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Le saint, le moine et le paysan

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Olivier Delouis
, 
Sophie Métivier
, 
Paule Pagès

A context for two “evil deeds”: Nikephoros I and the origins of the themata

John Haldon

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1The so-called 10 “vexations” (kakōseis) ascribed by the monk Theophanes the Confessor to the emperor Nikephoros I remain an intriguing and still imperfectly understood moment in the history of the Byzantine economy and state fiscality. While a number of studies have attempted to place these in their context and to elucidate them, there remain some important questions about some of these ordinances. One of Michel Kaplan’s most significant contributions to the field of Byzantine social and economic history is his now classic Les hommes et la terre à Byzance, and one aspect he discussed was the relationship between rural farming communities, the state’s fiscal management and the relationship to each of these of the recruitment and maintenance of soldiers from the provinces, in which the “vexations” of Nikephoros figure as an important element. His work in this respect, and the fact that there are some significant issues to be resolved in this connection, gives me the opportunity to present some new thoughts on the subject.

***

  • 1 C. Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy and More: Studies in “Dark Centuries” Byzantium, Millenium 2 (...)
  • 2 For a summary of the complex questions surrounding the Chronographia, its authorship and sources, (...)

2It is now accepted by most scholars that the earliest reference to the themata, in the Chronographia of the monk Theophanes (for the reign of Heraclius), is an anachronistic usage, a point of which Constantine Zuckerman has most recently and forcefully reminded us; and as he has emphasised, Theophanes is the only chronicler who employs the term thema for armies or provinces when reporting events of the period before the reign of the emperor Nikephoros I.1 Other than in this text, compiled between the 780s and second decade of the ninth century and completed ca. 814, the word thema to refer to armies or provinces occurs in no other source before the early years of the ninth century, the time at which Theophanes was completing his Chronographia.2 The patriarch Nikephoros, who completed his Brief History probably in the 780s, uses the term stratēgia or stratēgis archē for the military commands of the empire, and in the sigillographic record, generally recognised to be the closest reflection of actual administrative practice of the period, this is likewise the word applied to provinces or armies.

  • 3 T. Živković, Uspenskij’s Taktikon and the Theme of Dalmatia, Σύμμεικτα 17, 2005-2007, p. 49-85; fo (...)
  • 4 P. Speck, Kaiser Konstantin VI. Die Legitimation einer Fremden und der Versuch einer eigenen Herrs (...)
  • 5 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 744-755.

3By the time of composition of the Taktikon Uspenskij, in contrast, a list of precedence usually dated to ca. 842 (but elements of which are possibly of earlier date),3 the provincial armies of the empire and the districts in which they were based are referred to as themata. Later evidence suggests that this term reflects a very particular set of institutional arrangements, and a great deal of ink has been spilled in discussions of what exactly these looked like. What I would like to do in the following is to re-examine this development and place it in the context of the “vexations” of Nikephoros I. In the process I will suggest that the term thema, indeed the whole principle of the so-called “theme system”, has an entirely fiscal origin, and reflects a set of reforms in the state fiscal system introduced and implemented by the emperor. In particular, I will examine the implications of the first and second of the vexations which Nikephoros imposed. Theophanes was, of course, extremely hostile to Nikephoros on account of the way in which his fiscal policy impacted on monastic communities and their fiscal burdens, representing the emperor’s measures in the worst possible light, so it is likely that there is some exaggeration in his account.4 In a recent publication I argued strongly that Nikephoros I may have been responsible for introducing these arrangements, but I believe my argument requires more nuance and that other possibilities need to be taken more prominently into account.5

  • 6 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48627-29 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667-668); Dölger, Mülle (...)
  • 7 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48610-22 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667); Dölger, Müller, R (...)
  • 8 On the possible identity of the various Sklaviniai mentioned in Byzantine sources of the period, s (...)
  • 9 Discussion of the measures: Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 237-249; Ai. Christophilopoulou,(...)
  • 10 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48623-26 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667); and the discussio (...)
  • 11 There is a problem with the text as it stands, which strictly should mean that the poor themselves (...)

4In the year 807, according to Theophanes (although reported for the year 809-810), the emperor Nikephoros I – who, it is important to bear in mind, had been the chief finance officer, or genikos logothetēs, of the empire before his seizure of power in 802 – ordered a general census of the empire, in which all subjects were to be registered and a charge of 2 keratia imposed for clerical expenses per household.6 Two years later, in 809 / 810, he decreed the series of important fiscal measures that his detractor, Theophanes, calls kakōseis, “vexations” or “evil deeds”.7 The first of these, carried out between September 809 and the following Easter, entailed the compulsory transfer and settlement of many soldiers from Asia Minor to “the Sklaviniai”, in other words districts recovered for the empire in the southern Balkan region.8 Both poor and well-off were involved. The forced transfer and selling up of their own private property was a key part of this measure, and some have read into the text a forced sale of property to the state at fixed prices, which affected the better-off in particular. The text is explicit that they were themselves responsible for disposing of – selling – their lands.9 A second “vexation” was an order to enrol or recruit the poor into the army, with the stipulation that those soldiers who could not afford their military equipment and service were to be helped by contributions (to the value of 18½ nomismata each) towards the costs of their equipment, and that their taxes were to be paid in common on their behalf by the communities from which they came.10 The text reads: “In addition, he [Nikephoros] ordered a second vexation, namely that the poor should be enrolled (στρατεύεσθαι) in the army and should be fitted out by the inhabitants of their commune, also paying to the treasury 18½ nomismata per man plus his taxes in joint liability.” Yet the “poor” in Theophanes’ text are clearly assumed to possess property from which taxes would normally be due, so they were clearly not entirely indigent and impoverished, merely that the demand that they should remit 18 ½ nomismata for their fitting out was far more cash than they would normally be able to raise.11

  • 12 For syndosis, see Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Soldiers (cited in n. (...)
  • 13 The date of the Nomos georgikos remains in dispute, but most scholars accept that it was probably (...)
  • 14 See Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 50 n. 87. It might be objected that Theophanes refers (...)
  • 15 For detailed discussion see Christophilopoulou, Ἡ οἰκονομικὴ καὶ δημοσιονομικὴ πολιτική (cited in (...)

5As far as Theophanes was concerned, these measures were clearly novel. For the first time the communal contributions of cash to equip the soldiers in question, familiar from the fifth-century legislation and from tenth-century texts and known in the latter as syndosis, appears in our sources for this period.12 It is also the first time we read of the communal payment of soldiers’ usual tax liabilities (the landand hearth-taxes), a fiscal technique familiar in respect of ordinary tax-payers who were unable to cover their tax-payments that appears in the Farmer’s Law,13 now applied specifically to members of the community who were also soldiers. Soldiers and their families from various provinces in Asia Minor appear thus to have been compelled to leave their ancestral homes and property in order to be established by the government on new lands in Thrace. At the same time these decrees established a system of communal financing of such soldiers, an arrangement explicitly grounded in the basic fiscal unit (the village) in which the soldiers were themselves registered as tax-payers.14 The first order has generally been seen simply as a means of moving provincial soldiers to under-populated regions of the empire, the second to mean that the emperor wished to recruit previously unregistered poor persons into the army and equip them through communal subscription, with joint liability for their taxes. The measures have been understood thus as chiefly an extension to soldiers of existing regulations about tax burdens in rural communities, with the aim of expanding the army. And with Nikephoros’ defeat and death at the hands of the Bulgars in 811, they have also been assumed to have been relatively ineffective.15

6It is important to stress that the military administration of the eastern Roman empire can only properly be understood in the context of its fiscal system, for the two were different sides of the same coin. But to make better sense of Nikephoros’ measures, we need to step back and look at the situation in his reign from three different angles: the broader political-military context; the question of the method through which soldiers were recruited and armies maintained at the beginning of his reign; and the evolution of the state’s fiscal machinery across the eighth century.

  • 16 R.-J. Lilie, Byzanz unter Eirene und Konstantin VI. (780-802). Mit einem Kapitel über Leon IV. (77 (...)
  • 17 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48225-48315 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 662-663). See Dölger (...)
  • 18 See the discussion in Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, p. 331-335.
  • 19 Kitāb al-‘Uyūn, in E. W. Brooks, The Campaign of 716-718 from Arabic Sources, Journal of Hellenic (...)
  • 20 I. Dujčev, Cronaca di Monemvasia. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e note, Palermo 1976, p. (...)

7Byzantine efforts in the Balkans from the mid-780s resulted in the stabilisation of a frontier between the empire and the Bulgars accompanied by a line of fortified posts (Philippoupolis, Beroea, Markellai and Anchialos). The process of Christianisation of the southern Balkans and those parts of Greece most affected by earlier Slav settlement was also initiated.16 In 805 Byzantine forces recovered or at least established their pre-eminence across most of the Peloponnese, a conquest which was consolidated through the re-populating and garrisoning of towns such as Patras.17 Nikephoros campaigned without achieving very much in 806-807 and again in 807-808, although at the beginning of this campaign he had to deal with a plot and then return to Constantinople. But in that year the Bulgars defeated a Byzantine force at Strymon, and were able also to capture and destroy the fortress of Serdica.18 Yet from the mid-780s, and building upon the successes of the reign of Constantine V, it seems clear that the imperial government promoted a sustained effort to re-establish a solid presence and control over these districts, in which the attempt to establish a well-defended and fortified frontier and a stable hinterland was a key ingredient. Their success may be indicated in a later Arab chronicle, which notes that in the early ninth century Thrace was well-populated, in contrast with the situation of devastation it represented in the years of the great siege of Constantinople in 717-718.19 The Chronicle of Monembasia records for the year 805 that the emperor Nikephoros transferred the descendants of the refugee populations that had fled to Southern Italy from the Peloponnese in the late sixth century back to their ancient homeland; while Theophanes very briefly mentions another transfer of population from Anatolia for the year 806-807. Population transfers were in themselves nothing remarkable, as is well known, but we might ask whether there lurk behind these particular moves under Nikephoros aspects of a new strategy to repopulate (and to Christianize) certain regions with communities who would provide military service.20

  • 21 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48610ff. (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667).
  • 22 Vita Philareti (BHG 1511z), ed. L. Rydén, The Life of St Philaretos the Merciful Written by His Gr (...)

8Theophanes’ account of the first vexation shows that in 809 soldiers continued to possess lands which had long been in their families, private property that they could sell or otherwise dispose of freely. In itself, this was nothing new, and should not surprise.21 While hagiographical compositions such as the Life of Philaretos (compiled ca. 821-822) were written at some remove from the events they claim to describe, they also reflect the assumptions of their audience or readership, which is to say that some at least, perhaps the majority of the provincial soldiers who mustered for duty, were expected to provide their mount and basic equipment and supplies from their own familial resources.22

  • 23 A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social and Administrative Survey, 3 vols., Oxfor (...)
  • 24 On soldiers’ land and property and their legal privileges: L. M. Whitby, Recruitment in Roman Armi (...)
  • 25 As I have also argued elsewhere: J. F. Haldon, The Empire that would not die. The Paradox of East (...)
  • 26 See Ecloga. Das Gesetzbuch Leons III. und Konstaninos’ V., ed L. Burgmann, Frankfurt am Main 1983 (...)

9The importance of soldiers’ owning or holding land in the period before the ninth century has been largely underestimated. In the sixth century it is clear that many soldiers, in both the field armies or comitatenses (especially where units were garrisoned in the same region for long periods) and the limitanei had owned or rented land, as examples from Egypt, Northern Africa, Italy and elsewhere show. Such properties might generate an income from which the soldiers could support themselves, indeed the differences in this respect between the two groups was probably far less than has often been thought.23 Soldiers and a certain number of their family members were freed from extraordinary fiscal dues and certain other taxes, and there is no reason to doubt that this situation continued after the seventh century.24 Landowning by soldiers is well-known in the exarchate in Italy from the sixth century on into the eighth century, and it is unlikely that the situation was any different in other parts of the empire.25 It is also apparent that by the 740s soldiers might also be (or continued to be) partially dependent upon their families and households for their equipment and maintenance, and that the implication for soldiers’ testamentary rights that this had was by then taken into account in imperial legislation.26

  • 27 While I argued originally that hereditary recruitment into the comitatenses did not survive into J (...)
  • 28 The sources occasionally mention such drives: see Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 79 and (...)

10A further important point to bear in mind is that recruitment for most provincial soldiers probably ran in the family, that is to say, it was a hereditary obligation. This was certainly the case in the limitanei during the fifth and sixth centuries, and a good case has been made for its being likewise an important aspect of recruitment to units classed as comitatenses also – indeed, it would have been difficult for the government to maintain a very strict distinction.27 There is no reason to think that things changed thereafter, particularly in light of the difficult conditions the government faced during much of the seventh century, so that hereditary recruitment for provincial soldiers likely remained usual. Of course new soldiers were drafted onto the registers at regular and perhaps frequent intervals. Such efforts probably varied by region or army corps, and the mention in Theophanes that in 775-776 Leo V “raised numerous contingents in each thema and increased the tagmata” probably reflects such a recruitment drive.28

  • 29 E.g. Cod. Theod. VII, 13. 7 (2); 13. See Jones, Later Roman Empire (cited in n. 23), t. 2, p. 615- (...)
  • 30 Theodori Studitae Epistulae, ed. A. Fatouros, 2 vols., Vienna 1992 (CFHB 31/1-2), Ep. 735-37, 61-6 (...)

11Military recruitment had always had a clearly fiscal aspect. In the fourth and fifth centuries this presented itself primarily through the aurum tironicum or its equivalent, whereby estates that did not provide a soldier through the usual levy (praebitio tironum) provided instead a cash equivalent according to a standard rate. Smaller properties could be grouped together and provided a soldier – or the cash equivalent – between them, as did the even less well-off members of village communities.29 Insofar as families registered for military service who could not provide a soldier had to pay an appropriate compensatory sum to the state, this fiscal aspect appears to have continued into the middle Byzantine period: Theodore the Stoudite praises the empress Eirene for relieving soldiers’ widows of payments demanded by the state in place of their husbands’ military service, which the widows themselves could not, of course, provide. The exaction itself is ascribed by Theodore to orthodox rulers before Eirene. Theophanes implies that Nikephoros rescinded the decree. There is no need to postulate anything other than the continuation of a standard late Roman fiscal arrangement here.30

12In the late eighth and early ninth centuries, therefore, the households of registered soldiers appear to have been expected to compensate the state in a cash payment or tax for as long as they were unable to fulfil their obligations, just as in the fourth-sixth centuries. To what extent this arrangement differs in practice from the late Roman arrangements is not clear, nor is it known how often it was the main householder who had to serve in person, rather than another nominee from the property or household in question.

  • 31 Cod. Theod., VII, 13.3.
  • 32 Pace Oikonomides, Middle Byzantine Provincial Recruits (cited in n. 15). For a review of the evide (...)

13It is important to emphasise that there is no implication that military service in the fifth or sixth century was formally attached to, and seen as an obligation on, a family’s property or land as such (a point underlined by the fact that recruits were freed from their capitation tax, but not from fiscal dues on the land), but rather on the fact of their possession of land liable to fiscal assessment.31 Nor is there any evidence whatsoever for a direct association between military service and land during the seventh and eighth centuries.32 All that the evidence does suggest is that there existed by 800 at the latest a category of household that enjoyed military status on the basis of an hereditary obligation to provide a soldier and some of his equipment. Neither is there, at least until the measures instituted by Nikephoros I, any evidence to associate soldiers from the same military unit with the community or fiscal district they inhabited.

  • 33 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 4871-2 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 668).
  • 34 For late Roman fiscal records see the exemplification presented in J. Gascou, L. MacCoull, Le cada (...)
  • 35 The case of the soldier Mousoulios in the Vita Philareti is indicative (n. 22 above).
  • 36 See The Farmer’s Law, ed. W. Ashburner, Journal of Hellenic Studies 30, 1910, p. 85-108 (introduct (...)

14Theophanes suggests that the communal support and provision of a soldier was a novelty.33 If so, then this would suggest that the older arrangement, whereby a group of households were associated together for this purpose, had fallen into abeyance, and that at some point in the past the obligation to provide a soldier had become more closely associated with the individual households of the soldiers themselves. This likely occurred before the early 740s, in light of the nature of the provisions in Ecloga 16.1 and 2, where this relationship is implicit. Such a development may readily be understood to have come about with changes in the ways in which the fisc assessed and imposed taxes. The older capitatio-iugatio system seems to have disappeared in the course of the seventh century, to be replaced by a separate tax on land and on households (the latter referred to as the kapnikon, and while first mentioned in the early ninth century, clearly existed before the reign of Eirene). But while these two elements were separated, perhaps a result of the demographic shifts and changes which affected many regions of the empire, the fundamentals of tax assessment, based on the maintenance of fiscal cadasters listing tax-payers, their properties and their fiscal liabilities, would appear to have continued unbroken.34 Had this not been the case, the maintenance of military registers of enrolled households and soldiers would not have been possible either, whereas the evidence, sparse though it is, shows that these did continue.35 The only two articles in the Nomos geōrgikos relevant to the fisc (§ 18, § 19) and the measures to be taken when a taxable property falls vacant likewise make sense only if there existed an official record of households and their property for tax assessment purposes, as do the assumptions about property and the role of the fisc in the one relevant reference in the Ecloga.36 Unfortunately the evidence can only take us this far.

  • 37 The evidence is almost entirely sigillographic: see Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast (...)
  • 38 For the first references to thematic prōtonotarioi, see The Correspondence of Ignatios the Deacon. (...)

15Fundamental to Nikephoros’ actions and the history of Byzantine military organisation is the state’s fiscal system, and here a number of developments become significant. Now, taxation of the land well into the eighth century was managed by officials called dioikētai, whose seals refer sometimes to the specific regions and single provinces where they exercised their duties, sometimes to the particular army command or stratēgis that was coincident with these provinces.37 But from some time in the first or second decade of the ninth century new officers appear, referred to on their seals as prōtonotarioi and attached to each military province.38

  • 39 The evidence is surveyed in detail in Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 679-68 (...)
  • 40 See N. Oikonomidès, Les listes de préséance byzantines des ixe -xe siècles, Paris 1972 (Le monde b (...)
  • 41 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, loc. cit. (n. 3 above). The Taktikon makes refe (...)
  • 42 Almost all known seals of epoptai are ninth-century or later: e.g., G. Zacos, A. Veglery, Byzantin (...)

16The evidence shows that these officials had three primary concerns. They were responsible, on behalf of the central bureau of the sakellion, an imperial treasury with oversight over the other major fiscal departments, for managing the fiscal officials – the dioikētai – in each thema responsible to the logothesion tou genikou, the department responsible for the land-taxes in particular. They were also responsible for arranging for the provisioning and equipping of the provincial armies, liaising between the military, general and special logothesia, a role for which they were ideally equipped, as representatives of the sakellion with oversight over the whole fiscal apparatus in each region.39 This role is particularly apparent in respect of the administration of the synōnē, that portion of the state’s tax – primarily the land-tax – demanded in kind for the supply of the soldiers. And they were also responsible for the supplying of the armies with the equipment and mounts they required, achieved by means of state impositions and requisitions on craftsmen and others for this purpose.40 These functions had all been exercised by other sets of officials before this time, and the prōtonotarioi appear from the early ninth century to have replaced them or been placed in charge of them.41 The sudden appearance of provincial prōtonotarioi associated with the military command districts, fiscal officials par excellence, suggest a major development in the government’s administration of provincial taxation and related matters. This is indirectly confirmed by the appearance in the sigillographic record from the ninth century of the various officials associated with provincial military administration, strateutai and epoptai, associated with the recruitment of soldiers, on the one hand, and with the overseeing of the military registers, on the other.42 And at just this time, the term thema begins to appear in texts. It seems on the face of it highly unlikely that these two phenomena were unconnected.

17Let us now return to the first two vexations of Nikephoros I. The background to the measures is set by the general census undertaken in (probably) 807, which would have provided the government with precise information about registered soldiers and their properties as well as the distribution of the population more broadly. We can break the measures down into a number of separate elements, of which we do not necessarily possess all the details, given Theophanes’ hostile and highly polemical account. First, as we have seen, in the process of the transfer from their homes in Anatolia to the Balkans, the soldiers in question were compelled to sell their ancestral properties and abandon their family homes, an order which, according to Theophanes (and understandably) caused enormous distress among those affected. That they owned such properties in full is clear from the fact that they were responsible for selling them off. Theophanes does not tell us how the selection was made, nor how many soldiers and their families were involved. But the implication is both that they had been there for generations, and that there were substantial numbers of them.

18Second, there is a clear implication that the state allocated the transferred soldiers to new lands: they were being settled, as soldiers, with all the legal implications entailed in such a move (but Theophanes does not tell us whether they had to pay the government for these properties). The soldiers were of varied economic condition, some well-off, others less so or poor: they appear to represent the type of soldier for whom the legal decision attached to the Ecloga (16.2) was intended, or the soldier Mousoulios in the story from the Life of Philaretos, partially or wholly dependent on their household and family for their equipment.

  • 43 See above and n. 29.

19In the third place, and following the second vexation, the less well-off who were to be enrolled into active service also become for the first time, according to Theophanes, a direct cost to the communities from which they were recruited or into which they were inserted, both in respect of paying for their basic equipment and in terms of covering their taxes. These cannot have been entirely indigent persons, however – that they had to be assisted in the payment of their regular taxes is sufficient indication that their households possessed some land or property, since otherwise no tax at all would have been owed. The status of their households, even if some of their taxes and the cost of their equipment were paid by other members of the same fiscal unit, will therefore have been no different from regular private property belonging to a soldier, enjoying the privileged fiscal status (primarily manifested in exemption from extraordinary taxation) traditionally associated with soldiers’ property. And their families bore the same fiscal burden vis-à-vis the state if they could not provide a soldier. This was an arrangement in which fiscal reciprocity played an important role. As noted already, it was also an arrangement that closely recalls the system for providing for and equipping a recruit from groups of householders/taxpayers in the later Roman period, both in terms of providing a recruit as well as his equipment and a payment to the fisc.43

  • 44 For the latter position, see e. g. Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 241-242; the former: Haldon,(...)

20What exactly the import of the verb στρατεύεσθαι might be remains unclear: the text might mean either that Nikephoros ordered poor but already registered soldiers to be thus supported, so referring to the less financially able soldiers of the first vexation, who had been transferred from Asia Minor; or that he genuinely intended to recruit large numbers of poor rural inhabitants from each fiscal district into the army, henceforth to be maintained at the expense of their community. Theophanes does not mention any military training, but that was not to his purpose and might in any case have been taken for granted by his readers. Some scholars believe that the latter is intended, which would make Nikephoros’regulation even closer to its late Roman counterpart, others the former.44

21The question remains, however, of whether Nikephoros was the first to introduce this arrangement. Or was he merely reforming and introducing changes to an arrangement that had been introduced sometime before his reign? Let us review briefly possible alternatives.

  • 45 See above and n. 30.

22First, we know that soldiers’ households possessed land and that these households supported military service on the basis of a hereditary obligation. We also know that the commutation of military service for a cash payment was nothing new, indeed it had been a standard practice in the fourth-sixth century and probably beyond. Such a flexible system is unlikely to have been abandoned by any government, particularly one which had fluctuating needs for manpower and cash. The evidence of the letter of Theodore the Stoudite regarding Eirene’s measure to relieve widows of fiscal burdens associated with military service strongly suggests that such an arrangement existed throughout the period from the later sixth century on. As noted already, the phrase “orthodox rulers before Eirene” may simply refer to something of long standing.45

  • 46 C. Mango, I. Ševčenko, Some Churches and Monasteries on the Southern Shore of the Sea of Marmara, (...)

23Secondly, the fact that Theophanes uses the word “thema” throughout his Chronographia might imply that by the time of writing it was a well-established term and seemed the natural and proper word to use. Perhaps more significant is the fact that he notes that Nikephoros transferred soldiers and their families “from all the themata” to the Sklaviniai. Given the fact that Theophanes was himself a contemporary of the events described, and that he was living at his monastery at Agros in Bithynia during the reign of Nikephoros,46 it might seem unlikely that he would use a technical term anachronistically for the years so close to the time of writing, even if he did misuse it for earlier epochs.

  • 47 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 681-682, 713.
  • 48 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 4876-8 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 668); Dölger, Müller, Rege (...)

24Yet on the other hand, and in favour of Nikephoros as the instigator of the changes, we may point to the fact that the fiscal measures are clearly presented by Theophanes as a novelty. As we have said, the communal obligation to cover the fiscal dues of an absent taxpayer was not in itself new; but applying such an obligation to taxpayers liable for military service was definitely a significant innovation according to Theophanes (although we have only his word for it, of course). Given Nikephoros’ experience as former logothete of the general treasury – λογοθέτης τοῦ γενικοῦ – it would be a reasonable assumption that his major contribution would be in the realm of fiscal management, whether or not the expansion of the role and function of stratēgoi and their administrative staff – including the prōtonotarioi – took place as a direct consequence of this reform, or more gradually, in phases, perhaps beginning at some earlier point (but not very much earlier, if we can take the sigillographic evidence as an indication). Since the seals of stratēgoi bearing the title anthypatos, which I have suggested reflect the change in functions and responsibilities of these officers (from military commanders to military commanders and provincial governors), appear only from the early ninth century, this would not contradict such a picture of phased development. Such a phased development would explain possibly also the one or two seals of prōtonotarioi that may pre-date Nikephoros’ reforms.47 Theophanes mentions, as the sixth of Nikephoros’measures, the emperor’s command that the stratēgoi should watch out for those who recovered quickly from poverty and then tax them heavily. But if it does not reflect established procedure whereby military finances were partially supervised by the stratēgos anyway, this need reflects simply the practice of the time of writing.48

25According to Theophanes, the measures that the emperor implemented affected the so-called Sklaviniai. These areas were now to receive an army that would be granted (or sold, probably at fixed prices or in proportion to the value of the properties that had been sold off in Anatolia) lands, and in communities that would support it. The army in question consisted of seasoned troops along with newly-enrolled or recruited “poor” persons, allocated to a particular region, and “placed” there, with the specific duty to protect imperial territory by protecting its own lands.

  • 49 For summary of the discussion, see Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Sold (...)
  • 50 Argued in detail in Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, and Id., Byzantium in the Seventh Centur (...)
  • 51 Again, as stressed by Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy (cited in n. 1), p. 128-131.
  • 52 J. Koder, Zur Bedeutungsentwicklung des byzantinischen Terminus thema, JÖB 40, 1990, p. 155-165, e (...)

26This is the context in which the original connotation of the word thema can perhaps better be understood. While its origins are disputed, it clearly derives from the verb τίθημι, to place, to deposit, to set down or to assign, and thema has thus been understood as a reference to the process by which the government assigned its armies to regions in the Anatolian provinces in the middle and later seventh century.49 While such a process certainly occurred,50 it is clear from all the contemporary evidence, in particular the sigillographic material, that until the early ninth century such armies were referred to by the term “command”, stratēgis.51 But in the light of the actions taken by the emperor Nikephoros, we can suggest that the word thema refers quite simply and entirely logically to the establishment of a new fiscal arrangement for the support of a military force in a particular, designated area. It became current from the early ninth century because it was directly associated, and for the first time formally, with the attribution of fiscal responsibilities to the communities from whom the soldiers were drawn and to which they belonged. In certain dialects of modern Greek the term thema can refer to an enclosure or a specifically-designated area. Indeed, the verb τίθημι also carries precisely this meaning, while thema can refer to a deposit of funds for a particular purpose.52

  • 53 An idea originally mooted in J. F. Haldon, Byzantine Praetorians: An Administrative, Institutional (...)

27The advantages of Nikephoros’ action for the districts affected, both from a fiscal and a military perspective, are obvious. In establishing soldiers and their families in new fiscal communities, specifically ordaining that the poorer soldiers should have their military obligations supported from the resources of such fiscal units, the emperor introduced a novel and effective way to recruit and maintain provincial armies by assigning a direct fiscal burden for the equipping and maintenance of individual soldiers to the affected communities. It may also be that his measures encouraged a closer identity between soldiers and their homes and communities, to which they were now bound by fiscal ties of solidarity, a move that may well at the same time have stiffened resistance to invasion. It further gave the communities which were to support such soldiers a vested interest in their maintenance and efficiency. Whether or not Nikephoros first introduced it, this method of supporting the provincial forces appears to have been extended and applied to other armies within a relatively short period. But the appearance of prōtonotarioi and other fiscal officials associated with these arrangements suggests that it was in fact Nikephoros I who extended and consolidated it.53

  • 54 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 671-679.

28I have argued that the term thema reflects a specific fiscal reform related to the recruitment and maintenance of provincial armies in recently recovered territories in the southern Balkans, a reform promoted by the emperor Nikephoros I who, as a former general logothete, would have been intimate with both the fiscal as well as the military administrative structures of the eastern Roman state. A thema at this period may thus be defined in the following terms: first, it consisted of a specific territory, within which an army was based and recruited. Recruitment was, for the first time, grounded in communal obligations, whereby poorer soldiers had their equipment paid for at a fixed tariff (18½ nomismata) and the payment of their public taxes – the land-tax and the kapnikon – covered by the members of their fiscal community, according to the degree to which their own property could or could not support this service. A thema was a fiscally distinct territory managed by a prōtonotarios, who was the co-ordinating link between military requirements and fiscal administration. It had its own officials connected with maintaining the military registers and the tax-assessments of the soldiers’ families entered in the registers. And, as we know from later evidence, it had its own governor, the stratēgos, who was supported by a clerical department under a kagkellarios. It also had its own judicial establishment, headed by a praitōr (later kritēs). These were, in fact, formerly provincial governors, but whose role had been transformed in the course of the later seventh and eighth century, a development I have analysed elsewhere in detail.54

  • 55 Theodori Studitae Epistulae (cited in n. 30), Ep. 40753 (and Fatouros, comm., p. 392); for Bardani (...)
  • 56 See Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 757-764.
  • 57 Haldon, Byzantine Praetorians (cited in n. 53), p. 223-226.
  • 58 See literature in n. 8 above.
  • 59 Theophanes, Chronographia, p. 30310 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 435).

29If we may rely on the testimony of Theodore of Stoudios, there were five themata in Asia Minor by the year 819, and this is a number that reflects the actual situation: according to a much later tradition, Bardanes Tourkos was appointed to command five Asia Minor commands by Nikephoros I.55 If we understand the word in the sense argued here, then it seems that the system introduced by Nikephoros was applied within a short period to the major military divisions of the empire. The commands of Opsikion, Anatolikon, Armeniakon, Thrakesion and Boukellarion were the only five military commands in Anatolia at this time56 – the division of Optimates, established as a logistical support corps under Constantine V, did not count as an army or indeed even as a thema,57 and we may assume that the maritime commands, recruited from coastal regions, had not yet been brought into the new arrangements. Whether the whole system was, as Theophanes’ text might suggest, first established in the Balkans (as opposed to Anatolia), is unclear, and whether in Thrace, Macedonia, Hellas, the Peloponnese, all of these at once, or some other region – there could be Sklaviniai in any of these areas – remains likewise unknown.58 But it is likely that thereafter new provincial armies were established from the outset on this model. Good evidence for other Anatolian commands (such as Paphlagonia, for example) is lacking until somewhat later. And finally, we may at last understand the context in which Theophanes could refer, for the reign of Heraclius, to parts of Asia Minor as the “regions of the themata”.59 The implication of such a phrase is that there were regions which were not “of the themata”, that is to say, there were districts within the empire where the new fiscal arrangements had not yet been introduced at the time when Theophanes was compiling and editing his Chronographia in the years following the death of Nikephoros I.

  • 60 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 734-739, 762-764.
  • 61 See, e.g. (among many examples one could cite) A.-K. Wassiliou-Seibt, Reconstructing the Byzantine (...)
  • 62 As urged by Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy (cited in n. 1), p. 128.

30The corollary of all this is, first, that scholars should desist from assuming an association between stratēgos and thema. As I have argued at length elsewhere, the former does not imply the latter.60 The appearance of a stratēgos in charge of a provincial army in a text or in the sigillographic record implies no more than that the office-holder in question was a senior military commander (and even after the time of Nikephoros, unless associated with a specific toponym).61 Second, scholars should resist using the word “theme” when referring to Byzantine provincial forces before the time of Nikephoros I, but rather employ terms such as ‘command’ or ‘division’ or a similar term.62

  • 63 See n. 28 above.
  • 64 For the privileges attached to military service in the late Roman period, see Jones, Later Roman E (...)

31How significant were the reforms of the emperor Nikephoros I? Provincial recruitment based on a military register had long been the norm, but it seems that by the turn of the eighth-ninth century it was not especially reliable, nor were the soldiers always adequately equipped. These registered soldiers were not the only soldiers, of course. Voluntary recruitment both for long-term service as well as for specific campaigns certainly continued (although again the evidence is very slender). The recruitment campaigns run by senior officers for particular campaigns occasionally mentioned in the sources would not change this picture.63 But all soldiers achieved, by virtue of their military status, certain juridical and fiscal privileges for themselves in respect of testamentary law, on the one hand, and in respect of tax obligations on their households, on the other (privileges which originated in the period of the republic).64

32What the new set of arrangements achieved was the binding of the soldiers directly into a specific fiscal community, which must of necessity have been taken account of in the tax registers. This seems not to have been the case before, and indeed it is likely that it was from this time that the development of localised district banda, or topotērēsiai as they are called in the tenth century, in an administrative sense, is to be dated, geographically distinct regions from which particular units were drawn. Theophanes reports that the third “vexation” imposed by the emperor, closely associated with the communal payment of taxes of poor soldiers, was a general census, which entailed an increase in the rates of taxation. How reliable the report of a tax-increase is remains unclear, but it is apparent that the census, the arrangements for transplanting soldiers (and providing them with properties equivalent to those they had been compelled to sell off), and the process of establishing a communal fiscal responsibility for many of them, are part of a closely connected set of measures.

  • 65 On the development and significance of minuscule script, see B. Fonkič, Aux origines de la minuscu (...)

33Although the evidence of Ecloga (16.2) shows that soldiers had become increasingly reliant on their families for the wherewithal to support their military service, this was not a formal arrangement. The measures taken or extended by Nikephoros appear to recognise this by making sure that the costs of military service were covered by the soldiers’ communities, regardless of the soldiers’ own financial situation. At the same time his measures established a regular and predictable base for recruitment, directly associated with the fiscal assessment of each basic tax unit, the chōrion: a further obvious implication of the measures must have been that the military registers must now have listed all families liable to provide a soldier by fiscal unit – indeed, the arrangement described or implied in Theophanes’ account could not possibly have functioned had this not been the case. The increasing use of minuscule script from the later eighth century, which probably spread from monastic scriptoria fairly rapidly after its first appearance and which permitted a greater sophistication in the maintenance and structure of tax-registers and similar types of document, may also be considered as part of the general context, and possibly even given some causal weight, in these changes.65

  • 66 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 490 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 672).
  • 67 The Scriptor incertus, a near-contemporary account at origin (see Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in t (...)
  • 68 See The Taktika of Leo VI. Text, Translation and Commentary, ed. G. Dennis, Washington DC 2010 (CF (...)

34The extent to which the new arrangements worked is not clear. In the ill-fated expedition of 811, Theophanes reports that the emperor set out with his forces and “many poor men armed at their own expense with slings and sticks (who were cursing him as did the soldiers)”.66 In the passage describing the later defeat and massacre of the same army, these “poor men” are not mentioned specifically, the implication being that they are to be counted among the soldiers.67 This may perhaps refer to these new recruits, and – if Theophanes’ text is to be taken at face value – they were poorly equipped. And if it is not simply a topos taken from the Vita Philareti, a passage in the Vita Eustratii involves the saint giving his horse to an impoverished soldier whose horse has died and who cannot afford a new one. By the later ninth century the emperor Leo VI was encouraging the provincial stratēgos to require the wealthier in his district to provide mounts and equipment or resources for a soldier, thus arming poor but registered stratiōtai through wealthy, unregistered persons: to what extent this reflects the fact that the existing arrangements of communal fiscal support for soldiers was being ignored by those in a position to do so remains unclear, but seems likely; and a letter attributed to the patriarch Nikolaos I pleads the case of a widow who does not have the means to equip her son for the military service he owes.68

  • 69 N. Svoronos, Les novelles des empereurs macédoniens concernant la terre et les stratiotes, ed. P. (...)

35A final point. These arrangements had nothing to do with the setting up of “military lands” (stratiotika ktemata) in a formal sense. Constantine VII’s preamble to his novel “On soldiers”, issued between 949 and 959, states explicitly that the practice of military service based on the possession of land, which was by custom hedged about with various conditions regarding sale and transmission, was formalised only in the tenth century.69 The implication is that apart from the establishment of the newly-settled soldiers on land given to them (or sold to them – it is not at all clear from Theophanes’ text that they were not compelled to buy land with the funds released by the sale of their ancestral holdings), and apart from the communal fiscal responsibility for their military expenses (as far as we know now not associated with property but with persons), the association between state-granted or privately-inherited or -obtained land and military service remained informal, but recognised. Otherwise Constantine VII’s statement, to the effect that soldiers have by long tradition only – not by any legislation, something considered only in his own reign – been forbidden from alienating the land which supported their military service, would make no sense.

Abbreviations

36Brandes, Finanzverwaltung
W. Brandes, Finanzverwaltung in Krisenzeiten. Untersuchungen zur byzantinischen Administration im 6.-9. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main 2002 (Forschungen zur byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 25)

37Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era
L. Brubaker, J. F. Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c. 660-850: A History, Cambridge 2011

38Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen
H. Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen zwischen der Balkanhalbinsel und Kleinasien vom Ende des 6. bis zur zweiten Hälfte des 9. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 1993 (Berliner byzantinistische Arbeiten 59)

39Dölger, Müller, Regesten
F. Dölger, Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des oströmischen Reiches 565-1453. 1.1, Regesten von 565-867, revised ed. A. E. Müller, Munich 20092 (Corpus der griechischen Urkunden des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit, Reihe A, Abt. 1)

40Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription
J. F. Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription in the Byzantine Army c. 550-950: A Study on the Origins of the stratiotika ktemata, Vienna 1979 (Sitzungsber. d. österr. Akad. d. Wiss. Phil.-hist. Kl. 357)

41Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre
M. Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre à Byzance du vie au xie siècle. Propriété et exploitation du sol, Paris 2002 (Byz. Sorb. 10)

42Mango, Scott, Theophanes
The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813, trans. C. Mango and R. Scott, Oxford 1997

43Theophanes, Chronographia
Theophanis Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, 2 vols., Leipzig 1883-1885

Notes

1 C. Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy and More: Studies in “Dark Centuries” Byzantium, Millenium 2, 2006, p. 79-135, at 128. See Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 300, 303, already for the reign of Heraclius (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 429, 435); with R.-J. Lilie, Die byzantinische Reaktion auf die Ausbreitung der Araber, Munich 1976 (Miscellanea Byzantina Monacensia 22), p. 287-338; Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 30-32.

2 For a summary of the complex questions surrounding the Chronographia, its authorship and sources, see now Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. lii-xcv.

3 T. Živković, Uspenskij’s Taktikon and the Theme of Dalmatia, Σύμμεικτα 17, 2005-2007, p. 49-85; for counter-arguments E. Kislinger, Dyrrachion und die Küsten von Epirus und Dalmatien im frühen Mittelalter – Beobachtungen zur Entwicklung der byzantinischen Oberhoheit, Millennium 8, 2011, p. 313-352, at 342-344. Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 752, 760 accept the redating with reservations.

4 P. Speck, Kaiser Konstantin VI. Die Legitimation einer Fremden und der Versuch einer eigenen Herrschaft, Munich 1978, p. 383, for example.

5 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 744-755.

6 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48627-29 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667-668); Dölger, Müller, Regesten, no. 368c [374]; the census has been plausibly redated to the year 807 and the start of a new indictional cycle: see W. Treadgold, The Byzantine Revival 740-842, Stanford 1988, p. 150; Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 201-202.

7 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48610-22 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667); Dölger, Müller, Regesten, nos. 372, 373.

8 On the possible identity of the various Sklaviniai mentioned in Byzantine sources of the period, see ODB, t. 3, p. 1910-1911 with literature; Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, p. 237-249.

9 Discussion of the measures: Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 237-249; Ai. Christophilopoulou, Ἡ οἰκονομικὴ καὶ δημοσιονομικὴ πολιτικὴ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος Νικηφόρου Α´, in Εἰς μνήμην Κ. Αμάντου, 1874-1960, ed. N. B. Tomadakis, Athens 1960, p. 413-431; P. E. Niavis, The Reign of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I (AD 802-811), Athens 1987 (Historical Monographs 3), p. 68-74; Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 493 n. 63 for a reference in Michael the Syrian to the existence of a pamphlet hostile to Nikephoros, upon which Theophanes’report may have drawn. See also H. Ahrweiler, Recherches sur l’administration de l’Empire byzantin aux ixe-xie siècles, BCH 84, 1960, p. 1-109 (repr. in Ead., Études sur les structures administratives et sociales de Byzance, London 1971 [Variorum Collected Studies Series 5], no. VIII), p. 19f.; P. Lemerle, The Agrarian History of Byzantium from the Origins to the Twelfth Century: The Sources and the Problems, Galway 1979, p. 62-64; followed by N. Oikonomidès, Fiscalité et exemption fiscale à Byzance ( ixe- xie s.), Athens 1996, p. 39; and more generally Id., The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy, in EHB, t. 3, p. 973-1058; see discussion and further literature in Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 760. For the population transfer and its implications, see Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, p. 335-352.

10 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48623-26 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667); and the discussion of Lemerle, Agrarian History (cited in n. 9), p. 62-64; P. Alexander, The Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople. Ecclesiastical Policy and Image Worship in the Byzantine Empire, Oxford 1958, p. 117ff.; J. F. Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Soldiers: Current Problems and Interpretations, DOP 47, 1993, p. 1-67, at 25-27; Id., Recruitment and Conscription, p. 50-51; Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 237-238. The report in the Chronicle of Monembasia for the year 805 is in some respects similar to that of Theophanes in respect of the re-settlement of parts of the Peloponnese by the Byzantine authorities and by returning emigrés from southern Italy: see detailed discussion in Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, p. 334-339, and the two developments may be connected.

11 There is a problem with the text as it stands, which strictly should mean that the poor themselves would pay the 18½ nomismata. The editor emended the text (changing the participle παρέχοντας to παρεχόντων) so that it would refer to the members of the fiscal community instead. This has met with general agreement: see Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 669 n. 4. This is very close to the system operated in the fourth and fifth centuries, as we shall see below: groups of taxpayers were assessed on the basis of their individual fiscal liabilities for the provision of a recruit (valued at 30 solidi) and his equipment (valued at 6 solidi): see Cod. Theod. VII, 13. 7. 1-3.

12 For syndosis, see Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Soldiers (cited in n. 10), p. 29-39; Lemerle, Agrarian History (cited in n. 9), p. 121-136; Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 247-249. For the fifth-century legislation, see below.

13 The date of the Nomos georgikos remains in dispute, but most scholars accept that it was probably a product of the later seventh or eighth century: see M. Humphreys, Law, Power and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850, Oxford 2015 (Oxford Studies in Byzantium), p. 195-231, with L. Burgmann, Die Nomoi stratiotikos, georgikos und nautikos, ZRVI 46, 2009, p. 53-64. For a different perspective, although one that has not met with general acceptance: A. Schminck, Probleme des sog. Νόμος Ῥοδίων Ναυτικός, in Griechenland und das Meer: Beiträge eines Symposions in Frankfurt im Dezember 1996, ed. E. Chrysos et al., Mannheim/Mönnesee 1999 (Peleus. Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Griechenlands und Zyperns 4), p. 171-178.

14 See Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 50 n. 87. It might be objected that Theophanes refers to the transfer of people “from all the themata”, and hence that the latter already existed. But he uses themata throughout his chronicle to refer to the regions in Anatolia where the armies were based, so that his usage in this instance may be equally anachronistic.

15 For detailed discussion see Christophilopoulou, Ἡ οἰκονομικὴ καὶ δημοσιονομικὴ πολιτική (cited in n. 9), p. 413-431. F. Dölger (BZ 36, 1936, p. 158) argued that the measures were a novelty, whereas Lemerle (Agrarian History [cited in n. 9], p. 62-63 – the payment of the 18½ nomismata), saw those called up as newly enlisted from among the poor, but otherwise nothing new in the measure. Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 237-238, also considered these poor persons to be newly-enrolled and not merely existing, alreadyregistered persons who were now to be activated. N. Oikonomides, Middle Byzantine Provincial Recruits: Salary and Armament, in Gonimos. Neoplatonic and Byzantine Studies Presented to Leendert G. Westerink at 75, ed. J. Duffy and J. Peradotto, Buffalo NY 1988, p. 121-136, connected the measures with the already-existing “military lands” that he believed had their origins in the later seventh or early eighth century.

16 R.-J. Lilie, Byzanz unter Eirene und Konstantin VI. (780-802). Mit einem Kapitel über Leon IV. (775-780) von Ilse Rochow, Frankfurt am Main 1996 (Berliner byzantinistische Studien 2), p. 183-189.

17 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48225-48315 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 662-663). See Dölger, Müller, Regesten, no 365; K. Belke, Einige Überlegungen zum Sigillion Kaiser Nikephoros’I. für Patrai, JÖB 46, 1996, p. 81-96; E. Kislinger, Regionalgeschichte als Quellenproblem. Die Chronik von Monembasia und das sizilianische Demenna. Eine historischtopographische Studie, Vienna 2001 (Österr. Akad. Wiss., Phil.-hist. Kl., Denkschriften 294).

18 See the discussion in Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, p. 331-335.

19 Kitāb al-‘Uyūn, in E. W. Brooks, The Campaign of 716-718 from Arabic Sources, Journal of Hellenic Studies 19, 1899, p. 19-31, at 23 (with notes 5 and 6).

20 I. Dujčev, Cronaca di Monemvasia. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e note, Palermo 1976, p. 134-146, 158-207 (ed. Dujčev, p. 16-22); Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48224-4832 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 663). For population transfers in general from the seventh century on see Ditten, Ethnische Verschiebungen, and for the passage in the Chronicle (which has generated a considerable literature and discussion): ibid., p. 242-247, 333-349.

21 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 48610ff. (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 667).

22 Vita Philareti (BHG 1511z), ed. L. Rydén, The Life of St Philaretos the Merciful Written by His Grandson Niketas. A Critical Edition with Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Indices, Uppsala 2002 (Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia 8), p. 72218ff. On the Life: L. Brubaker, J. F. Haldon. Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era (ca. 680-850). The Sources: An Annotated Survey, Aldershot 2001 (Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs 7), p. 225 with literature.

23 A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social and Administrative Survey, 3 vols., Oxford 1964, t. 2, p. 660-663; T. S. Brown, Gentlemen and Officers. Imperial Administration and Aristocratic Power in Byzantine Italy, A.D. 554-800, Rome 1984, p. 82-108; L. M. Whitby, The Army, c. 420-602, in The Cambridge Ancient History. 14, Late Antiquity. Empire and Successors A.D. 425-600, ed. Av. Cameron, B. Ward-Perkins and L. M. Whitby, Cambridge 2000, p. 288-314, see p. 302-303.

24 On soldiers’ land and property and their legal privileges: L. M. Whitby, Recruitment in Roman Armies from Justinian to Heraclius (ca. 565-615), in States, Resources and Armies: Papers of the Third Workshop on Late Antiquity and Early Islam, ed. Av. Cameron, Princeton 1995, p. 61-124, at 111-116; Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 74-78.

25 As I have also argued elsewhere: J. F. Haldon, The Empire that would not die. The Paradox of East Roman Survival 640-740, Cambridge MA. 2016, p. 148-149. See esp. Brown, Gentlemen and Officers (cited in n. 23), p. 85-88.

26 See Ecloga. Das Gesetzbuch Leons III. und Konstaninos’ V., ed L. Burgmann, Frankfurt am Main 1983 (Forschungen zur byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 10), 16.4; also 16.1 and 2; and D. Simon, Byzantinische Hausgemeinschaftsverträge, in Beiträge zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte und zum geltenden Zivilrecht. Festgabe für J. Sontis, ed. F. Baur and K. Larenz, Munich 1977, p. 91-128, at 94 (A) 2, 7; (B) 4 (an eighth-century legal decision attributed to Leo III and Constantine V, appended to manuscripts of the Ecloga). Discussion in Humphreys, Law, Power and Imperial Ideology (cited in n. 13), p. 126, 135-137; Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 67ff.; R.-J. Lilie, Die zweihundertjährige Reform: zu den Anfängen der Themenorganisation im 7. und 8. Jahrhundert, BSl. 45, 1984, p. 27-39, 190-201, at 196-197; and Oikonomides, Middle Byzantine Provincial Recruits (cited in n. 15), p. 130-132. Soldiers’property derived, by whatever means, through their military service was defined as idioktēton: see Ecloga, 16.1; full references (from the Codex Justinianus, Basilica and the so-called “military codes”) at Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 54 n. 94, 71 n. 126.

27 While I argued originally that hereditary recruitment into the comitatenses did not survive into Justinian’s reign and was likely reintroduced under Heraclius, I now believe that the evidence and the context suggest that this is unlikely, and that it remained a continuous feature: see esp. Cod. Iust., XII, 47.3 (retained in the later Basilica, LVII, 7. 3) ordaining that the sons of soldiers who die in war service should succeed to their father’s place up to the rank of biarcus, a rank associated with comitatenses units; and Whitby, Recruitment in Roman Armies (cited in n. 24), p. 68-83. That these regulations were not always applied or followed is clear from the account in Theophylact Simocatta VII, 1. 7 (Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae, ed. C. de Boor, corr. P. Wirth, Stuttgart 1972 [Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana], p. 246), according to which the emperor Maurice re-introduced or re-imposed such a measure.

28 The sources occasionally mention such drives: see Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 79 and n. 145, for some examples. For Leo IV: Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 449 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 620).

29 E.g. Cod. Theod. VII, 13. 7 (2); 13. See Jones, Later Roman Empire (cited in n. 23), t. 2, p. 615-616 with n. 16 and sources.

30 Theodori Studitae Epistulae, ed. A. Fatouros, 2 vols., Vienna 1992 (CFHB 31/1-2), Ep. 735-37, 61-63; discussion in Oikonomides, Middle Byzantine Provincial Recruits (cited in n. 15), p. 135-136. It is unlikely that Theodore had particular “orthodox emperors” in mind – his phrasing surely denotes simply that the procedure was, from his standpoint, well-established and ancient. The somewhat later Vita of Eustratios (born ca. 820, Vita written ca. 900) confirms that this measure was soon rescinded. Eustratios’father was registered for a strateia (military service), the obligations attached to which fell on the family – a standard procedure described in several hagiographical sources of the period. After the death of her husband Eustratios’mother had to register her son in his stead: Vita Eustratii in A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Ἀνάλεκτα Ἱεροσολυμιτικῆς Σταχυολογίας, 5 vols., St Petersburg 1891-1898, t. 4, p. 367-400, t. 5, p. 408-410 (BHG 645), at p. 3773-5; Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 56ff.

31 Cod. Theod., VII, 13.3.

32 Pace Oikonomides, Middle Byzantine Provincial Recruits (cited in n. 15). For a review of the evidence see Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 231-255.

33 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 4871-2 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 668).

34 For late Roman fiscal records see the exemplification presented in J. Gascou, L. MacCoull, Le cadastre d’Aphroditô, TM 10, 1987, p. 103-158. Censuses or re-assessments of fiscal burdens are known to have taken place at various times across the seventh and eighth centuries – under Heraclius in 640 across the whole empire (see Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 459-460); between 662 and 668 under Constans II for the provinces of Sicily, Calabria, Sardinia and Africa; and under Leo III for Italy and Sicily in 731: Dölger, Müller, Regesten, nos. 231c [234], 300.

35 The case of the soldier Mousoulios in the Vita Philareti is indicative (n. 22 above).

36 See The Farmer’s Law, ed. W. Ashburner, Journal of Hellenic Studies 30, 1910, p. 85-108 (introduction and Greek text = Zepos, t. 2, p. 63ff.); and 32, 1912, p. 68-95 (English transl. and commentary); discussion of § 19: J. F. Haldon, Synônê: Re-considering a Problematic Term of Middle Byzantine Fiscal Administration, BMGS 18, 1994, p. 116-153, at 131-132. There has been much discussion about the origins, structure and date of this text, but a later seventh-eighth-century date is largely accepted: see Humphreys, Law, Power and Imperial Ideology (cited in n. 13), p. 195-232, and for the date p. 223-231. In the Ecloga a number of ordinances assume that the fisc maintains records of taxable property down to the level of the individual household. See Ecloga 3. 2.

37 The evidence is almost entirely sigillographic: see Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 668-669, 709-715; Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 153-161, 205-225.

38 For the first references to thematic prōtonotarioi, see The Correspondence of Ignatios the Deacon. Text, Translation and Commentary, ed. C. Mango (with St. Efthymiadis), Washington DC 1997 (CFHB 39), Ep. 7, 8 (the spatharios Nikolaos); Theodori Studitae Epistulae (cited in n. 30), Ep. 500 (the prōtonotarios Hesychios), both dated to the 820s (PmbZ, nos. 2575, 5589). See also Vita Ioanicii, in AASS Nov. II. 1, p. 332-383 (BHG 935), at 368A (for the reign of Theophilos, 829-841); V. Laurent, La Vita retractata et les miracles posthumes de saint Pierre d’Atroa, Brussels 1958 (Subs. Hag. 31) (BHG 2365), p. 125 (for the reign of Michael II, 820-829). While it is the case that a prōtonotarios of the stratēgos of the Thrakesion command is known from the eighth century, this official is attached to the general of the army and should not be seen in the same light as the prōtonotarioi of the themata, who were subordinate to the central administration, even if they likely evolved via this route in the first place. The chief notary of many officials could be described as prōtonotarioi, but that does not make them prōtonotarioi of themata in the sense discussed here. The sigillographic evidence is presented in F. Winkelmann, Byzantinische Rang-und Ämterstruktur im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1985 (Berliner byzantinistische Arbeiten 53), p. 120-121, 122ff. with full lists of seals for prōtonotarioi for the themata; A.-K. Wassiliou, W. Seibt, Die byzantinischen Bleisiegel in Österreich. 2, Zentral-und Provinzverwaltung, Vienna 2004 (Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Byzantinistik 2.2), nos. 222, 226, 230; Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art. 3, West, Northwest and Central Asia Minor and the Orient, ed. J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomides, Washington DC 1996, 86.41; 4, The East, ed. E. McGeer, J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomides, Washington DC 2001, 1.23, 22.29, 33, 38, for example (all 9th century, none earlier). Zacos and Veglery based their dating of the seals of prōtonotarioi on their absence from the Taktikon Uspenskij. But some prōtonotarioi at least existed before this time, as the letters of Ignatios and Theodore demonstrate. Equally, seals dated broadly “750-850” should be interpreted as products of the early ninth century on the whole, at least where they include a specific geographical/provincial name, since all the available evidence points to this period as the time at which prōtonotarioi first begin to exercise the authority with which they are later associated. See Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 162-163, and note Winkelmann, Byzantinische Rang-und Ämterstruktur, op. cit., p. 24.

39 The evidence is surveyed in detail in Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 679-682, 710-715.

40 See N. Oikonomidès, Les listes de préséance byzantines des ixe -xe siècles, Paris 1972 (Le monde byzantin), p. 315; Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions. Introduction, Edition, Transation and Commentary, ed. J. F. Haldon, Vienna 1990 (CFHB 28), p. 167-168 (to [B] 103ff.), 236 (to [C] 349f.); Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 161-165; Haldon, Synônê (cited in n. 36), p. 128ff. As noted already (n. 38 above) the earliest evidence relating to the actual functions of prōtonotarioi comes from letters of Ignatios the deacon for the period ca. 815-843; thereafter and in greater detail from a tenth-century account using information from the reign of Basil I, but it is certainly reliable, and there is no reason to doubt that the structural position of prōtonotarioi, while it may have evolved somewhat during the course of the ninth century, had always been focused around these concerns.

41 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, loc. cit. (n. 3 above). The Taktikon makes reference only to the prōtonotarios of the dromos (Taktikon Uspenskij, in Oikonomidès, Les listes de préséance [cited in n. 40], p. 47-63, see p. 5724, 5919), but not to those responsible for the themata. Yet the sigillographic evidence demonstrates clearly that they were already functioning from the 820s and possibly a decade earlier. It would appear that thematic prōtonotarioi were established, or given their new, provincial, roles, within the department of the sakellion, only after the fiscal measures of Nikephoros had been implemented. For detailed discussion: Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 679-682.

42 Almost all known seals of epoptai are ninth-century or later: e.g., G. Zacos, A. Veglery, Byzantine Lead Seals. 1, Parts 1-3, Basel 1972 (hereafter ZV), nos. 1920, 2068; Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art. 1, Italy, North of the Balkans, North of the Black Sea, ed. J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomides, Washington DC 1991, 1.22, 71.9; 2, South of the Balkans, the Islands, South of Asia Minor, ed. Eid., Washington DC 1994, 22.4, 6-7, 8 (= ZV no. 3155), 43.1; 3, West, Northwest and Central Asia Minor and the Orient (cited in n. 38), 2.9; 5, The East (continued), Constantinople and Environs, Unknown Locations, Addenda, Uncertain Readings, ed. E. McGeer, J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomides, Washington DC 2005, 6.5. The unique exception is dated to the eighth century: Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art. 4, The East (cited in n. 38), 22.15 (= ZV, no. 2241), but is very similar to a ninthcentury seal of the same type (ZV, no. 1920). For discussion of the history of the post: Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, p. 198-205. Only one (late ninth-century) seal is known for a strateutēs: see V. Laurent, Documents de sigillographie. La collection C. Orghidan, Paris 1952 (Bibliothèque byzantine. Documents 1), no. 218.

43 See above and n. 29.

44 For the latter position, see e. g. Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 241-242; the former: Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, p. 50-51, and G. Dagron, Byzance et le modèle islamique au xe siècle. À propos des Constitutions tactiques de l’empereur Léon VI, CRAI 127/2, 1983 p. 219-243, at p. 235-236.

45 See above and n. 30.

46 C. Mango, I. Ševčenko, Some Churches and Monasteries on the Southern Shore of the Sea of Marmara, DOP 27, 1973, p. 235-277, at 248-250.

47 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 681-682, 713.

48 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 4876-8 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 668); Dölger, Müller, Regesten, no. 375.

49 For summary of the discussion, see Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Soldiers (cited in n. 10); and F. Dölger, Zur Ableitung des byzantinischen Verwaltungsterminus thema, Historia 4 (Festschrift W. Enßlin), 1955, p. 189-198 (repr. in Id., Paraspora. 30 Aufsätze zur Geschichte, Kultur und Sprache des byzantinischen Reiches, Ettal 1961, p. 231-246), who connected the word with the military registers, and hence with the military lands.

50 Argued in detail in Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription, and Id., Byzantium in the Seventh Century: The Transformation of a Culture, Cambridge 19972.

51 Again, as stressed by Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy (cited in n. 1), p. 128-131.

52 J. Koder, Zur Bedeutungsentwicklung des byzantinischen Terminus thema, JÖB 40, 1990, p. 155-165, expanding one aspect of Dölger’s argument, in turn based on the work of S. P. Kyriakidis, Πῶς ἡ λέξις θέμα ἔφθασαν εἰς τὴν σημασίαν τῆς στρατιωτικῆς περιοχῆς, EEBS 23, 1953, p. 392-394, and Id., Ἡ προέλευσις τῆς στρατιωτικῆς σημασίας τῆς λέξεως θέμα παρὰ τοῖς Βυζαντινοῖς, Ἑλληνικά 17, 1962, p. 246-251, who also looks at modern meanings of the word. See also A Greek-English Lexicon, ed. H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. S. Jones et al., Oxford 1968, s.v. θέμα.

53 An idea originally mooted in J. F. Haldon, Byzantine Praetorians: An Administrative, Institutional and Social Survey of the Opsikion and Tagmata, c. 580-900, Bonn 1984 (Poikila byzantina 3), p. 221. The argument presented here should not preclude the possibility that the word thema was in day-to-day use for the armies before this time; but it does seem that it receives official recognition only in the early ninth century.

54 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 671-679.

55 Theodori Studitae Epistulae (cited in n. 30), Ep. 40753 (and Fatouros, comm., p. 392); for Bardanios, see Theophanes continuatus in Theophanes continuatus, Ioannes Caminiata, Symeon Magister, Georgius Monachus continuatus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1825 (CSHB), p. 1-481, at 615f.; and cf. PmbZ, no. 766.

56 See Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 757-764.

57 Haldon, Byzantine Praetorians (cited in n. 53), p. 223-226.

58 See literature in n. 8 above.

59 Theophanes, Chronographia, p. 30310 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 435).

60 Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 734-739, 762-764.

61 See, e.g. (among many examples one could cite) A.-K. Wassiliou-Seibt, Reconstructing the Byzantine Frontier on the Balkans (late 8th -10th c.), REB 73, 2015, p. 229-239. In an otherwise excellent short discussion the author regularly assumes that the existence of a stratēgos = the existence of a thema.

62 As urged by Zuckerman, Learning from the Enemy (cited in n. 1), p. 128.

63 See n. 28 above.

64 For the privileges attached to military service in the late Roman period, see Jones, Later Roman Empire (cited in n. 23), t. 2, p. 617, 675; Th. Mommsen, Das römische Militärwesen seit Diocletian, Hermes 24, 1889, p. 195-279, see p. 248-249; É. Patlagean, L’impôt payé par les soldats au vie siècle, in Armées et fiscalité dans le monde antique, Paris 1977 (Colloques nationaux du Centre national de la recherche scientifique 936), p. 303-309; for the relevant texts, see esp. CJ XII, 30; 35.16 (with the reference to unspecified military privileges); 36; A. Dain, Sur le «peculium castrense», REB 19 (Mélanges Raymond Janin), 1961, p. 253-257 and esp. D L, 5.10 (= B LIV, 5.10) on exemption for soldiers’households from certain munera or aggareiai, including that of billeting; and Dig. L, 4.3. Whether soldiers remained free from capitatio in the later Roman period (they were clearly not freed from paying the later kapnikon) remains unclear (Whitby, Recruitment in Roman armies [cited in n. 24], p. 66; Jones, loc. cit.). For the Roman period proper, in which these privileges are rooted, see J. B. Campbell, The Emperor and the Roman Army 31 BC-AD 235, Oxford 1984, p. 210-229 (on testamentary privileges), p. 229-236 (on peculium castrense); P. Garnsey, Social Status and Legal Privilege in the Roman Empire, Oxford 1970, p. 245-247.

65 On the development and significance of minuscule script, see B. Fonkič, Aux origines de la minuscule stoudite (les fragments moscovite et parisien de l’œuvre de Paul d’Égine), in I manoscritti greci tra riflessione e dibattito. Atti del V Colloquio Internazionale di Paleografia Greca, ed. G. Prato, Florence 2000 (Papyrologica florentina 31), t 1, p. 169-186; C. Mango, L’origine de la minuscule, in La paléographie grecque et byzantine, ed. J. Bompaire and J. Irigoin, Paris 1977 (Colloques internationaux du Centre national de la recherche scientifique 559), p. 175-180; and A. Blanchard, Les origines lointaines de la minuscule, ibid., p. 167-173. See also ODB, t. 2, p. 1377-1378 with further literature.

66 Theophanes, Chronographia, t. 1, p. 490 (Mango, Scott, Theophanes, p. 672).

67 The Scriptor incertus, a near-contemporary account at origin (see Brubaker, Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, p. 179-180), and other texts describing the battle refer only to the soldiers and officers. On the text and its history see also P. Stephenson, “About the Emperor Nikephoros and How he Leaves his Bones in Bulgaria”: A Context for the Controversial Chronicle of 811, DOP 60, 2006, p. 87-109.

68 See The Taktika of Leo VI. Text, Translation and Commentary, ed. G. Dennis, Washington DC 2010 (CFHB 49), XVIII. 129, XX. 205; Vita Eustratii (cited in n. 30), p. 3773-6; J. Darrouzès, Épistoliers byzantins du x e siècle, Paris 1960 (Archives de l’Orient chrétien 6), II. 50 (p. 130f.).

69 N. Svoronos, Les novelles des empereurs macédoniens concernant la terre et les stratiotes, ed. P. Gounaridis, Athens 1994, p. 1189-11 (Zepos, t. 1, p. 222; trans. E. Mcgeer, The Land Legislation of the Macedonian Emperors, Toronto 2000 [Medieval Sources in Translation 38], p. 71; F. Dölger, Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des oströmischen Reiches 565-1453. 1. 2, Regesten von 867-1025, revised ed. A. E. Müller, Munich 20032 [Corpus der griechischen Urkunden des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit, Reihe A, Abt. 1], no. 673). Detailed analysis of all the relevant texts in Haldon, Military Service, Military Lands and the Status of Soldiers (cited in n. 10).

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