Assembly of the Centuries

Citizens were organized on the basis of centuries and tribes. The centuries and the tribes would each gather into their own assemblies. The Comitia Centuriata ("Century Assembly") was the assembly of the centuries. The president of the Comitia Centuriata was usually a consul. The centuries would vote, one at a time, until a measure received support from a majority of the centuries. The Comitia Centuriata would elect magistrates who had imperium powers (consuls and praetors). It also elected censors. Only the Comitia Centuriata could declare war, and ratify the results of a census. It also served as the highest court of appeal in certain judicial cases. The Century Assembly (comitia centuriata or "Army Assembly") of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of the Roman soldiers. The Century Assembly was organized as an Assembly, as every Roman citizen with the required wealth could vote, regardless of class.[clarification needed] The Roman army was divided into units called "Centuries", and these gathered into the Century Assembly for legislative, electoral, and judicial purposes. Only this assembly could declare war or elect the highest-ranking Roman Magistrates: Consuls, Praetors and Censors. The Century Assembly could also pass a statute that granted constitutional command authority to Consuls and Praetors, and Censorial powers to Censors. In addition, the Century Assembly served as the highest court of appeal in certain judicial cases, and ratified the results of the Census. While the voters in this assembly wore white undecorated togas and were unarmed, while taking part in the Assembly they were classified as soldiers, and as such they could not meet inside of the physical boundary of the city of Rome. The president of the Century Assembly was usually a Consul (although sometimes a Praetor). Only Consuls (the highest-ranking of all Roman Magistrates) could preside over the Century Assembly during elections because the higher-ranking Consuls were always elected together with the lower-ranking Praetors.

Once every five years, after the new Consuls for the year took office, they presided over the Century Assembly as it elected the two Censors. The Century Assembly was supposedly founded by the legendary Roman King Servius Tullius, less than a century before the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC. As such, the original design of the Century Assembly was known as the Servian Organization. Under this organization, the assembly was supposedly designed to mirror the Roman army during the time of the Roman Kingdom. Soldiers in the Roman army were classified on the basis of the amount of property that they owned, and as such, soldiers with more property had more influence than soldiers with less property. The 193 Centuries in the assembly under the Servian Organization were each divided into one of three different grades: the officer class, the enlisted class, and a class of unarmed adjuncts. The officer class was grouped into eighteen Centuries. The enlisted class was grouped into five separate property classes, for a total of 170 Centuries. The unarmed soldiers were divided into the final five Centuries. During a vote, all of the Centuries of one class had to vote before the Centuries of the next lower class could vote. When a measure received a majority of the vote, the voting ended, and as such, many lower ranking Centuries rarely if ever had a chance to actually vote. Chart Showing the Checks and Balances of the Constitution of the Roman Republic Under the Servian Organization, the assembly was so aristocratic that the officer class and the first class of enlisted soldiers controlled enough Centuries for an outright majority. In 241 BC, this assembly was reorganized in order to give more weight to the lower ranking Centuries, and thus make the assembly less aristocratic. Under the old system, there were a total of 193 Centuries, while under the new system, there were a total of 373 Centuries. Now, majorities usually could not be reached until the third class of enlisted Centuries had begun voting.