The test of their vitality often came when the local garrisons were posted elsewhere and the frontier moved on. Many of these settlements failed, or their residents simply followed the troops. Many others succeeded, however, and developed an economic life independent of purely military markets. Some of the great cities of the Rhine-Danube region--Cologne, Coblenz, Mainz, Vienna, Belgrade, Budapest-- arose in just such a fashion.
There are few great monuments of Roman civil culture to be found in the region of the old frontier, and urban life there was primitive by Roman standards. 42 One must remember, however, that many of the cities of the interior were artificial creations. They were centers of trade and commerce because the government had decreed that they be so, and they disposed of wealth amassed from slave labor, war booty, and the generally favorable economic conditions created by the government's unequal taxation of the eastern provinces of the empire. The frontier towns enjoyed none of these advantages, but arose purely in response to the economic needs and opportunities of the frontier. 43 They were functioning economic communities of artisans and merchants, and differences in wealth and social standing among their residents were comparatively small and lightly regarded. In this sense, at least, the frontier towns were distinguished by their relative freedom and equality.
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Publication information: Book title: The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome. Contributors: Steven K. Drummond - Author, Lynn H. Nelson - Author. Publisher: M.E. Sharpe. Place of publication: Armonk, NY. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 147.
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