During the Roman Republic and the Early Roman Empire, an individual’s political and legal status was derived from his or her membership of the community in which they were legally domiciled.
Communities were graded hierarchically into Roman communities (whose members were ‘Roman citizens), Allied (or ‘Latin’) communities (whose members were graded as ‘Latin citizens’) and Provincial (or subject) communities (whose members were not citizens). The Roman franchise was extended to the Italian cities during the 1st Century BC (late Republic), leaving the tripartite legal division continuing in the provinces.
Communities in the provinces were graded as follows:
- Roman cities. Predominantly coloniae (Roman colonies), alongside some individual communities that were granted Roman citizenship by imperial decree. When honourably discharged, Roman legionary veterans were granted agricultural land in a province alongside their former comrades. The land grants included residency in a local town (the colony) with the rights of a Roman city. The retired soldiers comprised the town council.
- Municipia. Provincial cities in which the members of the town council were granted ‘Latin Rights’ in return for governing their non-citizen neighbours.
- Civitates peregrinae. (‘foreign cities’). The civitates were former tribal districts that had been conquered by Rome. Typically, the governing councils of those cities comprised the descendants of the former tribal aristocracies. The majority of the provincial populations lived within these communities and were governed by traditional (non-Roman) laws and customs.
Each community type was subject to different obligations under the supervision of the Roman provincial governor. The Roman provincial governor was responsible for military and political security, the collection of imperial taxation, and acted as the magistrate for civil cases involving citizens within the province.
Photo Copyright Details:
|Title: A Roman man voting in one of the assemblies
Description: Image of a Roman man voting in one of the assemblies, as depicted on a Roman coin (Denarius)
Source: Wikipedia Commons
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