Slavery was common in the early Roman Empire and Classical Greece. It was legal in the Byzantine Empire but became rare after the first half of 7th century.From 11th century, semi-feudal relations largely replaced slavery. Under the influence of Christianity, views of slavery shifted: by the 10th century slaves were viewed as potential citizens (the slave as a subject), rather than property or chattel (the slave as an object). Slavery was also seen as "an evil contrary to nature, created by man's selfishness", although it remained legal.
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A main source of slaves were prisoners of war, of which there was a great profit to be made.The Synopsis of Histories mentions that after the Battle of Adrassos many prisoners of war were sent to Constantinople. They were so numerous that they filled all the mansions and rural regions. Most of the domestic servants in large Byzantine homes were slaves and were very numerous. Danielis of Patras, a wealthy widow in the 9th century, gave a gift of 3,000 slaves to Emperor Basil I. The eunuch Basil, chancellor during the reign of Basil II, was said to have owned 3,000 slaves and retainers. Some slaves worked the landed estates of their masters, which declined in later ages.
A medieval Arab historian estimates that 200,000 women and children were taken as slaves after the Byzantine reconquest of Crete from the Muslims.Yet parents, living in the Byzantine empire, were forced to sell their children to pay their debts, which Byzantine laws unsuccessfully tried to prevent. After the 10th century the major source of slaves were often Slavs and Bulgars, which resulted from campaigns in the Balkans and lands north of the Black Sea. At the eastern shore of the Adriatic many Slav slaves were exported to other parts of Europe. Slaves were one of the main articles that Russian (often Vikings) traders dealt in their yearly visit to Constantinople. After the 12th century, the old Greek word "δοῦλος" (doulos) obtained a synonym in "σκλάβος" (sklavos), perhaps derived from the same root as "Slav".
Slavery was mostly an urban phenomenon with most of the slaves working in households.The "Farmers Law" of the 7th/8th centuries and the 10th century "Book of the Prefect" deals with slavery. Slaves were not allowed to marry until it was legalized by emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1095. However; they did not gain freedom if they did. The children of slaves remained slaves even if the father was their master. Many of the slaves became drafted in the army.
The socio-economic status of slaves did not necessarily coincide with their legal status. Slaves of the rich had a higher standard of living than free persons who were poor. Also, the legal system made it advantageous for masters to place them in certain economic positions, such as foremen of shops. For example, a goldsmith accused for illicit trade of gold, if he was a slave, could be confiscated. If he was free, he would be whipped and pay a heavy penalty exceeding the value of a slave. Thus, masters were appointing slaves as shop foremen, where they could have authority over free laborers (misthioi, μίσθιοι).
Castration was outlawed, but the law was poorly enforced, and young boys were often castrated before or after puberty. Eunuchs (castrated boys and men) were traded as slaves, both imported to and exported from the empire. The scholar Kathryn Ringrose says they "represented a distinct gender category, one that was defined by dress, assumed sexual behavior, work, physical appearance, quality of voice, and for some eunuchs, personal affect."
Eunuch servants were popular at times. Rich Byzantine families often paid high prices for these slaves, who they sometimes accepted as part of the household. Eunuchs played an important role in the Byzantine palace and court where they could rise to high posts.
Slave markets were present in many Byzantine cities and towns. The slave market of Constantinople was found in the valley of the Lamentations. At certain times a 10-year-old child's price was 10 nomismata, a castrated one of the same age was worth 30. An adult male 20 and an adult eunuch 50 nomismata.
Yet it is probable that ordinary labour in towns was conducted on a system like that introduced by Diocletian, whereby the labourer was bound to pursue an hereditary calling, but received wages and provided his own keep. This is the system indicated in the tenth-century "Book of the Prefect". The "Farmer's Law" of the seventh and eighth centuries shows the free "colonus" working in his village, and the slave working on the large landed proprietor's estate, but both classes tended to fall into the condition of serfs tied to the soil. Thus the Byzantine Empire marks an important transitional period from slavery to free labour.Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) undertook a major revision and codification of ancient Roman law, including law on slavery. He acknowledged that slavery is an unnatural state of human existence and not a feature of natural law. The Justinian law retained the principle that a slave is an item of property, but it does not state that a slave is devoid of personality. He removed some earlier harsh slave laws. For example, he gave to the slaves the right to plead directly and personally for their freedom, and he declared that the master killing his slave commits a murder.
Basil II Porphyrogenitus, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was the senior Byzantine Emperor for almost 50 years, having been a junior colleague to other emperors since 960. He and his brother Constantine were named as co-rulers before their father Romanos II died in 963. The throne went to two generals, Nikephoros Phokas then John Tzimiskes, before Basil became senior emperor. His influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos was the de facto ruler of the Byzantine Empire until 985. Basil II then held power for forty years.
A eunuch is a man who has been castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function.
Tiberius II Constantine was Eastern Roman emperor from 574 to 582. Tiberius rose to power in 574 when Justin II, prior to a mental breakdown, proclaimed Tiberius Caesar and adopted him as his own son. In 578, Justin II, before he died, gave him the title of Augustus, under which title he reigned until his death on 14 August 582.
Constantine IV, called the Younger and sometimes incorrectly Pogonatos out of confusion with his father, was Byzantine Emperor from 668 to 685. His reign saw the first serious check to nearly 50 years of uninterrupted Islamic expansion, while his calling of the Sixth Ecumenical Council saw the end of the monothelitism controversy in the Byzantine Empire; for this, he is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his feast day on September 3.
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, which was inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the hierarchy stood the emperor, yet "Byzantium was a republican absolute monarchy and not primarily a monarchy by divine right". There were no codified laws regarding imperial succession and the Roman Republic was never formally abolished, hence the Emperor was still to be elected, formally, by both Senate (Synkletos) and the Army. In reality, Senatorial power was severely curtailed over time and the Army practically had a monopoly regarding election. Also, while being a semi-republican entity, Emperors usually managed to secure succession for their children by indirect means, such as appointing them as co-Emperors, for example. The absence of codified succession laws and procedures, as well as the militarized state of the Empire, led to numerous coups and revolts, leading to several disastrous results, such as defeat at Manzikert.
Devshirme was the Ottoman practice of forcibly recruiting soldiers and bureaucrats from among the children of their Balkan Christian subjects. Those coming from the Balkans came primarily from noble Balkan families and rayah classes. It is first mentioned in written records in 1438, but probably started earlier. It created a faction of soldiers and officials loyal to the Sultan. It counterbalanced the Turkish nobility, who sometimes opposed the Sultan. The system produced a considerable number of grand viziers from the 1400s to the 1600s. This was the second most powerful position in the Ottoman empire, after the sultan. Initially, the grand viziers were exclusively of Turk origin, but after there were troubles between Sultan Mehmed II and the Turkish grand vizier Çandarlı Halil Pasha the Younger, who was the first grand vizier to be executed, there was a rise of slave administrators (devshirme). They were much easier for the sultans to control, compared to free administrators of Turkish aristocratic extraction. The devshirme also produced many Ottoman empire's provincial governors, military commanders, and divans during the 1400s-1600s period. Sometimes, the devshirme recruits were castrated and became eunuchs. Although often destined to the harem, many eunuchs of devshirme origin went on to hold important positions in the military and the government, such as grand viziers Hadım Ali Pasha, Sinan Borovinić, and Hadım Hasan Pasha.
The history of Byzantine Greece mainly coincides with the history of the Empire itself.
Slavery became increasingly uncommon through the Middle Ages, replaced by serfdom by the 10th century, but began to revive again towards the end of the Middle Ages and in the Early Modern Era. The Byzantine–Ottoman wars (1265–1479) and the Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the capture of large numbers of Christian slaves.
Byzantine law was essentially a continuation of Roman law with increased Christian influence. Most sources define Byzantine law as the Roman legal traditions starting after the reign of Justinian I in the 6th century and ending with the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century.
White slavery refers to the chattel slavery of Europeans, whether by non-Europeans, or by other Europeans. Slaves of European origin were present in ancient Rome and the Ottoman Empire.
The Theme of Macedonia was a military-civilian province (theme) of the Byzantine Empire established between the late 8th century and the early 9th century. Byzantine Macedonia had no relation to the Ancient Macedonia but lay to the east in the modern region of Thrace. Its capital was Adrianople.
The Sclaveni or Sklabenoi were early Slavic tribes that raided, invaded and settled the Balkans in the Early Middle Ages and eventually became known as the ethnogenesis of the South Slavs. They were mentioned by early Byzantine chroniclers as barbarians having appeared at the Byzantine borders along with the Antes, another Slavic group. The Sclaveni were differentiated from the Antes and Wends ; however, they were described as kin. Eventually, most South Slavic tribes accepted Byzantine suzerainty, and came under Byzantine cultural influence. The term was widely used as general catch-all term until the emergence of separate tribal names by the 10th century.
The Byzantine economy was among the most robust economies in the Mediterranean for many centuries. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Eastern Roman Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. The Arab conquests, however, would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of decline and stagnation. Constantine V's reforms marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. All this changed with the arrival of the Fourth Crusade, which was an economic catastrophe. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces.
Basil Lekapenos, also called the Parakoimomenos or the Nothos, was an illegitimate child of the Byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos. He served as the parakoimomenos and chief minister of the Byzantine Empire for most of the period 947 to 985, under emperors Constantine VII, Nikephoros II Phokas, John I Tzimiskes, and Basil II.
Slavery in the Ottoman Empire was a legal and significant part of the Ottoman Empire's economy and traditional society. The main sources of slaves were wars and politically organized enslavement expeditions in North and East Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. It has been reported that the selling price of slaves decreased after large military operations. In Constantinople, the administrative and political center of the Ottoman Empire, about a fifth of the 16th- and 17th-century population consisted of slaves. Customs statistics of these centuries suggest that Istanbul's additional slave imports from the Black Sea may have totaled around 2.5 million from 1453 to 1700.
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe.
The history of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire has been well recorded and preserved.
This history of the Byzantine Empire covers the history of the Eastern Roman Empire from late antiquity until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD. Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330, Constantine I transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople and Nova Roma. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. Thus, although it continued the Roman state and maintained Roman state traditions, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism.
Mutilation was a common method of punishment for criminals in the Byzantine Empire, but it also had a role in the empire's political life. By blinding a rival, one would not only restrict their mobility but also make it almost impossible for them to lead an army into battle, then an important part of taking control of the empire. Castration was also used to eliminate potential opponents. In the Byzantine Empire, for a man to be castrated meant that he was no longer a man—half-dead, "life that was half death". Castration also eliminated any chance of heirs being born to threaten either the emperor’s or the emperor's children's place at the throne. Other mutilations were the severing of the nose (rhinotomy) or the amputating of limbs.
Michael Apokapes was doux of Edessa under the Byzantine Emperor Michael IV the Paphlagonian. A member of the Apokapes family, he was the father of Basil Apokapes. Michael Apokapes was served by Eustathios Boilas for fifteen years.