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Agrarian Change in Byzantium, c.630–1204

Peter Sarris, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Fellow 2010/11

My project for the term of my stay was to review the sources pertaining to large estates and their management in Byzantium from the seventh through to the thirteenth centuries, with a view to examining the survival of forms of direct management, wage labor, and tied labor. During the course of my stay I read all the post-Justinianic legal and jurisprudential sources from the reign of Justin II to the eleventh century (including the legal lexica); I read and surveyed the typika and monastic documentary sources from Athos and western Asia Minor; and I also read up on the latest archaeological studies whilst also reading the letters of Michael Psellus and a number of other literary sources. This research will form the basis of a monograph, but I wrote up my basic argument in a 12,000-word article to appear in the Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire ("Large Estates and the Peasantry in Byzantium, c. 600–1100"). My research also fed into a chapter for a book on law and custom in the early middle ages to be edited by Alice Rio ("Law and Custom in the Byzantine Countryside From Justinian I to Basil II," 7,000 words), and a 13,000-word article for Early Medieval Europe responding to primitivist approaches to the late antique economy ("The Early Byzantine Economy in Context: Aristocratic Property and Economic Growth Reconsidered"). Lastly, I made use of the library's resources to make progress with a translation and commentary on Justinian's Novels that David Miller and I are preparing for Cambridge University Press, and I completed revising a 200,000-word book for Oxford University Press which was able to enter the production process (A Threshing Floor of Countless Races—Europe and the Mediterranean From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, c.500–700).


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Byzantine Studies Fellows, 2010/11