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History Romans Development Government And Law Essay

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The History of the Romans: Development of Government and Law

The Romans began their existence as a small city under Etruscan Rule. As they grew in population, they were able to rebel against the Etruscans and become their own country. After their rebellion, they were able to assemble their first government. As their wealth, power and population grew, the Romans were able to increase their territorial gains. As they expanded their territory throughout the Roman Empire and the Roman Republic, they altered their government and enhanced their laws; both of which have been very influential in the development of the American government.

The Roman kingdom began as a small city which was ruled by the Etruscans. The Etruscans were a monarchy ruled by a King-Priest. The Etruscans had the greatest influence on the Roman culture. The Romans incorporated the Etruscan gods as well as their language, ideas and civilization. The Etruscans forced the citizens whom they conquered to work on their farms doing all of the agricultural labor. While dominated people such as the Romans worked on the Etruscan farms, the Etruscans concentrated on expanding their territory, commerce and industry. While trying to expand their territories, the Etruscans became weaker because they were unable to control all of the people it had dominated. After being defeated by other tribes, the Romans saw their opportunity to be free from the Etruscans. The Romans destroyed not only the Etruscan people but all of their belongings. They burned the Etruscan's books and writings, knocked down their buildings and destroyed the capital along with the Etruscan King-Priest. Because the Romans destroyed everything, there is very little known about the Etruscans. In 509 B.C., the Romans were finally free from the Etruscan rule with the expulsion of the Etruscan Monarchs.

After defeating the Etruscans, the Romans were left with the task of creating their own government. First they decided that they would have a monarch ruled by a King-Priest much like the Etruscan King-Priest. The monarch had great authority over the citizens of Rome. The monarch was very dominating and reminded the Romans too much of the King-Priest that they had just broken away from. Therefore, the Romans decided that they would alter their government. Their government was then changed to an oligarchy. The Romans did now like the oligarchy either and so they changed their government once again. This new government became known as the Roman Republic.

The Roman Republic originally consisted of two elected consuls, the senate and an independent judiciary. The consuls ruled side-by-side and served as a system of checks and balances. They were elected annually. Their responsibilities were to initiate legislation, presided as judges and controlled the army. The senate consisted only of wealthy land owning aristocrats called patricians. In addition to creating laws and electing the consuls, the assembly controlled public finance and foreign policy. The judiciary was independent and was responsible to pass the laws. The poor Roman citizens (plebeians) did not have a place in the government. They wanted to have a voice in the government like the aristocratic citizens. This began the Struggle of the Orders (509-287 B.C.) within the Roman community.

The Struggle of the Orders was between the patricians and the plebeians. The patricians were allowed to be in the senate and controlled most of the wealth and power in Rome. The plebeians were the majority of the Roman population. They had no power and were left with the jobs that the patricians thought were beneath them. They were farmers, laborers and craftsmen. They also served in the military. While the plebeians had no say in the governments, they were enslaved by the aristocrats for nonpayment of debt, they were discriminated in law making and in the courts, they had no representation in politics and they were prevented from marring patricians. The lack of a written code of laws contributed to the discrimination of the plebeians. The Struggle of the Orders resulted from the plebeian's struggle to become equal to the patricians. In rebellion of the patrician dominated government, the plebeians refused to pay taxes or serve in the military. They also threatened to separate from Rome. Because the plebeians were such a large part of the Roman military, the threat of them not serving was enough to force the patricians to take steps towards equality.

The patricians allowed the plebeians to form t...

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