King of Rome

The King of Rome (Latin: Rex Romae) was the chief magistrate of the Roman Kingdom.[1] According to legend, the first king of Rome was Romulus, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill. Seven legendary kings are said to have ruled Rome until 509 BC, when the last king was overthrown. These kings ruled for an average of 35 years.

The kings after Romulus were not known to be dynasts and no reference is made to the hereditary principle until after the fifth king Tarquinius Priscus. Consequently, some have assumed that the Tarquins and their attempt to institute a hereditary monarchy over this conjectured earlier elective monarchy resulted in the formation of the republic.

King of Rome
She-wolf suckles Romulus and Remus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
First monarchRomulus
Last monarchLucius Tarquinius Superbus
Formation753 BC
Abolition509 BC
AppointerCuriate Assembly


Early Rome was not self-governing, and was ruled by the king (rex). The king possessed absolute power over the people. The senate was a weak oligarchy, capable of exercising only minor administrative powers, so that Rome was ruled by its king who was in effect an absolute monarch. The senate's main function was to carry out and administer the wishes of the king. After Romulus, Rome's first legendary king, Roman kings were elected by the people of Rome, sitting as a Curiate Assembly, who voted on the candidate that had been nominated by a chosen member of the senate called an interrex. Candidates for the throne could be chosen from any source. For example, one such candidate, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, was originally a citizen and migrant from a neighboring Etruscan city-state. The people of Rome, sitting as the Curiate Assembly, could then either accept or reject the nominated candidate-king.

The insignia of the king was twelve lictors wielding the fasces, a throne of a Curule chair, the purple Toga Picta, red shoes, and a white diadem around the head. Only the king could wear a purple toga.

The supreme power of the state was vested in the rex, whose position gave the following powers:

Chief Executive

Beyond his religious authority, the king was invested with the supreme military, executive, and judicial authority through the use of imperium. The imperium of the king was held for life and protected him from ever being brought to trial for his actions. As being the sole owner of imperium in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate executive power and unchecked military authority as the commander-in-chief of all Rome's legions. His executive power and his sole imperium allowed him to issue decrees with the force of law. Also, the laws that kept citizens safe from the misuse of magistrates owning imperium did not exist during the times of the king.

Another power of the king was the power to either appoint or nominate all officials to offices. The king would appoint a tribunus celerum to serve as both the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome but also as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the Celeres. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office and the tribune left office upon the king's death. The tribune was second in rank to the king and also possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it.

Another officer appointed by the king was the praefectus urbi, which acted as the warden of the city. When the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers and abilities, even to the point of being bestowed with imperium while inside the city. The king even received the right to be the sole person to appoint patricians to the Senate.

Chief Judge

The king's imperium granted him both military powers as well as qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Although he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal. This made the king supreme in times of both war and peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could be brought before the king by any patrician during a meeting of the Curiate Assembly.

To assist the king, a council advised the king during all trials, but this council had no power to control the king's decisions. Also, two criminal detectives (Quaestores Parridici) were appointed by him as well as a two-man criminal court (Duumviri Perduellionis) which oversaw for cases of treason.

Chief Legislator

Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had very little power and authority; they were not independent bodies in that they possessed the right to meet together and discuss questions of state. They could only be called together by the king and could only discuss the matters the king laid before them. While the Curiate Assembly did have the power to pass laws that had been submitted by the king, the Senate was effectively an honorable council. It could advise the king on his action but, by no means, could prevent him from acting. The only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation. These issues effectively allowed the King to more or less rule by decree with the exception of the above-mentioned affairs.


Whenever a Roman king died, Rome entered a period of interregnum (literally: between kings). Supreme power in the state would be devolved to the Senate, which had the task of finding a new king. The Senate would assemble and appoint one of its own members as the interrex to serve for a period of five days with the sole purpose of nominating the next king of Rome. After the five-day period, the interrex would appoint (with the Senate's consent) another Senator for another five-day term. This process would continue until the election of a new king. Once the interrex found a suitable nominee for the kingship, he would bring the nominee before the Senate and the Senate would examine him. If the Senate confirmed the nomination, the interrex would convene the Curiate Assembly and preside as its chairman during the election of the King.

Once a candidate was proposed to the Curiate Assembly, the people of Rome could either accept or reject the King-elect. If accepted, the King-elect did not immediately take office: two additional acts had to take place before he was invested with the full regal authority and power. First, it was necessary to obtain the divine will of the gods respecting his appointment by means of the auspices, since the king would serve as high priest of Rome. An augur performed this ceremony by conducting the King-elect to the citadel where he was placed on a stone seat as the people waited below. If the King-elect was found worthy of the kingship, the augur announced that the gods had given favourable tokens, thus confirming the King-elect’s priestly character. Second the imperium had to be conferred upon the King. The Curiate Assembly's vote only determined who was to be King, but that act did not bestow the powers of the king upon him. Accordingly, the King himself proposed to the Curiate Assembly a bill granting him imperium, and the Curiate Assembly, by voting in favour of the law, would grant it.

In theory, the people of Rome elected their leader, but the Senate had most of the control over the process.

Kings of Rome (753–509 BC)

Since Rome's records were destroyed in 390 BC when the city was sacked, it is impossible to know for certain how many kings actually ruled the city, or if any of the deeds attributed to the individual kings, by later writers, are accurate.

Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines, was also joint king of Rome with Romulus for five years, until his death. However he is not traditionally counted among the seven kings of Rome.

Portrait Name Lifespan Reign began Reign ended Succession
Brogi, Carlo (1850-1925) - n. 8226 - Certosa di Pavia - Medaglione sullo zoccolo della facciata Romulus
c.772 BC – 716 BC
(aged 56)
753 BC 716 BC Proclaimed himself king after murdering his brother, Remus.
Numa Pompilius, from Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum Numa Pompilius
753 BC – 672 BC
(aged 80)
716 BC 672 BC Elected king by the Curiate Assembly, after the death of Romulus. Brother in law of Romulus.[2]
Tulius-Hostilius Tullus Hostilius
? – 642 BC 672 BC 642 BC Elected king by the Curiate Assembly, after the death of Numa Pompilius.
Ancus-Martius Ancus Marcius
c. 677 – 616 BC 642 BC 616 BC Son in law of Tullus Hostilius,[3]grandson of Numa Pompilius; five years old at the time of his grandfathers' death,[4] he was elected king by the Curiate Assembly after the death of Tullus Hostilius.
Tarquinius-Priscus Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
? – 578 BC 616 BC 579 BC After the death of Ancus Marcius, he became regent due to Marcius' sons being too young, but was soon elected king by the Curiate Assembly. He was the first Etruscan king, and was originally known as Lucumo.
Servius by Rouille Servius Tullius
? – 534 BC 579 BC 534 BC Son in law of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus[5]. He seized the kingship after Ancus' sons had Tarquinius Priscus assassinated under the guise that he was merely filling in while the king was recovering.
Tarquinius-Superbus Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
? – 495 BC 534 BC 509 BC Son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus; seized the kingship after the assassination of Servius Tullius which he and his wife (daughter of Tullius) helped orchestrate.

During the Republic

Roman kings family tree by shakko
Family relations

The overthrow of the Roman monarchy of Tarquinius Superbus led, in only a very limited way, to the separation of the powers mentioned above.

The actual title of king was retained for the rex sacrorum, who formally remained Rome's first priest. He was forbidden any political or military career, except indeed a seat in the senate. However, the Roman desire to hinder the kingship from becoming important went so far that, even in the area of religion, the king of sacrifices was formally, in all but protocol, subordinated to the first of the pontiffs, the pontifex maximus (whose position in origin, rather than with the name of priest, is better described as "minister of religion"), to the point that at some point in history, the regia or royal palace at the Forum Romanum, originally inhabited by the king of sacrifices,[6] was ceded to the pontifex maximus.[7] Significantly enough, one of his major appearances in the public scene was the festival of Regifugium, where he impersonated the king in his being thrown out of the city; also, the consuls themselves retained religious roles vital enough that the office of interrex was retained for the opening prayer of electional assemblies in case that both consuls had died in office, and the ritual of driving a nail into the temple of Jupiter sometimes even induced a dictatorship. Nor was the rex sacrorum elected publicly, but chosen by the pontifical college.

The king of sacrifices retained some religious rites only he could perform, and acted as quasi-flamen to Janus. He seems to have existed until the official adoption of the Christian religion. To qualify for the office, patrician ancestry was necessary; however it was once performed by a member of a family otherwise known as plebeian, the Marcii, earning for himself and his descendants the cognomen Rex.

As has been mentioned, the administrative functions in religion, including at some point the housing in the ancient royal court, were ceded to the supreme pontiff.

The previous role of the king in choosing new senators and dismissing people from the senate was ceded to the censors, albeit in the late republic, the first of these functions was rather limited as all magistrates down to the rank of quaestor gradually had gained admission to the senate after the office's expiration.

The modern concept of a head of state, insofar as the republican times excepting the dictatorships are concerned, can hardly be translated to Roman conceptions, but basically all other powers—the imperium—were ceded to the consuls (the etymology suggests that these were originally the king's chief counsellors) and, after the creation of the office (about 367, according to Livy, thereby at least roughly separating the judiciary from the executive), the praetors ("leaders"[8]). According to tradition (which is disputed by historians for the first decades), the consulate was however always entrusted to two persons for hindering dominance; for emergency situations a dictatorship was introduced. Later, also proconsuls and propraetors could be given an imperium by appointment of the senate. Whoever used the imperium to victoriously lead an army could acquire the title of imperator, which later became chief title to the emperors, who were technically included in the system as proconsuls over most (and the strategically most important parts) of the empire, chief senators, and popular tribunes without the title. The republican idea that all promagisterial imperium ends upon entering the city was not observed in the emperors' case.

At the same time, the legislation was practically passed from the Curiate Assembly to the Centuriate Assembly (and Tribal Assembly), exception the more-or-less formality of a lex curiata de imperio which ratified the elections of the previous Centuriate Assembly. The consuls did however retain the power to rule by ordinance.

See also


  1. ^ Outline of Roman History William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901)
  2. ^ Romulus had a wife, Hersilia, whose sister, Tatia, married Numa. They were both the daughters of Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines
  3. ^ Married his daughter, Hostilia
  4. ^ Plutach's Parallel Lives vol. 1 p. 379
  5. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.39.
  6. ^ Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (University of California Press, 2005), p. 136 online.
  7. ^ as it is well known that Caesar inhabited it
  8. ^ Before the formal establishment of the office of praetor below the consulate, this was at least another generic name, and quite possibly another title, of the consuls, cf. the names "praetorium" for the military leader's tent etc.

External links

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Amedeo Amadei

Amedeo Amadei (Italian pronunciation: [ameˈdɛːo amaˈdɛi]; 26 July 1921 – 24 November 2013) was a professional Italian football player and manager, who played as a striker. Following his death in 2013, he was one of eleven members to be inducted into the A.S. Roma Hall of Fame. A powerful forward, considered to be one of the best Italian strikers of all time, he was known for his prolific goalscoring, acrobatic ability in the air, and precise volleying; due to his importance to Roma throughout his career, he was affectionately known by the fans as the "eighth King of Rome".

Ancus Marcius

Ancus Marcius (c. 677–617 BC ; reigned 642–617 BC) was the legendary fourth king of Rome. He was the son of Marcius (whose father, also named Marcius, had been a close friend of Numa Pompilius, who may be identified with Numa Marcius), and Pompilia (daughter of Numa Pompilius). According to Festus, Marcius had the surname of Ancus from his crooked arm ('ancus' signifying 'crooked' in Latin). Upon the death of the previous king, Tullus Hostilius, the Roman Senate appointed an interrex, who in turn called a session of the assembly of the people who elected the new king.Ancus Marcius was believed by the Romans to have been the namesake of the Marcii, a Plebeian family.

Arruns Tarquinius (son of Tarquin the Proud)

Arruns Tarquinius L. f. L. n. was the second son of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome.

Convention of Mantua

The Convention of Mantua was an agreement signed by Eugène de Beauharnais and Heinrich Graf von Bellegarde on 24 April 1814 that returned the territories of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy to provisional Austrian rule.

Napoleon created himself King of Italy on 17 March 1805, and he was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan on 26 May 1805. He made his stepson, Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroy on 5 June 1805, and later his heir presumptive to the Italian crown.

After being defeated by the Sixth Coalition in 1813-14, Napoleon abdicated in favour of his son, the King of Rome, on 6 April 1814. He signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau on 11 April, under which he abdicated again, unconditionally, and was exiled to Elba. Eugène found himself surrounded by hostile forces, with the main Austrian force advancing from the east, the British, Sicilians and more Austrians attacking from Genoa, and forces from the Kingdom of Naples commanded by its king, Joachim Murat, advancing from the south. The Agreement of Schiarino-Rizzino was agreed on 16 April outside Mantua, which enabled Eugène to keep control of his territory. Eugène attempted to have himself crowned as the new King of Italy, but he was opposed by the Senate of the Kingdom, and an insurrection in Milan on 20 April ended his hopes of taking the Italian crown.

Eugène signed the Convention of Mantua on 24 April, allowing the Austrian commander, Bellegarde, to cross the River Minco and occupy Milan, and northern Italy returned to Austrian rule on 27 April. Eugène retired to Munich, the capital of his father-in-law, Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria.

Austrian control of Lombardy and Venetia was confirmed by the Congress of Vienna, and the territories were joined as the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia on 7 April 1815. The Papal States were returned to the Pope.

Egeria (mythology)

Egeria (Latin: Ēgeria) was a nymph attributed a legendary role in the early history of Rome as a divine consort and counselor of Numa Pompilius, the second Sabine king of Rome, to whom she imparted laws and rituals pertaining to ancient Roman religion. Her name is used as an eponym for a female advisor or counselor.


Fonzerelli Brown(Prophecy Writer) Primary Tribunal

In ancient Roman religion,Fontus or Fons (plural Fontes, "Font" or "Source") was a god of wells and springs. A religious festival called the Fontinalia was held on October 13 in his honor. Throughout the city, fountains and wellheads were adorned with garlands.Fons was the son of Juturna and Janus. Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome, was supposed to have been buried near the altar of Fons (ara Fontis) on the Janiculum. William Warde Fowler observed that between 259 and 241 BC, cults were founded for Juturna, Fons, and the Tempestates, all having to do with sources of water. As a god of pure water, Fons can be placed in opposition to Liber as a god of wine identified with Bacchus.An inscription includes Fons among a series of deities who received expiatory sacrifices by the Arval Brothers in 224 AD, when several trees in the sacred grove of Dea Dia, their chief deity, had been struck by lightning and burnt. Fons received two wethers. Fons was not among the deities depicted on coinage of the Roman Republic.In the cosmological schema of Martianus Capella, Fons is located in the second of 16 celestial regions, with Jupiter, Quirinus, Mars, the Military Lar, Juno, Lympha, and the Novensiles.

Hostus (praenomen)

Hostus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used in pre-Roman times and during the early centuries of the Roman Republic, but become obsolete by the 1st century BC. The feminine form was probably Hosta or Hostia. The patronymic gentes Hostia and Hostilia were derived from Hostus. The name was not regularly abbreviated.Hostus is best known from Hostus Hostilius, a companion of Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome. Hostus was a Roman champion who fell in battle against the Sabines under Titus Tatius in the earliest years of the city. His grandson was Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome. Although rare, the name was still evidently in use more than three centuries later, when Hostus Lucretius Tricipitinus was consul late in the 5th century BC. As with other praenomina, the name may have been more widely used by the plebeians and in the countryside; but writing in the 1st century BC, Marcus Terentius Varro described it as an archaic praenomen, no longer in general use.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, or Tarquin the Elder, was the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 BC. His wife was Tanaquil.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus (Latin for "proud, arrogant, lofty").Ancient accounts of the regal period mingle history and legend. Tarquin was said to have been the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome, and to have gained the throne through the murders of both his wife and his elder brother, followed by the assassination of his predecessor, Servius Tullius. His reign is described as a tyranny that justified the abolition of the monarchy.

Mettius (praenomen)

Mettius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used in pre-Roman times and perhaps during the early centuries of the Roman Republic, but which was obsolete by the 1st century BC. The feminine form is Mettia. The patronymic gens Mettia was derived from this praenomen. The name was rare in historical times, and not regularly abbreviated.The praenomen Mettius is known primarily from two individuals who lived during the earliest period of Roman history. Mettius Curtius was a Sabine warrior who fought under Titus Tatius during the time of Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome. During a major battle, the Sabine champion narrowly escaped drowning in a swampy area. Mettius Fufetius was the commander of the Alban forces during the war between Rome and Alba Longa, during the reign of Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome. After the Albans were defeated, they became nominal allies of Rome. Hostilius had Fufetius brutally executed, and Rome's mother city razed, because he suspected the Alban commander of disloyalty.As with other rare praenomina, Mettius may once have been more widespread amongst the plebeians, and in the countryside. Other than the Curtii and Fufetii, the name is known to have been used by the obscure gens Scuilia, and must once have been used by the ancestors of gens Mettia.

Napoleon II

Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte (20 March 1811 – 22 July 1832), Prince Imperial, King of Rome, known in the Austrian court as Franz from 1814 onward, Duke of Reichstadt from 1818, was the son of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, and his second wife, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.

By Title III, article 9 of the French Constitution of the time, he was Prince Imperial, but he was also known from birth as the King of Rome, which Napoleon I declared was the courtesy title of the heir apparent. His nickname of L'Aiglon ("the Eaglet") was awarded posthumously and was popularized by the Edmond Rostand play, L'Aiglon.

When Napoleon I tried to abdicate on 4 April 1814, he said that his son would rule as Emperor. However, the coalition victors refused to acknowledge his son as successor, and Napoleon I was forced to abdicate unconditionally some days later. Although Napoleon II never actually ruled France, he was briefly the titular Emperor of the French in 1815 after the second fall of his father. When his cousin Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became the next emperor by founding the Second French Empire in 1852, he called himself Napoleon III to acknowledge Napoleon II and his brief reign.

Numa Pompilius

Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. He was of Sabine origin, and many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions are attributed to him.

Paulo Roberto Falcão

Paulo Roberto Falcão, or simply Falcão (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpawlu ʁoˈbɛʁtu fawˈkɐ̃w̃]; born 16 October 1953), is a Brazilian former footballer and football manager. He is widely considered one of the best players in Internacional and Roma history playing also for São Paulo, and he is universally considered one of the greatest Brazilian players of all time, especially at his peak in the 1980s. At one stage, he was the world's highest paid footballer. Due to his success and performances with Roma, he earned the nickname "the eighth King of Rome" from the fans, and was inducted into the A.S. Roma Hall of Fame in 2013.For the Brazil national team, Falcão was capped 34 times between February 1976 and June 1986. He appeared at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, playing in midfield alongside Zico, Sócrates and Éder, considered one of the greatest Brazilian national teams ever. He was named by Pelé one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004. His last name, Falcão, was chosen by Radamel García, a retired footballer and father of Radamel Falcao, to name his son as a tribute to him.


Tanaquil (Etruscan Thanchvil) was the queen of Rome by marriage to Tarquinius Priscus, fifth king of Rome.

The King of Rome

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Toto and the King of Rome

Toto and the King of Rome (Italian: Totò e i re di Roma) is a 1951 Italian comedy film directed by Mario Monicelli and Steno.

Tullus (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For the third king of Rome, see Tullus Hostilius.Tullus ( or rarely ) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used from the earliest times to the end of the Roman Republic. Although never particularly common, the name gave rise to the patronymic gens Tullia, and it may have been used as a cognomen by families that had formerly used the name. The feminine form is Tulla. The name is not usually abbreviated, but is sometimes found with the abbreviation Tul.The praenomen Tullus is best known from Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome. Other examples include Attius Tullus, a Volscian leader, in which Tullus is either a cognomen or an inverted praenomen; Tullus Cloelius, a Roman envoy, Tullus Cluvius, mentioned by the orator Marcus Tullius Cicero in the 1st century BC, and a father and son from gens Tullia who lived at Tibur. Writing at the time of Cicero, the scholar Marcus Terentius Varro listed Tullus amongst several praenomina that he considered obsolete, although the foregoing examples show that it was still in limited use.

Tullus Hostilius

Tullus Hostilius (r. 673–642 BC) was the legendary third king of Rome. He succeeded Numa Pompilius and was succeeded by Ancus Marcius. Unlike his predecessor, Tullus was known as a warlike king.Tullus Hostilius was the grandson of Hostus Hostilius, who had fought with Romulus and died during the Sabine invasion of Rome.The principal feature of Tullus' reign was his defeat of Alba Longa. After Alba Longa was beaten (by the victory of three Roman champions over three Albans), Alba Longa became Rome's vassal state. However, after the Alban dictator Mettius Fufetius subsequently betrayed Rome, Tullus ordered Alba Longa to be destroyed and forced the migration of the Alban citizenry to Rome, where they were integrated and became Roman citizens.Tullus also fought successful wars against Fidenae and Veii and against the Sabines.According to Livy, Tullus paid little heed to religious observances during his reign, thinking them unworthy of a king's attention. However, at the close of his reign, Rome was affected by a series of prophecies including a shower of stones on the Alban Mount (in response to which a public religious festival of nine days was held – a novendialis), a loud voice was heard on the summit of the mount complaining that the Albans had failed to show devotion to their former gods, and a pestilence struck in Rome. King Tullus became ill and was filled with superstition. He reviewed the commentaries of Numa Pompilius and attempted to carry out sacrifices recommended by Numa to Jupiter Elicius. However, Tullus did not undertake the ceremony correctly, and both he and his house were struck by lightning and reduced to ashes as a result of the anger of Jupiter.

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