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Economy and Power in Late Roman Britain

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James GerrardORCiD


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This chapter reviews the relationship between power and economics in fourth-century Britain. It argues that the Roman past has often been intuitively understood as rational and that its economics can be easily characterized as ‘proto-capitalist’. The Roman period was, however, both complex and irrational. Agricultural production was the powerhouse of the economy and provided the foundations of both power and status during the late Roman period. The focus on the agricultural economy allows the structures of power – tax, tribute and surplus extraction – and their transformation to be studied. During the fifth century the imperial superstructure collapsed, but the continued local control of agricultural resources provides a mechanism for how the late Roman world was transformed into early medieval societies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gerrard J

Editor(s): Millett, M; Revell, L; Moore, A

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain

Year: 2016

Pages: 850-868

Online publication date: 01/02/2015

Acceptance date: 01/10/2013

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Place Published: Oxford, UK


DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199697731.013.048

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780199697731