commerce and finance

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III. MEDIEVAL COMMERCE. DECLINE AND FALL OP ROME; DECAY OF COMMERCE; CONFUSION AND IGNORANCE; CHARLEMAGNE; VENETIAN COMMERCE. About the middle of the fourth century the Roman power began to decline. It had held unbounded sway over an immense empire for five hundred years, and had created a high degree of civilization and an extensive commerce among commerce al l of s diversified provinces, but riches finally brought luxury and corruption, internal dissensions weakened the state, and wars, with bad government, destroyed, in a large measure, the commerce of the empire. Excessive taxation and extortion seriously crippled the prosperity of the provinces. Thus Brutus made Asia Minor pay five years' tribute at once, and shortly after Anthony compelled it to do the same thing again. To bolster up the failing revenues of the state and supply needed money for the extravagance and profligacy of Rome, the coinage was debased by reducing its weight and increasing the alloy. Thus under Vespasian the silver coin consisted of one-fourth copper and three-fourths pure silver. This was later reduced to one-third copper and two- thirds silver, then to one-half copper, and finally the coin of the realm contained but about one per cent. of silver, tin being substituted. From such debasement of the coin it was only a short step to the repudiation of debts, and this step was often attempted by the demagogues. Law ceased to have any value. A suitor must deposit a bribe before a trial could be had. The increase of immorality proceeded. The virtues which had adorned the earlier history of Rome disappeared, and in the end were replaced by crimes such as the world had never before witnessed. To the north of the Roman Empire, occupying what is now France, Austria, Germany and Russia, ...
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