<<

. 24
( 54 .)



>>

in Byzantine Roman culture back to the eleventh century.°
Overall, Kantakouzenos™ Histories have attracted widely varying opin-
ions. Nicol saw Kantakouzenos as fundamentally honest, and his history
as a justi¬cation which tried to tell the whole truth from the perspective
of ˜the reluctant emperor™; in contrast, Ljubarskij has described the work
as ¬ction rather than history, a conscious rewriting of events to the greater
glory of the author.± Certainly, even a cursory look at the career of John
Kantakouzenos “ closely implicated in the origins of two bouts of civil
war and instrumental in bringing Serbs and Ottomans into the territory
of the empire “ suggests that he was irresponsible, if not amoral, in the
pursuit of his own advantage. It is also clear that he does not always tell the
whole story: signi¬cant details of the Ottoman conquests in Asia Minor
are omitted. Where all agree on Kantakouzenos, however, is that his Histo-
ries constitute a consummate exercise in the Greek language, a skilful and
lucid homage to Thucydides; again, it is remarkable as a rare explicitly
autobiographical exercise in Byzantine Roman literature. We should

± Hunger ±·.
° Angold ±: ·“, µ“µ; Hinterberger ±: ±“±; Kazhdan and Epstein ±µ: °“°; Macrides
°°·: “·; Magdalino ±b: °, °±“.
± Kazhdan ±°: ·“µ; Ljubarskij ±: ±·; Nicol ±·a: ±; Nicol ±: ±·“·°.
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
therefore be careful in using Kantakouzenos™ history as a guide to events;
however, it provides an invaluable glimpse into the world view and social
attitudes of the Byzantine aristocracy, and is thus very useful for our present
purposes.
The historical works of Gregoras and Kantakouzenos, then, permit us
to compare and contrast the approach of two exact contemporaries who
were close friends from the same elite milieu yet nevertheless had differing
loyalties and outlooks. Given the huge scale of their works (Gregoras in
particular), I have chosen two periods for close examination: the reign of
Andronikos III from ± to ±± (Roman History ix“xi and Histories ii)
and the ¬rst half of the reign of John VI Kantakouzenos, from ±· to ±µ°
(Roman History xv“xviii and Histories iv, to chapter  only). Both sections
cover periods of controversy in terms of Byzantine Roman imperial rule:
Andronikos III came to the throne in a military coup d™´tat, thrusting his
e
grandfather into early retirement, while John VI Kantakouzenos won his
throne through civil war. In avoiding sections dealing overtly with these
civil con¬‚icts, it is possible to maintain the focus on the relationships
between Romans and others, particularly westerners.

Picking up on the themes highlighted by the analysis of the writers of
the thirteenth century, this discussion of Gregoras and Kantakouzenos will
focus in turn on the political Roman identity, the ethnic Roman identity
and the treatment of other peoples.

the political roman identity in the fourteenth century
Back in the days of the Komnenoi, as shown by Choniates, the political
Roman identity and the ethnic Roman identity were largely congruent.
Romans were those who lived within the empire “ in an actual or ideal
sense “ and who accepted and expected the rule of the emperor in Con-
stantinople. Moreover, birth was an important part of this identity as it
was transgenerational: Romans belonged to families who were Romans
in the territorial and political senses before them, and they should expect
that their posterity would also be Romans in a like sense after them.
The political identity was thus also an ethnic identity, and certain ethnic
markers were relied upon to indicate this transgenerational ethnic identity.
These markers emerged more strongly than before in Choniates™ account
of the immediate aftermath of the fall of Constantinople in ±°, raising at
least the possibility of an ethnic Roman identity independent of political
loyalties.
±·
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
In the thirteenth century, there are signs that the political Roman identity
was becoming more and more distinct. Akropolites wanted to limit any
Roman identity to those politically loyal to the empire (or his Nikaian
version of it at least). However, the content of his narration compelled him
very occasionally to acknowledge the existence of Romans outside any kind
of Roman empire. The political identity is not entirely absent here: the
Romans living under Latin rule in the Peloponnese could be called Romans
because of their historical allegiances “ the transgenerational aspect of the
political identity. However, the political identity is undoubtedly minimal
here, reduced to one aspect of the ethnic identity.
Pachymeres was more ready than Akropolites to accept Romans outside
the empire, and thus an ethnic Roman identity with minimum political
content, although his use of special group names reveals the continuing
fundamentality of imperial allegiance. For Pachymeres, political Roman-
ness is extremely important, as he clearly believes that the Roman ethnic
identity (revealed by various markers) should coincide with political loy-
alty to the Roman state. For Pachymeres, birth identity is pre-eminent,
so that if you are born a Roman that is what you will remain, no matter
what else might happen. Political loyalty as a Byzantine Roman impe-
rial subject could be one aspect of this birth identity. In some instances,
as with Akropolites™ Peloponnesians and the pro-Catalan Romans in
Pachymeres, people are identi¬ed as Romans when their only connec-
tion with political Roman-ness can be historical “ an aspect of their birth
identity.
For both Akropolites and Pachymeres, then, the political identity
remains extremely strong even if, under pressure of circumstances, they
have been forced to acknowledge the existence of Romans individually
devoid of political loyalty. The collective political Roman identity is still
very important to them, and it feeds into their presentation of these ethnic
Romans. In many cases it is explicitly expected that ethnic identity should
condition political loyalty “ imperial allegiance is thus seen as a natural
part of being Roman. However, this is not always the case, and the actu-
ality which the historians present cannot always be reconciled with their
preferred model of Roman-ness.
In the historians of the fourteenth century the political and ethnic
Roman identities divide further. In Gregoras and Kantakouzenos it is
possible to see that the Roman political identity is now largely separate
from the ethnic identity in that it is a collective expression of the state and
much less one of the many ethnic markers that make up an individual™s
Roman-ness.
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
It should come as no surprise that the political Roman identity, the domi-
nant ideology of the empire and the fundamental expression of Roman-ness
in the historians of the thirteenth century, should continue to dominate in
the fourteenth century “ despite the very obvious and painful vicissitudes
of the imperial state. This was the framework that all educated Byzantine
Romans were unable to elude in any consideration of themselves and their
empire. Thus, in both Gregoras and Kantakouzenos, the conception of
Roman identity is overwhelmingly political and collective.
Like their predecessors, both authors repeatedly use the genitive formula,
and overwhelmingly this formula is employed with clear political associa-
tions (see Appendix ±, pp. µ“, ·“). In both authors, the use of the
genitive formula underlines the fundamental conception of the Rhomaioi
as the collective mass that constitutes the state and goes beyond the literal
to represent the idea of the empire. As we have seen, this is familiar from
the historians of the thirteenth century who have already been analysed,
and on further back into the ¬rst millennium.
For Gregoras, pragmata is by far the most frequently occurring item in the
genitive formula, and in Gregoras this can generally be understood as ˜the
empire™, with the sense of its political health or lack of the same. Hegemonia
denoting Byzantine Roman imperial authority, chora and basileus are also
repeated in this formula, along with tyche (political fortunes), which is
particularly important in Gregoras. The emphasis on the political is clear,
and all these uses require an understanding of the collective sense. Military
associations are also frequent in Gregoras™ use of the genitive formula, and
the vast majority of these military uses of the genitive formula again have a
clear collective, political, sense: for example strat©a (stratia: army, Roman
History xvi.·.±“±), dynamis (ix..±) , st»lov (stolos: ¬‚eet, xvii..±)
and so on.
Kantakouzenos likewise makes repeated use of the genitive formula. In
Book ii, stratia occurs most frequently and wholly in the collective sense.
Next most frequent are hegemonia and basileus, with basileia, pragmata,
arche, and koin»v (koinos: community) each also employed more than
once. On the evidence of Book ii, then, Kantakouzenos™ conception of
Roman-ness is, like that of Gregoras, dominantly political. This is made
even more emphatically clear on consideration of the selection from Book
iv, where the vast majority of occurrences of the genitive formula are clearly
political. Hegemonia is the overwhelmingly dominant item in Book iv, with
basileia, basileus and arche also noticeably frequent, while stratia drops to a
mere ¬ve occurrences. There is far less military action in Book iv, so this
change in frequency is no surprise.
±
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
It is noticeable that hegemonia has emerged as a newly signi¬cant term
in the fourteenth century. It largely replaces arche as the characteristic term
for the fact of political control, be it Byzantine Roman or of some other
state, and it is the dominant term in this context in both Gregoras and the
later Kantakouzenos. This may re¬‚ect a fresh familiarity with the ancient
historical writings of Thucydides, for whom hegemonia was a centrally
important political term. Kantakouzenos™ debt to Thucydides is especially
clear, and the writings of Gregoras™ mentor Theodore Metochites and
Kantakouzenos™ chief minister Demetrios Kydones show great familiarity
with the classical historian.
In their use of the genitive formula, then, both Gregoras and Kantak-
ouzenos reveal a political emphasis to their conceptions of Roman identity,
with Kantakouzenos if anything the more extreme in this respect. This
is further brought out in the use of the plain formula (see Appendix ±,
pp. µ, ·). In Gregoras, more than half of the occurrences of the plain
formula over the whole selection are clearly political, with purely political
contexts once more including the empire having enemies and allies, being
the subject of loyalty or having control, or having good or bad fortune.
Kantakouzenos employs the plain formula far more frequently, with well
over half of the occurrences having political associations. That is to say, in
Kantakouzenos, Rhomaioi is often used in a collective sense as the body
which makes war, peace or alliances, which owns the allegiance of various
territories or cities, which fares ill or well, and which owes loyalty to the
emperor.
So it is clear that the genitive formula and the plain formula are of
importance to both writers in denoting and emphasising the political
identity that is central to their conceptions of Roman-ness. To focus on
Kantakouzenos, he repeatedly uses the genitive formula to denote the
Byzantine Roman state through such concrete concept terms as hegemonia,
arche and basileia, the fundamental Roman ruler-term of basileus and the
more ¬‚uid pragmata, with its connotations of political ¬‚uctuation. The
plain formula is also most commonly used to denote the collective identity
of the subjects of the emperor and the imperial state.
Moreover, Kantakouzenos™ understanding of ˜(the) Romans™ in a col-
lective sense may also be exempli¬ed in his use of the de¬nite article in
both the genitive and plain formulas, which is striking enough to sug-
gest a pattern (which cannot, however, be detected in any other of the


 Fryde °°°: µ, .
±µ° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
historians considered here). Kantakouzenos inclines markedly to non-use
of the article, in both the genitive and plain formulas, in any context of
the Byzantine Roman state as a collective totality of its subjects, and such a
pattern of usage is suggestive of an absolutism in Kantakouzenos™ Roman
political identity, whereby he means to denote less a group of individuals
and more a monolithic political entity with an identity of its own indepen-
dent of its constituents. Kantakouzenos™ usage of the de¬nite article may
be more worthy of note than the inconsistent and inconclusive patterns
of usage in any of the other elite writers. All in all, the primary aspect in
Roman identity for Kantakouzenos, as for Gregoras, is clearly the exercise
of a special political power, and the Byzantine Roman state is the essence
of being Roman.

As we have seen, the strong conception of Roman territory is consid-
erably weaker in both Akropolites and Pachymeres than it had been in
Choniates. Akropolites in particular very speci¬cally needed to skirt the
awkward issue of multiple Roman authorities in what had historically been
Byzantine Roman territory, so his downplaying of this aspect is unsurpris-
ing. Pachymeres, in contrast, shows that he was well aware of the imperial
rhetoric of Roman land (Michael ), but equally that he himself had little
patience with such an approach (above, p. ±±) In contrast, both Gregoras
and Kantakouzenos have a strong conception of Byzantine Roman terri-
tory, and in this they are reminiscent of Choniates, who had emphatically
seen the empire as having a territorial expression as well as its expression
as a collectivity of people ruled by the emperor. In fact, this sense of a
territorial aspect to Roman-ness seems stronger in the fourteenth century
than it had been in the thirteenth, and it is possible that this is a defensive
reaction to the collapse of the empire. Alternatively, this may be because
the political Roman identity was now far more of a theoretical construct
and less a matter of a felt individual identity.
Both writers, then, display a strong conception of territory being Roman
in essence, even if temporarily ruled by others. One example in both is the
island of Chios: in ±, Andronikos iii was able to expel the Genoese from
this pro¬table island, and Gregoras legitimises this expulsion, saying, ˜For
the island belongs to Romans™ (Roman History ix..±). Somewhat more
subtly, on the recovery of Epiros in ±±, he comments, ˜thus the whole of
the province (eparchia) of old called Epiros became subject to the rule of
the Romans™ (xi.µµ.±“±). The key word here is eparchia; in choosing to
call the area a ˜province™, Gregoras was able to emphasise that this was a
±µ±
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
return to the Byzantine Roman imperial fold for Epiros, not a matter of
new acquisition, and the period of non-Roman rule was thus marked as
transitory and without validity.
Kantakouzenos shares this sense of certain lands belonging to the
Romans even when these lands are threatened or taken and, although on
the subject of Chios he is far less direct than Gregoras, his treatment con-
veys much the same message, as he speaks of recovery by (anaktasthai) and
restoration to (apodidonai) the Romans (Histories ii.·°.±“±µ, iv.·°.±“
°). However, this motif of rightful reacquisition is again and most strongly
to be observed in Kantakouzenos™ treatment of the recovery of Epiros in
the ±°s “ very much his own personal achievement.
As we have seen, Epiros had been effectively independent of imperial
control, whether from Nikaia or from Constantinople, since ±°. In ±µ,
the empire was given the opportunity to intervene in the area on the death
of the Epirot ruler John Orsini. Orsini™s widow Anna Palaiologina, who
was distantly related to Andronikos III, took over as regent on behalf of her
young son Nikephoros. Anna agreed to submit to the emperor and so Epiros
was formally reunited with the empire. However, there was some local
opposition, and this was fomented by the Angevins who had titular claim to
parts of Epiros and saw the opportunity to secure these and more; crucially,
Nikephoros was smuggled over to Italy before the Byzantine Romans could
remove him. Nevertheless, Andronikos III set up a Byzantine Roman
provincial administration in Epiros under Theodore Synadenos (Histories
i.µ“µ°). In ±, rebels aided by the Angevins seized Synadenos, and
Nikephoros, by now engaged to an Angevin princess, came over to head
up the revolt in ±. Andronikos III and Kantakouzenos returned in
force to Epiros in ±° and by the end of that year the revolt was over “
largely through negotiation, apparently orchestrated by Kantakouzenos
(Histories i.µ°“).
These negotiations are the context for Kantakouzenos™ version of a
speech delivered by himself to the rebels at Arta, in which he gives a
fascinating account of the years of and following the Latin conquest of
±°. In this speech, which it is worth citing at length, the ˜Angeloi™ are
the Doukas family who ruled the so-called despotate of Epiros in the
thirteenth century and on whose supposed behalf the rebels were acting,
the ˜Tarantinoi™ are the Angevin Princes of Taranto who were aiding the
rebels, and by ˜Akarnania™ we may understand Epiros:

 Fine ±: µ“µ; Nicol ±: “.
±µ Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
˜The empire of Romans has been the fatherland of these people almost from the

<<

. 24
( 54 .)



>>