a soldier in the Byzantine Empire. With the growth of the peasant militia in the seventh and eighth centuries, the term stratiotis was generally applied to a peasant who joined the army with his own horse and arms. Stratiotai were paid a salary in money and in kind. The minimum inalienable allotment of land needed by peasants to become stratiotai in a given branch of the army had been established by law by the early tenth century.
The process of feudalization in Byzantium led to a sharp differentiation among the stratiotai in the tenth century: the poorest stratiotai, losing their allotments, became dependent peasants, while a wealthy elite emerged, constituting the heavily armed cavalry (cataphracts). As a result, the minimum size of the land allotment needed by peasants to become stratiotai was increased by Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas. Gradually the elite merged with the class of feudal lords. From the 12th through 15th centuries, the stratiotai were primarily knights and feudal lords.
REFERENCEMutafchiev, P. “Voinishki zemi i voinitsi v Vizantiia prez XIII-XIV v.” lzbr. proizv., vol. 1. Sofia, 1973. Pages 518–652.
A. P. KAZHDAN