The Byzantine Empire


The province of the Byzantine Empire in the twelvemonth 1081 was one of desolation: an imperium left to worsen after 57 old ages of the decease of Emperor Basil II ( 976-1025 ) . When Alexios I Komnenos ascended the throne on April 4Thursday, Easter Sunday that twelvemonth, he was left with an empty exchequer, a close pathetic ground forces, every bit good as legion enemy menaces on the imperiums frontiers.1Much of the territorial enlargements set frontward by Basil II had been lost through old ages of convulsion. The Seljuq made certain to decrease Byzantium of valuable economic resources with its heavy presence in the eastern and cardinal parts of Anatolia. The Normans posed a really existent menace to the imperium after their enlargement into southern Italy. Beyond the Danube, the Pechenegs and the Cumans made their presence keenly cognizant to the emperor. With Hungary on the rise as a formidable power with imperial policy, it could non be neglected.2Furthermore, the prototype of Byzantine diminution in the 11Thursdaycentury was marked by the maltreatment of adulteration of mintage. Fighting to keep and finance an international currency, emperor after emperor made more and more usage of the adulteration of goldnomisma. This continued until the gold coin was worth a fraction of its original value. The economic dominance of the imperium seemed to be coming to an terminal. In the words of historian Michael Angold, “Alexios had gained control over a deceasing empire.”3

Hence, many historiographers mark the 11Thursdaycentury as the beginning of the diminution of the Byzantine Empire. Regardless of this, many of Alexios I Komnenos ( 1081-1118 ) attempts to reconstruct it proved to be really effectual in giving it the encouragement it needed to last another 300 old ages. The Komnenian Restoration proved to be a critical portion in restoring some of the empire’s former glorification. But with such a bedraggled province of imperium, how did Alexios manage to convey it up to what would subsequently be known as a Restoration? The reply lies in a series of reforms and policy alterations he set in gesture that would let his kingdom to thrive one time more. One of his notable accomplishments includes a battalion of economic reforms, most notably the debut of a complete new mintage to the Byzantine economic system. This essay intends to dig into the cause and effects of his assorted reforms, and reply the inquiry: To what extent were the economic reforms under Alexios I Komnenos a major influence on the Komnenian Restoration? The probe will look at the alterations made to the imperium under the regulation of Alexios, specifically those made to the economic system, in an effort to compare and measure their overall effectivity in the Komnenian Restoration. An in deepness research and rating of the subject will besides let for analysis on the future result of the imperium as a whole. This probe is particularly interesting and valuable, as a better apprehension of the diminution of other imperiums can be gained from it. Additionally, in the modern-day universe where the world’s world powers are much more recent than the Byzantine’s 1000 twelvemonth reign, such research can be used as future guidelines for Restoration of fall ining systems.

Fiscal System and Reforms

Alexios gained the throne to the Byzantine Empire in 1081 after subverting Nikephoros III Botaneiates in a confederacy with the Doukas household. The imperium had seen 13 emperors over the class of 57 old ages, and as a consequence it was left in a diminished province. Many of the jobs faced by Byzantine in the 11Thursdaycentury were fiscal. The province was in such desperate demand of money that Alexios merely took money and sold spiritual artefacts from the church, an action which received him much unfavorable judgment. However, other jobs in the economic system needed to be solved. Dating back to the start of the imperium was the inclination of husbandmans to merely farm at a subsistence degree.4The provincial group which made up a big part of the society, farmed merely for ingestion instead than exchange. Their first aim was autonomy, non the production of a excess. This provided troubles as the sale of a excess was critical to the economic development of the imperium. Therefore, much force per unit area had to be placed on the husbandmans to increase their cultivation. One obstruction the imperium faced in agriculture was the deficiency of agricultural engineering. This lead to troubles in enlargement of production, and typical farming tactics such as harvest rotary motion weren’t feasible due to restrictive policies or a deficiency of demand. The territorial losingss after Basil II’s decease made this even harder, and one of the biggest limitations on the economic growing was considered to be the agricultural production.5To counter this, Alexios had to first better his ground forces and so spread out territorially, nevertheless this will be discussed subsequently in the probe.

The primary cause for concern in the economic system was the adulteration of its mintage. While the exact start of this process can non be said for certain, some argue that it started with Constantine IX Monomachos ( 1042-55 ) while others insist it was Nikephoros II Phokas ( 963-69 ) , it was a clear mark that the authorities was holding troubles financing its international currency.6It seemed as if the empire’s economic dominance was easy but certainly coming to a arrest. Many of the jobs resulted from emperors, whenever there was a demand for money to do outgos, chiefly in military and disposal, merely publishing more money and corrupting already go arounding coins. After old ages of this diminution, it became really evident to what extent the coins had been debased. The goldhistamenonandtetarteronhad become so unpurified that it existed at merely 8 carat pureness, about a 3rd of what it was originally introduced at. Themiliaresionhad practically ceased to be in circulation, and other coins such as thefollisdecreased aggressively in original weight.7At first, Alexios continued the debasing of currency. It continued until a goldnomismahad fallen to a 3rd of its value. This had serious inauspicious effects, such as high monetary values for a really little measure of goods.8To counter this, Alexios introduced a wholly new signifier of currency. His new goldhyperpyronwas to replace thehistamenonat 20.5 carats. The following measure down in value was the electrumtrachycomposed of Ag and gold, a pureness of 6 carats and about 1/3 worth of ahyperpyron.After that came thetrachyorstamenon,a Cu and silver metal composed of 6 % Ag, deserving 1/48 of ahyperpyron.Finally, a new Cutetarteronand half-tetarteronwas introduced, a coin smaller than the oldfollis.9The mintage was foremost minted in 1094, nevertheless these reforms came into full consequence around 1106-09.

The consequences of this new currency were varied. Archaeology has shown us that the immediate economic effects were really comfortable. This is due to the sum of coins found on digging sites from different clip periods of the imperium. A higher sum of coins meant that an enlargement of coin production and circulation was being put into consequence, which in bend indicated a fruitful economic system. The highest sum of coins has been found from sometime around the late 10Thursdaycentury, and once more a really similar sum from the new reformed Komnenian currency, demoing that this reform brought the empire’s economic system back to its old province of prosperity.10Other factors of the economic rush are shown through the convenience of the denominations of the currency for usage in economic activity. Alexios’s new mintage, specifically the lower valuetetarteron, gave the system much more flexibleness: “The reformed mintage of Alexios was besides more convenient for commercialism than the old pre-debasement coinage” .11

Another cardinal facet of the economic system and the consequence of the reforms was the Byzantine revenue enhancement system. The imperium had a history of an efficient and good planned revenue enhancement system which resulted in a solid circulation of currency every bit good as additions in development of the overall economic system. However, it was ill-famed for being really harsh on lower earning occupants, and payoffs and Torahs which favored certain societal groups created many jobs.12A big figure of the affluent citizens found ways to relieve themselves from paying revenue enhancements, which resulted in a heavier load being put onto the lower categories. Alexios used the revenue enhancement system to seek and regenerate the economic system every bit good, making higher and heavier revenue enhancements, and while these rises in revenue enhancements could normally be met, some rises were so steep that provincials could non afford them. This had the inauspicious consequence that many localized rebellions broke out, and a discontent towards Alexios was formed in many parts of the imperium. From this, a clear disparity was to be observed between the societal categories.13In an attempt to counter this, the emperor made available to the public what was known as apronoia. Originally issued as big estates to household members, thepronoiaallowed the granting of an estate in return for military services.14This was particularly attractive as the it provided a gross to the proprietor. The proprietor was allowed to roll up dues and revenue enhancements from the renters of the estate, which benefitted non merely him through grosss, but the provincials had to pay less revenue enhancements as a whole to him instead than straight to the province.15This resulted in tremendous ownerships of land, with persons having full small towns in some instances. Through this, every bit good as other minor alterations to bing policies, Alexios made certain that it was harder for wealthier occupants to avoid their revenue enhancements. Some of these other policies include the elevation of the auxiliary revenue enhancements the province issued. He removed the incompatibilities in the agreement of the revenue enhancements and created a standard rate of revenue enhancement, whereas antecedently a more helter-skelter system of assorted valued coins being issued and returned existed.16

As a consequence, the population had to pay more revenue enhancements as a whole, nevertheless the lower societal categories had a lighter load and the economic system flourished through these alterations. In add-on, the rural economic system of course developed from the revenue enhancement reforms, leting for more money to be obtained from these countries. Besides, much of the economic power was shifted to endorse to the nobility in the imperium, at the same time giving them some political power. Although these reforms allowed for an intensification of development every bit good as divergencies between societal categories, there was a clear rush in the state’s economic system taking to other subdivisions of the authorities being able to thrive every bit good.