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foedus

treaty or compact contracted by ancient Rome with one or more allied states (foederati). The treaty contained various conditions establishing permanent friendly relations between the contracting parties. A foedus aequum was a bilateral agreement recognizing both parties as equals obliged to assist each other in defensive wars or when otherwise called upon, in perpetuity. A foedus iniquum defined Rome as superior, the second party being bound to assist Rome in offensive wars, thus limiting the ally's sovereignty. Foedera were negotiated by Roman commanders and confirmed by vote of the centuriate assembly (comitia centuriata). The compacts were inscribed on bronze tablets and either displayed in public or kept in temples or other public buildings.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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