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The Nuttall Encyclopedia
Patricians and Plebeians
The two classes into which, from the earliest times, the population of the Roman State was divided, the former of which possessed rights and privileges not conceded to the latter, and stood to them as patrons to clients, like the baron of the Middle Ages to the vassals. This inequality gave rise to repeated and often protracted struggles in the commonalty, during which the latter gradually encroached on the rights of the former till the barrier in civic status, and even in social to some extent, was as good as abolished, and members of the plebeian class were eligible to the highest offices and dignities of the State.
Wood, James, ed. Entry for 'Patricians and Plebeians'. The Nuttall Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/nut/p/patricians-and-plebeians.html. Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London. 1900.