The Byzantine Economy

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This is a concise survey of the economy of the Byzantine Empire from the fourth century AD to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Organized chronologically, the book addresses key themes such as demography, agriculture, manufacturing and the urban economy, trade, monetary developments, and the role of the state and ideology. It provides a comprehensive overview of the economy with an emphasis on the economic actions of the state, the productive role of the city, and the role of non-state economic actors, such as landlords, artisans, and money-changers. The final chapter compares the Byzantine economy with the economies of western Europe and concludes that it was one of the most successful examples of a mixed economy in the pre-industrial world. This is the only concise general history of the Byzantine economy and will be essential reading for students of economic history, Byzantine history, and medieval history more generally.

About the Author:
Angeliki E. Laiou is Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History, Harvard University, and Permanent Member of the Academy of Athens

About the Author:
Cecile Morrisson is Director of Research at the CNRS (National Center of Scientific Research) and Advisor for Byzantine Numismatics at Dumbarton Oaks

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...the work itself excels as an accessible general guide to the subject for those not yet versed in its complexity."
Edward McCormick Schoolman, Comitatus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521615020
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2007
  • Series: Cambridge Medieval Textbooks Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,399,312
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Angeliki E. Laiou is Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History, Harvard University, and Permanent Member of the Academy of Athens.

C├ęcile Morrisson is Director of Research at the CNRS (Center of National Scientific Research) and numismatic advisor at Dumbarton Oaks.

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Table of Contents

List of maps     vii
List of figures     viii
List of tables     ix
Acknowledgements     x
List of abbreviations     xi
Introduction     1
Natural and human resources     8
Land and environment: geography, climate, natural resources and their use     8
Maritime conditions     13
The human factor     16
Intangible resources and institutional environment     17
The Late Antique economy and the shift to medieval structures (sixth-early eighth centuries)     23
Wealth and prosperity of the early Byzantine economy in the first half of the sixth century     24
"Decay," crisis and the transformation of the economy (c. 550-early eighth century)     38
Restructuring, recovery and controlled expansion (early eighth to tenth centuries)     43
State intervention and economic development     49
Primary production     63
Secondary production     70
Exchange and trade     80
Monetary developments     84
Conclusion     89
The age of accelerated growth (eleventh and twelfth centuries)     90
Demography     91
Primary production     96
Secondaryproduction     115
The urban economy     130
Exchange     133
Monetary developments     147
The state recedes     155
Conclusion     164
Small-state economics (from sometime in the thirteenth century to the fifteenth century)     166
Demography     169
Primary production     170
Secondary production     182
The urban economy     195
Exchange     200
Monetary developments     215
A weak state abandons the economy     224
The Byzantine economy as exemplar; the Byzantine and the Western medieval economies     231
Select bibliography     248
Index     260
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