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The Roman Republic was the predecessor state to the Roman Empire. It began in approximately 509 BC when the last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was deposed and ended in 27 BC, when Augustus Caesar declared himself to be emperor.

The Roman Republic was a very expansionist state, and was responsible for much of the overall growth of Rome. It fought wars of conquest across the Iberian peninsula, France, Italy, much of North Africa and much of the eastern Mediterranean, defeating almost all it attacked.

History:

Government:

The Constitution of the Roman Republic was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The Roman constitution was not formal or even official. It was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving. The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, and political center of the city and the Republic which housed the various offices and meeting places of the government

Senate of the Roman Republic:

The senate's ultimate authority derived from the esteem and prestige of the senators. This esteem and prestige was based on both precedent and custom, as well as the caliber and reputation of the senators. The senate passed decrees, which were called senatus consulta. These were officially "advice" from the senate to a magistrate. In practice, however, they had the force of law The focus of the Roman senate was usually directed towards foreign policy. Though it technically had no official role in the management of military conflict, the senate ultimately was the force that oversaw such affairs. The power of the senate expanded over time as the power of the legislative assemblies declined, and the senate took a greater role in ordinary law-making. Its members were usually appointed by Roman Censors, who ordinarily selected newly elected magistrates for membership in the senate, making the senate a partially elected body. During times of military emergency, such as the civil wars of the 1st century BC, this practice became less prevalent, as the Roman Dictator, Triumvir or the senate itself would select its members.

Legislative Assemblies:

The legal status of Roman citizenship was limited and was a vital prerequisite to possessing many important legal rights such as the right to trial and appeal, to marry, to vote, to hold office, to enter binding contracts, and to special tax exemptions. An adult male citizen with the full complement of legal and political rights was called "optimo jure." The optimo jure elected their assemblies, whereupon the assemblies elected magistrates, enacted legislation, presided over trials in capital cases, declared war and peace, and forged or dissolved treaties. There were two types of legislative assemblies. The first was the comitia ("committees"), which were assemblies of all optimo jure. The second was the concilia ("councils"), which were assemblies of specific groups of optimo jure.

Citizens were organized on the basis of centuries and tribes, which would each gather into their own assemblies. The Comitia Centuriata ("Centuriate Assembly") was the assembly of the centuries. The president of the Comitia Centuriata was usually a consul. The centuries would vote, one at a time, until a measure received support from a majority of the centuries. The Comitia Centuriata would elect magistrates who had imperium powers (consuls and praetors). It also elected censors. Only the Comitia Centuriata could declare war, and ratify the results of a census. It also served as the highest court of appeal in certain judicial cases.

The assembly of the tribes (i.e. the citizens of Rome), the Comitia Tributa, was presided over by a consul, and was composed of 35 tribes. The tribes were not ethnic or kinship groups, but rather geographical subdivisions. The order that the thirty-five tribes would vote in was selected randomly by lot. Once a measure received support from a majority of the tribes, the voting would end. While it did not pass many laws, the Comitia Tributa did elect quaestors, curule aediles, and military tribunes. The Plebeian Council was identical to the assembly of the tribes, but excluded the patricians (the elite who could trace their ancestry to the founding of Rome). They elected their own officers, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles. Usually a plebeian tribune would preside over the assembly. This assembly passed most laws, and could also act as a court of appeal.

Executive Magistrates:

Each republican magistrate held certain constitutional powers. Only the People of Rome (both plebeians and patricians) had the right to confer these powers on any individual magistrate. The most powerful constitutional power was imperium. Imperium was held by both consuls and praetors. Imperium gave a magistrate the authority to command a military force. All magistrates also had the power of coercion. This was used by magistrates to maintain public order. Magistrates also had both the power and the duty to look for omens. This power would often be used to obstruct political opponents.

One check on a magistrate's power was his collegiality. Each magisterial office would be held concurrently by at least two people. Another such check was provocatio. Provocatio was a primordial form of due process. It was a precursor to habeas corpus. If any magistrate tried to use the powers of the state against a citizen, that citizen could appeal the decision of the magistrate to a tribune.In addition, once a magistrate's one-year term of office expired, he would have to wait ten years before serving in that office again.

The consuls of the Roman Republic were the highest ranking ordinary magistrates; each consul served for one year. Consuls had supreme power in both civil and military matters. The consuls were the head of the Roman government. They presided over the senate and the assemblies. While abroad, each consul commanded an army.

Every five years, two censors were elected for an 18-month term, during which they would conduct a census. During the census, they could enroll citizens in the senate, or purge them from the senate.

Rraetors administered civil law and commanded provincial armies.

Aediles were officers elected to conduct domestic affairs in Rome, such as managing public games and shows.

The quaestors would usually assist the consuls in Rome, and the governors in the provinces. Their duties were often financial.

In times of military emergency, a dictator would be appointed for a term of six months. Constitutional government would be dissolved, and the dictator would be the absolute master of the state. When the dictator's term ended, constitutional government would be restored. Culture