Been reading on the Roman Republic again. I am always impressed with how (relatively) impressive the Roman Popular Assembly system was. There were all sorts of issues with the assemblies and the Roman political system generally from the POV of a 21st century liberal democracy (the tribal divisions, voting order, and whole “built on the backs of slaves and violent conquest” thing). But for the last century BC it’s pretty impressive that you have a representative body with genuine power (the ability to appoint representives with real power, tribunes, and pass laws directly) that was extremely large. At height of it’s size after the social war it must have numbered in the 100,000s, far larger than just a city’s governing council (ok, soon after the whole system collapsed under Sulla, then Caesar et al)
So after the last roman popular assembly* when was the next time there was a representative “democratic” body of that size and power? You had city governments like Venice but AFAIK nothing with that many voters until maybe the late medeival English parliment? Or Swiss? Dutch?
- follow up question, when was the last popular assembly that actually voted on something? Unlike the Senate thet weren’t kept around, even in form only, during the principate, and they were restricted early on by Sulla.