Concepts of Citizenship

Ralph W. Mathisen

in The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780195336931
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Concepts of Citizenship

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  • Classical Studies
  • Ancient Roman History



This article discusses concepts of citizenship in Late Antiquity. In the early Roman Empire, citizenship was an elite legal status to which granted certain rights, privileges, and obligations under civil and criminal law. But as time passed, citizenship, and access to Roman ius civile (civil law), became less and less a special status and more a lowest common denominator. In Late Antiquity, Roman citizenship was no longer was being "granted" in the same manner as during the Principate. The only formal grants of Roman citizenship were to freedmen and slaves, who experienced not so much a change from "non-citizen" to "citizen" as a transfer to a greater measure of legal freedom.

Keywords: Roman citizenship; Roman Empire; Romans; legal status; barbarians

Article.  8993 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History

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