The Economy, Fiscal Administration and Coinage of Byzantium

Hendy, Michael F.
Date published: 
September 1989

This volume, which includes three previously unpublished studies, is concerned with the economic history of the Late Roman and Byzantine empires between the 4th and 12th centuries. Its aim is to help bridge the gap that still exists between historians and numismatists, and to evolve a consistent and plausible monetary history of the period. The first group of articles examines the nature and functioning of the late antique and Byzantine economy, and looks in particular at the 12th century, arguing that this was not a time of decline, but of expansion, and that the coinage formed a coherent and reasonably stable system, not one in chaos due to indiscriminate debasement. The next articles focus on the relationship between coin production and fiscal administration. They set out the proposition that, for much of the period in question, coin was not produced and distributed to perform any commercial or broader economic function, but to serve fiscal needs: its primary purpose was to provide a medium in which the state, or emperor, could collect taxes and disburse public expenditure.