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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IV. THE RISE OF ROME TO 264 B.C.
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ITALY UNDER ROMAN RULE
THE ROMAN CITIZENS
Italy did not form a single state under Roman rule. About one-third of Italy composed the strictly Roman territory occupied by Roman citizens. Since ancient Rome knew nothing of the great principle of representative government, it was necessary that citizens who wished to vote or to stand for office should visit in person the capital city. Few men, of course, would journey many miles to Rome in order to exercise their political rights. The elections, moreover, were not all held on one day, as with us, but consuls, praetors, and other magistrates were chosen on different days, while meetings of the assemblies might be held at any time of the year. A country peasant who really tried to fulfill his duties as a citizen would have had little time for anything else. In practice, therefore, the city populace at Rome had the controlling voice in ordinary legislation. The Romans were never able to remedy this grave defect in their political system. We shall see later what evils government without representation brought in its train.
Over against this body of Roman citizens were the Italian peoples. Rome was not yet ready to grant them citizenship, but she did not treat them as complete subjects. The Italians were called the "allies and friends" of the Roman people. They lost the right of declaring war on one another, of making treaties, and of coining money. Rome otherwise allowed them to govern themselves, never calling on them for tribute and only requiring that they should furnish soldiers for the Roman army in time of war. These allies occupied a large part of the Italian peninsula.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy