Ancient Roman history lasted about a millennium, during which the government changed
substantially from Monarchy to Republic to Empire.
When Rome began, kings normally ruled city-states. Other aristocrats of almost equal
power around the monarch offered advice and, if necessary, forced the king from the throne
and picked a successor, but kings, hereditary or otherwise, were the norm.
The Regal Period is an era mired in legends with only bits and pieces of factual information.
In this legendary period, there were 7 kings of Rome, some Roman, but others Sabine or
It was in the Regal Period that the Romans forged their identity. This was the time
when the descendants of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, a son of the goddess Venus,
married, after forcibly abducting, their neighbors, the Sabine women.
After dealing with a succession of kings the Romans were fed up with the institution and
willing to try something new, more like the democratic techniques used in Greece.
They managed to get rid of their kings, driving them away from Rome. Even the name of
king (rex) became hateful and it was never used again.
The word republic comes from the Latin words for ‘thing’ and ‘of the people’. The res
publica or respublica referred to ‘the public property’ or ‘the common wealth’ but it can also
mean the administration.
Having witnessed the problems of monarchy on their own land, and aristocracy and
democracy among the Greeks, when the Romans started the Republic, they opted for a
mixed form of government, with 3 branches: consuls, senate, and an assembly of the
During its early period of expansion, from the fall of the monarchy in 510 B.C. until the
mid-third century, Rome gradually spread its dominion over the peninsula, making treaties
with all the states it conquered and gaining control over the Mediterranean.