Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

How Did Barbarians Use Gold Received from Rome?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: February 11, 2014 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

What did the barbarians, most notably the Huns, do with the gold they got from the Romans in tributes? How did they spend it? On what?

—Steven

? ? ?

Dear Steven,

Gold, with its ability to withstand corrosion, has been a valuable currency standard around the world for about as long as mankind has been aware of it. Any "barbarians" who pillaged a "civilized" society are equally aware of its value as such. Inevitably, then, an ambitious warrior whose stock in trade is pillaging thinks not only of the money he steals but of the things that money can buy. Otherwise, of what use is it? No matter what crisis a major civilization faces, life goes on for the people—farmers farm, artisans create, and the barbarians always find someone in the countryside or towns willing to do business in the things they cannot make for themselves (and if the barbarians just kill everyone and take what they produced, then there will be no one left to produce them…so it makes sense to pay for something every now and then). Other than that, the more powerful leaders were sometimes buried with their wealth and some fashioned death masks from the gold. It depends on which nomadic raiders you're referring to—and it's unfair to generalize.

A case in point is the Vikings, roving opportunists for whom rape and pillage was just business, if they could get away with it. And if they encountered a place too strong to raid? Then they came to trade, exchanging whatever (or whoever) they'd stolen from the last place for whatever the new port had to offer. And if a Viking found himself in Byzantium with nothing to offer but his strong right arm and the sword it held, well, there was plenty of good money to be made by enlisting in the Varangian Guard. Whatever the situation, for a Viking, business was business.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History

 

Don't miss the next Ask Mr. History question! To receive notification whenever any new item is published on HistoryNet, just scroll down the column on the right and sign up for our RSS feed.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy