How Roman Were the Successor States

Topics: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Visigoths Pages: 9 (3527 words) Published: January 15, 2012
How Roman were the successor states in the former western Empire? 500ad to 800ad (GENERAL)
The successor kingdoms are homogenous forms of power in terms of culture, administration, military power, etc. and were all variations of the former Empire. The barbarian forces were able to effectively invade the roman empire and the military fighting was used to show the power of the ruler. Traditionally the Roman forces were paid in fee regularly whilst the Barbarians were not due to the lack of a tax system. The men enlisted to fight were often men from the aristocrats’ army and the king’s men (a small proportion of the total population). If a war leader was successful they are able to set up a post- roman regime like Clovis. In this period there is a great empathises on war with unsuccessful war leaders being unsuccessful kings, the two were intertwined. The barbarians need resources and wealth to sustain the display of wealth and to keep men loyal to them – Ostentation. The kings needed to display power which was also shared with the aristocrats. However the kings are now working on a less impressive scale compared to the Roman empire with the warlords poorer than the previous emperors. The economic power decreased and the king had fewer resources. Unlike the RE the barbarian warlords were less intrusive into the lives of the inhabitants. The barbarian kings funded their state by:

* Systematic theft with the army but this caused ad hoc and this was a weaknesses in that led to chaos and arguments. * Taxation- still continued in some states but it ended in most * Trade (much easier to control)

* Land ownership, easiest to exploit and charge rent to those who worked on the land- basic Agrarian system. Some historians argue the BWL were allowed to access the land and exploit its resources whilst some argue they simply invaded and usurped the land- either way they exploited the resources of the area. By this time, the western Empire was divided into the numerous successor states established by the Germanic invasions and Roman culture was disintegrating. To argue how ‘Roman’ were the successor states, Heather has empathised that it need to be split into 'Roman' in the sense of the central state, and 'Roman' in the sense of characteristic patterns of life prevailing within its borders. At the state level, the empire was not just replaced by mini versions of itself, even where Roman landowners survived. Within two generations of 476 AD, a new and weaker type of state structure had emerged right across the former Roman west. The old empire had employed two key levers of central power - large-scale taxation, two-thirds of which was then spent on maintaining the second lever, a large professional army. This high-tax, high-spend structure meant that the Roman state both intruded itself bureaucratically into localities to raise taxation, and was also able, if necessary, to compel obedience to its demands by employing the army, which the taxation supported. The new states of post-Roman Europe were much weaker affairs. Even where other less important Roman institutions survived, the new kings had only much-diminished revenue rights and their armies were composed of semi-professional contingents of local landowners. On the level of local 'Roman-ness' too, the revolution could not have been more profound. The characteristic patterns of local Roman life were in fact intimately linked to the existence of the central Roman state, and, as the nature of state structures changed in the post-Roman world, so too did local life. The Roman city, for instance, was the basic unit of local administration through which taxation was raised. As central tax raising powers disappeared, so too did the need to keep the city, and by 700 AD it was history. Many of the more advanced elements of the Roman economy, such as specialised production and long-distance trade, quickly disappeared too. The Roman state had subsidised large-scale transport...
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