The comices centuriates ( comitia centuriata ) are an assembly of the Roman people ( populus : the whole of the citizens), divided into groups, named Centurie S, on the Champ de Mars. This assembly with for goal the constitution of the legion S, and can be convened only by magistrates equipped with the Imperium .
Their creation is allotted by the tradition to the king Servius Tullius during the distribution of the Roman people in centuries. In reality, their creation is undoubtedly not former to the O C. This distribution in centuries has a probably military origin, but it acquires political powers quickly. In 427 av. J. - C., if it is not early any more but we do not have a proven evidence, the comices centuriates give their agreement, or not, with the declarations of war ( Lex of bello indicendo ) then intervene in decision making with regard to, and the creation peace treaties of colonies.
The comices centuriates as of the end of fifth century BC hold also a role of elective assemblies and elect the higher magistrates (Consul S, Censeur S, Préteur S).
These comices are not democratic assemblies with the modern direction of the term, since they rest on a division of the people in 193 centuries, which form 5 classes based on the richness. In Rome the citizen is also a soldier being equipped with his own expenses. For a Romain (as for an Athenian ), that which combat must be able to deliver its opinion on the policy of its city. In the beginning, it is the possession of the ground which is used to define the centurie membership of the citizens.
Thus the first centurie includes/understands all those which have more than 5 hectares while the last gathers the owners of less than one half hectare. To that is added 18 centuries knights (including in the first meeting), 20 centuries of second class for the citizens having a fortune between 75.000 and 100.000 sesterces, 20 centuries of third class for those having from 50.000 to 75.000 sesterces, 20 centuries of fourth class for the citizens having from 25.000 to 50.000 sesterces and 30 centuries gathering the poorer citizens, having less than 25.000 sesterces and 5 centuries of proletarians except class (poorest, which has like only richness only their children, proles in Latin), which belongs to this fifth class, are exempted taxes. Until the reform of Marius, at the end of the second century BC, the proletarians are not soldiers.
Inside each centurie, the citizens are divided into two categories, the juniores (men of less than 46 years) and the seniores (46 years old men and more). The 80 first centuries more the 18 equestrian centuries, representing the richest owners, have the majority, which supports the easy classes mechanically.
Towards 220 av. J. - C., under the popular pressure, the system changes and each comice receives an identical number of centuries and voice (70 on the whole per comice). Only the first meeting because a light advantage by keeping the 18 centuries knight. There are thus on the whole 373 centuries if one includes the 5 of proletarians out-class. The first meeting thus loses the majority, but as the vote proceeds by order of the classes (richer to poorest) and that it is put an end there as soon as the majority is reached, the poorest comices practically never vote.
That changes with the adoption at the end of second century BC of the law Lex Sempronia of comitiis which proclaims that the order of voting of the centuries from now on is fixed by drawing lot. It is a fundamental reform, because the vote of the first centurie is supposed being, with the eyes of the extremely superstitious Romans, inspired by the gods.
Under the Empire, the various meetings (centuriates, tributes, curiates) lose quickly of their importance and Tibère transfers their electoral capacities to the Sénat. At the end of the 1st century, they are seen removing their legislative competences and are not long in disappearing.
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