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The Policies of Nikephoros II Phokas in the context of the Byzantine economic recovery

Fattori, Niccolo
This thesis will analyze the policies and the eastern military campaigns of the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, focusing on their correlation with the gradual recovery of the Byzantine economy that took place from the ninth to the eleventh century. The emperor’s conquering campaigns in Cilicia are seen as a response to the social and fiscal effects of said recovery, which caused the Byzantine state to assume a more aggressive stance.The thesis is structured in three parts, the first dealing with the causes and modes of the economic recovery, the second examining the policies of Phokas and the third detailing his campaigns in the east. The aim of this work is to see how the limited supply of precious metals and the growth of intermediate stages in the circulation process of coinage by the end of the ninth century reduced the relative role of the state in the economy, producing the paradoxical phenomenon of a richer society and a state struggling to get tax revenues. This situation prompted the new policy-making circles led by Nikephoros Phokas towards the implementation of a more distinctly militaristic policy with the final goal of expanding the fiscal basis of the Byzantine state eastwards, towards those Muslim entities that satisfied the criteria of vulnerability and wealth.