The Constitution of the Roman Republic
The development of an unwritten and evolving constitution was the most important feature of the Roman Republic. The constitution of Rome recognized a separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions, thus blending the monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic elements of Roman history. A unique system of checks and balances combined with annual elections aimed at preventing an undue concentration of powers.
Society in the Roman Republic
In the early years of the Roman Republic the aristocrats and the patricians wielded much power. The struggle between the patricians and the plebeians defined the administrative system. The wealthy land-holders wielded exclusive rights to the highest public offices and made laws to suit their purposes. This changed over time and many plebeians were inducted into public offices. There emerged another class, that of the influential plebeians. Socio-cultural life in the Roman Republic was grounded in tradition. Ethical values centered on patronage or the strong mutual obligations of the patronus, the protector or benefactor, and his clientes, his beneficiaries. The constitution and social structure of the Roman Republic influenced constitutions of most o the modern countries of the world. Latin, the official language of the Roman Republic had a far-reaching influence and impacted the development of modern European languages.
Military expansion was linked to success in the public offices of the Roman Republic. By the end of the first century BC, the Roman Republic covered almost all of Italy, Iberia, Greece, Northern Africa, and parts of France. A tradition of conquest marked the history of the Roman Republic. The Italian campaigns lasted from 458 BC to about 274 BC. The leaders of the Roman Republic spent much effort in conquering Carthage. The three Punic wars fought between 264 BC and 146 BC were costly campaigns. However at the end of the Third Punic war all of Carthage and most of North Africa was annexed. The campaign of Macedonia ended in 148 BC.
Civil Wars in the Roman Republic
In the later years of the Roman Republic a number of civil wars broke out in the state. The rise of exceptionally powerful leaders had caused a set back in the democratic outlook of the republic. While the Roman Republic started out without any prolonged office bearers the later leaders such as Julius Caesar and Augustus held almost permanent offices. Civil wars were the natural consequence. Eventually these paved the way for the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was proclaimed perpetual dictator. Upon his assassination Augustus came to rule Rome and transformed the republic into a Principate. He was granted the powers of an emperor in 27 BC effectively ending the Republic.