Tiberius Gracchus and Land Reform

(163-133 BC)
(153-121 BC)
Conditions in the Late Republic
Military problems:
 Fewer men eligible for army, military levy based on land ownership.
 Decline in birth rate impacted army numbers.
 Lower quality of troops = undisciplined.
 Poor training and lack of quality leadership.
Social problems:
 Urbanisation – ex-soldiers, slaves and foreigners, flocked to Rome.
 Drift of peasant farmers and labourers to Rome = unemployment.
 Pop. increase, overcrowding, poor housing = unemployment.
 Slave uprisings from poor treatment.
Economic problems:
 Great influx of wealth from provinces, included booty.
 Most wealth went into hands of upper class.
 Peasants returning from wars unable to compete with wealthier farmers –
forced off their land.
 Boom period in building and increased private spending in the 140s,
reduction in public spending.
 Economic depression, misery, unrest.
 Shortage of grain and grain imported = high price of bread.
Tiberius Gracchus – Tribune
 In 133, Tiberius Gracchus was elected as one
of ten tribunes
 Within 10 months of being elected he had
presented a highly controversial bill for land
reform to the people’s assembly without
consulting the senate. It was called lex agraria
 The aim of Lex Agraria:
 Redistribute land equally
 Address acute urbanisation
 Easing the crisis of recruitment in the legions
Tiberius Gracchus and Land Reform
The lower classes (plebeians) were suffering.
133 BCE – Tiberius Gracchus was
elected as tribune of the plebeians
He promised land reform
Tiberius Gracchus told the people: “You fight and die to give luxury
to other men…but you have not a foot of ground to call your
Wanted to limit the
amount of land
each person could
Wanted to rebuild
the farming class
by redistributing
The patricians
were not pleased
with Tiberius
Tiberius Gracchus
and hundreds of
his followers were
Tiberius Gracchus – decade after
132 BCE – Supporters and Gracchans killed or stripped of titles and public
office. However, Gaius Gracchus (brother) headed the Agrarian Commission.
131-130 BCE – Attempt to introduce a measure to extend the secret ballot to
assemblies to legalise re-election to the tribunate – supported by Gaius
Gracchus, however failed to pass.
129 BCE – Boundary disputes between Rome and her Italian and Latin allies
127 BCE – Gaius Gracchus elected quaestor
126 BCE – Law passed to prevent non-citizens from living in Rome
125 BCE – Proposition by consul Fulvius Flaccus to extend Roman
citizenship to allies. Opposition was widespread in Senate, failed to pass.
123 BCE – Gaius Gracchus elected tribune of the plebs
Gaius Gracchus – Tribune
Equites – third
political force
Senate power
Senate used decree
to save state – excuse
to crush opposition
People realised they
could gain some
benefits of empire
Effects of
the Gaius
Problem of Italian
citizenship became
Encouraged future
leaders to establish
colonies to gain
political power
The tribune could be
used as a weapon
against the senate
Worsened the
conditions for people
in the provinces
Gaius Gracchus and Reform
Gaius was elected
tribune in 123 BCE,
about ten years after
his brother was
He also wanted land
Gaius wanted even
more than land
Gaius wanted the
government to sell
grain to the poor at
reduced prices.
Gaius proposed that
landless Romans be
settled in the
Gaius wanted a
public works
program to employ
the poor.
Gaius wanted to
decrease the
Senate’s power.
Riots erupted. In 121
BCE, he was killed
along with
thousands of his
Gaius wanted to
reform the way that
taxes were collected
by publicans in the

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