From Caesar to Tacitus: Changes in Early Germanic Governance Circa 50 BC-50 AD

42 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2014 Last revised: 1 Aug 2015

See all articles by Andrew T. Young

Andrew T. Young

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business

Date Written: July 2015

Abstract

Julius Caesar and Cornelius Tacitus provide characterizations of early Germanic (barbarian) society around, respectively, 50 BC and 50 AD. The earlier date corresponds to expansion of Rome to the Rhine and Danube. During the subsequent century Germanic governance institutions changed in a number of ways. In particular, (1) temporary military commanders elected from the nobility gave way to standing retinues under the leadership of professional commanders, (2) public assemblies met more frequently and regularly, (3) councils made up of nobility gained agenda control in the assemblies, and (4) these councils relinquished their control over the allocations of land. I account for these constitutional exchanges in light of Rome’s encroachment. This encroachment brought new sources of wealth as well as constraints on the expansion of Germans into new lands. Incentives favored a reallocation of resources away from pastoralism and towards both sedentary farming and raids across the frontier.

Keywords: non-government governance, self-governance, economics of clubs, constitutional exchange, antiquity, early Germanic peoples, the Roman Empire, political economy, Julius Caesar, Tacitus, ancient economic history

JEL Classification: D72, N43, N93, P16

Suggested Citation

Young, Andrew T., From Caesar to Tacitus: Changes in Early Germanic Governance Circa 50 BC-50 AD (July 2015). Public Choice, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2521212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2521212

Andrew T. Young (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
220
Abstract Views
1,550
rank
177,644
PlumX Metrics