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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.


Mashkin, N. A. Printsipat Avgusta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Utchenko, S. L. Krizis i padenie Rimskoi respubliki. Moscow, 1965.
References in periodicals archive ?
12) The different narrative strategies adopted by Suetonius reflect something of (his view of) the different personalities of the two principes and of the attitudes of their respective ages towards divinisation: for Augustus it was a goal long aspired to, long advertised, carefully prepared for, and above all vouched for by the gods through all the most important methods of divination; (13) for Vespasian, a tradition of a humble but honourable Roman ancestry served well the ideological needs of his principate, both in distancing himself from Julio-Claudian excesses and in promoting the new ethos of 'ostentatious modesty', whereas a divine future was not of paramount importance.
54) The impression that Suetonius generates is that the appointment which changed Vespasian's life, elevating him to the principate, came at a time of despair and trepidation: just as he became the unexpected emperor who did nothing to engineer his own elevation, the turning-point came to him unexpectedly and unsought, in literary terms a heightened peripateia such as Cicero thought appropriate for an appealing history.
nonweakness (4) warriorwise principates (11) pentadactyl nonchemical (6) outstriking fuciphagous (12) submortgage melagranite (7) Phyllanthus overbearing (13) verberation self-service (9) nonburnable