The Early Republic (509–287 b.c.)

  • A. H. M. Jones
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


When the last king, Tarquinius Superbus, was expelled, it was decided to replace the king, who held office alone for life, with two annual consuls. They held the full royal power, but were limited in their exercise of it first by their annual tenure, after which they could be held to account for any misuse of their power, and secondly by their collegial tenure of power; each could ban any action of the other. The annual tenure and collegiality of magistrates remained a basic principle of the Roman constitution. Since they were primarily military leaders they were elected by the people in their military organization, that is by the comitia centuriata. This gave the wealthy classes a predominant voice in their choice. Only patricians were eligible.


Common People Military Organization Military Tribune Roman People Early Republic 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

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  • A. H. M. Jones

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