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±··
±· Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
twinned with a strongly regional identity that did not ascribe to any sense
of pan-Roman imperial identity.
The key text here, and the basis for this investigation, is the Greek
Chronicle of the Morea, the single Greek work of the period most clearly
divorced from the elite Constantinopolitan milieu, yet nevertheless part of
the Byzantine Roman world. This work will be the basis in this chapter for
a close look at ethnic identities in the Peloponnese in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries.
The Chronicle of the Morea survives in eight manuscripts in four different
languages, and this linguistic variety is itself a witness to the ethnic mix
in the late medieval Aegean where the Chronicle originated and which it
describes. The Chronicle tells the story of the Frankish principality of the
Morea, from its foundation after the Fourth Crusade through to, variously,
± in the Greek and Italian versions, ±°µ in the French version or ±··
in the Aragonese version. Thus, the French prose chronicle was produced
in the ¬rst half of the fourteenth century, perhaps for Catherine de Valois,
titular Latin empress and prince of the Morea, and tells the story through
to ±°µ with some notes of later events. The Aragonese prose chronicle
was written between ±·· and ±± for Juan Fernandez de Heredia, the
Grand Master of the Order of St John, who had an active interest in
the region, and this version ¬nishes with the assumption of command in
the principality by the Hospitallers in ±··. The Italian Chronicle, a prose
translation of the Greek, was produced as late as the sixteenth century,
perhaps for the Venetians still holding out against the Ottomans in the
Peloponnese.± However, as a source plainly originating among and written
for Greek-speakers, it is primarily the Greek Chronicle that is considered
here, and its origins are far more problematic.
Five manuscripts of the Greek Chronicle have survived, with the earliest,
that now in Copenhagen, dating from the ±°s. All subsequent versions
date from at least a century later. Internal evidence indicates that the version
in the Copenhagen manuscript was written during the lifetime of Erard
le Maure of Arkadia, who died in ±, and thus the Copenhagen version
is accepted as the earliest and most authoritative version of the Greek
Chronicle. It is indisputable that the French version of the Chronicle was
composed some years before the Copenhagen version but, complicating

± The ˜French Chronicle™: Longnon ±±±; the ˜Aragonese Chronicle™: Morel-Fatio ±µ; Italian version in
Hopf ±·: ±“.
 Codex Havniensis µ·; cf. Agapitos and Smith ±: . The ˜Greek Chronicle™: Schmitt ±° gives
parallel translations of the Copenhagen and Paris mss, and references here are to the Copenhagen
version unless otherwise stated; Lurier ± for a passable English translation.
±·
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
the issue still further, the French Chronicle is avowedly an abridgement
of an existing text and is clearly less detailed than the Greek Chronicle,
although it continues to a later date. Thus, there was at least one version
of the Chronicle in existence in the early fourteenth century that has not
survived, and there has been considerable debate on the authorship of this
original and the language in which it was composed.
The Greek Chronicle as we have it has itself been the focus of similar
attention: who might have produced such a work? Written in a vernacular
that is probably the best example we can now obtain of contemporary
spoken Greek, the Greek Chronicle looks very like the work of a native
speaker of Greek. Thus, it has attracted considerable interest from linguistic
specialists, who have argued for Greek authorship. On the other hand, the
Chronicle is notorious for its alleged ˜anti-Greek™ outlook, causing many
commentators to argue for French authorship “ at least of the original of
which Copenhagen is a translated copy.
However, the supposed ˜anti-Greekness™ of the Greek Chronicle rests
almost entirely on a few explicitly polemical passages, which appear to
their fullest extent only in the Copenhagen manuscript, Codex Havniensis
µ· (here called ˜H™). These passages have no equivalent in the French and
other language versions, and are almost entirely eliminated in the later
Greek versions now in Paris (˜P™) and Turin (˜T™). The passages in ques-
tion are H·“° (largely repeated in P, reduced to omit direct reference
to ˜Romans™ in T); H·µ“ (dramatically curtailed in both P and T);
H±µ“ and H±“ (both reduced in P, omitted in T). The overrid-
ing theme of these exclamatory diatribes is the untrustworthiness of the
Romans “ as we have seen, a classic western theme about the Byzantine
Romans. The conclusion has been that H cannot have been composed by
a Roman, or, if it was, then the author must have been wholly antipathetic
to his Byzantine Roman heritage, identifying instead wholeheartedly with
the Franks. However, the anti-Roman passages in H may be a distrac-
tion in considering thirteenth-century Moreot society. They may not have
appeared in any earlier Greek version or, indeed, the original ˜Book of
the Conquest™ “ we could then safely view the Chronicle as, in its origins,
certainly pro-Frankish but not violently anti-Roman.
It is in fact probable that there was an earlier version of the Chron-
icle in Greek which did not contain those polemical passages that have
conditioned views of the work as fundamentally anti-Roman (see below,


 Above, p. . The polemical passages are discussed below, pp. ±µ“±·.
±° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
pp. ±µ“±· and Appendix ). These diatribes should be seen as interpo-
lations of non-Roman origin inserted into an existing text. Similarly, the
genealogical details which date the Copenhagen version show clearly the
action of scribes adding to an existing text. Thus, the Greek Chronicle as
we now have it should be viewed as a mid fourteenth-century source which
strongly re¬‚ects its origins in an early fourteenth-century account of the
principality of Achaia.
The Chronicle of the Morea as we have it in the Greek version is in its
origins a creation of the Morea of the early fourteenth century and, as
shall be demonstrated, this was a polyglot society in which Franks were
pre-eminent but equally many Greeks played an important and willing
part. But an analysis of the language of the Greek Chronicle clearly reveals
this also to be a work of the Byzantine Roman milieu “ in the widest sense.
In this regard, most basically, the Greek Chronicle™s use of Rhomaios rather
than Graikos marks the work as an ˜insider™ from within the Byzantine
Roman world, in contrast to the French and Aragonese versions, which
employ forms of the western-orientated Grecus. Moreover, while it is crucial
to appreciate that the Greek Chronicle uses Rhomaioi far more freely than
any other source of the period to denote ethnic Romans “ that is, Romans
living outside the Byzantine Roman state whose identity is not at all
politically based “ yet the political Roman sense familiar from the elite
works is nevertheless repeatedly manifest here in such phrases as basileus
ton Rhomaion (emperor of the Romans). The plain formula is similarly
widely employed in its collective sense of the Rhomaioi as the Byzantine
Roman state. Such usages mark the Chronicle as a work from within the
Byzantine Roman world. As for the ethnic origins of the Chronicle™s author,
these are impossible to determine and, anyway, not really the issue “ the
important point is that this work was written by someone ¬‚uent in Greek
to the standard of a native speaker, but prepared to eulogise the conquests
of the Franks, and speaking to or writing for a similar audience. If he
was Greek, he identi¬ed in many ways with the Franks; if he was a Frank
then he was one of many ¬‚uent in the language “ and attitudes “ of
the conquered: thus, the Chronicle is in itself an argument for signi¬cant
cultural integration in the Frankish Peloponnese.
Obviously, the author of the Chronicle has had some education and his
style is as a result not wholly demotic. There is a tendency to employ correct
spelling even where, in the spoken style required, such spelling spoils the


 Jacoby ±: ±“; Jeffreys ±·µ: °“µ°; more recently see Shawcross °°: ±“.
±±
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
metre “ although this could well be scribal interference, and this is typical
across vernacular Greek poetry of the period. There are also touches of
archaic style in both grammar and vocabulary, and the language of the
Chronicle has thus been described as macaronic, a mixture of the spoken
and the learned. This patchwork style, which is typical also of the vernacular
romances of this period, is potentially evidence of an oral background such
that the author had available a set of formulas which might have included
material of ancient date. In other words, the educated archaic touches may
be evidence more of traditional oral style than of advanced education.
Thus, the interference of educated learned style is at the minimum in the
Chronicle of the Morea and, as we shall see, this impacts on its content and
perspective as much as on its linguistic style.µ
Presenting a marked contrast to the elite historians in its social and
geographical origins, language and outlook, the Greek Chronicle in its
several versions allows for a view into the development of the mixed ethnic
society of the Peloponnese from the thirteenth into the ¬fteenth century
and will provide the framework for the investigation of that society in
this chapter. Thus, ¬rstly, the Greek Chronicle™s narrative account of the
principality of the Morea in the thirteenth century will be set against a
range of other source material to demonstrate the considerable level of inter-
ethnic cooperation in this period. This will be followed by an analysis of the
language of the fourteenth-century Greek Chronicle, similarly set against
other evidence (including the other language versions of the Chronicle)
to illustrate the importance of the ethnic Roman identity as against the
political, alongside a continuing pattern of inter-ethnic exchange and even
assimilation. These patterns of development will be further explored in
the next chapter, where the later ¬fteenth-century versions of the Greek
Chronicle will be set against high- and middle-ranking Byzantine Roman
writing of the period immediately preceding the Ottoman conquest.
Fundamentally, it will become clear that the regional Peloponnesian
identity was of greater in¬‚uence than any ethnic identities posited on the
contrast between Roman and barbarian. Thus, the constructed other of
the formal histories was more powerful in promoting an ethnic sense of
Roman identity in the elite circles of Constantinople than was the actual
presence of the other, in the Peloponnese at least. On the borders of the
Byzantine Roman world, boundaries were more nebulous and negotiable
than in the more ideologically driven centre.

µ Schmitt ±°: xxxiv; Jeffreys ±·µ: °·“±·; Jeffreys ±·: ±“µ; Browning ±: ·“·; Horrocks
±·: ·“±.
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
the villehardouin principality

Conquest and consolidation
In the confusion of the end of the twelfth century, the Peloponnese had
become increasingly cut off from Constantinople, with powerful local
magnates pursuing a progressively more separatist course. This was to
prove helpful to the incoming Franks, and the principality of Achaia, or
the Morea, in the Peloponnese was one of the more successful of the Latin
states in the Aegean. Founded in ±°µ by Geoffrey de Villehardouin and
Guillaume de Champlitte, both knights of Champagne engaged in the
Fourth Crusade, it endured in some form until ±°.
Before the arrival of their Frankish conquerors, the Peloponnesian expe-
rience of western foreigners would have been patchy and mixed. Venetians
and other Italian merchants must have been a familiar presence in ports such
as Patras, Modon and Coron, Monemvasia and Nafplion, while Corinth
was a major centre of production and trade. The ±° treaty between the
empire and Venice by which Alexios I Komnenos gave the Republic such
valuable privileges in return for naval assistance, detailed Modon, Coron,
Nafplion and Corinth as Peloponnesian centres of trade for the Venetians.
Sources like the Geography of Edrisi, composed at the Norman court in
Sicily in the ±±µ°s, and the Itinerary of Benjamin Tudela, written again in
the middle of the twelfth century, show the Peloponnese to have been a
thriving commercial environment. Peloponnesian ports were conveniently
situated for the sea-borne trade routes from Italy to Constantinople and
Syria, and the resulting activity of Italian merchants was more welcome here
than it was in Constantinople; this also put the Peloponnese close to the
maritime pilgrim route. Local producers made the most of the consequent
opportunity to explore new and larger markets.·
The Peloponnesians had also had occasional and unfortunate familiarity
with western soldiers: the Normans of Sicily had raided all around the
coast in ±±·, meeting determined resistance at Monemvasia but sacking
Corinth. The Venetians likewise conducted raids in the Aegean in ±±· in
reprisal for the mass arrest of Venetians in the previous year. Piracy was
also endemic, and became more of a problem from the ±±°s with the
decline of the Byzantine navy under the Angeloi. Thus, in coastal regions

 Lock ±µ: “°; Ilieva ±±; Jacoby ±·: ·“°; Bon ±.
· Adler ±°· (Benjamin); Jaubert ± (Edrisi); Borsari ±“·° (Venetian treaty). Cf. Magdalino
±b: ±“.
 Magdalino ±b: ±·“, ±·°“±.
±
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
westerners would have been familiar, and welcomed or feared depending on
their activities. The mountainous hinterland of the Peloponnese would in
contrast have seen far less of westerners. The Peloponnese of the empire was
itself hardly ethnically homogenous, with substantial Slavic communities
in the mountainous interior, but these ethnic groups had a long history in
the area and were a familiar presence, while not fully integrated into the
imperial system.
The Chronicle of the Morea gives a confused account of the arrival of
the Franks in the Peloponnese, but we know from the account of Geoffrey
de Villehardouin the elder that when his nephew of the same name was
marooned near Modon in the southern Peloponnese in the summer of ±°,
he was soon able to come to friendly terms with ˜a Greek who was a great
lord of the land™ (Faral ±±: ±±). This lord has been tentatively identi¬ed
as Leon Chamaretos, the most powerful Roman magnate in the Lakonian
region and another of the independently minded archontes on the model
of Leon Sgouros. When this Roman was succeeded by his less friendly son,
Villehardouin joined the forces of Boniface of Montferrat and Thessaloniki,
who had reached as far as Corinth on his largely uncontested takeover of
the European territories of the empire.±° Subsequently, Villehardouin and
Guillaume de Champlitte, a knight in Boniface™s following, proceeded to
the relatively unproblematic subjugation of the north, west and centre
of the Peloponnese. Geoffrey de Villehardouin succeeded Guillaume de
Champlitte as prince in around ±°, and under Geoffrey and the two sons
that succeeded him, Geoffrey II and William II, the principality of the
Morea prospered and grew in both territory and importance. The south
and east held out for longest against the Franks, with Monemvasia ¬nally
falling to William II in around ±µ°.±±
The Villehardouin princes are the heroes of the Greek Chronicle, with
Geoffrey I dominating the story of the conquest (Chronicle ±µ±“°) and
the reign of Prince William taking up well over half of the whole account
(Chronicle ·µ“·°). These thirteenth-century princes were proud, inde-
pendent and ambitious, aiming at a wider hegemony over Frankish Greece
if they did not indeed harbour imperial aspirations. Their principality was
clearly prosperous, as it was able to offer military and ¬nancial assistance
to the Latin empire. Geoffrey II provided an annual subvention to Latin

 DAI µ°.±µ“·°. ±° Magdalino ±··: ±“; Kalligas ±°: ·“·, ±“µ.
±± Greek Chronicle °“µ. The surrender has usually been dated to ±, but Kalligas ±°: “
convincingly argues for ±µ or ±µ, comparing the account in the Chronicle of the Morea with that
in the ¬fteenth-century Petition by the Metropolitan of Monemvasia and using the latter to ¬‚esh out
the earlier Chronicle and where necessary to correct its confused account.
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
Constantinople which was said to have totalled over °,°°° hyperpera, and
he also sent a ¬‚eet to raise the Nikaian blockade of the city in ±µ and
±, with further action against the Nikaians in ±, ± and ±. Over
its ¬rst ¬fty years, then, the principality saw a period of sustained internal
peace in which a second generation of Franks grew up in their new, native,
land. The Venetian Marino Sanudo Torsello painted a glowing picture of
the principality under the Villehardouins in the ¬rst half of the thirteenth
century: wealthy, chivalrous, ¬‚amboyant.±
However, in ±µ, Prince William II joined his Greek father-in-law
Michael Doukas of Epiros in the campaign against Nikaia which culmi-
nated in the battle of Pelagonia, where the Franks were deserted by their
Epirot allies and utterly defeated. William himself ended up in Byzantine
Roman captivity for three years, and the halcyon days were over for the
principality. As we have seen, after the Romans regained Constantinople
in ±±, Prince William was eventually released by Michael VIII Palaiolo-
gos in return for territorial concessions within the Peloponnese. This deal

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