Decisions of Isaakios I to increase revenues & cut expenditure

Isaakios I began by cancelling many decisions of his predecessor, Michael VI, causing indignation in the army and the church by removing much of their wealth. But he also remitted the dues of the great church, and distanced the palace from these matters by giving the patriarch the emperor's right to appoint the megas oikonomos. But most of his measures involved raising money from rich monasteries and private landowners. To have money to pay the army, he exacted taxes in a disciplined way, drawing up rolls, installing honest tax-collectors and making individual entries, so as to develop accurate records of money exacted. He reduced salaries attached to offices. Worse still, he confiscated private estates to the fisc, ignoring their chrysobulls. He was specially severe on monasteries, often leaving the monks only enough for the bare necessities of life. Psellos realised there was something noble in Isaakios' attempt. But the new emperor chose the wrong time, and attempted to solve all problems at once. A more cautious approach might have succeeded 
Emperor Isaakios I Komnenos (Isaakios 1)
  • Granted to the great church what was due to the emperor by the clergy, and distanced the palace from these matters by relinquishing the emperor's right to appoint those in charge of the finances and holy vessels, and making the patriarch responsible (:) ἀλλὰ τῆς τοῦ πατριάρχου ἐξουσίας ἠρτῆσθαι καὶ τὴν προχείρισιν τῶν προσώπων καὶ τὴν τῶν πραγμάτων διοίκησιν Attaleiates: History 60.11-17 / 46.16-21
  • Augmented the properties of the crown by taking away private lands, ignoring the chrysobulls granting them to their owners, and his policies affected some monasteries with vast properties, leaving them only with what was necessary to their monks (:) παριδὼν τὰς χρυσοβούλλους τούτων γραφάς Attaleiates: History 61.4-13 / 47.8-15
  • When he established his rule he took care of state expenses and the military's salaries and, realising that there was great need for resources, he became a strict tax-collector to those owing money to the state and reduced the salaries of officials (:) εἶτα καὶ τὰς τῶν ὀφφικίων δόσεις αὐτὸς περιέτεμε πρῶτος Attaleiates: History 60.18-61.2 / 47.1-6
  • In view of the shortage of funds he became an exacting taxman for those who owed to the state, reduced the allowances of offices, strived to save money and to augment the crown estates by confiscating private properties and ignoring their chrysobulls (:) Skylitzes Continuatus 103.19-104.8
  • In his search for more funds he confiscated many monastic properties leaving to their communities only what was necessary for their survival and transferring the rest to the state, which was deemed by some sacrilegious and illegal (:) Skylitzes Continuatus 104.8-12
  • Deprived the senate of old privileges and dispossessed holy churches and monasteries providing them only with the bare necessities (:) Skylitzes Continuatus 109.22-110.1
  • Wishing to have this [the Mangana] in his own power, he devised a scheme full of wickedness, the offspring of an evil mind (:) Zonaras 18.5.10
  • As a further favour to the patriarch (Michael 11), he even allocated to the Church the administration of ecclesiastical affairs (:) Zonaras 18.4.5
  • Not just from the time he entered power and changed his former usurpation to lawful rule, but he examined and overturned the transactions of his predecessor (Michael 6) and if Michael 6 had given to any he took it away and deprived the recipients (:) Zonaras 18.4.9
  • Or rather subjected those practising asceticism to accounts, allocated adequate expenditure to them, deconsecrated and took away the remainder for the fisc and daily imposed such innovations one upon another (:) Zonaras 18.4.10
  • Moved to advance even against the divine and cut off many things consecrated to the monasteries built by his predecessors (:) Zonaras 18.4.10
  • Did not even hold back from the military, but reduced even their plenty; but more than the rest he was hated by those who spent their life in monasteries (:) Zonaras 18.4.12
  • Consequently a strong force aligned itself with him; he therefore sent to the entire east and exacted taxes, appointing officials to receive it and registrars to record what was being brought in (:) ... ἀποδεκτῆρας τάξας καὶ τῶν προσαγομένων ἀπογραφεῖς Zonaras 18.2.17
  • Also cancelled and nullified many acts of Michael 6's predecessors, and did this not only in respect of the people, but did not even spare the senate (:) Zonaras 18.4.9
  • Next he exacted taxes in an orderly way, drawing up rolls, installing honest tax-collectors and making individual entries, so that when he was properly emperor he might have accurate records of money exacted (:) τὰς δημοσίους εἰσπράττει συνεισφοράς, οὐ φύρδην, οὐ συγκεχυμένως Psellos: Chronographia VII 7.8-12
  • Proposing to correct financial shortages, he did not undertake the correction gently or gradually (:) Zonaras 18.4.8
  • As soon as he became emperor he revoked the policies of Michael 6, taking away his donations and benefactions and rescinding most of his acts: this aroused hatred among the people and much of the army whose wealth he cut off (:) ἀφείλετό τε ἅπερ ἐκεῖνος δεδώρητο, καὶ καθεῖλεν εἴ τι φιλότιμον κατεπράξατο Psellos: Chronographia VII 60.1-10
  • He then went further, linking all his predecessors' acts together, attacking and discrediting all; he added the church to his victims, transferring most church benefactions to public funds and calculating for the church a bare necessity (:) τοὺς πυρφόρους τοῖς ἀνῃρημένοις προστίθησι Psellos: Chronographia VII 60.10-19
Emperor Michael VI Stratiotikos (Michael 6)
  • Isaakios 1 also cancelled and nullified many acts of his predecessors, and did this not only in respect of the people, but did not even spare the senate (:) Zonaras 18.4.9
  • Isaakios 1 examined and overturned his transactions and whatever he had given to any Isaakios 1 took away and deprived the recipients (:) Zonaras 18.4.9
Michael I Keroularios, patriarch of Constantinople (Michael 11)
  • Until that time the great oikonomos was appointed by the ruler, as indeed was the skeuophylax, but Isaakios 1 put both under patriarchal control, alienating both from the state (:) Zonaras 18.4.5
Michael Psellos (named Konstantinos till tonsure in 1054) (Michael 61)
  • As he has said many times, if Isaakios 1 had chosen the right time for action and proceeded gradually he would have changed the disordered world to order ὅ γοῦν πολλάκις εἰρήκειν, εἰ ταῖς πράξεσιν ὁ βασιλεὺς οὗτος καιροὺς ἀφωρίζετο, ... εἰς τάξιν τε ἂν ἐκ τῆς ἀταξίας μετήγαγεν καὶ κόσμον ὡς ἀληθῶς τοῖς πράγμασιν εἰσεποίησεν Psellos: Chronographia VII 62.1-9
  • He does not criticise Isaakios 1 for his attempt (to restore the state), but he does blame him for the timing of his intervention; the third stage can wait: he will dwell further on the second τῆς μὲν οὖν ἐγχειρήσεως οὐ διαβάλλω τὸν ἄνδρα, ἐπεγκαλῶ δὲ τούτῳ τὸν καιρὸν τῆς διαμαρτίας· ἀλλ᾿ ὁ μὲν τρίτος ἡμᾶς ἀναμεινάτω καιρός, τῷ δὲ δευτέρῳ πλατύτερον ἐμφιλοχωρήσωμεν Psellos: Chronographia VII 58.17-21
  • Isaakios 1's action was worthy of an emperor's thinking, but he does not commend at all the attempt to accomplish everything at once; he will describe what Isaakios 1 did καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἄξιον βασιλείου φρονήματος, τὸ δ᾿ ἀθρόως πάντα συνελεῖν ἐπικεχειρηκέναι, οὐ πάνυ τι ἐν ταῖς ἐπαινουμέναις τίθεμαι πράξεσιν Psellos: Chronographia VII 59.29-32