Tax kills!

What have the Romans ever done for us? The best thing they did was to leave, an historian has suggested.

Despite being credited for bringing roads, sanitation and medicine to Britain, amongst other things, studies show that Britons had a longer life expectancy after the fall of the Roman Empire. Research into graves dating from 400AD to 650AD show, on average, people lived for around two years longer after the Romans had left.

Robin Fleming, professor of history from Boston College in the US, said that once Roman taxes were lifted people were able to eat more nutritious food and thus lived longer.


Not wholly
sure I believe it but still…..although of late empire maybe I would believe it.

14 thoughts on “Tax kills!”

  1. How long did Britons live pre-Roman invasion?

    Didn’t the Romans leave about 400 AD? Did lifespans leap 2 years straight after that? Or did it take a while for the effects of better nutrition to come through?

    Were there any other factors that might have had an effect?

    I suppose there’s nothing more pointless than wanting a DM article explained…

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    MC – “Were there any other factors that might have had an effect?”

    Fluctuations in the economy and especially harvests. In times of peace and law and order, populations grow until they hit the Malthusian ceiling. That means the entire population trends to minimum nutrition. Most people are poorly fed. This is basically where East Asia was before the modern period.

    But now imagine that law and order has broken down. Trade is limited. Plundering bands of raiders pass by on a regular basis. There are regular periods in which the general population crashes – those bodies would be unlikely to be preserved. But in times when the harvest is good, everyone gets lots of food. Those bodies get proper burials. This is why people think being a Khoi-san is such a good idea.

  3. The departure of the Romans was a catastrophe. Villa prices collapsed and suddenly all these Saxon immigrants arrived and started building villages on green belt land.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Rob – “The departure of the Romans was a catastrophe. Villa prices collapsed and suddenly all these Saxon immigrants arrived and started building villages on green belt land.”

    Not to mention that without the Romans, the government’s programme to make Britain a more vibrant and diverse multicultural society by importing Arab immigrants came to a shuddering halt:

    http://roman-britain.org/places/bravoniacum.htm

    (See NMSS)

    Actually the Roman Army in Britain at least started out very vibrant and diverse indeed:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_auxiliary_regiments#Britannia

    But by the time of the Roman withdrawal they were probably mostly recruiting locally.

  5. Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans…

    Saw an editorial in Ye Olde Graunniadde from back then saying how wonderfully ‘diverss and vibrannt Britayne hadde becumme’ but it was still too hideously ‘whyte’.

  6. West Heslerton may not be representative of the period. It was only excavated because of a quarry.

    But a two year gain in life expectancy could be explained by
    1. depopulation allows a lighter parasitic load, and slower transmission of disease.
    2. repopulation with immigrants raises the average fitness. In general, the fit can migrate, the sick stay behind.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    Widdershins – “Saw an editorial in Ye Olde Graunniadde from back then saying how wonderfully ‘diverss and vibrannt Britayne hadde becumme’ but it was still too hideously ‘whyte’.”

    I am willing to bet the only time the Guardian hasn’t objected to the British being too hideously White was the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

  8. bloke (not) in spain

    Surely, your just looking at lag. The same thing provides benign economic conditions during the first years of an incoming Labour government & straightened ones during the first years of their replacement.
    Whatever the Roman’s brought took a long time to work through into greater life expectancy. Killing of those opposed to Roman occupation would have contributed.And the benefits continue after the Romans upped sticks. If nothing more than a child raised in a Roman paradise still carries those advantages as an adult in a Celtic shithole.
    It’s going to take a long time before all those Roman roads turn back to tracks & weeds. Parts of France, they never did. You’re still driving over them, thanks to an asphalt topping.

  9. When we say the Romans left all we mean is that the field army (and maybe some of the fixed units on the limes (the Roman borders) went off to fight on the continent and did not come back, and as at the time Britain was held by a usurper the mints stopped supplying the administration with coin, and do not seem to have ever started again. So the closest model would be if we did have an EU superstate, with army and us in the Euro (without minting) and the EU withdrew…

    This is likely to have left more surplus locally, as the redistributive network of the time (not markets – Marx was pretty well right that Rome took and did not trade) were designed to feed soldiers and bureaucrats, and without coin could not work. So life expectancy going up was not unexpected.

    That said, from the sample they use I would not draw any conclusions, simply because so many of the dead come from different places, and the proper comparision would therefore be with Roman-period dead in those places. We could however say that the Roman’s leaving did lead to longer-lived people living in West Heslerton…

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke (not) in spain – “It’s going to take a long time before all those Roman roads turn back to tracks & weeds. Parts of France, they never did. You’re still driving over them, thanks to an asphalt topping.”

    Parts of Britain they never did either. The Roman Watling Street, or parts thereof, are still in use today as part of the A2 and the A5.

    Which, in an irrelevant piece of trivia, is the only road that I know of that was used as a border demarcation. Usually they use mountain ranges or rivers or something big and obvious. The Danelaw ran along Watling street.

  11. Roman Britain changed into Anglo-Saxon England – change of people, langauge, social customs, farming methods etc etc etc – can’t really attribute anything to the Roman’s departure as the other variables are about as uncontrolled as variables can be.

  12. Since none of the samples are remotely likely to be representative, the truth will be that nobody knows. As usual.

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