By Simon Baker

ISBN-10: 1846072840

ISBN-13: 9781846072840

Ancient Rome is the tale of the best empire the area has ever identified. targeting six turning issues in Roman heritage, Simon Baker's soaking up narrative charts the increase and fall of a political desktop unequalled in its brutality, genius, and lust for energy. From the conquest of the Mediterranean within the third century BC to the destruction of the empire by the hands of barbarian invaders seven hundred years later, we find the pivotal episodes in Roman heritage. on the middle of this account are the most strong rulers in history—men like Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. placing flesh at the bones of those mythical figures, Baker appears to be like past the dusty caricatures to discover their genuine motivations, pursuits, intrigues, and rivalries. the excellent narrative, choked with strength and mind's eye, is an excellent distillation of the newest scholarship and a splendidly evocative account of historical Rome.

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Taxation could only be levied with the approval of Parliament. People with money could therefore be reasonably confident that it would not simply be appropriated by an absolute ruler. That was to prove an important incentive for entrepreneurs. The crucial question was, where should England build her anti-Spanish imperium? Hakluyt had been given a glimpse of infinite possibilities by his cousin and namesake in 1589: . . I found lying upon [my cousin’s] board . . an universall Mappe: he seeing me somewat curious in the view thereof began to instruct my ignorance, by shewing me the division of the earth into three parts after the olde account, and then according to the later & better distribution, into more: he pointed with his wand to all the knowen Seas, Gulfs, Bays, Straights, Capes, Rivers, Empires, Kingdomes, Dukedomes and Territories of ech part, with declaration also of their special commodities, & particular wants, which by the benefit of traffike and entercourse of merchants, are plentifully supplied.

If the volume of spice exports was inelastic, then it could only succeed by taking business away from the Dutch company. This was indeed the assumption: in the words of the contemporary political economist William Petty, there was ‘but a certain proportion of trade in the world’. The hope of the East India Company director Josiah Child was ‘that other Nations who are in competition with us for the same [business], may not wrest it from us, but that ours may continue and increase, to the diminution of theirs’.

The English at this stage were merely parasites on the periphery, reliant on partnerships with Indian businessmen: dubashes in Madras, banyans in Bengal. And political power continued to be centred in the Red Fort in Delhi, the principal residence of the Mughal Emperor, the Muslim ‘Lord of the Universe’ whose ancestors had swept into India from the north in the sixteenth century and had ruled the greater part of the subcontinent ever since. English visitors like Sir Thomas Roe might attempt to disparage what they saw when they visited Delhi (‘Religions infinite; laws none.

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