [5] for the confederated board of elders that would become the Roman senate. [4] Over time, the patres came to recognize the need for a single leader, and so they elected a king (rex), [4] and vested in him their sovereign power. [6] When the king died, that sovereign power naturally reverted to the patres. [4]

The senate is said to have been created by Rome's first king, Romulus, initially consisting of 100 men. The descendants of those 100 men subsequently became the patrician class. [7] Rome's fifth king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, chose a further 100 senators. They were chosen from the minor leading families, and were accordingly called the patres minorum gentium. [8]

Rome's seventh and final king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, executed many of the leading men in the senate, and did not replace them, thereby diminishing their number. However, in 509 BC Rome's first and third consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus and Publius Valerius Publicola chose from amongst the leading equites new men for the senate, these being called conscripti, and thus increased the size of the senate to 300. [9]

The senate of the Roman Kingdom held three principal responsibilities: It functioned as the ultimate repository for the executive power, [10] it served as the king's council, and it functioned as a legislative body in concert with the people of Rome. [11] During the years of the monarchy, the senate's most important function was to elect new kings. While the king was nominally elected by the people, it was actually the senate who chose each new king. [10]

The period between the death of one king and the election of a new king was called the interregnum , [10] during which time the Interrex nominated a candidate to replace the king. [12] After the senate gave its initial approval to the nominee, he was then formally elected by the people, [13] and then received the senate's final approval. [12] At least one king, Servius Tullius, was elected by the senate alone, and not by the people. [14]

The senate's most significant task, outside regal elections, was to function as the king's council, and while the king could ignore any advice it offered, its growing prestige helped make the advice that it offered increasingly difficult to ignore. Only the king could make new laws, although he often involved both the senate and the curiate assembly (the popular assembly) in the process. [11]

Senate of the Roman Republic

Representation of a sitting of the Roman senate: Cicero attacks Catiline, from a 19th-century fresco in Palazzo Madama, Rome, house of the Italian Senate. It is worth noting that idealistic medieval and subsequent artistic depictions of the Senate in session are almost uniformly inaccurate. Illustrations commonly show the senators arranged in a semicircle around an open space where orators were deemed to stand; in reality the structure of the existing Curia Julia building, which dates in its current form from the Emperor Diocletian, shows that the senators sat in straight and parallel lines on either side of the interior of the building. In current media depictions in film this is shown correctly in The Fall of the Roman Empire, and incorrectly in, for example, Spartacus. Maccari-Cicero.jpg
Representation of a sitting of the Roman senate: Cicero attacks Catiline, from a 19th-century fresco in Palazzo Madama, Rome, house of the Italian Senate. It is worth noting that idealistic medieval and subsequent artistic depictions of the Senate in session are almost uniformly inaccurate. Illustrations commonly show the senators arranged in a semicircle around an open space where orators were deemed to stand; in reality the structure of the existing Curia Julia building, which dates in its current form from the Emperor Diocletian, shows that the senators sat in straight and parallel lines on either side of the interior of the building. In current media depictions in film this is shown correctly in The Fall of the Roman Empire , and incorrectly in, for example, Spartacus .
The so-called "Togatus Barberini", a statue depicting a Roman senator holding the imagines (effigies) of deceased ancestors in his hands; marble, late 1st century BC; head (not belonging): mid-1st century BC. Togatus Barberini 2392.PNG
The so-called "Togatus Barberini", a statue depicting a Roman senator holding the imagines (effigies) of deceased ancestors in his hands; marble, late 1st century BC; head (not belonging): mid-1st century BC.

When the Republic began, the Senate functioned as an advisory council. It consisted of 300–500 senators, who were initially patrician and served for life. Before long, plebeians were also admitted, although they were denied the senior magistracies for a longer period. [15] [ unreliable source? ]

Senators were entitled to wear a toga with a broad purple stripe, maroon shoes, and an iron (later gold) ring. [15] [ unreliable source? ]

The Senate of the Roman Republic passed decrees called senatus consulta , which in form constituted "advice" from the senate to a magistrate. While these decrees did not hold legal force, they usually were obeyed in practice. [16]

If a senatus consultum conflicted with a law (lex) that was passed by an assembly, the law overrode the senatus consultum because the senatus consultum had its authority based in precedent and not in law. A senatus consultum, however, could serve to interpret a law. [17]

Through these decrees, the senate directed the magistrates, especially the Roman Consuls (the chief magistrates) in their prosecution of military conflicts. The senate also had an enormous degree of power over the civil government in Rome. This was especially the case with regard to its management of state finances, as only it could authorize the disbursal of public funds from the treasury. As the Roman Republic grew, the senate also supervised the administration of the provinces, which were governed by former consuls and praetors, in that it decided which magistrate should govern which province.

Since the 3rd century the senate also played a pivotal role in cases of emergency. It could call for the appointment of a dictator (a right resting with each consul with or without the senate's involvement). However, after 202, the office of dictator fell out of use (and was revived only two more times) and was replaced with the senatus consultum ultimum ("ultimate decree of the senate"), a senatorial decree which authorised the consuls to employ any means necessary to solve the crisis. [18]

While senate meetings could take place either inside or outside the formal boundary of the city (the pomerium ), no meeting could take place more than a mile outside it. [19] The senate operated while under various religious restrictions. For example, before any meeting could begin, a sacrifice to the gods was made, and a search for divine omens (the auspices ) was taken. [20] The senate was only allowed to assemble in places dedicated to the gods.

Meetings usually began at dawn, and a magistrate who wished to summon the senate had to issue a compulsory order. [21] The senate meetings were public [19] and directed by a presiding magistrate (usually a consul). [6] While in session, the senate had the power to act on its own, and even against the will of the presiding magistrate if it wished. The presiding magistrate began each meeting with a speech, [22] then referred an issue to the senators, who would discuss it in order of seniority. [19]

Senators had several other ways in which they could influence (or frustrate) a presiding magistrate. For example, every senator was permitted to speak before a vote could be held, and since all meetings had to end by nightfall, [16] a dedicated group or even a single senator could talk a proposal to death (a filibuster or diem consumere). [22] When it was time to call a vote, the presiding magistrate could bring up whatever proposals he wished, and every vote was between a proposal and its negative. [23]

With a dictator as well as a senate, the senate could veto any of the dictator's decisions. At any point before a motion passed, the proposed motion could be vetoed, usually by a tribune. If there were no veto, and the matter were of minor importance, it could be put to either a voice vote or a show of hands. If there were no veto and no obvious majority, and the matter were of a significant nature, there was usually a physical division of the house, [19] with senators voting by taking a place on either side of the chamber.

Senate membership was controlled by the censors. By the time of Gaius Marius, ownership of property worth at least one million sesterces was required for membership. [15] [ unreliable source? ] The ethical requirements of senators were significant. In contrast to members of the Equestrian order, senators could not engage in banking or any form of public contract. They could not own a ship that was large enough to participate in foreign commerce, [19] they could not leave Italy without permission from the rest of the senate and they were not paid a salary. Election to magisterial office resulted in automatic senate membership. [24]

Senate of the Roman Empire

After the fall of the Roman Republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the Roman senate to the Roman Emperor. Though retaining its legal position as under the republic, in practice, however, the actual authority of the imperial senate was negligible, as the emperor held the true power in the state. As such, membership in the senate became sought after by individuals seeking prestige and social standing, rather than actual authority.

During the reigns of the first emperors, legislative, judicial, and electoral powers were all transferred from the Roman assemblies to the senate. However, since the emperor held control over the senate, the senate acted as a vehicle through which he exercised his autocratic powers.

The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum, the seat of the imperial Senate. Curia Iulia.JPG
The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum, the seat of the imperial Senate.

The first emperor, Augustus, reduced the size of the senate from 900 members to 600, even though there were only about 100 to 200 active senators at one time. After this point, the size of the senate was never again drastically altered. Under the empire, as was the case during the late republic, one could become a senator by being elected quaestor (a magistrate with financial duties), but only if one were already of senatorial rank. [25] In addition to quaestors, elected officials holding a range of senior positions were routinely granted senatorial rank by virtue of the offices that they held. [26]

If an individual were not of senatorial rank, there were two ways for him to become a senator. Under the first method, the emperor manually granted that individual the authority to stand for election to the quaestorship, [25] while under the second method, the emperor appointed that individual to the senate by issuing a decree. [27] Under the empire, the power that the emperor held over the senate was absolute. [28]

The two consuls were a part of the senate, but had more power than the senators. During senate meetings, the emperor sat between the two consuls, [29] and usually acted as the presiding officer. Senators of the early empire could ask extraneous questions or request that a certain action be taken by the senate. Higher ranking senators spoke before those of lower rank, although the emperor could speak at any time. [29]

Besides the emperor, consuls and praetors could also preside over the senate. Since no senator could stand for election to a magisterial office without the emperor's approval, senators usually did not vote against bills that had been presented by the emperor. If a senator disapproved of a bill, he usually showed his disapproval by not attending the senate meeting on the day that the bill were to be voted on. [30]

While the Roman assemblies continued to meet after the founding of the empire, their powers were all transferred to the senate, and so senatorial decrees (senatus consulta) acquired the full force of law. [28] The legislative powers of the imperial senate were principally of a financial and an administrative nature, although the senate did retain a range of powers over the provinces. [28]

During the early Roman Empire, all judicial powers that had been held by the Roman assemblies were also transferred to the senate. For example, the senate now held jurisdiction over criminal trials. In these cases, a consul presided, the senators constituted the jury, and the verdict was handed down in the form of a decree (senatus consultum), [28] [31] and, while a verdict could not be appealed, the emperor could pardon a convicted individual through a veto. The emperor Tiberius transferred all electoral powers from the assemblies to the senate, [31] and, while theoretically the senate elected new magistrates, the approval of the emperor was always needed before an election could be finalized.

Around 300 AD, the emperor Diocletian enacted a series of constitutional reforms. In one such reform, he asserted the right of the emperor to take power without the theoretical consent of the senate, thus depriving the senate of its status as the ultimate depository of supreme power. Diocletian's reforms also ended whatever illusion had remained that the senate had independent legislative, judicial, or electoral powers. The senate did, however, retain its legislative powers over public games in Rome, and over the senatorial order.

The senate also retained the power to try treason cases, and to elect some magistrates, but only with the permission of the emperor. In the final years of the western empire, the senate would sometimes try to appoint their own emperor, such as in the case of Eugenius, who was later defeated by forces loyal to Theodosius I. The senate remained the last stronghold of the traditional Roman religion in the face of the spreading Christianity, and several times attempted to facilitate the return of the Altar of Victory (first removed by Constantius II) to the senatorial curia.

Post-Imperial Senate in Rome

Senate in the West

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the senate continued to function under the Germanic chieftain Odoacer, and then under Ostrogothic rule. The authority of the senate rose considerably under barbarian leaders, who sought to protect the institution. This period was characterized by the rise of prominent Roman senatorial families, such as the Anicii, while the senate's leader, the princeps senatus, often served as the right hand of the barbarian leader. It is known that the senate successfully installed Laurentius as pope in 498, despite the fact that both King Theodoric and Emperor Anastasius supported the other candidate, Symmachus. [32]

The peaceful coexistence of senatorial and barbarian rule continued until the Ostrogothic leader Theodahad found himself at war with Emperor Justinian I and took the senators as hostages. Several senators were executed in 552 as revenge for the death of the Ostrogothic king, Totila. After Rome was recaptured by the imperial (Byzantine) army, the senate was restored, but the institution (like classical Rome itself) had been mortally weakened by the long war. Many senators had been killed and many of those who had fled to the east chose to remain there, thanks to favorable legislation passed by Emperor Justinian, who, however, abolished virtually all senatorial offices in Italy. The importance of the Roman senate thus declined rapidly. [33]

In 578 and again in 580, the senate sent envoys to Constantinople. They delivered 3000 pounds (believed to be around 960 kg) of gold as a gift to the new emperor, Tiberius II Constantinus, along with a plea for help against the Lombards, who had invaded Italy ten years earlier. Pope Gregory I, in a sermon from 593, lamented the almost complete disappearance of the senatorial order and the decline of the prestigious institution. [34] [35]

It is not clearly known when the Roman senate disappeared in the West, but it is known from the Gregorian register that the senate acclaimed new statues of Emperor Phocas and Empress Leontia in 603, [36] [37] and that was also the last time the senate was mentioned. [36] In 630, the house of the Senate, Curia Julia, was transformed into a church by Pope Honorius I, probably with the permission of the Emperor Heraclius. [38]

In later medieval times, the title "senator" was still in occasional use, but it had become a meaningless adjunct title of nobility and no longer implied membership in an organized governing body.[ citation needed ]

In 1144, the Commune of Rome attempted to establish a government modeled on the old Roman Republic in opposition to the temporal power of the higher nobles and the pope. This included setting up a senate along the lines of the ancient one. The revolutionaries divided Rome into fourteen regions , each electing four senators for a total of 56 (although one source,[ which? ][ according to whom? ] often repeated, gives a total of 50). These senators elected as their leader Giordano Pierleoni, son of the Roman consul Pier Leoni, with the title patrician, since consul was also a deprecated noble styling.[ citation needed ]

This renovated form of government was constantly embattled. By the end of the 12th century, it had undergone a radical transformation, with the reduction of the number of senators to a single one – Summus Senator – being thereafter the title of the head of the civil government of Rome. In modern terms, for example, this is comparable to the reduction of a board of commissioners to a single commissioner, such as the political head of the police department of New York City. Between 1191 and 1193, this was a certain Benedetto called Carus homo or carissimo.[ citation needed ]

Senate in the East

The senate continued to exist in Constantinople however, although it evolved into an institution that differed in some fundamental forms from its predecessor. Designated in Greek as synkletos, or assembly, the Senate of Constantinople was made up of all current or former holders of senior ranks and official positions, plus their descendants. At its height during the 6th and 7th centuries, the Senate represented the collective wealth and power of the Empire, on occasion nominating and dominating individual emperors. [39]

In the second half of the 10th century a new office, proëdrus (Greek : πρόεδρος), was created as head of the senate by Emperor Nicephorus Phocas. Up to the mid-11th century, only eunuchs could become proëdrus, but later this restriction was lifted and several proëdri could be appointed, of which the senior proëdrus, or protoproëdrus (Greek : πρωτοπρόεδρος), served as the head of the senate. There were two types of meetings practised: silentium, in which only magistrates currently in office participated and conventus, in which all syncletics (Greek : συγκλητικοί, senators) could participate. The Senate in Constantinople existed until at least the beginning of the 13th century, its last known act being the election of Nicolas Canabus as emperor in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. [40]

See also

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The Roman Constitution was an uncodified set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The Roman constitution was not formal or even official, largely unwritten and constantly evolving. Having those characteristics, it was therefore more like the British and United States common law system than a sovereign law system like the English Constitutions of Clarendon and Great Charter or the United States Constitution, even though the constitution's evolution through the years was often directed by passage of new laws and repeal of older ones.

Roman assemblies Assemblies actve in the time of Roman rule

The Roman Assemblies were institutions in ancient Rome. They functioned as the machinery of the Roman legislative branch, and thus passed all legislation. Since the assemblies operated on the basis of direct democracy, ordinary citizens, and not elected representatives, would cast all ballots. The assemblies were subject to strong checks on their power by the executive branch and by the Roman Senate. Laws were passed by Curia, Tribes, and Centuries.

Executive magistrates of the Roman Republic

The executive magistrates of the Roman Republic were officials of the ancient Roman Republic, elected by the People of Rome. Ordinary magistrates (magistratus) were divided into several ranks according to their role and the power they wielded: censors, consuls, praetors, curule aediles, and finally quaestor. Any magistrate could obstruct (veto) an action that was being taken by a magistrate with an equal or lower degree of magisterial powers. By definition, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles were technically not magistrates as they were elected only by the plebeians, but no ordinary magistrate could veto any of their actions. Dictator was an extraordinary magistrate normally elected in times of emergency for a short period. During this period, the dictator's power over the Roman government was absolute, as they were not checked by any institution or magistrate.

Constitution of the Roman Empire

The Constitution of the Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly 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, Augustus, the emperor and the senate were theoretically two co-equal branches of government. In practice, however, 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, Tiberius, many of the powers that had been held by the Roman assemblies were transferred to the Senate.

Constitution of the Roman Kingdom

The Constitution of the Roman Kingdom was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles originating mainly through precedent. During the years of the Roman Kingdom, the constitutional arrangement was centered on the king, who had the power to appoint assistants, and delegate to them their specific powers. The Roman Senate, which was dominated by the aristocracy, served as the advisory council to the king. Often, the king asked the Senate to vote on various matters, but he was free to ignore any advice they gave him. The king could also request a vote on various matters by the popular assembly, which he was also 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 also serve as a trial court for both civil and criminal matters.

Senate of the Roman Kingdom

The Senate of the Roman Kingdom was a political institution in the ancient Roman Kingdom. The word senate derives from the Latin word senex, which means "old man". Therefore, senate literally means "board of old men" and translates as "Council of Elders". The prehistoric Indo-Europeans who settled Rome in the centuries before the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC were structured into tribal communities. These tribal communities often included an aristocratic board of tribal elders, who were vested with supreme authority over their tribe. The early tribes that had settled along the banks of the Tiber eventually aggregated into a loose confederation, and later formed an alliance for protection against invaders.

Executive magistrates of the Roman Kingdom

The executive magistrates of the Roman Kingdom were elected officials of the ancient Roman Kingdom. During the period of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman King was the principal executive magistrate. His power, in practice, was absolute. He was the chief executive, chief priest, chief lawgiver, chief judge, and the sole commander-in-chief of the army. He had the sole power to select his own assistants, and to grant them their powers. Unlike most other ancient monarchs, his powers rested on law and legal precedent, through a type of statutory authorization known as "Imperium". He could only receive these powers through the political process of a democratic election, and could theoretically be removed from office. As such, he could not pass his powers to an heir upon his death, and he typically received no divine honors or recognitions. When the king died, his power reverted to the Roman Senate, which then chose an Interrex to facilitate the election of a new king. The new king was then formally elected by the People of Rome, and, upon the acquiescence of the Roman Senate, he was granted his Imperium by the people through the popular assembly.

Senate of the Roman Empire

The Senate of the Roman Empire was a political institution in the ancient Roman Empire. 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, Augustus, the Emperor and the Senate were technically two co-equal branches of government. In practice, however the actual authority of the imperial Senate was negligible, as the Emperor held the true power of the state. As such, membership in the Senate became sought after by individuals seeking prestige and social standing, rather than actual authority. During the reigns of the first Emperors, legislative, judicial, and electoral powers were all transferred from the "Roman assemblies" to the Senate. However, since the control that the Emperor held over the senate was absolute, the Senate acted as a vehicle through which the Emperor exercised his autocratic powers.

Executive magistrates of the Roman Empire

The executive magistrates of the Roman Empire were elected individuals of the ancient Roman Empire. During the transition from monarchy to republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the executive to the Roman Senate. During the transition from republic to empire, the constitutional balance of power shifted back to the executive. Theoretically, the senate elected each new emperor, although in practice, it was the army which made the choice. The powers of an emperor, existed, in theory at least, by virtue of his legal standing. The two most significant components to an emperor's imperium were the "tribunician powers" and the "proconsular powers". In theory at least, the tribunician powers gave the emperor authority over Rome's civil government, while the proconsular powers gave him authority over the Roman army. While these distinctions were clearly defined during the early empire, eventually they were lost, and the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical.

History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic

The history of the Constitution of the Roman Republic is a study of the ancient Roman Republic that traces the progression of Roman political development from the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC until the founding of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. The constitutional history of the Roman Republic can be divided into five phases. The first phase began with the revolution which overthrew the Roman Kingdom in 509 BC, and the final phase ended with the revolution which overthrew the Roman Republic, and thus created the Roman Empire, in 27 BC. Throughout the history of the republic, the constitutional evolution was driven by the struggle between the aristocracy and the ordinary citizens.

<i>Senatus consultum</i>

A senatus consultum is a text emanating from the senate in Ancient Rome. It is used in the modern phrase senatus consultum ultimum.

References

  1. Abbott, 3
  2. 1 2 Abbott, 1
  3. Abbott, 12
  4. 1 2 3 4 Abbott, 6
  5. Abbott, 16
  6. 1 2 Byrd, 42
  7. Livy, Ab urbe condita , 1:8
  8. Livy, Ab urbe condita , 1:35
  9. Livy, Ab urbe condita , 2.1
  10. 1 2 3 Abbott, 10
  11. 1 2 Abbott, 17
  12. 1 2 Abbott, 14
  13. Byrd, 20
  14. Livy, Ab urbe condita , 1.41
  15. 1 2 3 McCullough, 1026
  16. 1 2 Byrd, 44
  17. Abbott, 233
  18. Abbott, 240
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 Byrd, 34
  20. Lintott, 72
  21. Lintott, 75
  22. 1 2 Lintott, 78
  23. Lintott, 83
  24. Byrd, 36
  25. 1 2 Abbott, 381
  26. Metz, 59, 60
  27. Abbott, 382
  28. 1 2 3 4 Abbott, 385
  29. 1 2 Abbott, 383
  30. Abbott, 384
  31. 1 2 Abbott, 386
  32. Levillain, 907
  33. Schnurer, 339
  34. Bronwen, 3. "For since the Senate has failed, the people have perished, and the sufferings and groans of the few who remain are multiplied each day. Rome, now empty, is burning!"
  35. Cooper, 23
  36. 1 2 Levillain 1047
  37. Richards, 246
  38. Kaegi, 196
  39. Runciman, 60.
  40. Phillips, 222–226.

Bibliography

Primary sources

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Further reading