Roman Government Notes

* Located in Europe and in the country of Italy.
*Italy is a peninsula with the Alps Mt. range running
across the northern border and the Apennines Mt. range
running the length of Italy.
*Rome built on the Tiber River.
Rome's Government
* Etruscan kings ruled at the beginning of Rome.
*509 B.C. patricians overthrew the Etruscans and set up a
Class Divisions
*Patricians - wealthy landowners, only ones to hold
public office.
*Plebeians - poor citizens, paid taxes, served in the army,
farmers, merchants, and all other workers.
Roman Government During the Republic
*Leader of the Roman government were 2 people called
consuls. The consuls led the military and ran the
*Senate - 300 elected patrician men. Advised the
consuls and proposed laws. Senators served for a lifetime
once elected.
*Praetors - official in the Roman governement who
interpreted the laws and acted as judges in court.
* Plebeians outnumbered the Patricians. Plebeians made
up 95% of the population.
*Plebeians resented having to pay taxes and serve in the
military without any say in the government.
* To gain political power, the plebeians protested and left
the city of Rome. Patricians paniced and this led to a
compromise between the plebeians and the patricians.
*Plebeians were able to create the Tribune of the Plebs.
This protected the plebeians by being able to veto any
laws in the Senate that were not fair to the plebeians.
*The Council of Plebs was then created and they could
pass laws, but these laws only affected the plebeians.
* Through other protests, the plebeians were able to gain
the right to be represented by 1 of the consuls and were
able to pass laws that affected everyone.
Roman Dictators
* The office of dictator in the Roman Republic was
different than what we think of usually.
*Roman dictators had complete control, but they served
the people and only ruled temporarily during
emergencies. The Senate would appoint the dictator and
as soon as the crisis was over, the dictator would give up
*Cincinnatus (picture on the left) was the best known
Roman dictator. He only served for about 15 - 16 days.
Roman Law
* The Twelve Tables were the first written laws of Rome. These
laws established the principle that all free citizens had the right
to be treated equally by the legal system.
* The Twelve Tables only applied to Roman citizens. As the
Roman empire expanded they needed laws to govern nonRoman citizens. The Law of Nations were created to rule
these people.
*Examples of laws we still used today that were established
during this time: 1. person is innocent until proven guilty. 2.
people accused of crimes can defend themselves in court. 3.
judge must look at the evidence carefully before making a