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time of Caesar, and you do very great wrong in imposing on them instead the rule
of the Tarantinoi, of barbarian men . . . For the Angeloi didn™t acquire Akarnania
by freeing it from barbarians “ rather, they were subjects of the Roman emperors
and received their yearly rule over the lands from the emperors. The Angeloi
took the rule to themselves as a result of the war then waged by the Latins on the
Romans. While the Latins, with the fall of the mightier Byzantium, were in control
of all of Thrace and most of the cities of Macedonia, the Roman empire withdrew
to the east. The Angeloi secured the rule of Akarnania for themselves, and other
men got hold of those others of the western provinces which they had hitherto
been governing. They were able to do this because the Roman emperors had no
way of getting to these men through Thrace and Macedonia, which were under
the Latins. Many years later, the empire of Romans came under the guidance of the
Palaiologoi. The Latins were once more, with the help of God, expelled from the
hegemony of Romans, and both Asia and Europe, whatever the Latins had been
ruling, were united into one. At this time the Palaiologoi demanded Akarnania of
the Angeloi, but they were not able to take it. Rather, the Angeloi, acting unjustly
and with violence, defrauded them and repeatedly sent armies against them and
brought in the neighbouring barbarians as allies.™ (Histories ii.µ°.±“µ±.±)

This speech demonstrates an insistence that the territory of the pre-±°
empire was essentially Roman - in other words, that it was the preserve and
charge of the emperors of the Romans. Thus, before ±° any local rulers
were only of¬cers of the emperors, and such local magnates were only able
to subvert the rule of their localities because the emperors were temporar-
ily incapable of exerting their rightful powers. Continued subversion of
such rule on a local basis constituted fraud against imperial rule. As with
Gregoras, then, there is recourse here to the concept of the imperial province
to assert Byzantine Roman rights over far-¬‚ung areas. The Latins, who, it
should be noted, are in no way presented as rightful imperial rulers (and are

 ˆdike±te d• t‡ ›scata, ˆntª t¦v <Rwma©wn basile©av, ¥ sced¼n auto±v –k t¤n Ka©sarov cr»nwn
p†tri»v –sti, tŸn Tarant©nwn aÉtoiv ˆn{rÛpwn barb†rwn –p†gontev ˆrcžn . . . %gg”louv
g‡r oÉk ˆp¼ barb†rwn %karnan©an –leu{erÛsantav ktžsas{ai sun”bh tŸn ˆrcŸn, ˆll™
Ëpoceir©ouv Àntav <Rwma©wn basile“si kaª par' –ke©nwn –tžsion ˆrcŸn t¦v cÛrav –pite-
tramm”nouv, sfeter©sas{ai tŸn ˆrcŸn di‡ t¼n –penec{”nta t»te par‡ Lat©nwn <Rwma©oiv
p»lemon. ¦n dŸ to“ kre©ttonov sugcwržsei Buzant©ou kraths†ntwn kaª Qr†…khv ‰p†shv
kaª t¤n kat‡ Makedon©an p»lewn poll¤n, basile©a m•n ¡ <Rwma©wn ËpecÛrhse pr¼v ™w.
%karnan©av d• tŸn ˆrcŸn *ggeloi prosepoižsanto —auto±v kaª Šlloi Šllav t¤n —sper©wn
–parci¤n ¦n ™kastoi ›tucon –pitrope…ontev, di‡ t¼ basile“si <Rwma©wn d©odon oÉk e²nai
pr¼v aÉtoÆv di‡ Qr†…khv kaª Makedon©av oÉs¤n Ëp¼ Lat©noiv. Ìsteron d• ›tesi pollo±v
Ëp¼ t¤n Palaiol»gwn «{unom”nhv t¦v <Rwma©wn basile©av, Lat©nouv m•n a”{iv, to“ {eo“
sunairom”nou, t¦v <Rwma©wn –xžlasan ¡gemon©av kaª %s©an kaª EÉrÛphn, ‚shv §rcon, e«v šn
sun¦yan. %karnan©an d• %gg”louv ˆpaito“ntev, oÉk  d…nanto ˆpolabe±n, ˆll' Šdika kaª
b©aia poio“ntev, ˆpest”roun kaª strati‡n poll†kiv –p' –ke©nouv p”myasin ‚pla ˆntžronto
kaª toÆv perio©kouv summ†couv –pžgonto barb†rouv.
±µ
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
indeed given the ultimate Roman put-down of being called barbarians),
were eventually expelled from the ˜hegemony of Romans™.
Kantakouzenos here expresses an understanding of the empire which is
familiar from Choniates, the empire as an idea of rule which had a natural
physical, geographical expression that might not always be concrete but
was nevertheless an essential component of the political Roman identity.
His approach to the restoration of lost parts of the empire would have been
recognised under the Komnenoi two centuries earlier.

Thus the political Roman identity remained dominant in the historians of
the fourteenth century. It is in fact so emphatically maintained that one
suspects that the strain on this idea arising from the pressure of events
resulted in a defensive bulwarking of the traditional ideology. Despite its
continuing dominance, however, it should come as no surprise that the
political Roman identity also came to seem more and more problematic
during this period. Given the appalling losses suffered by the empire in
this period and the repeated, debilitating, episodes of civil war, it is hard
to credit such total faith in the old, self-con¬dent, ideologies.
The problematic aspects of the political Roman identity can be recog-
nised in the treatment by both authors of territory and political control “
both Roman and non-Roman. Firstly, both Gregoras and Kantakouzenos
are able to accept foreign rule within the extent of the ideal Byzantine
Roman empire “ despite the example of Epiros just given. Secondly, both
authors show themselves able to treat other states as broadly comparable to
the Byzantine Romans in quite a new way and, as part of this, have a freer
use of the terminology of basileus. Thirdly, they both illustrate aspects of
an alternative and individual ethnic identity that had very little to do with
the more theoretical collective Roman identity. In sum, it is clear that the
political and ethnic identities had now become distinct identities.
The rule of others over erstwhile parts of the empire is, in fact, gener-
ally accepted by Gregoras and Kantakouzenos without any insistence on a
continuing Byzantine Roman identity. This would have been unthinkable
in the traditional outlook. In this regard we may note in Gregoras the
unchallenged portrayal of Galata, the Genoese republic™s mercantile com-
munity at Constantinople which was essentially self-governing: he speaks of
˜the Galatikan fortress of the Genoese™ (Roman History xviii.··.“) and
˜the Galatikan triremes of the Genoese™ (xviii.°.±“±µ). Again, the refer-
ence to ˜the Latin prince of the Peloponnese and Achaia™ (xi.µ.“·) and
the passing reference to ˜the Venetian islands™ of the Aegean (xviii.·.±·)
show no hesitation about foreign ownership of formerly imperial territory.
±µ Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
These were all examples of long-standing political realities, although it may
be signi¬cant that the foreign rulers in all these cases were westerners.
Like Gregoras, Kantakouzenos made few bones about long-established
western states or communities “ Galata, for example, or the Frankish
Peloponnese. He sometimes calls the Genoese of Galata ˜the Latins in
Galata™ (e.g. Histories iv.·.±), or even ˜Galatians™ (e.g. iv.·., ·.°).
More charily in Book ii the Genoese of Galata are ˜colonists from Genoa™
(ii.·.±·“±), implying they were at least not considered to be natives in
Galata. Fundamentally, however, and despite the long history of hostility,
Kantakouzenos did not make an issue of the Genoese presence in the heart
of the empire. He was similarly unequivocal about the position of the
Peloponnesian Franks: ˜the Latins who hold that land called Achaia by the
Hellenes and who are subjects of the prince™ (iv.µ.µ“). This description
comes in the context of Kantakouzenos™ initiative in creating the despotate
of the Morea under his son Manuel, an institution that was to go from
strength to strength and eventually recapture all the Peloponnese from the
Franks. As we shall see below (p. ±·), with regard to the Peloponnese
Kantakouzenos does not suggest any quarrel with the Frankish princes of
Achaia, but rather with the local, ethnically Roman, population. Western
rule in the Peloponnese is not challenged by Kantakouzenos, as it had also
not been challenged by Akropolites or Pachymeres.
Thus, the territorial aspect of the political Roman identity, while in¬‚u-
ential, was not consistently applied by either historian. Another crack in
the political identity emerges with a comparison of the writers™ treatments
of the Byzantine Roman state with their treatments of the Serbian and Bul-
garian states. The problem here is that both Kantakouzenos and Gregoras
present their northern neighbours in such a way as seriously to diminish
the traditional picture of the Byzantine Roman imperial state as unique
and superior.
Gregoras never uses the terms Rhoma¨s or Rhomania to denote the
±
imperial territory, or indeed the fact of Byzantine Roman rule, and this
perhaps again re¬‚ects the ever-growing instability of the territorial empire.
In fact, within the pages of Gregoras the only great state to bene¬t from
a state name in this style is Serbia “ the truly pre-eminent imperial power
of his day, especially under the rule of Stefan Uroˇ IV Duˇan from ±± to
s s
µ
±µµ. Gregoras thus usually refers to the Serbians™ state as Serb©a (Servia)
and this approach seems to suggest a respect for the Serbian state as, indeed,
a very real power. Similarly, the Serbian leader-titles Kr†lev (Krales) and


µ Fine ±: “·.
±µµ
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
Kr†laina (Kralaina) are the only leader-titles besides basileus and basil´v ±
(basilis: empress) which are used without being quali¬ed by people or
territory; this suggests that these titles presumably could be understood,
without any quali¬cation of name or place or people, and this may be
another way in which Gregoras reveals his high estimation of Serbian
status. Krales had also been used by Pachymeres with reference to Stefan
Uroˇ II Milutin, and this may be a usage that Gregoras has picked up from
s
his predecessor.
In Gregoras, the formulation (t¤n) Triball¤n (˜of the Triballoi™, i.e.
the Serbs), which would follow the favoured model for all other peoples
in Gregoras (including the Romans), occurs only six times in a political
or geographical sense compared to twelve occurrences of Servia. Kantak-
ouzenos does not use Servia in the same way as Gregoras, preferring ˜the
land of the Triballoi™ or ˜the land under the kral™; this is, though, compa-
rable to his treatment of Romans and so may serve to put the Serbians on
a par with Romans. Like Gregoras, Kantakouzenos frequently uses Krales
without quali¬cation; moreover, it can be used to represent the people and
the state as well as just an individual ruler. This presents a striking paral-
lel with Kantakouzenos™ use of basileus in the Byzantine Roman context.
As with Romans again, the Serbs also have land and cities. Like Gregoras,
then, Kantakouzenos recognised the clout of the Serbs under Stefan Duˇan, s
and both writers portrayed the Serbian state as comparable to their own
Byzantine Roman state.
When it comes to their treatments of the other major Balkan power, the
Bulgarians, the two writers are more dissimilar, and this difference revolves
around their use of basileus. Generally since the time of Choniates, there
had been a relaxation in the use of this terminology. As we have seen,
Choniates had restricted it to the Byzantine Romans and, with reserva-
tions, to the Latin emperor in Constantinople after ±°, while Akropolites
applied basileus to the Byzantine Romans, to the Latin emperors and to the
Bulgarians, favouring the Byzantine Roman application more and more
over the course of his history to emphasise the primacy of Nikaia (above,
pp. ±°±“). Both Choniates and Akropolites, then, are meticulous in
their use of basileus, as terminology which denoted a special quality
to Byzantine Roman rule. Pachymeres used basileus in relation to the
Byzantine Romans, to the Bulgarians (often but not always with reser-
vations), to the Latin emperors and, once, to the Tatars. On balance,
in Pachymeres basileus is no longer a term reserved for Byzantine Roman
power, but is nevertheless a term still most associated with the empire of the
Romans.
±µ Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
In contrast, Gregoras returns to a more restricted use of basileus and
its cognates. He is very careful with the terminology, using it only for
the Byzantine Roman emperors (by far the dominant use), the heavenly
kingdom, rulers in the ancient world and for the Komnenian empire of
Trebizond. There is additionally a single application of basileus to the Serbs,
but this is in the context of his somewhat biting account of Stefan Duˇan™s
s
± self-proclamation as emperor of the Serbs and of the Romans. This
reference, which recalls Choniates on the claimants of ±° and is discussed
below, is surely to be understood as satirical if not downright sarcastic. As
for the Bulgarian ruler, in Gregoras he is usually simply an archon, a ruler.
In his use of the terminology of rulership, then, Gregoras does not present
the Bulgarians as in the least comparable to the Byzantine Romans.
Although he uses the term many more times than Gregoras, Kantak-
ouzenos is also careful in his use of basileus: out of nearly ±°° occur-
rences in the selection under consideration around  per cent refer to
Byzantine Roman rulers. However, Kantakouzenos™ usage of the terminol-
ogy does reveal a different attitude to the Bulgarians. With twenty-eight
occurrences which refer to Bulgarian rulers it is fair to say that basileus
is, in Kantakouzenos, the characteristic and dominant term for the Bul-
garian ruler. Unlike Gregoras, Kantakouzenos in this way presents the
Bulgarians as in some way analogous to the imperial Byzantine Romans,
and this difference in usage between Kantakouzenos and Gregoras is hard
to explain. However, despite Gregoras™ avoidance of basileus in the Bulgar-
ian context, it is nevertheless true that both writers present the Bulgarians
in a way broadly similar to their presentation of the Byzantine Romans:
the Bulgarians have cities and territories, diplomats, armies, customs and
laws. Thus, the presentation of both Serbia and Bulgaria in these two writ-
ers effectively diminishes the supposedly unique status of the Byzantine
Roman state which was at the heart of the Roman political identity.
Gregoras™ treatment of the Komnenian empire of Trebizond is also
worth considering. In striking contrast to Pachymeres (above, pp. ±“),
Gregoras handled this eastern offshoot with considerable respect. Eirene
Palaiologos, daughter of Andronikos III and widow of the Trapezuntine
ruler Basil, is consistently called basilis (empress) and her rule in Trebi-
zond is characterised as empire (basileia) (xi.µ“µ°); this is a generous
attitude from Gregoras, who as we have seen protects the terminology of

 Kantakouzenos, Histories, ii..“·; .; ·., ; °.±; .; .“µ; .±, ±±“±; °., ,
±; µ.“, “; °.°“±; ., ±“±; .; ., °, ; .±µ; µ°.±; µ°.±“°, °“±; µ°.,
; iv.±.±.
±µ·
The nightmare of the fourteenth century
imperial rule as much as or even more than any of his predecessors. The
inhabitants of Trebizond are, however, never called Romans, nor is that
Komnenian state ever expressed as being subject to Roman imperial rule.
While allowing for a plurality of empires, Gregoras was not prepared to
countenance the existence of more than one Roman state, and this recalls
Akropolites™ attitude to Epiros. Thus, Gregoras™ attitude to the physical or
ethnic periphery of the empire appears mixed, to say the least.

the ethnic roman identity in the fourteenth century
We can see in Gregoras that the link between political power and territory
was in fact becoming more and more nebulous, and that Roman-ness
went beyond the matter of political control. Though the political sense of
Roman is dominant in both Gregoras and Kantakouzenos, they are like
their predecessors nevertheless operating within some other conceptions
of Roman identity. Over the course of the fourteenth century, the ethnic
Roman identity continued to be clari¬ed and to become more explicit
as an alternative to the political Roman identity. This continuing process
was a logical extension of developments observed in the historians of
the thirteenth century and can most easily be detected when Gregoras
or Kantakouzenos have to deal with people living outside the Byzantine
Roman empire whom they nevertheless have to identify as Roman.
While Choniates had preferred to deny Roman identity to those who
were explicitly loyal to another political power than the true emperor, we
have already seen how this traditional attitude had had to be modi¬ed in
the light of the conquests of ±° and later. Akropolites and Pachymeres
both acknowledged Romans outside the empire, relying on the ethnic
Roman identity, and the same is true for both Gregoras and Kantakouzenos.
Although the material in Kantakouzenos is more scanty, there is in both
writers a clear sense of an inheritable and transgenerational ethnic Roman
identity based on descent. This is shown in their treatment of Romans
living outside the Byzantine Roman state, or generally alongside other
ethnicities, in the treatment of those who might seem to have changed
ethnicity, and in the apparent denial of Roman identity to those who
sought to secede from the Byzantine Roman state.
Gregoras and Kantakouzenos bring the ethnic Roman identity to the
fore, ¬rstly, when they seek to differentiate between Romans and others
living alongside each other within the empire in its widest sense. Gregoras
writes of Romans living alongside Bulgarians in Mesembreia on the Black
Sea (x.·.) or alongside Genoese in Phokaia on the coast of Asia Minor
±µ Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
(xi.µµ.±“±). Examples of this in Kantakouzenos similarly include for the
most part Romans contrasted with Genoese on Chios or in nearby Phokaia
(ii.±., iv..±ff.) or with Serbs in the Balkans (iv.±µ.±·), or again with
Turks in Asia Minor (ii.°.±“±µ).
Gregoras and Kantakouzenos each tend to use Rhomaioi in general con-
trasts with Latins or Turks, especially in military episodes, but not all of
these occurrences are necessarily ethnic, although some are strongly sugges-
tive. Many occurrences are perhaps better understood as simply denoting
˜subjects of the state™ or ˜subjects of the emperor™, and Kantakouzenos refers
to courtiers and imperial servants in this way (for example, ii.·.±, .µ
and , iv.±µ.·). It is essentially moot how much this kind of usage was

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