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Hi all:

 

Can anyone tell me or lead me to a source that would explain how a barbarian gained Roman citizenship?  Could it be bought or attained through marriage?  I believe I read that barbarian tribes located within the empire's borders were automatic citizens. Can anyone comment? 

 

Thanks,

Cinzia

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You had various ways, and it would also depend on the period. 

 

1) Individual citizenship : 

 

- Exemple of Varus : his family was powerfull and the Senate granted him equestrian rank as a token of recognition of his importance in the Germanic tribes, and also in order to give him a rank with which to command german auxiliaries in the Roman army. Of course he did not feel much obligations toward Rome... A similar path to citizenship was followed by many other germanic warlords (look at the leaders of the Batavian rebellion under Nero).

- You could also get it as slave freed by it's master

 

2) Group citizenship

 

Actually I'm not sure it was granted to the migrating tribes, I'd have to check my sources. But from the 3rd century onward we see a trend to accept the installation of barbarian tribes inside the borders. And while at first they had to follow roman law, they later got the right to keep both their leaders and their structures, giving them a wider sense of freedow toward the roman power, ultimately leading them to hold the only power in the areas where they settled. 

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Thanks all. I want my 5th century Frank noble to be a citizen or get citizenship so he can legally be married to a Roman from the senatorial class.   I was just wondering if there were any application process or fee like today.  Would he get automatic citizenship by marrying a Roman citizen? I will dig deeper, but any other insights are welcome.

 

Cinzia

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The best way for him would be to be a mercenary or, eventually, bodyguard to a powerfull roman who'd then ask that the citizenship may be granted to him, or simply be the heir to such a man that would thus give him the citizenship by heredity. 

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Thanks all. I want my 5th century Frank noble to be a citizen or get citizenship so he can legally be married to a Roman from the senatorial class.   I was just wondering if there were any application process or fee like today.  Would he get automatic citizenship by marrying a Roman citizen? I will dig deeper, but any other insights are welcome.

 

Cinzia

I would have thought the biggest problem was social convention. A woman under Roman law was more or less the property of a father, guardian, or husband, that they could not officially run their own affairs, although I agree that Roman women weren't as restricted as that might imply, and that legal loopholes existed that women did at times exploit.

 

However, appearances are very, very important to the Romans. A senatorial daughter marrying some foreigner had better choose a worthy partner. So your Frank had better be noble indeed, and further, have some career that the senatorial family will approve of.

 

However - if the daughter was willful, there were precedents for such wayward women to drop their status and follow their heart.

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It was Caracalla that instituted the policy of citizenship for all residents of the Empire, presumably as some sort of method of raising taxes.  Before that, a common way to get yourself into the 'civis romanus sum' club was to sign up to 25 years in the Legionary Auxilliaries.  Upon completion you were automatically a Roman Citizen, as were your children/descendants.

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Or becoming a slave voluntarily  It was possible, if you had the right character and conduct, that your owner might make you a freedman. That would only make you a partial citizen (your children would be full citizens) and although you could not hold public office because of the taint of slavery, there was nothing to prevent yu from reaching senatorial rank, wealth, and success - though I suspect few actually did.

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It was Caracalla that instituted the policy of citizenship for all residents of the Empire, presumably as some sort of method of raising taxes.  Before that, a common way to get yourself into the 'civis romanus sum' club was to sign up to 25 years in the Legionary Auxilliaries.  Upon completion you were automatically a Roman Citizen, as were your children/descendants.

ALL-I'm not being notified about new replies. I checked my settings. All looks in order. Hmm.  GOC, did this policy last into the fifth century?  

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To make matters worse, my Senator's daughter is a 2 time widow. Could her father buy her Frank his citizenship? I'm sure with the right amount anything can be purchased. Any thoughts on this?

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I can't see how Caracalla's policy could be practically repealed, so it continued by default. The privileges enjoyed by citizens must have changed and been watered down as a consequence.

 

I don't feel qualified to comment on Frank, but money bought influence in Ancient Rome just as much as it does today.

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Citizenship couldn't be bought directly, and given his location, obtaining citizenship by joining the legions was a difficult oproposition (that was common practice in the east where recruitment was harder). However, you're right in that if the father agrees to the marriage, for whatever reason, then political pressiure, a word in someones ear, or a big fat bribe could secure Frank his citizenship. The most important thing in that event is that everyone would know full well that the official reason for his promotion was a private deal, partially acceptable as a process of adopting Roman culture, but also potentially a matter of scorn from those who earned their rights a harder way.

Edited by caldrail

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Well, I guess I may have a problem.  Wasn't Galla Placidia married to a barbarian (Athaulf the Visigoth) before Constantius?  I think he served under Alaric.  Was Alaric a foederati? I find it hard to believe that in Late Antiquity with all the interactions with barbarians that there were no mixed marriages.  Even Honoria made a bid for Attila even though Valentinian refused the marriage. I'm going to have to dig deep on this one!! Darn.

 

Cinzia 

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There is an element in these rare occurences that can't be ignored in the Roman tontext - to assume these people were marrying for love is a bit overly romantic and a modern hollywood-derived view. Marriage in older cultures was rarely for such concerns (witness the blossoming of the illicit romance in medieval fiction, such as Lancelot and Guinevere). Whilst I accept I don't know what was going through these peoples heads at the time, marriages were sought at that level for social, political, or financial gain .

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I agree that history and even today has nurtured marriages made for gain and less for love. However according to

Randers-Pehrson's non-fiction historical, Barbarians and Romans, Placidia and Athaulf loved one another and she despised Constantius who killed Athaulf and forced her to marry him.  I also, think that at any time and in any culture there are those who do defy convention most often at a price, but one they are willing to pay.  The Lancelot and Guinivere story acts as metaphor, in my opinion, for the notion of courtly love that bloomed in Eleanor of Aquitaine's court.  The Family in Late Antiquity by Nathan also cites stories of marriages made for love.  I'm not in disagreement with you, but I think that in real time men and women were still driven by lust, intellectual compatibility, and plain old chemistry.  In addition this is a fiction novel set in history and although I cherish staying true to the facts as much as I can, I would bet there was a Roman woman somewhere who fell for a man other than a Roman, perhaps though not of aristocratic blood, but maybe that too. I can't help but think of the aristocratic Marcus Venetius in Quo Vadis who risked his life for the the barbarian slave girl, Ligia. This was fiction but Nobel Prize fiction.  So, maybe I'm okay. I just want Frank to be a citizen if possible.<g>

Edited by cinzia8

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