In 1980, at the age of 11, he was part of the Mariel Boatlift. 600-1100 Peter SARRIS Trinity College, Cambridge In recent years, our understanding of the early Byzantine economy of the period from the fourth to sixth centuries has advanced significantly. Histoire Médiévale, Moderne et Contemporaine Middeleeuwse, Moderne en Hedendaagse Geschiedenis. 429-450 Large Estates and the Peasantry in Byzantium c.
First, through advances in archaeology and numismatics, historians of Byzantium have become increasingly aware of the enormous economic prosperity of both late antique cities and the late antique countryside (1).
At the same time, there is now a more widespread understanding of how and why this late antique agrarian expansion in particular went hand-in-hand with a concentration of landed wealth in the hands of members of a late Roman “ aristocracy of service”, who took advantage of the new monetary conditions associated with the minting and dissemination of the Constantinian gold solidus in the early fourth century to introduce much more highly commercialised forms of agriculture on their expanding estates (2).
The landholdings of members of this elite were worked by a combination of often waged agricultural labourers, who typically bore the legal designation of coloni adscripticii or enapographoi geôrgoi, and elements of slave labour (3).
The role of slave (1) For archaeology, see Michael DECKER, Tilling the Hateful Earth.
Agricultural Production and Trade in the Late Antique East, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009 ; for numismatics, Jairus BANAJI, Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity.
Gold, Labour, and Aristocratic Dominance (2nd edition), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007 ; Constantin ZUCKERMAN, Du village à l’Empire. Wages could be in the form of coin or credit notes (pittakia), or issued as a “ wage in land”, granting workers access to an allotment in return for their labour or a share in the crop of such an allotment.
Autour du registre fiscal d’Aphroditô, Paris, Centre de Recherche d’Histoire et de Civilisation de Byzance, 2004. and Boudeweijn SIRKS, “ The Colonate in Justinian’s Reign”, in Journal of Roman Studies, vol. The crucial point is that these estate workers generally received remuneration for their labour rather than being tenant farmers.
As well as at the conference in Brussels in honour of Professor Morimoto (to the organisers of which I am immensely grateful for the invitation and their hospitality), versions of this paper have been delivered at the Byzantine Studies Seminar in Oxford, the Early Medieval History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London, and at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington D.
C., where I was able to conduct much research for the book into which this article will be expanded.