XII
RESOURCING EMPIRE

There were always kingdoms and wars in Gaul right up until you submit-
ted to our laws. Although we have often suffered at your hands we have, by
right of conquest, imposed only this one thing on you, with which we
keep the peace. For peace between nations is impossible without soldiers,
and there are no soldiers without pay, and no pay unless taxes are paid.
Everything else we share with you.

(Tacitus, Histories 4.74)


The Political Economy of Tributary Empires

Who paid for empire? Like all imperial rulers, the Romans passed the cost on to their subjects. Romans knew this. Tacitus puts this pithy summary of imperial economics into the mouth of the Roman general Cerealis, in a speech aimed at dissuading the Gallic tribes of the Treveri and Lingones from joining the rebellion of AD 69. This was, indeed, the bottom line. By Tacitus’ day the army devoured most of what the emperors raised in taxation. Put like this, the resourcing of Roman imperialism seems very simple. Yet the mechanisms employed were phenomenally complex and in constant evolution. Roman history is, in some sense, the story of unending struggles to balance the imperial budget. Perhaps this was true for all imperial states.

-185-

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Rome: An Empire's Story
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xii
  • List of Maps xiv
  • Notes on Further Reading xv
  • I - The Whole Story xvi
  • II - Empires of the Mind 13
  • III - Rulers of Italy 30
  • IV - Imperial Ecology 48
  • V - Mediterranean Hegemony 62
  • VI - Slavery and Empire 82
  • VII - Crisis 96
  • VIII - At Heaven’s Command? 113
  • IX - The Generals 128
  • X - The Enjoyment of Empire 146
  • XI - Emperors 162
  • XII - Resourcing Empire 185
  • XIII - War 200
  • XIV - Imperial Identities 218
  • XV - Recovery and Collapse 232
  • XVI - A Christian Empire 254
  • XVII - Things Fall Apart 272
  • XVIII - The Roman Past and the Roman Future 288
  • Notes 301
  • Bibliography 327
  • Glossary of Technical Terms 357
  • Photographic Acknowledgements 361
  • Index 362
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