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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

IV: Byzantium and the Crusades, 1081-1204,   pp. [unnumbered]-151 PDF (14.1 MB)

Page 129

burdened with obligatory labor services and billeting. By these acts Alexius
contrived to extract for the treasury the maximum revenue, and the government
found some relief from its financial straits and could build up its military
and naval defenses. 
 The mainstay of the Byzantine army in Alexius' day was no longer the native
soldier-farmer with his small heritable military holding, though the Comneni
did from time to time settle prisoners of war on the land in this way. Cecaumenus's
continuator, who wrote at the beginning of Alexius' reign, speaks at length
on military matters. It is noticeable that he says a good deal about mercenaries,
who had become a particularly vital element in the Byzantine army in the
eleventh century, and on whom Alexius had at first largely to rely. He also
drew on levies, particularly of lightarmed infantry, from the great secular
and ecclesiastical estates. Of particular importance for the future was the
device of granting an estate for a specific time in return for military service.
The first known grant in pronoia is found in the mid-eleventh century, but
it is not until Alexius' reign that a military obligation can be traced.
The grantee, or pronoiar, became known as a rule as the "soldier"
(stratiotes). Equipped and mounted and accompanied by his contingent of troops,
he was of a different social class from the small farming militia. As long
as the estate was held by him in pronoia he enjoyed its revenues, and the
taxes and dues of the peasant tenants (paroikoi) were now collected by him.
This financial aspect constituted one of the main attractions of the grant,
which at this time was usually made for life while title and disposition
remained with the state. 
 Alexius also made use of the charistikion, a device by which monastic property
was handed over, in the past usually by ecclesiastical authorities, to the
care of a private person. In this way the property was developed, the monastic
community was guaranteed an income sufficient for their needs, and any excess
went to the charistikarios. Alexius found this a convenient way of rewarding
individuals and the practice increased during his reign, though the grant
remained, as before, without specific conditions. As a method for promoting
a more economic development of monastic lands it was sometimes defended by
churchmen, but was also sometimes condemned, for it was obviously open to
 The establishment of the Comnenian dynasty in 1081 had marked the triumph
of the great military families after their long struggle with the civil aristocracy
in the eleventh century. Alexius, true to his upbringing and party, chose
to build on those elements 

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