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(Latin: horseman) In ancient Rome, a knight. In early Rome, the equites (in full, equites equo publico, horsemen with mounts provided at public expense) were of the senatorial class. They were the most influential members of the Comitia Centuriata. By the early 4th century BC, non-senators could be equites, providing their own horses. Augustus reorganized them as a military class, removing them from politics; qualifications were free birth, good health and character, and wealth. In the 1st century AD, equites were permitted civil careers, and they became particularly involved in financial administration.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on eques, visit Britannica.com.