World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0036815114
Reproduction Date:

Title: Dynatoi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Theme (Byzantine district), List of Byzantine emperors, Byzantine Empire, Nobility, Basil II
Collection: Byzantine Society, Economy of the Byzantine Empire, Greek Words and Phrases, Nobility
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The dynatoi (Greek: δυνατοί, "the powerful") was a legal term in the Byzantine Empire used from the 10th century on, denoting the senior levels of civil, military and ecclesiastic (including monastic) officialdom, who usually, but not always, also commanded considerable fortunes and landed estates. Although such positions were not usually hereditary, by the late 10th and early 11th centuries they had started to become monopolized by a limited number of families who by the mid-11th century formed a hereditary aristocracy.[1]

Although the exact composition of the dynatoi class has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate (cf. Lemerle),[2] in economic terms, it encompassed the wealthy land-owners as opposed to the middling and small landowners, the penetes (πένητες).[3] The former were usually members of military families, who had been able to use their influence to grab up the extensive lands that had been abandoned, especially in Asia Minor, as the result of the invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries. As the Empire's military position recovered from the 9th century on, these lands became profitable again, and major provincial magnate families began to appear. Among the main examples are the Phokades and the Maleinoi,[4] who almost monopolized the senior administrative and military posts in Asia Minor in the early and middle 10th century. The dynatoi were able to use their political and financial strength to enrich themselves at the expense of the penetes, who had hitherto formed the main pillar of Byzantine society and economy.[5] Consequently, several emperors from Romanos I Lekapenos (reigned 920–944) to Basil II (r. 976–1025) enacted agrarian legislation to combat the activities of the dynatoi,[6] and to prevent their acquisition of the stratiotika ktemata, the military lands allocated to the maintenance of the thematic armies.[7] Basil II in particular showed care to check the dynatoi through the imposition of the allelengyon ("mutual guarantee") tax, making them liable to pay the taxes of their poorer neighbours.[8]

In the event, these efforts failed due to the rise of the provincial aristocracy, represented by the Komnenos dynasty, to power: in the 12th century, large latifundia spread throughout the countryside at the expense of smaller communities.[9] The influence of the dynatoi reached its apogee in the Palaiologan period (1261–1453), and was marked by a concomitant decline in the authority of the central state

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.