This is the essay for the 9th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. It’s an answer to one question, what are the changes caused by the Struggle of the Orders in Rome.
What specific changes occurred in Roman society as a result of the Struggle of the Orders?
For those who don’t know the Struggle of the Orders is a period from Rome, which took place from 494 BC to 287 BC. It was a conflict between the two classes in ancient Rome, which were the plebeians and the patricians. The plebeians were the common folk they did own some land, which they farmed on. A lot of the work done in Rome was done by slaves, but a few of the jobs that Plebeians did was, farmer, soldier, manufacturer, baker and etc. The Patricians were the wealthy upper class in Rome and they had a lot of privileges that the Plebeians didn’t have. The Patricians held most of the titles in the Senate, exclusively for them and the only exception to this rule is the title of Tribune, which was also allowed for the Plebeians. The other work the Patricians had required very little manual labor.
The Patricians had a lot of privileges that the Plebeians didn’t have so I will try to list all of them as fast as possible. As I said earlier the Patricians had every office in the Senate except the Tribunes exclusively for themselves. Tribunes didn’t have that much power though, because most of the offices were held by Patricians. The Plebeians could also be made into slaves if they failed to pay off their debt in time.
The Struggle of the Orders was an attempt by the Plebeians to get rid of these privileges and over time they did succeed. It started in 494 BC when the Plebeians were starting to get very tired of these privileges that the Patricians had. This was also escalated because they were living in poverty, while the Patricians were getting richer and richer. The Plebeians needed a way to have the Patricians make some changes and removed some of the privileges they had. The problem was on how to do this, luckily they figured it out. The majority of the Roman population was a Plebeian, the Patricians still needed the Plebeians physical bodies to defend Rome. The Plebeians seceded from Rome and said they wouldn’t come back unless the Patricians made some changes to the system. The Patricians agreed and the changes were made.
These very first changes were that now that anybody that holding the title of Tribune is now sacrosanct. This meant that harming this person would be a big crime and could be punished by death. Another change is that the Tribune was now allowed to veto laws that some of the other offices had created. The small conflicts happened every once in a while. Some of these changes were that the 12 tablets, which held the laws of Rome were readily available to everybody. This meant that everybody in Rome knew what the law was and couldn’t get arrested for a crime they didn’t know existed. Other changes that were made were that, intermarriage between the two groups was allowed, that if a Plebeian defaulted on debt he wouldn’t become a slave, that a Roman didn’t need land to be able to join the army and most importantly of all was that all the other positions started opening up to the Plebeians as well and in some of them a part of the positions must be held by a Plebeian. These changes slowly piled up and after two centuries of this, the Patricians and the Plebeians were relatively equal. The key word is relative. The two groups weren’t completely equal, but it was much better than before the struggle of the orders started.