Book Series Mediaeval Sources in Translation, vol. 38

The Land Legislation of the Macedonian Emperors

Eric McGeer (ed)

  • Pages: 160 p.
  • Size:140 x 210 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2000

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-288-8
  • Paperback
  • Available


The land legislation issued by the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty is the most important source for the internal history of tenth-century Byzantium. In his edict of 934, the emperor Romanos Lekapenos declared that the prosperity and stability of the rural populace were essential to the empire's fiscal and military well-being. He stated this at a time when imperial control over the mainstay of the fiscal system - the village communes and the peasant smallholders who inhabited them - was threatened by powerful magnates, members of an emerging aristocracy, who were entering the rural communities to acquire peasant lands and labour. The challenge to imperial authority in the countryside had become even more serious after the terrible famine of 927-928, which had forced many peasants to sell or give up their lands to 'the powerful', as Lekapenos called the magnates in his legislation. For the next sixty years, Lekapenos and his successors used the law to defend 'the poor' from the depredations of the 'powerful' and to preserve the fiscal and military system on which imperial authority rested.