Q:

What was the central conflict in the Struggle of the Orders?

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Quick Answer

Political representation for the plebeian class and a safeguard against domination by the aristocratic patrician class were the central issues in the Struggle of the Orders, which took place during the time of the Ancient Roman Republic. One of the main grievances of the poor and middle class citizens of the Roman Republic was that they represented an indispensable portion of Rome's military forces, but they were unable to have any real say in the policies and laws that were being enacted by the patrician senators in the government.

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Full Answer

The flashpoint in the struggle for representation by the plebeian classes occurred in 494 B.C. when plebeian soldiers in the Roman army refused to fight. This took place when the Roman Republic was at war with the Sabine, Aequi and Volsci Italic tribes. The point was made clear by the striking soldiers that the patrician classes were dependent upon the services and support of the plebeian classes. The event resulted in the first of a series of concessions made over the course of the next 200 years that granted a greater degree of political representation and authority to the lower and middle classes of the Roman Republic.

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