how did Money and taxation make Ancient rome fall?

I need to no how money and taxation made rome fall?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    As early as the rule of Nero (54-68 A.D.) there is evidence that the demand for revenue led to debasement of the coinage. Revenue was needed to pay the increasing costs of defense and a growing bureaucracy. However, rather than raise taxes, Nero and subsequent emperors preferred to debase the currency by reducing the precious metal content of coins. This was, of course, a form of taxation; in this case, a tax on cash balances (Bailey 1956).

    Throughout most of the Empire, the basic units of Roman coinage were the gold aureus, the silver denarius, and the copper or bronze sesterce. [8] The aureus was minted at 40-42 to the pound, the denarius at 84 to the pound, and a sesterce was equivalent to one-quarter of a denarius. Twenty-five denarii equaled one aureus and the denarius was considered the basic coin and unit of account.

    The aureus did not circulate widely. Consequently, debasement was mainly limited to the denarius. Nero reduced the silver content of the denarius to 90 percent and slightly reduced the size of the aureus in order to maintain the 25 to 1 ratio. Trajan (98-117 A.D.) reduced the silver content to 85 percent, but was able to maintain the ratio because of a large influx of gold. In fact, some historians suggest that he deliberately devalued the denarius precisely in order to maintain the historic ratio. Debasement continued under the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.), who reduced the silver content of the denarius to 75 percent, further reduced by Septimius Severus to 50 percent. By the middle of the third century A.D., the denarius had a silver content of just 5 percent.

    Interestingly, the continual debasements did not improve the Empire's fiscal position. This is because of Gresham's Law ("bad money drives out good"). People would hoard older, high silver content coins and pay their taxes in those with the least silver. Thus the government's "real" revenues may have actually fallen. As Aurelio Bernardi explains:

    At the beginning the debasement proved undoubtedly profitable for the state. Nevertheless, in the course of years, this expedient was abused and the [fn2]century of inflation which had been thus brought about was greatly to the disadvantage of the State's finances. Prices were rising too rapidly and it became impossible to count on an immediate proportional increase in the fiscal revenue, because of the rigidity of the apparatus of tax collection. [9]

    At first, the government could raise additional revenue from the sale of state property. Later, more unscrupulous emperors like Domitian (81-96 A.D.) would use trumped-up charges to confiscate the assets of the wealthy. They would also invent excuses to demand tribute from the provinces and the wealthy. Such tribute, called the aurum corinarium, was nominally voluntary and paid in gold to commemorate special occasions, such as the accession of a new emperor or a great military victory. Caracalla (198-217 A.D.) often reported such dubious "victories" as a way of raising revenue. Rostovtzeff (1957: 417) calls these levies "pure robbery."

    Although taxes on ordinary Romans were not raised, citizenship was greatly expanded in order to bring more people into the tax net. Taxes on the wealthy, however, were sharply increased, especially those on inheritances and manumissions (freeing of slaves).

    Occasionally, the tax burden would be moderated by a cancellation of back taxes or other measures. One such occasion occurred under the brief reign of Pertinax (193 A.D.), who replaced the rapacious Commodus (A.D. 176-192). As Edward Gibbon (1932: 88) tells us:

    Though every measure of injustice and extortion had been adopted, which could collect the property of the subject into the coffers of the prince; the rapaciousness of Commodus had been so very inadequate to his extravagance, that, upon his death, no more than eight thousand pounds were found in the exhausted treasury, to defray the current expenses of government, and to discharge the pressing demand of a liberal donative, which the new emperor had been obliged to promise to the Praetorian guards. Yet under these distressed circumstances, Pertinax had the generous firmness to remit all the oppressive taxes invented by Commodus, and to cancel all the unjust claims of the treasury; declaring in a decree to the senate, "that he was better satisfied to administer a poor republic with innocence, than to acquire riches by the ways of tyranny and dishonor."

    Source(s): www.cato.org
  • 1 decade ago

    The Emperor Augustus' will forbade greater expansion of the Roman Empire. So there were no new lands to conquer, and therefore no new resources to obtain and people to absorb into the Empire's taxation system. Meanwhile, the emperors got steadily crazier and spent the funds obtained by taxes on luxuries instead of fixing and building infrastructure and funding the armies. Eventually the outer areas of the Empire were left to their own devices and slowly but surely were captured by invading peoples.

  • ZERO
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    they were just greedy bastards

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