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)
128 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 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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