Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Chemins d'outre-mer

 | 
Damien Coulon
, 
Catherine Otten-Froux
, 
Paule Pagès
, 
et al.

Monopoly and Privileged Free Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean (8th-14th century)

Angeliki E. Laiou

Texte intégral

1After the eleventh century, the eastern Mediterranean was a busy sea. International trade was on an upward curve which continued until about 1350. Venetian, Pisan and Genoese ships and, with time, those of other western states sailed to Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, Syria and eventually to the Black Sea. Teeming markets, busy ports, a developing international culture: such was the eastern Mediterranean during this period. These new conditions necessitated new mechanisms and institutional arrangements, which, in turn, facilitated the further development of international trade. My purpose here is to trace some aspects of this process, namely, monopoly, privilege and free trade as they evolved through the dialectic relationship of Italian merchants and the Byzantine state. I will try to show the interplay between monopoly, protected trade, free trade, and the liberalization of the conditions of trade, in a period that extends from the eighth through the late fourteenth century. The focus will be on the Byzantine Empire. However, since for much of the period the role of Byzantium and especially, but not only, Constantinople, was pivotal, the case of Byzantium is not parochial but, rather, paradigmatic for the eastern Mediterranean. My argument is that, whereas in the beginning of the period envisaged here, Mediterranean exchange in the East took place in conditions where the restrictiveness imposed by political entities (in our paradigmatic case, the Byzantine state) played an important role, there occurred a liberalization in the terms of trade, brought about by state action among other factors. As more players entered the field, the exercise of national sovereignty in economic matters changed, as did the dynamic between political and economic factors in exchange.

  • 1 N. Oikonomides, The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy, EHB, 3, p. 973-974.

2The Byzantine economy was never fully controlled or directed by the state. The state did, however, until sometime in the eleventh century, act as a restraining agent, placing restrictions on processes such as the untrammeled accumulation of wealth in private hands, or the exploitation of the weakest members of society.1

  • 2 A. E. Laiou, Exchange and Trade, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, EHE, 2, p. 704, 724.
  • 3 N. Oikonomides, The Economic Region of Constantinople: From Directed Economy to Free Economy, and (...)

3Foreign trade is the economic sector in which state intervention can be seen in its strongest manifestation. In our case, we are dealing with an environment where international exchange took place between states, and therefore state policies were important. That the Byzantine state had a powerful voice in the exercise of foreign trade and in establishing the terms in which exchange would take place is very easy to show, for the period through the tenth century. The very fact that terms of trade were often included in political treaties with outsiders is characteristic: the treaties with the Bulgarians (716) and the Rus (907) established restrictive terms: the kind and value of Byzantine merchandise that might be bought by foreigners was fixed and, in the case of the Bulgarians, official places of exchange (Mesembria, Develtos) were specified; the merchandise was to be stamped or sealed by Byzantine officials.2 This is a port of trade situation. The restrictions upon foreign merchants or on any outsiders who went to Constantinople for trade, set out in the Book of the Prefect, are too well known to be rehearsed again. All of these phenomena, the special treatment of merchants of varying nationalities, the existence of ports of trade, the differential treatment afforded to Constantinople, where the terms of foreign and even domestic trade were much more closely regulated than in the provinces until the eleventh century,3 suggest that exchange was a complex of political, strategic, economic and even psychological factors.

  • 4 E. Patlagean, Byzance et les marchés du grand commerce, vers 830-vers 1030; entre Pirenne et Polan (...)
  • 5 Synopsis Basilicorum, I. and P. Zepos, Jus Graecoromanum (hereafter, JGR), 5. Athens 1931, (Κ. X.) (...)

4The philosophy underlying the terms in which foreign trade was conducted, the normative role of the government and the intended restrictions upon practice can be seen with clarity in the category of goods whose export was forbidden by the Byzantine state, sometimes on pain of death. These were the kolyomena or kekolymena, the forbidden items, a category of goods considered to be outside normal commercial exchange with the outside world. The category of kekolymena was a legal one, and appears in the legislation already between the fourth and the sixth century. It included precious metals (gold), iron, arms, wheat, wine,4 olive oil, salt, garum and best-quality silks. The prohibitions remained in the law books at least through the tenth century.5

  • 6 Β 56.1.18= CJ 1V.63.2: Οί πραγματευταὶ ὑπὲρ ών ἀγοράζουσιν ἐν τῷ βαρβαρικῷ φορτίων μὴ παρεχέτωσαν (...)
  • 7 J. Koder, Das Eparchenbuch Leons des Weisen, Vienna 1991 (CFHB 33) (hereafter, EB), 2.4, 2.6.
  • 8 EB 9.6.

5The export of gold had been forbidden since the fourth century. An edict of Gratian (374 AD?) had stated that traders, trading in foreign lands, must not pay in gold, but rather in goods. “For one should not only not give gold to the barbarians, but even take the gold that they have.”6 Barter was thereby encouraged, if commercial transactions in cash did not result in a positive balance for the Romans. The purpose of this prohibition is self-evident: it keeps the monetary system functioning, even if it forms an impediment to trade. In the tenth century, the provisions in the Book of the Prefect, that if a goldsmith (argyroprates) was offered gold, silver or precious stones by a woman he was to declare them to the Prefect “so that they may not be exported to foreigners” (ἵνα μὴ τοῖς ἔθνεσι παραπέμπωνται) (ΕΒ 2.4), and that if anyone coming into Constantinople from the outside sold gold or silver, he should be questioned as to where he had found it, suggest that the prohibition was still in place at the time.7 However, it is not easy to see how it can have been fully implemented, since in all the discussion of foreign merchants in Constantinople barter is mentioned only once, and it affected Bulgarian merchants, at a time when, we know, the Bulgarian economy was not yet truly monetised.8 For the prohibition to have been effective, even in Constantinople, the foreign merchants must have bought merchandise of higher value than what they sold. But it is not clear that such was the case.

  • 9 Β 19.1.86 (87)= CJ 1V.41.2 (Marcian, 455-457).
  • 10 P. Noailles, A. Dain, Les novelles de Leon VI le Sage, Paris 1944, Novel 63. It seems to refer to (...)

6The reason for the prohibition of the export of strategic commodities is also self-evident: arms and iron were not to be exported, on pain of death and the confiscation of the property of the guilty party.9 In the tenth century, the export of timber to Syria and Egypt was also forbidden, on pain of death. The emperor Leo VI, on the other hand, reduced the punishment of those who exported to the enemies “those things which help them” (ἅ συγκροτεῖν αὐτοὺς μέλλει), and who had been subject to the death penalty. He retained severe property and corporal punishments, but considered the death penalty disproportionate to the crime.10

7What obtained, therefore, was a boycott of particular enemy countries, as well as a general prohibition of the export of certain strategic commodities.

  • 11 Β 19.1.85 (86)= CJ IV.41.1.

8Foodstuffs form another category of kekolymena. Since the time of Valentinian (370-375), it had been forbidden to export to “barbarian lands” wine or olive oil or garum.11 Merchants were forbidden to carry these foodstuffs abroad even for their own use, let alone allow the foreigners to taste or buy them. One can understand the prohibition of the export of oil and wine as a sort of protection of the internal market, that is, of the consumer of what after all are primary elements of the Mediterranean diet. The prohibition that bore on garum is harder to interpret.

  • 12 Paulus: Β 56.1.11=D 39.4.11.
  • 13 MM, 3, p. 66-67.

9The export of grain, along with that of arms, iron and salt, had been prohibited in the late third century upon pain of death.12 We shall deal with grain at some length. Here, I note that, while the reasons for prohibiting the export of foodstuffs is obvious, the first explicit justification of which I am aware dates from the early thirteenth century. A privilege granted by Manuel Angelos (1230-1240: emperor and then despot of Thessaloniki) to the Ragusans in 1234, allowed them to trade everywhere in his domains and to export all commodities, except for crops in time of dearth. At such times, he wrote, crops were not to be exported, since the first obligation was to feed the native population.13

  • 14 There is a late fourth-century prohibition on the use of murex as a colorant, and on the sale of m (...)
  • 15 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik, R. J. H. Jenkins, Washing (...)

10The prohibition of the export of high quality silks is Byzantine, not late Roman.14 The purpose of the prohibition was political and psychological rather than economic. Silks were imbued with a high degree of symbolism, which made of them an expression of the majesty of the state. The famous statements of Constantine VII, about imperial garments having been given to Constantine the Great by an angel and therefore carrying a very powerful export prohibition, point out the symbolic importance of such items.15

  • 16 Noailles - Dain, Novelles (as in n. 10), Novel 80: σεμνοπρεπείας μοίραν παρεχόμενοι τοῖς ὑπηκόοις.
  • 17 EB 6.16; cf. D. Jacoby, Les juifs a Byzance: une communaute marginalisée, Οι περιθωριακοί στο Βυζά (...)
  • 18 EB 8.1, on the serikarioi; cf 8.5 which punishes them with the confiscation of their property in t (...)
  • 19 EB 8.3.
  • 20 EB 4. 1.

11Similarly, when Leo VI allowed the sale of small pieces of purple (ἀλουργόν), i.e. imperial, silk to the residents of Constantinople, he did so, as he himself owned, in order to associate them, even in a small way, in the luxury and the glories of the Empire.16 Still, in the same period, in the Book of the Prefect issued by the same emperor, it was forbidden for Jewish merchants to purchase from the metaxopratai (merchants in raw silk) raw silk in Constantinople, presumably because the Jews were engaged in long-distance trade involving both the Far East and western Europe, and therefore might be expected to re-export it outside the frontiers of the Empire.17 The same regulation prohibited the sale of raw silk to any merchant (Jews included) whose purpose was to resell it outside the Empire. Any silk clothes (himatia) worth above 10 nomismata were to be declared to the Prefect,18 for these were not to be sold to outsiders.19 This last provision is to be noted, for it shows that the prohibition is broader than the imperial silks (vlattia kekolymena) defined in EB 8.1. The vestiopratai (clothes merchants) were also prohibited to sell kekolymena to outsiders who bought them to resell to foreigners.20 The tenor of the prohibition of the export of raw silk is different, for its purpose was the protection of the native industry rather than that of imperial prestige.

  • 21 J. Becker, Die Werke Liudprands von Cremona, Hanover-Leipzig 19153 (MGH, Script, rer. Germ.), ch. (...)
  • 22 M. Canard, Histoire de la dynastie des H’amdanides de Jazira et de Syrie, Algiers 1951, 1, p. 831- (...)

12The prohibitions seem to have been breaking down in practice in the course of the tenth century, at least if one is to believe Liutprand of Cremona21 who stated that forbidden purple silks were available in the markets of western Europe through the mediation of Venetian merchants. The Byzantine treaty with Aleppo, in 969-970, shows fine silk and silk brocades, as well as gold, silver, precious stones and jewels being sold in Aleppo which, however, was virtually imperial territory at this point.22 The prohibition was slowly dissolving through the combined action of merchants and the Byzantine government, although the process was still at a very early phase, and is of interest mostly as a forerunner of later developments.

  • 23 See A. E. Laiou, Economic and Non-economic Exchange, EHB, 2, p. 681-696.
  • 24 On this, see M. Hendy, Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300-1450, Cambridge 1985, p. 2 (...)
  • 25 EHB, 2, p. 716, 738; Hendy, Studies (as in n. 24), p. 266.
  • 26 Theophanes Continuants, ed. B. G. Niebuhr, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 96-97, 131.

13Expensive and perhaps forbidden silks were one of the major items of what I have termed non-economic exchange,23 that is, gift exchange or quasi-gift exchange, including ransom payments, as well as diplomatic gifts and payments. In the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries, silks hold pride of place in the gifts exchanged with Muslim potentates and others; silks and gold. Gold, whose export in the course of commercial activity was strictly forbidden,24 was used for gifts or ransom. Large sums of money occasionally left the empire, especially toward the east, whether to the Persians during the reign of Justinian I, or to the Arabs; the largest reported such exports of gold are a gift of 1000 kentenaria of gold (7,200,000 gold coins) sent by Theophilos to the Caliph (Theophilos also offered 200 kentenaria, along with silks, as ransom payment, but it was not accepted, being found too low), the 216,000 gold coins and 200,000 dinars sent to the caliph by Constantine IX in 1046 (2.23 tons of gold), and the 500,000 hyperpyra given to the crusaders in 1203.25 One hopes that the figures are exaggerated, although the case of Theophilos is reported not by an Arab source but by a Byzantine one.26

  • 27 On this, see A. Muthesius, Silken Diplomacy, Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard, S. Franklin, Cam (...)
  • 28 EHB, 2, p. 699.
  • 29 Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions, ed. J. F. Haldon, Vienna 1990 (CFHB 28), p. 112.
  • 30 In 935: Hendy, Studies, p. 268. Other cases are mentioned ibid., p. 269.
  • 31 Laiou, Exchange and Trade (as in n. 2), p. 717.
  • 32 Theophanes Continuatus, p. 96: on a gift of 4 kentenaria of gold: εἰ γὰρ ἄμμου δίκην ό ἀποσταλεὶς (...)
  • 33 Legatio, in Becker, Werke (as in n. 21), ch. 54 (transl. by F. A. Wright).

14The silks sent to western Europe or to the Slavs are important, although it cannot be assumed that they were of first quality.27 One imagines that the 2500 silk garments sent to the Slavs by Constantine V for ransoming prisoners (in 768) were not first quality.28 Some silks meant for lesser Arab potentates (“noble foreigners”) when the emperor went on campaign were clearly not imperial, for they were bought in the marketplace of Constantinople.29 Those meant as gifts for caliphs, on the other hand, may be assumed to have been of very high quality, of imperial manufacture and of the forbidden variety, as was certainly the case with some silks given to the protospatharios Epiphanios, on embassy to Hugh of Provence.30 The Emperor Romanos I, we are told, sent to the Arabs brocades, cut velvet and other splendid silks, while Leo VI sent garments of purple (furfur) brocade, and brocades woven with gold, each valued at the vast sum of 2000 dinars.31 Even allowing for the expected degree of exaggeration, these were items of extremely high quality, and must be assumed to have been imperial silks. In any case, the philosophy behind gift-giving between Byzantines and Arabs hinged precisely on the exchange of rare and highly valued items. Both Arab and Byzantine sources state unambiguously that important gifts impress upon the recipient state the magnifence and wealth of the gift-offering ruler;32 or, as imperial officials told Liutprand of Cremona, “as we surpass all other nations in wealth and wisdom, so it is right that we should surpass them in dress.”33

15In other words, as some items were taken out of the normal market exchange, so they played another, and most important role, in the political relations between the Byzantine Empire and foreign powers.

  • 34 On this document see, in the last instance, A. E. Laiou, The Emperor’s Word: Chrysobulls. Oaths an (...)
  • 35 Nicetae Choniatae Historia, ed. J. A. van Dieten , Berlin 1975 (CFHB 11), p. 461: five kentenaria (...)

16As late as the eleventh and twelfth centuries, this political role of high quality silks remains visible in the treaties between the Byzantine Empire and western powers. A striking example of this phenomenon is the chrysobull composed by Michael Psellos and issued by Michael VII (1071-1078) for Robert Guiscard. This was a highly political document, and highly unusual in its form, since it incorporated for the first time an oath by the emperor; in any case, the emperor was seeking to form a firm alliance with Robert Guiscard, cemented with a marriage alliance.34 There is, here, a veritable hierarchy of offices granted to Robert to distribute at will, and with them an annual distribution of 100 pieces of silk cloth (vlattia, pallia) specifically mentioned, that includes both the silks appropriate to the various offices and a supplement as an extra gift. In the late twelfth century, expensive silk cloth was given as a (forced) present to Frederick Barbarossa to buy peace, while an annual gift of 40 pieces of Theban silk was promised to the Sultan of Iconium.35

  • 36 JGR, 1, Athens 1931, p. 369: honoravit autem et nobilem Ducam... protosebasti dignitate cum roga e (...)
  • 37 The gifts were renewed and increased by Manuel I and by Isaac II in 1192: JGR, 1, p. 457 ff; Latin (...)
  • 38 JGR, 1, p. 417 (1170).
  • 39 Ibid., p. 490.

17The privileges granted to the maritime cities of Italy in the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries incorporated gifts of money and silks. The latter had no immense economic value, but did carry the usual symbolic value. The privilege to the Venetians issued by Alexios I in 1082 and its subsequent confirmations do not explicitly mention silks, but these may be subsumed in the roga accruing to the office of protosevastos, promised to the Doge.36 Alexios I’s privilege to the Pisans in 1111, and Manuel’s to the Genoese in 1155 specifically mentioned annual gifts of gold coins (400 hyperpyra) and two pallia to the church of Pisa, as well as 60 hyperpyra and one pallium to the archbishop of Pisa during Alexios’ and John’s lifetime in the first case,37 with similar arrangements (500 hyperpyra to the church) in the case of Genoa.38 Gifts of silks and cash are mentioned in imperial chrysobulls throughout the twelfth century. Almost none of the imperial privileges of the thirteenth or fourteenth century, that is, after the fall of Constantinople in 1204, mentions such gifts. An exception is the chrysobull to the Genoese, issued by Michael VIII in 1265, which does retain the gifts promised by Manuell, although this may be just formulaic.39 This change is remarkable for several reasons. For one thing, it signals the end of anything that might resemble the prohibition of the export of imperial silks, and so, also, of the usefulness of these silks in political relations. Secondly, it is a marker of the different conditions that prevailed in Mediterranean commerce in the thirteenth century and after, conditions that resemble an international market, where economic forces played a much greater role than before as integrating mechanisms, and also conditions in which the intervention of the state played a different role than before.

  • 40 A. E. Laiou, Venice as a Center of Trade and of Artistic Production in the Thirteenth Century, Att (...)
  • 41 Jacoby, Silk in western Byzantium, p. 466, 490-492. Gold brocade was captured in Thebes by Roger I (...)
  • 42 D. Jacoby, Dalla material prima ai drappi tra Bisanzio, il Levante e Venezia: La prima fase dell’ (...)

18I have taken silk as an example of the role of the kekolymena in the trade and exchange of the Byzantine Empire with its neighbors, in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It is one of the two most interesting items on the list of forbidden commodities of international commercial exchange, in part because the prohibition seems to have been in force longer than for wheat. It was, of course, easier to enforce this prohibition, since the manufacture of highest quality purple silk was controlled, indeed almost an imperial monopoly, in the tenth century. It is also interesting because highest-quality silk is the item that most clearly shows the interrelationship between political and economic factors and interests in a Mediterranean in which the expansion of trade had not yet broken down state policies that had been meant to safeguard the interests of the state, political primarily and economic in the second instance. The active economic exchange which had been developing in the Mediterranean since the eleventh century may have reduced, relatively speaking, the importance of items of high prestige; after all, one could always make substitutes, cheaper and thus affordable by a larger number of clients, as the Venetians did with some objects of the minor arts. It is well known that in the thirteenth century Venetians manufactured semi-luxury products, such as glass medallions of saints, emulating Byzantine cameos, or miniatures under crystal, which mimicked Byzantine enamels and found customers in the unified market that the Mediterranean was becoming. There was, thus, commodification of artistic production.40 It could be that a similar case of economic, not physical, substitution occurred in the case of silk too. Good quality silks were, in the eleventh-twelfth centuries, produced in Thebes, Corinth, Andros and elsewhere, and were exported by Venetians and Genoese, primarily the Venetians.41 In the tenth century, restrictions on the export of silk from Constantinople applied not only to imperial silks but also to high-quality ones. The prestige value of imperial vestments no doubt remained in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but the larger market could be satisfied with products where monopoly no longer obtained. This is even more clearly the case with the commodification of silk in the thirteenth century, when Venice developed its own silk industry, producing silks along a spectrum of quality.42

  • 43 Jacoby, Silk in Western Byzantium, makes an argument for partial government control, on the basis (...)

19How was the liberalization, if this is the right word, of the silk trade of the Byzantine Empire come about? Liutprand of Cremona gives us a first clue: through the activities of individual merchants, in his text Venetian and Amalfitan merchants, who managed to export forbidden silks and sell them in the marketplaces of Italy. An economic process, therefore: there is a market, and the entrepreneur finds ways of meeting the demand, at least up to a point. But the Byzantine state itself facilitated the process. None of the privileges granted to Italians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries mentions the prohibition of the export of imperial or high quality silks, or any restriction on silk exports, such as those that had been in place at earlier times, in the treaties with the Bulgarians and the Rus. It might be argued that this was so because the state still controlled the supply of highest quality silks in any case, although I do not think there is sufficient or compelling evidence for such an argument.43 It seems more plausible that the tacit lifting of restrictions regarding the export of silks in general was due to the increase of production and the general opening of the Mediterranean markets.

  • 44 M. Balard, La Romanie génoise: xiiie-début du xve siècle, Rome 1978, p. 723 ff. Exports of Romania (...)

20Thus, the liberalization of the silk market which, I argue, occurred in the twelfth century, marked an important change in the economics of the silk trade. Byzantine governmental control and monopoly ended, through a combination of market forces (the pressure of western merchants - as I believe the Genoese request of 1171 must be understood) and imperial decision, that is, the privileges. After 1204, the entire situation changed, since the presence of western merchants on Byzantine soil became massive and the opening of Central Asia to Italians with the Pax Mongolica led to importations of Asian silks and since the Byzantine silk industry declined, and was partly replaced by the silk industry of Latin-occupied Greece in the thirteenth century and less so in the fourteenth.44 Imperial monopoly was no longer an issue.

  • 45 Hendy, Studies, p. 259, states that this is the first formal breach of the prohibition, reading th (...)
  • 46 MM, 3, p. 3 ff.

21As for the prohibition of the export of gold, that was problematic anyway. Occasionally, it was remembered: in 1261, the chrysobull of Michael VIII to the Genoese prohibited the export of gold and silver, save by imperial permission, except for minted Tatar or Seljuk dinars whose export was allowed.45 Occasionally, too, an effort was made not to impose the prohibition, but rather to facilitate the importation of precious metals: in the privilege to the city of Pisa, Alexios I established a kommerkion of 4%; but no kommerkion was to be paid on the gold and silver that Pisan merchants brought into the Empire.46

22Let us now look at what happened to other items whose export had been legally forbidden. The most important such category consists of foodstuffs, mostly bulk products: olive oil, wine, cereals and garum.

  • 47 J. Lefort, The Rural Economy, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, EHB, 1, ch. 14, passim.
  • 48 C. Morrisson, J.-Cl. Cheynet, Prices and Wages in the Byzantine World, EHB, 2, p. 822-830; in the (...)

23Although the pertinent legislation remained in the lawbooks, I know of no instance, in the middle Byzantine period, where there is any mention of its being enforced. For a long time, until perhaps the eleventh century, the conditions probably did not exist for massive exports of foodstuffs. On the supply side, the Byzantine agrarian economy was not yet so developed as to produce sufficient foodstuffs for extensive exports. True, the agrarian economy had entered a virtuous cycle probably in the early ninth century, as conditions of relative safety were slowly re-established in various areas. But the increase in agricultural production went hand in hand with a population increase,47 as it did in western medieval Europe; and that means that increases in production were absorbed by the rising population. Surpluses did exist; but concomitantly, the urban population rose, thus creating a higher internal demand that had to be met and was successfully met, as is testified by the fact that cereal prices remained relatively stable in the middle Byzantine period, except, always, for momentary crises when extreme natural phenomena or some other calamity created famine conditions.48 Thus, on the supply side, there was no great surplus becoming available for export because it could not be absorbed by the internal market. On the demand side, there was no effective market, for various reasons. It does not seem that the Arab world had great need of Byzantine alimentary products, at least not on a large scale, and except for specific situations (for example, when cities were under siege). In western Europe, the same phenomena of increased production and perhaps productivity along with a rising population existed. The European economy had not yet become sufficiently differentiated to have need of relatively small suppliers, such as the Byzantine ones might potentially be. Most importantly, there was not yet an integrated Mediterranean market, with product specialization, or with those trade mechanisms that would make it economically sensible to exploit all available and potential sources of supply, that is, create conditions that would match the supply to the demand across regions.

24Export prohibitions of foodstuffs were part of a protectionist policy. Such a policy was predicated on an integrated internal market coupled with the possibility of occasional purchases of foodstuffs from abroad, as need arose. It is not by chance that in the middle period, until the 12th century, we have much more information about merchandise and foodstuffs in particular coming into the Byzantine Empire than about exports. The purpose of the policy was to safeguard the interests of the consumer in times of high demand for foodstuffs; the interests of the merchant did not enter into the calculation, nor, in fact, did those of the native grower, who might, caeteris paribus, have found a higher price in an export market. The purpose of this protectionist policy was met until the twelfth century, but almost by default, for the reasons I have detailed.

  • 49 On them see N. Oikonomides, Le marchand byzantin des provinces (ixe-xie s.), Mercati e mercanti ne (...)

25In the ninth, tenth and I think the eleventh centuries, the interest of the Byzantine government to safeguard the provisioning of cities, most particularly Constantinople, would have severely discouraged exports of grain especially, even had conditions for massive exports existed. But this is speculation. In point of fact, we know of no instance where such prohibition occurred in reality. We do, on the contrary, know of a few cases where foodstuffs were exported by that little known group, the Byzantine provincial merchant, whose activities do not seem to have been regulated by the government.49

  • 50 Jacoby, Italian Privileges (as in n. 41), p. 366: the Pisans were in Halmyros already in the 1150’ (...)
  • 51 Laiou, Exchange and Trade, p. 752; Balard, La Romanie génoise (as in n. 44), p. 30; al-Idrisi, La (...)
  • 52 Laiou, Byzantine Traders (as in n. 41), passim. Silk, too, was traded within the empire: Ibid., p. (...)
  • 53 R.-J. Lilie, Handel und Politik zwischen dem byzantinischen Reich und den italienischen Kommunen V (...)

26In the twelfth century, indications for the free circulation of foodstuffs proliferate, as bulk products enter the Mediterranean trade. Italian merchants, Venetians, Pisans and Genoese, bought wheat in Halmyros, which had become a major center for the grain of Thessaly and western Greece.50 The Venetians bought olive oil and wine in the Peloponnese, Sparta and Corinth being important trade centers for these commodities.51 In part, this signals the participation of foreigners (Italians) in the internal, domestic Byzantine market, a recent phenomenon.52 There is also, however, clear evidence of the export of such commodities: olive oil was exported by the Venetians from Sparta not only to Constantinople, but also to Alexandria and Venice; from Thebes, Venetian merchants traveled to Constantinople, Greece and Venice. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Byzantine lands exported wheat, oil, wine, silk, mastic.53 As far as I know, there was no official complaint on the Byzantine side regarding the export of these theoretically forbidden commodities, nor any effort to restrict it. Here, again, it was the foreign merchants, the Venetians, the Genoese and others who bought and resold merchandise, the Byzantine merchants who may have cooperated with them, and the Byzantine producers through their commercial activities who opened up the trade in these foodstuffs. But the Byzantine government provided the legal basis for such activity.

  • 54 On privileges, see Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 349-368, and J. Chrysostomides, Venetian Commerc (...)
  • 55 JGR, Ι, ρ. 368-371.
  • 56 Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 357.
  • 57 JGR, 1, p. 420= MM, 3, p. 35: ἄνευ τῆς Ρωσίας καὶ τῶν Ματράχων. Conditions for Genoese trade had w (...)
  • 58 Lilie, Handel (as in n. 53), p. 272-273, and Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 28, n. 44, argue that (...)

27The privileges granted to Italian merchants, starting with the chrysobull of Alexios I for the Venetians in 1082, differed from earlier trade treaties, such as those with the Bulgarians and the Rus, in that they were not restrictive as to the commodities exchanged or, with one exception, as to the places in which trade could be carried out.54 The chrysobull of 1082, while making mention of specific cities in which the Venetians could trade (a list that became much larger in the late twelfth century with the chrysobull of 1198), nevertheless made it clear that the list was not restrictive, for the Venetians were allowed to trade in all merchandise everywhere in the Empire.55 The chrysobull given to Pisa in 1111 permitted the Pisans to buy Byzantine products on the same terms (i.e., paying the same duties) as the emperor’s subjects; they also paid the kommerkion on exports from the Byzantine Empire.56 This shows that restrictions on buying Byzantine products no longer applied. Only the chrysobull of 1169 to the Genoese excluded Rossia and Matracha from the list of places where the Genoese ships could sail, unless they received special and specific imperial permission.57 There was no total or formal ban on the Italians engaging in Black Sea trade, but on the other hand there was little presence there of Venetians or Genoese merchants.58 So, although there was, in the legal/political foundation of their privileges, no effort by the Byzantine government to either limit or control the export of grain generally, it is likely that neither Venetians nor Genoese traded in the Black Sea area which was wheat-producing par excellence. Byzantine monopoly on the import of grain from this area continued in practice.

28The explanation of the somewhat surprising formal liberality of the Byzantine government in the matter of grain exports is to be found in a combination of domestic and international economic factors. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, trade within the Byzantine Empire was very active, and, while there was government involvement since the state exacted a transactions tax and various other duties, there was no state intervention. The last state intervention in the grain trade was the effort of Nikephoritzes, in the 1070’s, to centralize the great grain market of Rodosto so that the state could be sure to exact its kommerkion, that is to say, for fiscal reasons. The measure failed, and no state intervention in the grain trade, even in Constantinople, is attested in the twelfth century. Nevertheless, we hear of no particular problems in provisioning, and the price of grain seems to have remained stable; at a time of increasing urbanization, this suggests both increased production and improved mechanisms of distribution. In the absence of shortages, there was also no pressing need to forbid the export of grain. Indeed, the presence of privileged Italian merchants both gave greater impetus to the already active trade and, in turn, further promoted freer and cheaper trade conditions; at least insofar as the Venetians were concerned, those Byzantines who traded with them were also exempted from the transactions tax. Finally, it is also probable that grain exports were not yet significant enough to worry the Byzantine state.

  • 59 A. E. Laiou, Byzantine Trade with Christians and Muslims and the Crusade, The Crusades from the Pe (...)

29This liberal attitude insofar as trade in foodstuffs is concerned underlines an important development that should be stressed. Although it was in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that privileges to western merchants in Byzantine lands proliferated, the structures that support a free and active commerce, the mechanisms that lower the transaction cost to the merchant, were really set in place during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and that not only in the Byzantine empire but all over the eastern Mediterranean.59 One can see such mechanisms in the development of a common law of the sea that affected shipwrecks and salvage; in the reparations offered for goods seized (already in the Pisan privilege of 1111); in the progressive lowering of duties; and in the guarantees progressively given to merchants dying in foreign lands as to the disposition of their property. We can see them too in the special provisions made for the resolution of disputes involving foreign merchants. All of these mechanisms developed in the entire eastern Mediterranean region and North Africa, and created the conditions for the efficient exchange between trade regions. We can also see these mechanisms in the relaxation, indeed the absence, of controls regarding the export of foodstuffs and other forbidden commodities. This last point can be made for the Byzantine Empire; it is for others to say whether it holds for other parts of the eastern Mediterranean.

  • 60 JGR, 1, p. 488 ff. On these matters, cf. Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 755; A. E. Laiou, Constant (...)
  • 61 In 1265: JGR, 1, p. 499. In the confirmation of 1268, they were permitted to export the wheat, but (...)
  • 62 JGR, 1, p. 532. The text says can buy and extrahere all victualia, preter furmentum et alia semina(...)
  • 63 In 1317, the accord with Genoa forbade the sale of wheat from Varna and Anchialos (while these cit (...)
  • 64 A. Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzantine Economy in the Mediterranean Trade System. Thirteenth to Fiftee (...)

30Only with the reestablishment of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople in 1261 did the Byzantine state try to establish a measure of control over the export of grain grown on its territories. With the treaty of Nymphaeum, in 1261, Michael VIII allowed the Genoese to buy and export freely and without paying any duty all commodities (except gold and silver), specifically including foodstuffs and grain.60 But by 1265, restrictions were put into place. It seems almost as though there was a residual eminent domain of the state over the grain trade (and over salt, another old imperial monopoly), which the state chose to exercise, starting in 1265, with Michael VIII’s treaty with Venice. The emperor allowed the Venetians to export Byzantine wheat (except to enemy lands) only when its price in Constantinople was below 50 hyperpyra per kentenarion (that is, in times of plenty, when wheat was cheap), a price which in 1277 became 100 hyperpyra per kentenarion, there to remain throughout the Palaeologan period.61 This meant that the Venetians could not export wheat in times of grave shortages and very high prices. In 1304, in a moment of great dearth, the Genoese were not allowed to export any Byzantine cereals at all - a prohibition lifted in 1317.62 The export prohibition when the price in Constantinople reached a certain level remained in force, theoretically, throughout the fourteenth century, and it was even extended, in 1310, to the purchase, not just the export, of Byzantine grain by foreigners when the price in Constantinople was at 100 hyperpyra per kentenarion, that is, in times of great scarcity.63 However, none of these measures were effective. Venetians, Genoese, eventually Ragusans, bought and exported Byzantine wheat even when its price was higher than that established in 1277. In fact, the grain trade within the Byzantine Empire and outside it was quite free. Byzantium had become an exporter of wheat to the west, certainly until the 1340’s, but also in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century.64

  • 65 Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 749; Chrysostomides. Venetian Commercial Privileges (as in n. 61), (...)
  • 66 For the export of Thracian wheat in the late fourteenth century, see Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzanti (...)

31What led to the recrudescence of interest in controlling the export of foodstuffs was on the one hand the renewed interest of the Byzantine state in protecting the consumer, especially in Constantinople, against high prices of essential commodities. At times, after the late thirteenth century, there were points of acute crisis, indeed famine conditions, which undoubtedly influenced some of these measures. Furthermore, the international grain market had changed, as the Byzantine territories and the Black Sea had become a prime source of provisioning for Italy. Grain of this provenance became important for the ever-needy Genoese market after 1258, while in 1268, when there was severe scarcity in Italy, the Venetians were able to buy sizeable quantities of wheat form the Black Sea area and import it to the west, realizing high profits.65 The grain trade had become internationalized, and the Byzantine Empire and the Black Sea areas played a major role in it, even through the late fourteenth century, despite important political setbacks from time to time.66 Italian merchants controlled this grain market to an ever-greater degree. It was impossible for a weak Byzantine state to impose true controls; there remained the protectionist intent, in a situation where international trade was much less regulated than in the past.

32In their treaties with the Venetians, renewed every few years until 1325, the issue of the export of Byzantine grain appeared again and again, as did the question of the sale of Black Sea grain in the Byzantine Empire. Here, the protection of the consumer, the protection of the Byzantine producer and the protection of the Byzantine merchant came up against the two principles which governed the policies of Italian merchants, that is, the people who had integrated the Mediterranean market; they desired freedom of trade for themselves, and adverse conditions of trade for everyone else. That is to say, on the one hand there were efforts to impose monopolies, and on the other hand these monopolies were based on privileges which established freedom of trade for particular groups of merchants. The trade of the eastern Mediterranean in the thirteenth to the mid-fifteenth century was greatly influenced by these two demands, obviously in conflict when more than one state was involved. The two demands can be seen in the efforts of the Venetians and the Genoese to acquire trade monopoly in the Byzantine Empire, and especially in the Black Sea area.

  • 67 JGR. 1, p. 491; Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 44.
  • 68 Ibid., p. 49: MM, 3, p. 76-84, especially p. 79.
  • 69 Ibid., p. 130 ff.: confirmation by Alexios III in 1364; cf. S. Karpov, Venezia e Genova, rivalità (...)
  • 70 Ibid., p. 260-261.
  • 71 Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzantine Economy, p. 194-195.

33In order to achieve these aims, Venetians and Genoese relied on war, but also on privileges issued by the Byzantine state. Thus, for example, the treaty of Nymphaeum, as well as that of 1267, granted the Genoese quasi-monopoly in the trade of the Byzantine Empire (although Pisan merchants were also allowed to operate), including the Black Sea area.67 In different political conditions, the same emperor in 1265, in his treaty with the Venetians, excluded the Genoese, because they were enemies of the Venetians, from Byzantine territories, although the possibility of a future change of this policy was envisaged.68 These provisions were changed by later treaties, after 1268 (in the ratification of the treaty with Venice, the Emperor retained the right to ally himself with both Venice and Genoa), which allowed the merchants of both states access to the Black Sea. At the other end of the Pontic area, in 1319, the emperor of Trebizond Alexios I gave the Venetians the same privileges enjoyed by the Genoese.69 After 1269, it became a matter of policy for the Genoese to try to stop the Venetians from sailing into the Black Sea: quod non iretur ad Tanam. On the other side, the Venetians argued for the freedom of the seas, a statement not in favor of free trade generally, this is not the World Trade Organization, but rather for freedom for themselves to trade in this area. So did the Doge Andrea Dandolo say that he wanted to preserve libertatem maris in 1350, at a time of acute conflict between Venice and Genoa; the Pope also supported the principle of the open seas.70 The Byzantines also traded in the Black Sea in the 1340’s, which caused Genoese reaction. At the end of the war of the Straits, there was an effort on the part of the Genoese to limit the access of both Venetians and Byzantines to Tana and the Sea of Azov.71 Eventually, the relative freedom of the seas was reasserted, whether officially or unofficially, and both Byzantines and Venetians were allowed to sail there, although the Genoese had a clear preponderance in the Black Sea. What is of interest is the internationalization of these markets, as well as the rivalries and efforts to establish monopolies, and, finally, the role of privileges issued by the states of the area.

  • 72 Ibid., p. 212 ff.

34In effect, the Byzantine quasi-monopoly in the Black Sea, which we have seen operating through the twelfth century, disappeared, and was replaced by rivalries and by the efforts of Genoese to establish monopolies, while merchants of Venice and Byzantium tried, for a while successfully, to participate in the grain trade of the Black Sea. One may say that those who were well established in the area aimed toward monopoly, the others toward more competitive, which means freer, trade. A measure of protectionism (both of the Byzantine consumer and of the Byzantine merchant) remained where possible, as with the ceiling price established by the Byzantine government for the export of grain by the Venetians. To what extent this was implemented is a different question.72

  • 73 On this, see Laiou, Andronicus II (as in n. 60), p. 274-275.

35The realities of Mediterranean exchange in this late period include conflicts between trading powers and between merchants of different states, as well as cooperation among merchants who realized that war was detrimental to their collective commercial interests. They are also characterised by a very clear erosion of the sovereign rights of the recipient state, the Byzantine Empire in our example, which were undercut by the rights claimed by privileged free trade. This fact may be seen very clearly in the negotiations between Byzantium and Venice regarding the “right” of the Venetians to sell Black Sea grain within the Byzantine Empire without paying duties. The dispute is clearly one between sovereign rights (the right of the Byzantine state to tax the sale of foreign imports within its frontiers) versus the right claimed by the Venetians to trade freely in all commodities, except for a few that had been explicitly excluded in the treaties.73 In this respect, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean of the late Middle Ages is, indeed, paradigmatic, for similar situations were reproduced later, in the Ottoman Empire and in China, and are even present today.

36The prohibition of the export of a certain number of commodities had been effective in a period in which the domestic Byzantine market was coherent, and a time when there was more interest in the import rather than in the export of commodities. The prohibitions had a markedly political character: from safeguarding the interests of the fisc, to ensuring those of the consumer, to protecting the image of wealth, luxury and power of the Byzantine state through the exclusive right to disseminate gold coins and commodities such as imperial silks. It is, indeed, significant that there was no prohibition of imports, only of exports. With the liberalization of the silk market, political concerns and control melt into the economics of free trade; and a larger international market emerges, where there may be substitution of demand from imperial silks to high quality silks.

37With grain exports, we see first what seems to be a full liberalization of the grain trade in the twelfth century, and subsequently efforts to reestablish controls in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, primarily for the protection of the consumer, of local growers and of the fisc. But this was at a time when the grain trade had changed, the market had become liberalized, and the imposition and implementation of controls had become correspondingly difficult.

  • 74 Oikonomides, The Economic Region of Constantinople (as in n. 3), and Laiou, Byzantine Traders and (...)

38In the liberalization of the market, the granting of privileges by the Byzantine state (but also by all states of the eastern Mediterranean) to Italian traders played a primary role. The Constantinopolitan market became much freer, and lost its privileged status in the course of the twelfth century, partly because of the privileges granted to the Italians (especially the Venetians) and to those Byzantines who traded with them.74 Thus a privileged-nation situation developed into a more general freedom of trade, which in turn was to lead to rivalries and conflicts between Italian city-states and other states of the area. Once the ball started rolling, there was no stopping it. Thus there was a continuous lowering of the transaction costs, through the regulation of the terms in which foreign merchants traded in Byzantine markets. This is a general phenomenon in the eastern Mediterranean.

39Connected with the lowering of the transaction costs and the greater freedom of trade was the partial dissolution of national sovereignty into the larger regulations necessary for the efficient functioning of an international market - a situation quite reminiscent of the creation of large economic and political units today: the European Union is one such example, to avoid going into other, similar examples from the globalised economy of our times. I am, still, speaking of the Byzantine Empire, and perhaps other states of the eastern Mediterranean. In western Europe, even in Venice, protectionist measures remained. But in the exchange system of the eastern Mediterranean, raison d’état in international economic matters was overtaken, to a significant degree, by raisons du marché, certainly so in the territories and former territories of the Byzantine Empire. Raisons du marché, fuelled by the interests and exigencies of Italian maritime cities and their merchants.

  • 75 Laiou, Venice as a Center of Trade (as in n. 40), p. 11-26.

40It is in the framework of the assertion of economic factors that one must inscribe the commodification of luxury objects: the large trade in artifacts and art objects made for the market in the thirteenth century and after, whether these were silks produced in Venice and the rest of Italy, or objects of glass and crystal or gold produced in Venice, or icons produced on Crete and Cyprus.75 Art historians have noticed and examined this phenomenon for some decades now. It may be said that even the fusion of artistic elements, the koine, also noticed by art historians long ago, mirrors the fusion of commercial practices in the eastern Mediterranean. The implications of economics are broad indeed.

Notes

1 N. Oikonomides, The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy, EHB, 3, p. 973-974.

2 A. E. Laiou, Exchange and Trade, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, EHE, 2, p. 704, 724.

3 N. Oikonomides, The Economic Region of Constantinople: From Directed Economy to Free Economy, and the Role of the Italians, Europa medievale e mondo bizantino. Contatti effettivi e possibilità di studi comparati, ed. G. Arnaldi, G. Cavallo, Rome 1997, p. 221-338.

4 E. Patlagean, Byzance et les marchés du grand commerce, vers 830-vers 1030; entre Pirenne et Polanyi, Mercati e mercanti nell’alto medioevo: Varea euroasiatica e Varea mediterranea, Spoleto 1993, p. 623. The author states that wheat and salt were added in the second half of the 10th c, in the Synopsis Basilicorum. That, however, is not the case, for they appear already in the Digest and the Basilics.

5 Synopsis Basilicorum, I. and P. Zepos, Jus Graecoromanum (hereafter, JGR), 5. Athens 1931, (Κ. X.), p. 346.

6 Β 56.1.18= CJ 1V.63.2: Οί πραγματευταὶ ὑπὲρ ών ἀγοράζουσιν ἐν τῷ βαρβαρικῷ φορτίων μὴ παρεχέτωσαν χρυσόν, ἀλλ’ ἕτερα εἴδη διδότωσαν... Χρὴ γὰρ μὴ μόνον μὴ διδόναι χρυσòν τοῖς βαρβάροις, ἀλλὰ καὶ τòν ὂντα παρ’ αὐτοῖς ἀφαιρεῖν.

7 J. Koder, Das Eparchenbuch Leons des Weisen, Vienna 1991 (CFHB 33) (hereafter, EB), 2.4, 2.6.

8 EB 9.6.

9 Β 19.1.86 (87)= CJ 1V.41.2 (Marcian, 455-457).

10 P. Noailles, A. Dain, Les novelles de Leon VI le Sage, Paris 1944, Novel 63. It seems to refer to Β 60.36.4= D XLVIII.4.4, i.e. the statements of the jurist Scaevola on those who are punished by death: among them, according to the jurist, is the man who helps the enemy with men, arms or money, or in any other way, or who arranges to provide to the enemy hostages, money, beasts of transport etc.

11 Β 19.1.85 (86)= CJ IV.41.1.

12 Paulus: Β 56.1.11=D 39.4.11.

13 MM, 3, p. 66-67.

14 There is a late fourth-century prohibition on the use of murex as a colorant, and on the sale of murex-dyed cloth. It is an edict of Valentianus Theodosius (383-392) and Arcadius (395-408): CJ IV.40.1: Fucandae atque distrahendae purpurae vel in serico vel in lana, quae blatta vel oxyblatta atque hyacinthina dicitur, facultatem nullus possit habere privatus sin autem aliquis supra dicti muricis veilus vendiderit, fortunarum se suarum et capitis sciat subiturum esse discrimen. Cf. Β 19.1.82: μηδεὶς βαπτέτω ἢ πιπρασκέτω πορφύραν μήτε ἐν μετέξῃ μήτε ἐν ἐρίῳ. Ό δὲ πωλήσας καì δημεύεται καὶ κεφαλικῶς τιμωρεῖται.

15 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik, R. J. H. Jenkins, Washington 1967 (CFHB 1), ch 13, p. 66-68. Patlagean, Byzance et les marches du grand commerce (as in n. 4), p. 600, notes that silk represents administered trade par excellence.

16 Noailles - Dain, Novelles (as in n. 10), Novel 80: σεμνοπρεπείας μοίραν παρεχόμενοι τοῖς ὑπηκόοις.

17 EB 6.16; cf. D. Jacoby, Les juifs a Byzance: une communaute marginalisée, Οι περιθωριακοί στο Βυζάντιο, Athens 1993, p. 135-136.

18 EB 8.1, on the serikarioi; cf 8.5 which punishes them with the confiscation of their property in the contrary case.

19 EB 8.3.

20 EB 4. 1.

21 J. Becker, Die Werke Liudprands von Cremona, Hanover-Leipzig 19153 (MGH, Script, rer. Germ.), ch. 53-55. Byzantine officials confiscated some purple silks (pretiosissimas purpuras), that Liutprand had acquired, because they were “ prohibited to all nations except for us Romans.”

22 M. Canard, Histoire de la dynastie des H’amdanides de Jazira et de Syrie, Algiers 1951, 1, p. 831-836, clause 20; Patlagean, Byzance et les marches du grand commerce (as in n. 4), p. 606, says that the Arab Livre de la perspicacite (second half of the ninth century) mentions imports from the Byzantine Empire: gold and silver vessels, nomismata (“dinars qaysarani”), silks, etc. Byzantine silks are also mentioned in the Cairo Geniza documents.

23 See A. E. Laiou, Economic and Non-economic Exchange, EHB, 2, p. 681-696.

24 On this, see M. Hendy, Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300-1450, Cambridge 1985, p. 257-258, who says that the first formal lifting of the prohibition was in 1261 (Treaty of Nymphaeum).

25 EHB, 2, p. 716, 738; Hendy, Studies (as in n. 24), p. 266.

26 Theophanes Continuants, ed. B. G. Niebuhr, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 96-97, 131.

27 On this, see A. Muthesius, Silken Diplomacy, Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard, S. Franklin, Cambridge 1990. Muthesius says that some imperial silks sent west were dyed with inferior, i.e. non-murex dyes. She connects this with the “fact” that imperial silks were not only woven in the imperial workshop but also commissioned by the emperor to the serikarioi. It is possible that some imperial silks were commissioned to be dyed with madder (ibid., p 246-247). According to D. Jacoby, Silk in western Byzantium before the Fourth Crusade, BZ 84-85, 1991-1992, p. 456-457, however, what matters is not the type of dye, but the color purple.

28 EHB, 2, p. 699.

29 Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions, ed. J. F. Haldon, Vienna 1990 (CFHB 28), p. 112.

30 In 935: Hendy, Studies, p. 268. Other cases are mentioned ibid., p. 269.

31 Laiou, Exchange and Trade (as in n. 2), p. 717.

32 Theophanes Continuatus, p. 96: on a gift of 4 kentenaria of gold: εἰ γὰρ ἄμμου δίκην ό ἀποσταλεὶς τò χρυσίον ἔχει σπείρειν ώς βούλεται, πολλῷ δήπου μᾶλλον τòν ἀποστείλαντα έπὶ πλούτου θημώνας θαυμάζεσθαι χρή.

33 Legatio, in Becker, Werke (as in n. 21), ch. 54 (transl. by F. A. Wright).

34 On this document see, in the last instance, A. E. Laiou, The Emperor’s Word: Chrysobulls. Oaths and Synallagmatic Relations in Byzantium (11th- 12th c.), TM 14 (= Melanges Gilbert Dagron), 2002, p. 348-351.

35 Nicetae Choniatae Historia, ed. J. A. van Dieten , Berlin 1975 (CFHB 11), p. 461: five kentenaria of silver coins once, as well as three kentenaria of silver and 40 pieces of cloth every year: σηρικοῖς νήμασιν, ἄπερ ἐκ Θηβῶν βασιλεύς... κεχορήγηται. On this cloth, see Jacoby, Silk in Western Byzantium (as in n. 27), passim.

36 JGR, 1, Athens 1931, p. 369: honoravit autem et nobilem Ducam... protosebasti dignitate cum roga etiam sua plenissima. Cf. Isaac II’s confirming chrysobull, 1187: cum salario ejus plenissimo. Note that Romanos IV still paid his officials both in cash and in silk cloth (E. Th. Tsolakes, Ή συνέχεια τῆς χρυνυγραγίας τοῦ Ιωάννου Σκυλίτση [Ioannes Skylitzes Continuatus], Thessaloniki 1968. p. 142), and that Alexios I gave Gregorios Pakourianos imperial garments as gifts.

37 The gifts were renewed and increased by Manuel I and by Isaac II in 1192: JGR, 1, p. 457 ff; Latin version in MM, 3, p. 3 ff.

38 JGR, 1, p. 417 (1170).

39 Ibid., p. 490.

40 A. E. Laiou, Venice as a Center of Trade and of Artistic Production in the Thirteenth Century, Atti del XXIV Congresso del Comitate/ Internazionale di storia del’Arte, sez. 2. Bologna 1982, p. 20-25.

41 Jacoby, Silk in western Byzantium, p. 466, 490-492. Gold brocade was captured in Thebes by Roger II. Id., Italian Privileges and Trade in Byzantium before the Fourth Crusade, Annuario de estudios medievales, 14, 1994, p. 349-368, says that the Genoese and the Pisans could not buy high-quality silks in Thebes, though “no source mentions it.” He bases this on the Genoese request of 1171, by which the Genoese asked to be allowed to trade in silk cloth in Thebes as “the Venetians do.” Cf. A. Laiou, Byzantine Traders and Seafarers, Byzantium and the Sea, ed. Sp. Vryonis, New York 1993. p. 87 ff. But this request may refer to a desire for lower customs, or permission to establish themselves there, or be a response to a quasi-monopoly of the Venetians who had, since 1082, been allowed to settle in Thebes and Corinth, and deal in species universas: JGR, I. p. 370.

42 D. Jacoby, Dalla material prima ai drappi tra Bisanzio, il Levante e Venezia: La prima fase dell’ industria serica Veneziana, La seta in Italia dal Medioevo al Seicento, ed. L. Mola, R. C. Mueller, CI. Zanier, Venice 2000, p. 266.

43 Jacoby, Silk in Western Byzantium, makes an argument for partial government control, on the basis of the Genoese request of 1171 (only Venetians were allowed to trade in Theban silks, according to Jacoby) and the gift of 1195. The argumentation is not persuasive. In any case, it would almost be sufficient for my own argument if even the Venetians alone were allowed to export imperial silks.

44 M. Balard, La Romanie génoise: xiiie-début du xve siècle, Rome 1978, p. 723 ff. Exports of Romania silks to Genoa in the 13th c. (from Smyrna, Chios, Sea of Marmora etc.); Cathay silks start arriving in 1258, become abundant after 1276. Cf. D. Jacoby, The Production of Silk Textiles in Latin Greece, Τεχνογνωσία στη Λατινοκρατoύμενη Ελλάδα, Athens 2000, p. 22-35.

45 Hendy, Studies, p. 259, states that this is the first formal breach of the prohibition, reading the privilege as: yperperos aureos et Turchifaros licet eis extrahere ad eorum voluntate et deferre (JGR, 1. p. 494). and understanding that Michael VIII permitted the export of both gold hyperpyra and “Turchifaros.” If Hendy is right, then Michael recognised the need to allow commercial coin to leave the realm, and forbade only the export of unminted gold and silver. However, the editor of the document wisely suggests that the “et” is unnecessary. If it is deleted, the meaning of the text would be that the emperor permitted only the export of foreign coin.

46 MM, 3, p. 3 ff.

47 J. Lefort, The Rural Economy, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, EHB, 1, ch. 14, passim.

48 C. Morrisson, J.-Cl. Cheynet, Prices and Wages in the Byzantine World, EHB, 2, p. 822-830; in the 9th-11th c, the normal price of wheat in Constantinople was 1/12 nomisma per modios.

49 On them see N. Oikonomides, Le marchand byzantin des provinces (ixe-xie s.), Mercati e mercanti nell’alto medioevo: l’area euroasiatica e l’area mediterranea. Spoleto 1993 (Settimane di studio del Centro italiano sull’alto medioevo 40), p. 633-665.

50 Jacoby, Italian Privileges (as in n. 41), p. 366: the Pisans were in Halmyros already in the 1150’s, and the Genoese in the early 1160’s.

51 Laiou, Exchange and Trade, p. 752; Balard, La Romanie génoise (as in n. 44), p. 30; al-Idrisi, La géographie d’Edrisi, ed. J.-A. Jaubert, 2, Paris 1840, p. 291, 296; The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, trans. M. Adler, A. Asher, Malibu, California 1993, p. 69.

52 Laiou, Byzantine Traders (as in n. 41), passim. Silk, too, was traded within the empire: Ibid., p. 87; R. Morozzo della Rocca, A. Lombardo, Documenti del commercio veneziano nei secoli xi-xiii, Torino 1940, no. 308 (1179).

53 R.-J. Lilie, Handel und Politik zwischen dem byzantinischen Reich und den italienischen Kommunen Venedig, Pisa und Genua in der Epoche der Komnenen und der Angeloi (1081-1204), Amsterdam 1984, p. 272-276.

54 On privileges, see Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 349-368, and J. Chrysostomides, Venetian Commercial Privileges under the Paleologi, Studi Veneziani 12, 1970, p. 267-356.

55 JGR, Ι, ρ. 368-371.

56 Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 357.

57 JGR, 1, p. 420= MM, 3, p. 35: ἄνευ τῆς Ρωσίας καὶ τῶν Ματράχων. Conditions for Genoese trade had worsened with the privilege of 1169, since the goods they imported and sold in the provinces paid the full kommerkion. In 1192, the duties they paid everywhere and on domestic goods were lowered to 4%, as the Pisans’ had just been. Exports still paid a 10% duty: Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 362.

58 Lilie, Handel (as in n. 53), p. 272-273, and Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 28, n. 44, argue that the Black Sea was closed to foreign merchants. Jacoby, Italian Privileges, p. 360, suggests that there was no total ban: it affected Genoese ships, but not Genoese merchants. Μ. E. Martin, The First Venetians in the Black Sea, Άρχεῖον Πόντου 35, 1978, p. 111-122, says that both Venetians and Genoese had access to the Black Sea in 12th c, but it did not interest them yet.

59 A. E. Laiou, Byzantine Trade with Christians and Muslims and the Crusade, The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, ed. A. E. Laiou, R. P. Mottahedeh, Washington 2001, p. 186; Ead., Institutional Mechanisms of Integration, Studies on the Internal Diaspora of the Byzantine Empire, ed. H. Ahrweiler, A. E. Laiou, Washington 1998, p. 171-178; M. Martin, The Venetians in the Byzantine Empire before 1204, Byzantium and the West, c, 850-c. 1200, ed. J. D. Howard-Johnston, Amsterdam 1988, p. 212.

60 JGR, 1, p. 488 ff. On these matters, cf. Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 755; A. E. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins; The Foreign Policy of Andronicus II, 1281-1328, Cambridge, Mass. 1972, p. 148-150.

61 In 1265: JGR, 1, p. 499. In the confirmation of 1268, they were permitted to export the wheat, but only with imperial permission. On this, cf. Chrysostomides, Venetian Commercial Privileges under the Palaiologi (as in n. 54), p. 312. A kentenarion is equivalent to 100 modioi.

62 JGR, 1, p. 532. The text says can buy and extrahere all victualia, preter furmentum et alia semina. On the other hand, the Genoese may export grain from areas que sunt in mare majori nec sunt subjecte imperio nostro.

63 In 1317, the accord with Genoa forbade the sale of wheat from Varna and Anchialos (while these cities remained under Bulgarian control) in the Byzantine Empire. It was permitted to export it. and no restrictions were placed on the export of Byzantine wheat either: Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 757.

64 A. Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzantine Economy in the Mediterranean Trade System. Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries, DOP 35, 1980-1981. p. 217-222.

65 Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 749; Chrysostomides. Venetian Commercial Privileges (as in n. 61), p. 316.

66 For the export of Thracian wheat in the late fourteenth century, see Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzantine Economy (as in n. 64), p. 218 ff.

67 JGR. 1, p. 491; Balard, La Romanie génoise, p. 44.

68 Ibid., p. 49: MM, 3, p. 76-84, especially p. 79.

69 Ibid., p. 130 ff.: confirmation by Alexios III in 1364; cf. S. Karpov, Venezia e Genova, rivalità e collaborazione a Trebisonda e Tana, secoli xii-xv, Genova. Venezia, il Levante nei secoli xii-xiv, Genoa-Venice 2000, p. 261.

70 Ibid., p. 260-261.

71 Laiou-Thomadakis, The Byzantine Economy, p. 194-195.

72 Ibid., p. 212 ff.

73 On this, see Laiou, Andronicus II (as in n. 60), p. 274-275.

74 Oikonomides, The Economic Region of Constantinople (as in n. 3), and Laiou, Byzantine Traders and Seafarers, passim. Cf. K.-P. Matschke, Commerce, Trade, Markets, and Money, Thirteenth-Fifteenth Centuries, EHB, 2, p. 771-772.

75 Laiou, Venice as a Center of Trade (as in n. 40), p. 11-26.

© Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2004

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540