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Roman System of Government

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The Romans had a very systematic government just like the U.S. has today. In the early days of the Roman Empire it was the kings who governed, but around 500 BC a new system of government was created where only male citizens were allowed to govern and take part in voting and making decisions. This system included consuls, Senate, prefects, tribunes, and an assembly. The consuls consisted of two men who controlled the army, decided cost of tax, and made the laws. The two men were also the decision makers on whether to start a war or to subside. If any change to the law or taxes was to be made, both the men had to agree. If one of them did not accede, there was no change made. The two men governed for one year and were voted out if they did not meet the expectations of the people. The consuls didn’t make all the decisions by themselves. They received advice from the Senate and usually did as the Senate advised. The Senate was made of about 600 men who were from rich families. The men from the Senate were to advise and look over the decisions of the consuls. Once a man received a spot in the Senate, he stayed in for his entire life. Most of the consuls ended up joining the Senate. Within the Senate there was a group called the Tribunes, who were people that spoke for the poor citizens. The Tribunes were allowed to deny any law or rule that would affect the poor. Then there were prefects who ran the city by maintaining meat and vegetable markets, and also by hearing cases of the citizens. The male citizens make up the last group called the assembly. They were allowed to vote on big law changes and they elected the consuls, prefects, and the Senators. This system was used for around 450 years and then was once again changed. Around 60 BC the Roman army started to conquer many different places further away from home. During 50 BC, when Julius Caesar was part of the army, the general started to take over and did as they wished without paying any attention to the Senate. After 20 years of the generals taking over, a man named Augustus wanted to make a change after realizing that the citizens were unhappy. Augustus returned the power to the consuls and Senate, but made them give him the power of a tribune for the rest of his life. He made them do this so that he could deny anything that displeased him. This system went on for the next 1500 years.

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