Tribal Assembly

The Tribal Assembly (comitia tributa) of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman citizens. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of thirty-five tribes: four tribes (the "urban tribes") encompassed citizens inside the city of Rome, while the other thirty-one tribes (the "rural tribes") encompassed citizens outside of the city of Rome. The tribes gathered into the Tribal Assembly for legislative, electoral, and judicial purposes. The majority of votes in any tribe decided how that tribe voted. Each tribe received one vote, regardless of how many electors each tribe held. Once a majority of tribes voted in the same way on a given measure, the voting ended, and the matter was decided. The president of the Tribal Assembly was usually either a "consul" (the highest ranking Roman magistrate) or a "praetor" (the second-highest ranking Roman magistrate). The Tribal Assembly elected three different magistrates: "quaestors", "curule aediles", and "consular tribunes". The Tribal Assembly also had the power to try judicial cases. However, after the reforms of the Roman Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 82 BC, the power to try cases was reassigned to special jury courts (quaestiones perpetuae).

Since the Romans used a form of direct democracy, citizens, and not elected representatives, voted before each assembly. As such, the citizen-electors had no power, other than the power to cast a vote. Each assembly was presided over by a single Roman magistrate, and as such, it was the presiding magistrate who made all decisions on matters of procedure and legality. Ultimately, the presiding magistrate's power over the assembly was nearly absolute. The only check on that power came in the form of vetoes handed down by other magistrates. Any decision made by a presiding magistrate could be vetoed by a magistrate known as a "plebeian tribune". In addition, decisions made by presiding magistrates could also be vetoed by higher-ranking magistrates.

Read more about Tribal AssemblyAssembly Procedure, Tribes, See Also, References

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