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Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of…

Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States

by Andrew Monson (Editor), Walter Scheidel (Editor)

Other authors: Peter F. Bang (Contributor), Gilles Bransbourg (Contributor), Philip C. Brown (Contributor), Metin M. Cosgel (Contributor), Terence N. D'Altroy (Contributor)13 more, Kent Gang Deng (Contributor), John Haldon (Contributor), Michael Jursa (Contributor), Hugh Kennedy (Contributor), Edgar Kiser (Contributor), Margaret Levi (Contributor), Mark E. Lewis (Contributor), Emily Mackil (Contributor), Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia (Contributor), Josiah Ober (Contributor), Michael E. Smith (Contributor), David Stasavage (Contributor), James Tan (Contributor)

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Huge deficits in national budgets are so commonplace that it is easy to forget that public debt and sovereign borrowing are relatively recent innovations of modern states to defer the fiscal burdens of excessive spending. In our times revenues rarely match spending. In the premodern world, however, public credit was not common and rulers did not resort to large-scale borrowing. In order to fund expenditures, including considerable expenses such as construction projects, the supply of giant capital cities, and the maintenance of large armies, premodern states relied upon the revenues from tribute, taxes, rents from imperial or royal estates, fees (for instance, from the sale of offices), fines, confiscations, and war plunder, as well as compulsory services such as forced labor, military conscription, and public liturgies. Spending and revenues seem to have been in synch.

The chapters in this volume are excellent discussions of the great variety and wonderful hybridity of fiscal regimes in ancient and medieval states. There were different forms of taxes, including personal taxes levied on people or households, trade taxes levied on goods and services, and production taxes levied on agriculture and manufacturing. There were different mechanisms for collecting revenues, including tax-farming awarded through auction or bargaining, share contracts, and the employment of salaried tax collectors. There were different outcomes of efficiency, as determined in particular by the competition for the available economic surplus between taxes collected by the state and rents collected by landowning elites. There were different types of corruption, such as bribes for the underassessment of assets, overtaxation by tax farmers, and illegal requisitions. This is comparative history at its best, and the chapters on Greek cities, Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman Republic, and the Roman empire that are probably of most interest to the readers of BMCR are mixed in with chapters on the Inka and Aztec empires, the early empires in China, the Byzantine empire, the early Caliphate, the Ottoman empire, and the domains of early modern Japan.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Monson, AndrewEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scheidel, WalterEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bang, Peter F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bransbourg, GillesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, Philip C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cosgel, Metin M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
D'Altroy, Terence N.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deng, Kent GangContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haldon, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jursa, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, HughContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kiser, EdgarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levi, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewis, Mark E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mackil, EmilyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moreno Garcia, Juan CarlosContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ober, JosiahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Michael E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stasavage, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tan, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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