What is the edict of Caracalla?

(ORDO NEWS) — The Edict of Caracalla, also known as the Antonine Constitution (Constitutio Antoniniana), was a decree issued in 212 that granted citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire.

The author of the decree was Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus (aka Caracalla ).

Roman citizenship guaranteed the following rights:

  • Voting right;
  • The right to serve in the Roman legions ;
  • The right to be elected to public office;
  • The right to appeal against a court decision if it seems unfair;
  • The right to own real estate.

Initially, the rights of Roman citizens were reserved only for free people living in Rome. From 89 BC e. they were given to all free inhabitants of Italy.

Citizenship was also held by the Romans who lived in colonies, cities and provinces outside of Italy, as well as the rulers of allied states.

The emperor, issuing a decree, justified his step with a desire to achieve the favor of the gods, and the historian Cassius Dio, a contemporary of Caracalla, attributed exclusively fiscal motives to the decision – the emergence of new taxpayers and an increase in the number of men who could go into the army (only citizens could serve in the Roman legions).

Despite the fact that Dion was extremely hostile to Caracalla, his judgments regarding the edict were absolutely correct.


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