It is suprising how few people know that during its archaic period Rome was ruled by kings. The first of these was the founder of Rome (Rome’s founding was reputedly in April 753BC), Romulus who after dying ascended into heaven (as an eagle) and became the god Quirinus. Emperor Augustus built the Pantheon over the very spot of the king’s apotheosis almost 800 years later, and that was only the beginning of the Roman Empire!
A very quick summary of general events follows. Alternatively you may read a detailed account of each of the ancient Roman kings.
Romulus was followed by a further six ancient Roman kings who weren’t all actually “Roman” as such. One was a Sabine and a further three or four were Etruscans. Both Sabines and Etruscans were neighbouring peoples and we has a degree of certainty that some of their people came to live in Rome and freely mixed with the early Romans.
The ancient Roman kings gave the city much of what was to make it great in its future years: religious traditions, agriculture, law, a trained army, fortifications, a class structure and of course a sense of “Romanity”.
Being of varied cultural background the early Romans were soon able to absorb much of what was best about them, including an opennes to the benefits of a multi-cultural society and to learning useful ideas and techniques from abroad.
The period governed by the ancient Roman kings lasted some 200 years of which we know little except what was handed down by word of mouth or what was written by Romans much much later. The last king was Tarquin the Proud ruled until 509BC. He was an Etruscan and was ousted by his citizens for a scandal involving women. He put up a bit of a fight by making an alliance with the nearby Etruscans but was defeated.
A good summary of the years, names and principal events may be had through our Rome timeline.
The ancient Romans moved on through various forms of government: from Kingdom to Republic (509BC) to Empire (Augustus in 27BC, although you could argue the first Emperor was Julius Caesar when he was proclaimed Dictator for life). In spite of the long span of time the Romans never forgot their provenance and the inheritance they had received from their eariest leaders and in fact, parts of the bequest, were to remain with them always, for example: the census, the Circus Maximus, a love for Gladiatorial fights, the cloaca maxima, the use of the colour purple as a sign of leadership and so on.
For further information about what each of the ancient roman kings gave to Rome see page on the kingdom and seven Kings of Rome