<<

. 20
( 54 .)



>>

of colonists and the borders of Byzantine Roman in¬‚uence.
In particular, Michael Palaiologos is generally portrayed by the historian
as having a strong sense of the geographical aspect of Roman-ness. Early
in his reign the emperor is shown staking a claim to Mesembreia and its
neighbour Anchialos, on the western shore of the Black Sea, against the
claims of the encroaching Bulgarians. He says the loss of these towns ˜would
be to the serious weakening of Rhoma¨s™ (Michael .±µ), and that they
±
were ˜a part of Rhomania™ (Michael .±), and Constantine of Bulgaria
accepted the Byzantine Roman claim that the two towns were part of
Rhoma¨s. There is a strong sense here of the geographical integrity of the
±
empire; it is, however, arguably Pachymeres™ re¬‚ection of policy under
Michael Palaiologos, while his own conceptions were rather different. For
Pachymeres, Romans in the ethnic Roman sense may live in many areas
besides the geographical extent of Rhoma¨s, and while it is ideal that Romans
±
be ruled by Romans, that is, within Rhoma¨s, this will not always be the
±
case: Michael Palaiologos™ claim that the Mesembreians are Romans and
that as such it would not be right for them to be ruled by Bulgarians
is an example of the dif¬culties of maintaining identities on the borders
(Michael .±µ).
Although Pachymeres recounts Michael Palaiologos™ grandiose plans to
reconquer all the territory lost in ±° (cf. Michael ±µ), it is clear the
historian himself had little sympathy with such plans. This comes out
most clearly in his account of the ± negotiations with Prince William
of Achaia in the Peloponnese, who had been captured by the emperor at
the battle of Pelagonia in ±µ. Unable to gain his release by a monetary
ransom, William acknowledged Byzantine Roman supremacy and gave
up land in the Peloponnese in return for his freedom from captivity. In
Pachymeres™ account of the negotiations, there is no hint of any automatic
Byzantine Roman claim to the Peloponnese as Roman land. Writing of the
beginning of the ±µ Pelagonia campaign which was to result in William™s
captivity and eventual submission, Pachymeres introduced William thus:
˜the Prince was autonomous, having inherited all the Achaia and the Morea™
(Michael .±“) “ William™s claim to his principality was thus uncontested.
Some three years after the battle and bargaining for his release, William
recognised Michael Palaiologos as ˜¬rst lord of Romania™ and submitted to
±° Being Byzantine: Greek: identity before the Ottomans
him as basileus (.“·.±); in return, William gained the title of Grand
Domestic. Pachymeres goes on to say that William would have remained
loyal to his undertakings as an of¬cial within the Byzantine Roman state
were it not for the intervention of the pope (.±“·.±).
There is in this account little to suggest that Pachymeres believed the
prince of Achaia to be naturally under the rule of the Roman emperor,
by virtue of owning lands within the historical purview of the Byzantine
Roman empire. Rather, an autonomous ruler agreed to submit because of
the fortunes of war and then escaped the obligations he had signed up to
because of the complicated diplomatic situation between Byzantine Roman
rule and the west. Pachymeres was, then, willing to accept a Latin holding
of¬ce within the Roman state and ruling at least semi-independently under
that state. After all, William did not formally submit all his principality to
Michael Palaiologos (and to the Romans, to use Pachymeres™ wording), but
rather conceded only speci¬c areas. The rest of his principality remained
in his hands; further, the implication is clear that, if William had remained
within the terms of the agreement, there would have been no con¬‚ict in
the Peloponnese. Pachymeres thus accepted Latin rule over an erstwhile
part of the Byzantine Roman empire.
Rhoma¨s is also frequently used by Pachymeres in a political sense to mean
±
the Byzantine Roman state “ of¬ces held within, pragmata of, weakening of
and so on. The most striking example of this must be Michael Palaiologos™
injunction to his pilot to navigate carefully in a storm, ˜since you conduct,
if not the whole world, then all Rhoma¨s in this little boat, since it holds the
±
emperors™ (Michael µ·.°“µ.) Here Rhoma¨s has no territorial aspect at
±
all; the Roman state is the fact of imperial rule.

political, territorial and ethnic identities: the
story so far
For Akropolites, Pachymeres and Choniates the political aspect of Roman
identity was highly signi¬cant, and each historian attempted to cope with
the vast political changes of his time by manipulating the concept and
terminology of the political Roman identity. In the last chapter, we saw
that Choniates had worked within the traditional imperial ideology of
the unique Byzantine Roman emperor ruling over the unique Byzantine
Roman empire. This empire was imagined in two complementary ways:
its territory and its people, the Rhomaioi. To be a Roman was primarily
a political matter of being a subject (or ruler) of this empire, but there
were strong ethnic elements to this identity, including the belief that the
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion ±±
identity was and should be inheritable and that this transgenerational
identity would be manifested in certain outward signs.
The political understanding of Rhomaioi is similarly basic in Akropolites,
but the later historian controlled his use of Roman terminology in order
to drive home the perceived prior claim of Nikaia to the imperial position
against all other claimants. Akropolites™ presentation can only seem incon-
sistent on any close examination. On ¬rst glance it might seem that only
Nikaian subjects could be Romans, but a few key uses reveal that Romans
also lived outside Nikaian rule. However, again, substantial numbers of
people who would seem to have had an equal right to be Roman with,
say, the acknowledged Romans of the Peloponnese or Lentiana are very
explicitly non-Roman. Thus, the territorial aspect of Roman identity is
far less strong. Although this is something Akropolites seems to wish to
de-emphasise, it is no longer a given that Romans should live within the
empire; indeed, signi¬cant groups of Romans are explicitly shown as living
under alien rule. However, the Romans under alien rule were not Akropo-
lites™ main concern; he was more interested in obscuring any possible claim
that the rulers of Epiros might have had to Roman status. This agenda con-
ditioned his presentation of the Romans of Epiros, who are unfavourably
characterised in such a way as to liken them to alien westerners rather than
to Romans.
Under the old imperial ideology, the Rhomaioi had been a single group
united by their allegiance to the imperial rule based in Constantinople.
However, the old markers of this political Roman identity “ rule from
Constantinople, the speaking of Greek, the profession of Orthodox Chris-
tianity, residence in a certain area historically ruled from Constantinople “
were all problematic after ±°. By presenting the opposition as non-
Roman, Akropolites sought to imply a continuity between the pre-±°
rule from Constantinople and the rule from Constantinople after ±±,
but the facts were working against him. It is clear that Akropolites was
also working with an ethnic understanding of Roman identity, and this is
allowed to emerge in the treatment of certain groups of Romans under alien
rule after ±°. Akropolites gives us few hints of the markers that revealed
such non-political Romans nevertheless to be Rhomaioi, but Orthodox
Christianity was surely one such marker as shown by Akropolites™ use of
genos for the Orthodox Christians in Latin Constantinople.
For Pachymeres, the political Roman identity had decreased in impor-
tance compared to the increasingly signi¬cant ethnic Roman identity, but
it still remained a vital element in his overall picture of Roman identity.
This basic importance is most clearly seen in his habit of either avoiding
± Being Byzantine: Greek: identity before the Ottomans
Roman terminology or using alternative terms when dealing with people
who in many ways appeared Roman but were at best only dubiously loyal
to the Byzantine Roman imperial state. However, he is far clearer than
Akropolites about the fact that many Romans were subjects of other states.
Crucially, he strongly implies that their Roman identity, which had contin-
ued to exist despite their political status, should fundamentally determine
that political status: all Romans should feel sentiment for and wish to
support the Byzantine Roman state. The transgenerational ethnic aspect
of Roman identity had thus come to the fore and, perhaps because of
this now accepted phenomenon of ethnic Romans living in large numbers
outside the Roman state, Pachymeres gives more detail about the tangible
markers of Roman identity. Language was the ¬rst obvious example of
such a marker, and Pachymeres contrasts how others said things and how
Romans said them. Appearance was another factor, including hairstyle in
the account of the Romans who went over to the Catalans, and dress (and
language) in Bekkos™ comments on Gregory of Cyprus. More speci¬c is
the reference to the Romans of Asia Minor who revolted to the side of
the Catalans, and made themselves look like their new masters, by shaving
their beards and the hair on their heads “ note, however, that these are still
called Romans (Andronikos .“µ). Pachymeres™ position appears to be
that one can change such externals, but not one™s basic identity, although
this is not de¬nitive.
Another, more subtle, aspect to identity was provided by upbringing.
Bekkos™ accusations against Gregory of Cyprus really came down to this,
and we have also noted the Vasilikoi brothers. Upbringing would ensure
familiarity with the Roman ways of doing things “ to use the old-fashioned
word, with customs. As with externals like language and dress, Pachymeres
suggests that customs, familiarity with Roman ways, could be acquired. A
further, similarly detectable, aspect to identity was character, and this will
be dealt with below in the discussion of the terminology of barbarism.
Although Pachymeres™ characterisation of Roman identity stresses the
political aspect heavily, on an individual level this should be seen as one
element of the ethnic. For Pachymeres, in fact, the empire should be seen
as the most complete expression of Roman customs: the Byzantine Roman
state was an inheritance of the Romans, a transgenerational aspect of their
identity transmitted from generation to generation in the same way as
the fundamentally uncivilised, though not unadmirable, way of life of the
Tatars (cf. Andronikos µ·“). Romans inherited the political aspect along
with everything else “ dress, customs, language, religion. Sometimes, this
political aspect of the ethnic seems highly important (as with the Vasilikoi
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion ±
brothers), but Pachymeres is not entirely consistent; at other times the
political is clearly a less important aspect than all the other ethnic criteria,
as it was entirely feasible to be a Roman but live outside of the Byzantine
Roman state with at best only a theoretical loyalty to the emperor “
for example, the Roman residents of Latin Constantinople. This whole
approach contrasts strongly with Choniates™ treatment of the Romans
living in Ikonion. Most extraordinary of all, there could be Romans living
outside the empire, explicitly loyal to another political power, and even
ceasing to look like Romans “ but still Roman. As all these examples show
in different ways, upbringing or life changes were capable of determining
or altering a great deal, but could not change one™s basic ethnic identity
which, in the ¬nal analysis, depended on birth and ancestry “ the ethnic
group one was born into. It is this notion of birth that is the fundamental
aspect of Roman identity for Pachymeres.
All Pachymeres™ aspects of identity, then, fundamentally rest on a trans-
generational quality that it was all but impossible to overcome. Language,
customary dress and appearance, ways of worshipping, modes of behaviour,
type of character at the individual and state level, all depended on the fact
of your birth and added up to a complex nexus that could never be wholly
created in the course of one lifetime, or wholly done away with. On an
individual level, the Roman political identity was one aspect of the Roman
identity nexus.

akropolites and pachymeres: other forms of
self-identi¬cation
Rhomaios is by far the dominant term in both historians for the group
with which they identi¬ed themselves and, as has been suggested so far,
this carried connotations of political allegiance and/or ethnic descent. For
Akropolites, Rhomaios is really the only self-identifying term, apart from
a use of ˜we™, which is used especially in contrast to the Epirots. As noted
above, he completely avoids the use of Rhomaioi for the Epirots; he also
reduces his use of Rhomaioi for Nikaians too in situations of direct con¬‚ict
with Epiros (cf. ±“µ°, ±·±“). Akropolites™ use of Rhomaios to denote
the Nikaians is, as noted, highly politicised and conscious; his avoidance
of Rhomaios for his own side when relating con¬‚icts between Nikaia and
Epiros may thus re¬‚ect a more unconscious recognition of a shared ethnic
Roman identity between the people of both successor states.
Akropolites also occasionally uses ˜we™ to denote Nikaians in contrast
to other peoples, for example Bulgarians, westerners or Muslim easterners.
± Being Byzantine: Greek: identity before the Ottomans
The use appears relatively emotive: the Bulgarians felt ˜enmity towards us™
(.±), ˜the race of the Latins always nurse hatred towards us . . . they
looked for an opportunity to attack us™ (µ.±“°), ¬‚eeing into exile in
the ±µ°s Michael Palaiologos was vehemently attacked by the emperor
Theodore II Laskaris as ˜fugitive from us™ (±.). The uses of ˜we™ as
contrasted to Bulgarians and Latins could be understood as signifying
the Romans as a race. However, Akropolites most often uses ˜we™ in a
more strictly Nikaian context, as with the Epirots and Michael Palaiologos,
con¬rming his fundamental loyalties (for example, ·.±±, µ.±“°).
Pachymeres™ use of ˜we™ is more pervasive and in many ways similar
to that of Choniates. The earlier historian had used ˜we™ to denote the
Romans in a political sense, and with all the same associations, and his use
of ˜we™ had become more frequent in more emotive situations, as when
the empire was under attack. Thus, for Pachymeres, too, ˜we™ is commonly
equivalent to Rhomaioi. It is used in military contexts, for example with
strateuma (Michael ±.“±°), and the sense of a collective citizenry also
emerges, for example, Michael VIII Palaiologos seems to be acting ˜in our
interests™ (Michael ±·.±“±µ). As noted above, Pachymeres also uses ˜we™
to signify Nikaian Romans when discussing the ¬‚uctuating loyalties of the
thelematarioi; he uses a similar approach for the people of western Greece
before ±±: ˜the westerners at one time inclined to us and at another to
them™ (Michael °.±“±). It is possible that, like Akropolites before him,
Pachymeres may at some level have wanted to avoid using Rhomaioi for
only one side in the Nikaian“Epirot con¬‚ict.
Pachymeres also shares with Choniates the importance of Christianity
as an essential element of what it was to be Roman. For Pachymeres, the
importance of the Christian identity may be illustrated by his frequent
adoption of ˜we™ in reference to the Orthodox church and its leaders, with
whom he was personally most active in the great events of his day (see
especially Michael .±). However, this Christian identity, like the polit-
ical and ethnic already examined, was fraught with dif¬culties. How could
it be otherwise in Pachymeres™ time? The Orthodox church was racked by
internal schism as a direct result of Michael Palaiologos™ violent usurpation
of power from the legitimate emperor John IV Laskaris. Patriarch Arsenios
had excommunicated the emperor, and had therefore been deposed and
replaced in his turn, but feelings ran strong and Arsenios retained a great
deal of support. On top of this, the church was also often in direct con¬‚ict
with the emperor under the challenge of union with the church of Rome.
Pachymeres sometimes uses ˜we™ to denote Orthodox Christians in
contrast to western Christians (Michael ·±.±±“± and ±, ·µ.“·); again,
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion ±µ
however, the terminology of Christianity is often invoked by Pachymeres
as it had been by Choniates as an appeal to end con¬‚ict with fellow Chris-
tians, for example with Epiros (Michael ±.“) or the Angevins (Michael
µ.±“±·). He uses ˜we™ in this more inclusive sense also: ˜Christians should
not attack Christians, lest we rouse the wrath of God™ (Michael ±°.±“±,
my emphasis). This Christian identity in its fullest sense was thus broader
than the Roman, although the Roman identity of course continued to
include Christianity as a necessary component; see the patriarch™s address
to ˜Romans and Christians™ (Andronikos .µ). This appeal is, though, a
rare example of the Roman and Christian identities being explicitly linked;
more typically they were not associated.
It is against this background that one should consider the problem of
Pachymeres™ terminology of identity in his account of Michael Palaiolo-
gos™ doomed attempts at church union. At times, Pachymeres abandons
altogether the terminology of Roman-ness for the Byzantine Roman side
in the controversy, when on some ten occasions he refers to the Byzan-
tine side as ˜Greek™ “ Graikos.µ In fact, he consciously and explicitly
adopts the terminology of the western Latins to use in relation to his own
people, as he shows on the ¬rst occasion of such use, saying that ˜the
Romans, whom they (i.e. westerners) call Greeks, are of the same church
and Christ as the Italians™ (Michael µ.±±“±). Moreover, he goes one step
further on three occasions when he applies ˜Roman™ to the westerners.
After the Union of Lyons in ±·, the mass was celebrated in the Church
of the Holy Wisdom Graik¤v te ¾mo“ kaª <Rwma·k¤v, ˜in the Greek and

<<

. 20
( 54 .)



>>