Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On this day in history, a tax break on account of Visigothic bullying

On May 8, 413 AD the Roman Emperor Honorius decided to give a tax break to most of the provinces of Italy. It wasn't because he was feeling especially generous or that the Roman coffers were so overstuffed he could afford to grant some largesse. It was because the peninsula had been absolutely ravaged by the Visigoths. Three years prior to the tax break, the Visigoths had marched up to the eternal city and sacked it causing a whole bunch of physical, economic and psychological damage to the empire from which it never really recovered. So, while this day marks the anniversary of a fiscal policy enacted some 1599 years ago, the fiscal policy was in response to a seriously traumatic experience. We'll probably touch on the Visigothic sack of Rome at a later date so we'll just give a bit of blog love to the Visigoths today. Pictured here is the Visgothic wave of invasion from Eastern Europe to become lords of Spain. As you can see they entered into Roman territory around 376 and wreaked havoc down into the Balkans, sacking Athens along the way. But on the way to walking triumphantly on the streets of the brain capital of the ancient Mediterranean the Visigoths managed to completely upend the Eastern Empire in 378 at the battle of Adrianople (modern day Turkey). Then the sauntered on up the coast and down into Italy, sacking Rome in 410. They would go on to establish a kingdom in 418 that would stretch from the South Atlantic coast of Portugal up through most of modern day Spain and into France. After claiming such a big stretch of European soil, the Visigoths would go on a slow, but inevitable retreat until finally Ardo, the last of the Visogothic kings was defeated and killed by the Arab conquest of Spain in the 720's. So there you have it. You earn a tax break when you get invaded. I think I could deal with some unruly Visigoths if it got me off the hook for my income tax.

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