When a slave was freed by a Roman citizen, he became a Roman citizen himself, although with certain legal disabilities: eg, he could not stand for public office, he could not join the army, and was generally required to take certain oaths to support his patron (former master), by voting for him, not getting richer than he, etc.

Obviously, many of these do not apply to women, who could not vote, hold office or join the army. So - did a freedwoman have obligations to her former master/mistress, and how did her rights/status differ from that of a freeborn Roman woman? Also, as a woman, was she still subject to her master's potestas? And, if she should subsequently marry a Roman citizen, did she take her husband's status, or remain legally a freedwoman as opposed to freeborn?

  • 'When a slave was freed by a Roman citizen, he became a Roman citizen himself` Only after the Edict of Caracalla (212 BC). Before that, they were just freedmen, not citizens en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_citizenship#The_Edict_of_Caracalla
    – SJuan76
    Nov 29, 2015 at 20:32
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    @SJuan76 are u sure about the date?
    – Anixx
    Nov 30, 2015 at 3:39
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    @SJuan76 The Edict of Caracalla was 212 AD and merely extended Roman citizenship to all free men in the Empire. Not the same thing at all!
    – TheHonRose
    Nov 30, 2015 at 12:09
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    @Anixx No, SJuan76 has confused BC with AD. Roman freedman were granted citizenship long before the Principate, let alone Emperor Caracalla. Completely different issue, being the granting of citizenship to all free males in the Empire, probably to increase the tax base!
    – TheHonRose
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


The Lex Julia de Maritandis of 18 BC forbade a senator to marry a freedwoman but in other instances where a freedwoman married her patron she had no right of divorce. Freedwomen did not have the right to benefit from wills until they had four children (other women when they had three children).

The Lex Aelia Sentia of AD 4 stated that a freed slave (of either sex) would only become a Roman citizen if they were aged 30 or over, their dominus was age 20 or over and the manumission took place before a magistrate. If a slave was freed before he was 30 he could still become a citizen if he married a free or freed woman and had a son of at least one year old, then a magistrate could make them all Roman citizens. Slaves who had been put in chains, tortured or branded could be freed but not become Roman citizens. They had to live at least 100 miles outside of Rome, could not benefit from a will nor make one.

The Lex Papia Poppaea of AD 9 gave a freedwoman rights to make an independent will only if she had four or more children, but a portion of her estate would always be forfeit to her Patron.

Hope this helps answer some of your questions.

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