Book of the Eparch

Book of the Eparch
   A manual of trade regulations, probably issued by Leo VI (q.v.). It would have served as a guide for the eparch (q.v.) of the city, whose duty it was to regulate the commercial life of the capital. Its purpose was to protect the guilds of Constantinople (qq.v.) from competition while at the same time protecting the state's right to regulate the guilds. The guilds discussed are diverse, from jewelers to sellers of soap. It is apparent that each was carefully regulated in order to protect the consumer and the state. In the case of goods such as high-quality silks, export was strictly controlled. Control of markets, production, prices, and profits was accompanied by protection and security for all guild members. No one could compete with other members of his guild, or join another guild. The net result was to stifle competition, making it almost impossible to amass the large amounts of capital needed to develop large enterprises. Secret trading activities and accumulations of capital were made difficult since all sales, even in one's own home, had to be reported to the eparch. Liutprand of Cremona (q.v.), ambassador of Otto I (q.v.), discovered this when he tried to export prohibited merchandise. The customs officials had already been informed of his purchases.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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