King Tarquinius Priscus 616-579 BC: According to legend, Tarquinius the son of a Corinthian noble and refugee named Demaratus, moved to Rome, to rid themselves of their past, and claim a social status, made up by their own doings.
Tarquinius wealth and behaviour won him many friends in Rome, including King Ancus who appointed him as guardian of his children, upon his death.
With the death of King Ancus, Tarquin acting as guardian to the late Kings children, saw his chance to become King of Rome.
When the boys returned from their hunting trip, they discovered to their horror, their guardian had outmanoeuvred them, by obtaining the people’s votes as best possible choice of King.
First he saw off military challenges by neighbouring tribes, which always flared up at the ascension of a new monarch.
Tarquin created one hundred new senators. Then he waged war against the Latins. He took their town of Apiolae and in honour of the victory, started the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) which consisted of boxing and horse racing. Tarquin marked out the spot that would become the Circus Maximus.
The Sabines soon attacked Rome, and the first battle ended in a draw, but after Tarquin increased the Roman Cavalry, he defeated the Sabines, forcing an unequivocal surrender.
Soon he set his sights on Latium, and one by one the towns capitulated.
In areas of Rome where water could not drain, he built drainage systems to empty into the River Tiber.
Tarquin’s end was a brutal one! The scorned sons of King Ancus sought revenge, and hired two assassins, who murdered King Tarquinius Priscus.
King Servius Tullius 578-535 BC: With the murder of King Tarquinius Priscus, the sons of Ancus Marcius being implicated in the murder, made it impossible by their own hands to step forward, and enter the contest for the next King of Rome. The sons of Ancus Marcius were forced into exile.
Legend relating to Servius Tullius tells us of one account, where his head was covered in flames, yet he slept through the event and suffered no ill effects.
Word of this reached the ears of Tarquinius Priscus, who deemed it be a sign that the boy was marked for greatness, and duly became a protégé of Rome.
One of the impressive ideas ascribed to Servius Tullius, would have been the census, which counted the people and placed them in five classes, ascending to their wealth.
During his reign, he completed the construction of the Great Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had been started during the reign of his predecessor; Tarquinius Priscus.
According to legend, Servius Tullius, faced a coup instigated by his daughter Tullia and her husband Lucius Tarquin. Servius Tullius policies made him unpopular with his senators and Lucius Tarquin, used this to exploit the King. It is believed a conspiracy was hatched to overthrow the King.
Lucius Tarquin attended senate in royal robes and summoned senators to acknowledge him. It was the start of actions, which would see Servius Tullius deposed from power. Servius rushed to the senate, only to be bodily thrown from the hall. Chaos ensued, and King Servius was stabbed to death by assassins.
Tullia, daughter of Servius witnessed her husband Lucius Tarquin being sworn in as the new ruler.
Tullia Tarquin ran over her father’s dead body with her carriage. This street came to be known as the “Street of Guilt.”
King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud) 534-510 BC: Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was the seventh and last King of Rome. He being the son or grandson of Tarquinius Priscus and son-in-law of Servius Tullius.
He came to power by means of a violent conspiracy, with no legitimacy to the position of King. Tarquin was nothing more than a tyrant, and similar to those who had seized power in other Kingdoms.
He declared himself as supreme judge of Rome, with complete authority over capital cases, with the accused having no recourse. He was judge – jury and executioner.
Tarquin governed Rome as a vindictive tyrant on one hand, whilst on the other hand, he being a military commander and diplomat. He harassed and cajoled the Latin League into accepting Rome as its office, thereby tying Latin’s into the Roman way of life, effectively increasing Rome’s military power.
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus legacy of court intrigue and scandal led to the end of the Etruscan rule of Rome. It was Tarquinius son, Tarquinius Sextus, was raped the Roman noble woman; Lucretia, the wife of his cousin Tarquinius Collatinius, and for her rape brought about the end of the Etruscan rule of Rome.
Lucretia’s rape was scandalous on several levels, it came about because of a drinking party during which her husband and other Tarquins agreed about, which one had the most beautiful wife. Sextus was aroused by the discussion, and entered Lucretia’s bed and raped her.
She had been violated, and demanded revenge from her family, when her call went unanswered, she committed suicide.
A revolt against the corrupt Etruscans was led by Tarquin’s nephew; Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucretia’s husband, Tarquinius Collatinus. The outcome, Tarquinius and his family were expelled from Rome.
Along with the end of the Etruscan Kings of Rome, the power of the Etruscans was weakened. Rome replaced the Etruscan rulers with a Republic.