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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/803

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APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1896.



PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D. C. L.,

COBKESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

II.—THE PLACE OF TAXATION IN LITERATURE AND HISTORY.
PART III.

TAXATION in the Mediæval Period.—With the termination of the Roman Empire of the West, which is regarded as having taken place a. d. 476, when Odoacer, chief of the Germanic tribe Heruli, captured the city and assumed the title of King of Italy, a new and great element was introduced into European life, through the intermingling of the northern barbarians with the civilized. Christianized, and degraded Romans of the south. The following period, for at least five hundred years, was characterized, to an extent never before surpassed in the world's history, by bloodshed, license, licentiousness, turmoil, robbery, and woe. Franks, Burgundians, Visigoths, Saxons, Slavs, Huns, Danes, and Normans crowded upon and warred with each other. From such a period, when neither the agriculturist nor the artificer could control to any great extent the fruits of his labor, and when the merchant "stole along the hedges, shrank from the eye of the passer, and stepped into rivers cautiously, seeking a ford, lest the man at the bridge should rob him," but little in the way of economic or fiscal principle could be deduced. In short, a new society, the foundation and precursor of what now exists, was in the process of evolution; but in order that evolution might commence, it would seem to have been necessary that all the elements of the old should have been completely dissolved, in order that its atoms might move freely—a condition like that to which the chemist is compelled to bring earthy mineral substances in order to effect their purification and crystallization.