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In the history of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
term ''civitas'' (; plural ''civitates''), according to
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
in the time of the late
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, was the social body of the cives, or
citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...

citizen
s, 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 ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for stu ...
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 Nicolet Claude Nicolet (15 September 1930 – 24 December 2010) was a 20th-21st century French historian, a specialist of the institutions and political ideas of ancient Rome. Biography Career A former student of the École normale supérieure, Agré ...
traces the first word and concept for the citizen at Rome to the first known instance resulting from the
synoecism Synoecism or synecism ( ; grc, συνοικισμóς, ''sunoikismos'', ), also spelled synoikism ( ), was originally the amalgamation of villages in Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging ...
of Romans and
Sabines The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; grc, Σαβῖνοι ''Sabĩnoi''; it, Sabini, all exonyms) were an Italic peoples, Italic people that lived in the central Apennine Mountains of the ancient Italian Peninsula, also inhabiting Latium north of the An ...
presented in the legends of the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
. According to
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, 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 The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of ...
*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.


Types of civitates

As the empire grew, inhabitants of the outlying
Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each province was ruled ...
s would either be classed as ''dediticii'', meaning "capitulants", or be treated as
client kingdom Client(s) or The Client may refer to: * Client (computing), hardware or software that accesses a remote service on another computer * Customer or client, a recipient of goods or services in return for monetary or other valuable considerations * Cli ...
s with some independence guaranteed through treaties. There were three categories of autonomous native communities under Roman rule: the highest, ''
civitates foederataeA ''civitas foederata'', meaning "allied state/community", was the most elevated type of autonomous cities and local communities under Roman rule. Each Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the ad ...
'' ("allied states"), were formed with formally independent and equal cities, and sealed by a common treaty (''
foedus ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
''); next came the ''
civitates liberae In the history of Rome, the Latin term ''civitas'' (; 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 i ...
'' ("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 stipendariaeA ''civitas stipendaria'' or ''stipendiaria'', meaning "tributary state/community", was the lowest and most common type of towns and local communities under Ancient Rome, Roman rule. Each Roman province comprised a number of communities of differen ...
'' ("tributary states"), which while retaining their internal legal autonomy were obliged to pay tax. Prestigious and economically important settlements such as
Massilia Massalia (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as o ...

Massilia
and
Messana Messina (, also , ; scn, Missina ; lat, Messana; grc, Μεσσήνη, Messḗnē) is the capital city, capital of the Italian Metropolitan City of Messina. It is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, and the 13th largest city in Italy ...
are examples of occupied regions granted semi-autonomy during the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. The island of
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
was granted this status as a reward for loyalty to Rome during the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...
. 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 Cirencester (, ; see #Pronunciation, below for more variations) is a market town in Gloucestershire, England, west of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswold (distric ...
, for example, the Romans made use of the army base that originally oversaw the nearby tribal
oppidum An ''oppidum'' (plural ''oppida'') is a large fortified Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Bronze Age and th ...

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 Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a 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 Publius Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature Classi ...

Tacitus
describes how the Romanised
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...

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;
colonia Colonia may refer to: Arts and entertainment *Colonia (music group), a Croatian dance music group *Colonia (Autopsia album), 2002 *Colonia (A Camp album), 2009 *Colonia (film), ''Colonia'' (film), a 2015 historical romantic thriller Places *Col ...
e, which were settlements of retired troops; and
municipia Municipium (pl. municipia) was the Latin language, 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 ob ...
, formal political entities created from existing settlements. The civitates were regional
market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and p ...
s complete with a
basilica In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town's Forum (Roman), forum. The basilica was in the Latin West equivalent to a stoa in the Greek East. The building g ...

basilica
and
forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *Forum (Roman), open public space within a Roman city **Roman Forum, most famous example *Internet forum, discus ...
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
palisade A palisade, sometimes called a stakewall or a paling, is typically a fence or defensive wall made from iron or wooden stakes, or tree trunks, and used as a defensive structure or enclosure. Palisades can form a stockade. Etymology ''Palisade'' ...
d earthworks in times of trouble, if even that. Towards the end of the empire, the civitates' own local
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
s, 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.


See also

*
Civitas sine suffragio''Civitas sine suffragio'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...
*
Quirites Quirites is the name of Roman citizens in their peacetime functions. Etymology Latin ''Quirītis'' most likely stems from an earlier *''quiri-''. The origin of the latter is uncertain. Since the ''quirīs'' is connected with Sabellic immigrants ...


Notes

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Roman law {{CatAutoTOC, numerals=no Law in ancient history Ancient Rome, Law Indo-European law, Roman Law by former country ...
Roman towns types