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How did Romans make purchases with large sums of money?

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How did Romans of the First Century CE make purchases with large sums of money? If, for example, a landowner in Spain wanted to purchase fields from someone in Italy, how would the transaction take place? Would the buyer send someone ladened with gold to Italy to make settlement on the property? Or did the Romans have something equivalent to a bank check?

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I'm looking to Caldrail or someone else to answer this more in depth as it has befuddled me as well. Romans had an archaic classification for land sales in Italy, as well as on Italian Donkies, stuff like that. I'm not sure when and if it was ever phased out, but the state definitely viewed Italian land titles differently than non-italian possessions.

 

By default, money is going to change hands. I doubt they had banks, but you could likely do credited land swaps between roman intermediaries if there was a roman colony nearby who had a patrician or wealthy pleb who owned land, or new guts in the area you desired.

 

I'm not sure when passport restrictions came into play, if it even had effect in the west. Know it existed later on in the east.

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Given the huge sums of money we see frequently mentioned in the sources, this makes an interesting question. As it happens I don't know for certain. At some point a lot of coins or something equally valuable has to pass from one owner to another, so slaves with chests of cash probably weren't that rare (suitably guarded with gladiators or other such burly no-nonsense loyal srvants). In fact, there's every reason to believe that the Romans conducted such business in the sort of manner a gangster would today. Transactons would have to be arranged so that the money could be safely transferred.

 

The Romans had banks of a sort. Moneylenders and similar financiers existed, though this was an informal process. They never really did much else as Romans preferred to get down and dirty with their own dealing, however unseemly this was for wealthy people in public. In fact, I do get hints that Roman banking became more regulated because of christianity, as christians frowned on ursury and the Roman habit of charging outrageus interest.

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"Regulated" - this is a nice euphemism for just saying "abolished".

Like in all other aspects of classic culture the Christians showed here once again their destructive influence. Christianity banned charging interests until late in the Dark Ages similar to the Mohammedan barbarians. The banking system collapsed and it is the main reason, why Jewish bankers dominate the financial system today. Jews were not subject to the relighious ban on loans with interests.

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Early christian zealousy had a hard time with financial affairs - witness the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the moneylenders - but that was a judaean based story, whose people were often very hard nosed about religion among other things. The Romans were more diffident in the lare empire and I hardly think the issue of moneylending vanished overnight. It is of course true that Romans lending large sums made huge interest charges as a matter opf course, but note also that the sources also talk about debt quite a lot. Romans habitually spent money they didn't have and some got into legal trouble, or in the case of one serial diner, committed suicide because he could no longer impress his friends with sumptuous evenings. Caesar took advantage of Gaul and used his campaigns to gain booty to pay off the debts he accrued in financing his political career. Augustus would later strip the royal coffers of Egypt to pay for his resettlement of veterans, and his desperate need for dosh to pay for 'marble', bread, and circuses led him to a military disaster. Dio even refers to individuals 'being made a slave of' because of debt. He doesn't mean actual enslavement - he means that the man in debt was in the creditors pocket. Some even allowed themselves to be enslaved to pay off debts, such as volunteer gladiators.  Note also that under the definition of Nexum (bond slave), the debtor could hand over his son as surety, a practice abolished in the 4th century BC - but one that probably continued informally for a good time longer, especially as Cicero mentions it.

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First off, Jews CONTINUE to be banned from contracting debt under the same usury rules, just they had no choice but yo engadge in usuary and merely got used to the idea earlier than Christians.

 

Secondly, interest isn't the only way to run a bank, or to loan. Notice Muslims have similar rules, and they are strictly enforced in Dubai and Qatar, with international banking in force, just they don't collect interest. You pay as you can pay.

 

And you've misinterpreted the Jesus in front of the temple story. Jesus was pissed off as the sacrifice wasn't kosher unless it was your own choice, cherished lambs. The kosher system tied the Jews to the pastural lifestyle in Judea. The idea you could conveniently just walk up, buy a sacrificial lamb, or other such commodities on sacred ground for a meaningful sacrifice was sacriligeous in the extreme. Early Christianity had a massive impact on economic thought, and I know of at least one internationally respected philosopher and historian who has tackled this, Giorgio agamben.

 

Furthermore, Romans did pool their resources in temple treasuries. To what degree this practice paralleled modern banking, I do not know. But I know they did standardize their gold and silver supply of money, and could systematically distribute it, and could synchronize merchants to parallel and coordinate with military operations.

 

Quite frankly, if your operating off a monetary standard that is coin driven, your better off NOT using interest rates, especially for debt that doesn't legally expire. It can cause unexpected breakdowns in the money supply, forcing debasement of currency at rates far faster than the currencies of neighboring states. Gold had a tendency in the ancient world of migrating away, or becoming hidden as less worthy coins shaved down or of a weaker alloy circulated.

 

In other words, there was a damn good reason why such a morality regarding lending and hording wealth so it remained useless was systematically discouraged in several cultures in the ancient world.

 

And you shouldn't blame Christianity as much as Cynicism, as they were the ones criticising and defacing the currency. Christians were encouraged to give up wealth, or to invest it wisely so it would be productive wealth. The latter is an aspect modern banks are well acquainted with.

 

I'm absolutely amazed at the willing misconceptions pagans and atheists have, despite all the evidence otherwise. Should I go about making up babble that all pagans secretly desire han sacrifice, just because it was known to happen in certain eras? Or should I point out neurological deficiencies and logical lapses in a few famous atheists and slam them as a group universally?

 

It be rather lame to do so. Both groups hurt themselves enough on their own, I don't need to make stuff up. Neither should you two engadge in this nonsense. Even in the hypothetical complete void of information, you should grasp the inherent ignorance of your statements.

 

Loans can be made, you have seven years for them to be paid off, no interest. If its not possible to pay it off due to crippling debt, your released of your debt. However, the loaner could bring you to court if he could provide evidence you intentional defrauded him.

 

When Constantine gave Bishops the right to receive judicial appeals, this would of been the primary biblical legal theory they would of considered, IF anyone bothered to appeal to them.

 

St. Ambrose has a legal text examining then current imperial laws, and Mosaic laws, De Legs (something something).... I just never found the work myself, been searching for it. It could have better insights.

 

Oh year..... Roman economy already went to crap prior to Christianity..... so obviously endless interest rates were not enough to hold back fuedslism (the colonia already were being tied to the land), and neither Feudalism nor Christianity stopped medieval banking from arising WITHIN the monastic tradition itself to fund the crusades. So obviously something is a tad bit off in your collective logic.

 

Do we want to attack the Mandaeans and the Manicheans, the Zoroastrians and the Muslims for policies that upset the narrow minded sensibilities of a few modern, confused discontents while were at it as well? How about independent pagan cults too? We can go on a triads against Dea Syria on the spread of STDs next time someone brings up a basic question on ancient medicine, especially if there are Syrians posting on the forum. Rip to shreds the Chaldeans for their useless astrological emphasis on medicine that slowed the ancient world down. Laugh at the Assyrians attempts to integrate empiricism into their diagnostic logic.

 

Everyone in the ancient world were vectors for diseases who barely knew how to wipe their butts, if they even bothered. You can point negatively at just about every culture 2000 years ago for substantial faults. However, you won't always get your assumptions right, as the modern understanding of things had their roots in this era, and you'll find many groups well outstripped your expectations for enlightened thinking as well.

 

What really caused the ancient world to fold up was so very, very few were educated, and merit mattered for so very little. Passing plagues and periodic recessions could more or less wipe out the local intelligences, and they simply wouldn't recover for several generations. Books wouldn't get copied, political offices devolved or were combined into others, expertise general diminished. We had the first era of civilizations touching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Artuc to the Sahara..... and all that interaction produced a lot of chaos in the order every civilization produced, and every civilization declined and collapsed several times over as a result. There was nothing that particularly special about the Roman Pagans, they worshiped Indo-European gods. A lot of those societies collapsed, and Christianity had jack to do with them. Notice those civilizations never landed anyone on the moon. They never navigated the oceans of the world. No one did anything particularly special other than build a few monuments, and impressively killed one another. Everyone more or less just sucked. That's our universal heritage. Pagans, Christians, everyone. Have you seen their toilets?

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Concerning Jesus and moneylenders....

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleansing_of_the_Temple

 

So it seems the Bible misinterpreted the story too.

 

 

 

Everyone in the ancient world were vectors for diseases who barely knew how to wipe their butts,

Yet toilet facilities and public baths were commonplace in Roman society. The Romans made a great deal of cleanliness (despite the poor condition of umch of society, but that hasn't changed a great deal today overall - you only have to inspect a works toilet to understand how filthy some human beings are prepared to get). There are other examples of the ancient world where cleanliness was encouraged. But it is worth pointing out that the ancients did not have modern cleaning materials or anti-biotics, which tended to reduce human population to a average level via infections and so forth (please the current concern about resistance to anti-biotics which is threatening to reverse the effectiveness of modern medecine and reduce population levels to Victorian standards and numbers). Also, like many third world areas today, sewage was not cleared by networks of drains, mostly left to rot in the street and thus attracting pests and disease, as often happens when human beings congregate for communal life. It is true that the Romans were proud of their main drainin Rome ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaca_Maxima), but such works were quite rare.

 

Navigating the oceans in ancient times was an extremely difficult and hazardous enterpise, particularly with vessels only designed for short coastal journeys across the Mediterranean, and the landings in Britain by Caesar show how vulnerable and unseaworthy such ships could be. Yet the Red Sea port of Berenice was a very succesful port dealing with maritime trade with India, known to have had a Graeco-Roman trade mission present for some time, based on the seasonal trade winds.

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