Aristocracy

   A landed aristocracy existed throughout Byzantine history. However, the basis of landholding changed from the more familiar pattern of Late Roman times, with its large estates and numerous coloni (q.v.), peasants bound to the soil, to the estates of military officials who derived their authority from the theme (q.v.) system. The latter became the military aristocracy, the so-called dynatoi (q.v.), of Asia Minor (q.v.) in the 10th century, powerful families that produced the likes of Bardas Skleros, Andronikos Doukas, and Bardas Phokas (qq.v.). The ability of these families to foment rebellion brought Basil II (q.v.) into armed conflict with them. After Basil II's death in 1025, a struggle ensued between the military aristocracy and the civil aristocracy (which comprised the state bureaucracy). The accession of Alexios I Komnenos (q.v.) as emperor in 1081 was a victory of the military bureaucracy, which triumphed as long as the Komneni remained in power. The Palaiologan (q.v.) dynasts were themselves aristocrats who ruled with the aid of other chief aristocratic families, giving them grants of pronoia, as well as appanages (qq.v.). Thus, beginning in the 10th century the power of the aristocracy was intertwined with imperial power, both as a restraint and a means of access to the imperial office.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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  • Aristocracy — is a form of government, where rule is established through an internal struggle over who has the most status and influence over society and internal relations. Power is maintained by a hereditary elite, from a caste, class, family (dynasty or… …   Wikipedia

  • aristocracy — 1 plutocracy, *oligarchy 2 Aristocracy, nobility, gentry, county, elite, society denote a body of persons who constitute a socially superior caste. Aristocracy often refers to an ideally superior caste and therefore does not invariably apply to a …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Aristocracy — Ar is*toc ra*cy, n.; pl. {Aristocracies}. [Gr. ?; ? best + ? to be strong, to rule, ? strength; ? is perh. from the same root as E. arm, and orig. meant fitting: cf. F. aristocratie. See {Arm}, and {Create}, which is related to Gr. ?.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • aristocracy — [ar΄i stä′krə sē, er΄i stä′krə sē] n. pl. aristocracies [L aristocratia < Gr aristokratia < aristos, best + kratia, rule < kratos, power, rule: see HARD] 1. Historical government by the best citizens 2. government by a privileged… …   English World dictionary

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  • aristocracy — (n.) 1560s, from M.Fr. aristocracie (Mod.Fr. aristocratie), from L.L. aristocratia, from Gk. aristokratia government or rule of the best, from aristos best (originally most fitting, from PIE *ar isto , superlative form of *ar to fit together; see …   Etymology dictionary

  • aristocracy — [n] privileged class, government elite, gentility, gentry, haut monde, high society, nobility, noblesse, patricians, patriciate, peerage, society, upper class, upper crust*; concepts 296,423 Ant. commoners, plebites, proletariat …   New thesaurus

  • aristocracy — ► NOUN (pl. aristocracies) ▪ a class comprising people of noble birth with hereditary titles. ORIGIN Greek aristokratia, from aristos best + kratia power …   English terms dictionary

  • aristocracy — /ar euh stok reuh see/, n., pl. aristocracies. 1. a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, esp. the hereditary nobility. 2. a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class. 3. government by those …   Universalium

  • aristocracy — UK [ˌærɪˈstɒkrəsɪ] / US [ˌerəˈstɑkrəsɪ] noun [countable] Word forms aristocracy : singular aristocracy plural aristocracies the people in the highest class of society, who usually have money, land, and power and who often have special titles,… …   English dictionary

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