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Freemen of Laconia

these strangers the Imperial geographer has accurately distinguished a domestic and perhaps original race, who, in some degree, might derive their blood from the much-injured Helots. The liberality of the Romans, and especially of Augustus, had enfranchised the maritime cities from the dominion of Sparta ; and the continuance of the same benefit ennobled them with the title of Eleuthero or Free-Laconians.18 In the time of Constantine Prophyrogenitus they had acquired the name of Mainotes, under which they dishonour the claim of liberty by the inhuman pillage of all that is shipwrecked on their rocky shores. Their territory, barren of corn, but fruitful of olives, extended to the Cape of Malea; they accepted a chief or prince from the Byzantine prætor, and a light tribute of four hundred pieces of gold was the badge of their immunity rather than of their dependence. The freemen of Laconia assumed the character of Romans, and long adhered to the religion of the Greeks. By the zeal of the emperor Basil, they were baptized in the faith of Christ; but the altars of Venus and Neptune had

been crowned by these rustic votaries five hundred years after Cities and they were proscribed in the Roman world. In the theme of Pelopon.° Peloponnesus 17 forty cities were still numbered, and the declin

ing state of Sparta, Argos, and Corinth may be suspended in the tenth century, at an equal distance, perhaps, between their antique splendour and their present desolation. The duty of military service, either in person or by substitute, was imposed on the lands or benefices of the province ; a sum of five pieces of gold was assessed on each of the substantial tenants; and the same capitation was shared among several heads of inferior value. On the proclamation of an Italian war, the Peloponnesians excused themselves by a voluntary oblation of one hundred pounds of gold (four thousand pounds sterling) and a thousand horses with their arms and trappings. The churches and monasteries furnished their contingent; a sacrilegious profit was extorted from the sale of ecclesiastical honours; and the indigent bishop of Leucadia 18 was made responsible for a pension of one hundred pieces of gold.19




16 Strabon. Geograph. 1. viii. p. 562 [5, 8 5). Pausanias, Græc. Descriptio, 1. iii. c. 21, p. 264, 265. Plin. Hist. Natur. 1. iv. c. 8.

17 Constantin. de Administrando Imperio, 1. ii. c. 50, 51, 52.

18 The rock of Leucate was the southern promontory of his island and diocese. Had he been the exclusive guardian of the Lover's Leap, so well known to the 13 Leucatensis mihi juravit episcopus, quotannis ecclesiam suam debere Nicephoro aureos centum persolvere, similiter et ceteras plus minusve secundum vires 9128 (Liatprand in Legat. p. 489 (c. 63]).

of silk,

But the wealth of the province, and the trust of the revenue, Manufacwere founded on the fair and plentiful produce of trade and especially manufactures; and some symptoms of liberal policy may be traced in a law which exempts from all personal taxes the mariners of Peloponnesus and the workmen in parchment and purple. This denomination may be fairly applied or extended to the manufactures of linen, woollen, and more especially of silk: the two former of which had flourished in Greece since the days of Homer; and the last was introduced perhaps as early as the reign of Justinian. These arts, which were exercised at Corinth, Thebes, and Argos, afforded food and occupation to a numerous people; the men, women and children were distributed according to their age and strength; and, if many of these were domestic slaves, their masters, who directed the work and enjoyed the profit, were of a free and honourable condition. The gifts which a rich and generous matron of Peloponnesus presented to the emperor Basil, her adopted son, were doubtless fabricated in the Grecian looms. Danielis bestowed a carpet of fine wool, of a pattern which imitated the spots of a peacock's tail, of a magnitude to overspread the floor of a new church, erected in the triple name of Christ, of Michael the archangel, and the prophet Elijah. She gave six hundred pieces of silk and linen, of various use and denomination; the silk was painted with the Tyrian die, and adorned by the labours of the needle; and the linen was so exquisitely fine that an entire piece might be rolled in the hollow of a cane.20 In his description of the Greek manufactures, an historian of Sicily discriminates their price according to the weight and quality of the silk, the closeness of the texture, the beauty of the colours, and the taste and materials of the embroidery. A single, or even a double or treble, thread was thought sufficient for ordinary sale; but the union of six threads composed a piece of stronger and more costly workmanship. Among the


readers of Ovid (Epist. Sappho) and the Spectator, he might have been the richest prelate of the Greek church.

20 See Constantine (in Vit. Basil. c. 74, 75, 76, p. 195, 197, in Script. post Theopbanem), who allows himself to use many technical or barbarous words : tarbarons, says he, τη των πολλών αμαθία, καλόν γάρ επί τούτοις κοινολεκτείν. Ducange Isbours on some; but he was not a weaver.

colours, he celebrates, with affectation of eloquence, the fiery blaze of the scarlet, and the softer lustre of the green. The embroidery was raised either in silk or gold; the more simple ornament of stripes or circles was surpassed by the nicer imitation of flowers ; the vestments that were fabricated for the palace or the altar often glittered with precious stones ; and the figures were delineated in strings of Oriental pearls.21 Till the twelfth century, Greece alone, of all the countries of Christendom, was possessed of the insect who is taught by nature, and of the workmen who are instructed by art, to prepare this elegant luxury. But the secret had been stolen by the dexterity and diligence of the Arabs; the caliphs of the East and West scorned to borrow from the unbelievers their furniture and apparel ; and two cities of Spain, Almeria and Lisbon, were famous for the manufacture, the use, and perhaps the exportation of silk. It was first introduced into Sicily by the Normans; and this emigration of trade distinguishes the victory of Roger from the uniform and fruitless hostilities of every age. After the sack of Corinth, Athens, and Thebes, his lieutenant embarked with a captive train of weavers and artificers of both sexes, a trophy glorious to their masters and disgraceful to the Greek emperor.22 The king of Italy was not insensible of the value of the present; and, in the restitution of the prisoners, he exempted only the male and female manu

transported from Greece to Italy

21 The manufactures of Palermo, as they are described by Hugo Falcandus (Hist. Sicula in proem. in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. v. p. 256), are & copy of those of Greece. Without transcribing his declamatory sentences, which I have softened in the text, I shall observe, that in this passage, the strange word exarentasmata is very properly changed for exanthemata by Carisius, the first editor. Falcandus lived about the year 1190.

22 Inde ad interiora Græciæ progressi, Corinthum, Thebas, Athenas, antique nobilitate celebres, expugnant; et, maximâ ibidem præda direptå, opifices etiam, qui sericos pannos texere solent, ob ignominiam Imperatoris illius suique principis gloriam captivos deducunt. Quos Rogerius, in Palermo Siciliæ metropoli collocans, artem texendi suos edocere præcepit ; et exhinc prædicta ars illa, prius & Græcis tantum inter Christianos habita, Romanis patere cæpit ingeniis (Otho Frisingen. de Gestis Frederici I. 1. i. c. 33, in Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. vi. p. 668). This exception allows the bishop to celebrate Lisbon and Almeria in sericorum pannorum opificio prænobilissimæ (in Chron. apud Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 415). [On the manufacture of silk and the regulation of the silk trade and guilds of silk merchants at Constantinople, much light is thrown by the so-called 'Etapxıkdr Bilalov, or Book of the Prefect of the City--an Imperial Edict published by M. Jules Nicole of Geneva in 1893, and attributed by him, without sufficient proof, to Leo VI. Cp. sects. iv.-viii. We find distinguished the vestiopratai who sold silk dresses ; the prandiopratai who sold dresses imported from Syria or Cilicia ; the metaxo. pratai, silk merchants; the katartarioi, silk manufacturers ; and serikarioi, silk Weavers.)


facturers of Thebes and Corinth, who labour, says the Byzantine historian, under a barbarous lord, like the old Eretrians in the service of Darius.23 A stately edifice, in the palace of Palermo, was erected for the use of this industrious colony; 24 and the art was propagated by their children and disciples to satisfy the increasing demand of the western world. The decay of the looms of Sicily may be ascribed to the troubles of the island and the competition of the Italian cities. In the year thirteen hundred and fourteen, Lucca alone, among her sister republics, enjoyed the lucrative monopoly. 23 A domestic revolution dispersed the manufactures of Florence, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and even the countries beyond the Alps; and, thirteen years after this event, the statutes of Modena enjoin the planting of mulberry trees and regulate the duties on raw silk.26 The northern climates are less propitious to the education of the silk-worm; but the industry of France and England 2 is supplied and enriched by the productions of Italy and China.

I must repeat the complaint that the vague and scanty me- Rovenue of morials of the times will not afford any just estimate of the empire taxes, the revenue, and the resources of the Greek empire. From every province of Europe and Asia the rivulets of gold and silver discharged into the Imperial reservoir a copious and perennial stream.28 The separation of the branches from the trunk increased the relative magnitude of Constantinople; and the maxims of despotism contracted the state to the capital, the capital to the palace, and the palace to the royal person. A Jewish traveller, who visited the East in the twelfth century, is lost in his admiration of the Byzantine riches. “It is here,” says Benjamin of Tudela, “in the queen of cities, that the


the Greek

** Nicetas in Manuel. I. ii. 0. 8, p. 65. He describes these Greeks as skilled εύτητρίους οθόνας υφαίνειν, 8ε ιστη προσανέχοντας των εξαμίτων και χρυσοπάστων στολών.

** Hago Falcandus styles them nobiles officinas. The Arabs had not introduced silk, thjugh they had planted canes and made sugar in the plain of Palermo.

*s See the Life of Castruccio Casticani, not by Machiavel, but by his more sathentic biographer Nicholas Tegrimi. Muratori, who has inserted it in the with volane of his Scriptores, quotes this curious passage in his Italian Antiquities (tom. i. dissert. xxv. p. 378).

** From the Ms. statutes, as they are quoted by Muratori in his Italian Antiquities (tom. ii. dissert. XXX. p. 46-48).

21 The broad silk manufacture was established in England in the year 1620 (Anderson's Chronological Deduotion, vol. ii. p. 4); but it is to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes that we owe the Spitalfields colony.

* (And from the reign of Leo the Great in the 5th, to the capture of Constanti. nople at the beginning of the 13th, the gold coinage was never depreciated.]

tributes of the Greek empire are annually deposited, and the lofty towers are filled with precious magazines of silk, purple and gold. It is said that Constantinople pays each day to her sovereign twenty thousand pieces of gold; which are levied on the shops, taverns, and markets, on the merchants of Persia and Egypt, of Russia and Hungary, of Italy and Spain, who frequent the capital by sea and land." 29 In all pecuniary matters, the authority of a Jew is doubtless respectable; but

as the three hundred and sixty-five days would produce a (£4,380,000) yearly income exceeding seven millions sterling, I am tempted

to retrench at least the numerous festivals of the Greek calendar. The mass of treasure that was saved by Theodora and Basil the Second will suggest a splendid though indefinite idea of their supplies and resources. The mother of Michael, before she retired to a cloister, attempted to check or expose the prodigality of her ungrateful son by a free and faithful account of the wealth which he inherited: one hundred and nine thousand pounds of gold, and three hundred thousand of silver, the fruits of her own economy and that of her deceased husband.30 The avarice of Basil is not less renowned than his valour and fortune : his victorious armies were paid and re

warded without breaking into the mass of two hundred thou(28,640,000) sand pounds of gold (about eight millions sterling) which he

had buried in the subterraneous vaults of the palace.31 Such accumulation of treasure is rejected by the theory and practice of modern policy; and we are more apt to compute the national riches by the use and abuse of the public credit. Yet the maxims of antiquity are still embraced by a monarch formidable to his enemies ; by a republic respectable to her allies ; and both have attained their respective ends, of military power and domestic tranquillity.

Whatever might be consumed for the present wants, or re

29 Voyage de Benjamin de Tudèle, tom. i. c. 5, p. 44-52. The Hebrew text has been translated into French by that marvellous child Baratier, who has added & volume of crude learning. The errors and fictions of the Jewish rabbi are not a sufficient ground to deny the reality of his travels. (Benjamin's Itinerary has been edited and translated by A. Asher, 2 vols., 1840. For his statements concerning Greece, cp. Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter, i. p. 200.)

S0 See the continuator of Theophanes (1. iv. p. 107 (p. 172, ed. Bonn]), Cedrenus (p. 544 [ii. p. 158, ed. Bonn]), and Zonaras (tom. ii. 1. xvi. p. 157 (c. 2]).

al Zonaras (tom. ii. 1. xvii. p. 225 (o. 8]), instead of pounds, uses the more classic appellation of talents, which, in a literal sense and strict computation, would multiply sixty-fold (sixfold] the treasure of Basil.

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