Roman citizenship, marriage, and family networks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the legal regime governing the status of children of Romans and non-Romans and considers its role in shaping family networks in the provinces. The first section reviews two key principles of Roman law: the rule established by the lex Minicia that the offspring of a mixed union took the status of the “inferior” partner and the ban on testation to peregrines. The second section traces the evolution of these rules over the long second century, stressing the modest scale of efforts to mitigate their prejudicial effects on mixed unions. The two principles remained intact at the time of Caracalla’s grant. The third section supplements the legal analysis with concrete examples from inscriptions and papyri of peregrine children of Roman parents, proving the operation of the first principle through to the end of the second century. The fourth section examines the effects of the legal regime on the structure of family networks in the provinces. It presents evidence that Roman law did have the expected effect of promoting endogamy among Roman families in non-Roman communities; there are mixed unions but fewer than we would expect. The chapter ends by noting the paradox that the strict rules about the transmission of status and property made Roman citizenship a potentially burdensome constraint but also, indirectly, an advantageous status, insofar as it gave preferential access to a network of families that had disproportionate access to patronage and control of capital.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoman and local citizenship in the long second century CE
EditorsMyles Lavan, Clifford Ando
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9780197573914
ISBN (Print)9780197573884
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameOxford studies in early empires


  • Roman citizenship
  • Marriage
  • Families
  • Inheritance
  • Roman law


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