Roman Citizenship Essay

1215 words - 5 pages

The Roman Republic became one of the most powerful and ruthless Empire's on the face of the planet and to be a citizen was very appealing. This was such an admirable and highly sought after position; that it would cause envy throughout the people of that time. There were also 'pre-requisites' recorded in the requirements of becoming a Roman citizen and keeping that role. Roman citizenship itself was originally difficult to obtain but once won, life as a citizen was easier and more refined than the 'lowly freemen'.There was a complex set of rules to be taken into account when it came to granting Roman citizenship to the people. Even the birth of a child to a citizen was not always a guarantee of citizenship as the role of the father and mother came into account. If the parents were both citizens and had a legal conubium (marriage), their child would be automatically granted citizenship and would be of the same social class of the father whereas a legionary, although a citizen, was not legally eligible for a conubium so his child would have the role of his/her mother (which was usually not a citizen) unless/until the legionary and the mother had a conubium after his service. There were obviously other ways to obtain citizenship than birthright:Freed slaves and their children became citizens, only once freed.Citizenship was allowed to be bought, but at an extremely high price.Full or partial citizenship was granted to Peregrini; foreigners who lived in conquered lands.Latin people who moved to Rome were granted citizenship but theirs had the restriction of limited rights.Auxilii (Peregrini serving as auxiliary troops) and their children would be granted citizenship as a reward for their services.In AD 212 Rome gradually granted citizenship to whole provinces; the third-century Constitutio Antoniniana granted it to all free male inhabitants of the Empire. (Internet Wikipedia Encyclopaedia 'nod'). In exceptional cases however, an individual could be stripped of their citizenship.Roman citizenship had worthwhile benefits as the people would awe and chase the title throughout their lives. The most appealing would have to have been the fact that citizens were safe from the death penalty unless found guilty of treason. If accused of treason, a Roman citizen had the right to be tried in Rome. Even if sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be sentenced to die at the cross (Jahnige 2002). For example: Two men found of guilty of the same crime, one being a citizen one not, the citizen was beheaded, whilst the other was crucified. Other legal benefits were:The right to vote - suffragiumThe right to make legal contracts - commerciumThe right to legal marriage - conubiumThe right to stand for public officeThe right to sue and be suedThe right to an appeal from the decisions of magistratesThe right to trialCitizens could not be torturedDespite all these benefits, there were legal 'catches' to the role of a citizen. Citizens did have responsibilities: they...

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