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Peasants, Citizens and Soldiers
Studies in the Demographic History of Roman Italy 225 BC–AD 100


  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107519121

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About the Authors
  • Recent years have witnessed an intense debate concerning the size of the population of Roman Italy. This book argues that the combined literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence supports the theory that early-imperial Italy had about six million inhabitants. At the same time the traditional view that the last century of the Republic witnessed a decline in the free Italian population is shown to be untenable. The main foci of its six chapters are: military participation rates; demographic recovery after the Second Punic War; the spread of slavery and the background to the Gracchan land reforms; the fast expansion of Italian towns after the Social War; emigration from Italy; and the fate of the Italian population during the first 150 years of the Principate.

    • Offers an in-depth analysis of Roman Italy's demographic history during the late Republic and early Empire
    • Uses insights derived from general demographic theories to rethink traditional interpretations
    • Takes full account of archaeological evidence for the development of towns and of rural survey archaeology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is an impressive work of scholarship. It provides a fresh and insightful analysis of the key evidence upon which the debates over the size of the Italian population are based. As well as revising existing theories surrounding the key issues, De Ligt provides a number of thought-provoking comments and analyses throughout which will surely stimulate further debate on a long-standing subject.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    'There is no doubt that this is an important book, one that every social and economic historian of pre-modern Europe should familiarize themselves with, whatever their period of specialization. All the more so for the ancient historian, to whom the book is explicitly addressed … this book offers a thorough, sophisticated analysis of one of ancient history's most intractable problems, an 'academic battleground' where de Ligt takes sides, elegantly providing new ammunition to his field. The 'low count' should now be renamed as the Beloch-Brunt-de Ligt theory, inasmuch as the book here under review offers a more nuanced reading and addresses successfully some of the more evident weaknesses of the old version of the 'low count' theory.' Marco Maiuro, Sehepunkte

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107519121
    • length: 408 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 2 maps 11 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Evidence, theories and models in Roman population history
    2. The Polybian manpower figures and the size of the Italian population on the eve of the Hannibalic War
    3. Census procedures and the meaning of the republican and early-imperial census figures
    4. Peasants, citizens and soldiers, 201 BC–28 BC
    5. The Augustan census figures and Italy's urban network
    6. Survey archaeology and demographic developments in the Italian countryside.

  • Author

    Luuk de Ligt, Universiteit Leiden
    Luuk De Ligt is Professor of Ancient History at Universiteit Leiden. His book Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire (1993) continues to be cited as a standard work on the rural economy of the Roman world. He has also published widely on the interplay between legal and economic developments with edited volumes including People, Land and Politics: Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC–AD 14 (2008), which has been greeted as a compulsory starting point for all those aspiring to understand the demographic, economic, social and political structures of Roman Republican Italy.

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