Throughout its existence, Rome had three types of government. During the first two centuries, Rome was ruled by a king. The king was advised by a Senate made up of one hundred members chosen from the Patriciansocial class. The king was commander-in-chief of Rome in time of war, as well as the chief priest and judge. However, he did not have absolute power in governing Rome. He needed the approval of the Comitia Centuriata. It was controlled by patricians. There was also the Comitia Tributa. This governing body was formed of representatives from each of the thirty curiae, or groups of family clans. Finally even if the king's decision was approved by the Comita Centuriata it still had to be approved by the Senate.
Rome had seven kings:
Romulus ruled from 753 to 715 B. C. He was the legendary founder of Rome. Another legendary event that was said to have happened during his reign was the "Rape of the Sabine Women". The legend says that the men who populated Rome were having a hard time finding wives. The reason for this is that the citizens of the surrounding towns were afraid to give their women to the Romans for fear of being conquered by them. Thus, the Romans went into the town of Sabine and took the young women. In order to see their daughters again the men of Sabine made a peace accord with Rome in which the Roman men were allowed to marry a Sabine woman and the Sabine men gained powerful sons in law. The picture on the left is by the French painter Poussin, and not an example of Roman art. However, it is considered a good representation of the invasion of Sabine.
Numa Pompilus ruled from 715 to 672 B. C. He established the priesthoods and religious institutions of the Romans.
Tullius Hostilus ruled from 672 to 641 B. C. This king was famous for his warlike exploits. He conquered much of the surrounding territory and added it to Rome. One example of this was the long war he fought with Alba Longa, which was eventually won by Rome.
Ancus Marcius ruled from 641 to 616 B. C.
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus ruled from 616 to 578 B. C.
Servius Tullius ruled from 578 to 534 B. C.
Tarquinius Superbus ruled from 534 to 509 B. C. His name translates into English as "Tarquin the Proud". He was overthrown and driven out of Rome because of corruption within the government.
In 509 B.C, the Roman Republic was established. The government consisted of many different magistrates or government officials who were appointed by the Senate. This government was led by two consuls, who were the highest-ranking magistrates. They were elected by the Senate for terms of one year, and governed in cooperation with the Senate. They each had veto power, which meant that they could stop one another from performing an action.
The Senate also appointed other magistrates:
Provincial governors who had once been consuls
Administrative agents who were appointed by consuls and later emperors to represent Roman interests in provinces. Their power overlapped with that of the local governors.
Starting from 81 B.C. this system changed. The Senate was no longer led by consuls but by imperators, who were generals of the Roman army that gained enough power to establish rule. The power of the Senate slowly diminished until 27 B.C. when it gave up any rights of power to Emperor Augustus. The rule of Augustus (formerly known as Octavian) ended 100 hundred years of civil wars and the rule of imperators. The leadership of these imperators led to the control of the Roman government by emperors. One of these emperors was the famous Julius Caesar. The emperors began to rule without consulting the Senate, which thus became purely ceremonial. The emperors ruled with the help of a consistory. This was the emperor's council, which consisted of the highest Roman magistrates. The consistory included five magistrates:
Master of Offices
Praepositus Sacri Subiculi
Chief Legal Officer
Comes Sacrarum Largitinum
Count of the sacred largesse-in charge of the taxation and accounting of public finances and general taxes.
Comes Rerum Privatorum
Count of the privy purse-in charge of the expenditures, business dealings, collecting rents, and financial management of the private imperial estates.
There were also many other magistrates appointed to each of the territories Rome conquered. The names, jobs, and territories assigned to each magistrate were written in the Nototia Dignitatum, which was the Registry of Important Civil and Military Offices.
The following is a list of all the imperators and emperors and any major political events during their tenure:
Pompey the Great Imperator, c. 81 - 48 B. C.
Sextus Pompey Imperatorial General, c. 45 - 35 B. C.
Julius Caesar Imperator & Dictator, 61 - 44 B. C. In 60 B. C. Julius Caesar joined Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus to form the First Triumvate- or a group of three imperators who gained enough power to take over Rome. This contributed to the continuing struggle for power within Rome. Caesar was disliked by many because he ruled as dictator, which was the reason why the Roman kings were overthrown. There were many attempts to overthrow him. In 48 BC he killed Gnaeus Pompey to keep his power. However, in 44 B.C Brutus and Cassius succeeded in murdering the Great Caesar.
Brutus Imperatorial General, c. 50 - 42 B. C.
Cassius Imperatorial General, c. 50 - 42 B. C.
Ahenobarbus Imperatorial General c. 42 - 32 B. C.
Marcus Antonius Imperator and General, c. 61 - 30 B. C.
Lepidus Imperator, c. 46 - 42 B. C.
Augustus (formerly Octavian) First Roman Emperor 27 BC - AD 14. He was the adopted nephew of Julius Caesar. He gained power by defeating Marc Antony and Lepidus, his major enemies. His rule ended the civil wars in Rome. He instituted the necessary reforms and then in a clever way of keeping his power he told the Senate that he was resigning dictatorship and becoming a private citizen. However, they were so happy with his reforms that they begged him to stay and resigned all their power.
Agrippa Imperial General c. 31 - 12 B. C.
Tiberius Emperor A. D. 14 - 37
Drusus Son of Tiberius, Murdered A. D. 23
Nero Claudius Drusus Brother of Tiberius
Germanicus Nephew and Adopted Son of Tiberius
Caligula Emperor A. D. 37 - 41
Claudius Emperor A. D. 41 - 54
Britannicus Son of Claudius
Nero Emperor 54 - 68
Clodius Macer Rebel against Galba A. D. 68
Galba Emperor A. D. 68 - 69
Otho Emperor A. D. 69
Vitellius Emperor A. D. 69
Vespasian Emperor A. D. 69 - 79
Titus Emperor A. D. 79 - 81
Domitian Emperor A. D. 81 - 96
Nerva Emperor A. D. 96 - 98
Trajan Emperor A. D. 98 - 117
Hadrian Emperor A. D. 117 - 138
Aelius Caesar A. D. 136 - 138
Antoninus Pius Emperor A. D. 138 - 161
Marcus Aurelius Emperor A. D. 161 - 180
Lucius Verus Co-Emperor A. D. 161 - 169
Commodus Emperor A. D. 180 - 192
Pertinax Emperor A. D. 193
Didius Julianus Emperor A. D. 193
Clodius Albinus Contender for the Throne A. D. 195 - 197
Pescennius Niger Contender for the Throne A. D. 193 - 194
Septimius Severus Emperor A. D. 193 - 211
Geta Emperor A. D. 211 - 212
Caracalla Emperor A. D. 211 - 217
Macrinus Emperor A. D. 217 - 218
Elagabalus Emperor A. D. 218 - 222
Severus Alexander Emperor A. D. 222 - 235
Maximinus I (The Thracian) Emperor A. D. 235 - 238
Gordianus I Africanus Emperor A. D. 238
Gordianus II Africanus Emperor A. D. 238
Balbinus and Pupienus Emperors A. D. 238
Gordianus III Emperor A. D. 238 - 244
Philip I (The Arab) Emperor A. D. 244 - 249
Philip II Caesar A. D. 247 - 249
Pacatian and Jotapian Usurpers A. D. 248
Trajan Decius Emperor A. D. 249 - 251
Herennius Etruscus Emperor A. D. 251
Hostilian Emperor A. D. 251
Trebonianus Gallus Emperor A. D. 251 - 253
Volusianus Emperor A. D. 251 - 253
Aemilianus Emperor A. D. 253
Uranius Antoninus Usurper in Emesa A. D. 253 - 254
Valerian I Emperor A. D. 253 - 260
Gallienus Emperor A. D. 253 - 268
Saloninus Emperor A. D. 259
Valerian II Caesar A. D. 253 - 255
Macrianus Usurper in the East, A. D. 260 - 261
Quietus Usurper in the East, A. D. 260 - 261
Postumus Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 259 - 268
Laelianus Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 268
Marius Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 268
Victorinus Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 268 - 270
Tetricus I Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 270 - 273
Tetricus II Emperor in Rebel Gaul A. D. 270 - 273
Claudius II Gothicus Emperor A. D. 268 - 270
Quintillius Emperor A. D. 270
Aurelianus Emperor A. D. 270 - 275
Valabathus Dux Romanorum, Ruler of Palmyra A. D. 271 - 272
Tacitus Emperor A. D. 275 - 276
Florianus Emperor A. D. 276
Probus Emperor A. D. 276 - 282
Carus Emperor A. D. 282 - 283
Carinus Emperor A. D. 283 - 285
Numerianus Emperor A. D. 283 - 284
Carausius Emperor in Rebel Britain A. D. 287 - 293
Allectus Emperor in Rebel Britain A. D. 293 - 296
Diocletian Emperor A. D. 284 - 305
Maximianus Emperor A. D. 286 - 305 and 306 - 308
Galerius Caesar A. D. 293 - 305, Emperor 305 - 311
Constantius I (Chlorus) Emperor A. D. 305 - 306
Severus II Caesar A. D. 305 - 306, Emperor 306 - 307
Maximinus II Caesar A. D. 305 - 308, Emperor 309 - 313
Constantine I (The Great) Emperor A. D. 306 - 337
Maxentius Emperor A. D. 306 - 312
Romulus Caesar, Died A. D. 309
Licinius I Emperor A. D. 308 - 324
Licinius II Caesar A. D. 317 - 324
Crispus Caesar A. D. 317 - 326
Delmatius and Hanniballinus Caesars A. D. 335 - 337
Constantine II Emperor A. D. 337 - 340
Constans Emperor A. D. 337 - 350
Constantius II Emperor A. D. 337 - 361
Constantius Gallus Caesar A. D. 351 - 354
Magnentius Emperor A. D. 350 - 353
Decentius Caesar A. D. 351 - 353
Vetranio Caesar A. D. 350
Julian II (The Apostate) Emperor A. D. 361 - 363
Jovian Emperor A. D. 363 - 364
Valentinian I Emperor A. D. 364 - 375
Valens Emperor A. D. 364 - 378
Gratian Emperor A. D. 367 - 383
Valentinian II Emperor A. D. 375 - 392
Eugenius Emperor A. D. 392 - 394
Magnus Maximus Emperor A. D. 383 - 388
Theodosius I (The Great) Emperor A. D. 379 - 395
Honorius Emperor A. D. 395 - 423
Arcadius Emperor A. D. 395 - 408
Constantine III Emperor A. D. 407 - 411
Constans Emperor A. D. 408 - 411
Constantius III Emperor A. D. 421
Priscus Attalus Puppet Emperor A. D. 409 - 410 and 414 - 415