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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe

VI: Social Evolution in Latin Greece,   pp. 175-221 PDF (18.9 MB)

Page 188

at the creation of additional exempted fiscal units. For this purpose, peasants
could of course have been recruited, as in other cases, among the paroikoi
of the state or the eleutheroi, who were temporarily free of tax payments
and of subjection to a specific lord. The imperial government was reluctant,
however, to grant manpower which it considered as belonging to the state.
Instead, it was stipulated that the new fiscal units should be constituted
by peasants who were already established on the monasteries' lands. The issue
was thus exclusively of a fiscal nature. The status of the descendants of
the exempted paroikoi was not at stake, and no change in their status was
contemplated: they were paroikoi of the monasteries before the imperial grants
were made, and remained so afterwards~ 
 It is already evident by now that the subjection of the paroikos to his
lord entailed severe restrictions on his freedom. The lord could prevent
him from leaving his land. However, migration did not necessarily sever the
link to the lord; subjection was maintained as long as the paroikos paid
the customary dues incumbent upon the fiscal unit for which he was responsible.
The link of the paroikos to his lord was thus of a personal nature; he was
not tied to the soil. Some degree of mobility among the paroikoi is indeed
attested. In certain cases, it was due to economic incentives; in others,
it was prompted by the urge of the paroikos to find a spouse: the high excess
of males in many villages, as well as ecclesiastical prohibition of marriage
between relatives, inevitably led to exogamy. It is therefore not surprising
that members of the same family appeared occasionally in villages of the
same lord or on the estates of neighboring landlords, as well as in a nearby
 The economic and fiscal unit or stasis headed by the dependent peasant was
liable to taxes known as telos, as well as to labor services or angareia
which he owed to the state; they were occasionally transferred by the emperor
to an individual or an ecclesiastical institution. As a rule, the stasis
included land. An eleventh-century legal decision rendered by the magistros
Cosmas specified that land held according to the paroikikon dikaion or "law
of the paroikos" belonged to the lord and could not be alienated by the paroikos.2'
In practice, however, it was inherited, divided among heirs, or partly granted
in dower. It may be assumed that in all these cases the lord did not object
and possibly even agreed to the transfer of property, as long as the land
was held 
 20. See Jacoby, "Phénomènes de démographie rurale a
Byzance aux XIIIe, XIve et XVe siècles," Etudes rurales, v-vi (1962),
177, 180—181, 184 (reprinted in Jacoby, Société et demographie).
 21. Text in Fedor I. Uspenskij, Actes de Vazelon (Leningrad, 1927), pp.
xxxv-xxxvi. No such problem arose when land was held under a lease, as legal
conditions were then duly specified. 

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