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was ¬tting™ (±µ.±“°). It should be noted that these foreigners could and
did speak good Greek, and this was perhaps a mark of their inclusion in
the Byzantine Roman state, in contrast to their more alien and less ¬‚uent
compatriots living apart from and inimical to the Romans.
Thus, the conventional division between Romans and barbarians (with
the latter being everyone else) is no longer so clear-cut in Akropolites,
and any idea of barbarian encirclement of the Romans is entirely lacking.
Westerners, and even more surprisingly the ˜pagan™ easterners, are never
identi¬ed as barbarians. Akropolites™ account of the ordeal of hot iron,
described as barbarian and un¬tting for a Roman, has attracted attention
as possibly exemplifying western legal practices at the court of Nikaia,
but this possibility is not enough to show that Akropolites saw western-
ers as barbarian, particularly given his total neglect of the term in this
respect, in strong contrast to Choniates. Nevertheless, some of the adjec-
tival uses of the barbarian terminology are suggestive of the fundamental
Roman/barbarian dichotomy in a familiar exercise of Byzantine Roman
rhetoric. The difference between the two is seen to rest essentially on the
contrast between civilised, urban and imperial society, and the uncivilised,
inhuman and nomadic; as such, the distinction is more speci¬c than the
vaguer and more generalised dichotomy employed by Choniates.

In some ways, Pachymeres marks a return to the more conventional
approach of Choniates. He applies the terminology of barbarism far more
widely than Akropolites, but at thirty-¬ve occurrences is nowhere near as
lavish with it as Choniates (Appendix ±, pp. “µ). Bulgarians, Tatars,
Turks, Serbians and Alans are described by him as barbarian, but not the
French, Franks in the Aegean region, or Latin clerics; Catalans, however,
were barbarian, and so were the English. Barbaros is most commonly used
by Pachymeres in a Bulgarian context; however, this is overwhelmingly
in application to the individual Lachanas, who had risen from being a
swineherd to marry the Byzantine princess who was queen mother for the
child-heir in Bulgaria in the late ±·°s (Michael µµ, µ“·, µ). Simi-
larly, out of three uses in a Catalan context, two are speci¬cally applied to
the Catalan leader Roger de Flor in the context of his leadership of the
violent, acquisitive and disrespectful Catalan mercenaries (Andronikos µ±,
µµ). Half of the Serbian references apply to the elderly and formidable
Kral Stefan Milutin in the context of his regrettable marriage with the
Byzantine child-princess Simonis in ± (Andronikos ·±, ). In each of
these ˜individual™ applications, then, there is a strong and speci¬c reference
to unpleasant character and behaviour.
±
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion
As a people rather than in reference to a speci¬c individual, it is Turks
who are most often called barbarians, but the numbers “ just three out of
four references “ are not suf¬cient to draw ¬rm conclusions. Considering
how rarely they occur in the story, it is actually the Alans who are referred
to as barbarians in the densest fashion and as a mass rather than individuals
(Andronikos °“±°). Again then, in terms of relative density (above, p. °)
it is northerners that are most barbarian, followed by the Muslim easterners.
This is again reminiscent of how Choniates™ use of the terminology of
barbarism showed up some peoples as more barbarian than others.
A few conclusions can be drawn, with regard to religion, territorial ori-
gin and behaviour. There remained for Pachymeres a strong connection
between being barbarian and being non-Christian; thus the Turks could
casually be called barbarian, typically without any behavioural connec-
tion. Turks also came from beyond the limits of Byzantine Roman power,
though now generally living within the older boundaries, and there may
thus also have remained a territorial association with barbarism. Bulgar-
ians and Serbs in Pachymeres™ day still carried strong associations with
barbarism from their past, i.e., though now settled in kingdoms within the
historical limits of the Byzantine Roman empire, they came originally from
beyond the limits of the Roman oikoumene and had a history of raiding
and nomadism before (and after) their Christianisation that had become
entrenched in the Byzantine Roman world picture as archetypically bar-
barian. Their barbarian nature was thus behavioural as much as religious
and, like Choniates, Pachymeres often re¬‚ects this in tying his usage of
the terminology of barbarism in their case to regrettable behaviour, as with
Lachanas (see Michael .±· and .“) and Stefan Milutin (Andronikos
·±.±µ). The Alans, as nomadic and of distant origin, remained typically
barbarian. As for the English, their distant origin was probably enough to
ensure barbarian status; and they were further speci¬cally associated with
the Varangian guard who, as the barbarian guards of the emperor, were in
a way the classic barbarians for the Romans.
Territorial origin may also lie behind Pachymeres™ ascription of barbarian
status to Emperor John Komnenos of Trebizond, which seems at ¬rst
sight astonishing (Michael µ°.±°). The empire of Trebizond, based on
the coast of the Black Sea, was the third of the Roman successor states
that had emerged from the disaster of ±°. In the early years after the
Latin conquest, the empire of Trebizond had clashed with the empire of


 Above, pp. “±.
± Being Byzantine: Greek: identity before the Ottomans
Nikaia for hegemony in Asia Minor; Nikaia had won out and Trebizond
had concentrated on its heartlands towards the east. Ruled by an imperial
Roman family, and in its court procedures and titles viewing itself as a
Byzantine Roman empire, it is noteworthy that Trebizond™s very existence
was as far as possible ignored by the historians of Constantinople and
Nikaia, and when it is mentioned it is customary for its Roman-ness
to be downplayed. After the recapture of Constantinople in ±±, it was
necessary for the Trapezuntines to come to some kind of accord with
Michael VIII Palaiologos, and in ± the Trapezuntine emperor John II
Grand Komnenos settled a treaty with Michael by which John accepted the
lesser title of despot; this is the context for Pachymeres™ slighting reference.
The location of the Trapezuntine empire on ˜the barbarian sea™ was enough
to provide an erudite tool with which to put this upstart in his place.
According to the ancient paradigm, the Black Sea was a classic frontier
between the civilised and the barbarian, lying between the urbanised living
of the Greeks and the nomadism of the steppe. As such this reference
may be compared to Akropolites™ dismissal of Theodore Doukas™ attempts
at empire in Epiros as ˜more barbarian™ (.“±). These two references are
examples of the use of the terminology of barbarism for political ends, by
denying Roman status to a potentially awkward rival. In both cases, the
perceived peripheral location gave added weight to the slight.
With regard to the Catalans, it is likely that their behaviour alone gave
them barbarian status, as they pillaged their way across Byzantine Roman
territory. In all other regards, the Catalans would have seemed just like other
˜Franks™ or ˜Italians™ to most Romans in Constantinople; and Andronikos
II employed them as mercenaries in just the same way as the Laskarids and
Michael Palaiologos had employed westerners before. The Franks of the
Aegean region and Syria, the French in their own country and Latin clerics
were not barbarians to Pachymeres. This is in contrast to Choniates: it is
therefore clear that the old dichotomy of Roman/barbarian had entirely
disappeared. It would seem that just as the Christian identity had widened
to include signi¬cant groups of non-Romans, so the barbarian identity
had shrunk, again to accommodate important groupings who were now
neither Roman nor barbarian. Overall, then, the pattern of usage of the
terminology of barbarism in Pachymeres, and in particular the speci¬c
usage of barbarian in relation to Roger de Flor, Lachanas and Milutin,
supports the use of barbarian as moral judgement as much as ethnographic
identi¬er.


 King °°: µ“·; Laiou ±: ±°±“; Eastmond °°: µ.
±µ
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion
The terminology of ethnicity
It is interesting to correlate Pachymeres™ usage of the terminology of bar-
barism with his use of the terms genos and ethnos. While the evidence
is not conclusive, it seems that ethnos is the ˜group term™ for barbarians,
while genos (in its ethnic, non-family sense) is applied to non-barbarians.
Only ethnos is used with relation to the Turks and Alans, and it is heavily
predominant in references to the scattered tribes beyond the Black Sea,
who would surely be classi¬ed as barbarian (e.g. Michael ±.±±, ±±. for
Turks, Andronikos °·.±, ±µ.± for Alans and Michael .±·“± for north-
ern tribes). On the other hand, genos is used for the peoples of the Italian
trading cities, with only a single exception (Andronikos .±, where it is
used to signify ˜Christian peoples™). The evidence is not so conclusive with
relation to the Bulgarians; with only three references ethnos is used twice to
genos once. Pachymeres does not appear happy with either term in relation
to Byzantine Romans; genos appears restricted to its sense of family/descent
(where it is widely used), and ethnos is only used in what appears to be
an insult along the lines of ˜Where on earth did you spring from?™, as
Michael Palaiologos questions the actions of Patriarch Arsenios, who was
so virulently opposed to him (Michael ±.°): as an implied insult, this
would however ¬t with the barbarian connotations of ethnos.
This is broadly reminiscent of the use of the terminology of ethnicity
in Choniates, where as we have seen the treatment of genos and ethnos is,
while not so clear-cut, nevertheless suggestive of a similar, broad distinction
between ethnos “ foreign, inferior and barbaric, and genos “ non-alien,
familial and often noble. We have noted how both writers had occasion
to use genos in an indication of Roman ethnic identity, and indeed both
are happy to use genos or ethnos for the Romans, with a slight leaning
towards the former. A similar correlation may be perceived in Akropolites.
He uses ethnos in relation to westerners only for the western squadron
in the Nikaian army (±°.±“); the term is otherwise used, and that
sparingly, for northern and eastern peoples “ Bulgarians, Tatars, Cumans,
Turkomans and Albanians “ or else very generally. Speci¬c references are
singular while the general references are plural and by implication probably
include the Romans: the ethne are to be understood as ˜everybody™, ˜the
whole world™. In contrast, Akropolites employs genos far more widely for all
groups, including western subgroups like the Venetians, Bulgarians, Tatars,
Cumans and Romans. Akropolites™ use of ethnos, then, is comparable to his
use of barbaros; it is limited in its speci¬c application to northerners, with
the addition of the Turkomans “ another nomadic people. Westerners and
Romans do not appear as barbaroi, or as ethne except in the generalised
± Being Byzantine: Greek: identity before the Ottomans
sense, and for Akropolites the Byzantine Romans were more comparable
to other peoples, lacking the distinctive special status which they had been
accorded by Choniates.

Otherness: conclusions
To sum up, while usage of ˜Roman™ terminology remained fairly con-
stant over the thirteenth century, usage of the terminology of barbarism
underwent considerable development. At the close of the twelfth century,
barbaros could be used for anyone who was not a Roman. This applied
equally to non-Romans in the political sense, i.e. people living outside
the territory of the empire, and to non-Romans in the ethnic sense, i.e.
residents of the empire who were not by birth and family history Roman.
On the eve of the Fourth Crusade, westerners could thus happily be called
barbarians, although it was true that on a scale of barbarism they were far
nearer to the Romans than they were to the archetypal nomadic barbarians
of the northern Balkans or the pagan barbarians to the east. The Byzan-
tine Romans were surrounded by barbarians, and the world consisted of
Romans and barbarians. For Akropolites, writing in the second half of the
thirteenth century, barbarians played a far less important role, probably
because the focus of his work was the rise to greatness of Nikaia, and this
was as much, if not more, a matter of internal Roman rivalry as of con¬‚ict
with external foes. However, the Nikaians clearly had to contend with
the Latins based in Constantinople and there is no hint that these were
classed as barbarians. On the evidence of Akropolites™ History, westerners
had ceased to be barbarians and the world was now made up of Romans,
barbarians and certain others. The Roman“barbarian dichotomy had not
entirely disappeared; there was a strong contrast between Roman and bar-
barian ways of behaviour that served to emphasise the perceived virtues of
the Byzantine Roman system: founded on long-standing institutions, liter-
ate, disciplined and hallowed by the Orthodox Christian religion. Writing
at the end of the thirteenth century, Pachymeres too saw the world as made
up of Romans, barbarians and others, and as in Akropolites westerners
broadly came into the ¬nal category, although Pachymeres contrasts the
Roman character, moderate and civilised, with the cruelty and immod-
eration of the barbarian or Latin (see, for example, Andronikos µ·). His
lengthy excursus on the Tatars (Michael µ“·), very much along the lines
of the ˜noble savage™ brand of ethnography, con¬rms a belief in character as
typifying different ethne. The Gasmouloi, whose character is speci¬ed and
¬xed as a mixture of the best in both Romans and Latins, further con¬rm
The thirteenth century: ambition, euphoria and the loss of illusion ±·
this aspect. However, the contrast between Roman and barbarian ways of
operating is not so clearly set out, and barbarism can sometimes seem more
a matter of individual personality than ethnic characterisation.
The arrival of westerners as conquerors, occupiers and rulers within the
territory historically ruled from Constantinople effected a change in how
these westerners were perceived. Although in the shock of conquest Choni-
ates™ reaction against westerners hardened, as the years went by the Romans
got to know the incoming westerners as more like themselves. These west-
erners, moreover, were ruling in the imperial fashion in Constantinople,
and this was a Byzantine Roman and not a barbarian model. These ˜others™
were too similar to the Romans: Christian, urbanised, living in structured
societies that the Romans had to recognise and deal with as comparable to
their own. Close proximity thus served to highlight similarities as much as
differences, making it more and more dif¬cult for the Byzantine Romans
to maintain their exalted self image and leading them to begin to view
themselves as less singular and superior.
chapter 5

The nightmare of the fourteenth century




It is hard to express the debilitated misery of the Byzantine Roman empire
in the fourteenth century “ a period of repeated civil war, religious hatred
and foreign invasions. It is now necessary to trace the course of that century,
an age of decline for the empire of the Romans to such an extent that by
the end of the century it had become a tributary state of the Ottomans.
How did things get so bad?

At the end of the discussion on Akropolites and Pachymeres, we left the
empire of the Byzantine Romans under the rule of Andronikos II Palaiol-
ogos: Constantinople had been regained by Andronikos™ father Michael
VIII, who had also neutralised the western threat of the Angevins; how-
ever, Michael had also stirred up a great deal of unhelpful religious fervour
and, as the new century dawned, the Ottomans and the Catalans had
presented fresh threats.±
After the disasters against the Ottomans and the Catalans, the second
decade of the fourteenth century onwards was a period of stabilisation
under Andronikos II. The treasury was brought back to health, although
at the expense of substantial military cutbacks. Epiros and Thessaly were
inching back into the imperial fold while, in the Peloponnese, Byzantine
Roman power was growing at the expense of the Frankish principality,
which was torn between rival claimants. However, in ±° the untimely
death of the heir presumptive Michael IX Palaiologos, son of Andronikos
II, precipitated a crisis. It was believed that Michael™s death had been
hastened by the misadventures of his son Andronikos, and in ±± the
young Andronikos was consequently deprived of his title of co-emperor
and debarred from the succession. This was a provocation to the younger
generation who were tired of the four-decade rule of Andronikos II, which


± Above, pp. ±°“±±.

±
±
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
seemed to them to have brought neither glory nor pro¬t. In a ¬rst out-
break of civil war, Andronikos II was forcibly constrained to recognise his
grandson™s claims: the younger Andronikos was named co- (though junior)
emperor and crowned accordingly in ±µ. However, this was not enough
for the younger man, and civil war broke out once more in ±·. Andronikos
III seized Constantinople in the following year, and Andronikos II was then

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