Mekhamadiev E. A. Arabic historians and geographers of IX and X centuries on Byzantine military landholding: problems of interpretation (.pdf)


All the scholars, who turned to the problem of Byzantine military landholding of the 9th–10th centuries, constantly considered only the evidence of the Greek sources, such as the lives of saints and the laws of the emperors from the Macedonian dynasty. Those sources permit to demonstrate only one aspect of problem that is the landholding of ordinary soldiers (stratiōtai). The data of hagiography and official legislation clearly show that the stratiōtai did not receive any lands from the State, and their lands represented a family property inherited from parents. On the ground of hagiography and legislation, the scholars of Byzantium rejected the existence of military service landholding, that assumes that the warriors received land from the State in return for their service and on condition of military service. Nevertheless, many oriental sources, and first of all the Arabic authors, saved valuable evidence on internal social-administrative and military organization of the Byzantine Empire. The author turned to the Arabic historian al-Tabari (839–923) and the Arabic geographer Ibn Hawqal (the second half of the 10th century), compared those data with the Greek sources (“The Life of Euthymius the Younger” and “The Life of Maria the Younger”) and made the conclusion that the landholding of the command structure – the officers holding the rank of tourmarchos – was radically different from the landholding of ordinary soldiers. The author considers the reasons of such a difference and notes that the evidences of the Arabic authors demonstrate the existence of a new aspect in the Byzantine military landholding.


Key words: military landholding, stratiōtai, hagiography, аl-Tabari, Ibn Hawqal, tourmarchoi.


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