The Land & The people of Byzantines

The three greatest civilizations to occupy the Anatolian land display great similarities in regards to the relationship of man and soil. This parallelism can be seen in the Hittite, Byzantine and later in the Ottoman periods. According to the Byzantines, land, air, and sun are all possessions of God, but he bequeaths these to the king for his use. The land was to be used by the king in the name of God. The king then bequeathed much of this land to the royalty. A tiny part of this land was reserved for the use of the villagers. The laborers had to pay a usage tax for the right to use the land. If this person were found to be guilty of a crime by the government, then he lost the right to work this land. In the later Byzantine period the military gained ownership of some of the land. Farmers in the Byzantine period primarily raised grain crops. Cotton was the second largest crop. There were also villagers who kept fruit orchards.

Those who engaged in animal husbandry raised sheep, goats, cows, pigs, and horses. In the year 552 two priests brought in silkworms from China in hollowed-out canes Textiles were an important industry in Byzantine times, and the production of silk soon became quite advanced.

The silk factory that was built in the Marmara Eregli region produced silk cloth for the clothing of the royal family. The use of silk then spread to Europe from the Byzantines. The Byzantines also engaged in cotton and linen weaving. Rug making was also an important industry for the Byzantines. Other sectors within the Byzantine economy were mining, and jewelry and glass making. The Byzantines and the Ottomans were similar in terms of industry. Various craftsman were trained in the apprenticeship program of the Yonca (guild) system. The Byzantines were powerful traders, both by land and by sea, and the Byzantine gold money was important all over the world. The Byzantines, however, began to lose this power in the eleventh century. When they were no longer able to mint gold coins they became totally forceless. The emperor acted as the highest judge of the land until the beginning of the fourteenth century. The other members of the court consisted of high-ranking bureaucrats. This judge sat on cases that were very serious, such as treason and murder. For many years capital punishment was not enforced in the Byzantine Empire. In place of the death penalty other punishments such as the cutting off of hands, feet, or ears or blinding by gouging out the eyes were used. It can of course to be argued whether the death penalty or the penalties listed above were the most cruel. Most of those found guilty were exiled or banished to a monastery. As is well-known, when the emperor Romanos Diogenes was defeated by Alparslan his eyes were gouged out and he was banished to Heybeli Island



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