HOME

TheInfoList




The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the
chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer t ...
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
legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, tra ...
, the first king of Rome was
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the
Palatine Hill The Palatine Hill, (; la, Collis Palatium or Mons Palatinus; it, Palatino ) which is the centremost of the seven hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber ...

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. The kings after
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
were not known to be
dynasts A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1897. usually in the context of a feudalism, feudal or monarchy, monarchical system, but sometim ...
and no reference is made to the hereditary principle until after the fifth king
Tarquinius Priscus Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, or Tarquin the Elder, was the legendary Kings of Rome, fifth king of Roman Kingdom, Rome and first of its Etruscan civilization, Etruscan dynasty. He reigned from 616 to 579 BC. Tarquinius expanded Roman power through mi ...
. Consequently, some have assumed that the Tarquins' attempt to institute a
hereditary monarchy Hereditary monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mo ...
over this conjectured earlier
elective monarchy An elective monarchy is a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for li ...
resulted in the formation of the
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
.


Overview

Early Rome was ruled by the
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...

king
(''rex''). The king possessed absolute power over the people. The
senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
was a weak
oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a form of power structure A power structure is an overall system of influence between any individual and every other individual within any selected group of people. A description of a power structure would capture the way in w ...
, capable of exercising only minor administrative powers, so that Rome was ruled by its king who was in effect an
absolute monarch Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. ...
. The senate's main function was to carry out and administer the wishes of the king. After Romulus, Rome's first legendary king, Roman kings were elected by the people of Rome, sitting as a
Curiate Assembly The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
, who voted on the candidate that had been nominated by a chosen member of the senate called an ''
interrex The interrex (plural interreges) was literally a ruler "between kings" (Latin ''inter reges'') during the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic. He was in effect a short-term regent. History The office of ''interrex'' was supposedly created followi ...
''. Candidates for the throne could be chosen from any source. For example, one such candidate,
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, or Tarquin the Elder, was the legendary Kings of Rome, fifth king of Roman Kingdom, Rome and first of its Etruscan civilization, Etruscan dynasty. He reigned from 616 to 579 BC. Tarquinius expanded Roman power through mi ...
, was originally a citizen and migrant from a neighboring
Etrusca The Etruscan civilization () of ancient Italy The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civilization, Etruscans, and Celts hav ...
n
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereignty, sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including c ...
. The people of Rome, sitting as the Curiate Assembly, could then either accept or reject the nominated candidate-king. The king had twelve
lictor A lictor (possibly from la, ligare, "to bind") was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' ...

lictor
s wielding
fasces Fasces ( ; ; a ', from the word ', meaning "bundle"; it, fascio littorio) is a bound bundle of wooden rods, sometimes including an axe (occasionally two axes) with its blade emerging. The fasces is an Italian symbol that had its origin in the a ...

fasces
, a
Curule chair A curule seat is a design of a (usually) foldable and transportable chair One of the basic pieces of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and so ...
which served as a throne, a purple
toga picta The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest histori ...
, red shoes, and a white
diadem A diadem is a type of Crown (headgear), crown, specifically an ornamental headband worn by monarchs and others as a badge of royalty. Overview The word derives from the Ancient Greek, Greek διάδημα ''diádēma'', "band" or "fillet", from ...
worn on the head. Only the king could wear a purple toga. The supreme power of the state was vested in the king, whose position gave the following powers:


Chief Executive

Beyond his religious authority, the king was invested with the supreme military, executive, and judicial authority through the use of ''
imperium In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A histori ...

imperium
''. The ''imperium'' of the king was held for life and protected him from ever being brought to trial for his actions. As the sole holder of ''imperium'' in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate
executive power The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
and unchecked military authority as the
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Image:CIC-USS-CarlVinson-2001.jpg, A watchstander at her station in the combat information center of USS Carl Vinson, USS ''Carl Vinson'' in the ...
of all Rome's
legions
legions
. His executive power and his sole ''imperium'' allowed him to issue
decrees A decree is a rule of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is de ...
with the force of law. Also, the laws that kept citizens safe from the misuse of magistrates holding ''imperium'' did not exist during the time of the kings. The king was also empowered to appoint or nominate all officeholders. The king would appoint a
''tribunus celerum''
''tribunus celerum''
to serve both as the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome and also as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the
Celeres__NoToC__ The celeres were the bodyguard of the Kings of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the t ...
. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office, and the tribune left office upon the king's death. The tribune was second in rank to the king and also possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it. Another officer appointed by the king was the ''
praefectus urbi The ''praefectus urbanus'', also called ''praefectus urbi'' or urban prefect in English, was prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langu ...
'', who acted as the warden of the city. When the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers, even to the point of being bestowed with ''imperium'' while inside the city. The king was the sole person empowered to appoint patricians to the Senate.


Chief Judge

The king's imperium granted him both military powers as well as qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Although he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal. This made the king supreme in times of both war and peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could be brought before the king by any
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
during a meeting of the
Curiate Assembly The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
. To assist the king, a council advised the king during all trials, but this council had no power to control the king's decisions. Also, two criminal detectives (Quaestores Parridici) were appointed by him as well as a two-man criminal court (Duumviri Perduellionis) which oversaw for cases of
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
.


Chief Legislator

Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had very little power and authority; they were not independent bodies in that they possessed the right to meet together and discuss questions of state. They could only be called together by the king and could only discuss the matters the king laid before them. While the Curiate Assembly did have the power to pass laws that had been submitted by the king, the Senate was effectively an honorable council. It could advise the king on his action but, by no means, could prevent him from acting. The only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation. These issues effectively allowed the King to more or less
rule by decree Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political or personal control by someone with authority or power * Business rule, a rule pertaining to the structure or behavior internal to a business * School rule, a rule that i ...
with the exception of the above-mentioned affairs.


Election

Whenever a Roman king died, Rome entered a period of ''
interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next (coming from Latin ''i ...

interregnum
''. Supreme power in the state would be devolved to the Senate, which had the task of finding a new king. The Senate would assemble and appoint one of its own members as the
interrex The interrex (plural interreges) was literally a ruler "between kings" (Latin ''inter reges'') during the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic. He was in effect a short-term regent. History The office of ''interrex'' was supposedly created followi ...
to serve for a period of five days with the sole purpose of nominating the next king of Rome. After the five-day period, the interrex would appoint (with the Senate's consent) another Senator for another five-day term. This process would continue until the election of a new king. Once the interrex found a suitable nominee for the kingship, he would bring the nominee before the Senate and the Senate would examine him. If the Senate confirmed the nomination, the interrex would convene the Curiate Assembly and preside as its chairman during the election of the King. Once a candidate was proposed to the Curiate Assembly, the people of Rome could either accept or reject the King-elect. If accepted, the King-elect did not immediately take office: two additional acts had to take place before he was invested with the full regal authority and power. First, it was necessary to obtain the divine will of the gods respecting his appointment by means of the
auspices Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. ...
, since the king would serve as high priest of Rome. An
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious ...

augur
performed this ceremony by conducting the King-elect to the citadel where he was placed on a stone seat as the people waited below. If the King-elect was found worthy of the kingship, the augur announced that the gods had given favourable tokens, thus confirming the King-elect’s priestly character. Second the
imperium In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A histori ...

imperium
had to be conferred upon the King. The Curiate Assembly's vote only determined who was to be King, but that act did not bestow the powers of the king upon him. Accordingly, the King himself proposed to the Curiate Assembly a bill granting him imperium, and the Curiate Assembly, by voting in favour of the law, would grant it. In theory, the people of Rome elected their leader, but the Senate had most of the control over the process.


Kings of Rome (753–509 BC)

Since Rome's records were destroyed in 390 BC when the city was sacked, it is impossible to know for certain how many kings actually ruled the city, or if any of the deeds attributed to the individual kings, by later writers, are accurate.
Titus Tatius 300px, ''The Intervention of the Sabine Women'', by Jacques-Louis David, depicts Titus Tatius at the left According to the Foundation of Rome, Roman foundation myth, Titus Tatius was the king of the Sabines from Cures, Sabinum, Cures and joint-ru ...
, King of the Sabines, was also joint king of Rome with Romulus for five years, until his death. However he is not traditionally counted among the seven kings of Rome.


During the Republic

Family relations The
overthrow of the Roman monarchy The overthrow of the Roman monarchy, a political revolution in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the West ...
of Tarquinius Superbus led to a limited separation of the powers mentioned above. The actual title of king was retained for the ''
rex sacrorum In ancient Roman religion, the ''rex sacrorum'' ("king of the sacred", also sometimes ''rex sacrificulus'') was a senatorial priesthood reserved for patricians. Although in the historical era, the ''pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, ...
'', who formally remained Rome's first priest. He was forbidden any political or military career, except for a seat in the senate. However, the Roman desire to prevent the kingship from becoming important went so far that, even in the area of religion, the king of sacrifices was formally, in all but protocol, subordinated to the first of the
pontiffs A pontiff (from Latin ''pontifex'') was, in Roman antiquity, a member of the most illustrious of the colleges of priests of the Religion in ancient Rome, Roman religion, the College of Pontiffs."Pontifex". "Oxford English Dictionary", March 2007 The ...
, the ''
pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it becam ...
'' (whose position in origin, rather than with the name of priest, is better described as "minister of religion"), to the extent that at some point in history, the ''regia'' or royal palace at the Forum Romanum, originally inhabited by the king of sacrifices, was ceded to the pontifex maximus. Significantly enough, one of his major public appearances was at the festival of ''
RegifugiumThe Regifugium ("Flight of the King") or Fugalia ("Festival of the Flight") was an annual religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worl ...
'', where he impersonated the king being thrown out of the city. Further, the consuls retained religious roles which were considered so important that the office of ''interrex'' was retained for the opening prayer of "electional" assemblies in case both consuls died in office, and the ritual of driving a nail into the temple of Jupiter sometimes even induced a dictatorship. The ''rex sacrorum'' was not elected publicly, but chosen by the pontifical college. The king of sacrifices retained some religious rites only he could perform, and acted as quasi-
flamen A (plural ''flamens'' or ''flamines'') was a priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deity, deities. They al ...
to
Janus In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, ...

Janus
. The position seems to have continued in existence until the official adoption of the Christian religion. To qualify for the office,
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
ancestry was necessary; however it was once performed by a member of a family otherwise known as plebeian, the ''
Marcii The gens Marcia, occasionally written Martia, was one of the oldest and noblest houses at ancient Rome. They claimed descent from the second and fourth King of Rome, Roman Kings, and the first of the Marcii appearing in the history of the Roman Re ...
'', earning for himself and his descendants the
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of , under . Initially, it was a , but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary ''cognomina'' were used t ...
''Rex''. As has been mentioned, the administrative functions in religion, including at some point the housing in the ancient royal court, were ceded to the supreme pontiff. In the late Republic, the previous role of the king in choosing new senators and dismissing people from the senate was ceded to the
censors Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments, ...
. However, the role of choosing senators became rather limited as all magistrates down to the rank of quaestor eventually gained admission to the senate after the office's expiration. The modern concept of a head of state, insofar as the republican times excepting the dictatorships are concerned, can hardly be translated to Roman conceptions, but most other powers—the
imperium In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A histori ...

imperium
—were ceded to the
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
s (the etymology suggests that these were originally the king's chief counsellors) and to the praetors ("leaders")Before the formal establishment of the office of praetor below the consulate, this was at least another generic name, and quite possibly another title, of the consuls, cf. the names "praetorium" for the military leader's tent etc. after the creation of that office (about 367, 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 ...
); thereby at least roughly separating the judiciary from the executive. According to tradition (which is disputed by historians for the first decades), the consulate was always entrusted to two persons to prevent autocracy. In case of emergencies, the power to appoint a
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
for a six-month term was introduced. Later,
proconsul A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose wo ...

proconsul
s and
propraetor In ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, 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 Roma ...
s could be given an ''imperium'' by appointment of the
senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

senate
. Whoever used the ''imperium'' to victoriously lead an army could acquire the title of
imperator 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" ...

imperator
, which later became chief title of the emperors, who were formally included in the system as proconsuls over
most MOST may refer to: Organizations * Bridge of Independent Lists, MOST nezavisnih lista, political party in Croatia * Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, a museum in Syracuse, New York, US * Ministry of Science and Technology, a mi ...
(and the strategically most important) parts of the empire, chief senators, and popular tribunes without the title. The republican idea that all promagisterial imperium ends upon entering the city was not observed in the emperors' case. At the same time, the legislation was practically passed from the
Curiate Assembly The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
to the
Centuriate Assembly The Centuriate Assembly (: ''comitia centuriata'') of the was one of the three voting assemblies in the . It was named the Centuriate Assembly as it originally divided Roman citizens into groups of one hundred men by classes. The centuries initial ...
(and
Tribal Assembly The Tribal Assembly (''comitia populi tributa'') was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes (''tribus''). In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of ...
), with the exception of the formality, more or less, of a ''
lex curiata de imperio In the constitution of ancient Rome, the ''lex curiata de imperio'' (plural ''leges curiatae'') was the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to fo ...
'', which ratified the elections of the previous Centuriate Assembly. The consuls did, however, retain the power to rule by ordinance.


See also

*
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becom ...
* Pompilia gens *
Hostilia gens 250px, Tullus Hostilius defeating the army of Fidenae.html"_;"title="Veii_and_Fidenae">Veii_and_Fidenae,_modern_fresco. The_gens_Hostilia_was_an_ancient_family_at_Ancient_Rome.html" "title="Fidenae,_modern_fresco..html" ;"title="Fidenae.html" ;"t ...
*
Marcia gens The gens Marcia, occasionally written Martia, was one of the oldest and noblest houses at ancient Rome. They claimed descent from the second and fourth King of Rome, Roman Kings, and the first of the Marcii appearing in the history of the Roman Re ...
* Tullia gens *
Tarquinia gens The gens Tarquinia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, usually associated with Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the fifth and seventh King of Rome, Kings of Rome. Most of the Tarquinii who appear in history are connecte ...


References


External links


Roman Empire.net: The Kings
{{Ancient Rome topics 750s BC 509 BC 8th-century BC establishments in Italy 6th-century BC disestablishments 1st-millennium BC disestablishments in Italy