KUSHCH T.V. Political Elite under Manuel II Palaiologos: the Evolution of the Court Hierarchy

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2016.5.12

Tatyana V. Kushch

Doctor of Sciences (History), Head of Department of Ancient and Medieval History,

Ural Federal University

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Prosp. Lenina, 51, 620000 Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

Abstract. This paper will focus on the political elite of Byzantium in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and the changes in its structure. According to the analysis of prosopographic data, the number of the ruling elite considerably decreased during the reign of Manuel II Palaiologos. The hierarchy of titles and offices declined, so that many of them, even of supreme level, were not granted anymore, and later disappeared from political life. The central administrative machinery was reduced to the size of the imperial court. The ruling elite incorporated the descendants of famous Byzantine families and persons who established friendly relations with Manuel II. The emperor considerably raised the role of his intellectual retinue. Often without official titles and positions, the intellectuals, nevertheless, became key figures in the empire’s political affairs.

However, in parallel to the ruling class that concentrated in the capital, Morea and Thessalonike developed their own local political elites. The hierarchy of officeholders doubled at the level of despotates, where positions from the former all-empire administration still existed. The developed system of administration of separate parts of the empire, the reduction of territories, limited financial resources, economic stagnation, and the decline of taxable population caused the degradation of the hierarchy of dignitaries, the simplification of the administrative system, and the change of the nature of mutual relations of the emperor and his courtiers.

Key words: Late Byzantium, Manuel II Palaiologos, political elite, Court Hierarchy, intellectuals.

Лицензия Creative Commons

Political Elite under Manuel II Palaiologos: the Evolution of the Court Hierarchy by Kushch T. V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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