The Info List - Roman Citizenship

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Citizenship in ancient Rome
(Latin: civitas) was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance.

A male Roman citizen enjoyed a wide range of privileges and protections defined in detail by the Roman state. A citizen could, under certain exceptional circumstances, be deprived of his citizenship. Roman women had a limited form of citizenship. Though held in high regard they were not allowed to vote or stand for civil or public office. The rich might participate in public life by funding building projects or sponsoring religious ceremonies and other events. Women had the right to own property, to engage in business, and to obtain a divorce, but their legal rights varied over time. Marriages were an important form of political alliance during the Republic. Client state citizens and allies (socii) of Rome
could receive a limited form of Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
such as the Latin
Right. Such citizens could not vote or be elected in Roman elections.[2] Slaves were considered property and lacked legal personhood. Over time, they acquired a few protections under Roman law. Some slaves were freed by manumission for services rendered, or through a testamentary provision when their master died. Once free, they faced few barriers, beyond normal social snobbery, to participating in Roman society. The principle that a person could become a citizen by law rather than birth was enshrined in Roman mythology; when Romulus defeated the Sabines
in battle, he promised the war captives that were in Rome
they could become citizens.[3] Freedmen
were former slaves who had gained their freedom. They were not automatically given citizenship and lacked some privileges such as running for executive magistracies. The children of freedmen and women were born as free citizens; for example, the father of the poet Horace was a freedman.


1 Rights 2 Classes of citizenship

2.1 Cives Romani 2.2 Latini 2.3 Socii 2.4 Provinciales 2.5 Peregrini

3 Citizenship as a tool of Romanization 4 The Edict of Caracalla 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Rights[edit] The rights available to individual citizens of Rome
varied over time, according to their place of origin, and their service to the state. They also varied under Roman law
Roman law
according to the classification of the individual within the state. Various legal classes were defined by the various combinations of legal rights that each class enjoyed. However, the possible rights available to citizens with whom Roman law addressed were:

The toga was the characteristic garment of the Roman male citizen, and statues of emperors (here Antoninus Pius) frequently depict them togate (togatus).

Ius suffragiorum: The right to vote in the Roman assemblies. Ius honorum: The right to stand for civil or public office. Ius commercii: The right to make legal contracts and to hold property as a Roman citizen. Ius gentium: The legal recognition, developed in the 3rd century BC, of the growing international scope of Roman affairs, and the need for Roman law
Roman law
to deal with situations between Roman citizens and foreign persons. The ius gentium was therefore a Roman legal codification of the widely accepted international law of the time, and was based on the highly developed commercial law of the Greek city-states and of other maritime powers.[4] The rights afforded by the ius gentium were considered to be held by all persons; it is thus a concept of human rights rather than rights attached to citizenship. Ius conubii: The right to have a lawful marriage with a Roman citizen according to Roman principles,[5] to have the legal rights of the paterfamilias over the family, and for the children of any such marriage to be counted as Roman citizens. Ius migrationis: The right to preserve one's level of citizenship upon relocation to a polis of comparable status. For example, members of the cives Romani (see below) maintained their full civitas when they migrated to a Roman colony
Roman colony
with full rights under the law: a colonia civium Romanorum. Latins
also had this right, and maintained their ius Latii if they relocated to a different Latin
state or Latin
colony (Latina colonia). This right did not preserve one's level of citizenship should one relocate to a colony of lesser legal status; full Roman citizens relocating to a Latina colonia were reduced to the level of the ius Latii, and such a migration and reduction in status had to be a voluntary act. The right of immunity from some taxes and other legal obligations, especially local rules and regulations.[6] The right to sue in the courts and the right to be sued. The right to have a legal trial (to appear before a proper court and to defend oneself). The right to appeal from the decisions of magistrates and to appeal the lower court decisions. Following the early 2nd-century BC Porcian Laws, a Roman citizen could not be tortured or whipped and could commute sentences of death to voluntary exile, unless he was found guilty of treason. If accused of treason, a Roman citizen had the right to be tried in Rome, and even if sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be sentenced to die on the cross.

Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
was required in order to enlist in the Roman legions, but this was sometimes ignored. Citizen soldiers could be beaten by the centurions and senior officers for reasons related to discipline. Non-citizens joined the Auxilia
and gained citizenship through service. Classes of citizenship[edit] The legal classes varied over time, however the following classes of legal status existed at various times within the Roman state:

The Orator, c. 100 BC, an Etrusco-Roman bronze sculpture depicting Aule Metele (Latin: Aulus Metellus), an Etruscan man wearing a Roman toga while engaged in rhetoric; the statue features an inscription in the Etruscan alphabet

Cives Romani[edit] The Cives Romani were full Roman citizens, who enjoyed full legal protection under Roman law. Cives Romani were sub-divided into two classes:

The non optimo iure who held the ius commercii and ius conubii (rights of property and marriage) The optimo iure, who also held these rights as well as the ius suffragiorum and ius honorum (the additional rights to vote and to hold office).

Latini[edit] Further information: Latin League
Latin League
and Latin
Right The Latini were a class of citizens who held the Latin
Rights (ius Latii), or the rights of ius commercii and ius migrationis, but not the ius connubii. The term Latini originally referred to the Latins, citizens of the Latin League
Latin League
who came under Roman control at the close of the Latin
War, but eventually became a legal description rather than a national or ethnic one. Freedmen
slaves, those of the Cives Romani convicted of crimes, or citizens settling Latin
colonies could be given this status under the law. Socii[edit] Further information: Socii, Foederati, Social War (91–88 BC), and Lex Julia Socii
or Foederati
were citizens of states which had treaty obligations with Rome, under which typically certain legal rights of the state's citizens under Roman law
Roman law
were exchanged for agreed levels of military service, i.e. the Roman magistrates had the right to levy soldiers for the Roman legions from those states. However, Foederati states that had at one time been conquered by Rome
were exempt from payment of tribute to Rome
due to their treaty status. Growing dissatisfaction with the rights afforded to the Socii, and with the growing manpower demands of the legions (due to the protracted Jugurthine War
Jugurthine War
and the Cimbrian War) led eventually to the Social War of 91–88 BC in which the Italian allies revolted against Rome. The Lex Julia (in full the Lex Iulia de Civitate Latinis Danda), passed in 90 BC, granted the rights of the cives Romani to all Latini and socii states that had not participated in the Social War, or who were willing to cease hostilities immediately. This was extended to all the Italian socii states when the war ended (except for Gallia Cisalpina), effectively eliminating socii and Latini as legal and citizenship definitions. Provinciales[edit] Provinciales were those people who fell under Roman influence, or control, but who lacked even the rights of the Foederati, essentially having only the rights of the ius gentium. Peregrini[edit] A Peregrinus (plural Peregrini) was originally any person who was not a full Roman citizen, that is someone who was not a member of the Cives Romani. With the expansion of Roman law
Roman law
to include more gradations of legal status, this term became less used, but the term peregrini included those of the latini, socii, and provinciales, as well as those subjects of foreign states. Citizenship as a tool of Romanization[edit]

A young woman sits while a servant fixes her hair with the help of a cupid, who holds up a mirror to offer a reflection, detail of a fresco from the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, c. 50 BC

Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
was also used as a tool of foreign policy and control. Colonies and political allies would be granted a "minor" form of Roman citizenship, there being several graduated levels of citizenship and legal rights (the Latin Right
Latin Right
was one of them). The promise of improved status within the Roman "sphere of influence", and the rivalry with one's neighbours for status, kept the focus of many of Rome's neighbours and allies centered on the status quo of Roman culture, rather than trying to subvert or overthrow Rome's influence. The granting of citizenship to allies and the conquered was a vital step in the process of Romanization. This step was one of the most effective political tools and (at that point in history) original political ideas (perhaps one of the most important reasons for the success of Rome). Previously Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
had tried to "mingle" his Greeks with the Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, etc. in order to assimilate the people of the conquered Persian Empire, but after his death this policy was largely ignored by his successors. The idea was not to assimilate, but to turn a defeated and potentially rebellious enemy (or their sons) into Roman citizens. Instead of having to wait for the unavoidable revolt of a conquered people (a tribe or a city-state) like Sparta
and the conquered Helots, Rome
tried to make those under its rule feel that they had a stake in the system. The Edict of Caracalla[edit] The Edict of Caracalla
(officially the Constitutio Antoniniana (Latin: "Constitution [or Edict] of Antoninus") was an edict issued in AD 212 by the Roman Emperor Caracalla, which declared that all free men in the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
were to be given full Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
and all free women in the Empire were given the same rights as Roman women. Before 212, for the most part only inhabitants of Italia held full Roman citizenship. Colonies of Romans established in other provinces, Romans (or their descendants) living in provinces, the inhabitants of various cities throughout the Empire, and a few local nobles (such as kings of client countries) also held full citizenship. Provincials, on the other hand, were usually non-citizens, although some held the Latin Right. However, by the previous century Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
had already lost much of its exclusiveness and become more available.[7] See also[edit]

Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome

Civis romanus sum Constitution of the Roman Republic Rights of Englishmen


^ a b Goodfellow, Charlotte Elizabeth (1938). Roman citizenship: a study of its territorial and numerical expansion from the earliest time to the death of Augustus. The Johns Hopkins University press.  ^ Hans Volkmann: Municipium. In: Der Kleine Pauly. vol. 3, Stuttgart 1969, col. 1464–1469. ^ Plutarch, Life of Romulus
16.4. ^ "Roman Law". The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. New York: Columbia University Press. Archived from the original on 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2007-07-28.  ^ conubium. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project. ^ Catholic Resources ^ Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1979). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 965–. ISBN 978-0-8028-3781-3. 

External links[edit]

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003-10-27). The Complete Roman Army. Thames & Hudson. p. 224. ISBN 0-500-05124-0.  Jahnige, Joan (May 2002). "Roman Citizenship". Kentucky Educational Television Distance Learning. Retrieved 2008-09-06.  Lassard, Yves; Alexandr Koptev. "The Roman Law Library" (Library). Retrieved 2008-09-06.  Just, Felix. "Social Aspects of Pauline World". Catholic Resources for Bible, Liturgy, Art, and Theology. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 

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