Clientele

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Clientele

 

a form of social dependence that arose in the period of the disintegration of the clan structure and the formation of the early class structure in ancient Italy among the Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans. Impoverished kinsmen and conquered or newly arrived residents of the emerging poleis, who were without rights, sought the protection of patrons from the wealthy nobility and became their clients individually or collectively. The clients received the clan name of the protectors and a land allotment, and in turn they were required to perform various duties for the patrons, especially military duties. Their bonds were considered sacred and inviolable. Clientele relations developed especially rapidly in connection with the rise of slaveholding and the deepening of social contradictions. In the period of the republic, clientele was extended to the freedmen, a significant number of the Roman plebeians, and entire communes of Italy and the provinces that were dependent on Rome. It continued to exist in the era of the empire.