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Ch. 20
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
1923

The text is in the public domain.

This page has not been proofread.
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Ch. 22

p334 CHAPTER XXI

ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS AND FINANCE

§ 1. Attempts to reform Abuses (A.D. 533‑540)

The second Prefecture of John the Cappadocian (A.D. 533‑540) was marked by a series of reforms in the administration of the Eastern provinces, and it would be interesting to know how far he was responsible for instigating them. Administrative laws affecting the provinces were probably, as a result, evoked by reports of the Praetorian Prefects calling attention to abuses or anomalies and suggesting changes.1 If half of what the writers of the time tell us of John's character is true, we should not expect to find him promoting legislation designed to relieve the lot of the provincial taxpayers. But we observe that, while the legislator is earnestly professing his sincere solicitude for the welfare of his subjects, he always has his eye on the interests of the revenue, and does not pretend to disguise it. The removal of abuses which diminished the power of the subjects to pay the taxes was in the interest of the treasury, and it was a capital blunder of the fiscal administration of the later Empire that this obvious truth was not kept steadily in view and made a governing principle of policy. It was fitfully recognised when the excessive burdens of the cultivators of the land led to an accumulation of arrears and the danger of bankruptcy, or when some glaring abuse came to light. John, clever as he was, could not extract money from an empty purse, and there is no reason to suppose that he may not have promoted some of the remedial laws which the Emperor directed him to administer.

p335 We need not doubt that the Emperor was thoroughly sincere when he asserts his own concern for the welfare of his subjects, nor suspect him of hypocrisy when he expresses indignation at the abuses which he strives to suppress. All the capable Roman Emperors honestly desired a pure administration and a contented people; but their good intentions were frustrated by defects of the fiscal system which they had inherited, and by the corruption of the vast army of officials who administered it.

We do not know how far Justinian's enactments may have been successful, but they teach us the abuses which existed. There was none perhaps which he himself regarded as more important — if we may judge from his language — than the law which forbade the practice of buying the post of a provincial governor.2 Theodora, if she did not instigate the measure, had taken a deep interest in it, and the Emperor also expressly acknowledges that he had received some help from the Prefect. It had long been the custom to require the payment of considerable sums (suffragia) from those who received appointments as governors of provinces, and these sums went partly to the Emperor, partly to the Praetorian Prefect. Men who aspired to these posts were often obliged to borrow the money. The official salary was not sufficient to recompense them for the expense of obtaining the post, and they calculated on reimbursing themselves by irregular means at the cost of the provincials. The Emperor states that they used to extract from the taxpayers three or even ten times the amount they had paid for the office, and he shows how the system caused loss to the treasury, and led to the sale of justice and to general demoralisation in the provinces. The law abolishes the system of suffragia. Henceforward the governor must live on his salary, and when he is appointed he will only have to pay certain fixed fees for the ensigns and diploma of his office.3 Before he enters on his post he has to swear — the form of oath is prescribed — that he has paid no man any money as a suffragium and severe penalties p336 are provided if the Prefect or any of his staff or any other person should be convicted of having received such bribes. The governor who has paid for his appointment or who receives bribes during his administration is liable to exile, confiscation of property, and corporal punishment. Justinian takes the opportunity of exhorting his subjects to pay their taxes loyally, "inasmuch as the military preparations and the offensive measures against the enemy which are now engaging us are urgent and cannot be carried on without money; for we cannot allow Roman territory to be diminished, and having recovered Africa from the Vandals, we have greater acquisitions in view."

Several other laws were passed in this period to protect the people from mal-administration.4 The confirmation of the old rule that a governor should remain in his province for fifty days after vacating his office, in order to answer any charges against his actions, may specially be mentioned.5 The office of defensor civitatis had become practically useless as a safeguard against injustice because it had come to be filled by persons of no standing or influence, who could not assume an independent attitude towards the governors. Justinian sought to restore its usefulness by a reform which can hardly have been welcomed by the municipalities. He ordained that the leading citizens in each town should fill the office for two years in rotation; and he imposed on the defensor, in addition to his former functions, the duty of deciding lawsuits not involving more than 300 nomismata and of judging in minor criminal cases. The work of the governor's court was thus lightened. We may suspect that the bishops who were authorised to intervene were more efficacious in defending the rights of the provincials because they were more independent of the governor's goodwill.6

Among the restrictions which the Roman autocrats placed upon the liberty of their subjects there is none perhaps that would appear more intolerable to a modern freeman than those which hindered freedom of movement. It was the desire of the Emperors to keep the provincials in their own native places and to discourage their changing their homes or visiting the p337 capital. This policy was dictated by requirements of the system of taxation, and by the danger and inconvenience of increasing the proletariat of Constantinople. Impoverished provincials had played a great part in the Nika sedition, and the duties of the Prefect of the City were rendered more difficult and onerous by the arrival of multitudes of unemployed persons to seek a living by beggary or crime. Justinian created a new ministry of police for the special purpose of dealing with this problem.7 The function of the quaesitor, as the minister was called, was to inquire into the circumstances and business of all persons who came from the provinces to take up their quarters in the capital, to assist those who came for legitimate reasons to get their business transacted quickly and speed them back to their homes,8 and to send back to the provinces those who had no valid excuse for having left their native soil. He was also empowered to deal with the unemployed class in the capital, and to force those who were physically fit into the service of some public industry (such as the bakeries), on pain of being expelled from the city if they refused to work. Judicial functions were also entrusted to him, and his court dealt with certain classes of crime, for instance forgery.

The Prefect of the City was further relieved of a part of his large responsibilities by the creation of another minister, who, like the quaesitor, was both a judge and a chief of police. The Praefectus Vigilum,9 who was subordinate to the Prefect, was abolished, and his place was taken by an independent official p338 who was named the Praetor of the Demes,10 and whose most important duty was to catch and punish thieves and robbers.

§ 2. Provincial Reorganisation

During the fifth century few changes had been made in the details of the provincial system as it was ordered by Diocletian and modified here and there by his successors. Such alterations as had been found advisable were in accordance with the principles which had inspired Diocletian's reform. Provinces were further subdivided, they were not enlarged. Theodosius II, for instance, broke up Epirus, Galatia, and Palestine, each into two provinces.11 Changes had also been made in Egypt. This diocese had at first consisted of five provinces, Aegyptus, Augustamnica, Thebais, and the two Libyas, but Theodosius I (after A.D. 486) cut off a part of Augustamnica (including the Oxyrhynchus district) to form the province of Arcadia.12 At some later period Augustamnica was again divided into two provinces, Prima and Secunda.13 But the principal innovation was made by Theodosius II, who subdivided the Thebaid into the Upper and Lower provinces. The Upper or southern Thebaid was constituted under a duke, to whom the civil as well as the military administration was entrusted, along with a general authority over the Lower Thebaid, which had its own civil governor.14 The motive of this arrangement was to strengthen the hands of the commander who was responsible for protecting the frontier against the Blemyes and Nobadae. Yet another alteration was made, perhaps early in the sixth century; p339 the province of Aegyptus was divided into two, Prima and Secunda.15

A chargeº of a different kind, but based on the same principle of dividing responsibility, had been introduced by Anastasius in Thrace. When he constructed the Long Wall he established a new vicariate, at the expense of the vicariate or diocese of Thrace. We do not know its extent, or with powers the new official possessed, but as he was entitled "Vicar of the Long Walls" his diocese evidently stretched northwards from Constantinople.16

Justinian did not indeed attempt a complete revision of the existing system, but he made a great number of changes in which he departed from the principles of Diocletian. He combined in some cases small provinces to form larger circumscriptions; he did away with most of the diocesan governors, who formed the intermediate links in the hierarchical chain between the provincial governors and the Praetorian Prefect; and he united in many case the civil and military powers which had been so strictly divorced by Diocletian. The tendency of these changes anticipates to some extent the later system which was to come into being in the seventh century and was characterised by large provinces, the union of civil and military administration in the same hands, and the total disappearance of the dioceses. The reforms of Justinian, which belong to the years 535 and 536, were called forth by particular circumstances. Some of them were designed to avert conflicts between the civil and military authorities.

The Count of the East was deprived of his jurisdiction over the Orient diocese and, retaining his title, rank, and emoluments, became the civil governor of the province of Syria Prima. The Vicariate of Asiana was likewise abolished, and the vicar became the governor of Phrygia Pacatiana, exercising both civil and military powers, and adorned with the new title of comes Iustinianus.17

Similarly the Vicariate of Pontica was abolished, the vicar becoming the comes Iustinianus of Galatia Prima. But this arrangement was found to work badly, and at the end of thirteen p340 years the vicariate was restored. We are told that the Pontic provinces were infested by robbers and assassins, who formed armed bands and escaped the justice which threatened them in one province by moving into another. No governor ventured to transgress the limits of his own province by pursuing them. It seemed that the difficulty could only be met by the appointment of a superior governor with jurisdiction over all the provinces, and the vicar of Pontica was reinstated, but with powers considerably larger than those which had belonged to him before. He was to have military and financial as well as civil functions. He was to be the vicar not only of the Praetorian Prefect, but also of the Master of Soldiers, and was to have authority over all the troops stationed in his diocese. He was also to represent the Master of Offices and the Counts of the Private Estate and the Sacred Patrimony; so that none of the officials who served these ministers could defy or evade his authority.18

In Thrace discord between the military and civil officials appears to have been incessant, and as the Thracian provinces constantly suffered from the incursions of the barbarians, want of harmony in the administration was more disastrous here than elsewhere. Justinian abolished the Vicar of Thrace and the Vicar of the Long Wall, and committed the civil and military power of the whole diocese to a single governor with the title of Praetor Justinianus of Thrace.19 Soon afterwards, however, the dominion of the new Praetor was curtailed by the withdrawal from his jurisdiction of the frontier provinces of Lower Moesia and Scythia. These, by a very curious arrangement, were associated with Caria, the Cyclades, and Cyprus, and placed under the control of a governor entitled Quaestor Iustinianus of the Army, who enjoyed an authority independent of the Praetorian Prefect as well as of the Master of Soldiers. He was really a fourth Praetorian Prefect but with military functions, and his institution must have been deliberately intended to diminish the power of the Prefect of the East. The motive of this strange union of provinces so far apart and without any common interest to connect them is unknown;20 but we may conjecture that the p341 object was to place the financial expenses of administering the Danubian lands, exhausted by invasions, on provinces which were exceptionally rich.21

These changes made a considerable breach in the hierarchical system which had been constructed by Diocletian and Constantine. The union of civil and military powers was also introduced in many of the Asiatic provinces, and in every case the new governor received the rank of spectabilis and a new title. Pisidia and Lycaonia were each placed under a Praetor Iustinianus. The Count of Isauria had already possessed the double authority under the old system; Justinian did not change his title, but gave him the rank of spectabilis.22 In three cases large provinces were created by the union of two smaller. Pontus Polemoniacus was joined to Helenopontus, and formed a new Helenopontus under a Moderator Iustinianus. Paphlagonia and Honorias were reunited as Paphlagonia under a Praetor Iustinianus. The Moderator and the Praetor possessed the double functions.23

The third case was the union of the two provinces of Cappadocia under a Proconsul Iustinianus. Cappadocia presented peculiar problems of its own. It had drifted into an almost anarchical condition which demanded special treatment. Here were the large Imperial domains, which were under the management of the Praepositus of the Sacred Bedchamber, and the rest of the land seems to have mainly consisted of large private estates. The wealthy landowners and their stewards kept bodies of armed retainers, and acted as if they were masters of the provinces. They even encroached upon the Imperial domains, and the Emperor complains that "almost all the Imperial Estate has become private property." He declares that every day he and his ministers have to deal with the petitions of Cappadocians who have been deprived of their property, including clergy and especially women. The governors and officials were afraid to p342 resist these powerful magnates, who stopped their mouths with gold. "The crimes which are committed in that country," says Justinian, "are so many that even the greatest man would find it difficult to check them." He therefore invested the new governor of united Cappadocia with exceptional powers and prestige. The Proconsul controlled the civil administration and the military forces, but he was also responsible for the revenue and controlled all the officials and agents of the Private Estate, and that not only in Cappadocia, but in other provinces of the Pontic diocese. He received a salary double that of the Moderator of Helenopontus or the Praetor of Paphlagonia.24

Some changes were also made in the administration of Egypt.25 Here perhaps the chief preoccupation of the government was to secure the regular delivery of the grain with which the country of the Nile supplied Constantinople. Justinian found that the wheels of the administrative machinery were out of gear. For some time back, he says, things have been in such confusion in the Egyptian Diocese that the central authorities have not known what was going on there. "The taxpayers asserted that all the legal dues were demanded in a lump, and that they had entirely fulfilled their liabilities, while we received nothing beyond the cornº supplies; and the curials, the pagarchs (mayors of the villages), the tax-collectors, and the governors arranged things in such a way as to obscure the true facts and to make profit for themselves." But there were other considerations, which, though not specially mentioned in the Imperial edict, must have influenced the legislator. In A.D. 536 and 537 Alexandria had been the scene of popular seditions, arising out of a contest between two heretical claimants to the Patriarchal throne. The military forces had been powerless to suppress the disorders.26

Justinian here adopted a policy opposite to that which he had pursued in Cappadocia. Instead of making one man responsible for the whole administration, he reduced the responsibilities p343 of the Augustal Prefect, who had hitherto governed the Diocese. He made him governor of Alexandria and of the two provinces of Aegyptus Prima and Aegyptus Secunda, with civil and military powers.27 These provinces were not united; they still retained their civil governors, subordinate to the Prefect, who now bore the title of duke. The Emperor expressly justified this change by the consideration that the supervision of the whole Diocese was too much for one man. It is not quite clear whether the two provinces of Lower and Upper Libya were united under one civil prefect, or whether they continued to be distinct, but in either case the governors were placed under the control of the military duke of the Libyan frontier.28 In Upper Egypt the duke of the Thebaid received the Augustal title and was endowed with both civil and military authority over the two Thebaid provinces whose governors were subordinate to him. The general result of these reforms was the completion of the policy of abolishing Diocesan governors in the Eastern Prefecture. In Egypt there were now eight (or nine) provinces grouped in five independent circumscriptions, Egypt, Augustamnica, Arcadia,29 Thebais, and Libya, of which the governors had each military as well as civil competence and were directly responsible to the Praetorian Prefect of the East.

The law which introduced these changes laid down minute regulations for the collection and transportation of the corn supplies both for Constantinople and for Alexandria, and for the gathering in of all other dues whether for the treasury of the Praetorian Prefect or for that of the Count of the Sacred Largesses. The several duties and responsibilities of all the authorities concerned were carefully distinguished.

p344 The treatment of the Armenian provinces, which embraced the most easterly districts of the Diocese of Pontus, stands apart. Here Justinian's policy was not to increase the size of the governments, but to rearrange.a He formed four provinces, partly by readjustments in the two old Armenian provinces, partly by taking districts from Helenopontus, and partly by converting new districts into provincial territory, suppressing the native satraps.

The new First Armenia, which had the privilege of being governed by a proconsul, included four towns of the old First Armenia, namely Theodosiopolis, Satala, Nicopolis, and Colonea, and two towns of the old Pontus Polemoniacus, Trapezus and Cerasus. The once important town of Bazanis or Leontopolis received the name of the Emperor, and was elevated to the rank of the metropolis.

The new Second Armenia, under a praeses, corresponded to the old First Armenia, and included its towns Sebastea and Sebastopolis. But in place of the towns which Justinian handed over to the new First Armenia, it received Comana, Zela, and Brisa from the new province of Helenopontus.

The Third Armenia, governed by a comes Iustinianus with military as well as civil authority, corresponded to the old Second Armenia, and included Melitene, Arca, Arabissus, Cucusus, Ariarathea, and Cappadocian Comana.

Fourth Armenia was a province new in fact as well as in name, consisting of the Roman districts beyond the Euphrates30 (to the east of the Third Armenia), which had hitherto been governed by native satraps. It was placed under a consular, and the metropolis was Martyropolis.

The names appear to have been determined by the geographical order. The new trans-Euphratean province went naturally with the district of Melitene, and therefore the Second Armenia became the Third, because it was connected with what it was most natural to call the Fourth. For the consular of Fourth Armenia was to be in a certain way dependent on the count of Third Armenia, who was to hear appeals from the less important province. In the same way the new First and Second Armenias naturally went together, and therefore it was convenient p345 that the numbers should be consecutive. The praeses of Second was dependent to a certain extent on the proconsul of First Armenia.31

In the case of these provinces, Justinian not only revised the administrative machinery, but also introduced changes of another kind. Hitherto the Armenians had lived according to their own laws and customs, and had not been called upon to regulate their private dealings according to the civil law of Rome. It was in the domain of real property that the divergence of Armenian from Roman law provoked the Emperor's special intervention. Armenian estates32 passed undivided from father to son, or in default of a son to the nearest male agnate. No proprietor could leave his property by will — wills, in fact, were unknown. No woman could inherit, nor did she receive a dowry when she married. Justinian determined to break down this system, which he professes to consider barbarous; and in two successive laws33 he ordained that henceforward the inheritance of property should be regulated by Roman law, that women should inherit their due shares, and should receive dowries. It is not probable that Justinian was moved to this reform solely by consideration of the female population of the Armenian provinces. Apart from the fact that it outraged his ideal of uniformity that Roman law should not prevail in any quarter of the Empire, we may suspect that it was his aim to break up the large estates of Armenia and thereby weaken the power of the princes and magnates, to force them to give up their national exclusiveness and draw them into the sphere of general Imperial interests.34 The policy was crowned with success. Constantinople and the Imperial service had already begun to attract many Armenians, and this movement towards the centre increased. In Justinian's reign men of this race began to come to the front in the Imperial service; Narses and Artabanes are the p346 most eminent examples. Hereafter they would ascend the throne itself.35

The long list of administrative changes which we have surveyed shows that the Emperor addressed himself earnestly in A.D. 535 to the task of thoroughly overhauling the system of provincial government, and, in the appreciation of his work as a ruler, these reforms have hardly received due attention. He did not attempt, according to any general preconceived plan, to organise a new system, like Augustus or Diocletian, but sought to remedy, in each case according to its own circumstances, the defects of the existing scheme. It is characteristic of him that he likes to justify his innovations by appeals to history and antiquity. For example, when he bestows upon Lycaonia a governor of higher rank with the title of praetor, he pedantically recalls the legendary connexion of the country with Lycaon of Arcadia, who was also said to have colonised in Italy, thereby anticipating Aeneas the ancestor of Romulus. "On this account, it would be just to decorate the province with the ancient symbols of Roman government, and therefore we give the governor the title of praetor, older even than that of consul." It was probably a consideration of public opinion as well as his own personal sentiments that made him seek to represent his innovations, whenever it was possible, as reversions to an older order. He wished it to be thought, and possibly thought himself, that he was "reintroducing antiquity with greater splendour."36 He frequently speaks with pride of his own native language, Latin; yet it was in his reign that it definitely became the practice to issue the laws in Greek. The contrast between the innovator and the enthusiast for historical tradition stands out most conspicuously in the abolition of the consulship.

§ 3. The Lapse of the Consulship (A.D. 542)

It would be difficult to contend that Justinian in allowing the consulship to lapse was not thoroughly justified by the p347 circumstances. Before he finally took this step, he had made an effort to render possible the preservation of an institution "which for nearly a thousand years had grown with the growth of the Roman state." For all political purposes the institution was obsolete. It was a distinction to a man to hold it, to give his name to the year and have it perpetuated in the Fasti Consulares. But the public spectacles, which the new consul exhibited in the first weeks of January, and the largesses which he was expected to distribute to the people, entailed a large outlay, which only the wealthiest could undertake. It became more and more difficult to find private persons ready to incur the expenditure, which amounted to at least 2000 lbs. of gold (£90,000), for the sake of the honour, and the Emperor was sometimes obliged to contribute from the treasury a large part of the money.37 Belisarius was consul in A.D. 535, and in the two following years no consul was elected, presumably because no one was willing to pay and the treasury could not afford the luxury. We can well imagine that there was much disappointment and discontent among the populace of the capital, and Justinian attempted to rescue the endangered institution by a legal curtailment of the expenses. The Praetorian Prefect, John of Cappadocia, had come forward to fill the consulship for A.D. 538, perhaps on this condition, and a few days before the kalends of January the Emperor subscribed a law38 which abbreviated the programme of consular spectacles, made it optional for the consul to distribute a largesse or not, but ordained that if there were a distribution it should be of silver not of gold.39 It is manifest that the permission to withhold the largesse was useless, as no consul could have ventured to face the unpopularity which such an economy would bring upon him. The people ought to be grateful to him, Justinian thinks, not grumble p348 at this curtailment of the amusements and largesses to which they have been accustomed, for they are threatened with the alternative of enjoying neither one nor the other. He expressly exempted the Emperor from the provisions of the law.

The new regulations postponed the doom of the consulship for just four years. Basilius was consul for A.D. 541,40 and he was the last private person to hold it. The practice of dating years officially by the consuls was not given up. During the rest of Justinian's reign the year was designated as "such and such a year after the consulship of Basilius."41 Succeeding Emperors assumed the consular dignity in the first year of their reigns. But Justinian introduced a new system of dating state documents by three distinct indications, the consulate (or post-consulate), the regnal year of the Emperor, and the indiction (A.D. 537).42 The innovation of using the regnal year as an official mark of time was perhaps suggested by the practice of the Vandal kings.43

§ 4. Financial Policy

The system of raising revenue in the later Roman Empire was so oppressive that there is perhaps no Emperor whom a hostile critic could not have made out a case for charging with a deliberate design to ruin his subjects. The lot of the provincials might have been tolerable if the ministers and governors and their hosts of subordinate officials had all been men of stainless integrity, but an incorruptible official seems to have been the exception. The laws show how the Emperors were always striving to secure a just and honest administration and imagining new devices to check corruption and oppression. In such endeavours Justinian was indefatigable, as his laws eloquently prove. But it was easy for an enemy to dwell on all the evils and abuses which p349 existed, to represent them as due to his deliberate policy, and to ignore his remedial legislation or misinterpret its intention. This is the method of the author of the Secret History. His statements as to the abuses and hardships and misery suffered by Justinian's subjects are borne out in general by Justinian's own statements in his laws, but the same laws disprove the historian's inferences as to the Emperor's intentions. Although, as has been observed, his policy of aggrandisement and the scale of his public expenditure placed a disastrous strain on the resources of his subjects, he was far from being indifferent to their welfare, and he fully understood that it was to the interest of the treasury that they should be protected from injustice and extortion. We have already seen some of his efforts in connexion with his reforms in the provincial administration. The fact remains, however, that he was inflexible in insisting on the regular exaction of legal dues and was less liberal and prudent than many of his predecessors in cancelling accumulated arrears, and remitting the taxation of provinces which had been devastated by hostile invasions.44

If we examine the principal charges of economic oppression which were preferred against him by his enemies, we shall find that the abuses which they stigmatise were for the most part not new inventions of Justinian but legacies from the past. There was nothing new, for instance, in the fact that the inhabitants of the provinces through which troops passed to the scene of war were bound to provide food for the soldiers and fodder for the horses, and to transport these supplies to the camps. Sometimes a province had not sufficient provisions and they had to be procured elsewhere. The system, which was known as coemption,45 lent itself to intolerable exactions, p350 and Justinian in A.D. 545 issued a law to guard the interests of the inhabitants. It provided that they should be paid in full for all they furnished to the troops, and that no contributions in money should be demanded from them, and forbade them to give anything gratuitously or without a written receipt.46 Another burdensome institution was the epibole, which, it will be remembered, when lands fell out of cultivation, made, in certain cases, neighbouring landowners responsible for the taxes. Justinian maintained this principle, but he does not appear to have made it harsher than before, and he sought to guard against its abuse.47 It is probable, however, that in the oriental provinces during the Second Persian War the invasions of the enemy as well as the pestilence had caused the ruin of many proprietors, and that the application of the epibole was a frequent and serious grievance.48

One tax is mentioned which seems to have been a novelty, and of which we can find no trace in the Imperial legislation. It was called the air-tax or sky-tax (aërikon), a name which suggests that it was a tax on high buildings, such as the insulae or apartment houses in cities. It was administered by the Praetorian Prefect and yield 3000 lbs. of gold (£135,000) a year to the treasury, while it is insinuated that the Prefects made much more out of it.49

p351 The decay of municipal life reached a further stage in the reign of Justinian, who describes its decline;50 and increased interference on the part of the central government in the local finances seems to have been unavoidable. We saw how Anastasius took the supervision of the collection of taxes out of the hands of the decurions and appointed vindices, whose administration proved a failure. Justinian stigmatises them as pestilential and appears to have abolished them, though not entirely.51 The rates, known as politika, which were imposed for municipal purposes and used to be altogether under the control of the local authorities, had already in the time of Anastasius been partly appropriated by the fisc. They were collected along with the other taxes, and were divided into two portions, of which one went to the treasury, the other to the cities. The same Emperor sometimes sent a special inspector to see that the necessary public works were carried out.52 In A.D. 530 Justinian placed the management of the public works, the local expenditure, and the control of the accounts in the hands of the bishops and the leading local dignitaries. But he reserved to himself the right of sending special accountants to exercise supervision.53 These accountants (discussores) must be sent by his own personal mandate, and the local authorities are warned to recognise no one who comes with a mandate of the Praetorian Prefect. It would appear that the treatment of the politika as a due to the treasury had given the Praetorian Prefects and their officials additional opportunities of injustice and extortion, for the Emperor shows great concern to exclude any interference on the part of this ministry in the local administration. Some years later he committed to the provincial governors the general duty of seeing that the most necessary public works, such as repairs of bridges, roads, walls, harbours, were carried out, that the cities were properly provisioned with food, and that the p352 accounts were duly audited. But they were to do this in person and not through subordinates.54

But the proceeds of the local taxes, diminished by the claims of the treasury, were frequently insufficient to defray the municipal upkeep, especially when exceptional expenses were incurred in consequence of earthquakes, for instance, or hostile invasions. In such cases, the matter was referred to the Emperor, who sometimes advanced large sums from the treasury to assist a city which had been visited by some grave disaster. But as a rule the method was to levy a special tax known as a description, which was assessed in proportion to the amount of the land-tax. That this tax gave rise to abuses is shown by the fact that Justinian forbids governors to impose descriptions on towns during their progresses through the provinces.55

The decline of the municipal resources became more marked from A.D. 543 onwards in consequence of the ravages of the Plague, and it led to the decay of the liberal professions. The cities, forced to economise, withdrew the public salaries which they had hitherto paid to physicians and teachers. Advocates are said to have suffered because people were so impoverished that they could not afford the luxury of litigation. Some towns could not defray the cost of lighting the streets, and public amusements, theatres, and chariot races were curtailed.56

On the whole, although he made alterations in detail, which were chiefly designed to check the abuse of their authority by officials and to diminish the power of the Praetorian Prefect, Justinian preserved the existing financial system in all its essential principles. He did not make it worse, and he endeavoured to arrest the progress of municipal decay. The ruin p353 wrought by the inroads of the Persians and of the northern barbarians, and the effects of the Plague made, however, in many parts of the Empire the burdens more grievous than ever, and the Emperor may be blamed for not seeing that a fundamental and drastic reform of the whole system of taxation was demanded in the interest of the public welfare. The retrenchments which he might well have made in the early years of his reign, instead of embarking on large schemes of conquest and spending exorbitant sums on buildings, were almost impossible subsequently when he was involved simultaneously in the wars with Persia and the Ostrogoths. The measure to which he was forced in A.D. 552 of cancelling all arrears of taxation is an eloquent indication of the plight of the provinces, for his previous policy shows that he would not have forgone a fraction of the treasury's legal dues unless absolute necessity had compelled him.57

The conquest of Africa enabled him to make large additions to the Imperial estates,58 but in the eastern provinces also the Private Estate and the crown domains appear to have been gradually and considerably extended, at the expense of adjacent private property. We have not much information as to the methods and pretexts by which this was effected, but about fifteen years after the death of Justinian complaints reached the Emperor Tiberius from almost all the provinces as to the unjust appropriation of private property by the officials of Imperial estates.59 That this form of robbery was practised in Justinian's reign we have other evidence.60 In some cases on p354 the death of a proprietor his will or the claims of his legal heirs were set aside and his possessions acquired by the fisc. It is only too likely that many unjust acts were deliberately committed by the help of legal quibbles, but we need not pay serious attention to the allegations that Justinian forged wills or acts of donation in order to acquire the possessions of rich subjects.61 Nor does the less improbable charge that he misused criminal justice for the purpose of confiscating property seem to be borne out by the facts. For instance, he restored, so far as he was able, to the disloyal senators their properties which had become forfeit to the State after the Nika rebellion. And in the later years of his reign, at a time when fiscal necessities were urgent, he abolished confiscation as a penalty for ordinary crimes.62

The treatment of the private estates had varied, as we have seen, from time to time since the days of Septimius Severus. The last innovation had been that of Anastasius who, instead of incorporating recently confiscated lands in the res privata, had instituted a new minister, the Count of the Patrimony. This had simply meant a division of administration, for the Patrimony as well as the Private Estate was appropriated to public needs, not to the Emperor's private use. Justinian made yet another change. The Patrimony disappears,63 and the domains which composed it are placed under the management of Curatores (curatores divinae domus). We do not know exactly what was involved in this change; more perhaps than a mere change of p355 name. The domus divina was the patrimony,64 and the Curator, subordinate to whom were the curators of the several domains,65 discharged functions of the comes patrimonii. But the Curator seems to have been a court official rather than a State official, and Justinian's aim may have been to assert the principle that the administration of the patrimonial domains, consisting of confiscated properties, was the Emperor's own personal affair.

The policy of this reign in regard to trade is not very clear, and it is difficult to say how far it was responsible for the economic crises which arose and compelled the intervention of the government. Some changes were made in the custom-house arrangements at Constantinople. Hitherto the custom duties had been collected when ships reached the harbour of the capital. But there were posts of observation in the Hellespont and the Bosphorus to make sure that the public regulations were not evaded. An officer was stationed at Abydos to see that no vessel with a cargo of arms entered the straits without Imperial orders, and that no vessel passed through to the Aegean without papers duly signed by the Master of Offices. This officer was paid by fees levied on the owners of the ships.66 Another officer was posted at Hieron, at the northern issue of the Bosphorus, to examine the cargoes of craft sailing into the Euxine and prevent the export of certain wares which it was forbidden to furnish to the peoples of southern Russia and the Caucasian regions.67 He was paid a fixed salary and received no money from the shipowners. Justinian's innovation was to convert both these stations into custom-houses for imports, of which the officials were salaried but also received an additional bonus proportionate to the amount of the duties which they collected.68 p356 But the tolls on exports were still collected at Constantinople, and these charges are said to have been so onerous that they forced the merchants to raise the prices of their wares enormously. But we have no information as to the tariff.69

Justinian is accused of having made necessaries as well as luxuries dearer not only by exorbitant duties on merchandise — a charge which we cannot control — but also by establishing "monopolies" for the benefit of the government.70 The restrictions which he imposed in the silk trade were considered when we surveyed the commercial relations of the Empire with foreign lands, and we saw that, though his policy in some respects was not happy, he deserves credit for his efforts to solve a difficult problem. It is far from clear how he made an income of 300 lbs. of gold from the sale of bread in the capital, as he is alleged to have done.71 Whatever new regulations were introduced cannot be described as a monopoly in the proper sense of the term. It is, however, certain that in the years after the Plague the price of labour rose considerably, and in A.D. 544 the Emperor issued an edict to re-establish the old prices. "We have learned," he says, "that since the visitation of God traders and artisans and husbandmen and sailors have yielded to a spirit of covetousness and are demanding prices and wages two or three times as great as they formerly received. We therefore forbid all such to demand higher wages or prices than before. We also forbid contractors for building and for agricultural and other works to pay the workmen more than was customary in old days." A fine of three times the additional profit was imposed on those who transgressed the edict. Justinian evidently assumes that there was no good reason for the higher rates. Unfortunately we have no information as to the effects of the edict, in which the interests of the customers are solely considered.72 That there was a fall of credit even before the Plague p357 is indicated by measures which were taken to protect the interests of the powerful corporation of bankers against their debtors.73

It would probably be rash to infer from the tendency of interest on loans to rise since A.D. 472 that trade had been tending to decline.74 The ordinary commercial rate of interest in Justinian's reign was 8 per cent.75 On good securities money could be borrowed at 5 or 6 per cent. Justinian paid attention to the question of interest and reduced the maximum 12 per cent, which had hitherto been legal, to 8, except in the case of maritime ventures, where 12 was allowed. But 8 was allowed only in the case of traders, and 6 was fixed as the maximum for loans between private persons. In the case of money advanced to peasants he enacted that only 4 per cent should be charged, and he forbade senators of illustrious or higher rank to exact more than 4 per cent.

The coinage of Justinian's reign, which is exceptionally abundant, may be taken as testifying to a flourishing condition of commerce. The curious statement in the Secret History that he depreciated the gold coinage has no confirmation in the evidence of the extant nomismata.76 The number of Imperial mints was increased, not only in consequence of the conquest of Africa and Italy, but also by the establishment of a new centre in the East.77 The minting of gold was confined to Constantinople, and silver was issued only there and in Carthage.

If Justinian was blamed for his expenditure on wars, for his extravagance in building, for the large sums with which he bought off the hostilities of the northern barbarians, he was blamed no less for his economies. Some of these may have been short-sighted and unwise, for instance the curtailments of the p358 public Post, to which attention has already been called, and the reduction of the intelligence department.78 But much greater dissatisfaction was caused by economies which to an impartial posterity seem unquestionably justified. Such, for instance, were the abolition of the consulship, which had ceased to perform any useful function, the reduction of expenses on public amusements, the discontinuance of the large distribution of corn which, since the time of Diocletian, had pauperised the proletariate of Alexandria.79 Another economy was the diminution of the pensions of the officials serving in the central bureaux, which had hitherto cost the treasury about 10,000 lbs. of gold (£450,000), a measure which must have been extremely unpopular.80

The parsimony of Justinian which seems most open to criticism was in the treatment of the army. He reduced its numbers and tried to reduce the expenses on its upkeep. The names of the dead remained on the lists, new soldiers were not recruited, and there was no promotion. The old practice of Imperial donatives every five years was discontinued. Pay was always in arrears, and was often refused altogether on various pretexts. No sooner had a soldier received his pay than the logothete appeared with a bill for taxes. We are told that Justinian appointed the worst sort of men as logothetes, and they received a commission of one-twelfth on all they managed to collect. After the peace of A.D. 545 there appears to have been a considerable reduction of the frontier forces in the East.81

p359 That the efficiency of Justinian's administration degenerated in the latter part of his reign there is every sign. After the deaths of Theodora and Germanus he concentrated his attention more and more on theology — in caelum mens omnis erat — and was inclined to neglect public affairs and postpone decisions. When he died it was probably the general opinion that it was high time for a younger man to take the helm and restore, above all, the financial situation. For the fisc was exhausted.82


The Author's Notes:

1 For instance, Nov. 151 (A.D. 533‑534), intended to check the practice of senators and officials in the provinces coming to Constantinople on litigation business, was due to a relatio of John Capp.

2 Nov. 8 (April 15, 535). Procopius refers to this law (H. A. 21.16) and says that before a year had passed Justinian disregarded it and allowed the offices to be sold openly.

3 The fees (συνήθειαι) for the higher posts (like the comes Orientis, proconsul of Asia) amounted to £122:10s, for the posts of consular rank £47:10s, for those of praeses or corrector, about £39.

4 See Edicts 2 and 12.

5 Nov. 95 (539); cp. Nov. 8, § 9.

6 Nov. 15 (535); Nov. 86 (539).

7 Nov. 80 (A.D. 539), addressed to the Pr. Prefect of the East, because it concerned the provincials as well as the capital. The institution of the quaesitor is also mentioned by John Lyd. De mag. II.29 (τὸν λεγόμενον κυαισίτορα ἀντι τοῦ τῶν βιωτικῶν ἐγκλημάτων ἐπρευνάδα σεμνότατον), by John Mal. XVIII.479 (A.D. 539‑540), and by Procopius, H. A. 20.9 and 11. The notice of Procopius ignores the principal functions of the quaesitor, and represents him as concerned with unnatural vice and offences against religion. Nothing is said of such duties in Nov. 80, and Panchenko (O tain. ist. 213) therefore thinks that the quaesitor of Procopius and John Lydus is a different official from that of Nov. 80, whose title he supposes to have been quaestor. But he is wrong in supposing that κοιαισίτωρº has no manuscript authority in the Novel (see Kroll's ed. p391). The difficulty may easily be solved, I think, by supposing that the duties mentioned by Procopius were subsequently assigned to the quaesitor, who was already empowered (Nov. 80, § 7) to try cases of forgery (πλαστογραφία).

8 The business affairs, referred to in the law, are chiefly lawsuits (cp. Nov. 69), or the affairs of agricultural tenants whose landlords resided in the capital. Persons who have once been dismissed from the city by the quaesitor and return are liable to punishment (§ 9).

9 The Greek terms was νυκτέπαρχος "night-prefect," which Justinian wastes many words in deriding.

10 Πραίτωρ δήμων, Nov. 13, A.D. 535 (John Mal. ib., gives a wrong date, 539); John Lyd. ib.; Procopius, ib. We can infer from the law that at this time crime was particularly prevalent in the capital; and the Praefectus Vigilum employed agents who were in collusion with the criminals. Procopius complains that the Praetor and the Quaesitor were arbitrary in administering justice, condemning men without evidence, and, in accordance with his thesis, represents them as instituted for the purpose of oppression and extortion.

11 John Mal. XIII.347‑348.

12 Not. dig., Or. I.29. See M. Gelzer, Stud. z. byz. Verw. Ägyptens, 8‑9.

13 Before A.D. 535 (Hierocles, Synekd. 726.3; 727.13; Justinian, Nov. 8).

14 We have a contemporary record of this change in an Imperial rescript preserved in a Leiden papyrus (Archiv für Papyrusforschung, I.397), and discussed by Gelzer, ib. 10 sqq., who shows that the innovation must be dated between 435 and 450. The Upper Thebaid extended from Ptolemais to Omboi.

15 Nov. 8 (April 15, 535); in Hierocles Egypt is still one province. The precise date of the notitia of Hierocles has not been fixed.

16 The sources are the notitiae appended to Nov. 8, and Nov. 26. That the vicariate was created by Anastasius is not stated, but is a natural inference.

17 Nov. 8 (April 15, 535).

18 Edict 8, A.D. 548.

19 Nov. 26, A.D. 535, May 18.

20 The body of the law (Nov. 41) which created the office, May 18, 536, is lost, but information is supplied by Nov. 50 (August 537).

21 This is rather suggested by the words of John Lyd. De mag. II.29 προάγει ἔπαρχωον ἐπόπτην τῶν Σκυθικῶν δυνάμεων, ἀφορίσας αὐτῷ ἐπαρχίας τρεῖς τὰς τασῶν ἐγγὺς εὐπορυτάτας.

22 Pisidia, Nov. 24; Lycaonia, Nov. 25; Isauria, Nov. 27 (all in May 535).

23 Helenopontus, Nov. 28; Paphlagonia, Nov. 29 (July 535). Other changes were the elevation of the praeses of Phoenicia Libanensis to the rank of Moderator (spectabilis), and that of the praeses of Palestine Salutaris to that of proconsul, with authority to supervise the government of Palestine Secunda. See Edict 4 and Nov. 103 (536). The civil governor of Arabia, whose authority had been reduced to a cipher by that of the duke, was made a moderator, Nov. 102 (536).

24 Nov. 30. The salary of the Proconsul was 20 lbs. of gold (about £900); that of the Moderator and the Praetor was 725 nom. (about £450). The Praetors of Thrace, Lycaonia, and Pisidia received 300 nom. annually (£187).

25 Edict 13, A.D. 538‑539 (there can be little doubt about the date; it was addressed to John Capp. in a 2nd indiction, see § 15 and § 24. The reasons given by Zachariä von L. for ascribing it to 553‑554 are not convincing, and are confuted by papyrus evidence, see Gelzer, ib. 23 sq.). This long edict throws much light on the arrangements connected with the corn supplies.

26 Liberatus, Brev. 19. Cp. Gelzer, ib. 25 sqq.

27 Mareotes and the city of Menelaites were separated from Aegyptus Prima and added to the province of Libya. The Prefect's staff, both civil (αὐγουσταλιανή) and military (δουκική), was to number 600, and he was to receive the large salary of 40 lbs. of gold (£1800).

28 The Edict speaks of ἡ Λιβύων ἐπαρχία and τοῦ τῆς Λιβύων πολιτικοῦ (civil) ἄρχοντος, as if there were only one province (cp. the note of Zachariä v. L. in his edition, p51). But in the Descriptio orbis Romani of Georgius Cyprius (c. A.D. 600) the two provinces appear (ed. Gelzer, p40). Paraeetonium in Lower Libya was the seat of the duke of the Libyan frontier. Upper Libya was the Cyrenaica.

29 Arcadia is not mentioned in the Edict, but there is some evidence from papyri which confirms the reasonable inference that it was independent (Gelzer, ib. 29). From the same sources we learn that the governor was known as the count of Arcadia, and afterwards had the rank of Patrician (ib. 33), a dignity which was also conferred on the Augustal dukes of Egypt and the Thebaid. For the title δοὺξ κιὰ αὐγουστάλιος of the duke of Thebais see ib. 23.

30 Sophanene, Anxitene, Sophene, Asthianene, and Belabitene. Cp. Procopius, Aed. III.1.

31 Nov. 31 (March 536). The regulations are discussed at length by Adonts, Armeniia v Epokhu Iustiniana, 157 sqq. I cannot think that he is right in supposing that in selecting his First and Third Armenia as provinces of superior rank the Emperor was influenced by no better reason than "to reward the Imperial favourites Acacius and Thomas," who at the time were governing in those districts (p176); for he could easily have transferred them. Both these persons were of Armenian origin, and Procopius gives Acacius a very bad character (B. P. II.3).

32 Γενεαρχικὰ χωρία.

33 Edict 3 (535): Nov. 21 (March 536). These documents are discussed at length by Adonts, op. cit. 184 sqq.

34 Adonts, ib. 201.

35 In the period after Justinian, and indirectly as a consequence of his policy, a westward expansion of the Armenian population began in two directions, from the Second Armenia westward towards Caesarea and north-westward towards the Black Sea, and from the Third Armenia south-westward towards Cilicia and the Mediterranean. See Adonts, ib. 203 sq.

36 Τὴν παλαιότητα πάλιν μετὰ μείζονος ἄνθους εἰς τὴν πολιτείαν ἐπαναγαγόντες, Nov. 24, § 1.

37 Procopius, H. A. 23.13.

38 Nov. 105, dated 537, December 28. It is addressed to Strategius, Count of the Sacred Largesses, presumably because the fisc had sometimes contributed to the expenses. Justinian says that the law is intended to secure that the consulship shall be perpetual and not beyond any suitable person's purse (ὅπως ἂν διηνεκὴς μείνῃ Ῥωμαίοις ἅπασι δὲ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς ἀνδράσιν ὑπάρχῃ βατή). It provides that the consular festivities shall last for only seven days: January 1, inaugural procession and ceremony of investiture January 2, chariot races; January 3, theatrokynêgion (exhibition of wild beasts); January 4, combats of men with wild beasts; January 5, theatrical representations; January 6, chariot races; January 7, the consul lays down his office.

39 § 2. The silver is to be in the form of miliaresia καὶ μήλοις καὶ καυκίοις (cups) καὶ τετραγωνίοις καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις.

40 One leaf of the consular diptych of Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius is preserved in Florence, and Meyer thinks that the second leaf may be identified with one in the Brera at Milan, with the inscription Et inlustris ex c. domesticorum patricius cons. ord. (Zwei ant. Elfenb. pp74‑75).

41 A.D. 536 and 537, in which no consul was elected, had been designated as p. c. Belisarii and p. c. Bel. ann. II.

42 Nov. 47 (August 31). (E.g. a law of March 545 is dated "in the 18th year of Justinian, the 4th after the consulship of Basilius, the 8th indiction.") Shortly afterwards in 538‑539, the practice came in of dating the issue of bronze coins by the number of the regnal year on the reverse.

43 See Mommsen, Hist. Schr. III.357.

44 Procopius, H. A. 23 (where it is, however, acknowledged that a year's tribute was remitted to cities actually taken by an enemy). It is stated here that there was no remission of arrears throughout the thirty-two years of his rule from 518 to 550 (the author represents Justin's reign as virtually part of Justinian's). This is not accurate, as there was a remission in 522 (Nov. 147, § 1). In 553, however, there was a general remission of all arrears to 554 inclusive (ib.).

45 Συνωνή. There was another form of coemption of which Procopius (H. A. 22.17 sqq.) complains and gives one example. One year when the harvest in Egypt was bad and the corn supply was insufficient for the needs of the people, the Praetorian Prefect bought up immense quantities in Thrace and Bithynia at low compulsory prices; the farmers were obliged to transport the corn to the capital, and were at a dead loss. This seems to have occurred in 545‑546, shortly before Peter Barsymes was deposed from the office of Prefect.

46 Nov. 130. Quartering soldiers in private houses was forbidden (§ 9). Procopius, H. A. 23.11 sqq.

47 Nov. 128 (A.D. 545), §§ 7, 8. Here the persons responsible are described as οἱ ὁμόδουλα ἢ ὁμόκηνσα χωρία κεκτημένοι (see above, Chap. XIII p444 sq., where the general nature of the epibole is explained). It is expressly stated that they were not liable for arrears. Justin and Justinian relieved Church lands from liability to the epibole (see Cyril, Vita Sabae, 294).

48 Procopius, ib. 9 and 15‑16.

49 The only source is Procopius, H. A. 21.1 sqq., who states that it was an unusual tax and was so called ὥσπεξτατορ ἐξ ἀέρος ἀεὶ αὐτὴν φερομένην. In much later times we meet a tax of the same name (Leo VI Tactica, XX.71; Alexius Comnenus, Nov. 27, § 4). Kalligas, improbably, explains the ἀερικόν as a hearth-tax (καπνικόν); such a tax would have produced a far larger sum. The discussion of Panchenko (O tainoi ist. 149 sqq.) throws little light on it, and he misinterprets Procopius, who says καὶ ταῦτα μὲν τῷ αὐτογράτροι ἀποφέρειν ἠξίουν, αὐτοι δὲ πλοῦτον βασιλικὸν περιεβάλλοντο οὐδενί πόνῶ. He curiously refers αὐτοί to the ministry of the comes larg., whereas it is the Praet. Prefects who are in question, and, explaining the words to mean that the proceeds of the tax were paid into the treasury and then paid out to the officials, he infers that the purpose of the tax was to supply the officials with sportulae (pp151, 153). But περιεβάλλοντο refers to λὴστείαις in the preceding sentence, not to legal acquisition. Monnier supposed that the ἀερικόν was a tax on houses (Étude de droit byz. 508 sqq.), and that it was so called from counting the openings, doors, and windows. But this is a far-fetched derivation and incongruous with the (p351) use of ἀήρ; whereas "aerial house" would have been a natural Greek expression for "sky-scraper." Moreover, it is clear from the amount of the yield that it cannot have been a tax on all houses. Stein (Hermes, LII.579) discusses it in connexion with Nov. 43, and factories (ἐργαστήρια) would probably have been liable to the tax.

50 Nov. 38, Pref.

51 Ib. and Edict 13.

52 C. J. X.16.13. Procopius (H. A. 26.6) ascribes to Justinian the appropriation of πολιτικά by the treasury, and although Nov. 128 seems inconsistent with this charge, the evidence of Edict 13 virtually bears it out. Cp. Maspéro in Archiv f. Papyrusforschung, V.363 sqq. (1913).

53 C. J. X.39.4 discussores operum publicorum.

54 See the Mandata principis to governors, Nov. 17, § 4, A.D. 535; also Novv. 24, § 3; 25, § 4; 26, § 4; 30, § 8. In Nov. 128 (A.D. 545), however, the rights of the governor to interfere are carefully limited. He is to see that the portion of the πολιτικά appropriated to the city is duly paid, that it is not diverted to improper purposes by the inhabitants, that the bishop and the curials duly elect a "father of the city," a corn-commissioner (σιτώνης), and other functionaries, and that the accounts are regularly audited (§ 16).

55 Imperial, senatorial, and church lands were exempt from these διαγραφαί (C. J. XII.1.7; Nov. 131, § 5), which Procopius (H. A. 23.17‑19) describes as one of the principal burdens falling on the provincials. They had at one time been imposed on other classes as well as on the curials and landowners (cp. C. J. XI.1.2). These διαγραφαί extraordinariae are to be distinguished from διαγραφαί lucratiυων,º taxes on estates which changed hands. Church lands were exempted from this burden also (Nov. 131, ib.).

56 Procopius, H. A. 26.5‑11.

57 Stein (Studien, 143 sqq.) has attempted to prove that the total revenue of the State in this reign cannot have much exceeded 7,000,000 solidi (£4,375,000), and that this was enough to cover the outgoings. He starts with a fallacious assumption, and leaves out of account many departments of expenditure. Even if Justinian had no more than 21,000,000 subjects, his conclusion would imply that the taxation only came to about 4s. 2d. per head of the population annually. The errors have been pointed out by Andreades in Revue des études grecques, XXXIV. No. 156 (1921). The taxation accounts of Antaeopolis (Pap. Cairo, I.67057) give information which may ultimately help us to estimate the contribution of Egypt to the revenue. Cp. the accounts of the village of Aphrodito (ib. 67058) and those of the rich proprietor Ammonius (II.67138‑67139).

58 Procopius, B. V. II.14. This policy led to sedition among the soldiers, who expected that the land would be distributed among themselves.

59 Zachariä v. Lingenthal, Jus Graeco-Rom. III, Nov. 12.

60 Aetherius, curator domus divinae under Justinian, was brought to account under Justin II for his acts of plunder (τάς τε τῶν ζώντων τῶν τε τελευτώντων τὰς οὐσίας ληιζόμενος, Evagrius, V.3). The appropriations of Anatolius, another curator, are described by Agathias, V.4. Cp. Procopius, H. A. 12.12.

61 Procopius, ib. 1‑11, gives six instances with the names of the persons. We can accept them as cases in which the fisc inherited, but the charge of forgery is evidently asserted merely on hearsay, as indeed in one case the writer lets out (διαθήκην ἥνπερ οὐ παρ᾽ ἐκείνου ξυγκεῖσθαι διατεθρύλληται). Against these cases and that of the inheritance of Anatolius (H. A. 29.17 sqq.) we may set the generosity of Justinian in dealing with the daughters of Eulalius (John Mal. XVIII.439).

62 Nov. 134, § 13, A.D. 556.

63 Stein (Studien, 174 sqq.) has established this, or at least made it highly probable. (1) There is no mention of the comes patr. in C. J. VII.37.3 (A.D. 531), where he ought to appear if he still existed, or in Nov. 22 (A.D. 536). (2) In Justinian's laws sacr. patrimonium is sometimes used as an equivalent of s. larg.; this would have been confusing if the patrimony existed. (3) While we hear no more of the comes patr., we begin to hear a great deal of the divinae domus and nostri curatores per quos res divinarum domuum aguntur (C. J. ib.). Τὸ πατριμόνιον in Procopius, H. A. 22.12, Stein identifies with the estates in Sicily which were under the com. patr. who was instituted by Theoderic, and continued to function under Justinian. The passage in John Lydus, De mag. II.27, on ὁ λεγόμενος πατριμώνιος of Anastasius, would certainly by itself suggest that the com. patr. still existed during Justinian's reign, but it cannot be pressed in view of the other evidence.

64 The equation will be found in Procopius, B. G. I.4.1 and 6.26.

65 Stein asserts that the curators of the particular domains were independent and had no superior. This certainly was not the case under Justinian and Justin II. The title curator dominicae domus, without any limitation in C. J. ib., and κουράτωρ τῶν οἰκιῶν in Nov. 148, § 1, point to a central controller. Anatolius, for instance, held this post (Agathias, V.3).

66 The source is Procopius, H. A. 25.2 sqq. Cp. the inscription of Abydos (probably belonging to the time of Anastasius) published in the Mittheilungen des deutschen arch. Inst. (Athen), IV.307 sqq. (1879).

67 For quae res exportari non debeant see C. J. IV.41 (wine, oil, lard, and arms are mentioned).

68 The title of the officer at Hieron was in later times at least κόμης τοῦ Ἱεροῦ και τοῦ Πόντου. John Mal. (XVIII.432) describes him as κόμης στενῶν τῆς Ποντικῆς θαλάσσης, and dates his institution the A.D. 528‑529. For seals of commerciarii of Abydos see Schlumberger, Sig. byz. 196 sqq.

69 That the customs levied at Abydos and Hieron were only on imports to the capital, and those levied at Constantinople were on the cargoes of outgoing ships is my interpretation of the passage in Procopius, which is not very clear. The supervisor of the latter was probably entitled comes commerciorum (cp. Panchenko, op. cit. 155), and the office was held by a Syrian named Addaeus (who was after, in 551, Pr. Prefect of the East, Nov. 129).

70 The motive of the monopoly of arms (Nov. 85) was not financial. The sale of arms to private persons was forbidden.

71 Procopius, H. A. 20.1 sqq., and 26.19 sqq. He says that the bread was not only dearer but of worse quality. His τριπλάσιονα τιμήματα agrees with Nov. 122.

72 Nov. 122.

73 Nov. 136 (A.D. 535); Edict 9; Edict 7 (A.D. 542).

74 See Billeter, Gesch. des Zinsfusses (pp219, 317).

75 This may be illustrated from papyri, e.g. Pap. Cairo, II. No. 67126. Cp. C. J. IV.32.26; and Nov. 110, repeating Nov. 106.

76 H. A. 22.38. In 25.12, the Emperor is blamed for the practice of the money-changers to give only 10 folles for a nomisma instead of the normal 210.

77 Under Anastasius there were only three mints, Constantinople, Nicomedia, and Antioch; under Justin I Thessalonica and Cyzicus were added. Under Justinian money was coined also at Alexandria and Cherson; and in the west, at Carthage, in Sicily (Catana?), at Rome and Ravenna. See Wroth, Imp. Byz. Coins, I. xv. sqq.

78 Procopius (H. A. 30.12 sqq.) says that the secret service ceased to exist, but this is assuredly an exaggeration. These spies (κατάσκοποι) used to penetrate into the palace of the Persian king as merchants or on other pretexts. Procopius ascribes the successes of Chosroes to the fact that he improved his secret service, while Justinian refused to spend money on his.

79 Ib. 26.40 sqq. This was done when Hephaestus was Augustal prefect; he is said to have enriched himself and the treasury by monopolising in his own hands the sale of all provisions in the city. Hephaestus is probably the same person who was Pr. Pref. of the East c. A.D. 550‑551 (John Lyd. De mag. III.30).

80 H. A. 24.30 sqq. ἐν Βυζαντίῷ shows that the provincial bureaux are not included. We have no means of judging whether the pensions were excessive, and the reduction may not have be considerable; for we cannot trust Procopius when he says τούτων αὐτοὺς ἀποστερήσας σχεδόν τι ἁπάντων, as hyperbole is a note of the Secret History. But the complaints of John Lydus (De mag. III.67) bear out the statement.

81 The decline of the army is the subject of H. A. 24. Procopius speaks as if the limitanei were finally abolished after A.D. 545, but so far as his criticisms have a foundation they apply only to the East (see Hartmann, Byz. Verwaltung in Italien, p151; Panchenko, op. cit. 117 sqq.). Maspéro has made it probable that the total of the forces stationed in Egypt was from 29,000 to 30,000 (p359) men, of whom about 5000 were in Libya and Tripolitana. Only two or three thousand of these were καστρησινοί, limitanei (Org. mil. de l'Égypte, 117). Maspéro thinks that when Agathias (V.13) gives the total strength of the army as 150,000, he does not include the limitanei (ib. 119). Justinian appears to have formed a new corps of Palace guards called Scribones; it is at least in his reign that we first hear of them (Agathias, III.14). They were often employed on special missions in the provinces. The Scholarian guards (3500 in number) had now ceased to have any military significance; they were employed purely for parade purposes. Young men who had a little money and desired to lead an idle life in splendid uniform invested it in purchasing a post in the guards, and the high pay was a satisfactory annuity for their capital (cp. Agathias, V.15). Procopius says that in Justin's reign 2000 "supernumeraries" were added in order to obtain the entrance fees, and that Justinian on his accession disbanded them without compensation (ib. 20).

82 See Corippus, In laud. Iust. II.260 sqq.:

plurima sunt vivo nimium neglecta parente
unde tot exhaustus contraxit debita fiscus
reddere quae miseris moti pietate paramus.
quod minus ob senium factumve actumve parentis
tempore Iustini correctum gaudeat orbis.
nulla fuit iam cura senis
, etc.


Thayer's Note:

a Justinian reorganizes Western Armenia: For an Armenian viewpoint, see Vahan Kurkjian's History of Armenia, Ch. 22, pp164‑165.


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