Who were the seven kings of Rome?

The “seven kings of Rome” typically refers to the seven legendary kings who ruled the city of Rome before the advent of the Roman Republic.

Here are the Seven Kings of Rome, each of which has their name written in the rich Roman history.


The legend is that Romulus founded Ancient Rome. Romulus and Remus were twin brothers whom were abandoned by their parents as babies and put into a basket in the River Tiber. When the basket ran aground, they were found and nursed by a female wolf until a shepherd found them and brought them up.

When Romulus and Remus grew up, they wanted to found a city where the wolf had found them. But the brothers quarrelled over where it should be and Remus was killed by his brother. With only Romulus left, he became the sole founder of the new city which he named Rome. 753BC is the date given for the founding of Rome.

Numa Pompilius

After the disappearance of Romulus, the second king of Rome was Numa Pompilius, a Sabine and he reigned from 715 to 673. At first Numa did not accept the offer but was persuaded by his father and cousin to accept and try and impose a more peaceful and calm Rome.

Numa instituted priests (flamines) of Mars, of Jupiter, and of Romulus under his heavenly name of Quirinus. He also added other orders of priests, the pontifices, the salii, and the fetiales, and the vestals.

Numa also distributed the land conquered by Romulus to poor citizens, hoping that an agricultural way of life would make the Romans more peaceful.

Numa died in his 80’s and was buried under the Janiculum together with his religious books. But in 181 BC his grave was uncovered after a heavy flood, when it was discovered that his coffin was empty.

Tullus Hostilius

Tullus was the third king of Rome and known as a warlike king and he reigned from 672 to 641 BC. He was the grandson of Hostus Hostilius, who had fought with Romulus and died during the Sabine invasion of Rome.

The main legend of Tullus’ reign was when he defeated Alba Longa in the 7th Century BC as some Roman and Alban peasants had demolished each other’s lands. Alba Longa was a vassal state of Rome, but the Alban dictator Mettius Fufetius betrayed Rome, ambassadors were sent by each side to demand restitution.

Unfortunately, war was declared, first by king Tullus Hostilius, and soon after by the Alban king Gaius Cluilius. The Romans were victorious and forced the Alban citizens to join Rome.

Ancus Marcius

Macrius was the fourth king of Rome and the grandson of Numa Pompilius, he reigned from 642 to 617 BC. He fought against the Latin tribes as they tried to settle into Roman territory. When the Latin tribe refused to leave peacefully, King Marcius sent his forces out against them.

It is thought that King Marcius built fortifications and Rome’s first prison as he extended the Roman Empire to incorporate the port of Ostia and coastal forest Silva Maesia. He ruled Rome for about 24 years before dying in 616 B.C.

Tarquinius Priscus

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus known as Tarquin ‘the Elder’ was made guardian of King Ancus’ two sons after winning over the King’s confidence. But when Ancus Marcius died, Tarquin persuaded the two sons to go hunting while he arranged their father’s funeral ceremony. When they returned it was to find Tarquin on the throne. He’d used their absence to win over the Romans to grant him their votes.

Tarquin’s first action as king was to double the number of senators to 200 and also set about improving Rome, one of which was to create the Circus Maximus. Tarquin also improved and doubled Rome’s military.

One day an unusual event took place at the palace, a little slave boy named Servius Tullius was sleeping, when his head caught fire. Everyone watched the flames, but the boy continued to sleep.

Another slave fetched water to put out the flames, when Tanaquil (Tarquin’s wife) commanded him to stop. When the child woke up the flames went out. Tanaquil told Tarquin the flames were a sign that this slave boy was special.

So, Servius Tullius was raised by Tarquin as if he were his own son eventually marrying his daughter.

Tarquin death came when the scorned sons of King Ancus finally sought revenge and hired two shepherds. One approached from the front posing as a party in a legal dispute, whilst the other came up behind and struck at his head with an axe. Tarquin died instantly.

Servius Tullius

He became the sixth King of Rome after the murder of Tarquin. He created a class structure and organized the classes upon the armour each man could afford. He is also credited with building the Servian Wall.

Although he had reigned for about 44 years, he was finally murdered by the true son of Tarquinius Priscis who took the throne and became the seventh and last king of Rome.

Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud)

He reigned from 534 to 509 bc until the popular uprising which led to the establishment of the Roman Republic.

His reign of terror saw many senators put to death. However, a group of senators led by Lucius Junius Brutus raised a revolt, the immediate cause of which was the rape of a noblewoman, Lucretia, by Tarquin’s son Sextus.

The Tarquin family was expelled from Rome, and the monarchy at Rome was abolished.

It’s important to note that the historical accuracy of these legends is uncertain and there is much debate among scholars as to the actual sequence and number of early Roman kings.

Nevertheless, these legends have played a significant role in shaping the cultural and political identity of ancient Rome.

Feature Image by Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0