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Why did post-Roman rulers abandon tax-paid army?

Why did post-Roman rulers abandon tax-paid army?


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According to C. Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000, pages 102-104, in 5th century rulers abandoned Roman tax-paid army in favor of medieval feudal one, which was far worse. They needed the latter to settle their adherents, but why they did not use both or revive the former a century or two later? It looks as if it would give them a great advantage.

Beginning in the fifth century, there was a steady trend away from supporting armies by public taxation and towards supporting them by the rents deriving from private landowning, which was essentially the product of this desire for land of conquering élites…

But if the army was landed, the major item of expense in the Roman budget had gone… Tax is always unpopular, and takes work to exact; if it is not essential, this work tends to be neglected… Tax was, that is to say, no longer the basis of the state. For kings as well as armies, landowning was the major source of wealth from now on…

This was a crucial change. Tax-raising states are much richer than most land-based ones, for property taxes are generally collected from very many more people than pay rent to a ruler from his public land… And tax-raising states have a far greater overall control over their territories, partly because of the constant presence of tax-assessors and collectors, partly because state dependants (both officials and soldiers) are salaried. Rulers can stop paying salaries, and have greater control over their personnel as a result. But if armies are based on landowning, they are harder to control. Generals may be disloyal unless they are given more land, which reduces the amount of land the ruler has; and, if they are disloyal, they keep control of their land unless they are expelled by force, often a difficult task.

Update (answer to Mark C. Wallace's comment): The taxes were always unpopular, which did not make Romans to change their army. Once someone with a private army conquered a piece of land, it would be natural for him not to pay the adherents from taxes, but to give them land, as it would satisfy them more; but it is strange to abandon the tax-paid army completely, because it is a big disadvantage even in the not too distant future. To consider it from the evolutional point of view, the states without tax-paid army should not survive natural selection.

Update 2 (detalization motivated by Twelfth's answer from different viewpoint). As I understand from Wickham's books, in 5th century the Western Roman Empire, with its regular paid army, disintergrated into a number of kingdoms (a couple of centuries later they became Francia, Spain, Lombardy… ) based on militarized landed aristocracy. Not that it was overwhelmed by hordes of 'barbarians', who invaded or were allowed to entry, but rather that its parts changed allegiance from Rome to local rulers and switched to their ethnicity.

Roman legions for centuries were not only struggling with external enemies, but also fighting each other in civil wars, because they were paid by their generals, settled as veterans by them, and thus loyal primary to them. Generals could easily seize tax-collection and start warring with each other, but still generally looked for Rome, therefore the Empire disintegrated and integrated many times.

The situation changed in 5th century. Firstly, large parts of Roman army began to consist of 'barbarians', people coming from the border regions, either inside or outside the Empire (cultural difference was not very large after four centuries of more-or-less stable border). Even magistri militum, supreme commanders, were 'barbarians', like half-Vandal Stilicho.

Secondly, the economy of Empire was declining and localizing, therefore people became to look more to their neighbors, then to Rome. It seems natural to me if both reasons reinforce each other, but Wickham is rather vague about it.

Now, it was natural for separatist barbarian generals to base their power on ethnicity, and to their supporters to consider themselves of the same enthnicity (it was not difficult as many came from Danube border, the melting pot of nations). Thus they were transformed from revolted parts of the regular army to 'barbarian hordes', which can be settled on the land and later fight for their leaders because of their newly-obtained ethnic unity.

This description seems generally coherent, but for one thing: land-settled army made states much weaker in both economical and military sense. It can be seen on the example of the successes of Byzantine Empire fighting with many 'barbarian' kingdoms. So it seems to me that if, say, Franks saved the vestiges of tax system and returned to the paid army, they would centralize their state, avoiding the divergence of boundary regions, and have more loyal and powerful army, and conquer all their neighbors. But they would not do it for one-and-a-half millenium, until Napoleon! =)


"abandoned Roman tax-payed army in favor of medieval feudal one, which was far worse."

Paying an army with tax money does not confer inherently superior quality. While one could argue European feudal armies were inferior to the Roman legions, this had very little to do with taxation and much more to do with the fact that the Romans had a large, professional, standing army.

The prime factor here is the diminished state resources available to most European rulers after the fall of Rome, which necessitated the reliance on feudal levies in the first place. Therefore,

"It looks as if it would give them a great advantage."

No, it doesn't, and it wouldn't.

"but why they did not use both or revive the former a century or two later?"

Actually, they did, just not necessary right away.

Over the preceding three hundred years war had become the preserve of a body of professionals, knights for whom it was a major source of income. This state of affairs had come about gradually and, in large part, as a response to the equally slow erosion of feudal military obligation. Of the eighty-seven knights present at Caerlaverock in 1300, twenty-three were paid for their service and the rest were either members of the royal household or men responding to the traditional feudal summons.

James, Lawrence. Warrior Race: A History of the British at War. Hachette UK, 2010.

The main barrier was economics. When the Roman Empire fell, the economy of Western Europe was in shambles. The continental trade that had once flourished was replaced by small, largely (though not completely) self-sufficient manors. Economic weakness, compounded by an inadequate monetary supply meant it was easier to levy taxes in kind or in the form of services, rather than money.

Nonetheless, as the money economy of Europe recovered, mercenaries became more active in the latter Middle Ages. Liege lords hired them to complement feudal levies, and vassals hired them to fulfil military obligations. In some systems, mechanisms like scutage was developed to allow a vassal to opt out of military service by paying a fee, which the king then used to to hire substitutes.

The consequent reduction of the number of feudal troops available was largely offset by a parallel increase in the employment of stipendiaries and mercenaries… [M]any knights themselves, though still under feudal obligation, were also paid by the end of the 13th century,

Heath, Ian. Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300. Wargames Research Group, 2016.

In essence, scutage was a tax; and it was regularly used to pay for an army.

"Once someone with a private army conquered a piece of land… it is strange to abandon the army completely"

The flaw in logic here is that those "private" armies were not paid in the first place, and especially not paid by taxes. They were personal retinues who served their leader due to personal obligations. Furthermore, these originated mainly from the Germanic tribes that overran the Roman Empire, so it would have been rather more strange for them to suddenly be paid like a Roman standing army.

There's also the glaring problem of having the money to actually pay for an army. As we saw above, even knights were paid to serve longer than obligation demanded; the challenge was having the money to pay with. Up till the end of the Middle Ages, most states only hired armies when they need to.

A traditional agricultural economy was usually not rich enough to pay for a permanent army staffed with large numbers of men well equipped with expensive horses, armor, and weapons. The net result was that rulers relied on short-term armies instead.

Janin, Hunt, and Ursula Carlson. Mercenaries in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. McFarland, 2013.

No medieval state in western Europe could compete with Rome's financial resources or degree of centralised control; hence none of them

"from the evolutional point of view, the states without tax-paid army should not survive natural selection."

Perhaps, but evolution doesn't work off a couple of years. Eventually all the major feudal states of Europe that survived did adopt professional standing armies paid out of general taxation.

Moreover, evolution is all about the survival of the fittest in a given environment. If the "tax paid army" was truly so superior, the Roman Empire wouldn't have fallen. In reality, maintaining such an army was a massive economic burden, which was simply not realistic in most of Europe throughout the Middle Ages.


And from comment to answer as it's from a much different angle than Sempahore…

They needed the latter to settle their adherents, but why they did not use both or revive the former a century or two later?

They couldn't. In this time frame, the Byzantine empire was thoroughly stretched financially from the wars in Persia (Byzantine - Sassanian wars) and later the Arabic wars. Their lands were struggling under harsh tax rates to support these armies as is and the devastation from the conflict started to impact what wealth the lands could produce. War is costly and the Byzantines were pushing a point where they could no longer afford war.

The Western Empire was even worse off… the power squabbles hit almost absurd heights and there was no longer any consistency in leadership. Most western empire emperors were somewhat contested (and in some cases not even recognized by the eastern empire) and the ones that were recognized had horribly short reigns, usually coming to death at the hands of an assassin or their own army turning on them. Tax collectors and most officials were corrupt and held little loyalty to anyone but themselves, meaning what taxes were collected rarely ended up in Roman coffers (slaying the Roman officials/tax collectors and proclaiming oneself emperor happened a few times as well, such as the Gordinians in Carthage). There were a few periods where a loyal subject of Rome that wanted to pay his/her taxes couldn't find a representative to pay taxes to. For info on how absurd this got, Year of the Five Emperors (google it for details) was an outright absurd time (193ad), yet somehow the Romans managed to outdo themselves in 236 with the year of the six emperors (I really recommend reading the intro here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_of_the_Six_Emperors you have a cruel tyrant, a young aristocrat revolt, an elderly emporer and his son, a jealous neighbor, riots in Rome, an army killing it's own general, and feuding co-emperors publicly put to death… all in under a year).

because it is a big disadvantage even in the not too distant future.

You would need someone to look out for the not too distant future for this to apply. Most Western Empire Roman Emperors would be looking long past their own death to see the not too distant future.

The only thing that the Western Roman empire possessed that it could support an army with was land, not money. The feudal system was very much a response to the economic state of Europe.


Other users' answers and comments motivated me to try answering my own question. Unfortunately, I can not give sources to my guesses, so please correct me where my speculations are wrong. Language fixing is also welcome!

First, one reason is already explained by Semaphore as "evolution is all about the survival of the fittest in a given environment". The patchwork land-settled army was enough to depend the country from external enemies, why cause internal resistance by increasing taxes? Only to conquer these enemies, but then Franks would not be much different from West Roman Empire and would face the same problems that caused it to fall (on which the historians can not agree for centuries). All the main kingdoms (Francia, Spain, Lombardia) seem to be on the maximal possible extent, with distant regions already not stable.

Second, they probably just could not do it. When Rome conquered large swaths of West Europe, these territories were economically and militarily inferior. Romans were able to build up their tax system there from scratch, as even strongest resistance would be relatively feeble. But early medieval kingdoms were more or less homogeneous; once the tax system has almost crumbled, the resistance to increasing taxes would be enormous.


During the Republic Edit

The Roman Republic's influence began in southern Gaul. By the mid-2nd century BC, Rome was trading heavily with the Greek colony of Massilia (modern Marseille) and entered into an alliance with them, by which it agreed to protect the town from local Gauls, including the nearby Aquitani and from sea-borne Carthaginians and other rivals, in exchange for land that it wanted in order to build a road to Hispania, to assist in troop movements to its provinces there. The Mediterranean settlements on the coast continued to be threatened by the powerful Gallic tribes to the north and in 122 BC the Roman general Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus campaigned in the area and defeated the Allobroges followed by Quintus Fabius Maximus against the Arverni under King Bituitus in 121 BC. [1]

The Romans respected and feared the Gallic tribes. In 390 BC, the Gauls had sacked Rome, which left an existential dread of barbarian conquest the Romans never forgot. [2] In 109 BC, Italy had been invaded from the north and saved by Gaius Marius only after several bloody and costly battles. Around 62 BC, when a Roman client state, the Arverni, conspired with the Sequani and the Suebi nations east of the Rhine to attack the Aedui, a strong Roman ally, Rome turned a blind eye. The Sequani and the Arverni sought Ariovistus's aid and defeated the Aedui in 63 BC at the Battle of Magetobriga. [3] [4]

Gallic wars Edit

As 58 BC dawned, most of Gaul was still under independent rule. It was beginning to urbanize and shared many aspects of Roman civilization. Into this picture came the rising general Julius Caesar, who had ensured himself the position of Governor of both Transalpine and Cisapline Gaul. He sought to pay off debts and find glory for himself, and so began a series of aggressive campaigns to conquer the Gallic tribes. [5]

The wars began with conflict over the migration of the Helvetii in 58 BC, which drew in neighboring tribes and the Germanic Suebi. By 57 BC, Caesar had resolved to conquer all of Gaul, and led campaigns in the east, where the Nervii nearly defeated him. In 56 BC, Caesar defeated the Veneti in a naval battle and took most of northwest Gaul. In 55 BC, Caesar sought to boost his public image, and undertook first of their kind expeditions across the Rhine river and the English Channel. Upon his return from Britain, Caesar was hailed as a hero, though he had achieved little beyond landing because his army had been too small. The next year, he went back with a proper army and conquered much of Britain. However, tribes rose up on the continent, and the Romans suffered a humiliating defeat. 53 BC saw a draconian campaign against the Gauls in an attempt to pacify them. This failed, and the Gauls staged a mass revolt under the leadership of Vercingetorix in 52 BC. Gallic forces won a notable victory at the Battle of Gergovia, but the Romans' indomitable siege works at the Battle of Alesia utterly defeated the Gallic coalition. [5]

In 51 BC and 50 BC, there was little resistance, and Caesar's troops were mostly mopping up. Gaul was conquered, although it would not become a Roman province until 27 BC, and resistance would continue until as late as 70 AD. There is no clear end-date for the war, but the imminent Roman Civil War led to the withdrawal of Caesar's troops in 50 BC. Caesar's wild successes in the war had made him extremely wealthy and provided a legendary reputation. The Gallic Wars were a key factor in Caesar's ability to win the Civil War and declare himself dictator, in what would eventually lead to the end of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Roman Empire. [5]

Under the Empire Edit

At the end of the Gallic Wars, the Gauls had not been entirely subjugated and were not yet a formal part of the empire. But that task was not Caesar's, and he left that to his successors. Gaul would not be made formally into Roman provinces until the reign of Augustus in 27 BC. Several rebellions happened subsequently, and Roman troops were kept stationed throughout Gaul. There may have been unrest in the region as late as 70 AD. [6]

Massilia was allied to Pompey in Caesar's civil war which led to its eventual defeat at the Siege of Massilia in 49 BC after which it lost its territories but was allowed to keep nominal autonomy, due to ancient ties of friendship and support of Rome.

In 40 BC, during the Second Triumvirate, Lepidus was given responsibility for Gallia Narbonensis (along with Hispania and Africa), while Mark Antony was given the balance of Gaul. [7]

In 22 BC, imperial administration of Gaul was reorganised establishing the provinces of Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Belgica and Gallia Lugdunensis. Parts of eastern Gaul were incorporated into the provinces Raetia (15 BC) and Germania Superior (AD 83).

Citizenship was granted to all in 212 by the Constitutio Antoniniana.

Generals Marcus Antonius Primus and Gnaeus Julius Agricola were both born in Gaul, as were emperors Claudius and Caracalla. Emperor Antoninus Pius also came from a Gaulish family.

In the Crisis of the Third Century around 260, Postumus established a short-lived Gallic Empire, which included the Iberian Peninsula and Britannia, in addition to Gaul itself. Germanic tribes, the Franks and the Alamanni, invaded Gaul at this time. The Gallic Empire ended with Emperor Aurelian's victory at Châlons in 274.

In 286/7 Carausius commander of the Classis Britannica, the fleet of the English Channel, declared himself Emperor of Britain and northern Gaul. [8] His forces comprised his fleet, the three legions stationed in Britain and also a legion he had seized in Gaul, a number of foreign auxiliary units, a levy of Gaulish merchant ships, and barbarian mercenaries attracted by the prospect of booty. [9] In 293 emperor Constantius Chlorus isolated Carausius by besieging the port of Gesoriacum (Boulogne-sur-Mer) and invaded Batavia in the Rhine delta, held by his Frankish allies, and reclaimed Gaul.

A migration of Celts from Britain appeared in the 4th century in Armorica led by the legendary king Conan Meriadoc. [ citation needed ] They spoke the now extinct British language, which evolved into the Breton, Cornish, and Welsh languages. [ citation needed ]

The Goths who had sacked Rome in 410 established a capital in Toulouse and in 418 succeeded in being accepted by Honorius as foederati and rulers of the Aquitanian province in exchange for their support against the Vandals. [10]

The Roman Empire had difficulty responding to all the barbarian raids, and Flavius Aëtius had to use these tribes against each other in order to maintain some Roman control. He first used the Huns against the Burgundians, and these mercenaries destroyed Worms, killed king Gunther, and pushed the Burgundians westward. The Burgundians were resettled by Aëtius near Lugdunum in 443. The Huns, united by Attila, became a greater threat, and Aëtius used the Visigoths against the Huns. The conflict climaxed in 451 at the Battle of Châlons, in which the Romans and Goths defeated Attila.

The Roman administration finally collapsed as remaining Roman troops withdrew southeast to protect Italy. Between 455 and 476 the Visigoths, the Burgundians, and the Franks assumed control in Gaul. However, certain aspects of the ancient Celtic culture continued after the fall of Roman administration and the Domain of Soissons, a remnant of the Empire, survived from 457 to 486.

In 486 the Franks defeated the last Roman authority in Gaul at the Battle of Soissons. Almost immediately afterwards, most of Gaul came under the rule of the Merovingians, the first kings of a proto-France.

In 507, the Visigoths were pushed out of most of Gaul by the Frankish king Clovis I at the Battle of Vouillé. [11] They were able to retain Narbonensis and Provence after the timely arrival of an Ostrogoth detachment sent by Theodoric the Great.

Certain Gallo-Roman aristocratic families continued to exert power in episcopal cities (such as the Mauronitus family in Marseilles and Bishop Gregory of Tours). The appearance of Germanic given and family names becomes noticeable in Gallia/Francia from the middle of the 7th century on, most notably in powerful families, indicating that the centre of gravity had definitely shifted.

The Gallo-Roman (or Vulgar Latin) dialect of the late Roman period evolved into the dialects of the Oïl languages and Old French in the north, and into Occitan in the south.

The name Gallia and its equivalents continued in use, at least in writing, until the end of the Merovingian period in the 750s. Slowly, during the ensuing Carolingian period (751-987), the expression Francia, then Francia occidentalis spread to describe the political reality of the kingdom of the Franks (regnum francorum).

Before 22 BC Gaul had three geographical divisions, one of which was divided into multiple Roman provinces:

    or "Gaul this side of the Alps", covered most of present-day northern Italy. It was conquered by the Romans around 121 BC, but was not made a formal province until 81 BC. By the end of the republic, it was annexed into Italy itself. , or "Gaul across the Alps", was originally conquered and annexed in 121 BC in an attempt to solidify communications between Rome and the Iberian peninsula. It comprised most of what is now southern France, along the Mediterranean coast from the Pyrenees to the Alps. It was later renamed Gallia Narbonensis, after its capital city, Narbo. , "free Gaul" or "long haired Gaul", encompassed the remainder of present-day France, Belgium, and westernmost Germany, including Aquitania, Gallia Celtica and Belgica. It had tributary status throughout the second and first centuries BC, but was still formally independent of Rome. It was annexed into the Empire as a result of Julius Caesar's victory in the Gallic Wars in 50 BC.

After 22 BC the Romans divided Gallia Comata into three provinces, the Tres Galliae (the 3 Gauls):

Gallia Aquitania, corresponding to central and western France Gallia Belgica, corresponding to northeastern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany capital at Reims, later Trier Gallia Lugdunensis, corresponding to eastern and northern France capital at Lugdunum (Lyon)

The Romans divided these huge provinces into civitates corresponding more or less with the pre-Conquest communities or polities sometimes described misleadingly as "tribes," such as the Aedui, Allobroges, Bellovaci, and Sequani (see List of Celtic tribes) but the civitates were too large and in turn were divided into smaller units, pagi, a term that eventually became the modern French word "pays". [12] These administrative groupings would be taken over by the Romans in their system of local control, and these civitates would also be the basis of France's eventual division into ecclesiastical bishoprics and dioceses, which would remain in place—with slight changes—until the French revolution.

In the five centuries between Caesar's conquest and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Gaulish language and cultural identity underwent a syncretism with the Roman culture of the new governing class, and evolved into a hybrid Gallo-Roman culture that eventually permeated all levels of society. [ citation needed ] Gauls continued writing some inscriptions in the Gaulish language, but switched from the Greek alphabet to the Latin alphabet during the Roman period. Current historical research suggests that Roman Gaul was "Roman" only in certain (albeit major) social contexts, the prominence of which in material culture has hindered a better historical understanding of the permanence of many Celtic elements. [ citation needed ] The Roman influence was most apparent in the areas of civic religion and administration. The Druidic religion was suppressed by Emperor Claudius I, and in later centuries Christianity was introduced. The prohibition of Druids and the syncretic nature of the Roman religion led to disappearance of the Celtic religion. It remains to this day poorly understood: current knowledge of the Celtic religion is based on archeology and via literary sources from several isolated areas such as Ireland and Wales.

The Romans easily imposed their administrative, economic, artistic (especially in terms of monumental art and architecture) and literary culture. [ citation needed ] They wore the Roman tunic instead of their traditional clothing. [ citation needed ]

Surviving Celtic influences also infiltrated back into the Roman Imperial culture in the 3rd century. For example, the Gaulish tunic—which gave Emperor Caracalla his surname—had not been replaced by Roman fashion. Similarly, certain Gaulish artisan techniques, such as the barrel (more durable than the Roman amphora) and chain mail were adopted by the Romans.

The Celtic heritage also continued in the spoken language (see History of French). Gaulish spelling and pronunciation of Latin are apparent in several 5th century poets and transcribers of popular farces. [14] The last pockets of Gaulish speakers appear to have lingered until the 6th or 7th century. [ citation needed ] Gaulish was held to be attested by a quote from Gregory of Tours written in the second half of the 6th century, [15] which describes how a shrine "called 'Vasso Galatae' in the Gallic tongue" was destroyed and burnt to the ground. [16] Throughout the Roman rule over Gaul, although considerable Romanization in terms of material culture occurred, the Gaulish language is held to have survived and continued to be spoken, coexisting with Latin. [15]

Germanic placenames were first attested in border areas settled by Germanic colonizers (with Roman approval). In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Franks settled in northern France and Belgium, the Alemanni in Alsace and Switzerland, and the Burgundians in Savoie.


The Withdrawal of Roman Legions from Britannia Results in the End of Literacy in the Region

RIB 3215 Imperial dedication to Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Geta (205 CE). University of Leeds.

In 410 Roman legions withdrew from the province of Britannia. With the departure of the last legions from Britain, and the end of Roman rule, literacy gradually left England. Within 40 to 50 years from the time of the departure of the Romans to the arrival in 597 of Augustine of Canterbury on a mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons, and for a period thereafter, it is believed that the people of Britain were, with few exceptions, essentially illiterate.

Roughly 40 years after the Romans departed, in 449, Saxons, Angles, and Jutes conducted large scale invasions of Britain, causing numerous members of the Christian aristocracy to flee to Bretagne, France. The environment in Britain became increasingly hostile to Christians, and increasingly illiterate.

The period from the departure of the Roman legions to the arrival of Augustine of Canterbury in 597 is often called Sub-Roman Britain or Post-Roman Britain. The date taken for the end of this period is arbitrary in that sub-Roman culture continued in the West of England, and in Wales, for a period of time thereafter. Reflecting the decline of literacy and of educational institutions, very little written material survived from the period.

"Two primary contemporary British sources exist: the Confessio of Saint Patrick and Gildas' De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain). Patrick's Confessio and his Letter to Coroticus reveal aspects of life in Britain, from where he was abducted to Ireland. It is particularly useful in highlighting the state of Christianity at the time. Gildas is the nearest to a source of Sub-Roman history but there are many problems in using it. The document represents British history as he and his audience understood it. Though a few other documents of the period do exist, such as Gildas' letters on monasticism, they are not directly relevant to British history. Gildas' De Excidio is a jeremiad: it is written as a polemic to warn contemporary rulers against sin, demonstrating through historical and biblical examples that bad rulers are always punished by God &mdash in the case of Britain, through the destructive wrath of the Saxon invaders. The historical section of De Excidio is short, and the material in it is clearly selected with Gildas' purpose in mind. There are no absolute dates given, and some of the details, such as those regarding the Hadrian's and Antonine Walls are clearly wrong. Nevertheless, Gildas does provide us with an insight into some of the kingdoms that existed when he was writing, and how an educated monk perceived the situation that had developed between the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons.

"There are more continental contemporary sources that mention Britain, though these are highly problematic. The most famous is the so-called Rescript of Honorius, in which the Western Emperor Honorius tells the British civitates to look to their own defence. The first reference to this rescript is written by the 6th century Byzantine scholar Zosimus and is found in the middle of a discussion of southern Italy no further mention of Britain is made, which has led some, though not all, modern academics to suggest that the rescript does not apply to Britain, but to Bruttium in Italy. The Gallic Chronicles, Chronica Gallica of 452 and Chronica Gallica of 511, say prematurely that 'Britain, abandoned by the Romans, passed into the power of the Saxons' and provide information about St Germanus and his visit(s) to Britain, though again this text has received considerable academic deconstruction. The work of Procopius, another 6th century Byzantine writer, makes some references to Britain, though the accuracy of these is uncertain."

"There are numerous later written sources that claim to provide accurate accounts of the period. The first to attempt this was the monk Bede, writing in the early 8th century. He based his account of the Sub-Roman period in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (written around 731) heavily on Gildas, though he tried to provide dates for the events Gildas describes. It was written from an anti-Briton point of view. Later sources, such as the Historia Brittonum often attributed to Nennius, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (again written from a non-Briton point of view, based on West Saxon sources) and the Annales Cambriae, are all heavily shrouded in myth and can only be used with caution as evidence for this period. There are also documents giving Welsh poetry (of Taliesin and Aneirin) and land deeds (Llandaff charters) that appear to date back to the 6th century" (Wikipedia article on Sub-Roman Britain, accessed 04-18-2014).


History Review by Chapter

Middle - The Middle Kingdom was marked with peace, prosperity, and accomplishments in art, literature, and architecture.

Today, food that is prepared according to Jewish dietary laws is called kosher. Animals used for kosher meat must be killed in a special way. The meat must be inspected, salted, and soaked. To be kosher, Jews must not cook or eat milk products with meat.

Herodotus described the conflict between the Greeks and Persians as one between freedom and dictatorship. Here he tells of Xerxes' address to Persian nobles:

In ancient Greece, only men could participate in and view the Olympic games. Athletes competed by themselves, not as part of a team. Contests included running, jumping, wrestling, and boxing. Each winning athlete won a crown of olive leaves and brought glory to his city.

In today' s Olympic games, both men and women compete. These athletes come from all over the world. They may compete in either individual or team sporting events. Olympic athletes strive to win gold, silver, or bronze medals.

The most important leader after Peisistratus died was Cleisthenes (KLYS•thuh•NEEZ). When he came to power in 508 B.C., he reorganized the assembly to play the central role in governing. As before, all male citizens could belong to the assembly and vote on laws. However, members had new powers. They could debate matters openly, hear court cases, and appoint army generals.

Most importantly, Cleisthenes created a new council of 500 citizens to help the assembly carry out daily business. The council proposed laws, dealt with foreign countries, and oversaw the treasury.

Athenians chose the members of the council each year in a lottery. They believed this system was fairer than an election, which might favor the rich.

The people of the Shang dynasty were divided into groups. The most powerful group was the king and his family. The first Shang king ruled over a small area in northern China. His armies used chariots and bronze weapons to take over nearby areas. In time, the Shang kings ruled over most of the Huang He valley.

Later, Shang kings chose warlords to govern the kingdom's territories. Warlords are military leaders who command their own armies. However, the king controlled even larger armies who defended the kingdom's borders. The king's armies helped him stay in power.

In Shang China, a few people were traders and artisans. Most Chinese, however, were farmers. They worked the land that belonged to the aristocrats. They grew grains, such as millet, wheat, and rice, and raised cattle, sheep, and chickens. A small number of enslaved people captured in war also lived in Shang China.

Spirits and Ancestors People in Shang China worshiped gods and spirits. Spirits were believed to live in mountains, rivers, and seas. The people believed that they had to keep the gods and spirits happy by making offerings of food and other goods. They believed that the gods and spirits would be angry if they were not treated well. Angry gods and spirits might cause farmers to have a poor harvest or armies to lose a battle.

People also honored their ancestors, or departed family members. Offerings were made in the hope that ancestors would help in times of need and bring good luck. To this day, many Chinese still remember their ancestors by going to temples and burning small paper copies of food and clothing. These copies represent things that their departed relatives need in the afterlife.

Telling the Future Shang kings believed that they received power and wisdom from the gods, the spirits, and their ancestors. Shang religion and government were closely linked, just as they were in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. An important duty of Shang kings was to contact the gods, the spirits, and ancestors before making important decisions.

Shang Artists The people in Shang China developed many skills. Farmers produced silk, which weavers used to make colorful clothes. Artisans made vases and dishes from fine white clay. They also carved statues from ivory and a green stone called jade.

The Shang are best known for their works of bronze. To make bronze objects, artisans made clay molds in several sections. Next, they carved detailed designs into the clay. Then, they fit the pieces of the mold tightly together and poured in melted bronze. When the bronze cooled, the mold was removed. A beautifully decorated work of art remained.

Zhou kings ruled much like Shang rulers. The Zhou king was at the head of the government. Under him was a large bureaucracy (byu•RAH•kruh•see). A bureaucracy is made up of appointed officials who are responsible for different areas of government. Like the Shang rulers, the Zhou king was in charge of defending the kingdom.

The Zhou kings copied the Shang system of dividing the kingdom into smaller territories. The kings put aristocrats they trusted in charge of each territory. The positions the aristocrats held were hereditary. That meant that when an aristocrat died, his son or another relative would take over as ruler of the territory.

The Chinese considered the king their link between heaven and earth. His chief duty was to carry out religious rituals. The Chinese believed these rituals strengthened the link between them and the gods. This belief paved the way for a new idea that the Zhou kings introduced to government. They claimed that kings ruled China because they had the Mandate of Heaven.

What Was the Mandate of Heaven? According to Zhou rulers, a heavenly law gave the Zhou king the power to rule. This mandate (MAN•DAYT), or formal order, was called the Mandate of Heaven. Based on the mandate, the king was chosen by heavenly order because of his talent and virtue. Therefore, he would rule the people with goodness and wisdom.

The Mandate of Heaven worked in two ways. First, the people expected the king to rule according to the proper "Way," called the Dao (DOW). His duty was to keep the gods happy. A natural disaster or a bad harvest was a sign that he had failed in his duty. People then had the right to overthrow and replace the king.

The Mandate of Heaven also worked another way. It gave the people, as well as the king, important rights. For example, people had the right to overthrow a dishonest or evil ruler. It also made clear that the king was not a god himself. Of course, each new dynasty claimed it had the Mandate of Heaven. The only way people could question the claim was by overthrowing the dynasty.

New Tools and Trade For thousands of years, Chinese farmers depended on rain to water their crops. During the Zhou dynasty, the Chinese developed irrigation and flood-control systems. As a result, farmers could grow more crops than ever before.

Improvements in farming tools also helped farmers produce more crops. By 550 B.C., the Chinese were using iron plows. These sturdy plows broke up land that had been too hard to farm with wooden plows. As a result, the Chinese could plow more and produce more crops. Because more food could support more people, the population increased. During the late Zhou dynasty, China had a population of about 50 million people.

Trade and manufacturing grew along with farming. An important trade item during the Zhou dynasty was silk. Pieces of Chinese silk have been found throughout central Asia and as far away as Greece. This suggests that the Chinese traded far and wide.

The Zhou Empire Falls Over time, the local rulers of the Zhou territories became powerful. They stopped obeying the Zhou kings and set up their own states. In 403 B.C. fighting broke out. For almost 200 years, the states battled each other. Historians call this time the "Period of the Warring States."

Instead of nobles driving chariots, the warring states used large armies of foot soldiers. To get enough soldiers, they issued laws forcing peasants to serve in the army. The armies fought with swords, spears, and crossbows. A crossbow uses a crank to pull the string and shoots arrows with great force.

Confucianism - Confucius believed that people needed to have a sense of duty. Duty meant that a person must put the needs of family and community before his or her own needs. Each person owed a duty to another person.

Daoism - Daoists believed that people should give up worldly desires. They should turn to nature and the Dao—the force that guides all things. To show how to follow the Dao, Daoists used examples from nature.

A third group of thinkers disagreed with the idea that honorable men in government could bring peace to society. Instead, they argued for a system of laws. People called their thinking Legalism (LEE • guh • LIH • zuhm), or the "School of Law."

A scholar named Hanfeizi (HAN • fay • DZOO) developed the teachings of Legalism during the 200s B.C. Unlike Confucius or Laozi, Hanfeizi taught that humans were naturally evil. He believed that they needed harsh laws and stiff punishments to force them to do their duty. His followers believed that a strong ruler was needed to keep order in society.

Second in power to the central government were provinces and counties. Under Zhou kings, officials who ran these areas passed on their posts to sons or relatives. Under Qin, only he could fill these posts.

In time, Wudi's tests became the civil service examinations. This system for choosing officials remained part of Chinese civilization for 2,000 years. The system was supposed to help anyone with the right skills get a job with the government. However, it actually favored the rich. Only wealthy families could afford to educate their sons for the difficult exams.

Students preparing for these tests learned law, history, and the teachings of Confucius. They began to memorize the works of Confucius at age seven. Students were not allowed to do physical labor or to play most sports. They could go fishing, however, because it was considered the sport of scholars. After many years of schooling, the students took their civil service examinations. Only one in five passed. Those who failed taught school, took jobs as assistants to officials, or were supported by their families.

After Wendi died, his son Yangdi (YAHNG • DEE) took the Chinese throne. Yangdi wanted to expand China's territory. He sent an army to fight the neighboring Koreans, but the Chinese were badly defeated. At home, Yangdi took on many ambitious building projects. For example, the Great Wall had fallen into ruins, and Yangdi had it rebuilt.

Yangdi's greatest effort went into building the Grand Canal. This system of waterways linked the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) and Huang He (Yellow River). The Grand Canal became an important route for shipping products between northern and southern China. It helped unite China's economy. An economy (ih • KAH • nuh • mee) is an organized way in which people produce, sell, and buy things.

Tang rulers worked to strengthen China's government. They carried out a number of reforms, or changes that brought improvements. The most powerful Tang emperor was named Taizong (TY • ZAWNG). He restored the civil service exam system. Government officials were once again hired based on how well they did on exams rather than on their family connections. Taizong also gave land to farmers and brought order to the countryside.

During the late A.D. 600s, a woman named Wu ruled China as empress. She was the only woman in Chinese history to rule the country on her own. A forceful leader, Empress Wu (WOO) added more officials to the government. She also strengthened China's military forces.

Under the Tang, China regained much of its power in Asia and expanded the areas under its control. Tang armies pushed west into central Asia, invaded Tibet, and took control of the Silk Road. They marched into Korea and forced the Korean kingdoms to pay tribute, a special kind of tax that one country pays to another to be left alone. The Tang also moved south and took control of northern Vietnam.

By the mid-A.D. 700s, however, the Tang dynasty began to have problems. A new group of nomads—the Turks that you read about earlier—drove the Tang armies out of central Asia and took control of the Silk Road. This damaged China's economy. Revolts in Tibet and among Chinese farmers at home further weakened the Tang. In A.D. 907 all of this disorder brought down the Tang dynasty.

The Song dy-nasty ruled from A.D. 960 to 1279. This period was a time of prosperity and cultural achievement for China. From the start, however, the Song faced problems that threatened their hold on China. Song rulers did not have enough soldiers to control their large empire. Tibet broke away, and nomads took over much of northern China. For safety, the Song moved their capital farther south to the city of Hangzhou (HAHNG • JOH). Hangzhou was on the coast near the Chang Jiang delta.

Han - waterwheel, paper, acupuncture, rudder, silk

The Printing Process Another Chinese invention was a method for printing books. Before printing, books had to be copied by hand. As a result, few books were made, and they were very expensive. The Chinese began printing in the A.D. 600s. They used blocks of wood on which they cut the characters of an entire page. Ink was placed over the wooden block. Then paper was laid on the block to make a print. Cutting the block took a long time. When they were completed, however, the woodblocks could be used again and again to make many copies.

In the A.D. 1000s, a Chinese printer named Pi Sheng (BEE SHUHNG) invented movable type for printing. With movable type, each character is a separate piece. The pieces can be moved around to make sentences and used again and again. Pi Sheng made his pieces from clay and put them together to produce book pages. However, because written Chinese has so many characters, woodblock printing was easier and quicker than using movable type.

Other Chinese Inventions The Chinese made gunpowder for use in explosives. One weapon was the fire lance, an ancestor of the gun. It used gunpowder and helped make the Chinese army a strong force. The Chinese also used gunpowder to make fireworks.

The Chinese also built large ships with rudders and sails. About 1150, Chinese sailors began using the compass to help them find their way. This let ships sail farther from land.

Porcelain can be made into plates, cups, figurines, and vases. In A.D. 851 an Arab traveler described the quality of Tang porcelain: "There is in China a very fine clay from which are made vases. . . . Water in these vases is visible through them, and yet they are made of clay."

The First Punic War Both Carthage and Rome wanted to control the island of Sicily. In 264 B.C. the dispute brought the two powers to blows. The war that began in 264 B.C. is called the First Punic War.

Punicus is the Latin word for "Phoenician." The war started when the Romans sent an army to Sicily to prevent a Carthaginian takeover. The Carthaginians, who already had colonies on the island, were determined to stop this invasion.

Up until then, the Romans had fought their wars on land. However, they soon realized they could not defeat a sea power like Carthage without a navy. They quickly built a large fleet of ships and confronted their enemy at sea. The war dragged on for more than 20 years. Finally, in 241 B.C., Rome crushed Carthage's navy off the coast of Sicily. Carthage was forced to leave Sicily and pay a huge fine to the Romans. The island then came under Roman rule.

The Second Punic War To make up for its loss of Sicily, Carthage expanded its empire into southern Spain. Roman leaders were not happy about Carthage gaining land near Rome's northern border. They helped the people living in Spain rebel against Carthage. Of course, Carthaginians were angry. To punish Rome, Carthage sent its greatest general, Hannibal (HA • nuh • buhl), to attack Rome in 218 B.C. This started the Second Punic War.

Hannibal's strategy was to take the fighting into Italy itself. To do this, Hannibal gathered an army of about 46,000 men, many horses, and 37 elephants. He landed his forces in Spain and then marched east to attack Italy.

Even before reaching Italy, Hannibal's forces suffered severe losses crossing the steep, snowy Alps into Italy. The brutal cold, gnawing hunger, and attacks by mountain tribes killed almost half of the soldiers and most of the elephants. The remaining army, however, was still a powerful fighting force when it reached Italy.

The Romans suffered a severe loss in 216 B.C. at the Battle of Cannae (KA • nee) in southern Italy. Even though Hannibal's army was outnumbered, it overpowered the Ro-man force and began raiding much of Italy.

The Romans, however, raised another army. In 202 B.C. a Roman force led by a general named Scipio (SIH • pee • OH) in-vaded Carthage. Hannibal, who was waging a war in Italy, had no choice but to return home to defend his people.

At the Battle of Zama (ZAY • muh), Scipio's troops defeated the Carthaginians. Carthage gave up Spain to Rome. It also had to give up its navy and pay a large fine. Rome now ruled the western Mediterranean.

More Conquests While Carthage was no longer a military power, it remained a trading center. In 146 B.C. Rome finally destroyed its great rival in the Third Punic War. Roman soldiers burned Carthage and enslaved 50,000 men, women, and children. Legend says that the Romans even spread salt on the earth so no crops would grow. Carthage became a Roman province, or regional district.

Religeon was Eastern Orthodox

passed many laws for women,

Despite his success, Muhammad was dissatisfied. He felt that the wealthy town leaders should return to the old ways. He thought they should honor their families, be fair in business, and help the poor.

Muhammad went into the hills to pray. In about A.D. 610, he said he was visited by an angel and told to preach Islam. Islam means "surrendering to the will of Allah." Allah is the Arabic word for "God."

Inspired, Muhammad returned to Makkah. Everywhere he went, he told people to destroy statues of false gods and to worship only Allah, the one true God.

Muhammad also preached that all people were equal and that the rich should share their goods. In Makkah, where most people lived humbly, this vision of a just society was very powerful. Muhammad was saying that wealth was not as important as leading a good life. When the Day of Judgment arrived, he said God would reward the good people and punish the evildoers.

Slowly Muhammad convinced people that his message was true. At first, only his family became Muslims, or followers of Islam. Soon, however, many of the poor were attracted to his message that goods should be shared.

Wealthy merchants and religious leaders did not like Muhammad's message. They thought he was trying to take away their power. They made his life difficult and beat and tortured his followers.

In A.D. 622 Muhammad and his followers left Makkah. They moved north to a town called Yathrib (YA • thruhb). The journey of Muhammad and his followers to Yathrib became known as the Hijrah (HIH • jruh). The word comes from Arabic and means "breaking off relationships." Later Muslims made the year A.D. 622 the first year of a new Muslim calendar. Yathrib welcomed Muhammad and his followers. Their city was renamed Madinah (mah • DEE • nah), which means "the city of the prophet."

The people of Madinah accepted Muhammad as God's prophet and their ruler. Muhammad proved to be an able leader. He applied the laws he believed God had given him to all areas of life. He used these laws to settle disputes among the people. Muhammad created an Islamic state-a government that uses its political power to uphold Islam. He required all Muslims to place loyalty to the Islamic state above loyalty to their tribe.

The Ottomans quickly conquered most of the land that today makes up the country of Turkey. They attacked the Byzantine Empire and pushed north into Europe. In 1453 they seized Constantinople, the Byzantine capital. They changed the city's name to Istanbul and made it the center of their empire.

Ottoman armies also marched south, conquering Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and parts of Arabia and North Africa. They used guns and cannons to fight their battles and built a large navy to control the Mediterranean Sea.

Like the Seljuks, the Ottomans called their leader a sultan. The most famous sultan was Suleiman I (SOO • lay • MAHN), who ruled in the 1500s. Suleiman was a man of many talents. He was enthusiastic about architecture and built many schools and mosques.

Suleiman was also a brilliant general, who brought Ottoman armies north into Europe. He even threatened the great European capital of Vienna. For all these reasons, Ottomans called him Suleiman the Magnificent.

They understood the Christian and Muslim idea of a single god, but many wanted to continue their own religious practices.

Slavery Within Africa Europeans did not invent slavery. For a long time, it had existed throughout the world. In Africa, Bantu chiefs raided nearby villages for captives. These captives became laborers or were freed for a payment.
Africans also enslaved criminals or enemies taken in war. These enslaved Africans became part of the Saharan trade. However, as long as Africans stayed in Africa, hope of escape still existed. Enslaved Africans might also win their freedom through hard work or by marrying a free person.

The trade in humans also grew as the trade with Muslim merchants increased. The Quran forbade enslavement of Muslims. Muslims, however, could enslave non-Muslims. Arab traders, therefore, began to trade horses, cotton, and other goods for enslaved, non-Muslim Africans.

When Europeans arrived in West Africa, a new market for enslaved Africans opened. Africans armed with European guns began raiding villages to seize captives to sell.

The European Slave Trade In 1444 a Portuguese ship docked at a port in Portugal. Sailors unloaded the cargo—235 enslaved Africans. Tears ran down the faces of some. Others cried for help. A Portuguese official described the scene:

But to increase their sufferings still more, . . . was it needful to part fathers from sons, husbands from wives, brothers from brothers.

—Gomes Eannes de Zurara, as quoted in The Slave Trade

Barely three years had passed since the arrival of the first African captives in Portugal. Some merchants who had hoped to sell gold brought from Africa now sold humans instead. At first, most enslaved Africans stayed in Portugal, working as laborers. This changed when the Portuguese settled the Atlantic islands of Madeira, the Azores, and Cape Verde. There the climate was perfect for growing cotton, grapes, and sugarcane on plantations, or huge farms.

Harvesting sugarcane was hard labor. Planters could not pay high wages to get workers, so they used enslaved Africans instead. Many Africans had farming skills and the ability to make tools. Enslaved people were not paid and could be fed and kept cheaply. By 1500, Portugal was the world's leading supplier of sugar.

A number of empires in West Africa, including Ghana, grew wealthy from the salt and gold trade.
1. About how many miles was it from the kingdom of Ghana to Cairo?
2. In general, where were many of the sources of salt found in West Africa?

The Berbers who told the tales had seen the gold with their own eyes. The Berbers, the first known people to settle in North Africa, crossed the Sahara to trade with people in western Africa. They began making the trip about 400 B.C.

For hundreds of years, Berber traders carried goods on horses and donkeys, which often died in the hot Sahara. When the Romans conquered North Africa, they introduced camels from central Asia. Camels, nicknamed "ships of the desert," revolutionized trade. Their broad feet did not sink in the sand, and their humps stored fat for food. In addition, they could travel many days without water.

Traders grouped hundreds, maybe even thousands, of camels together to form caravans. They traded salt and cloth from North Africa and the Sahara for gold and ivory from western Africa. The trade led to the growth of cities in western Africa. Eventually, rulers of these cities began to build a series of empires. During the Middle Ages, these African empires were bigger than most European kingdoms in wealth and size. The first empire to develop was Ghana.

Rise of Ghana Ghana (GAH • nuh) rose to power in the A.D. 400s. It was a "crossroads of trade," a place where trade routes come together. Trade routes reached across the Sahara into North Africa and down the Niger River (NY • juhr) to kingdoms in the rain forest. Some extended all the way to Africa's northeastern coast.

For traders to meet, they had to pass through Ghana. Passage came at a price—a tax paid to Ghana's rulers. These taxes made Ghana rich. Why did traders pay the taxes? First, Ghana knew how to make iron weapons. Like ancient Kush, it used these weapons to conquer its neighbors. Although Ghana owned no gold mines, it controlled the people who did. Second, Ghana built a huge army. "When the king of Ghana calls up his army," said one trader, "he can put 200,000 men in the field."

Reading Focus When you try something new, are you tempted to use what someone else has done as a model? Read to find out how Shotoku used China as a model for his reforms in Japan.

About A.D. 600, a Yamato prince named Shotoku (shoh•TOH•koo) took charge of Japan on behalf of his aunt, the empress Suiko (swee•koh). He wanted to create a strong government, and he looked to China as an example of what to do. You remember that in China, a powerful emperor ruled with the help of trained officials chosen for their abilities.

To reach this goal for Japan, Shotoku created a constitution (KAHN•stuh•TOO•shuhn), or a plan of government. Shotoku's constitution gave all power to the emperor, who had to be obeyed by the Japanese people. He also created a bureaucracy and gave the emperor the power to appoint all the officials. The constitution listed rules for working in the government. The rules were taken from the ideas of Confucius.

Shotoku also wanted Japan to learn from China's brilliant civilization. He sent officials and students to China to study. The Japanese not only learned about Buddhist teachings but also absorbed a great deal about Chinese art, medicine, and philosophy.

Shotoku ordered Buddhist temples and monasteries to be built throughout Japan. One of them, called Horyuji (HOHR•yoo•JEE), still stands. It is Japan's oldest temple and the world's oldest surviving wooden building.

After Shotoku, other officials continued to make Japan's government look like China's. In A.D. 646 the Yamato began the Taika, or Great Change. They divided Japan into provinces, or regional districts, all run by officials who reported to the emperor. In addition, all land in Japan came under the emperor's control.

Clan leaders could direct the farmers working the land, but they could not collect taxes anymore. Instead, government officials were to gather part of the farmers' harvest in taxes for the emperor. Together with Shotoku's reforms, this plan created Japan's first strong central government.

Prince Shotoku was born into the powerful Soga family, as the second son of Emperor Yomei. Shotoku's real name is Umayado, which means "the prince of the stable door." According to legend, Shotoku's mother gave birth to him while she was inspecting the emperor's stables. During Shotoku's childhood, Japan was a society of clans, or large extended families. There was fighting between Shotoku's own Soga family and their rival, the Mononobe family. The Soga and Mononobe clans were Japan's two most powerful families, and each wanted to rule Japan.

Shotoku was a very bright, articulate child. He learned about Buddhism from one of his great uncles. He then studied with two Buddhist priests and became devoted to Buddhism.

At the age of 20, Shotoku became Japan's crown prince. The early teachings of Buddhism strongly influenced his leadership. He introduced political and religious reforms that helped build a strong central government in Japan modeled after China. At the request of his aunt, the empress, Shotoku often spoke about Buddhism and the process of enlightenment. He also wrote the first book of Japanese history.

In 1192 the emperor gave Yoritomo the title of shogun (SHOH• guhn) commander of all of the emperor s military forces. This decision created two governments in Japan. The emperor stayed in his palace at Heian with his bureaucracy. He was still officially the head of the country, but he had no power. Meanwhile the shogun set up his own government at his headquarters in Kamakura (kah • MAH•kuh• RAH), a small seaside town. This military government was known as a shogunate. Japan's government was run by a series of shoguns for the next 700 years.

Yoritomo proved to be a ruthless ruler. He killed most of his relatives, fearing that they would try to take power from him. Yoritomo and the shoguns after him appointed high-ranking samurai to serve as advisers and to run the provinces. Bound by an oath of loyalty, these samurai lords ruled Japan's villages, kept the peace, and gathered taxes. They became the leading group in Japanese society.

The path to becoming a samurai was difficult and dangerous. Mothers in samurai families began teaching their sons Bushido at a young age. They taught their sons to place bravery, honor, and loyalty above all else. Each young warrior knew and could recite from memory the brave feats of his samurai ancestors.

For centuries, young samurai lived apart from their families in the castle of their lords or in the barracks of their lord s town. Beginning in the 1800s, samurai schools were built, and boys lived there to continue the educations their mothers had started. From the age of 10, they trained in the martial arts and studied other subjects, such as math and astronomy. By the age of 16, some young men were already promising warriors who distinguished themselves in battle.

The Kamakura shogunate ruled Japan until 1333. By that time, many samurai had become resentful. Over the years, as samurai divided their lands among their sons, the piece of land each samurai owned became smaller and smaller. By the 1300s, many samurai felt they no longer owed the shogun loyalty because he had not given them enough land.

In 1331 the emperor rebelled, and many samurai came to his aid. The revolt succeeded, but the emperor was not able to gain control of Japan because he too refused to give more land to the samurai. Instead, a general named Ashikaga Takauji (ah • shee • kah • gah tah •kow• jee) turned against the emperor and made himself shogun in 1333. A new government known as the Ashikaga shogunate began.

The Ashikaga shoguns proved to be weak rulers, and revolts broke out across Japan. The country soon divided into a number of small territories. These areas were headed by powerful military lords known as daimyo (DY•mee•OH).

The daimyo pledged loyalty to the emperor and the shogun. However, they ruled their lands as if they were independent kingdoms. To protect their lands, the daimyo created their own local armies made up of samurai warriors, just as other nobles had done in the past.

Many samurai became vassals (VA • suhlz) of a daimyo. That is, a samurai gave an oath of loyalty to his daimyo and promised to serve him in times of war. In return, each daimyo gave land to his samurai warriors more land than they had been given by the shogun. This bond of loyalty between a lord and a vassal is known as feudalism (FYOO• duhl• IH •zuhm). In the next chapter, you will learn about a similar form of feudalism that arose in Europe during the Middle Ages.

With the breakdown of central government, Japan's warriors fought each other. From 1467 to 1477, the country suffered through the disastrous Onin War. During this conflict, the city of Kyoto (Heian) was almost completely destroyed. Armies passed back and forth through the city,8 burning temples and palaces.

Pure Land Buddhism As you have already learned, Mahayana Buddhism began in India and spread to China and Korea. By the time Buddhism reached Japan, it had developed into many different sects (SEHKTS), or smaller religious groups.

One of the most important sects in Japan was Pure Land Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism was a type of Mahayana Buddhism. It won many followers in Japan because of its message about a happy life after death. Pure Land Buddhists looked to Lord Amida, a buddha of love and mercy. They believed Amida had founded a paradise above the clouds. To get there, all they had to do was have faith in Amida and chant his name.

What Is Zen Buddhism? Another important Buddhist sect in Japan was Zen. Buddhist monks brought Zen to Japan from China during the 1100s. Zen taught that people could find inner peace through self- control and a simple way of life.

Followers of Zen learned to control their bodies through martial arts (MAHR•shuhl), or sports that involved combat and self-defense. This appealed to the samurai, who trained to fight bravely and fearlessly.

The Black Death probably began somewhere in the Gobi, a desert in central Asia. It had been around for centuries, but in the 1300s, it began to spread farther and more quickly than ever before. Scientists are still not sure why this happened.

Historians believe the Mongol Empire was partly responsible for the plague spreading so fast. The empire covered all the land from Eastern Europe through central Asia to China. The Mongols opened up trade between China, India, the Middle East, and Europe. They encouraged the use of the Silk Road and other trade routes.

By the early 1300s, more goods were being shipped across central Asia than ever before. This made it possible for the Black Death to spread rapidly, as caravans infested with rats carried it from city to city.

The first outbreak took place in China in 1331. It erupted there again in 1353. The disease killed between 40 and 60 million people, cutting China's population nearly in half. The disease appeared in India in the 1340s and reached Makkah, deep inside Muslim lands, in 1349. In the meantime, it also spread to Europe.

The Black Death appeared in Europe in 1346 at the city of Caffa on the Black Sea. The city had been under attack by Mongols when the plague erupted. The Mongols, with their troops dying, called off the attack. In anger they also threw bodies of infected soldiers into the city.

Caffa was a trade colony controlled by Italian merchants from the city of Genoa. Their ships carried the plague to Sicily in October 1347. From there it spread into Europe. By the end of 1349, it had spread through France and Germany and had arrived in England. By 1351, it had reached Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. As many as 38 million Europeans-nearly one out of every two people-died of the Black Death between 1347 and 1351.

The death of so many people in the 1300s turned Europe's economy upside down. Trade declined and wages rose sharply because workers were few and in demand. At the same time, fewer people meant less demand for food, and food prices fell.

By A.D. 800, Charles's kingdom had grown into an empire. It covered much of western and central Europe. Charles's conquests earned him the name of Charlemagne (SHAHR • luh • mayne), or Charles the Great.

The pope was impressed with Charlemagne. On Christmas day in A.D. 800, Charlemagne was worshiping at the church of St. Peter in Rome. After the service, the pope placed a crown on Charlemagne's head and declared him the new Roman emperor. Charlemagne was pleased but also concerned. He did not want people to think the pope had the power to choose who was emperor.

Charlemagne made Aachen (AH • kuhn) the capital of his empire. To uphold his laws, he set up courts throughout the empire. Nobles called counts ran the courts. To keep the counts under control, Charlemagne sent out inspectors called "the lord's messengers" to make sure the counts were obeying orders.

Unlike other earlier Frankish rulers, Charlemagne believed in education. He had tried late in life to learn to write and wanted his people to be educated too. He asked a scholar named Alcuin (AL • kwuhn) to start a school in one of the royal palaces. Alcuin trained the children of government officials. His students studied religion, Latin, music, literature, and arithmetic.

Charles the Great (Charlemagne) became king of the Franks at age 29. He married and divorced many different women and had at least 18 children.

Charlemagne was an intelligent person. He studied many subjects and especially enjoyed astronomy. He could speak many languages, including German, Latin, and Greek. He also could read but had trouble writing. Einhard, the king's historian and scribe, wrote that Charlemagne "used to keep tablets under his pillow in order that at leisure hours he might accustom his hand to form the letters but as he began these efforts so late in life, they met with ill success."

A new Russian State headed by a czar. This city became the headqauarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church and grew wealthy from trade.

As the Slavs recovered from the damage caused by the Mongols, the city of Moscow (MAHS • koh) began to grow. Moscow was located at the crossroads of several important trade routes. Alexander Nevsky's son Daniel and his descendants became grand dukes of Moscow.

The dukes of Moscow married women from the ruling families in other Slavic towns. They also fought wars to expand Moscow's territory. Moscow became even more important when it became the headquarters for the Russian branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. When Ivan I, the Grand Duke of Moscow from 1328 to 1341, was given permission to collect taxes for the Mongols, Moscow grew even greater.

In 1462 Ivan III, known as Ivan the Great, became the grand duke. He married Sophia, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor. Afterward, Ivan began living in the style of an emperor. He had architects build fine palaces and large cathedrals in the Kremlin-the fortress at the center of Moscow. He even began calling himself czar. Czar was a shortened version of Caesar. In Russian, czar means emperor.

It took several hunters to kill a woolly mammoth, which could weigh as much as 9 tons. These big animals provided meat, hides for clothing, and bones for tools.

As the Ice Age ended, some animals became extinct, or disappeared from the earth. The warm weather, however, opened new opportunities to early Americans.

The first Americans were hunter-gatherers, but as the Ice Age ended and the climate warmed, people in America made an amazing discovery. They learned that seeds could be planted and they would grow into crops that people could eat.

Farming began in Mesoamerica (MEH • zoh •uh •MEHR• ih • kuh) 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Meso comes from the Greek word for "middle." This region includes lands stretching from the Valley of Mexico to Costa Rica in Central America.

The region's geography was ideal for farming. Much of the area had a rich, volcanic soil and a mild climate. Rains fell in the spring, helping seeds to sprout. They decreased in the summer, allowing crops to ripen for harvest. Then, in the autumn, the rains returned, soaking the soil for the next year's crop.

The Aztec Government The Aztec clearly knew how to survive. They had wandered for hundreds of years in search of a home that they believed their sun god-the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl (KWEHT• suhl • kuh•WAH• tuhl)-had promised them. According to legend, the Aztec would know they had found this place when an eagle "screams and spreads its wings, and eats . . . the serpent."

According to Aztec legend, they found their homeland after they sacrificed a local princess to one of their gods. The princess's father vowed to wipe out the Aztec, who only numbered several hundred. The Aztec went on the run. In A.D. 1325, they took shelter on a soggy, swampy island in Lake Texcoco (tehs •KOH• koh). There an eagle greeted them from its perch on a prickly pear cactus. It tore apart a snake dangling from its beak. Then it spread its wings and screamed in triumph. Filled with wonder at this sight, the Aztec believed that they had reached the end of their journey.

Priests, speaking for the gods, told the Aztec what to do next: build a great city. Workers toiled day and night. They dug soil from the lake bottom to build bridges to the mainland. They built floating gardens, piling soil on rafts anchored to the lake bottom.

The Aztec called their new city Tenochtitlán (tay • NAWCH• teet • LAHN), which means "place of the prickly pear cactus." As the city rose from the marshes, the Aztec dreamed of conquest and wealth. They wanted to collect tribute, or payment for protection, from conquered peoples.

To fulfill their goal, the Aztec turned to strong kings who claimed descent from the gods. A council of warriors, priests, and nobles picked each king from the royal family. Council members usually chose the last king's son, but not always. They looked for a king who would bring glory to the Aztec. They expected a king to prove himself by leading troops into battle.

Life in the Aztec Empire The king, or emperor, was at the top of Aztec society. The rest of the population fell into four classes: nobles, commoners, unskilled laborers, and enslaved people. Commoners formed the largest group, working as farmers, artisans, or traders. They could join the noble class by performing one act of bravery in war. They, or their children if the soldier died, received land and the rank of noble.

In serving their gods, the Aztec saw death as honorable. Those worthy of an afterlife included soldiers who died in battle, captives who gave their lives in sacrifice, and women who died in childbirth. Others went to the "Land of the Dead," the lowest level in the underworld.

From an early age, children learned about the glories of war and their duties as an Aztec. When a baby boy came into the world, the midwife, or woman who helped with the birth, cried: "You must understand that your home is not here where you have been born, for you are a warrior!"

A baby girl heard different words. As she drew her first breath, the midwife declared: "As the heart stays in the body, so you must stay in the house." Although women stayed at home, those who gave birth were honored as heroes by Aztec society.

Nearly everything the Aztec did grew out of a promise. Speaking through priests, the god Huitzilopochtli (wee • tsee • loh • POHKT• lee) vowed: "We shall conquer all the people in the universe."

The dreaded invasion began in April 1519 when Cortés stepped onto a beach near present-day Veracruz. He came with 550 soldiers, 16 horses, 14 cannons, and a few dogs. How could such a small force conquer a huge warrior empire

First, Cortés knew how to use Spanish horses and guns to shock Native Americans. In a display of power, he forced thousands of Tabascans (tuh •BAS• kuhnz), a people living in Mesoamerica, to surrender. Second, the Tabascans gave Cortés another weapon-a Mayan woman named Malintzin (mah • LIHNT • suhn). She spoke both Mayan and Nahuatl (NAH• WAH • tuhl), the language of the Aztec.

Speaking through a Spaniard who knew Mayan, Malintzin described the Aztec Empire to Cortés. She also told Cortés how subjects of the Aztec resented their rulers and would join with him to fight Montezuma. Acting as a translator, she helped Cortés form alliances.

Finally, Cortés had the help of invisible allies-germs that carried diseases, such as measles and smallpox. These diseases would eventually kill more Aztec than the Spanish swords.

Cortés Defeats the Aztec The Spaniards traveled 400 miles (644 km) to reach Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital. Messengers reported their every move to Montezuma. The Aztec believed in a light-skinned god named Quetzalcoatl. This god, who opposed sacrifice, had sailed away long ago, promising to return someday to reclaim his land. Montezuma was afraid Cortés was the god returning home. As a result, he did not want to attack the Spaniards right away.

As Cortés marched closer, Montezuma decided to ambush the Spanish troops. Cortés learned of the plan and attacked first, killing 6,000 people. In November 1519, the Spaniards marched into Tenochtitlán and took control of the city. To prevent the Aztec from rebelling, Cortés took Montezuma hostage. He then ordered the Aztec to stop sacrificing people.

Although Montezuma II became known as the emperor who let the Spanish capture the Aztec Empire, most of his years as a ruler had been very successful. Montezuma Xocoyotl was the youngest son of Emperor Axacayatl. Aztec leadership was not hereditary, so after Axacayatl's death a man named Ahuitzotl was selected emperor. Montezuma was in his early twenties when he was chosen emperor. He became a popular leader. He led his armies in battle and won over 40 battles against kingdoms south of the Aztec Empire. His one major mistake was in his dealings with the Spanish conquistadors.

Leading the Spanish march into the Aztec Empire in 1519 was a 34-year-old Spaniard named Hernán Cortés. Cortés was born in the province of Extremadura, Spain. At age 19, Cortés left the university and boarded a ship for the Spanish lands in America. He was determined to make his fortune.

At first, Florence's wealth came from trading cloth, especially wool. The city's merchants sailed to England to get sheep's wool. Artisans in Florence then wove it into fine fabrics. Florentines also found another way to make money— banking.

With goods pouring into Italy from around the world, merchants needed to know the value of coins from different countries. Florentine bankers became the experts. They used the florin, the gold coin of Florence, to measure the value of other money. Bankers also began lending money and charging interest. Florence's richest family, the Medici (MEH • duh • chee), were bankers. They had branch banks as far away as London.

One of the best Renaissance scientists was also a great artist, Leonardo da Vinci (LEE • uh • NAHR • doh•duh VIHN • chee). Leonardo dissected corpses to learn anatomy and studied fossils to understand the world's history. He was also an inventor and an engineer.

Most of what we know about Leonardo comes from his notebooks. Leonardo filled their pages with sketches of his scientific and artistic ideas. Centuries before the airplane was invented, Leonardo drew sketches of a glider, a helicopter, and a parachute. Other sketches show a version of a military tank and a scuba diving suit.

Leonardo was born in Vinci, Italy, to a peasant woman named Caterina. Shortly after Leonardo's birth, she left the boy in the care of his father. By the time Leonardo was 15 years old, his father knew his son had artistic talent. He arranged for Leonardo to become an apprentice to the famous painter Andrea del Verrocchio.

By 1472, Leonardo had become a master in the painters' guild of Florence. He worked in Florence until 1481, and then he went to the city of Milan. There he kept a large workshop and employed many apprentices. During this time, Leonardo began keeping small pads of paper tucked in his belt for sketching. Later he organized the drawings by theme and assembled the pages into notebooks.

Seventeen years later, Leonardo returned to Florence, where he was welcomed with great honor. During this time, Leonardo painted some of his masterpieces. He also made scientific studies, including dissections, observations of the flight of birds, and research on the movement of water currents.

At first, Luther only wanted to reform the Catholic Church. This is why we call these events the Reformation (reh • fuhr • may • shuhn). The Reformation, however, became the beginning of a movement in Christianity known as Protestantism. By the end of the Reformation, many new Christian churches had appeared in Europe. The religious unity the Catholic Church had created in Western Europe, and which had lasted for hundreds of years, had been broken.
By the 1300s, many people felt the Church had problems. It taxed peasants heavily, and some bishops behaved like they were kings. They built palaces, spent money on fine art, and made sure that their relatives had good jobs. In many villages, priests could barely read or give a good sermon.

Many Catholics became angry at the Church's focus on money. One Church practice that especially angered them was the selling of indulgences. An indulgence (ihn • DUHL • juhns) was a pardon from the Church for a person's sins. The Church had given out indulgences before, but it did not usually sell them. In the 1500s, however,the pope needed money to repair the church of St. Peter's in Rome. To get that money, he decided to sell indulgences in northern Germany.

The sale of indulgences outraged Martin Luther. Luther had looked in the Bible and found nothing that said an indulgence could pardon sin. The whole idea of selling God's forgiveness seemed unholy to him.

Martin Luther was not the first person to question the pope's power. As early as the 1370s, an English priest named John Wycliffe (WIH • KLIHF) had opposed Church policies. He preached that Christians needed only to recognize Jesus Christ as a power above them, not the pope.

On both sides of the Nile Valley and its delta, deserts unfold as far as the eye can see. To the west is a vast desert that forms part of the Sahara (suh har uh), the largest desert in the world. To the east, stretching to the Red Sea, is the Eastern Desert. In some places, the change from green land to barren sand is so abrupt that a person can stand with one foot in each.

Wycliffe and Luther both challenged the pope's power, but they had something else in common-their respect for the Bible. Wycliffe wanted everyone to read the Bible. After Wycliffe died, his followers translated the Bible into English for the first time.

Who Was Martin Luther? Martin Luther became one of the most famous men in history. His break with the Catholic Church led to a revolution in Christianity. Why would a religious man disagree with his faith? First of all, Luther was angered by the behavior of Church leaders. Secondly, he was worried about his own soul.

Luther was born in 1483 in a small German village. A bright and sensitive boy, he grew up in a disciplined family. His father wanted him to study law, but Luther often thought about serving the Church. One day, he was out riding when a bolt of lightning knocked him to the ground. According to legend, Luther made up his mind to be a monk at that moment.

When Luther went to Rome on a pilgrimage, he was shocked at the behavior of the Roman clergy. Back home in Germany, he taught at a university in the town of Wittenberg (WIH • tuhn • BUHRG). He worried about the Church's problems and also about his own soul. With the plague killing people all around him, it is not surprising that Luther worried about whether he would go to heaven when he died.

The Church said that Luther would be saved and would go to heaven if he performed good works and received the sacraments. Still Luther worried that this was not true. He prayed and fasted long hours as he searched for answers to his questions. He prayed so long that sometimes he fell unconscious on the cold church floor.

Luther found his answers by studying the Bible. He concluded that only faith, not good works, brought salvation. He believed that salvation was a gift from God, not something earned by doing good works.

In 1517, when the Church began selling indulgences, Luther was astonished. How could the Church tell peasants that buying an indulgence would save them? He angrily prepared a list of 95 arguments against indulgences and sent them to his bishop. Some accounts say that Luther also nailed them to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral for everyone to read. The list became known as the Ninety-Five Theses. Thousands of copies were printed and read all across the German kingdoms.

Revolt Leads to New Churches At first the Church did not take Luther very seriously. Soon, though, Church leaders saw that Luther was dangerous. If people believed Luther, they would rely on the Bible, not priests. Who would need priests if the sacraments were not needed to get to heaven?

The pope and Luther argued for several years, but Luther refused to change his position. Finally, the pope excommunicated Luther. This meant Luther was no longer a member of the Church and could no longer receive the sacraments. He was also no longer considered a monk.

In the following years, Luther's ideas led to the creation of a new denomination (dih • nah • muh • NAY • shuhn), or organized branch of Christianity. It was known as Lutheranism and was the first Protestant denomination.

Lutheranism has three main ideas. The first is that faith in Jesus, not good works, brings salvation. The second is that the Bible is the final source for truth about God, not a church or its ministers. Finally, Lutheranism said that the church was made up of all its believers, not just the clergy.

Peasant Revolts Luthers debate with the pope was so famous that even peasants in the countryside had heard about it. They liked what they heard about Luther.

The life of a peasant had always been hard, but in the 1520s, it was terrible. The crops had been poor for several years. On top of that, noble landowners increased the taxes that peasants had to pay.

Because of their suffering, Luther's ideas stirred the peasants to revolt. If Luther had a right to rebel against an unjust pope, then the peasants must have a right to stand up to greedy nobles.

The peasants began by listing their demands. Like Luther, they based their ideas on the Bible. One leader said the peasants would no longer work for the nobles, "unless it should be shown us from the Gospel that we are serfs."

When the nobles did not give in, huge revolts broke out. It was not long, however, before the peasants were defeated. The nobles had better weapons and horses and won easily, killing at least 70,000 peasants.


Why are there so many ruins in cities that are still well-populated, such as Athens and Rome? At what point did they actually become ruined, and why did newer generations stop maintaining them?

Buildings and monuments are built to serve certain purposes, individuals, and ideologies that are very specific to their time context. More often than not those purposes, individuals, and ideologies are forgotten with time, or sometimes they might even gain new negative connotations, and thus those buildings become obsolete. The reason why we today (in Western Europe especially) spend billions on excavating and preserving historical monuments is because our age is marked by an ethos that the past in itself has inherent value and is worth protecting and transmitting to future generations - but this is a fairly "modern" ideology that has its roots somewhere in the values of European Renaissance and Enlightenment (other people here probably now more about this than me), but the zeal for excavation and restoration of historical remains did not kick off properly until the 19th century, when Western Europe became steady and wealthy enough that people could start devoting time, energy and resources to excavation instead of just survival. These sort of conditions, the right values and right resources, haven't coincided that often in European history.

The history of the Roman forum might be quite illuminating. During the High Empire, the Roman forum was, as it had been for centuries, the administrative, religious, and ideological heart of the whole Empire. In the Forum there were important political buildings, such as the Curia, the meeting place of the Senate, government buildings, and the Rostra, platform for public speeches some of the most important temples, such as the Temple of Vesta and temples of imperial cult and honorific monuments celebrating the history and achievements of Rome, such as triumphal arcs and statues of foremost citizens. Everything suitably grandiose and lavish, of course. The forum was in daily use of business, politics, and various celebrations.

The status of Roman forum started to decline when during late 3rd and 4th century Rome was stripped from its status as the administrative capital of the Empire and the Empire became officially Christian. Late antique emperors ruled from Milan, Ravenna or various Gallic cities. Interestingly, the Late Antique Roman society still appreciated its triumphant past, and although all substantial state investment on the Roman forum stopped, the local elites still spent money on costly restoration projects of the forum to prop up their own status (Gregor Kalas´ The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming Public Space is a great book on this period).

However, with time, the "pagan" past was no longer straightforwardly just glorious and great statues and monuments to great Romans could be seen as heretic idolatry some of the monuments were converted to Christian churches. With the collapse of the Western empire (last Western emperor murdered in AD 480), cohesive imperial ideology was more or less lost and the glorious past of the Empire mattered less and less to the locals. The city of Rome also entered a long period of decline: the population was cut to perhaps as low as only 25% from what it had been at its height, and the Germanic invasions massively damaged many of the monuments in Rome. So, at this point, there really was no any clear ideological reasons to restore historic monuments - the elite of Medieval Europe mainly spent their money on patronage of Christian churches, communities, and monasteries - and nowhere near as much expendable resources. The literature of Greco-Roman antiquity and the knowledge of Roman past was also not as important as it had once been.

Once the buildings became more and more shambled and ruined, the less people of course remembered and cared. 8th century travel records already have reports of the forum as being a sad ghost ruin of what it once was. Lot of the monuments of the Roman forum were pillaged and looted for easily available building materials for churches, towers, castles and other more immediately important, new constructions. The only reason why the Pantheon in Rome has been preserved in its amazing more or less original glory is because it was fairly early on (7th century) converted to a Christian church, and it has been in continuous use as such ever since. Debris from crumbling buildings in the Forum and around it raised the ground level and further buried the remaining ruins, and at some point it was really only used as a dumbing ground. By 17th century the Roman forum was known locally not as the Forum, but as "Campo Vaccino", "the Cow Field", as the debris and dumps had turned into a little open field in the middle of the city where locals let their livestock graze, with only few sad pillars and triumphal arcs marking the landscape.

When during Renaissance and Enlightenment the antiquity was "rediscovered", many artists were inspired by this landscape of decaying ancient glory and you can find lot of paintings and drawings from the Roman forum see as examples Claude Lorrain, 1636, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, mid-1700s,Charles Lock Eastlake, c. 1820s. Just shows how little there was left! It wasn´t until late 19th century, when archaeology as a discipline had been developed and become into "high fashion", that official excavations and restorations of the forum started, and during the 20th century in various stages the forum has been restored to as you can see it today.

One elaboration on a point mythoplokos made- The population loss in Rome was absolutely humongous- at its height estimated to be over a million and a half people to around 10,000. After the collapse of the Roman professional army it became very dangerous to leave the city. Residents found a lot of the resources they needed bricks for their houses, metals for tools where already in the city in Roman buildings. Plus, the process for mining ore in pre-industrial times is much more work than chiseling into large blocks of the Colosseum and taking the pins used to set stones together. You can see in this picture from inside the Colosseum how the corners of all the large blocks have been chipped away to take the metal setting pins.

Ancient Rome, which was obviously known for their conquests, also pillaged a lot from those they conquered. When the Vandals, Visigoths and others sacked Rome, they would return the favor, targeting a lot of the buildings we identify as ruins today. Triumphal arches were constructed to serve as entry into the capital for successful armies and they were topped with the riches of that army's conquest. Other places for the spoils of war were temples, forums and building associated with the empire- all of which we consider the ruins of Rome today. These were prime targets for Roman invaders, who sacked and razed them. When the occupiers would leave, Roman citizens worried first about rebuilding their lives using materials found at sacked sites was again, easy resources. This happened for hundreds and hundreds of years- in the 16th century marble from the Colosseum was used for all the marble at St. Peter's Basilica.

Edit- I just wanted to add something that blew my mind years ago when I studied it. There was no compound or mortar used in the main structure of the colosseum- everything is load bearing and gravity supported. Each block of travertine limestone was brought in and perfectly leveled on site by masons. The blocks were joined with iron rods called clamps. As mentioned before, pillagers chipped into the stone to take these pieces of iron of which 300 tons were estimated to be used. That's where the pocked look of the Colosseum comes from I've seen some peoples' misunderstanding of the iron clamps/pock marks where they think the iron was actually exposed, similar to a modern anchor plate/tie rod- but this isn't the case, the iron pins were completely hidden inside. A very simple explanation would be the little pegs on top of a lego- which when stacked are completely hidden. It really adds to how impressive the architecture is of these buildings when you consider how hard it would be for me, with modern tools and a soft, easily maneuvered and machined medium like wood, to make a perfect cube I could stack 50 meters high.

To add on to this, the ground level of Rome itself continuously rose over its history, both due to sediment deposit from the Tiber river, and the city raising the ground level to combat flooding. As a result Rome has a number of buildings just built on top of each other -- theyɽ just fill the current building with rubble and build on top of it. Other ruins simply ended up buried entirely over time.

See for example the Church of San Clemente. At the top "layer" is an 11th century Basilica. The layer below it is a 4th Century Basilica. In the layer below that is a 3rd century Temple to Mithras (which might have a tunnel connecting it to the Coliseum). In the layer below that is a 1st Century building from the Roman Republic era. There hasn't yet been excavation to look for more layers further down. If you visit Rome, you can tour the Cathedral and walk down staircases to view each of these layers.

You can see similar examples of society's just building on top of existing structures with the Mayan Pyramids, where new rulers would just build pyramids wrapping around the existing ones.

Ever since I visited the forum and learned that much of it had to be excavated relatively recently I've been fascinated with how the excavations progressed over the years. Unfortunately I've only been able to find bits and pieces of information about that. Do you happen to have any reading recommendations that would detail something along these lines?

By 17th century the Roman forum was known locally not as the Forum, but as "Campo Vaccino", "the Cow Field", as the debris and dumps had turned into a little open field in the middle of the city where locals let their livestock graze, with only few sad pillars and triumphal arcs marking the landscape.

This raises the opposite question to "why are these ruins still around": Why wasn't this land cleared and re-used for new buildings? Maybe Rome in the 17th century didn't have enough people to need more apartment buildings, but it would seem that at some point, as Italy's population grew again, there would be profit in building residences or shops in this nice central location. Did the renewed importance of the past come before that happened, or was there some other reason?

Let me chime in on this excellent post.

Your typical Roman ruins works like this. You start with a perfectly good building, old but still in working order. After the fall of the Empire, social and economic crisis kicks in. Lots of poor people. Disruption of supply lines to the city makes iron an expensive commodity. Many of trims and finishes of those ancient building are iron or bronze, and no one is really taking care of them anymore. People loot any loose metal.

Ok so all the easy stuff is gone, what next? Hey do you know what is keeping all the stonework toghether? Juicy big iron rods! Let's wreck some stone to pull out the rods and smelt or sell them.

Good, now the stone is loose and the whole building starts to fall apart. That amazing monument is now little more than an open-air quarry with easy access to already squared high quality stones! Let's use them to build some new buildings: villas, churches, gardens etc.

Now, we have a nice large still partly constructed space in the middle of the town, with ample excavated space underground and some sturdy wall we can use as load bearing walls for new construction. What shall we do? Convert it to something else! A market? Easy Peasy, the catacombs could work as waste disposal Houses? Faster done than said. A Prison? With all those ipogea it's a blast! Weapon storage? Sure, it's not worth much anyway.

In Rome there is a saying: "Quod non fecerunt barbari, Barberini fecerunt". What the barbarians didn't do, the Barberini family did. Barberini were a family of wealthy nobles, which gave birth to a Pope Urban VIII and a bunch of Cardinals. In order to build their family palace they pillaged most of the Roman ruins, including the Pantheon bronze pronao. The largest share of damage to the Coliseum came from the salvage of stones to build Palazzo Barberini in 1630.

I find this absolutely fascinating, I don't name the artists for falling in love with this sort of stuff. Just imagining layers upon layers upon layers of city stacked over centuries is mind blowing.

The reason why we today (in Western Europe especially) spend billions on excavating and preserving historical monuments is because our age is marked by an ethos that the past in itself has inherent value and is worth protecting and transmitting to future generations - but this is a fairly “modern” ideology that has its roots somewhere in the values of European Renaissance and Enlightenment (other people here probably now more about this than me), but the zeal for excavation and restoration of historical remains did not kick off properly until the 19th century, when Western Europe became steady and wealthy enough that people could start devoting time, energy and resources to excavation instead of just survival

I apologize that this question is geared towards the modern and future era, but since it deals directly with this topic and isn’t a top-level reply, I hope it’s appropriate to ask:

Has it been difficult receiving funding for historical preservation in Europe in recent years, or is there any inkling of that threat on the horizon? In other words, is there a real risk of these historical ruins no longer being preserved, especially in instances where the historical sites do not especially stoke tourism/the economy?

As a visitor to many European ruins, I am always in awe that the governing bodies have consistently made it a priority to maintain these historical monuments - regardless of the party in office, budgetary concerns, etc. The value of these historic sites seems almost universally appreciated, and I’ve wondered if their value gets questioned by the modern (or recent) era.

Related threads you might be interested in:

u/Mythoplokos had brought up a wide array of very valid points with the decline of Rome's political and economic importance, the utility of maintaining the forum was not immediately evident to Rome's declining population.

Iɽ also like to point out that during Rome's subsequent re-population, the center of population shifted about a half-mile to the north, closer to the post-roman ecclesiastical center around St. Peter's basilica and (more extensively) the area directly across the Tiber. But while the Forum was now on the fringe of Rome's most densely populated area, it fate of the Forum isn't entirely representative of the totality of ancient buildings in the city, with many others repurposed like the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs (Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri) built inside a part of the Baths of Diocletian, while the Colosseum itself was incorporated into a fortress complex (as the Mausoleum of Hadrian was converted into Castel St. Angelo) and while we don't have clear reports of its gradual deterioration, it's hypothesized that conflicts in the early middle ages where the structure was a military target did more to damage it than centuries of neglect.

The present urban texture of the Roman Forum is a consequence of very modern phenomena: on the one hand a modern appreciation of history and archeology has made it desirable to keep the ruins visible, while on the other hand the modern sprawl of the city of Rome means that the forum is once again surrounded by an urban environment. While estimates of the city's population at the height of the Empire run anywhere between two hundred thousand to one million, the city would only begin to approach the lower tail of these estimates halfway through the nineteenth century (and surpass the upper tail sometime in the 1930s). While the elegant apartment buildings in and near the Forum largely blend in with the city's earthy tones and mixed baroque and neoclassical architecture, many if not most of them were built in the decades immediately preceding and following the turn of the 19th century it is more accurate to imagine the ruins of the forum to be set against a much less dense backdrop for much of the period between the end of the Empire and the modern day.

While I can't speak too much about Athens (although u/Tiako's answer, linked elsewhere in the comments, goes into great detail about how the immediate area of the Athenian acropolis was much disencumbered of more recent constructions after Greece's independence) Rome's extensive areas of open-air ruins are an anomaly in Italian urbanization. Very few other Italian cities experienced depopulation and outright relocation the way the imperial capital did (Ravenna comes to mind as one of the few similar examples, although the ruins in Ravenna are exponentially less extensive than Rome's and its monuments are largely still intact, albeit awkward and out of place a millennia after the city's brief tenure as Italy's political epicenter expired). In other cities, like Brescia, open spaces with ancient ruins in the city center are the consequence of a meticulous and sometimes ongoing process of excavation, demolition, and restoration which can create awkward questions if structural elements from the Roman era have been incorporated into medieval buildings, forcing the local archeological team to decide what they value more (an intact roman colonnade or perhaps the palace of an important medieval dynasty?). The point is that it is much more common to repurpose and build on top of structures, as the Milanese did with the Basilica of St. Lawrence (Basilica di San Lorenzo), than would be to leave open space with ancient ruins as is in Rome.

How and why did Rome become repopulated?

Dumb question, something I was wondering about recently. Why do ancient developments “sink” into the ground? Many times ancient buildings, roads or entire cities are discovered underground. Will our currently existing infrastructure be underground too one day? Sorry, haven’t had coffee yet.

I can offer a specific case study from Central America, that I think will illustrate how this sort of change can happen, leaving large ruins in the middle of modern cities. Note that all names given here are modern names for places, and in most cases don't reflect their Prehispanic names, which are unknown.

Back in the Early-Middle Preclassic period (around 1200-900 B.C.), a small village was settled near a pond in what is now El Salvador known today as Laguna Cuzcachapa. This village grew, and eventually, a group of large civic/ceremonial buildings was built a short distance to the north, centered around a big earthen pyramid known as El Trapiche. At the time, this community would have been one of a string of large towns/small cities strung out along the Pacific Coast of Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala, and El Salvador. The Trapiche pyramid itself (built and used between 900 and 650 B.C.) was one of the largest buildings on the Pacific Coast at the time, and was surrounded by other structures and by stone monuments that link the settlement to the Olmec cultural tradition, which was centered on the southern part of the Gulf Coast of Mexico. With the change in focus of the settlement to the north, the small village around Laguna Cuzcachapa would have fallen into disuse and become a series of small rubble mounds on the edge of the town. The focus of the town remained around El Trapiche until the late Preclassic (maybe until around 200 B.C.).

At the very end of the Preclassic period, a large volcano (Ilopango) located nearby erupted, disrupting agriculture and trade on the Pacific Coast. It's likely that the settlement around Trapiche declined in population at this time, and the big pyramid was probably abandoned.

About 200 years later (A.D. 1, roughly), the settlement began to grow again. Now, though, it was centered around a new ceremonial center called Casa Blanca, a short distance south of El Trapiche. The Trapiche pyramid and other structures nearby would then have stood at the north end of the settlement, and would have looked like large earthen mounds, probably covered with grass and brush. We have no idea, of course what the later people would have thought of these structures (already pretty ancient), but they probably would have recognized that these were pyramidal platforms not unlike the ones in the new Casa Blanca complex. This new settlement was linked in to Early Classic events around them, and may have spoken a Mayan language, as this part of El Salvador seems to have been in the Maya cultural area throughout the Classic Period.

During the Early to Middle Classic (A.D. 200-650), the focus of the settlement began to shift again. A new focus to the settlement was established at Tazumal, to the southwest. A new large pyramid (Structure B-1, or just El Tazumal) was built, not as tall as El Trapiche, but larger in volume. Other structures in the Tazumal area include a smaller pyramid built in the talud-tablero style (possibly associated somehow with the Teotihuacano culture of central Mexico). By the Late Classic (A.D. 650-900), Tazumal was the center of the community and Casa Blanca was abandoned, becoming a group of large ruins, presumably toward the eastern edge of the settlement.

Things in the region changed a great deal in the Early Postclassic (A.D. 900-1200). New people, speakers of Nahuat, a Nahua language closely related to Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs) began to migrate into the area, and may have established new towns in previously unoccupied areas (though this interpretation is controversial). However, at Tazumal things went on more or less as before, despite the abandonment of nearby Maya-like towns such as San Andres, and other settlements in the region, such as Cara Sucia (which is apparently affiliated with the little-understood Cotzumalhuapa culture). We know the settlement continued, because the large pyramid at Tazumal was rebuilt several times through the Late Classic and Early postclassic. In the later part of the Postclassic (A.D. 1200-1500), something changed again, and Tazumal was abandoned, and a new group of much smaller ceremonial structures were built in an area known as Peñate. These smaller structures were the center of an apparently smaller settlement affiliated (based on Spanish accounts) with the Pokomam Maya culture of highland Guatemala. At the time of the Spanish Conquest of El Salvador in the 1520-1530s, this Pokomam village would have been living surrounded by ruins of large structures dating back almost 3000 years.

After the Spanish conquest, a Spanish presence (and a church—still extant) was established in the Pokomam village, which is now known as Chalchuapa (Santa Ana Department, El Salvador). The village lost its Native American character and became a ladino community (that is, a community of people of mixed Spanish and Indian descent, who participated in Spanish Colonial culture). Slowly, the village grew into a town, and then into the modern day small city of Chalchuapa.

As the community grew, it started butting up against the ruins all around. By the 1980s, many structures had been leveled or partially destroyed, in many cases for building material. The small structures in the Peñate group appear to have completely destroyed in the past 30 years or so. However, the three big complexes at Tazumal, Casa Blanca, and El Trapiche were preserved. The two former groups were subjected to heavy looting in the 20th Century (particularly at Casa Blanca), indicating that people recognized these as the remains of ancient cultures. A gravity-feed water tank has been standing on the top of the Trapiche pyramid since at least the late 70s, and there is a small commercial swimming pool facility (balneario) at the base of the structure. Unlike Casa Blanca and Tazumal, it appears that many people thought that El Trapiche was just a natural hill, not recognizing it as an ancient ruin.

Today, Tazumal and Casa Blanca are archaeological parks, partially restored and open to the public. The balneario at El Trapiche is still there and still open, to the best of my knowledge, and the site is monitored by Salvadoran government archaeologists. Recent growth of the city appears (based on Google Earth images) to have largely overrun the area of the very early settlement around Laguna Cuzcachapa. Many smaller structures around both Tazumal and Casa Blanca have been wholly or partially destroyed, and the city cemetery lies partially within the Classic-period ballcourt.

So that’s a brief case study of how one settlement continued to grow around its own ruins, which became progressively more ancient.

The main source (other than some observations of my own in modern Chalchuapa), is:

Sharer, Robert J. (editor) 1978 The Prehistory of Chalchuapa, El Salvador. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.


The Roman invasion and occupation of Britain

Summary

Detailed Information

Boudicca is said to have been very tall with striking red hair that hung to her hips. Her army of Iceni tribesmen and women captured and burned Colchester, London, St Albans and caused the governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, to raise the biggest force he could. Boudicca’s army were eventually cornered and massacred. Boudicca poisoned herself to evade capture.

For more resources similar to this Roman Britain timeline, specifically the Roman invasion of Britain, please click here.

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Why did post-Roman rulers abandon tax-paid army? - History

  • Umayyad Caliphate (661 C.E.) - The Umayyad clan took control of the Islamic caliphate after the fourth caliph. They were based in Damascus and established a hereditary monarchy. They built their empire by conquering Syria, Persia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain and parts of the Byzantine Empire in West Asia. The set up a bureaucratic structure that used local administrators. Cultures were tolerated as long as they obeyed the rules of the caliphate, and payed a special tax and did not revolt. Arabic was the language used for trade and government.

Muslim merchants spread improved irrigation in the region, which led to increases in food production and population. Cities flourished and manufactured pottery, fabrics and rugs. Paper was introduced from China, and they set up paper mills. Mosques, hospitals, schools and orphanages were set up throughout the empire, which allowed for the spread of intellectual ideas such as algebra, Greek learning, and latitude and longitude. The House of Wisdom sought out Greek and Persian texts, which were translated into Arabic. Universities were also established, such as those in Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada.

Women - In early Islamic society, Islam appealed to women because they had equal status in the eyes of God. Women could keep their dowries as wives and female infanticide was prohibited.

Its central location on the Mediterranean Sea allowed trade to flourish, especially in the capital of Constantinople. Silk worms were smuggled out of China, which allowed the Byzantines to develop a silk industry, while artisans produced glassware, linen, jewelry, gold and silver. Socially, people could move up through military service, but this was rare.

The Tang was focused on scholars than soldiers, but did expand to TIbet and Korea. It completed the Grand Canal, which led to increase in trade within China. Tang rulers supported Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. Confucian beliefs solidified the government through the use of the civil service examination system. Chang' an became a cosmopolitan capital visited by foreign diplomats from the Byzantine and Arab Worlds, and boasted a population of 2 million people by 640. This dynasty began to decline due to higher taxes creating tension with the population. Peasant rebellions led to more independent regional rule and the abdication of the Emperor.

Tang rulers set up military garrisons to protect the Silk Road Trade. The equal field system was established to try to limit the power of wealthy landowners. This gave peasants land to farm in return for tax in grain, but it failed to weaken the power of large landowners. Tang policies also influenced the spread of Buddhism, but saw a backlash toward the end of the dynasty because Buddhism was seen as a foreign religion. This weakening of Buddhism led to the development of Neo-Confucianism.

Women - Marriages were arranged within their social classes. Upper class women could own property, move about in public and remarry. Women could inherit property in the absence of male heirs. Poetry flourished (Li Bai and Du Fu)

Economically, the Song saw many important developments. Fast-ripening rice from Champa (Vietnam) doubled rice production, and trade along the completed Grand Canal connected the northern and southern areas of China. The population increased and the capital of Kaifeng became a manufacturing center for cannons, movable type printing, water-powered mills, looms and high quality porcelain. Minted coins were used and were eventually replaced with paper money, while merchants used "flying cash" as credit for trade.

The Southern Song established a capital at Hangzhou, where commerce grew. The Song also used cotton sails and compasses to build a strong navy and the ability to ship more goods to the rest of the world. Song goods traveled as far as east Africa and the power of the Song shifted south.

Under the Ming, the Chinese sought to reestablish a presence in the Indian Ocean by imposing control over trade. They sent a massive naval expedition to establish tribute states and impress foreigners. These expeditions were led by Zheng He, a Muslim eunuch who led 300 ships with 28,000 troops. He sailed around Southeast Asia and out to East Africa. In 1433, Zheng He's expeditions were ended and his records destroyed. Pressure from Confucian officials convinced the emperor that the expeditions were unneeded and too expensive, and that China should focus on internal stability by protecting the northern border.

Yuan Dynasty (China) - Kublai Khan defeated the Southern Song and China fell under foreign rule in 1279. He created a Chinese style dynasty with a fixed and regular tax system. Foreigners were in charge of the government and the Chinese were consciously separated from the Mongols. Through Mongol protection and pacification of overland trade routes, trade grew under the Yuan.

The Ilkanates (Middle East) - Kublai's brother Hulegu defeated the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258. The Mongols employed local bureaucrats to govern and converted to Islam by 1295. Local rulers were permitted to rule as long as they kept order and paid taxes. Unlike in China, the Mongols mixed with the local people.

The Golden Horde (Russia) - The Mongol ruler Batu conquered and ruled Russia. He kept local rulers in place to administer, and Russian bureaucrats collected taxes from the peasants. Missionaries were allowed to visit, but the Mongols converted to Islam.


Timeline of Roman & Post Roman Britain

Death of Gabran mac Domangairt of the Dal Riata Conall mac Comgaill of the Cenel Comgaill succeeds him.

561 – Battle of Cul Dreimhe (Cooldrevny) between the Clann Cholmain and other southern Ui Neill under Diarmait mac Cerbhaill, Ard Ri na Eireann, and the Cenel Eoghan and Cenel Connaill led by Domhnall Ilchealgach, king of Aileach, over the killing of Cunan, son of Aed mac Echach, king of Connachta, who was under the protection of St. Colmcille (Crimthann mac Felimid) of the Cenel Conaill, abbot of Doire. Cunan sought out Colmcille’s protection after accidentally killing the son of Diarmait’s steward in a hurley match. The northern Ui Neill of Aileach were victorious.


Why did aristocracy continue to exist after countries created their own national armies?

In every corner of the world the power of the nobility came from their armies emperors, sultans and kings depended on the aristocrats for their armies. However, despite the fact that the power of the nobles was diminished as national armies were created, they still had their lands and privileges over the peasants living in these lands. France during Ancien Régime, Russian and Ottoman Empires are a few examples. In all of these countries authority was highly centralized and army was under sole command of the ruler. Why didn't the rulers of these states take the lands from nobility and give it to peasants. Incentive to do so would be that this way they could tax the peasants more.

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I believe the answer differs in the different states you mention, but I would say one answer is that national armies are expensive and the king was still reliant on the aristocracy for money.

yeah and I assume that was because the aristocracy were huge landowners and could tax the people in those lands which they then gave to the king if I am not mistaken.

The income of aristocrats came from the tax they collected from their lands. If those lands were to given to peasants, the king could collect that money from them.

You’d be mistaken in one very important point here: direct taxation was rather the exception, not the norm. A standardised, regularised direct income tax is a product mainly of the 19th century nationstate. Yes, forms of direct taxation did exist, but they were on the whole, rather the exception. That is not how states got their revenue. The post-Roman European (Latin) world was overall a land-based not a fiscal-based constellation.

Also, “highly centralised” is a shaky notion. None of these empires were nearly as far reaching as say Belgium in 1831. The power of post-French Revolution states is incomparable at many levels to what came before. So while these were ‘highly centralised states’, said centralisation must really be put in perspectives.

It is also mistaken that in any of these countries power was uniform. France for example was far from centralised, nor was Russia. Remember when Catharine the Great had to fold wholesale on her reform programme? Or how throughout the entire 18th century the French Noblesse de Robe would thwart the monarchy’s attempt at taxation? Or how the Ottoman court was riddled with internal strife at a court level? None of these matters were black/white.

(Edit: shaky not shaku - whoops)

PDV87 also mentioned the taxation issue and now I agree that's probably the main reason. Yeah "highly centralized" is too strong here, I was comparing these nations to those that came before them when I used that phrase. But I think a monarch with enough determination could achieve direct taxation in any of the above-mentioned countries.

As an addition to the other explanations here: Early Modern nobility continued to make up the majority of the officers corps, even when the army was in the hands of the state.

Many, if not all, aristocrats saw their raison dɾtre as a warrior's class and pretty much always had multiple sons take up military careers (sometimes even to the detrement of their own family's continued existance, war is a risky business after all).

With most officers and high commanders being nobility, culling their aristocratic status would leave a ruler with a very lackluster officers corps at best and a rebel army at worst. Keeping the aristocracy in place seems a safe bet at that point.

(For some further reading you can delve into Scott, H.M., The European Nobilities: 1. Western Europe (Londen, 1995) Tallett F., War and Society in Early Modern Europe 1495-1715 (Londen: 1997) and Lynn, John A., Giant of the “grand siècle”: the French Army, 1610-1715 (Cambridge: 1997), though especially Lynn is a bit of a dry read imo).

Edit: this is for (Western) European nobility btw. Not sure how well it would apply to other states.

The role of the aristocracy isn't only to make up armies.

The aristocracy simply means a ruling social class, it derives from the Greek for "rule by the betters". In the Middle Ages, each aristocrat ruled over a piece of land, given to it by the king, in exchange, the king required loyalty and fealty. At that time, there was no civil service to administrate the kingdom, the king's rule went through the nobility. It was the Lord who was given the task of managing the finances of his land, of rendering justice to the people who lived under him and or enforcing royal decrees.

The irony of power is that the more concentrated the power, the less the person who holds it is able to use it. The king is but one man, he cannot take care of all the kingdom's issues alone, he has limited time and attention, so he had to delegate power, and in medieval times, he delegated that power to the aristocracy. Once kingdoms became secure enough and powerful enough, kings often tried to centralize administration, to take justice and administration out of the hands of landed aristocrats, and who says "administration" says money, so kings tried to take over these powers and also levy taxes to fund them, and that created tensions and not a few civil wars.

But even this new civil service just created a new aristocracy, because that's how things used to work. Hence, in France, the aristocracy was made of the Nobles of the Sword, the traditional landed warrior aristocracy, and the Nobles of the Robe, who were the new aristocracy, occupying administrative roles in the civil service (judges and the like). So even with Absolute Monarchies' centralization, the King still relied on the aristocracy to govern, and the administrative functions of the new Aristocracy were generally venal (bought from the king) and inheritable (the one who occupied it gave it in heritage to his heir when he vacated it or died).

Even in Absolute Monarchies, the aristocracy, being the ones who actually did the job of governing the country and administrating it, still had a lot of power. They could and did resist royal reforms in many countries. Understand. these aristocrats weren't simply appointed civil administration positions, they bought these positions and these positions belonged to them personally, they were their property! The French Revolution is mainly a result of the aristocracy using its Parlements to resist Louis XVI's attempts at reform to remove the privileges of the aristocracy, forcing him to call the Estates Generals to go around the aristocratic resistance to his reforms.

So, even at peace, the kings relied on the aristocracy for the administration and the governance of his kingdom, and this gave the aristocracy great institutional power that the king was wise to try to work with, rather than against.

Also, take note that these advanced monarchies were NOT tinpot dictatorships (not for the most part). The king was expected to respect the basic laws of the kingdom and to respect conventions. When the king didn't, it created backlashes from the aristocracy and the people (unless the king had tremendous personal support). Montesquieu, who came up with the theory of the Separation of Powers in the 18th century and whose ideas form the basis of most modern Republican governments, like that of the US', insisted monarchies (even the Absolute Monarchy he lived under) were different from despotism because monarchies ruled according to Law, whereas despotic governments were left to the whims of a single ruler unbound by any law or rule.

It is great folly for us to see these societies as primitive societies devoid of rule of law, subject only to the whims of the Monarch. These were complex societies functioning based on laws and conventions even the Monarch could not ignore without paying the price.

“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class - whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual” Quote by Frank Herbert.

Except the general trend over the past 100 years have been moving more toward liberal democracies. Decades ago practically liberal every democracy had less freedoms and did less to represent the people compared to now.

Herbert is a great writer and political philosopher

The landed nobility had centuries of traditional of ruling over their own little plots of land, taxing their own peasants, and calling their retainers and men-at-arms and peasants to go to war with them. For much of society, to whom education was not an expectation of anyone's life except for a monk, it would have seemed that this was the way the world was meant to be because it had always been this way. In most parts of Europe for the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance authority was centralized not in the capital under the King or Monarch but in the Provinces and Duchies that constituted the Kingdom. What you think of as the Kingdom of France circa 1500 was actually a collection of rather large, fairly autonomous, and wealthy Duchies, Counties, a few Princedoms, and then this little thing in the middle called the Ils-de-France where Paris and the King were. The Dukes of Burgundy and the Counts of Toulouse were very powerful men who could and often did tell the King of France to get stuffed.

In many of the larger countries of Europe there were ancient rights associated with Nobility which some ruler had given up in return for the loyalty and tax money of these men (and in some cases these Men forced these concessions upon the King). In England it was the Parliament, in France it was the Estats General, and in the Holy Roman Empire it was the Diet. These assemblies sometimes had the power to approve taxation by the King (as it was their money that would be taxed) and in others it provided an actual veto on Royal power. Nobles by themselves often did not have the power or authority to buck the Royal power but in assembly they could oppose and check that power and the Kings knew it. Charles I of England did everything in his power to avoid calling Parliament and having to deign to beg for money and he's hardly an isolated case. Prussia had an assembly but it was only called on avg something like once or twice in the King's reign as the Prussian rulers saw their power as absolute, coming from God himself.

You ask why Nobles retained so much power and why the Kings of France, the Sultan of the Ottomans, and the Tsar of Russia didn't further centralize their own power-- Its a simple answer: Because the King often didn't have enough power to unilaterally remove it from that of his aristocracy. Firstly those Nobles have their own armies, their own revenues, and centuries of tradition and law granting them their autonomy of action and rule. For a King to hand down a decree stripping those rights of them might have sparked a revolution among the class of men who were meant to be his protectors. Indeed, the King had more in common with his Nobles and they with him than either did with what would become the middle class (working professionals of means) and the peasantry (the unskilled labor of the land). You don't throw your allies into the fire when the fire is being set by the common man.

Class in the late medieval and into the Enlightenment and Napoleonic Eras was a fact of life, one we don't really comprehend as well because we haven't seen it in action. There were real barriers to what you, a man of common birth, could achieve in life: ranks in the national military were unattainable to you without noble blood, education in certain establishments or fields were off-limits if your family didn't have a certain amount of wealth, and you were completely shut out from the political process even in the very liberal and progressive places where the King had allowed for the franchise of men unless you were landed, wealthy, educated, and connected to the right Nobles. In these societies you were sorted broadly into one of three Estates (or categories): You were of the Commons, the Church, or the Nobility. Society was further stratified, broadly speaking, into a hierarchy which from the top down was God, the King, the Royal Family, the Greater Aristocracy, the Lesser Aristocracy, the Church's leadership, the common Clergy and wealthy commoners, craftsmen and educated professionals, journeymen and apprentices, the common unskilled laborer, serfs who were tied to a noble estate, the dishonorable but necessary professions, and finally the criminals and outlaws. Power flowed from the top to bottom and was as God had intended. The King and the Aristocracy saw themselves as separate, superior, and distinct than everyone below them.

The idea of arming and empowering Commoners at the expense of the Aristocracy is a non-starter. Not only would it alienate your Nobles from the Royals, it would legitimize those silly ramblings about the Equality of Men, the Rights of Men, and that Power Comes From the People and Not the King. Rulers felt that these notions were dangerous and eroded the foundation of their own legitimacy. If power flowed up from the bottom then there was nothing preventing those undesirables at the bottom from forcing the King to acquiesce to their demands and granting them political rights or worse-- to admit that rights don't come from the King but rather had been seized and withheld by the King. The status quo was there were people who were born with an innate rights and those who were not. The King taxed them regardless of their means and that was well and right because it was the place of the King to Tax and the place of the landless, poor peasant to pay the Tax.


The Greatest Thing the Roman Empire Ever Did Was Go Away

The Roman Empire is often presented as the fabric of Western civilization. The languages, laws, religion, mores, and implements of the Western political imaginary come in large part, in one way or another, from Rome. The Roman Empire has been rebooted time and again by invaders and latecomers, from the Ostrogoths to Charlemagne to Mussolini transferred (in reality or in rhetoric) to Byzantine, to Moscow, to the Habsburgs, and even to Washington, DC and recycled endlessly through books, art, movies, and plays. Whenever Westerners think of civilizational wellsprings, they usually think of togas and parapets and conquering legions and gladiators and mad emperors. The West, in nub, is Rome.

But, as Stanford history professor and prolific researcher of imperial and global history Walter Scheidel provocatively asks, “What has Rome ever done for us?” Americans in the late imperial present look around at a fractured polity and a fraying system of alliances and shift uneasily, wondering if we really are going to fall like Rome did. Scheidel’s book gives hope in just such an age as ours. Rome fell, Scheidel argues, and it was the best thing that could have happened. Scheidel’s reason is that the fall of Rome precipitated the kind of competition-driven innovation and small-government freedom that made modernity possible in the first place. Rome’s greatest gift to posterity, Scheidel says, is not that it made the West, but that, in disappearing, it made room for the West to rise.

Going even further, and refusing the almost wistful regard in which the white-marble world of classical senatus populusque Romanus is held by many Westernophiles, Scheidel offers a decidedly unenthusiastic verdict on precollapse Rome, too. It was the imperial project itself that was the problem, he concludes. We didn’t need Rome. We just needed it to go away. “By turning to Christianity,” Scheidel argues, the Romans “laid some crucial foundations for much later development,” but even that is not entirely a given, he qualifies, and it may very well be that they “may not have contributed anything essential at all” to the eventual outcome of modernity (p. 527). In other words, Rome fell, and that was, as far as we in the modern West are concerned, the only really salient thing about it.

Scheidel’s book is about much more than Rome. This is what makes it, in my view, especially worthy of note. Across twelve detail-rich chapters in five parts, Scheidel seeks to explain what he calls “the European anomaly,” or the number and diversity of European states after the fall of Rome contrasted with the durability of empire, falling and then usually somehow reconstituted, in the rest of Eurasia. One of Scheidel’s earlier edited volumes, the splendid Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires (2009), exemplifies the kind of cross-civilizational work in which Scheidel specializes. Escape from Rome is a continuation of Scheidel’s career project of looking at world history to find answers to research questions about the past.

When seen in a world-historical light, Rome, and Europe more broadly, really was anomalous. “On one stylized count,” Scheidel writes, “the number of effectively independent polities in Latin Europe grew from about three dozen at the end of late antiquity to more than a hundred by 1300, compared to between just one and a handful in China proper, and this gap would be even larger if we included vassal states” (p. 48). Escape from Rome is, at heart, a comparison between Rome and many other empires to understand why Rome rose, how it was maintained (basically on “the logic of continuous war” [p. 72]), why it fell, and why it stayed down for the count.

Ranging far beyond the usual Roman story as told by Edward Gibbon and other historians before and since, Scheidel sees Rome and other empires not just as historical subjects but also as sites for data analysis. He abstracts essential factors from Rome, Chinese dynasties, Persian empires, Arabian empires, Mongolian and other steppe empires, the Ottoman Empire, South Asian empires, and the Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas to get to the root of why Rome could not be brought back—mercifully, Scheidel emphasizes—once it had died.

Scheidel sees the key to understanding Rome’s one-and-done imperial legacy in what he calls the “first great divergence” (p. 219), which was both “a break between Roman and post-Roman modes of state formation in Europe” and “a genuine divergence, as trajectories of state formation began to separate between post-Roman Europe and other parts of the Old World” (p. 219). The reason for this, Scheidel argues, has to do with geography, ecology, and culture. Following Montesquieu in part, although consciously nuancing many of Montesquieu’s sweeping generalizations, Scheidel says that Europe’s “highly indented coastline” (p. 260, borrowing from Jared Diamond), rugged mountain ranges (p. 261), and network of rivers (pp. 261–64) combined to keep Europe fragmented. This was the “first great divergence,” the stymying of a reintegrated Rome which turned out to be a tremendous boon for Europe.

In eastern Eurasia, by contrast, plains and rivers created “cores” which eventually merged (p. 265), facilitating the rise of dynasty after dynasty in China. In addition, the steppe and the horses it nourished—and the nomadic cultures those horses in turn engendered—made sprawling empire a perennial possibility, and more often than not a reality, in Eurasia east of the steppe’s boundaries around the Carpathian Mountains (p. 271). Chinese dynasties were beset by steppe raiders, too, of course. But China did not have the nooks and crannies, the valleys and forest redoubts, in the same abundance as did Europe. China also did not have a natural barrier between the steppe and the settled world—hence the construction of a series of walls to regulate the movement of peoples (and goods) later on. A similar cycle of exposure to steppe-based raiding and constantly recycling imperial projects typified most of the rest of the huge Eurasian landmass, Scheidel shows. India to Siberia, Manchuria to Mesopotamia, there was always some imperialism brewing somewhere. But not in Europe post-Rome. Not enough to prevent the rise of alternative institutions, commerce, and individual liberty.

Christianity, above all, Scheidel argues, kept Europe from developing massive imperial structures after Rome. “The ascendance of Christianity marks the biggest watershed in Europe’s religious history,” he writes. “Its most canonical texts drew a line between obligations to secular rulers and to God,” and “most importantly, Christianity developed in latent conflict with the imperial state for the first 300 years of its existence” (p. 314). Christianity, once adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine in 312, would of course go on to cooperate, in the form of the Roman Catholic Church, with political power across Europe. But it was always in tension with it, too. And this ecclesial brake on the ambitions of would-be imperialists was enormously beneficial. “In 390,” Scheidel reminds us, “Ambrose, bishop of Milan, excommunicated Theodosius I … and imposed a lengthy penance before readmitting him to communion” (p. 315). Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII Victor Emmanuel II and Pope Pius IX—and even, one might argue, Donald Trump and Pope Francis—all of these have been at odds, occasionally at war. There have been rivalries and clashes between religious and secular leaders in other places, to be sure. But Scheidel seems correct, in my view, to argue that Christianity has played at least as much a restraining role on the state as it has acted in concert with it.

Taking in religion, culture, geography, geopolitics, language, warfare, institutions, and technology, Escape from Rome is a sweeping work of scholarship covering a truly astonishing range of ancient, medieval, and modern history. Scheidel’s comparative approach is greatly strengthened by his focus on data, on making two disparate things as comparable as possible for the sake of working out the main question of why Rome fell and stayed fallen. Some of the passages are a bit wonky, and lay readers will have to do a little extra work to drill down into the deep numbers to understand the arguments that Scheidel is laying out. But it is worth it. And escaping from Rome is not done in a day, after all.

Scheidel also relies on a great deal of counterfactuals in Escape from Rome, which readers may find jarring at first, or tedious later on. Counterfactuals, as Scheidel readily acknowledges, are thought experiments and don’t prove anything. More “ifstory,” to coin a phrase, than history, counterfactuals are often eschewed by historians and left to the imaginations of historical novelists. But Scheidel uses counterfactuals advisedly and, to my mind, profitably, running through the range of possibilities in pursuit of the answer to why there was a “first great divergence” which facilitated the “second great divergence,” the one so famously investigated by China historian Kenneth Pomeranz in his 2001 book The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. We can never go back and stage set the Battle of Pharsalus or the Social War, can never have Hannibal recross the Alps or Constantine not conquer at Milvian Bridge. But we can imagine what might have happened had things played out differently. This is what Scheidel has done in Escape from Rome—agree with him or not, it makes for a great read.

I have one cavil. Scheidel does not spend more than a few moments discussing Japan. Now, Japan is not part of Eurasia, to be sure. But its sharp differences from not only Rome but also nearby dynasties and empires in Korea, Mongolia, Manchuria, China, and Tibet would have made for an even more compelling argument about the “first great divergence.” Or perhaps a comparison between, say, the Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula, following Scheidel’s lead in Escape from Rome, would make for a book project in its own right. This is also a counterfactual, but it is within Scheidel’s power to make this one, at least, come true.

Escape from Rome runs 535 pages, followed by more than sixty pages of notes and a forty-two-page small-type bibliography. Don’t be intimidated. Scheidel’s book would be worth the price of admission for the bibliography alone, in this humble historian’s estimation, and the imaginative and yet historically responsible way in which Scheidel has pressed those sources to reveal more about the roads taken, and not, leading up to today, represented an innovation and engagement I wish we would see much more of. Scheidel is a thoughtful, bold, delightfully nonstatist historian. Start with Escape from Rome, and then work back through his many other compelling projects.

Americans are always fretting: Are we Rome? Scheidel’s response would be: Who cares? Mary Beard’s 2015 bestseller SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome features the famous quote by Gibbon about the period of the “good emperors,” Nerva to Lucius Verus, being the happiest in human history. Nonsense. Marcus Aurelius may have been a philosopher, Beard reminds us, but he was also capable of extraordinary violence in the name of the state. Statists gonna state—and Rome was the biggest and most statist state of them all. The main thing is to move past empire and get back to human freedom. Don’t emulate Rome. Escape from it.

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The exacting work on early Anglo Saxon settlement was done by Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, whose initial work, field walking, to discover elusive grass tempered Saxon pottery, led to the discovery of possibly one of the most important archaeological field sites for Anglo Saxon settlement in Britain.
The site at Chalton occupies a hill top and is a nucleated settlement, not all settlements were nucleated, some were made up of isolated farmsteads but the discovery of the ridge top settlement at Chalton led to a change in how archaeologists and historians considered Anglo Saxon settlement at least in Southern Hampshire but he leaves open the question as to whether this settlement implies an immigrant cultural emergence or was a continuation of a sub Roman culture already in existence.

Anglo Saxon Building Chalton

It had been thought that early Saxon settlement in Hampshire was in its river valleys but the discovery of ridge settlements by Barry Cunliffe at Chalton and then Catherington, imply a more diverse settlement pattern than thought. The Archaeological data service has an excellent paper by P.V Addyman and D. Leigh on Anglo Saxon Houses at Chalton.

Maybe those that settled the ridges were different peoples than those who settled the valleys?

The idea that present day villages grew out of Anglo Saxon settlements, may also need to be questioned. Many of the early Anglo Saxon sites in Hampshire, were abandoned and the reasons for this abandonment can only be guessed at. Was the Chalton settlement abandoned due to soil erosion as suggested? Were other river side settlements abandoned due to flooding? There are a large number of possible Anglo Saxon sites to be investigated away from current settlements and this raises the question about how old some of our Hampshire villages actually are, maybe not early Saxon at all but the result of migration from older settlements.

Nucleation of settlement around manor-houses is one likely process in the formation of later Anglo Saxon settlements, with churches adding a further stabilising element. The division of ‘minster’ parishes into smaller units is seen as the next logical step and the later division of land into hundreds shows some organisation taking place.

Ribbon developments along the river valleys also took place but not until the later Anglo Saxon period. Later, trading centres such as Hamwic, show how development became much more organized, with delineated areas for different purposes.

The challenge of mapping the face of Anglo Saxon Hampshire is only in its infancy and to date, the analysis of early Anglo Saxon settlement and culture in Hampshire has largely been based on tantalizing finds and isolated settlements.

Join the excellent project ‘Anglos Saxons in the Meon Valley’ to find out more.