oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Economic crisis and senatus consultum ultimum (48 and 47 BC)
The civil war involving Caesar and Pompeius led to a serious economic crisis in the period from 49 to 44 BC. This cannot be regarded merely as a monetary crisis arising out of a shortage of cash, since debt affected all social classes. The fire of 50 BC, the earthquake of 49 BC, and the housing shortage that followed affected the Roman economy adversely. Because of a shortage of credit, damaged tenement houses were rebuilt only partially and at great cost. Rentals increased because the building contractors sought a quick return on their investment. The general economic crisis produced social discontent, and politicians soon tried to benefit from this atmosphere. During the period of Caesar's autocracy (49-44 BC) a state of emergency (senatus consultum ultimum) was declared twice, after magistrates belonging to Caesar's political party passed bills that promised the cancellation of debts and arrear rent. In both instances, it was an economic crisis that led to the state of emergency, not political conflict or personal rivalry.
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