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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 128

incurred ecclesiastical displeasure by pawning certain church treasures.
Differences over property did not, however, sour his good relations with
the church. Alexius led the campaigns against heresy, chiefly Bogomilism,
already entrenched in the Balkans and now creeping into the capital itself.
It is even possible that the emperor's mother Anna Dalassena became tainted
with heresy.6 Though armed with military force as well as powerful theological
arguments, even Alexius could not root out the insidious dualist heresy which
exploited national feeling in Bulgaria against the imperial conquerors and
their churchmen, and various forms of dualism lingered on in the Balkans
long after 1204. Alexius was more successful with the theological aberrations
of intellectuals, and the philosopher and scholar John Italus, for instance,
was made to recant his "errors" from the pulpit of Hagia Sophia.6a
 Monasticism received full imperial support. Alexius regulated life on Mt.
Athos, and encouraged reform and new foundations on and around Patmos, and
elsewhere. His wife, the empress Irene, did likewise; the regulations for
her house in Constantinople reveal everyday life in an ordinary nunnery,
as well as the foundress's practical nature. The careful detail found in
monastic charters, or ecclesiastical reports, or recorded in the Alexiad,
admirably illustrate the imperial sense of values. However precarious the
foreign situation, however imminent the threat of invasion or treachery,
no Byzantine emperor could afford to neglect what was universally regarded
as one of his most important responsibilities. 
 Alexius' main administrative concern was with problems of finance and defense.
Both had been inefficiently dealt with by his more immediate predecessors.
Though he did not introduce radical changes in policy - the taxes for instance
continued to be farmed out, thus increasing the taxpayers' burden - he did
to some extent attempt to check the debasement and inflation which had been
chronic from the mid-eleventh century onwards.7 He ruled that a nomisma should
have the value of four silver coins (miliaresia), only a third of its original
value, thus effecting a devaluation the impact of which extended to the poorest
classes. The population was also 
 6 See S. Runciman, "The End of Anna Dalassena," Mélanges
Henri Grégoire, I (Brussels, 1949), 517-524. 
 6a On possible political implications of John Italus' trial, see Joannou,
Christliche Metaphysik, I, 26-29. 
 7 See P. Grierson, "The Debasement of the Bezant in the Eleventh Century,"
Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XLVII 386, "It was left for Alexius I Comnenus
to restore a 'hyper-pure' gold nomisma and to build up out of the debased
nomismata a system of fractional coinage whose intricacies we still only
very imperfectly understand." On this controversial and difficult subject
see also Ostrogorsky, Byzantine State, pp. 327-328. 

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