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Roman Kingdom

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

According to the legend of Romulus and Remus, the first ruler of the city of Rome was Romulus. Rome, which was to be founded in 753 BCE, was ruled after his death until the expulsion of the last Etruscan king from Rome, i.e. 509 BCE.
During the monarchy, the state was headed by a king (rex, literally “head”) who had full military, judicial and religious authority. Tradition gave the names of seven kings, who were to rule a total of 244 years, and therefore an extremely long period of time for seven rulers. According to tradition, the following ruled in turn: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus, with only the last three rulers, of Etruscan descent, historical and credible. According to historians, the other four are only legendary.

The first legendary Roman king, Romulus.
Na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa - Na tych samych warunkach 3.0.

The insignia of royal power was a bunch of rods with axes stuck in them (fasces cum securibus), which was carried by 12 lictors (lictores), which was the case with consuls during the republic. These rods were a symbol of the absolute power of kings. In addition, the royals were entitled to an ivory curl chair (sella curulis), a purple robe (trabea) and an ivory stick (scipio eburneus).
The monarch was elected by an assembly called comitia curiata. In the event of the king’s death, power was passed to the senate which appointed his deputy, interrexa. He exercised his power for 5 days and then had to transfer it to another interrex, also for a period of 5 days. Interrexi held power until a new king was elected and approved by the curial assembly. The procedure of transferring power to successive deputies was aimed at avoiding usurpation and unlawful seizure of power in the state. The election of the new king was completed by divination from a bird’s eye view (auspicia), which had to end successfully (inauguratio) for the pretender to sit on the throne.

Roman society at the time consisted of full members of the families (patricii) and people with disabilities (plebs). The oldest representatives of the families (patres), forming an assembly of elders, the so-called Senate (senatus), acted as an advisory body next to the king. According to Livius, there were initially 100 senators in the senate, which eventually reached 300.
There was also the aforementioned curial assembly (curia coviri), consisting of adult men (both plebeians and patricians), whose main function was to recognize the new ruler. However, this assembly soon lost its significance.

The third major body of executive power was the People’s Assembly (comitia curiata). Voting for it according the division into 3 curiae, which in turn were divided into the next 10 curiae, and each of these curiae included 10 Roman families. Each curia had its head (curio), priest (flamen) and lictor (lictor). All resolutions of the assembly still required the approval of the Senate. Curio performed holy rites with the participation of a priest (flamen curialis). The head of all curia was curio maximus, who was elected to committees.
Members of all curia gathered at the request of the king at the aforementioned curia assemblies. Decided by a majority of votes.
At the end of the monarchy, new offices appeared in the form of: priests (pontifices, flamines), cavalary commanders (praefectus celerum), prefect of the city (praefectus urbi), the college of investigating judges for treason (duoviri perduelionis) and judges for criminal matters (quaestores parricidii).

History of Kingdom

After the death of the city founder, Romulus, in 715 BCE the throne was Numa Pompilius (715-672 BCE), respected in society for his piety. As a zealous worshiper of the gods, he built the Temple of Janus in Rome, whose door was closed during peace and opened during the war. He also created a priesthood that he divided for each deity. He appointed appropriate priests for Jupiter (flamen dialis), Mars (flamen Martialis) and Quirinus (flamen Quirinalis). It is also believed that he brought priests of Vesta, Vestalka to the city.

During the reign of Tullus Hostilius (673 – 640 BCE), Rome began a policy of expansionism. For the first time, the city of wolves became the head of the Union of Latin Cities and destroyed Alba Longa, the current leading city of the Union. The defeated king of the city, Metius, was to assist the Romans in the fight against the inhabitants of the city of Veii, but as a result of failure to comply with the terms of the agreement, the city of Alba ceased to exist and the inhabitants were displaced to Rome. Over the years, Tullus subdued a number of other settlements.
The Roman monarch also built a meeting place for the senate, called the Curia Hostilia.

After the death of Tullus, the grandson of Numa Pompilius, Ancus Marcius (640 – 616 BCE) became the new ruler of Rome. He followed the policy of his predecessors. According to his grandfather’s rule, he dealt with religion and at the same time continued the military activities of his predecessor. It was during his reign that the borders were widened west by touching the sea. As a result, the port city of Ostia was founded, which in the future will be the main recipient of all goods of the Western world of the Roman Empire. In addition, the first bridge on the Tiber, pons sublicius, was built.

The next monarch was Tarquinius Priscus (616-578 BCE), who had an Etruscan origins. He managed to convince the Romans that he was entrusted with the highest authority. His reign was mainly architectural activity. During his reign, the construction of a circus was initiated, which was later called Circus Maximus. In addition, the king drained the Forum, where later the buildings of the Roman Forum were erected. In addition, he built the temple of Jupiter the Great on the Capitol.

His successor Servius Tullius (578-534 BCE) became famous for being overthrown in a coup d’état in 535 BCE. by Tarquinius Superbus (534-509 BCE), son or grandson of Tarquinius Priscus. Tarquinius Superbus was extremely harsh and therefore unpopular in his approach to citizens. The situation was used by Brutus, the nephew of the king, who in the forum gave a speech listing all the crimes of Tarkwiniusz. The enthusiastic crowd immediately dethroned Tarkwiniusz and banished him from the city. These events took place in 509 BCE and this year is considered the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the republic.
Greeks from the south of Italy, interested in weakening the Etruscans and preventing them from strengthening them in the conquered Campaign and Latium, took part in these events. In 504 BCE together with the Latins, they defeated the Etruscan army in the battle of Aricia. This put an end to the Etruscan rule in Italy.

  • Jaczynowska Maria, Historia Starożytnego Rzymu, Wyd.VI., PWN, Warszawa 1986

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