Roman Senate

Roman Senate

Senātus Rōmānus
Advisory and deliberative
Founded753 BC (753 BC)
Disbanded603 AD (603 AD)
Succeeded byByzantine Senate
Meeting place
Curia Julia, Rome

The Roman Senate (Latin: Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome (traditionally founded in 753 BC). It survived the overthrow of the Roman monarchy in 509 BC; the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC; the division of the Roman Empire in AD 395; and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476; Justinian's attempted reconquest of the west in the 6th century, and lasted well into the Eastern Roman Empire's history.

During the days of the Roman Kingdom, most of the time the Senate was little more than an advisory council to the king, but it also elected new Roman kings. The last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown following a coup d'état led by Lucius Junius Brutus, who founded the Roman Republic.

During the early Republic, the Senate was politically weak, while the various executive magistrates were quite powerful. Since the transition from monarchy to constitutional rule was most likely gradual, it took several generations before the Senate was able to assert itself over the executive magistrates. By the middle Republic, the Senate had reached the apex of its republican power. The late Republic saw a decline in the Senate's power, which began following the reforms of the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

After the transition of the Republic into the Principate, the Senate lost much of its political power as well as its prestige. Following the constitutional reforms of Emperor Diocletian, the Senate became politically irrelevant. When the seat of government was transferred out of Rome, the Senate was reduced to a purely municipal body. That decline in status was reinforced when Constantine the Great created an additional senate in Constantinople.

After Romulus Augustulus was deposed in 476, the Senate in the West Empire functioned under the rule of Odoacer (476–489) and during Ostrogothic rule (489–535). It was restored to its official status after the reconquest of Italy by Justinian I but ultimately disappeared after 603, the date of its last recorded public act. Some Roman aristocrats in the Middle Ages bore the title senator, but it was by this point a purely honorific title and does not reflect the continued existence of the classical Senate. The Eastern Senate survived in Constantinople through the 14th century. The Roman Senate was not the ancestor or predecessor of modern parliamentarism in any sense, because the Roman senate was not a legislative body.[1]

  1. ^ Title Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 17 Encyclopedia Americana Publisher Americana Corporation, 1965 Original from the University of Michigan Page: 223 URL: