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date: 21 March 2023

client kingslocked

client kingslocked

  • Julia Wilker


“Client kings” is the modern English term commonly used to describe monarchs who were bound to Rome in an asymmetrical relationship and/or unequal alliance and whose rule depended on Rome’s continued approval. Client rulers enjoyed relative freedom in internal affairs but were strictly limited in all matters of foreign policy. Client kingdoms and principalities were often situated on the periphery of the Roman empire. Most dependent rulers originated from their own realms and in many cases based their legitimacy on traditional dynastic claims. Roman interference increased in the 1st century bce; from the time of Augustus on, client kingdoms were conceptually considered parts of the empire. Borders were redrawn more frequently, and rulers were appointed, reassigned, and deposed more according to imperial interests than local custom. In turn, client kings and their dynasties increasingly became part of the emerging imperial elite. Despite a significant decline in their numbers towards the end of the 1st century ce, client kingship as an instrument of Roman hegemonic control did not cease to exist until late antiquity.


  • Roman History and Historiography
  • Roman Law

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