The peaceful conditions prevailing in the 9th century and the settlement of the Byzantine Empire's borders through the exploits of the Macedonian dynasty made possible the revival of the economic life of the Empire after the 10th century. The demographic and economic expansion of towns following upon the growth of commerce is confirmed by building activity in that period. The walls of fortified urban centres were repaired, new fortresses were erected, and churches were built.
A particular instance is the foundation on Mount Athos and elsewhere of monastic complexes endowed, even by emperors, with considerable landed property. The monasteries employed wage-earning cultivators and villeins to exploit their possessions, thus creating sizeable communities that contributed to the economic and demographic growth of the Macedonian region.
Legislation introduced by the emperors to support small farmers helped to raise the living standards of agrarian population. But, from the 11th century onwards the renunciation of these measures, the support given to the large landowners, who now influenced the sources of power, the disintegration of the administration, and the disproportionate incidence of increased taxation condemned rural populations to wretchedness, a situation made worse by famine and barbarian raids.