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A triumvirate - derived from the Latin tres viri ("three men"), the name actually comes from a partitive genitive , for example Caesar est trium vir (or) um , hence tr ium vir - denotes an alliance of three people who connect common interests.

Roman history

To the regular magistrates in ancient Rome several colleges Three men were ( tresviri ) , entrusted with police and judicial tasks tresviri capitales and as Master of the Mint acting tresviri monetales . There were also special commissions of three men to establish colonies or distribute arable land. Such commissions gained political importance during the time of the Gracchian reform attempts and were thus forerunners of the two well-known triumvirates in the 1st century BC. Chr.

First triumvirate

The members of the first triumvirate in portrait busts:

In the year 60 BC Chr. Joined Julius Caesar , Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus an unofficial alliance later than First Triumvirate was called together. In 56 BC At the initiative of Caesar, the alliance was renewed.

After Sulla's resignation as dictator , Pompey and Crassus became the defining figures in Roman politics. At first both belonged to the Optimates , but made in 70 BC. As consuls, he reversed almost all changes in Sulla's law and thus approached popular positions. As commanders of the legions in the 3rd Mithridatic War and in the suppression of the slave revolt under Spartacus , both rose to military potentates, to which their clientele among the soldiers and veterans felt obliged. Like Gaius Marius and Sulla before them, they were put in the position of being able to ignore the Senate , for whose position of power they should have stood up as - former - optimates.

When the optimates in the Senate offended Crassus and Pompey, who after his return from a triumphant campaign in the Orient believed himself inviolable, the aspiring consul- designate Caesar recognized the moment . At Caesar's initiative, Caesar, Pompey and Crassus (although they probably didn't like each other very much) formed an informal alliance. Bypassing the Senate and initially undercover, this “three-man rule” was intended to ensure “that nothing should happen in the state that one of the three displeased” ( Suetonius ). Allegedly they wanted to include Cicero as well, but he refused to cooperate.

When the Senate decided in 59 BC BC refused. To support the tabled now Caesar agrarian laws, which were intended to supply the veterans of Pompey with country, Pompey turned supposedly next to Caesar in the popular assembly ( Comitium ) on the Rostra , drew his sword and gave the people to understand that he intends to personally stab anyone who votes against this law. The alliance was thus revealed to the plebs . This alliance was able to control and undermine all political processes in the republic - Caesar as consul now enforced what the triumvirs wanted and also defied the veto of his colleague Bibulus , an optimate. This was an open breach of the constitution, which the Senate had to watch helplessly at first.

All of this was possible because the three men together brought everything they needed: Crassus as the richest man in Rome, the money, Pompey as the most successful general of his time, the military potential and numerous clients committed to him, Caesar the consulate for the year 59 BC. Connected with political genius and unscrupulous drive.

To confirm the alliance, Pompey also married Caesar's daughter Julia .

Caesar was initially only a "junior partner" in the triumvirate. His administration was controversial in the Senate; prosecution after the end of his consulate - officials were immune - was prevented by Caesar's five-year term as proconsul in Illyria and Gaul (Cis- and Transalpina) , which was unusually long . Caesar used the province of Gallia cisalpina as a starting point to begin in the years 58–50 BC. To conquer the whole of non-Roman Gaul. This not only brought him enormous wealth, but also the authority of command, the empire , over huge armies for the duration of his assignment , which he was able to commit himself personally during this time.

The extension of the triumvirate in 56 BC BC in Ravenna and Lucca reached the joint consulate of Crassus and Pompey for the year 55 BC. And the extension of Caesar's proconsulate in Gaul for another five years.

But after Crassus in 53 BC When he died in the war against the Parthians and Pompey had come closer to the Senate again because Caesar's power seemed to be too great for him and the family connection between the two men had broken through the death of Juliet, the first triumvirate broke, at the latest at the beginning of the civil war 49 BC Chr., Apart.

The triumvirate not only fulfilled the existence of an alliance or political pact, it was a purely “male-friendly” relationship of convenience. Of course, after the announcement of this alliance, it was certainly clear to every Roman what an enormous political impact such an alliance would have. But since political friendship, the amicitia , had a firm place in Roman politics , the triumvirate was in principle nothing more than such a friendship in a higher style and thus completely legal - in contrast to some measures initiated by the triumvirs.

Second triumvirate

The participants of the second triumvirate in the coin image:

The Second Triumvirate was founded in early November 43 BC. BC, possibly on November 11th, between Octavian , Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus closed for five years. The aim was to secure the political legacy after Caesar's murder.

After Antony and Octavian were first on opposing sides in the struggle for power in the state after Caesar's death, they found themselves at the end of October or beginning of November 43 BC During a conference lasting several days on an island in the Lavinius River between Bononia and Mutina, a balance was reached and, following the example of Caesar, Pompeius and Crassus, together with Caesar's former magister equitum Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, they formed a second triumvirate, to confirm it, Octavian Antonius' stepdaughter Clodia got married. This agreement, for which Lepidus and Asinius Pollio were largely responsible as mediators, is also known as the "Pact of Bononia".

The "three-man rule for the order of the state", as the alliance was officially called, was based de facto solely on the military power of the triumvirs, on their control over the vast majority of the Roman legions . After a three-day entry of the triumvirs into Rome, however, the people's assembly at the request of the tribune Publius Titius on November 27, 43 BC. Chr. Dictatorial powers for five years transferred to their position to legalize state law ( lex Titia ) . As in Sulla's time , proscription lists were now published, which declared all of them to be outlawed . According to Suetonius , Octavian initially resisted the proscriptions, but then carried them out more relentlessly than his two colleagues. At Antonius' instigation, Cicero also fell victim to the massacre of the political opponents of the triumvirs . The first proscriptions and the murder of public enemies had already taken place before November 27th.

The following year, Antonius and Octavian went to Greece , where the Caesar assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus had gathered their forces. Their defeat in the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia in the autumn of 42 BC. Chr. Meant the final fall of the Roman Republic . Since the victory was largely due to Antony, his weight within the triumvirate increased.

When the triumvirs staked out their spheres of influence after Philippi, Antony received the province of Gallia Narbonensis in addition to Gallia Comata . He was also supposed to regulate the situation in the prosperous eastern provinces.

Map of the Roman Empire after the Treaty of Misenum
  • Italy
  • Octavian's sphere of influence
  • Antony's sphere of influence
  • Provinces of Lepidus
  • Sea realm of Sextus Pompey
  • Kingdom of Egypt (Cleopatra)
  • Vassal states
  • Lepidus was awarded North Africa , at that time the granary of Rome. Octavian was given the two Spanish provinces and the difficult task of resettling the veterans in Italy, which was administered jointly by the triumvirs. The land distributions resulted in brutal expropriations and expulsions not only of individual landowners, but even of entire urban populations. Octavian was generally hated at the time. In addition, there were serious differences with Antonius' brother Lucius because of the land distribution , but Octavian defeated him in the Peruvian War . When Antony returned to Italy, the legions of both triumvirs refused to fight and forced them to form a new alliance. The Treaty of Brundisium from autumn 40 BC BC provided, among other things, the wedding of Antony to Octavian's sister Octavia .

    In 39 BC BC Antony and Octavian signed the Treaty of Misenum with the sea ruler Sextus Pompeius , which did not bring peace, but at least regulated the rehabilitation and return of the proscribed. In 37 BC The triumvirate was extended for another five years in the Treaty of Taranto . But just a year later, after his victory over Sextus Pompeius, Octavian also succeeded in ousting Lepidus, whose troops had defected to him. He now ruled the entire west of the empire, while Antony had his base in the east.

    The second triumvirate ended at the latest with the declaration of Cleopatra, who was allied with Antonius, to be an enemy of the state ( hostis ) in autumn 32 BC. BC, even if it appears that both Octavian and Antonius may have invoked their powers as triumvirs for longer.

    Triumvirate in France

    16th Century

    A political association of high nobility in France in the 16th century was also referred to as a triumvirate. After the death of Henry II in 1559, his son Karl IX. King of France, under the reign of his mother Catherine de Medici . In order not to lose political power at the royal court and in France, Anne de Montmorency , Jacques d'Albon, seigneur de Saint-André and François de Lorraine, duc de Guise, came together on Easter day 1561. It was also their aim to maintain the Catholic faith, which seemed to be endangered by the growing Protestantism , and to protect the previous constitution of the monarchy. With the support of the Catholic King of Spain Philip II , the triumvirate temporarily kept its balance with the regent's party. After the death of Saint-André in 1562 and the death of Anne de Montmorency in 1567, this alliance dissolved.

    French Revolution

    The liberal MPs Antoine Barnave , Adrien Duport and Alexandre de Lameth had met in the National Assembly. They were the political heirs of Mirabeau : after his death (April 1791) they sought proximity to the court, but wanted to preserve the spirit of the revolution of 1789, threatened by radicalization. As the leader of the Feuillants , the triumvirate fought for constitutional monarchy and compliance with the 1791 constitution.

    After the adoption of the Directory Constitution by the National Convention , the five members of the first Directory were elected by the Council of Elders on October 31, 1795 . Republicans Paul de Barras , Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux and Jean François Reubell were among the elected directors. After the military-backed coup of the 18th Fructidor V (September 4, 1797), the board of directors was dominated by this triumvirate.

    With the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire VIII (November 9th 1799) General Napoleon Bonaparte took power. The Directory was dissolved and replaced by a three-person consulate headed by Napoleon. Some historians also refer to the three consuls as a triumvirate.

    Triumvirate in the Republica Romana 1849

    There has also been a triumvirate in the Roman Republic of 1849 (Repubblica Romana) since the radical democrats Giuseppe Mazzini , Carlo Armellini and Aurelio Saffi met in Italy on February 5, 1849 for the constituent assembly. Until June 30, 1849 they were able to maintain their government with the most progressive constitution of all Italian states. The intervention of troops from the French Republic and the Spanish monarchy in April 1849 , the aim of which was to restore papal rule , had initially been able to repel revolutionary units led by Giuseppe Garibaldi , after which Rome was besieged for about a month. Then they finally had to capitulate to the superior strength of the Franco-Spanish intervention army. Shortly afterwards, Mazzini and Saffi fled via Switzerland to England into temporary exile , Garibaldi to New York.

    Recent history

    After an assassination attempt on the Grand Vizier Mahmud Şevket Pasha , a triumvirate of the Young Turks took over power in the declining Ottoman Empire in January 1913 . Generals Enver Pascha as Minister of War, Talaat Pascha as Minister of the Interior and Cemal Pascha as Minister of the Navy ruled together with dictatorial powers until the end of the First World War .

    A group consisting of Josef Stalin , Lev Kamenew and Grigory Yevsejewitsch Zinoviev , which was active in Saint Petersburg after the February Revolution in 1917 and which subsequently played an important role in Soviet politics, is also known as the triumvirate.

    A triumvirate was also formed in Brazil in 1969 when the three military ministers from the army , navy and air force - Aurélio de Lyra Tavares, Augusto Hamann Rademaker-Grünewald and Márcio de Souza Melo - took office under the constitution during the serious illness of President Arturo da Costa e Silva of the Vice President prevented. According to their own definition , they acted as "the military ministers in the temporary exercise of the presidency of the republic".

    The Republic of Dahomey , today's Benin , was ruled by a "triumvirate" between May 7, 1970 and October 26, 1972. The so-called Presidential Council consisted of Coutoucou Hubert Maga , Sourou-Migan Apithy (both had previously been the sole President of the Republic) and Justin Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin (former Prime Minister), who ran against each other in the 1970 presidential election without the election result being a clear decision (Maga: 27.88%; Apithy: 32.32%; Ahomadegbé: 36.57%). The three assumed all functions of the presidency on an equal basis until they were overthrown by a military coup in 1972.

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Triumvirate  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    References and comments

    1. After “r”, the old genitive ending “-um” can also be used, see also Latin grammar
    2. ^ Karl Christ: Crisis and Fall of the Roman Republic . Darmstadt 1979, pp. 289f
    3. The great Ploetz: The data encyclopedia for world history . 34th edition, Herder / Komet, 2005, p. 255