Social and political structures in the Maeander region of Western Asia Minor on the eve of the Turkish invasion
The thesis is a contribution to two of the crucial problems of middle Byzantine history: the social and political structure of the provinces, and the explanation of the rapid fall of Asia Minor to the Turks at the end of the llth century. These problems are approached through a study of the Maeander region of western Asia Minor.Part one describes the geography of the region and shows it to have been a naturally fertile area, of great potential importance to the Empire. In the Roman period it had been very prosperous; the subsequent decline cannot be explained by geological or climatic factors. Part two surveys the archaeological evidence. The ancient city sites remained occupied at a sometimes very low cultural level through the early (7th -8th century) and middle (9th-llth century) Byzantine periods. A general move of settlements to apparently more secure sites with natural defences did not take place until the 12th-13th centuries in the face of the Turks. Up to the end of the llth century the city sites remained the focus of what was most active in the provincial society of the Maeander region. Part three looks at the region's elites. The strategoi and judges who ruled the theme of the Thrakesioi, which makes up the western two-thirds of the region, were outsiders appointed by the Imperial government in Constantinople and only in the region on short term appointments. Several major figures at the Imperial court owned land in the region but only as absentee landlords. When crisis came between 1071 and 1080 these outsiders abandoned the Maeander to the Turks. The church played an important role, but the resident local elite were a comparatively humble group, isolated from Constantinople, and lacking the influence to force the Imperial government into defending their interests.