glyph 598: history, Byzantium . question: why did this eastern part of the Roman Empire last so long (ended in 1453)


Byzantium, History, Richard Blake's Novels

reforms of the 7th century

The article from which the following is taken is "The Joys of Writing Byzantine Historical Fiction" by Richard Blake:

The Byzantine historians themselves are disappointingly vague about the seventh and eight centuries. Our only evidence for what happened comes from the description of established facts in the tenth century. As early as the seventh century, though, the Byzantine State pulled off the miracle of reforming itself internally while fighting a war of survival on every frontier. Large parts of the bureaucracy were scrapped. Taxes were cut. The silver coinage was stabilised. Above all, the great senatorial estates of the Later Roman Empire were broken up. Land was given to the peasants in return for military service. In the West, the Goths and Franks and Lombards had moved among populations of disarmed tax-slaves. Not surprisingly, no one raised a hand against them. Time and again, the Arabs smashed against a wall of armed freeholders. A few generations after losing Syria and Egypt, the Byzantine Empire was the richest and most powerful state in the known world.
April 28, 2018; edited/updated June 20, 2018

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