While Athens took pride in their democratic elections, their assembly and their Council, other city-states such as Sparta took a much more different approach. Sparta was a society in which the main focus of all politics was to enter the military. Spartan men began their elite training around the age of seven. This training involved learning a number Of skills such as stealth, loyalty to Sparta, military training, hunting, dancing, singing and social preparation. While this system helped Sparta become the military powerhouse it was in ancient times, it did not help them create an environment in which a complex political system could grow.
The Spartan decided to opt for a political system that was stable and a system that protected the people of Sparta. By using oligarchy as their form of government, the Spartan let the powerful few rule which stagnated the role of the everyday citizen in politics. Now those few powerful people controlled every aspect of life in Sparta. Even though Sparta did not have a government that thrived on the participation of its peoples, Sparta did have one unique characteristic that the other city-states did not have. Spartan women had a status of power and respect that was not seen in the ancient world.
Spartan omen were given almost the same rights as their male counter parts. The women were taught to read and Wright, they were allowed to participate in sports, and Spartan women even had the ability to own land in society. Even though they had all these rights, Athenians still participated more in government. This is shown by the way Athens ran its government. An example of this is the Athenian assembly. The assembly or The KeelAsia was where citizens of Athens would meet, discuss, and vote on certain matters that involved the city.
You could roughly compare the Athenian assemblies to our modern day Congress here in the United States. Both bodies have similar responsibilities but the way they each carried out their responsibilities was entirely different. The assembly was open to all male citizens regardless of class which showed that Athens promoted participation. One problem or flaw of the assembly was that not all citizens had the time or the knowledge to be able to attend each and every meeting. This meant that it was mostly the rich and powerful elite class that was voting and discussing political matters.
As shown in the time Of the Ancient Greeks, there were different levels of political participation across the peninsula. From the stable overspent of the Spartan to the more radical democratic government of the Athenians, the Greeks showed different forms of political participation. Another civilization that was ruled heavily by politics was the Romans. As the age of the Greeks was coming to an end, a small kingdom in central Italy was gaining power and growing. During this time, Rome was not yet the Rome as we know it today. In 753 BCC the Kingdom of Rome was founded on a hill top right next to the Tiber River.
This kingdom lasted for around 200 years until in 509 BCC when the people of Rome overthrew the king and created a republic. Like the Athenians, the Romans also showed pride in their participation in government. However unlike the Athenians the Romans set up a republic in which the people of Rome voted for representatives and those reps then discussed, voted and participated in the government. This in turn meant that political participation in Rome was less direct than it had been in their Greek counterparts but, this in no way stopped the Romans from participation in politics.
The Romans believed in one very important virtue. This virtue was called gravitas and It represented the Roman’s seriousness and importance it UT toward aspects of life, one of which was politics. The Romans felt that being involved in government was a civil duty that all Romans must know about it. The people of Rome felt this way because they did not want to revert back to the time when they were ruled by kings. Unfortunately the era of the republic began to fall as a cycle of violence ensued.
Rome was in constant chaos at this time and as shown throughout history, when people feel uneasy and threatened, they will sacrifice liberties that they fought so hard to gain and protect. The people of Rome now became more like subjects instead of citizens. They gave up many of their basic liberties only to help create a stable form of government under the newly named emperor Augustus. Once Rome became an empire the participation of the people began to decline as well. The senate voted itself out of power by giving all the power to emperor.
Thus the last voice of the people and the remains of the republic destroyed itself. While an empire, the people were now restricted in their say in politics. Even if the senate votes on a matter and that vote is unanimous, the emperor has the final say. The political participation of the Romans was at first thought of as a great Roman pastime that gave inspiration to the founding fathers of the United States but, sadly was destroyed 27 BCC with the rise of the empire. The Middle ages was a very different era from previous times.
The politics that existed in the time of the Greeks and the Romans were now a thing of the past and society took a much more different view on government. The democratic and republican systems that were once used are now replaced with Monarchs that now control every aspect of life in their kingdom. During this time, people took a simpler view on life. People moved away from the large market economy that was built up y the Romans to a farming based society in which the main product was agriculture. The main form of government in the early Middle Ages was feudalism.
In this form of government land is given out by a King to powerful nobles under him in exchange for loyalty and military service. The nobles would then go to their land and then begin to carve out small pieces of it to give away. They would then find subjects to take residents on this land and rule over it. Now what this means is that there is no centralized government that is powerful enough to have a direct rule over its peoples and those people are now only loyal to the local tough guy in the area that directly rules over them.
The people also don’t question the rule of this person. They see that person as a protector and take their word as law, thus there is no political participation in a feudal society. All the laws and decisions are made by one person. As time went on, the use of feudalism began to decline as kings became more powerful. The monarchs of Europe realized that having subjects that have more land than them can really hinder their power. The only thing that the kings had was that they were chosen by God to rule over its people. One example of this is France.
The French monarchs over time were able to gain land back and become the powerful Kings as we know them today. While mainland Europe was entering the era of absolute monarchy, Great Britain Was taking a turn for the better. In 1066 King William set up a parliament because he need money for his campaigns. This was a step towards letting people be a part of government. Centuries later the people of England forced King John to sign the Magna Cart which showed that the king is now below the law and that the law can limit his power. After the Magna Cart, it was just a downhill for the English Kings.
Eventually the parliament that was created by the king seized all executive power and made the king a figure head in the British government. The political participation of the middle ages was very limited due to the fact of absolute monarchs controlling every aspect of life. With the exception of the English, almost all governments at that time were under the control off king. Eventually other European powers began to follow suit as their people cried for rights and protection. This would then lead to a period of revolutions that changed the face of the world and formed it into what we know it today.