Law and the Rural Economy in the Roman Empire
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Introduction: Legal Institutions and the Roman Economy
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In this book, I explore the relationship between Roman private law and the development of the Roman rural economy at the height of the Roman Empire, during the first three centuries CE, as well as in the fourth century, when the institutions of the later empire began to develop. In recent years economic historians have used many different methodological approaches to assess the performance of the Roman economy, with...
1. The New Institutional Economics and Roman Legal Policy
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In this chapter, I explore in greater detail the methodology that I use to analyze the role of law and legal institutions in the Roman agrarian economy. My purpose is to apply this methodology to understand better how the legal policies of the Roman state affected incentives for productive investment in the rural economy. Accordingly, I am concerned with tracing whether the Roman state’s policies in creating and enforcing property...
2. The Creation of Rights in the Countryside
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We can appreciate the capacity of the Roman government to develop legal policies for land tenure by considering its efforts to manage the well-documented imperial estates in North Africa and Asia Minor. These estates are known to us from a series of inscriptions from the second and third centuries CE . The inscriptions include regulations defining land tenure as well as petitions to the imperial government from ...
3. Roman Legal Policy and Private Farm Tenancy
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The formal and informal institutions surrounding farm tenancy played a fundamental role in shaping the Roman agrarian economy, in particular, the distribution of wealth between large landowners and the small farmers who cultivated the bulk of the land. In this chapter, I clarify the likely economic effects engendered by the Roman government’s legal policies surrounding farm tenancy by analyzing how the jurists dealt with two ...
4. Legal Order in the Rural Economy
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My investigation of the law of farm tenancy in the previous chapter suggests both the flexibility of the Roman legal institutions and the limits of their authority in defining the conditions under which landowners and tenants participated in the agrarian economy. The Roman government displayed considerable flexibility as it endeavored to accommodate within the conventions of Roman private law a wide variety of...
5. Late Antique Tax Policy and Incentives for Investment
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The reliance of the Roman state and of many private landowners on the continued production of tenants in long-term tenure arrangements created a degree of institutional path dependence with important consequences for the empire’s agrarian economy. This institutional path dependence is especially apparent in the fourth century and later. In this period, the difficulty of altering fundamental institutional arrangements...
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The purpose of this book is to offer an economic analysis of Roman legal policy rather than a comprehensive account of land-tenure arrangements in the Roman Empire. My concern is thus to trace the overarching considerations—legal and economic—that guided the Roman legal authorities in dealing with issues involving land tenure, and then to discuss the likely effects of Roman policy on economic performance, primarily in ...
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Index of Ancient Sources
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2007