Bureaucracy and Aristocracies

Jean-Claude Cheynet

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Bureaucracy and Aristocracies

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The reign of Herakleios essentially marked the medieval era in Byzantium. In order to adapt to the new conditions, the emperors were forced to modify administrative structures. One of the major changes occurred in the composition of the ruling elite who led the armies and staffed the offices. The Senate was now comprised of old landed aristocracy that subsisted by inheritance. The Byzantine Empire welcomed all "nationalities" who were willing to remain loyal to their new masters and to convert to Christianity. These newcomers were integrated by marriage, thus increasing the number of aristocratic families with foreign blood. This article documents the evolution of bureaucracy and aristocracies in the Byzantine Era, focusing on the period from the beginning to the Middle Ages, the reign of Basil II, the family system of the Komnenoi, and the empire's final transformation (1261-1453).

Keywords: Herakleios; ruling elite; Byzantine Empire; bureaucracy; aristocracies; Basil II; Komnenoi; Byzantium; Byzantine Era

Article.  4053 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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