A Short History of Europe: From the Greeks and Romans to the by Antony Alcock (auth.)

By Antony Alcock (auth.)

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Many villages voluntarily chose landlords to protest them from official tax collectors, and many small farmers fled to these estates to escape the tax collector, and the landowners were glad of their labour. The state had to tolerate this, being obliged to strike a deal by which the landowners levied taxes on their labour force. But increasingly in their areas the big landowners set up self-sufficient administrations acting as the law, forcibly ejecting the official tax collectors. Since tax collections failed to meet their target and alienated the population, the only altemative for the govemment was to cut taxes.

However, this disobedience was to be passive, not revolutionary. Government might be bad but it was still ordained by God, and therefore should be borne as part of God's will. However bad things were physically they need not affect one's soul. One should endure the bad things and give thanks that another world existed where all would be free and without pain. 14 As will be seen, these same arguments would be put forward by Martin Luther more than a thousand years later. Faced with this, there were two choices for the Christian.

Accordingly the western imperial insignia were sent to the eastern Emperor, Zeno, who was recognized as the sole ruler of 'the one and indivisible Empire'. 22 The Empire was theoretically one again, but in fact this was not to be. Truth to say, the end of the western Roman Empire was an event that was hardly noticed. There was no sudden collapse of Roman resistance against external barbarians. The barbarians had long Rome: Republic and Empire 31 been providing the army ~ Alaric's main opponent in the Balkans and Italy had been Stilicho, a Vandal (the Vandals were a Germanic tribe then in today's Hungary), so why should they not assume the real authority as well?

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