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Citizenship Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the law of a country (and/or local jurisdiction) of belonging to thereof. In international law it is membership to a sovereign state (a country). Each state is free to determine the condit ...
in
ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC–509 BC), Rom ...
() was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. * Roman women had a limited form of citizenship. They were not allowed to vote or stand for civil or public office. The rich might participate in public life by funding building projects or sponsoring religious ceremonies and other events. Women had the right to own property, to engage in business, and to obtain a divorce, but their legal rights varied over time. Marriages were an important form of political alliance during the Republic. *
Client state Client(s) or The Client may refer to: * Client (computing), hardware or software that accesses a remote service on another computer * Customer or client, a recipient of goods or services in return for monetary or other valuable considerations * Cli ...
citizens and allies ''(socii)'' of Rome could receive a limited form of Roman citizenship such as the
Latin Right Latin Rights (also latin citizenship, Latin: ''ius Latii'' or ''ius latinum'') were a set of legal rights that were originally granted to the Latins (Latin: "Latini", the People of Latium, the land of the Latins) under Roman law. "''Latinitas'' ...
. Such citizens could not vote or be elected in
Roman elections Elections in the Roman Republic were an essential part to its governance, with participation only being afforded to Roman citizens. Upper class interests, centered in the urban political environment of cities, often trumped the concerns of the diver ...
. *Freedmen were former slaves who had gained their freedom. They were not automatically given citizenship and lacked some privileges such as running for executive magistracies. The children of freedmen and women were born as free citizens; for example, the father of the poet
Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his ''O ...
was a freedman. *
Slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
were considered property and lacked
legal personhood In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' (less ambiguously, any legal entity) that can do the things a human person is usually able to do in law – such as enter into contracts, sue and be sued, own property, and so on. The reason for the ...
. Over time, they acquired a few protections under Roman law. Some slaves were freed by
manumission Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves by their owner. Different approaches developed, each specific to the time and place of a particular society. Jamaican historian Verene Shepherd states that the most widely used term is ...
for services rendered, or through a testamentary provision when their master died. Once free, they faced few barriers, beyond normal social stigma, to participating in Roman society. The principle that a person could become a citizen by law rather than birth was enshrined in
Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. "Roman mythology" may also refer to the modern study of these ...
; when
Romulus Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus and his contemporaries. Although many of these tra ...
defeated the
Sabines The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; grc, Σαβῖνοι ''Sabĩnoi''; it, Sabini, all exonyms) were an Italic people that lived in the central Apennine Mountains of the ancient Italian Peninsula, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the found ...
in battle, he promised the war captives that were in Rome they could become citizens.


Possible rights

*''Ius suffragii'': The right to vote in the
Roman assemblies The Roman Assemblies were institutions in ancient Rome. They functioned as the machinery of the Roman legislative branch, and thus (theoretically at least) passed all legislation. Since the assemblies operated on the basis of a direct democracy, ord ...
. *''Ius honorum'': The right to stand for civil or public office. *''Ius commercii'': The right to make legal
contract A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. A ...
s and to hold property as a Roman citizen. *''
Ius gentium The ''ius gentium'' or ''jus gentium'' (Latin for "law of nations") is a concept of international law within the ancient Roman legal system and Western law traditions based on or influenced by it. The ''ius gentium'' is not a body of statute law or ...
'': The legal recognition, developed in the 3rd century BC, of the growing international scope of Roman affairs, and the need for Roman law to deal with situations between Roman citizens and foreign persons. The ''ius gentium'' was therefore a Roman legal codification of the widely accepted
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide ...
of the time, and was based on the highly developed commercial law of the Greek city-states and of other maritime powers. The rights afforded by the ''ius gentium'' were considered to be held by all persons; it is thus a concept of
human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for certain standards of human ...
rather than rights attached to citizenship. *''
Ius conubiiThe (‘Canuleian law’), or , was a law of the Roman Republic, passed in the year 445 BC, restoring the right of (marriage) between patricians and plebeians. Canuleius' first rogation Five years earlier, as part of the process of establishing th ...
'': The right to have a lawful
marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them ...
with a Roman citizen according to Roman principles, to have the legal rights of the ''
paterfamilias The ''pater familias'', also written as ''paterfamilias'' (plural ''patres familias''), was the head of a Roman family. The ''pater familias'' was the oldest living male in a household, and exercised autocratic authority over his extended family. T ...
'' over the family, and for the children of any such marriage to be counted as Roman citizens. *''Ius migrationis'': The right to preserve one's level of citizenship upon relocation to a
polis ''Polis'' (; grc-gre, πόλις ), plural ''poleis'' (, ) literally means "city" in Greek. It defined the administrative and religious city center, as distinct from the rest of the city. It can also signify a body of citizens. In modern histo ...

polis
of ''comparable'' status. For example, members of the ''cives Romani'' (see below) maintained their full ''civitas'' when they migrated to a
Roman colony A Roman colonia (plural ''coloniae'') was originally a Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of a Roman city. It is also the origin of the modern term ''colo ...
with full rights under the law: a ''colonia civium Romanorum''. ''Latins'' also had this right, and maintained their ''ius Latii'' if they relocated to a different Latin state or Latin colony (''Latina colonia''). This right did ''not'' preserve one's level of citizenship should one relocate to a colony of ''lesser'' legal status; full Roman citizens relocating to a ''Latina colonia'' were reduced to the level of the ''ius Latii'', and such a migration and reduction in status had to be a voluntary act. *The right of immunity from some taxes and other legal obligations, especially local rules and regulations. *The right to sue in the courts and the right to be sued. *The right to have a legal trial (to appear before a proper court and to defend oneself). *The right to appeal from the decisions of magistrates and to appeal the lower court decisions. *Following the early 2nd-century BC
Porcian Laws The Valerian and Porcian laws were Roman laws passed between 509 BC and 184 BC. They exempted Roman citizens from degrading and shameful forms of punishment, such as whipping, scourging, or crucifixion. They also established certain rights for Roman ...
, a Roman citizen could not be
torture Torture (from Latin ''tortus'': to twist, to torment) is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action ...
d or whipped and could commute sentences of death to
voluntary exile ''Dante in Exile'' by To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village, town, city, state, province, territory or even country) and unable to return. People (or corporations and even governments) may be in exile for various ...
, unless he was found guilty of
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
. *If accused of treason, a Roman citizen had the right to be tried in Rome, and even if sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be sentenced to die on the cross. Roman citizenship was required in order to enlist in the Roman legions, but this was sometimes ignored. Citizen soldiers could be beaten by the
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army during Classical Antiquity, nominally the commander of a century (), a military unit of around 80 legionar ...
s and senior officers for reasons related to discipline. Non-citizens joined the
Auxilia The lat, Auxilia (Latin: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen legions by Augustus after his reorganisation of the Imperial Roman army from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the sa ...
and gained citizenship through service.


Classes of citizenship

The legal classes varied over time, however the following classes of legal status existed at various times within the Roman state:


Cives Romani

The ''cives Romani'' were full Roman citizens, who enjoyed full legal protection under Roman law. ''Cives Romani'' were sub-divided into two classes: *The ''non optimo iure'' who held the ''ius commercii'' and ''ius conubii'' (rights of property and marriage) *The ''optimo iure'', who held these rights as well as the ''ius suffragii'' and ''ius honorum'' (the additional rights to vote and to hold office).


Latini

The ''Latini'' were a class of citizens who held the
Latin Right Latin Rights (also latin citizenship, Latin: ''ius Latii'' or ''ius latinum'') were a set of legal rights that were originally granted to the Latins (Latin: "Latini", the People of Latium, the land of the Latins) under Roman law. "''Latinitas'' ...
(''ius Latii''), or the rights of ''ius commercii'' and ''ius migrationis'', but not the ''ius conubii''. The term ''Latini'' originally referred to the
Latins The Latins were originally an Italic tribe in ancient central Italy from Latium. As Roman power and colonization spread Latin culture, during the Roman Empire, Latins came to mean mostly unified Italic Latin-speaking people and the Latin-speaking ...
, citizens of the
Latin League The Latin League (c. 7th century BC – 338 BC)Stearns, Peter N. (2001) ''The Encyclopedia of World History'', Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76–78. . was an ancient confederation of about 30 villages and tribes in the region of Latium near the ancient ci ...
who came under Roman control at the close of the
Latin War The (Second) Latin War (340–338 BC)The Romans customarily dated events by noting the consuls who held office that year. The Latin War broke out in the year that Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus and Publius Decius Mus were consuls and ended ...
, but eventually became a legal description rather than a national or ethnic one.
Freedmen A freedman or freedwoman is a formerly enslaved person who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, enslaved people were freed by manumission (granted freedom by their captor-owners), emancipation (granted freedom as ...
slaves, those of the ''cives Romani'' convicted of crimes, or citizens settling Latin colonies could be given this status under the law.


Socii

''Socii'' or ''foederati'' were citizens of states which had treaty obligations with Rome, under which typically certain legal rights of the state's citizens under Roman law were exchanged for agreed levels of military service, i.e. the Roman magistrates had the right to levy soldiers for the
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army. A legion was roughly of brigade size, composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry in the republican period, expanded to 5,200 infantry and 120 auxilia in the imperi ...

Roman legion
s from those states. However, ''foederati'' states that had at one time been conquered by Rome were exempt from payment of tribute to Rome due to their treaty status. Growing dissatisfaction with the rights afforded to the ''socii'', and with the growing manpower demands of the legions (due to the protracted
Jugurthine War The Jugurthine War ( la, Bellum Iugurthinum; 112–106 BC) was an armed conflict between the Roman Republic and king Jugurtha of Numidia, a kingdom on the north African coast approximating to modern Algeria. Jugurtha was the nephew and adopted s ...
and the
Cimbrian War The Cimbrian or Cimbric War (113–101 BC) was fought between the Roman Republic and the Germanic and Celtic tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons, Ambrones and Tigurini, who migrated from the Jutland peninsula into Roman controlled territory, and ...
) led eventually to the Social War of 91–87 BC in which the Italian allies revolted against Rome. The
Lex JuliaA ''Lex Julia'' (or: Lex Iulia, plural: Leges Juliae/Leges Iuliae) was an ancient Roman law that was introduced by any member of the Julian family. Most often, "Julian laws", ''Lex Iulia'' or ''Leges Iuliae'' refer to moral legislation introduced by ...
(in full the ''Lex Iulia de Civitate Latinis Danda''), passed in 90 BC, granted the rights of the ''cives Romani'' to all ''Latini'' and ''socii'' states that had not participated in the Social War, or who were willing to cease hostilities immediately. This was extended to all the Italian ''socii'' states when the war ended (except for
Gallia Cisalpina Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. After its conquest by the Roman Republic in the 220s BC it was conside ...
), effectively eliminating ''socii'' and ''Latini'' as legal and citizenship definitions.


Provinciales

''Provinciales'' were those people who fell under Roman influence, or control, but who lacked even the rights of the ''Foederati'', essentially having only the rights of the ''ius gentium''.


Peregrini

A
peregrinus Peregrine, Latin ''Peregrinus'', is a name originally meaning "one from abroad", that is, a foreigner, traveller, or pilgrim. It may refer to: * Peregrine falcon, a bird of prey People Peregrine * Peregrine (martyr) (died 182 AD), Roman Catholic ...
(plural ''peregrini'') was originally any person who was not a full Roman citizen, that is someone who was not a member of the ''cives Romani''. With the expansion of Roman law to include more gradations of legal status, this term became less used, but the term ''peregrini'' included those of the ''Latini'', ''socii'', and ''provinciales'', as well as those subjects of foreign states.


Citizenship as a tool of Romanization

Roman citizenship was also used as a tool of foreign policy and control. Colonies and political allies would be granted a "minor" form of Roman citizenship, there being several graduated levels of citizenship and legal rights (the
Latin Right Latin Rights (also latin citizenship, Latin: ''ius Latii'' or ''ius latinum'') were a set of legal rights that were originally granted to the Latins (Latin: "Latini", the People of Latium, the land of the Latins) under Roman law. "''Latinitas'' ...
was one of them). The promise of improved status within the Roman "sphere of influence", and the rivalry with one's neighbours for status, kept the focus of many of Rome's neighbours and allies centered on the ''status quo'' of Roman culture, rather than trying to subvert or overthrow Rome's influence. The granting of citizenship to allies and the conquered was a vital step in the process of
Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and ...
. This step was one of the most effective political tools and (at that point in history) original political ideas (perhaps one of the most important reasons for the success of Rome). Previously
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus'') of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. ...
had tried to "mingle" his Greeks with the Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, etc. in order to assimilate the people of the conquered
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the B ...
, but after his death this policy was largely ignored by his
successors
successors
. The idea was not to assimilate, but to turn a defeated and potentially rebellious enemy (or their sons) into Roman citizens. Instead of having to wait for the unavoidable revolt of a conquered people (a tribe or a city-state) like
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, ''Spártā''; Attic Greek: Σπάρτη, ''Spártē'') was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (, ), while the name Sparta referred to its main se ...

Sparta
and the conquered
Helots The helots (; el, εἵλωτες, ''heílotes'') were a subjugated population that constituted a majority of the population of Laconia and Messenia – the territories comprising Sparta. There has been controversy since antiquity as to their exa ...
, Rome tried to make those under its rule feel that they had a stake in the system.


The Edict of Caracalla

The Edict of Caracalla (officially the
Constitutio Antoniniana The ''Constitutio Antoniniana'' (Latin for: "Constitution r Edictof Antoninus") (also called the Edict of Caracalla or the Antonine Constitution) was an edict issued on 11 July in 212 AD, by the Roman Emperor Caracalla. It declared that all free men ...
in Latin: "Constitution r Edictof Antoninus") was an
edict JMdict (Japanese-Multilingual Dictionary) is a large machine-readable multilingual Japanese dictionary. As of February 2021, it contained Japanese–English translations for around 191,000 entries, representing 267,000 unique headword-reading combin ...
issued in AD 212 by the Roman Emperor
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...
, which declared that all free men in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman citizenship and all free women in the Empire were given the same rights as Roman women, with the exception of the ''dediticii'', people who had become subject to Rome through surrender in war, and freed slaves.Giessen Papyrus, 40,7-9 "I grant to all the inhabitants of the Empire the Roman citizenship and no one remains outside a civitas, with the exception of the dediticii" Before 212, for the most part only inhabitants of
Italia Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps, a peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Italy is located in Southern Europ ...
held full Roman citizenship. Colonies of Romans established in other provinces, Romans (or their descendants) living in provinces, the inhabitants of various cities throughout the Empire, and a few local nobles (such as kings of client countries) also held full citizenship. Provincials, on the other hand, were usually non-citizens, although some held the Latin Right. The
Book of Acts The Acts of the Apostles ( grc-koi, Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, ''Práxeis Apostólōn''; la, Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the fo ...
indicates that
Paul the Apostle Paul the Apostle,; el, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; he, פאולוס השליח; – AD commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Hebrew name Saul of Tarsus,; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; el, Σαῦ ...
was a Roman citizen by birth - though not clearly specifying which class of citizenship - a fact which had considerable bearing on Paul's career and on the way he shaped the new religion of Christianity. However, by the century previous to Caracalla, Roman citizenship had already lost much of its exclusiveness and become more available.


''Romanitas'', roman nationalism, and its extinction

With the settlement of
Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and ...
and the passing of generations, a new unifying feeling began to emerge within Roman territory, the ''
Romanitas ''Romanitas'' is the collection of political and cultural concepts and practices by which the Romans defined themselves. It is a Latin word, first coined in the third century AD, meaning "Roman-ness" and has been used by modern historians as short ...
'' or ''Roman way of life'', the once tribal feeling that had divided Europe began to disappear (although never completely) and blend in with the new wedge patriotism imported from Rome with which to be able to ascend at all levels. The ''Romanitas'', ''Romanity'' or ''Romanism'' would last until the last years of unit of the ''
pars occidentalis
pars occidentalis
'', a moment in which the old tribalisms and the proto-
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society aroun ...
of Celtic origins, until then dormant, would re-emerge, mixing with the new ethnic groups of Germanic origin. This being observed in the writings of
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours or Duallegori de Artorx (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He wa ...
, who does not use the dichotomy
Gallo-Roman The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, language, morals and way of life in a uniquely Gaulish context. The ...
-
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks, a Germanic tribe and their culture ** Frankish language or its modern descendants, Franconian languages * Francia * Crusaders * Levantines (Latin Christians) See also * Name of the Franks * Franks (disambiguation ...
, but uses the name of each of the
gens In ancient Rome, a gens ( or ), plural gentes, was a family consisting of individuals who shared the same nomen and who claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a ''stirps'' (plural ''stirpes''). The ''gens'' was an ...
of that time existing in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Germ ...
(arverni, turoni, lemovici, turnacenses, bituriges, franci, etc.), considering the same a
Arverni The Arverni (Gaulish: ''Aruerni'') were a Gallic people dwelling in the modern Auvergne region during the Iron Age and the Roman period. They were one of the most powerful tribes of ancient Gaul, contesting primacy over the region with the neighb ...
and not a Gallo-Roman.James, ‘Gregory of Tours and the Franks’, p.66. James (p.60) says that Gregory writes of the identities ‘Frank’ and ‘Arvernian’ ‘as if they were equivalent ethnic terms’.


See also

*
Civis romanus sum The Latin phrase ''cīvis rōmānus sum'' (; "I am (a) Roman citizen") is a phrase used in Cicero's ''In Verrem'' as a plea for the legal rights of a Roman citizen. When travelling across the Roman Empire, safety was said to be guaranteed to anyo ...
*
Constitution of the Roman Republic The constitution of the Roman Republic was a set of uncodified norms and customs which, together with various written laws, guided the procedural governance of the Roman Republic. The constitution emerged from that of the Roman kingdom, evolved su ...
*
Rights of Englishmen The "rights of Englishmen" are the traditional rights of English subjects and later English speaking subjects of the British crown. In the 18th century, some of the colonists who objected to British rule in the thirteen British North American col ...


References


Further reading

* Atkins, Jed W. 2018. ''Roman Political Thought.'' Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. * Cecchet, Lucia and Anna Busetto, eds. 2017. ''Citizens in the Graeco-Roman World: Aspects of Citizenship from the Archaic Period to AD 212.'' Mnemosyne Supplements, 407. Leiden; Boston: Brill. * Gardner, Jane. 1993. ''Being a Roman Citizen.'' London: Routledge. * Howarth, Randal S. 2006. ''The Origins of Roman Citizenship.'' Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press. * Nicolet, Claude. 1980. The World of the Citizen In Republican Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press.


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Roman Citizenship