The Plebeians in Roman Law

By: Anavitarte, E. J.*

The plebeians were the common denomination of all those social sectors that did not fully belong to Roman civil society─civitas─but were, for one reason or another, in a state of social and legal inferiority.

These sectors were very broad and diverse, so the term only has in common for all of them, the inferiority in which they were compared to the patricians, who were full citizens─optimates─while the plebeians would be second-class citizens.

And, given the vertiginous expansion of the Roman state between the 5th and 3rd centuries, the number of people in this situation of social and legal inferiority increased─freedmen, slaves, foreigners─to the point that at least during the establishment of the Empire, they were already the majority social class throughout the Roman territory.

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