. 3
( 54 .)


they are in some way opposed to it, or not limited to it. In such cases, a
distinction is drawn between Byzantine Romans (being those politically
loyal to the imperial Roman state) and ethnic Romans (those identi¬able
as Romans in ways other than the political). Again, when referring directly
to the writings of any particular Byzantine Roman author, it has been on
most occasions simplest and most accurate just to echo their own usage of
Rhomaioi, unquali¬ed in any way.

identity and the frankish conquest: the story so far
In his The Latins in the Levant, published in ±° and still the most
comprehensive overall account of the rule of the Franks in Greece, William
Miller tended towards a romanticised portrayal of the Frankish lords of
Greece, thereby portraying them as generous to the conquered Greeks
while maintaining ¬xed ethnic divisions. His focus was on the Franks and
he presented no thesis on Greek ethnic identity beyond holding it to be
strong and in opposition to an equally well-de¬ned Frankishness. Rennell
Rodd™s The Princes of Achaia and the Chronicles of Morea is broadly similar
in approach. Of post-war writers, Jean Longnon and Antoine Bon in,
respectively, L™Empire latin du Constantinople et la principaut´e de Mor´e
e e
and La Mor´e franque were not concerned with presenting the Greek
(Roman) point of view. Peter Lock™s The Franks in the Aegean 1204“1500 is
the most thorough modern account of Latin rule, also covering as it does
Venetian and Genoese involvement in the region. Lock argues that ethnic
divisions were always strong between incomers and the local populations
and that there was no true symbiosis between the different cultures.
The Frankish period is also covered in general crusade histories; see,
for example, in Kenneth Setton™s six-volume History of the Crusades, Jean
Longnon™s ˜The Frankish States in Greece ±°“±±±™ in volume two, and
Peter Topping™s two chapters on ˜The Morea™ in volume three, alongside
Setton™s own accounts in the latter volume of the Catalans and Florentines
in Greece, which supplement his The Catalan Domination of Athens, 1311“
1388.µ The crusade focus precludes any detailed consideration of Roman
cultural identity, and the model of ethnic distinction is generally preserved.

 Miller ±°; Rodd ±°·; Longnon ±; Bon ±; Lock ±µ.
µ Setton ±“; Setton ±; Mayer ±; Houseley ±.
 Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
Turning from a crusade focus to Byzantium, most general histories of
the later Byzantine period give some attention to the impact of ±°, for
example Donald Nicol™s The Last Centuries of Byzantium and Nicholas
Cheetham™s Medieval Greece, while Jonathan Harris™ Byzantium and the
Crusades straddles the Byzantinist and crusade divide to provide the ideo-
logical background to Byzantium™s relationship with the crusaders. Dimiter
Angelov™s Imperial Ideology and Political Thought in Byzantium skilfully
analyses the reactions and accommodations made by the political elite of
the empire as a result of the loss “ and eventual recapture “ of Constantino-
ple. Michael Angold™s A Byzantine Government in Exile concentrates on the
social and cultural effects of ±° in the Byzantine Roman ˜successor state™
of Nikaia, while Donald Nicol considers Nikaia™s rival in his two works
on The Despotate of Epiros. Dionysius Zakythinos has provided the most
detailed account of later Byzantine Roman rule in the Peloponnese in his
Le despotat grec de Mor´e. The emperors have attracted plenty of attention
with Deno J. Geanokoplos™ study of The Emperor Michael Palaeologus and
the West, Angeliki Laiou™s Constantinople and the Latins: The Foreign Policy
of Andronicus II, John W. Barker™s Manuel II Palaeologus (1391“1425): A
Study in Late Byzantine Statesmanship and Donald Nicol™s The Reluctant
Emperor and The Immortal Emperor, on John VI Kantakouzenos and Con-
stantine XI Palaiologos respectively. The collection of essays edited by
Benjamin Arbel, Bernard Hamilton and David Jacoby, Latins and Greeks
in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204, examines inter-ethnic interaction
during the period of western rule in more depth, and other relevant col-
lections include those of David Jacoby, Robert Wolff, Peter Topping and,
again, Donald Nicol.· There is a general consensus among Byzantinists
as well as crusade scholars that the ethnic lines were ¬rmly drawn in this
period and that ethnic hostility was a given factor in foreign policy.
The Frankish period has also been given considerable attention in the
work of Greek nationalist historians. This vigorous trend in the historiogra-
phy of the period concentrates not so much on its importance to the history
of the crusading movement or as a backdrop to the end of the Byzantine
Roman empire, but as constituting a vital stage in the national history of
the Greek people. In this school, the Frankish conquest and occupation
which shook the Constantinopolitan empire to its roots were of major

 Nicol ±µ·, ±·a, ±, ± and ±; Zakythinos ±·µ; Cheetham ±±; Harris °°; Angold ±·µa;
Geanokoplos ±µ; Laiou ±·; Barker ±.
· Arbel, Hamilton and Jacoby ±; Jacoby ±·µ and ±·; Topping ±··b; Wolff ±; Nicol ±·b
and ±.

The Frankish conquest of Greece
importance in rede¬ning the Byzantine sense of identity away from the
universalism of the ancient imperial Roman ideal, and towards a narrower
Greek orthodox nationalism. Moreover, it might even be said that in this
movement the Greeks rediscovered themselves, returning to and giving
new value to the geographical heartland of ancient Hellas. In this context
and argument, the apparent return by late Byzantine writers to the use
of the ancient ˜Hellene™ as ethnic signi¬er in preference to ˜Roman™ “
which had been the overwhelmingly dominant signi¬er in the east-
ern empire “ is seen as being of crucial signi¬cance in con¬rming a
basic continuity of self-identi¬cation as Hellenic on the part of the
Here, then, there is a more direct concern with issues of ethnicity than
can generally be seen in the histories of the crusades or of Byzantium
cited above. This approach has been pervasive among Greek historians,
of whom one might particularly cite Deno J. Geanokoplos and Apostolis
Vacalopoulos. Cyril Mango, however, has eloquently argued against the
general thesis, which indeed rests on fundamental misunderstandings of the
nature of ethnic identity. The ethno-nationalism that propelled into being
so many states in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries proclaimed
a belief in peoples as fundamentally unchanging and tied by hereditary
right to a certain patch of land; this was certainly very much the case
with modern Greece, where great ideological weight was placed on the
mission to recreate ancient Hellas.±° The modern nationalist position on
any medieval Greek ethnicity says more about modern Greece™s quest for
legitimisation in the past than about the past which is ostensibly under
More recently, an alternative and more convincing model of ethnicity
has emphasised its mutability and negotiability under the constraints of
circumstance, and this is the model that will be utilised in this study.
Both the Greek nationalist historians and, with a few exceptions, the
crusade and Byzantinist historians have taken it as a given that the ethnic
divide between the Byzantine Romans and the Franks of this period was
fundamentally unbridgeable and that relations between the two groups
were predominantly driven by ethnic hostility. Such a position is now seen
as increasingly outdated, and more recent work has emphasised instead the
¬‚uidity of ethnic boundaries. Thus, Sally McKee™s Uncommon Dominion:
Venetian Crete and the Myth of Ethnic Purity exploded the thesis of ethnic

 Vacalopoulos ±·°; Vryonis ±± and ±; Xydis ±; Geanakoplos ±·.
 Mango ±. ±° Cf. Herzfeld ±.
±° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
irreconcilability in one corner of the Frankish Aegean, while Aneta Ilieva™s
Frankish Morea (1205“1262): Socio-Cultural Interactions between the Franks
and the Local Population emphasised considerable acculturation at the
higher social levels in the Peloponnese of the thirteenth century, and Teresa
Shawcross™s recent work on the Chronicle of the Morea has similarly pointed
towards cross-ethnic identities in the Peloponnese.±± Again, articles such
as Sharon Gerstel™s ˜Art and identity in the Medieval Morea™ have drawn
attention to artistic symbiosis in Frankish Greece as representative of more
complex ethnic interactions.± Most recently, there have appeared several
collections of articles on the interpretation of the Greek past, many of
which include valuable material on ethnicity in the Byzantine era.±
More broadly, as we shall see, the substantial body of recent work on
the nature of ethnicity in the pre-modern era offers considerable insights
for the study of medieval Greece. In the light of current thinking on pre-
modern ethnic identity, there is the opportunity for a fresh look at medieval
Greece, its ethnic formulations and its ethnic interactions in the new world
after the Fourth Crusade.

±± McKee °°°, Ilieva ±±, Shawcross °°.
± Gerstel °°±, see also the currently unpublished work by Grossman °° and Hirschbichler °°µ.
± Brown and Hamilakis °°; Hokwerda °°; slightly earlier Ricks and Magdalino ±.
chapter 1

Ethnic identity?

This study of the Byzantine Roman response to the Franks relies on a
nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of ethnicity within social
groups, and requires that this be seen as applicable to societies of the pre-
modern era. A preliminary working de¬nition of ethnicity will help to set
the scene for this discussion:
Ethnicity, or ethnic identity, is a property of a group. It is a faith on the part of the
members of the group that they are in some sense the same, and that this sameness
is rooted in a racial kinship stretching into the past. Further, this act of faith is
inherently defensive “ it arises and gains its strength from a contrast with another
group (or groups), who are seen as not the same, and as presenting a threat to the
survival or at least prosperity of one™s own group.
The key features which emerge from my ¬rst de¬nition are that
r ethnicity is a group identity with strong associations with race and with
the past;
r ethnicity requires the existence of a contrasting other and is a feature of
con¬‚ict situations rather than of stability; and
r ethnicity is a subjective act of faith by members of a group, rather than
an objective and quanti¬able aspect of a group.
These aspects are broadly discernible in the everyday understanding of
˜ethnic™ in the English-speaking western world, for instance in familiar
uses like ˜ethnic clothing™, or ˜ethnic music™, which have clear connotations
of being minority-related.± Implicit in this mundane sense of ethnic is a
sense of difference that has both cultural and racial bases. The associated
noun ˜ethnicity™ is ¬rst recorded in the early ±µ°s but common only from
the ±°s. It is surely probable that the invention of the terminology of
ethnicity arose from the contemporary movements of ethnic pride and of

± OED v: , col. ± Aa (from the ±°s), Ab ˜ethnic minority™. Webster™s Third International
Dictionary i: ·, col. ±, usage .
 Glazer and Moynihan ±·µ: ±; Tonkin, McDonald and Chapman ±: ±.

± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
decolonialism; such contexts placed new value on cultures seen as offering
an alternative to the white status quo, and were also situations of actual or
potential con¬‚ict. It is clear that such terminology also gained an impetus
from a desire to avoid the terminology of racism that had been tainted
by associations with Nazism. In the introduction to their History and
Ethnicity, Elisabeth Tonkin, Maryon McDonald and Malcolm Chapman
have usefully illustrated how the terminology of ethnicity has ˜rediscovered
the “us and them” duality that related terms have had through most of
recorded history™. Terminology seen as racist was to be eschewed after the
unforgivable excesses of the Second World War, while at the same time the
phenomenon of the awareness of cultural and physical difference that in
the nineteenth century had been discussed in terms of race was if anything
of even greater signi¬cance in the post-imperialist new world order.
The popular, counter-cultural, usage of ethnic has connotations of the
free, the natural and the unfettered, and we ¬nd very similar overtones going
back to the recorded uses of ethnos in ancient Greece. To Aristotle, the ethne
were the barbarians, the other nations beyond the pale of Greekness “ they
were the non-Hellenic. If the Greeks had had a word for ethnicity “ and
they did not “ it would have denoted an undesirable quality, necessarily not
Greek, uncivilised, to be shunned. It is worth noting that this pejorative
sense has been lost in the twentieth-century use of the word: challenging
norms can now be seen as praiseworthy. However, the modern un-academic
application of ˜ethnic™ nevertheless retains the essential sense, which goes
right back to its classical roots, of being different from the prevailing
The terminology of ethnicity in its more popular application thus seems
to encompass two essential aspects. Firstly, there is an association with the
cultural markers that are special to one group: these are the things that may
be described as ethnic (and would include the visible aspects of perceived
racial difference). Secondly, there is the sense of ˜us™ and ˜them™, of one
group being set in contrast to another. For a sense of ethnicity, a sense
of belonging to any particular ethnic group, knowing what you are not
(the ˜us™ and ˜them™) is as important as knowing what you are (the cultural
markers). But just as important is the act of knowing; in other words,
ethnic identity is a subjective phenomenon “ it is an individual decision
to associate oneself with the group.µ Thus, to break down our de¬nition

 Tonkin, McDonald and Chapman ±: ±µ.
 OED v: , col. ± Aa, ±µ citation; Aristotle, Politics ±b±°.
µ Hylland Eriksen ±: ; Amory ±·: ±; Hall ±·: “±.
Ethnic identity?
a little further, it will be argued here that ethnicity is a nexus of three
fundamental areas:
r an individual subjective belief that one is a member of a certain named
group and that one has that membership by virtue of one™s ancestry. This
belief is bolstered by the certainty that the other members of that group
individually share the same belief about themselves as well, and thus
that all the members of the named group believe that they are linked by
shared ancestry; and
r the possession, expression or favouring of certain social and cultural traits
(the ˜ethnic criteria™) by the members of the group; for example, language,
style of dress, religious faith. To these, we may add an association with a
particular geographical area; and
r the awareness of a boundary and therefore the contrasting of one™s group
with another group “ one might say a feeling of ˜us™ versus ˜them™.
This threefold division echoes de¬nitions used by other writers on his-
tory and ethnicity, although different thinkers prioritise different aspects.
Thus, for example, in The Ethnic Origins of Nations, Anthony Smith lists
the possession of a group name, a common myth of descent, a shared
history and culture, an association with a particular territory and a feel-
ing of group solidarity as the essential characteristics of an ethnic group,
placing the integrative function of shared ˜we™ characteristics above the
relational contrast of ˜us™ and ˜them™. Jonathan Hall, in Ethnic Identity in
Greek Antiquity, basically agrees with Smith but prioritises the territorial
association and the myth of descent. Walter Pohl (˜Telling the difference:
signs of ethnic identity™, in Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of
Ethnic Communities, 300“800) stresses the instrumentality of the subjective
choice of identity, while in Ethnicity and Nationalism Thomas Hylland
Eriksen similarly emphasises the relational quality of ethnicity, along with
the sine qua non of (presumed) kinship.

subjectivity, tradition and naming
The subjective belief about group membership based on shared ancestry is
the fundamental element that must be present in any ethnic identity, and it
is this belief which clearly distinguishes the ethnic group from most other
social groups. It is vital to appreciate, however, that this is a subjective belief
about the past which need bear no relation to reality. The members of an
ethnic group need not be all biologically related “ all ˜of the same race™ “ but

 Smith ±: “; Hall ±·: , µ; Pohl and Reimitz ±: °“; Hylland Eriksen ±: ±.
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
for the group to be classed as ethnic it is necessary that its members believe
that they are. Patrick Amory has described ethnicity as ˜an irrational belief in
biological “race”™, and this belief is a subjective phenomenon that is justi¬ed


. 3
( 54 .)