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Chapter Summary

Most late Byzantine aristocrats sought a military career and regarded a career in the fiscal and civil bureaucracy as beneath their dignity. High aristocrats were attracted to military office because military power brought them closer to the emperor. Although social distinctions in Palaiologan society were clearer than they were in previous historical periods, the assumption of military command by members of social elite was not a new development, since the military aristocracy had emerged in the middle Byzantine period. The Byzantine commanders secured the loyalty and trust of their troops by their generosity, and by being on friendly terms with them, rather than by impressing them with their bravery and military deeds. The available source material indicates that the most effective way to maintain high levels of discipline was to be close to the soldiers, to encourage them by speeches, financial rewards, and hopes of the prospect of material profit.

Keywords: aristocrats; bravery; Byzantine period; Commanders; dignity; loyalty; military career; Palaiologan society; social distinctions



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