Patronage and Retinues

Günter Prinzing

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

 Patronage and Retinues

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Classical Studies
  • Middle Eastern Languages


Show Summary Details


During the Byzantine Era, the senate became a complex structure comprised of more than 2,000 members. This stood in contrast to the senate of Late Antique Roman society, when it initially held a dominant position and was made up of around 300 members. In the Byzantine Empire, the members of the senate came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Like other highly influential, powerful personages in the capital or the provinces, senators were often asked for support as patrons (patroni) by people from all walks of life. In other words, they were sought after because of their ability to provide and exercise patronage, especially when dealing with state tax collectors or other officials. The growing importance of patronage in the early Byzantine period appears to be related to the increased tendency towards the formation of various types of retinue. Between the fifth and seventh centuries, increasing numbers of so-called bucellarii (militarily organized bodyguards or elite defence forces, made up of "barbarians") were employed in the service of high-ranking military figures or civil office-holders.

Keywords: Byzantine Era; patronage; senate; senators; retinues; Byzantium; Byzantine Empire; bucellarii; bodyguards; patrons

Article.  3802 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.