This chapter brings together the results of the previous chapters. It shows that ager publicus remained in state hands for considerable amounts of time, but was often held by the Italian people from whom it had been confiscated. As ager publicus was located mainly in southern Italy, the traditional view that large estates on public land were responsible for the decline of the small peasant farmer cannot hold; pressure on the land was highest in central Italy due to population growth and an increase in commercial production, but the land in this area was mainly private and not ager publicus. Already in the third century BC the growing demand for land had led the state to create new forms of tenure for ager publicus, allowing commercial producers secure tenure of this kind of land. In the second century, however, demand for land kept increasing, and in the end this led to the complete privatization of ager publicus.
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