Justin Nyaribo 1
Name: Justin Nyaribo
Professor: Richard Tristano
Course: Global History
The Problem of Land, Conquest and Tiberius Gracchus
For centuries, there has been a direct correlation between conquest and the issue of land. After a successful invasion or the defeat of belligerents, the occupying forces often took war booty, land on top of their list (Baker 23). Ownership of large swathes of land was necessary as a sign of prestige and space to carve out one’s living space. Such was the case after the Roman conquest of Italy beginning in 509 BC when land was an emotive issue affecting nearly all aspects of life (Christ 56). Therefore, this essay will discuss the economic, social and political consequences of the land problem.
The economic implications of the land problem mostly center on it as a source of livelihood. It was typical for a conquering power to confiscate all the prime land under their control. They would then proceed to lease it to colonialists or levy a tax on the land where citizens made their homes (Appian 2). Such was the case in the Italian areas where those willing to work on desolate land did so only under strict circumstance that part of their harvest goes to the state (a fifth of the fruit and a tenth of the grain). If one kept livestock, there was a similar toll on the animals in the farm. The occupying power would thus benefit from this arrangement, catering for their administrative costs.
One social consequence of the land problem was the creation of classes and a stark gap between the rich and the have-nots (Baker 31). Certain individuals went on to acquire large tracts of land for their benefit while others were left landless or squatters. In Italy, for example, there soon arose a class of affluent individuals seeking to bolster their social standing further by acquiring strips of land that lay adjacent to their own (Appian 3). A common practice among the wealthy was also to buy the land of their poor neighbors, were weak socially and therefore had no hope of repossessing the property taken.
A political consequence of the land problem is that it became a tool through which rulers could ensure the loyalty of their subjects and allies. Similarly, soldiers would receive tracts of land as an...