Roman Senate, Post-Imperial Senate in Rome

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Summary

The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being founded in the first days of the city (traditionally founded in 753 BC). It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the split of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries. The Senate of the West Roman Empire continued to function until 603 AD.

Details

After the fall of the western Roman Empire, the senate continued to function under the barbarian chieftain Odoacer, and then under Ostrogothic rule. The authority of the senate rose considerably under barbarian leaders, who sought to protect the institution. This period was characterized by the rise of prominent Roman senatorial families, such as the Anicii, while the senate's leader, the princeps senatus, often served as the right hand of the barbarian leader. It is known that the senate successfully installed Laurentius as pope in 498, despite the fact that both King Theodori

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c and Emperor Anastasius supported the other candidate, Symmachus.

The peaceful coexistence of senatorial and barbarian rule continued until the Ostrogothic leader Theodahad began an uprising against Emperor Justinian I and took the senators as hostages. Several senators were executed in 552 as revenge for the death of the Ostrogothic king, Totila. After Rome was recaptured by the imperial (Byzantine) army, the senate was restored, but the institution (like classical Rome itself) had been mortally weakened by the long war. Many senators had been killed and many of those who had fled to the east chose to remain there, thanks to favorable legislation passed by Emperor Justinian, who, however, abolished virtually all senatorial offices in Italy. The importance of the Roman senate thus declined rapidly.Schnurer, 339

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