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The economic world of the populus Romanus

Russell, A

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A Russell


Rome’s transformation from city-state to territorial empire involved a massive increase in wealth; it also both created and responded to fundamental political changes, in a moment often positioned as the creation myth of republicanism. James Tan has modelled the Republican economy as a three-way relationship between aristocrats, the state, and the people. Aristocrats competed with the state for access to the riches of conquest; simultaneously the state’s dependence on citizen taxation declined. This paper examines the relationship between state and people as both practical and ideological. The People were sovereign, yet it was the People who increasingly lost their status as economic and political stakeholders even as their empire grew. The complex relationship between the people and the populus (‘the People’ as an institution) had economic as well as political elements, and is central to how we should apply notions of economic sovereignty to Republican Rome.


Russell, A. (2020). The economic world of the populus Romanus. Revue d'histoire du droit international, 22(4), 536-564.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 24, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 26, 2020
Publication Date Jan 1, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 26, 2021
Journal Revue d'histoire du droit international
Print ISSN 1388-199X
Electronic ISSN 1571-8050
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 4
Pages 536-564


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