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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Mashkin, N. A. Printsipat Avgusta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Utchenko, S. L. Krizis i padenie Rimskoi respubliki. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Finally, Tacitus, who wrote under the Principate in its fully consolidated form, shows expressions of virtus calibrated for life under an autocrat.
But, unlike Sallust this time, he does not idealize the past while overlooking the present, and is able to find good things in his own times under the Principate. One illustration of this is the example of parsimonia [sobriety, austerity] that Tacitus alludes to in Book 3 of the Annals.
This is, of course, not correct, laws had been issued by emperors all through the principate and dominate periods, but Isidore points to Constantine as the reviver of written Roman law because, most likely, he was the first Christian emperor, and certainly he wrote a great deal of them, somewhere north of three hundred.
Those enthusiastically engaged in the project of empire presented their monuments within a cosmology that allowed for the triumph of mankind over natura, while Lucretius preemptively provided a template for problematizing conceptions of Roma aeterna under the principate. From a material standpoint, then, Vitruvius's ambivalent handling of Lucretius and inconsistent approach to monumental permanence are understandable; the architect is at once a thoughtful student of natural philosophy and an enthusiastic client of the emperor.
(42) Then for all its emphasis on free will and freedom of speech, (43) which may itself have been a vexing issue when the Principate was established, the Epicurean school became quite dogmatic, with Athens taking the lead in policing Epicurean orthodoxy, and sometime in the first century the Athenian school accepted the rule that its president had to have Roman citizenship, even if a Greek by birth.
Kaldellis admits that Christian teaching supported the Byzantines' republican commitment to the common good, and he judges Christian Byzantium more republican than the two previous phases of the republic--the Principate and the Dominate.
In the Histories he called Venice "a republic that, through its institutions and its power, must be celebrated above every other principate in Italy" (1.28).
In addition, Talbert believes that a conceptual awareness of Roman roads as a network was mostly absent for much of the Principate.
The community of office-holders had transformed themselves into courtiers and Baker succinctly demonstrates that the creation of the Medici principate was completed with the support of the office-holders of Florence.
(1990), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and His Principate, Berkeley.