JUSTINIAN AND THE EAST
IN the West Justinian had pursued an offensive policy; in the East his aims are deliberately defensive. Stability on the frontiers was to be maintained by immense systems of walls and fortresses; if other means failed, the barbarian must be bought off. Stability inside the Empire was to be secured by administrative reform; besides lessening the chances of disorder, this would, by increasing the prosperity of the inhabitants, and by improving the fiscal machinery, guarantee for Justinian his all-important revenues. It was not that he deliberately sacrificed the welfare of his subjects to his own financial needs; in his philosophy, ruler and people had equal duties to the Empire of which they formed a part--his to conquer, theirs to enable him to do so by paying cheerfully the taxes demanded of them.
In two great ordinances of A.D. 535 Justinian began his work of reform. Detailed instructions were given for the arrangements of each separate province; only the leading principles can be mentioned here. One of the chief abuses consisted of the excessive fees (suffragia), amounting really to premiums, which officials had to pay for obtaining their posts; as a result, they were driven to recoup themselves by extortion and dishonesty of all kinds, and from the great ministers of the capital down to the humblest police and soldiers of the provinces the whole administration was riddled with corrupt practices. Crowds of petitioners flocked to Constantinople; the central officers could not get reliable information about the provincial governments, and the officials, if brought to book, pleaded the exigencies of the suffragia as their excuse. This excuse was now removed; in future, only light fees were to be paid on entering office. Rigorous orders were given for the cleansing of the administration. The governors are to have 'pure hands'--the phrase runs like a leit-motif through all the ordinances. They are to render equitable justice, to protect their subjects from the violence of the military or the exactions of subordinate officials; to hold the balance between rich and poor, to respect equally the rights of Church and State. But