Episode 187 – Hey Big Spender

Principle stages in the debasement of the nomisma (from the Economic History of Byzantium, Dumbarton Oaks)

Principal stages in the debasement of the nomisma (from the Economic History of Byzantium, Dumbarton Oaks)

After the Pecheneg Wars the Roman treasury was empty. We look at Constantine Monomachos’ response to this and other Imperial expenses which may have exacerbated the situation.

Period: 1042-54

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Categories: Podcast | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Episode 187 – Hey Big Spender

  1. Deane Jennings

    Hi, thanks for the informative podcast. One question I would like to ask – given that the Roman empire lasted almost 1500 years if we count the full period, is it actually fair to say that Europe needed the empire to collapse before innovation, science, art and philosophy could develop in Europe? I reason I ask is that technologically the Roman empire was very limited in its innovation. This seemed to be limited to methods of war, buildings and roads. But essentially the level of technological advancement didn’t move on much over the 1500 years. As an empire it was not on an upward technological projectory, and in fact seemed very static. This is ironic because we ascribe great engineering to the Romans, but maybe Roman society was actually a block to real innovation and advancement.

    • It’s an excellent question and you’re right that technological progress was fairly static in the Roman era. I will be producing a Byzantine Stories episode (eventually) on this subject and I look forward to exploring how the Empire’s structure stifled certain innovations. But I don’t think the Romans were alone in this. Most of the surrounding Empires/Civilisations were operating with the same level of technology throughout this period.

  2. dustz92

    I guess this is for the end of the century but, why did not anything of this had happened during say the 6th and 7h centuries? The situation was as bleak and the collapse of the revenue was much more massive. It was Heraclius’ decision to cut the salaries in half? (which comparatively, I assume he had an easier time applying without complaints as the border collapse of back then was apparent to everybody)

    • Yes I think you’ve identified the reason. The enforced cuts during Heraclius’ day drastically reduced the state’s expenditure. Army salaries remained relatively low until Theophilus raised wages in the 9th century. By Monomachos’ day it was much harder, politically, to cut salaries.

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