Rise of the Plebes

In Rome, the 4th Century B.C. was marked by the class struggle between the plebeians (plebeius) and the patricians, the former wrenching one concession after another from the noble class. This UNRV timeline for the 4th Century illustrates well the various concessions the patricians had to grant the inferior, but more numerous class of citizens.

As Rome’s territory expanded and absorbed tribe after tribe within its fold, the population of the conquered cities and regions was integrated in a variety of ways. Those who gave up without too much of a fight were integrated as citizen (as plebeians), others were treated as favoured non-citizens, yet others were re-localized or even enslaved en masse. None, however, were admitted within the exclusive circle of patrician families, a rank that remained available only to those who could trace their ancestry to the founding families of Rome. Thus, even when Rome’s territory expanded to include most of modern Italy at the end of the century, the leadership remained exclusively centered on a fairly small number of Roman families, to whom the Roman legal code granted a series of previleges.

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