The patricians, patres, housefathers, goodmen - so lowly is the origin of that proud name - were once the whole Roman people, the original inhabitants of the Roman hills.
Five of the decemvirs were patricians, and five plebeians.
Thus far the constitution of the city had been wholly aristocratic; in the 13th century the patricians seem to have been united into a gild (Commans-gulde) from whose members the magistrates were chosen.
Many of them equalled the patricians in wealth and antiquity of descent, and as soon as inter-marriage was allowed they became in all things their social equals.
Just as the old patricians had striven to keep plebeians out of high offices, so now the new nobles, patrician and plebeian alike, strove to keep "new men," men who had not the jus imaginum, out of high office.