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Michael Psellus View on Fourteen Byzantine Rulers - Admission/Application Essay Example

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Running Head: Reading Michael Psellus Reading Michael Psellus: Understanding the Challenges Facing the Byzantine Empire in the 11th Century Name Date Professor Class Outline: Introduction Economic Situation Military Situation Diplomatic Situation Conclusion Introduction When reading Michael Psellus’ Fourteen Byzantine Rulers one is forced to consider the challenges facing the Byzantine Empire and the manner in which the Empire tried to resolve these myriad issues…
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Michael Psellus View on Fourteen Byzantine Rulers
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Download file to see previous pages As it relied heavily on diplomacy instead of fighting in times of military threat it had to have skilful diplomats and efficient administrators. However it is more likely that the increase in military and political strength of its neighbors, such as the Persians, Turks and Arabs was the reason for its eventual collapse, and not its own weaknesses. By understanding the nature of Byzantine collapse, the modern scholar can gain new insight into macro-political transformations and gain new understanding into modern political issues confronting the modern American hegemony (C; D). When seeking to understand the economic issues facing the Empire, the most overt manifestation of theses issues can be seen in the land reform situation. Psellus highlights the troubling phenomenon beginning in the 10th century that peasants started to sell their land holdings to the noble families, in the process becoming Serfs. This was done in order to avoid paying excessive taxation. As a result of this land situation, the government decided to order that peasants stop selling to land anyone besides other peasants. Yet the government did not pass this legislation for the good of the peasants but to preserve its tax base as the states main concern in taking this course was, naturally, to safeguard its own fiscal revenues. This demonstrates a profound flaw in the politico-economic reality and major problems in the tax code if peasants are so keen to avoid the tax burden that they would rather go into serfdom. This economic difficult was further compounded by the military weakness of the Empire. For many centuries the Byzantine military was successful as its funding derived from a successful economy. Yet perhaps this military success was merely in contrast to Western Europe. Though the Byzantines certainly were less confrontational and violent than their Pagan Roman predecessors, it still had significant military involvement throughout the realm. However, Byzantine was a Christian nation and Christian views on taking a life were very serious making it difficult for them to advocate and openly support war. In fact the Byzantines banned soldiers from taking lives if they sought to remain Christian. In times of structural instability, especially in terms of border disputes and the boundaries of the empire, the best foreign policy would have been as aggressive as that of the ancient Romans, or similar to Justinian’s Western expansion in the mid 500’s. This lack of military pressure gave bordering nations a chance to become stronger and stronger. Byzantines eventual collapse due to the Ottoman Turks by Mohammed in 1453 may not have happened had the Byzantines made a conscious effort throughout its existence to quell potentially dangerous neighbors. This view would suggest it was a fundamental weakness and a failure to capitalize on its own strength, which caused the Byzantines collapse. The advances of the Saracens and the incursions of the Slavs and Bulgars reduced virtually the whole empire to a frontier province as described by Psellus. This shows further weakness, as the Slavs were major trading allies with the Byzantines. In short, the military situation ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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