Roman Emperor

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 Roman Emperor Empty Roman Emperor

Post by kosovohp on Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:45 am

The powers of an emperor (his imperium) existed, in theory at least, by virtue of his "tribunician powers" (potestas tribunicia) and his "proconsular powers" (imperium proconsulare).[10] In theory, the tribunician powers (which were similar to those of the Plebeian Tribunes under the old republic) made the emperor's person and office sacrosanct, and gave the emperor authority over Rome's civil government, including the power to preside over and to control the Senate.[11]
The proconsular powers (similar to those of military governors, or Proconsuls, under the old republic) gave him authority over the Roman army. He was also given powers that, under the republic, had been reserved for the Senate and the assemblies, including the right to declare war, to ratify treaties, and to negotiate with foreign leaders.[12]
The emperor also had the authority to carry out a range of duties that had been performed by the censors, including the power to control senate membership.[13] In addition, the emperor controlled the religious institutions, since, as emperor, he was always Pontifex Maximus and a member of each of the four major priesthoods.[12] While these distinctions were clearly defined during the early empire, eventually they were lost, and the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical.[14]
Realistically, the main support of an emperor's power and authority was the military. Being paid by the imperial treasury, the legionaries also swore an annual military oath of loyalty towards him, called the Sacramentum.[15]
The death of an emperor led to a crucial period of uncertainty and crisis. In theory the senate was entitled to choose the new emperor, but most emperors chose their own successors, usually a close family member. The new emperor had to seek a swift acknowledgement of his new status and authority in order to stabilize the political landscape. No emperor could hope to survive, much less to reign, without the allegiance and loyalty of the Praetorian Guard and of the legions. To secure their loyalty, several emperors paid the donativum, a monetary reward.


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