Roman Social War

B.C. 91 to 88
Rome — versus — Italian Allies

Roman general
The Roman Social War was a civil war, but instead of being between parties within Rome, it was between the city and region immediately surrounding Rome and her Italian allies. Up until the time of the war, Rome had been the dominant city within Italy, and although it left most of its allies to govern themselves, Rome alone determined foreign policy. As the empire expanded however, the allies wanted more rights of Roman citizenship. Historically Rome had shared booty and land of conquered areas according to the contribution of the allied armies, but as the empire expanded reform was needed regarding the specifics of this distribution. The allies also sought input into foreign policy. A Roman politician named Drusus proposed such reforms but was assassinated, and his reforms were tabled. This was the incident that triggered the Social War.

Rome's Latin allies remained faithful to her, but most of the rest of Italy revolted and declared themselves a new country, named Italia. The contestants in this war had fought side by side in Roman armies, and had Roman equipment, training, and leadership skills. The war, therefore was short, and there were numerous skirmishes but few pitched battles, the main two being Tolenus, a Roman loss, and a battle during the siege of Asculum, a Roman victory which resulted in the fall of an important city of the Italian Allies. Instead of continuing to fight however, Rome made significant concessions, including the granting of Roman citizenship to selected towns, granting it as a reward for military service, and also granting it, in selected cases to other individuals who were willing to pay to travel to Rome in order to vote. These concessions effectively satisfied the Italians and hostilities ceased.

DateBattle Summary
90 BC  
Battle of Tolenus   Italians victory
Fought B.C. 90, between the Romans, under Lupus, and the revolted Marsians. Lupus was attacked while crossing the Tolenus, and totally routed with a loss of 8,000 men.
89 BC  
Battle of Asculum   Romans victory
Fought B.C. 89, between 75,000 Romans under Strabo, who was besieging the town, and 60,000 Italians under Judacilius, who had marched to its relief. The Romans were victorious, but Judacilius succeeded in throwing a considerable portion of his army into the beleaguered city.

Short Biography
Sulla Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.
Pompey Strabo Leading Roman general during the Social War.

Story Links
Book Links
Social War  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Sulla Enters Rome with His Troops  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor