The Money Project, from The Visual Capitalist, has a great visualization comparing the debasement of Roman currency with the cause of death & duration of reign for Roman Emperors.
Keep in mind that correlation is not causation. The drop in average tenure and increased likelihood of being assassinated is not caused by debasing the currency alone. Instead the increased turmoil, civil war, deteriorating economy, and external pressures all combined in a massive mix of factors that led to both.
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At the conclusion of The Complete Roman Army, Adrian Goldsworthy provides a very brief summary of the role the army at the end of the western Roman Empire with a contrast to how the army helped sustain the eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire for another thousand years.
The Roman Empire in the west was gone by the fifth century while the Byzantine Empire lasted another millennium. By the way that provides a link between discussion on my blog of the Roman Empire and the Viking era.
Mr. Goldsworthy says at the end in the west its military was still stronger than its opponents. In spite of that strength, a combination of factors contributed to the end:
The Romans had an equation on how far an animal could go before it would eat its weight in food. This would provide a way to calculate how much feed would be necessary to move supplies the distance the army planned to travel.
The options for transport over land were mules and draft oxen. Mules were more flexible, could march as fast as the infantry, and had more mobility. Oxen had more power, but were slower, and would typically need roads or at least tracks for travel.
The Complete Roman Army, by Adrian Goldsworthy, provides a pay sheet for one soldier as an illustration of the pay structure for the Roman army.
Pay sheet for one individual soldier
To illustrate the limited documents that survive, Adrian Goldsworthy quotes one document for a soldier in Egypt during 81 A.D. Comment in the book indicates this is one of the best examples of the few documents which are actually known.
Consider what little amount of documentation survives when there would have been three pay sheets for each of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers every year for hundreds of years. Of that massive amount of paperwork relatively few documents remain.
This particular soldiers is assumed to be an auxiliary since his gross pay is equal to 187.5 denarii instead of the 250 denarii for a Legionnaire.
Since this is a quotation of an ancient document I feel free to quote it either because the original document itself in public domain, or in the alternative under fair use.
My studies on Roman finances led me to a fantastic resource: The Complete Roman Army, by Adrian Goldsworthy, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, copyright 2003. The book was a delight to read.
There are a number of things in the text I wish to describe on my blog. I will describe some highlights in the next few posts.
Limits of our knowledge
This book, along with others I have read, point out that there really is not a lot of information in the written record on the Roman era. While the Romans were solid bureaucrats, apparently keeping meticulous records, consider the format of their information.