HIS 2100Lesson 9. Announcements. The Collapse of the Republic. In 146 BCE Rome had defeated all threats from neighbouring Mediterranean states. With major wars no longer the priority, the city state institutions had to adjust to new priorities which were,
HIS 2100Lesson 9
The Collapse of the Republic
In 146 BCE Rome had defeated all threats from neighbouring Mediterranean states.
With major wars no longer the priority, the city state institutions had to adjust to new priorities which were,
Ruling and managing foreign city states.
Overcoming critical social and political problems at home.
The Republic was not very good at managing their new empire.
Instead of develop a professional civil service to govern their newly conquered city states, they attempted to govern in the same way that they governed themselves in the centuries earlier.
The ruling elite did not care for the welfare of the people it now ruled. They were cruel.
Governors, tax collectors and soldiers exploited the people for self gain.
Question. How is this different from other conquerors that we have studied? Name the others.
The Romans stood together and fought for their mutual survival when threatened from external enemies.
Question. After such a long struggle for security, why didn’t they relax with their newly found wealth and be nice to each other? Why did they fight with each other to the point of civil war?
Class tensions still existed but now they saw each other without the need of total internal allegiance for their survival.
There were no politicians in the Senate that could convince the different social classes to come to terms of understanding.
Power hungry people holding on to memories and methods that were necessary in times of war.
Question. Is there a comparison to modern times, when wars end and soldiers struggle with the change from war and killing to peace and civil harmony?
Some would say that George W Bush (Junior) finished what his father started as a matter of honour and greed. There are good explanations to say that this was not the case but was instead done based on western values and fighting oppression and intolerance.
What did the historian Sallust (c.86-34 BCE) mean by the decay of spiritual qualities?
Growing love of money, and the lust for power which followed it, engendered every kind of evil. Avarice destroyed honor, integrity, and every other virtue, and instead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect religion, and to hold nothing too sacred to sell. Ambition tempted many to be false….At first these vices grew slowly and sometimes met with punishments; later on, when the disease had spread like a plague, Rome changed: her government, once so just and admirable, became harsh and unendurable.
The Gracchian Revolution
The decline of the empire began with an agricultural crisis. Farmers that had gone into the army could not manage their farms, which did not produce.
Upon their return from war, they lacked the money to restore the land so that it could once again produce crops.
In many cases, they had no choice but to sell their land to wealthy land owners at low prices.
Additionally, the importation of hundreds of thousands of slaves to work on large plantations cut meant that they could no longer supplement their small incomes by working on the plantations. Plantations owners would not pay a man to work when he now had slaves.
The New Underclass
With employment now hard to find, because slaves were doing the work that the commoners had done in prior years, the number of poor Romans, was increasing.
Question. How do you think the common people felt about the wealthy people, now that wars of conquest were over and the wealth was not being shared with those who had also sacrificed?
Tiberius Gracchus (163-133 BCE)
Came from a respected Roman family and was elected tribune in 133 BCE.
He saw the problems with the way the ruling class had mistreated their own peasantry and small land owners and recognized that the future of Rome required their loyalty.
He spoke for the underclass and proposed that an old law, which had been ignored for many years, be enforced again. The law limited Romans from using more than 312 acres of state owned land which had been obtained in the process of uniting Italy.
Wealthy Romans had been using state owned land as their own.
They viewed Tiberius as a revolutionary who was threatening their property and political authority.
Tiberius was murdered by other elected politicians.
300 of his followers were also murdered and their bodies were dumped into the Tiber River.
Question. Why such a public display of violence? Why not just kill him quietly?
Tiberius’ brother Gaius was elected tribune in 123 BCE and reintroduced the plan and adding that the poor should be able to buy state grain for half the market price. He was killed by the same group of politicians that killed his brother. 3000 of his followers were also murdered!
Although the Senate considered itself the guardian of republican liberty, in reality it was expressing the determination of a few hundred families to retain their control over the state.
The Tribal Assembly, which represented the city poor also had poor leadership, members accepted bribes and was generally incompetent.
Marius (157-86 BCE) became consul in 107 BCE and changed the requirement for enlisting in the military to no longer require that soldiers be property owners.
He filled his legions with volunteers from the urban (city) poor. They joined because they had terrible lives in the cities and had been promised money, loot from conquests and land grants after discharge from the military.
These new soldiers were loyal to their general and not to the political leadership of the country!
Question. What might be the benefit to the generals, of having soldiers that were loyal to them and not the political leadership of the country?
Question. What problems do you see with an army that chooses the direction of a general before the political leadership?
Rival generals now used their troops to strengthen their own political agendas and their own wealth.
Italian Allies and the Social Wars (91-88 BCE)
Former allies who had been promised citizenship in return for military support, were frustrated and angry when the Senate refused to grant it.
After three years of war the Senate agreed to grant citizenship and the wars ended.
A conflict over who would command an army in the east, ensued between two generals. Their armies fought. SULLA defeated Marius.
Question. What would happen in modern day China or the USA if a general used his army against another army from the same country?
General SULLA’s Reformsin the Senate and Assembly
Sulla believe that the only way to bring about peace within was to limit the military power by giving back the political power to the aristocratic oligarchy.
He did the following…
Restored the Senate’s right to veto acts of the Assembly
Limited the power of the tribunes and the Assembly
Reduced the military authority of provincial governors to prevent armies from entering Rome
Increased the membership of the Senate to 600, to make counter oligarchic tendencies by forcing more democratic cooperation
Sulla then retired.
In-class Assignment and Homework
Get in the same small groups as you were in during last class.
All students must contribute. Each student must identify their work in order to receive marks.
Summarize the paragraphs that have been provided to you.
Next class, groups will be called up to the lectern and all members of the group will participate in the presentation, to the class.
You will have 1 – 2 minutes to explain the story and share your insights. Remember to speak slowly and clearly.
Students that earned their marks in a previous class, will be required to hand in their work, thereby still participating in the learning experience. Any student that does not submit work will lose half of the bonus previously earned.