In this week’s history essay I will be writing about the specific changes that occurred in Roman society after the Struggle of the Orders. The Struggle of the Orders was a class struggle between the lower class Plebeians, who didn’t have political rights, and the higher class Patricians who had almost all, to all the political power in Rome.
Before the Struggle of the Orders
Before the Struggle of the Orders, like I mentioned above the Plebeians didn’t have any political power or rights, and were liable to be enslaved if they failed in paying their debt; but the Patrician on the other hand basically had all the political power. Often a Patrician would be given land that was won in a war, or they would buy the land very cheaply. To be a Patrician? Well you were born into it, and intermarriage was out of the question if you were a Patrician. Roman society was pretty divided. This was one of the main reasons why Roman society at the time had many issues.
The Changes in Roman Society
The first change in Roman society as a result of the Struggle of the Orders was the law being published into twelve tables for all to see in the mid 5th century BC. Even though the laws in these tables included severe punishment for defaulting debtors, and an eye-to-eye justice system, at least, the Plebeians were able to know the law, and to prevent themselves from getting into trouble by just being aware of the law. The second change that occurred was the creation of the office of Tribunes. The Tribunes represented the Plebeians; and they were sacrosanct and could prevent and block Patricians oppression towards the Plebeians. In 471 BC the Concilium Plebis(the principle assembly for the Plebeians), was founded. By 287 BC it’s laws became binding to all people.
Various political offices opened up to Plebeians by the late 5th century BC. In the early 4th century BC, the Senate began to distribute conquered land to the Plebeians, so not only the Patricians received this land. Intermarriage between both classes is now allowed, and debt slavery has become abolished. By 376 BC Plebeians now became eligible for consulship, and by 342 BC, one consul out of the two consuls had to be a Plebeian!
Though these changes were gradual they improved life for the Plebeians, giving them more rights politically, and rights overall. Also these changes helped reduce the divide between the Plebeians and the Patricians. But with all these changes the Patricians still dominated Roman society.