Before Rome was ever a Republic or an Empire that stretched across the known world, the city was ruled by kings. The first of these seven kings, who ruled from 53 to round 509 BC, was Romulus, one of the fabled twins that founded Rome in its creation myth. Any written account about this period of Roman kings, known as the Regal Period, came after the period had ended, giving historians some caution about being definite about the period and its kings. The most interesting tradition about the kings of Rome, perhaps, is how the kings were chosen. The kings were not chosen from a hereditary line, as was in most cases even in the present day, but instead elected by a council of nobles.
Kings held power over certain areas of the government, including the military (and what would be considered military-related foreign affairs) and religious affairs within the kingdom. The third area of government that the kings of Rome had control over is what Americans would consider the judiciary branch of government, charged in directing justice. In between the kings, before the senate of nobles had chosen his successor, there was what was termed the interrex (rex is Latin for king, and inter as “in-between”, such as “inter-war period” or “intermediary”). Though historians are sure that these seven kings ruled, it is not abundantly clear about the details of each of their reigns, because written accounts regarding the kings do not come until much later.
In the Regal Period, a period of less than two hundred and fifty years, only seven kings ruled, providing an average of just over three decades for each king. Two of the last three kings, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus, are traditionally thought to be “Etruscan” kings. The presence of Etruscan kings was originally thought to be a result of conquest and political control, but more recent evidence suggest that Etruscan families merely gained more influence in Rome and were able to exert more control politically than the influential Latin Roman families at that particular time.
Both historically and in a mythological sense, the kings of Rome are often used as an explanation for the early foundation of Rome and its early history. The idea that Romulus was actually the first king of Rome gives some credence to the idea of the myth of Romulus and Remus, though it is difficult to say the entire creation myth is entirely accurate. Instead, these kings (Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullius Hostilius, Ancius Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus) that ruled from around 750 BC to near 500 BC, who historically are known about from legends and accounts written later in Roman history, may have historically existed, but because of the lack of details on their rule and lives, they are more of stories and legends than actual detailed human beings.
“The Beginnings of Rome” by T.J. Cornell