The Byzantine society consisted of aristocrats, officials, clergy, merchants, intellectuals, artisans, peasants and slaves. Vassal relations in it did not work out.
Aristocrats lived at the expense of their estates, they despised craft and trade.
Officials lived on state salaries, but more at the expense of bribes and robbery of the state. They climbed the ranks, often thanks to their connections and the ability to please their superiors.
Numerous and influential were the clergy, who lived on ecclesiastical incomes and laymen’s fees for church services. Clerics and monks secretly engaged in usury, which the Christian church considered evil.
The merchantry was rich in intermediary trade. At fairs in the cities of Byzantium, especially in Constantinople –
The Byzantine gold coin, as they said, “went from one end of the earth to the other.”
The intelligentsia included officials, clergy, teachers, students, scientists. They did not bathe in luxury, but did not bargain.
The handicraftsmen were numerous. Some of the artisans lived prosperous, others barely made ends meet. In general, the craft in Byzantium was considered an unprestigious occupation.
There were more cities in Byzantium than in the West, so the townspeople had a lot in it. But numerically, the peasants-the main breadwinners of society-prevailed. Most of them were free, they only paid taxes and served in the army. They merged into communities. That the peasants did not become serfs, the government forbade them to be given up under the protection of rich men and nobles. Why did the government need this? From the taxes paid by the peasants to the state, depended on the welfare of the courtiers and officials, so the peasant farms had to be strong.
The Byzantine peasant was not frightened by feudal castles, but by cities. Townspeople bought peasants agricultural produce for a pittance, and craft products sold them at a price. Therefore, the peasants hated townspeople, considered them to be lecherous, impudent. The townspeople paid them in the same coin – they called them rude, untidy, dark.
Slaves in Byzantium were few, in addition, the number of them gradually decreased. The relationship between the public upper and lower levels in it were complex. Byzantium was repeatedly shaken by great popular uprisings and riots.