Summus Senator

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Summus Senator is a medieval title of Rome for the head of the civil government in the city.[citation needed]


In 1144, the Commune of Rome attempted to establish a government modeled on the old Roman republic in opposition to the temporal power of the higher nobles and the pope. This included setting up a senate along the lines of the ancient one. The revolutionaries divided Rome into fourteen regions, each electing four senators for a total of 56 (although one source,[which?][according to whom?] often repeated, gives a total of 50). These senators, the first real senators since the 7th century, elected as their leader Giordano Pierleoni, son of the Roman consul Pier Leoni, with the title patrician, since the term consul had been deprecated as a noble styling.[citation needed]

This renovated form of government was constantly embattled. By the end of the 12th century, it had undergone a radical transformation, with the reduction of the number of senators to a single one – Summus Senator – being thereafter the title of the head of the civil government of Rome. In modern terms, for example, this is comparable to the reduction of a board of commissioners to a single commissioner, such as the political head of the police department of New York City.[citation needed]

In the post-Commune period, the title was still in use. For example, in 1267 the title was granted to Henry of Castile by Pope Clement IV in reward for his support of Charles I of Naples.[1]