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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


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

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 XI - The Old Republic and the New Monarchy


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Page 129

Usury Laws

While thus the great democrat had the imperishable honour of emancipating personal freedom in principle from capital, he attempted moreover to impose a police limit on the excessive power of capital by usury-laws. He did not affect to disown the democratic antipathy to stipulations for interest. For Italian money-dealing there was fixed a maximum amount of the loans at interest to be allowed in the case of the individual capitalist, which appears to have been proportioned to the Italian landed estate belonging to each, and perhaps amounted to half its value. Transgressions of this enactment were, after the fashion of the procedure prescribed in the republican usury-laws, treated as criminal offence and sent before a special jury-commission.

If these regulations were successfully carried into effect, every Italian man of business would be compelled to become at the same time an Italian landholder, and the class of capitalists subsisting merely on their interest would disappear wholly from Italy. Indirectly too the no less injurious category of insolvent landowners who practically managed their estates merely for their creditors was by this means materially curtailed, inasmuch as the creditors, if they desired to continue their lending business, were compelled to buy for themselves. From this very fact besides it is plain that Caesar wished by no means simply to renew that naive prohibition of interest by the old popular party, but on the contrary to allow the taking of interest within certain limits.

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