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

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 guils, professional and commercial. Ordinances of Leo VI c. 895 from the Book of the Eparch (Cambridge, 1938).


Regulations concerning Silk

Merchants of Silk stuffs

 § i. The silk merchants will be concerned in the purchase of silk garments. They will not engage in other purchases except those articles they require for their personal use, and they are forbidden to sell the latter. They are moreover forbidden to resell to persons who are 'strangers' to the city the articles which are on the prohibited list, that is to say purple of the distinctive' dyes (red or? violet), so as to prevent exportation of these out of the Empire. Offenders will be flogged and liable to confiscation.

 § 2. Silk merchants whether freemen or slaves who purchase from the nobility or silk buyers, or from anyone else, garments exceeding ten nomismata in value shall declare the same to the eparch so that he may know where these articles are to be sold. Offenders will suffer the abovenamed punishments.

 § 3. Anyone else who has not declared to the eparch the peach coloured or red garments or mantles of twothirds dye will be punished.2

 § 4. Any person who fails to inform the eparch of a sale of an article destined for aliens of the Empire,
so that the eparch may certify the transaction, shall be held responsible.

 § 5. To obtain admittance to the guild of silk merchants five members of the craft must testify to the eparch that the candidate is a person worthy to exercise the craft. He shall then be admitted to it, he shall open a shop, and carry on business. His entrance fee to the guild is six nomismata.

 § 6. To obtain a licence to acquire the workshop of a silk merchant the tax is ten nomismata. The recommendation of the eparch is necessary.

 § 7. Every person exercising at one and the same time the craft of silk merchant and silk dyer I shall be put to his election to choose one or other of these crafts to the exclusion of the other. Anyone attempting to carry on both crafts shall be liable to the aforesaid punishments.

 § 8. Care must be taken to ensure that strangers who lodge in caravanserais do not purchase prohibited or unsewn garments, unless for their personal use; and in the latter case the articles must have been manufactured in Constantinople.

 When strangers leave the city their departure must be notified to the eparch so that he may take cognizance of the articles they have purchased.

 Anyone helping them to evade this obligation shall be flogged, shaved and have his property confiscated.

 § 9. Every silk merchant who secretly or openly causes the rent of any other silk merchant to be raised, shall be flogged. shaved and shall be liable to confiscation.

Silk Dyers

 § 1. Dyers are forbidden to make up the purple of the so-called prohibited grades, that is to say in the series of great mantles, including those of self color or those where the purple alternates with dark green or yellow in half-tint. They may dye peach tint where that color is combined with others, or common turbans of slavonian style slashed with scarlet bands. Peachcolored purple and fine dresses of (?) 'two palms' length must be declared to the eparch and also the cloaks worth more than ten nomismata, even if of divers colors.

 § 2. All noblemen and simple citizens are forbidden to make cloaks of purple of six or eight lyes. This prohibition does not extend to cloaks of ten or twelve lyes provided the tints are real purple and are of small type and such as would not come within the category of dyed material which the eparch must reserve for the use of the imperial house of the sovereign. And this includes the cloaks rounded at the lower part reserved for the prince's use, excepting those of shorter model which fall in folds on the tunic, counting at least ten lyes and colored in different tints.
Whoever is convicted of making articles which we forbid shall be liable to have his goods confiscated and shall cease trading.

 § 3. Whoever refuses to open his premises for inspection by the inspector of seals or the inspector of cloths,' or who sells to aliens to the city a cloak worth more than ten nomismata shall be flogged and shaved.

 § 4. Whoever dyes raw silk with blood (i.e. synonymous with the liquid of murex) or converts it into parti-colored purple, double, triple or two-thirds red, shall have his hand cut off.

 § 5. Whoever sells goods to aliens without the knowledge of the eparch shall have his goods confiscated.

 § 6. Whoever attempts to carry on at one and the same time the trade of serikarios and vestiopratis shall be put on his election to choose one trade or the other.

 § 7. Every dyer who sells a slave, a workman, or a foreman craftsman, to persons alien to the city or the Empire, shall have his hand cut off.

 § 8. Dyers shall buy raw silk from the raw silk merchant. If they buy it from aliens of the city they shall be flogged, shaved and cease trading.

 § 9. Should bales of cloaks be found in the storeshops of the dyers which do not bear the eparch's stamp the same shall be confiscated and the workman who had them shall have his goods confiscated.

 § io. If a dyer receives the workman of another dyer wittingly before such workman has finished the work for which he was paid he shall be fined an amount equal to what the workman had not earned by his work.
§ i i. Anyone who has purchased garments made outside the city and delivers them to the imperial store shall be flogged and shaved.

 § 12. Cf. chapter vi, § 2.

 § 13. Anyone wishing to open a workshop must, if he is a freeman, be guaranteed by five persons. If he is a slave his master must be surety for him; providing him also with adequate means. In both cases the guarantors will be subject to the same liabilities as the person for whom they stand surety. And he shall pay an entrance fee of three nomismata.

May 2002; revised January 2012