After a 16-year battle with their last
the Proud, the people of Rome vowed never to be ruled
by a king again. The people wanted to be ruled by elected leaders.
They wanted to vote on any laws suggested. They wanted to vote on who
would rule over them each year.
In 509 BCE, over 2500 years ago, the
citizens of Rome created a new government. They called it THE ROMAN
Although many things changed, and much
improved, women, children and slaves were still not citizens of Rome. They had no voice in
government. Only adult free Roman men were citizens.
But, things did improve under the
Republic. About 50 years after the Roman Republic was formed, the
leaders of the Republic wrote
down many of the old laws, to make sure everyone understood them.
History refers to this group of laws as "The Twelve Tables"
because the written laws were organized into 12 sections.
laws talked about property, crime, family, theft, marriage and
inheritance. It does not really matter what they said, although
the laws did try to be fair. What matters is that these laws were
written down. They were engraved on tablets of metal and put on
display at the Forum in the city of Rome, so that everyone could
law applied to every Roman citizen, be he rich or poor. That was a
huge change for the better!