This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources produced and mounted with historical introduction and commentary by Paul Stephenson.


BOOK OF THE EPARCH (Eparchikon Biblion)

The title, the Book of the Eparch, was given to this work by Jules Nicole, the Swiss professor who discovered the work in 1891. The full text is preserved in a single 14th-century manuscript (Cod. Genevensis gr. 23), although the title and preamble survive in a second ms (Metochion Taphou 25), and the first three paragraphs of chapter 1 are excerpted in several additional mss. The Metochion Taphou ms gives the name of the legislator, Leo VI, and the date 911-12. This has been disputed, but seems sound.
 

The book is a collection of 22 chapters of regulation pertaining to the guilds, whose activities comprised the greatest proportion of economic life in the city of Constantinople. The eponymous eparch was the equivalent of the mayor of the city, and responsible for enforcing the strict rules which governed everyday process of urban production and exchange. Chapters are devoted to: (1) notaries; (2)"dealers in bullion and money-lenders"; (3)bankers and money-changers; (4) merchants of silk stuffs; (5) merchants of manufactured goods imported from Syria and Baghdad; (6) raw silk merchants; (7) raw silk dressers; (8) silk dyers; (9) linen merchants; (10) perfumers; (11) wax-chandlers and taper-makers; (12) soap-chandlers; (13) grocers; (14) saddlers; (15) butchers; (16) pork butchers; (17) fishmongers; (18) bakers; (19) Inn-keepers; (20) deputy of the Eparch; (21) agents and assessors of the market; (22) contractors (of all kinds, including carpenters, gypsum workers, marble masons, locksmiths, painters ...)
 

The Greek text and a full English translation with notes can be found in: E. H. Freshfield, Roman law in the later Roman empire. Byzantine guilds, professional and commercial. Ordinances of Leo VI c. 895 from the Book of the Eparch (Cambridge, 1938). This was reproduced in a composite volume, The Book of the Eparch (with the same title in Greek and French), with an introduction by I. Dujcev (London, 1970). The abridged excerpts linked to below are modified translations from this work.
 

(1) Regulations concerning Silk

(2) Regulations concerning food and hardware


May 2002

Revised January 2012