No More Kings! The Romans Establish a Republic

Today, we would call him Tarquin "the Jerk"

When the Romans chase the Etruscan ruler out of Rome, there is one thing all Romans can agree upon. No More Kings! No Kings, they think, is a step toward making sure there are no more tyrants.

Except for the Greeks, especially the Athenians, monarchy is the system f government in tist time. Alexander the Great is a king. The Etruscans have kings. So do the Italian peoples of southern Italy. To follow through with their pledge of no more kings, the Romans will have to come up with another form of government.

Why not Athenian democracy? The Romans have contact with the Greeks. The Roman culture is being influenced by the Greeks.

There is a simple reason that democracy does not just spring up on Rome. That reason is it simple. It is the rich Romans, the aristocrats, who lead the revolt. The aristocrats chase the Etruscan king out of town. Remember Greek history? Were the aristocrats quick to allow "the people", the common dirty people, to rule in Athens or other Greek poleis?

The rich and super-rich Roman aristocrats are called the patricians.
Audio note: Why the patricians kept government to themselves.

The patricians develop a new form of government. In it, they will choose from among their kind -- good quality rich folk, certain members of certain important families who will jointly run the government. Representatives of the patricians in Rome will make the governmental decisions instead of one single king. They create a ruling body of 300 persons, and they call it the Roman Senate. Senate comes from "older person" since only older members of a patrician family could stand for a seat in this government council.

The Curia Julia where the Senate met
The two consuls sitting on the dais at the front of the Senate

In the beginning, the Senate chose two patricians, they very best patricians, to run government on a day by day basis. They are called consuls. Each has equal power. Each can stop the other from taking any action. This is called the veto from the Latin word meaning "I forbid". (Sound somewhat like the Spartan Kings?). The Senate did not trust any man. Each consul could rule in Rome for only one month before the other took over. They switched back and forth for a year.

The consuls also command the army. Each consul could only command for one day. During war, one consul took the army into the field. The other stayed in Rome to rule and protect the city.

So far, the three principles of Roman government are established: (1) Representative government, (2) trust no man with political power, and (3) keep all political power in the hands of patricians.

From the beginning, the plebeians, the non-rich, were unhappy with the arrangement. They get to grow the food, pay plenty of taxes, fill the ranks of the army, fight and die, but never get a say in Rome's government. They feel the laws favor the patricians. The also feel the laws work against the interests of the plebeians.

Plebeians -- All the people of Rome who are not slaves or members of the super-rich patrician class.

The history of the Roman Republic will be a contest between the patricians and the plebeians over power. The patricians start out with all the power. The plebeians want power. The patricians fight giving the plebeians any power. Only slowly are the patricians forced to give some power to the plebeians or face outright revolt within Rome.

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