"The powerful" (in Greek), a term used in the 10th and 11th centuries, chiefly to designate powerful landed aristocracy (q.v.) of eastern Asia Minor (q.v.), some with familiar names like Phokas, Skleros, and Doukas. More generally, the term refers to powerful office holders, even monasteries, whose power derived from large landholdings. The problem for the government was partly financial, since such large estates tended to increase at the expense of smaller peasant properties. Tax revenues declined accordingly, since the magnates often evaded taxes through grants of ex-kousseeia (q.v.). A series of emperors (q.v.) from Romanos I through Basil II (qq.v.) legislated against them because the growth of large estates decreased the state's revenues and its stratiotika ktemata (q.v.). Basil II, for example, made the dynatoi pay the allelengyon (q.v.) of their poorer neighbors. This ultimately failed; by the 12th century large estates proliferated throughout the empire at the expense of independent villages. The Palaiologan period (12611453) was the golden age of the dynatoi, as state authority over the provinces waned.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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