II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > E. Rome > 1. The Monarchy and the Early Republic, 334 (338)–264 B.C.E. > f. The Conquest of Italy
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
f. The Conquest of Italy
334 (338)
The Latin League was dissolved, and its former members forfeited an independent foreign policy, being bound to Rome by the various methods discussed below.  1
323 (326) or 310 (313)
The lex Poetelia abolished nexum (debt-bondage).  2
323–303 (326–304)
THE SECOND SAMNITE WAR began when Rome violated a treaty by establishing a Latin colony across the Liris River at Fregellae. The war was fought principally in Samnium. After initial successes from 323–320 (326–322), a Roman army was trapped at the Caudine Forks in 319 (321), and Rome was forced to negotiate an unfavorable peace. Rome resumed hostilities in 314 (316), suffered a defeat at Lautulae 313 (315), but soon reversed its fortunes. In 304 (305) the Samnites were decisively defeated and forced to sign a peace in 303 (304), giving sole hegemony of Campania to Rome.  3
310 (312)
Appius Claudius (later Caecus, “the blind”) as censor distributed freedmen among the rural tribes (in 302 (304) freedmen were confined once again to the four urban tribes).  4
The THIRD SAMNITE WAR was the final effort by the Samnites—aided by the Etruscans, Umbrians, and Gauls—to halt Roman domination. In 295 a large force of Samnites and Gauls was defeated at Sentinum, where a second Decius Mus was reputed to have secured a Roman victory by a devotio—that is, by seeking death in battle in exchange for divine assurance of Roman victory. The Gauls scattered, the Etruscans sued for peace in 294, and the Samnites finally surrendered in 290. Samnite land was taken, and Latin colonies were established on it. In 290 the Sabines were given Latin rights.  5
After a period of violence and the Third Secession of the plebs to the Janiculum, the dictator Q. Hortensius passed the lex Hortensia. It made plebiscita passed by the concilium plebis binding on all Romans. This marked the legal end to the Struggle of the Orders and the formation of a joint patrician-plebeian nobility.  6
The Romans defeated a Gallic army at Lake Vadimon in Etruria and then annexed the land of the Senones (the ager Gallicus) along the Adriatic.  7
WAR WITH PYRRHUS arose from Roman occupation of Thurii, a Greek city of Magna Graecia. The Tarentines sunk four Roman ships that had violated a treaty by sailing into Tarentine waters and expelled a Roman garrison from Thurii. Rome declared war, and the Tarentines called in King Pyrrhus of Epirus. In 280, with a professional Hellenistic army of 25,000 and 20 elephants, Pyrrhus suffered heavy casualties but won a “Pyrrhic victory” over the Romans at Heraclea in Lucania. The Bruttii, Lucani, and Samnites joined Pyrrhus, but the Roman senate, rallied by the blind ex-censor Ap. Claudius, rejected the peace offer of Cineas, Pyrrhus's ambassador. In 279 Pyrrhus won a hard-fought victory at Ausculum.  8
Pyrrhus campaigned in Sicily (See 282–275) and returned to Italy to be defeated by Rome at Beneventum in 275. He went back to Greece, leaving his general, Milo, to surrender Tarentum to the Romans in 272. Rome garrisoned Tarentum and other Italiot Greek cities; reduced the Bruttii, Lucani, and Samnites; and took Rhegium from the Mamertines in 270. Minor rebellions in Etruria occurred until 264.  9
Rome's aggressive foreign policy had won it domination of all Italy south of the Po Valley. In its relationships with other communities, Rome denied them an independent foreign policy but customarily permitted local autonomy. Italian communities outside the ager Romanus (Roman territory immediately around Rome), fell into the following main categories:  10
(1) Municipia or praefecturae. These were states, such as Capua and Cumae, whose governments managed their own internal affairs, subject to the supervision of a Roman official called praefectus Capuam Cumas. Their aristocrats were full Roman citizens, while others were cives sine suffragio (Roman citizens without the vote).  11
(2) Old Latin states. States such as Tibur and Praeneste, defeated in the Latin War, retained autonomous governments by the treaty of 338. They passed their own laws, managed their internal affairs, and retained the Latin rights of ius migrationis, by which citizens could move to Rome and become Roman citizens. They were obliged to provide soldiers for Rome, but not tribute.  12
(3) Colonies of Roman citizens. These were established for defensive purposes, usually on land taken from conquered peoples, and comprised about 300 Roman citizens. They did not have independent local governments. Eight of these had been founded by 264, all coastal.  13
(4) Latin colonies. These were established as military outposts on conquered land and usually had 2,500–4,000 settlers drawn from Rome or Latin communities. The colonists had the status of Latins, and their governments, modeled on that of Rome, passed their own laws and managed their internal affairs. They were obliged to provide soldiers for Rome, but not tribute.  14
(5) Civitates foederatae, socii (allied states). The great majority of Italic states fell into this category. Most had been defeated by Rome and had suffered confiscation of land which became ager publicus of Rome. Their governments passed their own laws and managed internal affairs, subject to interference from Rome. They had to contribute troops to Rome, but did not pay tribute.  15
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.