In this book Dr Harvey shows that, if we broaden our comprehension of feudalism, the economic developments of the Byzantine Empire and of the medieval west were far more comparable than Byzantine historians have been prepared to admit. Previous interpretations have linked economic trends too closely to the political fortunes of the state, and have consequently regarded the twelfth century as a period of economic stagnation. Yet there is considerable evidence that the empire's population expanded steadily during the period covered by this book, and that agricultural production was intensified. A wealth of evidence serves to reinforce the point that the disintegration of the empire in the late twelfth century should no longer be associated with economic decline. Dr Harvey's conclusions, in particular that there is no incompatibility between the development of the landed wealth of a feudalising aristocracy and the growth of commerce and urbanisation, will affect all future interpretations of Byzantine history.
"This book is most useful and interesting for its analysis of the Byzantine data; the degree of similarity between this economy and western European ones is a subject which invites further elaboration." Angeliki E. Laiou, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History