Angeliki Laiou (1941-2008), one of the leading Byzantinists of her generation, broke new ground in the study of the social and economic history of the Byzantine Empire. Economic Thought and Economic Life in Byzantium, the last of three volumes to be published posthumously in the Variorum Collected Studies Series, brings together twelve articles that reflect her perennial concern with the relationship of theory and practice in historical contexts. Two of these are translated from Greek and German, respectively, and another is here published for the first time. The six articles in the first part explore several lively and wide-ranging debates over economic concepts and practices in late medieval Byzantium, touching on such concerns as usury, regalian rights, and the proper functioning of the market. The articles in the second part examine the nature and role of cities, villages, and the countryside in Byzantium, together with the rich and varied experiences of their inhabitants.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction, Cécile Morrisson; Part I Economic Thought: God and Mammon: credit, trade, profit and the canonists; The Church, economic thought and economic practice; Social justice: exchange and prosperity in Byzantium; Nummus parit nummos: l’usurier, le jurist at le philosophe Ã Byzance; Economic concerns and attitudes of the intellectuals of Thessalonike; Le débat sur les droits du fisc et les droits régaliens au début du 14e siècle. Part II Economic Life: On individuals, aggregates and mute social groups; Priests and bishops in the Byzantine countryside, 13th-14th centuries; The peasant as donor (13th-14th centuries); A history of mills and monks: the case of the mill of Chantax (with Dieter Simon); The Byzantine village (5th-14th century); The Byzantine city: parasitic or productive?; Index.
'Reading these studies, most for the second time, reminded me of the clarity and precision of Laiou’s thought and writing style. Yes, there is some repetition here and some unevenness, but overall the collection does lay out most of the major problems that face contemporary studies of the Byzantine economy.' Speculum