It will be perceived that the type was rather oligarchical than strictly democratic. Between the parlamento and the consuls with their privy council, or credenza, was interposed the gran consiglio of privileged burghers.
The 5th Century B.C. - The beginning of the 5th century saw Sparta at the height of her power, though her prestige must have suffered in the fruitless attempts made to impose upon Athens an oligarchical regime after the fall of the Peisistratid tyranny in 51o.
The oligarchical party considered it a disgrace to obey a simple boyar; conspiracies were frequent, the rural districts were desolated by famine and plague, great bands of armed brigands roamed about the country committing all manner of atrocities, the Cossacks on the frontier were restless, and the government showed itself incapable of maintaining order.
Syracuse passed through another reign of terror; the new despot proclaimed himself the champion of popular government, and had the senate and the heads of the oligarchical party massacred wholesale.
The seat of the old oligarchical council and court for homicide was probably on its eastern height.
The other was nominally republican, but in fact exclusively oligarchical and Dutch.
This ratification of the oligarchical principle, together with the establishment in 1311 of the Council of Ten, completed that famous constitution which endured till the extinction of the republic in 1797.
The barons were consequently able to exact, in Magna Carta (June 1215), much more than the redress of legitimate grievances; and the people allowed the crown to be placed under the control of an oligarchical committee.
But it is, in fact, due also to the absence of an historical literature at Sparta, to the small part played by written laws, which were, according to tradition, expressly prohibited by an ordinance of Lycurgus, and to the secrecy which always characterizes an oligarchical rule.
But though the revolution of 1399 was popular in form, its success was due to an oligarchical faction.