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First Edition 1898. Reprinted 1902, 191 1

V. \


IT has been my endeavour in this essay to bring out the
main economic features in the growth and diffusion of
the CiviUzed Life in Western Europe, to which so many
peoples and countries have contributed; 1 have not aimed
at portraying the development of each of the separate pohties
to which reference is made.

Some of the difficulties that have to be faced, in engaging
in such a task, have been obvious from the first, and others
have been felt more clearly as the work progressed. The
chief of these is due to the lack of information. The social
and economic side of life was so famiUar to their contem-
poraries, and was often so uneventful, that chroniclers have
rarely thought it worth while to describe it particularly. We
have to depend on incidental remark, rather than on detailed
and deliberate description. This silence is especially perplex-
•ing in early times, and renders it very difficult for us to trace
the precise connection between one primitive civihzation and
another. We have often to be content with establishing the
fact of intercourse, and thus indicaling a line along which


vi Preface.

certain arts and habits could be easily transmitted. It is of
course possible that some art or institution may have been
invented independently in different societies ; but so many
ages and peoples have been and are unenterprising and
uninventive, that, in the case of distant but related societies,
transmission along lines of known intercourse always seems
a more probable hypothesis than that of independent origina-

But there is another difficulty; even when distinct informa-
tion on some economic topic has been recorded, we have not
sufficient knowledge of the circumstances to be able to inter-
pret the evidence with confidence. The last word has not
been said on the precise aims of Solon's legislation, nor on the
exact character of the leather money of the Carthaginians, nor
on the agrarian system of the Germans in the time of Tacitus.

Perhaps the hardest task of all is to find suitable phrase-
ology in which to describe and discuss the reported pheno-
mena. Before the era of money-economy, the sides of life,
which we distinguish as economic and as political, were
merged together; in Egyptian history, foreign commerce
cannot be readily distinguished from tribute paid by de-
pendencies, and (to use modern terms) the "organization
of labour" was intimately connected with the "incidence of
taxation." In Greek and Roman life, analysis is much simpler,
and modern economic categories — such as capital — can be
usefully applied.

Many of the remarks in the following pages are necessarily
of a tentative character ; I cannot but hope, however, that the
advance of Economic Knowledge will gradually give us the

Preface. vii

means of applying appropriate conceptions to all the various
phases of industrial life, however unHke they may be to our
own, and that the masses of new material, which research and
excavation may supply, will fill up many of the lacunae in our
information regarding past ages.

I am much indebted for suggestions and advice to Pro-
fessor Prothero and Professor Ridgeway, also to Dr Jackson
and Mr Wyse, Fellows of Trinity College, and Mr G. Townsend
Warner, formerly Fellow of Jesus College. Mr H. J. Edwards
of Selwyn has been so kind as to read the whole work both in
manuscript and in proof; he has also constructed the chrono-
logical chart and supplied the maps for the volume.

W. C.

Trinity College, Cambridge,
12 February, 189!^.

Advantage has been taken of the opportunity afforded by
a demand for a fresh issue to introduce a few verbal emenda-
tions, but it has not seemed desirable to make any substantial
alterations or additions.

W. C.

12 March, 1901.




Isolation and Intercourse ....... I

Settled peoples ......... 2

3. Hostile and Friendly Intercourse ...... 3

4. Social Conditions — Conquest, Factories, Colonies ... 4

5. Physical bases— Products, Manufactures, Goods ... 6

6. Tokens of the highest material prosperity of each civilization . 7
Plan and divisions . 8


The Precursors.



8. Physical features ......... 10

9. Periods of material prosperity . . . . . . .15

10. The Pyramids . ......... 17

11. Lake Moeris . 20

12. Luxor and Karnak 38

13. Assyrian and Ethiopian supremacy ...... 34

14. Pharaoh Neco 35

15. Political decadence, and industrial influence . . • . 37


1 6.






Judaea under Solomon

Contrast with I'^gypt

Physical characteristics

Caravan Trade

Royal Commerce

Conditions of industry

The aptitudes of the Jewish Race



The PHOENrciANs.

^3. Settlement in Phoenicia and physical conditions ... 54

24. Political weakness ......... 58

25. Area of Phoenician Settlement ...... 60

16. Carrying and Active Trade ....... 62

27. The eflecls of commerce ........ 67



The Greeks.

Greece as connected with Phoenicia and Egypt.

The Greek Influence on Economic Life 71

Physical features ......... 75

Links of connection ........ 77

Primitive conditions and foreign influence. Coinage . . 81

Colonisation .......... 86

The Oracle and Hellenism . 89

City Life.

34. The City as an Economic Whole

35. Athens as a typical indigenous Greek city

36. The Food Supply . . . • .





Capitalists and contractors 105

The Organization of Labour ....... 108

Public Service and Taxation , . . . . . .112

Pericles and Unproductive Public Works .... 119

Economic causes of the decline in the material prosperity of
Athens 121

. Alexander's Empire and the Hellenistic Period.

42. Alexander's conquests and aims ...... 124

43. Greek officials . . . . . . • .127

44. Greek Cities and Confederations. Rhodes . . . • 130

45. Lasting economic importance of Greek Cities .... 136

The Romans.


The Struggle for Supremacy in the West.

46. The natural advantages of Carthage ...

47. The political and military system ....

48. Carthaginian plutocrats ......

49. Carthaginian influence in Rome ....



The Roman Republic.

Common interests and mutual agreements
The effects of the wars in Italy
Government by contractors
The Provinces ....
The Publicani and Negotiatores
Lack of official control
The repression of piracy .
Frequent war and chronic insecurity



xii Contents.

The Roman Empire,


58. Fiscal administration . . . . . . . .170

59. The sphere and method of imperial administration . . • 172

60. The Cosmopolitan State and its institutions .... 175

61. The difficulty of defending the Empire ..... 181

62. Delicicnt supply of Money, and consequent difficulties in the

formation of Capital . . . . . . . .182

63. Usury and the collection of Revenue . . . .187

64. Loss of Economic Freedom ....... 189

65. The ruin of the West 193


66. Old and New Rome contrasted 196

67. Similarities in their conditions . ...... 198

68. The Greek population and commerce 201

69. The Stationary State . 204

70. Links of connection \vith the West 207


Egypt under the Pharaohs

. to

face p. 17

Phoenicia and Palestine ....

„ 48

Phoenician and Greek Colonisation .


The Roman Empire ....

.. 17'

Chronological Chart ....


. 211





I. There is a great interest in disinterring the vestiges
of an ancient and forgotten civilization. The isolation and
ruined cities of Central America or of Mashona- intercourse,
land bear witness to the existence, in some former time, of a
cultivated race which had made considerable progress in the
arts of life. These men have wholly disappeared, and anti-
quaries dispute as to their racial affinities, the sources of their
prosperity, and the reasons of their fall. Part of the romance
which lends attraction to such investigations arises from the
apparent isolation of each of these communities, and from the
obscurity which shrouds alike their origin and extinction. In
dealing with Western Civilization, this element of romance is
almost entirely wanting ; one great civilization after another
has risen and has waned in the Mediterranean lands, but each
has been linked in the closest fashion with those that preceded
it, and has in turn brought influences of many kinds to bear
on those that arose subsequently. We have no apparent isola-
tion, but constant interconnection and frequent intercourse;

c. w. c. I

2 Western Civilization.

our main business in trying to follow the story is to set our-
selves to detect and to trace the points of contact between
different communities, and the influence which each has owed
to, or has exercised upon, the others.

In the lands that encircle the Mediterranean there has
been an unbroken tradition of civilized life from the earliest
times; it has shifted from point to point, from Egypt to Phoe-
nicia, from Phoenicia and Carthage to Greece and Rome, from
Constantinople to Italy and France. The life has been more
vigorous at some periods than at others; at times it has been
circumscribed, and again it has spread abroad to affect the
destinies of distant peoples. It has never died out or become
extinct. The English nation, which has been the principal
agent in diffusing the influence of Western Civilization through-
out the East, has received a great heritage of industrial skill
and commercial enterprise from other peoples. If we would
understand aright the part our country has played and is play-
ing in the world, we must try to understand how this great
heritage of industrial and commercial activity has been built
up — in what fashion each people has inherited and perpetuated
the tradition it received, and what contribution each has added
of its own.

2. When the nature of the subject is thus stated, we may
Settled Peo- ^^^ ^^'^^^ ^ '^^^X ^^.rge field of interesting enquiry
pies. is excluded from the scope of our investigation.

When we discuss the influence which one people exercises on
another and the intercourse between them, we are thinking
exclusively of the peoples which have so far advanced as to
settle in a definite territory and to attain a considerable degree
of social organisation; many tribes have never reached this
social condition. Men who are more or less migratory in
habits, and depend for their livelihood on hunting or fishing,
or upon the herds which roam over large tracts of country,
may have considerable skill, and make much advance in the
industrial arts; they may engage to a considerable extent in

Introductio7i. 3

commerce, and they must have some forms of family or tribal
organisation. But they do not build up a prosperous civiliza-
tion ; ranging as they do from place to place, they cannot
accumulate the stores of wealth which provide the opportunity
for devoting attention to literature and art'. They accept the
provision which nature affords, but they do not set themselves
to overcome the obstacles which hem in the path of material
progress*. We are only concerned at present with the peoples
which have already settled down to agricultural life, or built
themselves cities as centres for industry and depots for com-
merce; the steps by which any group of tribes attained this
condition may be of the greatest interest, but they hardly fall
within the scope of history.

3. There are different ways in which intercourse between
two peoples may arise. The most obvious modes ^ .j ^^^
of contact have their origin in connection with Friendly in-
war and with commerce. Since hostile and
friendly intercourse appear to be very distinct indeed, it is
curious to notice how closely war and commerce have been
inter-connected. In primitive ages the two can hardly be
distinguished, and we find the two ideas blended in the
Homeric poems. At a later date the Viking who went out to
plunder might incidentally turn his hand to trade; when he
brought the captives taken in war to be sold at a slave mart he
was betaking himself to commerce. Even when the two are
distinct, they are closely connected; for war may open up new
points for commerce, as was done by the Crusades, and a suc-
cessful war may give securities for peaceful commerce; on the
other hand, commercial rivalries have often occasioned the

^ Compare Aristotle, Aletap'iysics A. c. i. § ii, on the importance of
leisure as an element in social well-being, and as giving the opportunity
for intellectual progress. For a more modern discussion of the same topic
see Bagehot, Physics and Politics, 71 — 73. He dwells on the influence of
slavery in making leisure possible.

* Cunningham, Growth of English History and Commerce, i. p. 35.

4 Western Civilization.

outbreak of hostilities between nations. War and commerce
are very different indeed, in the manner in which they react
respectively on agriculture and industry; but both modes of
intercourse have had much to do with the diffusion of industrial
and commercial skill.

4. It is at all events clear that the effect of a successful
war, which establishes any wide-spread political

Social Con- . „ ,• , ^• ■ r

ditions-Con- influence, supplies the conditions of easy inter-
ies'^^c r^'^*°'^" communication. Where there are many separate
tribes or cities with frequently changing relations
between them, there must be elements of insecurity and un-
certainty which are not favourable to regular commerce. On
the other hand the establishment of a wide empire on land, or
of sovereignty by sea, gives the opportunity for peaceful com-
merce to arise, and it may do much more to promote it.
Under the Roman Empire the resources of the provinces were
developed so that they might serve as granaries for the capital;
new fauna and flora were acclimatised in distant regions; and
deliberate efforts were made to open up conquered provinces
by great roads which could be used for military and for com-
mercial communications alike. At a later time, the wave of
Mohammedan conquest served to give the conditions under
which a knowledge of the arts and sciences of the East might
be cultivated in remote parts of the West, where civilization
had been almost entirely destroyed by a succession of barbarian

Besides the direct influence exercised by conquerors, there
may sometimes be a curious transference of skill from the
conquered'. Rome learned much from the Greek cities she
overthrew^, and the commerce of the Empire was largely carried

^ On the influence of Syrian prisoners of war on Egyptian arts see
Flinders Petrie, History, 11. 147. The diffusion of religious ideas through
the agency of captives has been of not infrequent occurrence. Cf. 2 Kings
V. 4. Also in Ireland; Montalembert, Monks of the West, II. 390.

* Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, Ilor. Ep. Ii. i. 156.

Introduction. 5

on by Greek slaves, or persons of Greek extraction. In our
own island it appears that the conquered Britons left some
mark on the household employments of the Angles who con-
quered them; and on the Continent at all events, the influence
of the conquered Roman on the conquering barbarian was
very decided, though not always wholesome'.

Commercial intercourse arises not only between different
parts of the same empire, but beiween regions which have no
direct political connections; if it is to be regular and constant,
however, the two trading parties must come to some kind of
understanding as to the terms on whicli they meet and do
business together. In modern times there are ample facilities
for intercourse between all civilized nations, and consuls who
see to the interests of their countrymen are found in every im-
portant town. Even with half-civilized peoples there are treaty
rights, by which trading privileges are secured. In ancient
times it was more common for the men of one city to secure a
factory at a distant port, and thus to have a guaranteed footing
in the foreign town or district. Similarly a great deal of the
mercantile business of medieval times was carried on by aliens
temporarily resident in some specially reserved part of a city,
and subject to special burdens, though secured in definite
privileges and immunities in their own quarters; these immi-
grants had not a little to do with the transmission both of
articles of merchandise and of the arts of industry.

Where settlements were made, not in an active commercial
centre, but in a land of which the resources were imperfectly
developed, they may be regarded not so much as factories, but
as colonies. There were many important differences between
the colonies of the ancient and of the modern world, and even
between the colonies of the Phoenicians and of the Greek
peoples; but such settlements have in all ages served as
centres where the people of some land found hospitable

^ Montalembert, Monks of the West, II. 229.

6 Western Civilization.

reception, so that regular trade between them and the mother
country was possible. The distribution of the Phoenician and
Greek colonies in the Mediterranean marked out the spheres
where these rival traders exercised an influence, when neither
the one nor the other was strong enough to maintain an effec-
tive sovereignty on the sea.

5. Such are the social conditions under which commercial

intercourse has most commonly occurred; but it

ses-p^roducts,' is also ncccssary to remember that it must have

Manufactures, ^ physical basis. If its communications are good,

Goods. ' -' . o '

a great political power may be able to draw to
itself the products of other lands as the result of a sort of taxa-
tion; but in an ordinary way, there must be a give and take
in commercial intercourse. Distant lands are sought out by
traders, because of some valued product which can be obtained
in the course of trade; and the commercial importance of a
country depends on the nature of the commodities it can offer
in exchange to the people of other lands. It may have some
natural product to give, as Cornwall afforded tin and Spain
silver in the ancient times; as Egypt and Sicily provided corn;
and the ports of the Black Sea fish. It may be a manufactur-
ing centre', as Tyre was at one period and Corinth at another,
and supply textile fabrics that are in great request. Or it may
be a depot on a great commercial route, where the products
and manufactures of distant places are stored and are readily
procurable. Antioch and Alexandria, Carthage and Marseilles
were commercial cities of the last named type.

It is obvious that any of these sources of national pros-
perity may fail, and that the community which depends on

* Early success in manufactures seems to depend more closely on
personal aptitudes than on physical conditions, and it is not always easy to
account for the localisation of particular trades in particular places. At
the same time the possession of the materials requisite for some manufacture,
and in modern times of facilities for mechanical power, either coal or water,
have exerted considerable influence.

Introduction. 7

them may in consequence decay. Mines are sure to be ex-
hausted sooner or later j and the veins of silver ore at Laurium
and in Spain have lost their importance. Changes of climate
may render a fertile region barren, or the soil may be ex-
hausted by long-continued cultivation. Manufacturing pre-
eminence may be sapped by a failure of materials, or by the
successful development of rival industries in more favourable
positions. On the other hand, owing to the progress of dis-
covery or to gradual physical processes, like the silting up of
a channel, there may be great alterations in trade routes ;
progress in the art of ship-building and the introduction of
steamboats and railways have revolutionised .the modes of
communication. We see the effects of these changes on a
small scale in the case of some English to.vns, such as Lynn
or Boston, that were important in the Middle Ages, and
have had little share in the recent developments of English
commerce ; Venice and Bruges are still more striking ex-
amples. Trade routes, depending as they do on physical
conditions, are wonderfully permanent, and even when tempo-
rarily closed by social or political incidents' they are likely
to be reopened ; but yet there are elements of change and
uncertainty in regard to them. It is probable that the
countries which are able to supply some natural product,
like corn, in considerable quantities, are those which have
the firmest physical basis for the maintenance of their material
prosperity. The long-continued importance of Egypt in the
commercial world is primarily due to the regular inundations
which replenish the soil and maintain its fertility for the pro-
duction of grain and cotton.

6. In endeavouring to survey this large field, we must
try to discriminate the principal landmarks. It Tokens of
is our object to see how each of the great the highest

, r 1 1 !• 1 • material pros-

peoples of the past has supphed its quota to penty of each
that Western Civilization which is being so civilization.

^ As the routes to the East were interrupted by the rise of the Moham-

8 Western Civilization.

rapidly diflfused over the whole globe at the present time ;
we want to detect the special contribution of each. This
we are most likely to observe, if we try to examine the
condition of each country or people at the epoch when it
had attained its highest point of industrial and commercial
prosperity. As we approach each civilization in turn we
shall be able to describe what was available from its prede-
cessors; we can see what were the characteristic features of
the economic life of that people, and what new bent it gave,
at the zenith of its greatness, to the energies of our race.

Wealth and power are so closely interconnected that it
might seem at first sight as if the periods when any people
attained to the highest pitch of political power would also be
those of greatest interest economically. Yet there have been
flourishing cities which did an enormous trade, but which
never attained to the first rank as political powers; and in
some cases political ambition has been sacrificed for the sake
of commercial advantage. There is a better test and a more
obvious token of great material prosperity ; in any community
where there is wealth to spare, which can be sunk in mag-
nificent buildings or other public works, there is a permanent
record of its greatness or of the riches of its rulers. On the
whole, the period when the characteristic buildings of each
civilization were erected was the time of its greatest material
prosperity; this gives us the means of gauging most definitely
the precise nature of its contribution to the growth of Western
Civihzation as a whole.

7. A very few words may now suffice to indicate the
Plan and nature of the plan which will be pursued in

Divisions. the following pages. The sources of Western

Civilization are to be found in (i) Egypt, and Phoenicia;
the characteristic features of each of these ancient civiliza-
tions, so marvellous in themselves and so striking in their

medan powers ; and the great highway from Marseilles to the North was
rendered impracticable by the Hundred Years' War.

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