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Gibbon was right: The decline and fall of the roman economy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the decline and fall of the Roman economy. Why did the Roman Empire fall? For centuries the question has excited many people, and rightly so. In recent decades, however, the question seems to have lost its legitimacy. Instead, in the work of some of the finest Roman historians of our time the very notion of decline and fall has been replaced by that of transformation: 'the Roman Empire did not fall, it just transformed into something different'. The chapter presents an alternative and more dynamic account. Inevitably the perspective of the rise of the modern economy looms large over any account of economic change. The real beginnings of that decline and fall, however, may have been in the beginning of a period of much colder and dryer weather, and in the scourge of the Antonine Plague.

Keywords: Antonine Plague; economic change; Roman economy; Roman Empire



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