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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter XII - The Management of Land and of Capital


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Page 3

Management of the Estate

Object of Husbandry

The heritable lease was not recognised in the management of Italian private any more than of Roman public land; it occurred only in the case of the dependent communities. Leases for shorter periods, granted either for a fixed sum of money or on condition that the lessee should bear all the costs of tillage and should receive in return a share, ordinarily perhaps one half, of the produce,(3) were not unknown, but they were exceptional and a makeshift; so that no distinct class of tenant-farmers grew up in Italy.(4)

3. According to Cato, de R. R, 137 (comp. 16), in the case of a lease with division of the produce the gross produce of the estate, after deduction of the fodder necessary for the oxen that drew the plough, was divided between lessor and lessee (-colonus partiarius-) in the proportions agreed upon between them. That the shares were ordinarily equal may be conjectured from the analogy of the French -bail a cheptel- and the similar Italian system of half-and-half leases, as well as from the absence of all trace of any other scheme of partition. It is erroneous to refer to the case of the -politor-, who got the fifth of the grain or, if the division took place before thrashing, from the sixth to the ninth sheaf (Cato, 136, comp. 5); he was not a lessee sharing the produce, but a labourer assumed in the harvest season, who received his daily wages according to that contract of partnership (III. XII. Spirit of the System).

4. The lease lirst assumed real importance when the Roman capitalists began to acquire transmarine possessions on a great scale; then indeed they knew how to value it, when a temporary lease was continued through several generations (Colum. i. 7, 3).

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