Secessio plebis


Secessio plebis

Secessio plebis ("withdrawal of the commoners", or "Secession of the Plebs") was an informal exercise of power by Rome's plebeian citizens, similar to a general strike taken to the extreme. During a "secessio plebis", the plebs would simply abandon the city "en masse" and leave the patrician order to themselves. Therefore a secessio meant that all shops and workshops would shut down and commercial transactions would largely cease. This was an effective strategy in the Conflict of the Orders due to strength in numbers; plebeian citizens made up the vast majority of Rome's populace and produced most of its food and resources, while a patrician citizen was a member of the minority upper class, the equivalent of the landed gentry of later times.

The word has survived to the modern day in the term secession, meaning to withdraw from an organisation, union, or political entity.

Authors report different numbers for how many secessions there were. Cary & Scullard (p. 66) state there were five between 494 BC and 287 BC.

ecessions in Roman history

494 BC

In 494 BC, in response to the harsh rule of Appius Claudius Sabinus Inregillensis, the plebeians seceded and fled to Monte Sacro ("the Sacred Mountain") and threatened to found a new town. (The mountain was not the Aventine Hill where they gathered in 287 BC ["see below"] , thus giving its name to the Aventine Secession in the 20th century AD). In response, the patricians freed some of the plebs from their debts and conceded some of their power by creating the office of the Tribune of the Plebs. This tribune was the first government position held by the plebs. The powers of the tribunes changed over time. At their zenith, the plebeian tribunes exercised the power of veto (Latin: "I forbid"), by which they could forbid or invalidate any decision or action of a magistrate, including a consul or praetor, or indeed of the whole Senate, that he deemed harmful to the plebs. The nadir of the tribunician power in the republican period may have occurred with the constitutional legislation of the dictator Sulla.

This settlement led to the foundation of the Temple of Concord.

449 BC

In 449 BC, the plebs seceded again to force the patricians to adopt the Twelve Tables. Unlike the earlier secret laws which only the priests had access to, these new laws amounted to a written and published legal code. And unlike the earlier non-published laws, the Twelve Tables presented a basic set of laws and rights to the Roman public, as opposed hidden and secret laws which gave no specific rights to the ordinary plebeian Roman. The patricians vehemently opposed it but were nevertheless forced to found a commission headed by a decemvir who in turn announced the Twelve Tables in the Roman Forum. With the announcement of the new laws, the plebs were to a degree freed from injustice and subjectivity during trials. However, they were still obligated to pay slavery debt.

445 BC

The third secession is alluded to by Florus.

342 BC

This fourth secession is noted by Livy. The Oxford Classical Dictionary calls this an "obscure military revolt".

287 BC

In 287 BC, the plebs seceded a final time to the Janiculum to force the patricians to adopt the Lex Hortensia, which gave plebiscites the force of law.

References

*'The Growth of Plebeian Privilege in Rome', "The English Historical Review" No. II (April 1886)

Forsythe, G., "A Critical History of Early Rome", Berkeley, 2005

ee also

*Class struggle
*Secession


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  • Secessio plebis — Die secessio plebis (lat. Ausmarsch des einfachen Volkes) war ein Kampfmittel der Plebejer in den Römischen Ständekämpfen. Die Plebejer sollen die Stadt verlassen und damit das wirtschaftliche Leben Roms lahmgelegt haben, um ihren politischen und …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Secessio Plebis — Secẹssio Plebis   [lateinisch »Absonderung der Plebs«] die, / , in der römischen Republik zur Zeit der Ständekämpfe der von der Plebs zur Durchsetzung ihrer Forderungen veranstaltete Auszug aus Rom (eine Art »Wehrstreik«). Die erste Secessio… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Secessio plebis — Sécessions de la plèbe Les sécessions de la plèbe (Secessio plebis) sont l exercice informel du pouvoir par les citoyens plébéiens romains, similaire à une grève. Durant une sécession, les citoyens abandonnent simplement la ville en masse en s… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Secessio Plebis — Se|ces|sio Ple|bis [...ts... ] die; <aus lat. secessio plebis »Absonderung des Volkes«> in der röm. Republik zur Zeit der Ständekämpfe der von der Plebs zur Durchsetzung ihrer Forderungen veranstaltete Auszug aus Rom …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Secessĭo — (lat.), Absonderung, Trennung; in der römischen Geschichte kommen bes. zwei Secessiŏnes plebis vor, wo die Plebs, gedrückt von den Patriciern, zeitweilig Rom verließ; die erstere, S. plebis in Montem sacrum, 494 v. Chr., gab zur Errichtung der… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Plebejertum — Die Plebejer (lat. plebs „Menge, Volk“) waren in der römischen Republik das einfache Volk, das nicht dem alten Adel, den Patriziern (lat. patres „Väter, Vorfahren“), angehörte. Es bestand vor allem aus Bauern und Handwerkern. Sie galten als Römer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Plebejisch — Die Plebejer (lat. plebs „Menge, Volk“) waren in der römischen Republik das einfache Volk, das nicht dem alten Adel, den Patriziern (lat. patres „Väter, Vorfahren“), angehörte. Es bestand vor allem aus Bauern und Handwerkern. Sie galten als Römer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Plebs — Die Plebejer (lat. plebs „Menge, Volk“) waren in der römischen Republik das einfache Volk, das nicht dem alten Adel, den Patriziern (lat. patres „Väter, Vorfahren“), angehörte. Es bestand vor allem aus Bauern und Handwerkern. Sie galten als Römer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Separatismus — Sezession im Gegensatz zur Dismembration Sezession (lat. secessio „Abspaltung“, „Abseitsgehen“) bezeichnet im Politischen die Loslösung einzelner Landesteile aus einem bestehenden Staat mit dem Ziel, einen neuen souveränen Staat zu bilden.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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