The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a form of privilege in Byzantium between the tenth and 15th centuries.

Exkuseia released the owner of privileged landholdings and the peasants living on them from state taxes (usually extraordinary taxes) and removed the lands from the jurisdiction of state officials, such as tax collectors, theme judges, and military officials. In Byzantium oppressive taxes were the most important means of exploiting the rural population, and exkuseia created a type of landowning with special privileges; the state, however, retained supreme jurisdiction over the property and could limit or withdraw the privilege. From the 13th to 15th centuries, those people to whom exkuseia had been granted had the right to collect legal duties.

Exkuseia could take other forms as well, such as releasing the recipients of the privilege from taxes on the condition that they perform certain tasks; imperial gunsmiths and state postal workers received this type of privilege. Another form of exkuseia released ships from the payment of trade duties.

Many Byzantine scholars—including the Russian researchers K. N. Uspenskii and P. A. Iakovenko and the Yugoslav historian G. Ostrogorskii (Ostrogorski)—regard exkuseia as identical to the Western European institution of immunity. The two institutions certainly fulfilled the same social function—the development of privileged landowning.


Ostrogorskii, G. A. “K istorii immuniteta v Vizantii.” In the collection Vizantiiskii vremennik, vol. 13. Moscow, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.