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a term used in historiography to designate the form of monarchy that developed in ancient Rome during the early imperial period (27 B.C. to A.D. 193). Under the principate, certain republican institutions were retained in form and the emperor was called the princeps.
The principate system first took form during the reign of Augustus, whose authority was based on a combination of various magistracies. Augustus and his successors held the office of princeps senatus and exercised both military power and the supreme civilian authority, since they held the powers of a people’s tribune for life. The republican system continued to exist nominally, with the Senate, the comitia, or popular assemblies, and the magistracies, except for the censors. But these institutions lost their previous political importance, since they were controlled by the princeps. Real power was held by the imperial bureaucratic machinery, whose staff continuously grew and whose sphere of activity expanded.
REFERENCESMashkin, N. A. Printsipat Avgusta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Utchenko, S. L. Krizis i padenie Rimskoi respubliki. Moscow, 1965.