Struggle of the Orders
The Conflict of the Orders, also referred to as the Struggle of the Orders, was a political struggle between the Plebeians (commoners) and Patricians (aristocrats) of the ancient Roman Republic, in which the Plebeians sought political equality with the Patricians. It was the major issue during the History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic, and played a major role in the development of the Constitution of the Roman Republic. It began in 494 BC, when, while Rome was at war with two neighboring tribes, the Plebeians all left the city (the first Plebeian Secession). The result of this first secession was the creation of the office of Plebeian Tribune, and with it the first acquisition of real power by the Plebeians.
At first only Patricians were allowed to stand for election to political office, but over time these laws were revoked, and eventually all offices were opened to the Plebeians. Since most individuals who were elected to political office were given membership in the Roman Senate, this development helped to transform the senate from a body of Patricians into a body of Plebeian and Patrician aristocrats. This development occurred at the same time that the Plebeian legislative assembly, thePlebeian Council, was acquiring additional power. At first, its acts ("plebiscites") applied only to Plebeians, although after 449 BC, these acts began to apply to both Plebeians and Patricians.
It wasn't until 287 BC that the Patrician senators lost their last check over the Plebeian Council. However, the Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy in the senate still retained other means by which to control the Plebeian Council, in particular the closeness between the Plebeian Tribunes and the senators. While this conflict would end in 287 BC with the Plebeians having acquired political equality with the Patricians, the plight of the average Plebeian had not changed. A small number of aristocratic Plebeian families had emerged, and most Plebeian politicians came from one of these families. Since this new Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy was based on the structure of society, it could only be overthrown through a revolution. That revolution ultimately came in 49 BC, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, and began a civil war, which overthrew the Roman Republic, and created the Roman Empire.