1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cleruchy

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CLERUCHY (Gr. κληρουχία, from κλῆρος, a lot, ἔχειν, to have), in ancient Greek history a kind of colony composed of Athenian[1] citizens planted, practically as a garrison, in a conquered country. Strictly, the settlers (cleruchs) were not colonists, inasmuch as they retained their status as citizens of Athens (e.g. ὁ δῆμος ὁ ἐν Ήφαιστίᾳ), and their allotments were politically part of Attic soil. These settlements were of three kinds: (1) where the earlier inhabitants were extirpated or expatriated, and the settlers occupied the whole territory; (2) where the settlers occupied allotments in the midst of a conquered people; and (3) where the inhabitants gave up portions of land to settlers in return for certain pecuniary concessions. The primary object (cf. the 4000 cleruchs settled in 506 B.C. upon the lands of the conquered oligarchs of Euboea, known as the Hippobotae) was unquestionably military, and in the later days of the Delian League the system was the simplest precaution against disaffection on the part of the allies, the strength of whose resentment may be gathered from an inscription (Hicks and Hill, 101 [81]), which, in setting forth the terms of the second Delian Confederacy, expressly forbids the holding of land by Athenians in allied territory.

A secondary object of the cleruchies was social or agrarian, to provide a source of livelihood to the poorer Athenians. Plutarch (Pericles, 11) suggests that Pericles by this means rid the city of the idle and mischievous loafers; but it would appear that the cleruchs were selected by lot, and in any case a wise policy would not deliberately entrust important military duties to recognized wastrels. When we remember that in 50 years of the 5th century some 10,000 cleruchs went out, it is clear that the drain on the citizen population was considerable.

It is impossible to decide precisely how far the state retained control over the cleruchs. Certainly they were liable to military service and presumably to that taxation which fell upon Athenians at home. That they were not liable for the tribute which members of the Delian League paid is clear from the fact that the assessments of places where cleruchs were settled immediately went down considerably (cf. the Periclean cleruchies, 450–445); indeed, this follows from their status as Athenian citizens, which is emphasized by the fact that they retained their membership of deme and tribe. In internal government the cleruchs adopted the Boulē and Assembly system of Athens itself; so we read of Polemarchs, Archons Eponymi, Agoranomi, Strategi, in various places. With a measure of local self-government there was also combined a certain central authority (e.g. in the matter of jurisdiction, some case being tried by the Nautodicae at Athens); in fact we may assume that the more important cases, particularly those between a cleruch and a citizen at home, were tried before the Athenian dicasts. In a few cases, the cleruchs, e.g. in the case of Lesbos (427), were apparently allowed to remain in Athens receiving rent for their allotments from the original Lesbian owners (Thuc. iii. 50); but this represents the perversion of the original idea of the cleruchy to a system of reward and punishment.

See G. Gilbert, Constitutional Antiquities of Athens and Sparta (Eng. trans., London, 1895), but note that Brea, wrongly quoted as an example, is not a cleruchy but a colony (Hicks and Hill, 41 [29]); A. H. J. Greenidge, Handbook of Greek Constitutional Antiquities (London, 1896); for the Periclean cleruchs see Pericles; Delian League.

  1. It seems (Strabo, p. 635) that similar colonies were sent out by the Milesians, e.g. to Leros.