• Romans established a REPUBLIC – voters (adult male citizens) elected officials to run the state
  • 3 important groups of citizens helped govern the state:
  • Senate:
  • most influential and powerful, controlling public funds and deciding foreign policies
  • emergency, senators could name a citizen as dictator or absolute ruler for a period of 6 months (complete power over army and courts


  • included Consuls, Praetors & Censors
  • 2 individuals are elected as CONSULS for 1 year term
  • They controlled the army, could appoint – with advice from Senate

o   Each Consul could VETO the other Consul’s acts

§  Veto = I Forbid

  • Principles of “checks and balances” ensures equal distribution of power
  • PRAETORS were elected to help the Consuls
  • In times of war, Praetors commanded armies, in times of peace they ran the courts
  • CENSORS registered citizens according to their wealth


  • Citizens in assembly voted on laws and elected officials, including consuls
  • They elected 10 officials called Tribunes to oversee actions by the SENATE.  If the Tribune felt that the actions were not in the best interest of the people, they would not approve them
  • In the early Roman Republic, citizens were divided into 2 classes of people:  PATRICIANS & PLEBEIANS


  • Citizens who were powerful landowners – nobles who inherited their power


  • Made up the majority of the population – mainly farmers and workers who had few rights
  • In time, Plebeians earned the right to join the army, hold office, form their own assembly and elect Tribunes
  • With a Republic in order, the Romans began 200 year period of expansion and fought many wars with neighbouring peoples.
  • By 256 BCE. – they controlled all of Southern Italy
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Early Roman Republic & Social Classes," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/early-roman-republic-social-classes/.

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