‘Contributions Open to Further Illuminating Discussion’
It is a long known fact that Byzantine feudalism has peculiarities. Whether we still call this Byzantine ‘development’ ‘feudalism’ is in fact irrelevant - oh, my God! Maybe not? - , what really matters is whether we get a clear grasp of what we are actually dealing with, I think. The typological research presented by Zinaida Udal’cova (‘Die Besonderheiten des Feudalismus in Byzanz’, pp. 11-56) does not fit this description, it seems to me. To take just one example, does ‘the distinctiveness of the socio-economic development of the cities in Byzantium’ appear really ‘most of all in the slave holder’s polis, which was a centre of handicraft and trade and was preserved longer than in the West’ (die Spezifik der sozialokonomischen Entwicklung der Stadte in Byzanz vor allem in der langer als im Westen andauemden Erhaltung der Sklavenhalter-Polis [a lovely expression! - as an occasional viewer of science-fiction movies one gets certain associations] als Zentrum des Handwerks und des Handels [p. 25])? Or, is it not the case that the distinctiveness of these cities reflects the fact that - certainly for many reasons but probably unrelated to the development of cities - the Germans plundered and destroyed the western part of the empire
1 The quotation is put together from the corresponding sentences from the prefaces o f the following collections: Besonderheiten der byzantinischen Feudalentwicklung. Eine Sammlung von Beitragen zu den jriihen Jahrhunderten, ed. H. Kopstein, and Studien zum 8. und 9. Jahrhundert in Byzanz, ed. Helga Kopstein and F. Winkelmann, Berliner byzantinische Arbeiten 50 and 51 (Berlin, 1983)
including its cities much earlier than the Slavs, Avars, and Arabs did the eastern part? The whole work of UdaPcova is abstract in this sense - one could almost say structuralist - and rarely depicts the concrete historical facts that influence the course of events.