Reforms of Julius Caesar

Reforms of Julius Caesar
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  • 0:00 Julius Caesar's Leadership
  • 0:57 Caesar's Economic Reforms
  • 2:03 Caesar's Political Reforms
  • 3:23 Caesar's Social Reforms
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cirrelia Thaxton

Cirrelia is an educator who has taught K-12 and has a doctorate in education.

Many of us know the Roman figure Julius Caesar as a soldier and politician, but what do we know about the economic, political, and social changes he made while in power? This lesson discusses the major reforms initiated by Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar's Leadership

Born in Rome on July 13, 100 B.C.E., Gaius Julius Caesar, the first Roman emperor, lived the privileged life of a son in a patrician family. Although not rich by the standards of Roman nobility, his family gained riches when his aunt married a general in the Roman army. At the age of 16, Caesar became head of his family after his father died.

Because he was a Populare, a group who favored the democratization of government, Caesar was targeted by leaders of the Optimate faction, which supported the superiority of the noble class. As a result, Caesar joined the army and excelled, showing his military genius. Also, as a brilliant politician and orator, Caesar held sway over the masses. He became known as master of the Roman world when, in 44 B.C.E., he was named Dictator Perpetuus (dictator for life).

Caesar's Economic Reforms

At the zenith of his career, Caesar initiated many economic reforms. He decided to drain marshes to increase arable lands in his homeland. Next, he commanded construction projects to improve sea travel. In addition to improving living conditions for Romans, Caesar had a new canal built in Corinth (a city in modern day Greece). Similarly, he ordered the rebuilding of Carthage, an African country. Urban renewal was important to Caesar, and he spent much time and effort on this economic issue. Business districts were also renovated in Rome, yielding the emergence of new theaters and temples.

However, one of Caesar's most noteworthy economic reforms was the regulation of grain purchases. He oversaw grain operations carefully so that all Romans, from poor to the wealthy, could get enough to eat. Likewise, land redistribution among the poor was common during Caesar's rule. He even proposed land reform for veterans of the army and founded colonies in several conquered territories. Thus, Caesar endeavored to show a genuine concern for his people's welfare.

Caesar's Political Reforms

As a political leader, Caesar made many positive changes in government. For instance, he helped to organize the municipal governments in all of Italy. Then, he streamlined local governments while also enlarging the Senate, the main ruling body of Rome. Consequently, the national debt was lowered, and the tax system was abolished. Caesar continued his political reforms, passing a law that prohibited 20- to 40-year-olds from leaving Italy, except for 3-year military tours. Wanting to strengthen the family-based network of his country, Caesar also passed legislation to uphold marriage solidarity. Finally, he created a police force to encourage Romans to avoid misconduct.

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