336 Egypt and the Byzantine Empire landlord, paying rent for the holding which had once been his property, and tied to the land he tilled, but at least safe from the exactions of the public tax-gatherers. It was in vain that the government, all through the fourth century, struggled against the extension of the colonate; the steady pressure of economic forces, the great landowners eager to increase the area of their estates and the number of their clients, the peasants seeing in the new relationship their only means of escape from intolerable conditions, was too strong to be resisted by imperial constitutions. At last, in 415, the government yielded, and a constitution of that year recognized, in Egypt, the rights of patronage acquired before the year 397. Later acquisitions were pronounced illegal and the name of patron was to be abolished. Even this compromise solution was ineffective; the name of patron did not die, and the process of absorption by the larger estates continued. It involved more than the private land. The practice by which landowners were saddled with the duty of cultivating parcels of domain land for which no tenant could be found had become so fully established by the end of the third century that domain and private land were fused, and the former seems to have passed with the latter into the possession of the great landlords. When, after the ill-documented fifth century, we reach the age of Justinian the change is obvious. Even so late as the early fourth century rural Egypt was still divided for the most part between the domain land of various categories and private land held mostly in small or medium-sized properties. In the sixth we find that the royal and public land has practically dis- appeared and the characteristic feature of the rural scene is formed by the estates of the great nobles, powerful enough, within certain limits, to defy the imperial authority. These estates were administered by a bureaucracy modelled on that of the empire and to some extent bearing the same titles. Their owners had their own postal services, their fleets of Nile boats.