Julian Law Expands Roman Citizenship (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: The Julian Law extended Roman citizenship to the southern two-thirds of Italy, transforming the concept of citizenship and creating the first nation in history.
Summary of Event
For centuries the Romans, as did all the peoples of ancient Italy, thought of their community in ethnic rather than geographical terms: The state was a people, the Res Publica Populi Romani. Its members (citizens, cives) possessed distinct duties, privileges, and rights. The foremost duties were the payment of various taxes and compulsory service in the military; the chief privilege was eligibility for elective public office. The rights of citizenship (civitas) were more comprehensive and ultimately, for most people, more valuable: conubium, the right to contract a valid marriage; commercium, the right to own private property and to enter into contracts that were enforceable in court; the right of appeal in the face of cruel and arbitrary punishment by a public official; and the right to vote on proposed legislation and on candidates for elective office.
Two and a half centuries of constant warfare gave Rome domination of Italy by the end of the First Punic War in 241 b.c.e. In the course of the fighting, Rome devised a flexible three-tiered system to control its defeated rivals. Roman citizens were the first category. Nearly all Romans were citizens from birth. On rare...
(The entire section is 1506 words.)
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