An Overview of the Ancient Roman Conflict of the Orders


The Secession of the People to the Mons Sacer, engraved by B. Barloccini, 1849 / Wikimedia Commons

A series of struggles between the Plebeians and Patricians that would last over the span of 200 hundred years.


The Struggle of the Orders, which lasted from 494 BC to 287 BC, (often referred to as the Conflict of the Orders) was a major struggle between the Plebeian Class and the Patrician Class over the place that each sect would hold within Rome. The Patricians consisted of mostly what can be referred to as the “nobles” or “aristocrats” while the Plebeian Class generally consisted of the lower class people; workers and farmers (thought there were exceptions to this). This Struggle was brought about by the Plebeians through a set of demands made to the Patrician class asking for corrections to the wrongs that had been done to them.

Wikimedia Commons

What would ensue would be a series of struggles between the Plebeians and Patricians that would last over the span of 200 hundred years. It would see the creation of laws to suppress the Plebeians,  powerful political positions to defend the Plebeians and the eventual alliance between the wealthy members of the Plebeian class with Patricians. These events would all play key roles in a continuing conflict that would show itself even after the Struggle of the Orders officially ended. It would trigger events that would occur years later and this division between the Plebeians and Patricians would play a role in the civil wars that would end the Republic.

The patricians had no choice but to compromise with the plebeians / Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the hundreds of years of the Struggle Plebeians would make a series of demands for correction to their current status within the Republic. Through a long process of Secessions, revision of laws, and openings to political positions Plebeians would finally start to see the change they envisioned.


Originally published by Pennsylvania State University, republished under fair use for educational, non-commercial purposes.

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