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A medieval zoominar
I am presenting a paper to the Melbourne University Medieval Roundtable on the downward resilience of the medieval Roman state.
Monday 5 June, 6.15pm.*
Via Zoom. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom link.
Trade, Empire, Fiefs and Militias: Adverse Incentives Within the Medieval Roman State
The thematic cavalry of the medieval Roman state was perhaps the most prominent cavalry militia system, and one of the longer-lasting militia systems, in history, evolving in response to the Arab conquests and collapsing in the eleventh century. In its decay, it reflected the weaknesses of militia systems.
The granting of extensive trading privileges to the Italian city-states weakened both the long-term commercial development of the medieval Roman state and reflected, and entrenched, adverse incentive structures within that state.
This paper presents a simple model of the revenue of pre-industrial states that explicates the role of trade revenue in the rise and decline of empires. It uses the warrior-franchise model to explore the long-term persistence of fief systems, their economising on administrative costs and their superiority over militia systems. It also presents a simple model of the advantages and pathologies, of bureaucracy.
The thematic cavalry and the relative mercantile failure of the medieval Roman state provides a case study to illustrate these patterns, throwing light on the very different long-term trajectories of Latin and Orthodox Christendom.
“Lorenzo” Warby is a principal of Multisensory Education.
* That is 6.15pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time.