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presence in the military beyond the rank-and-¬le. There is, however, lit-
tle evidence yet of the existence of other speci¬c Romans in positions of
authority within the principality. At the end of the century, Isabeau de
Villehardouin employed a ˜Quir Vasylopoule™ as Protho¬cier (a partial ren-
dering into French of the Byzantine title protovestiarius, that is, the of¬cer
in charge of administering the Prince™s revenues and estates in the princi-
pality (French Chronicle , cf. Assizes ±·±). This was a task where ¬‚uent
Greek would have been essential, and we may speculate that Romans had
been involved in this aspect of administration since the earliest land com-
mission established by Villehardouin and Champlitte, although Franks are


µ Molin °°±: °“±±, ·“; Burridge ±; Gregory ±; Cooper °°; Sigalos °°.
° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
also known in the post “ which fact may again support the case for Greek
language acquisition by the incomers.

As we have seen, then, the Villehardouin princes pursued a successful
policy of non-interference and cooperation with their Roman subjects,
coopting the local archontes into their society in return for loyalty and
service. However, the arrival of the Byzantine Romans in strength in the
Peloponnese in ±, after Michael VIII Palaiologos had wrested Mistra,
Monemvasia and Maine from Prince William, was to fundamentally upset
this balance. The growing power at Mistra offered a focus for any dis-
contents felt by residents of the principality, and it also drove some who
were caught between the Franks and Romans to make a choice of loyalty.
Thus, the Romans living in Frankish La Cremonie (Lakedaimonia, i.e.
Sparta) took shelter on the slopes of Byzantine Roman Mistra rather than
be repeatedly overrun by the warring parties. The presence of two powers,
neither of whom seemed strong enough conclusively to defeat the other,
also presented opportunities for the unscrupulous. Although the Byzantine
Romans of Mistra soon learnt not to engage the Franks in formal battle¬eld
engagements after massive defeats at Prinitsa in ± and Makry Plagi in the
following year, they were more successful in the subversion of the unruly
mountain tribes of Skorta and the Taygetos against the Franks. From now
on, these peoples, who had had a history of independence under Byzan-
tine Roman rule, were to pursue an opportunistic policy, supporting ¬rst
one side and then the other in the con¬‚ict between the Franks and the
Romans.
However, we should be wary of viewing any developments as conditioned
by ethnicity. As noted above, some Romans are known to have converted
to, or at least actively supported, the Catholic church. Similarly, in the
±°s not all of the Romans of the Peloponnese automatically switched
their allegiance to the new Byzantine Roman power base. The Aragonese
Chronicle relates how Geoffrey de Briel, ¬ghting in Skorta on the frontline
against the Mistran Romans in the mid ±°s, was helped by ˜his Greeks,
who were very ¬erce and ¬ne and loyal, because he had cared for them and
raised them™ (Aragonese Chronicle ±). The Aragonese Chronicle gives a
detailed account of how the Roman captain at Mistra attempted to suborn
these ˜Greeks™, but was instead at their instigation trapped in an ambush and
slain by the combined efforts of de Briel™s Frankish and Roman soldiers. As
a reward, the noblest of these loyal Romans were knighted by de Briel: ˜the
lord of Quarantana . . . gave his Greeks very ¬ne gifts of land and of other
things, and the most noble he made knights, and then he had great faith in
them and they were very happy with their lord™ (Aragonese Chronicle ±).
°µ
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
This is witness to a successful relationship between ruling Franks and
subject Romans within the principality under the Villehardouins. This
particular account may originate in a eulogistic tradition surrounding the
¬gure of Geoffrey de Briel, the model Frankish knight; we may similarly cite
the account of and lament on de Briel™s death in around ±·: ˜Who would
not grieve? The orphans had had a father, the widows had had a husband,
all the poor folk had had a lord and a defender. He used to guard everyone
from injustice, he never let a poor man suffer misfortune . . . ™ (Greek
Chronicle ·“, and see also French Chronicle: ˜all the land were grieved,
great and small™ in a phrase which typically corresponds to an inclusive
˜Franks and Romans™ in the parallel Greek Chronicle). The contrast with
the rapacious governors sent by the Angevins is striking and, in sum, the
tradition of Geoffrey de Briel re¬‚ects a memory of common prosperity
across the ethnic divide in the Peloponnese of the Villehardouins.

the principality after the villehardouins
As narrated above, in ±· the principality of Achaia passed to the Angevins
who ruled as relatively neglectful absentee landlords, although there was
a brief return to Villehardouin rule under Isabeau de Villehardouin and
her husbands from ± to ±°. After Isabeau was ousted from her prin-
cipality for daring to marry against the wishes of her Angevin overlords,
the principality came near to collapse in the ¬rst decades of the fourteenth
century under the pressure of the competing dynastic claims arising from
the surviving female lines of the Villehardouin family. There was civil war
in the principality in ±± between Louis of Burgundy (married to Mahaut,
daughter of Isabeau de Villehardouin) and Ferrando of Majorca (married
to Isabeau™s niece), during which Louis was supported by Byzantine Roman
forces from Mistra. These years also saw the arrival of the Catalans in south-
ern Greece. In ±°, the Catalan Company was employed by Gauthier of
Brienne, duke of Athens, in an attempt to assert Athenian suzerainty over
Thessaly. Inevitably, the Catalans ended up at war with their employer and
in ±±± they defeated the duke and his forces at the battle of Kephissos.
They went on to take over the duchy of Athens for themselves and this
success against Athens had a destabilising effect throughout the Frankish
areas of southern Greece; it seemed for a while that they might also attempt
to take the principality in the Peloponnese. In ±± they sacked Corinth,
and over the next decade Catalan raids on the southern coast of the Gulf
of Corinth continued.µµ
µµ Aragonese Chronicle °“±; Laiou ±·: µµ; Setton ±.
° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
After years of border squabbles, the balance between the principality and
Byzantine Roman Mistra was radically altered in ±°, when Andronikos
Palaiologos Asen, the Byzantine Roman governor of Mistra and father-in-
law of the future emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, attacked Frankish Sko-
rta in strength. Asen captured the castles of Akova, Karytaina, Polyphengos
and St George in central Arkadia and may also have penetrated into Messe-
nia given the recorded grant by Asen to a monastery near Androussa in
±. As a result only three of the original twelve baronies of the principality
¬nally remained in Frankish hands, with the Franks pushed back into Elis
and Messenia in the north- and south-west. The Aragonese Chronicle tells
how ˜Sir Andronico Assani™ besieged ¬rst Matagriffon (Akova) and then
Karytaina, taking them in the end through bribery. St George followed by
the same means (Aragonese Chronicle ±“µ). Frankish attempts to recover
lost ground, like John of Gravina™s attempt on Karytaina (Aragonese Chron-
icle µµ“), were in vain.µ
For the Angevins, the Peloponnese was not high on the list of priorities
and was consequently neglected. According to the Aragonese Chronicle
(“·µ), between ± and ±·· no fewer than thirty-eight bailis were
appointed by the predominantly absentee Angevin princes. Clearly, conti-
nuity and a sense of security were going to be hard to maintain, especially
when a new threat emerged with major Turkish raids on the Peloponnese,
¬rst noted in ±· and thenceforward becoming more and more frequent.
In trying times, the continually changing Angevin leadership contrasted
unfavourably with the memory of the Villehardouin principality which, as
we have seen, may well have taken on something of the aura of a golden
age. Angevin rule also suffered by comparison with the more stable Byzan-
tine Roman administration in Mistra. Therefore, in ±±, according to the
memoirs of John VI Kantakouzenos (Histories ii. ·“·), a group of Frank-
ish nobles from the principality approached him with an offer to secede
to the Byzantine Romans, and this account is given greater credence by a
letter written in late ±° from King Robert of Naples to the clergy and
barons of the principality, in which he urged them to maintain their loyalty
to his family; he had heard rumours of their intrigues with the ˜Greeks™
(i.e. the Romans of Mistra). What is particularly noteworthy is that the
Frankish barons™ offer followed directly upon a visit by the reigning prince
Catherine de Valois, who was resident in the principality from late ±
to the summer of ±±. The barons perhaps resented Catherine™s policy in


µ Bartusis ±: ·°“; Nicol ±: ± with notes; Runciman ±°: µ±. Millet ±: ±±µ“±.
°·
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
Epiros, misliking her provocation of Byzantine Roman power of which
Kantakouzenos himself gave such a penetrating critique; they would have
served for Catherine against the Byzantine Romans in Epiros and might
have come away impressed by Andronikos III Palaiologos and his Grand
Domestic, John Kantakouzenos. It is also possible that the established fam-
ilies of the principality resented the sway of Catherine™s Italian advisors:
in particular, Niccolo Acciajuoli had gained substantial estates and in¬‚u-
ence. The offer to Kantakouzenos, coming at this time and in this context,
must surely re¬‚ect a complete disenchantment with Neapolitan rule and
shows again that the ethnic divide in the Peloponnese was by no means an
unbridgeable gulf.µ·
The appeal of Mistra can only have increased with the coming of Manuel
Kantakouzenos, second son of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, as despot
in ±. The title afforded rank secondary only to an emperor and had
traditionally been given to the imperial heir apparent: Manuel was therefore
coming to the Peloponnese as his father™s deputy and was to steer an
autonomous course in which policy was rarely determined by ethnic status.
Manuel was himself already linked with a Latin family by his marriage to
Isabelle de Lusignan in ±, and from the start he pursued a conciliatory
policy with his Latin neighbours. He did not initiate any signi¬cant actions
against the Frankish principality (the battle at Gardiki in ±·µ was a response
to an attack by the Franks), and when Emperor John V Palaiologos tried
to oust him in ±µµ Manuel was able to call on his Venetian and Frankish
neighbours to help him; four years later he again cooperated against the
Turkish threat with the principality and Venice, as well as the Hospitallers,
and this alliance secured a signi¬cant naval victory.µ
As we have already seen, Manuel had greater problems with his own
Roman lords, who resented his ¬nancial demands and perhaps the arrival
of a forceful outsider. In his Histories, Kantakouzenos excoriates the ˜Pelo-
ponnesians™ “ as noted, he never calls them Romans “ for their inability to
live in peace:
Not failure, not success, not time the destroyer of all is able to wipe away the
hatred among them for each other. Lifelong they are mutual enemies and after
death, as if it were a patrimonial legacy, they leave their quarrel to their children . . .
(Histories iv. .±“)

It has been well noted also that Byzantine Roman authority was often only
accepted under conditions that emphasised the desire for local autonomy.

µ· µ
Nicol ±: µ°“±, ±·µ“; Bon ±: ±“±. Aragonese Chronicle ·±“. Runciman ±°: µ“·.
° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
Privileges to Monemvasia are comparatively well documented, and reveal a
progressive increase in immunity from local taxation as well as considerable
independence in law and administration.µ Thus, again, ethnicity often
came second to pragmatism.

By the third quarter of the fourteenth century the once prosperous Pelo-
ponnese had become a bad investment for the Angevins. The Black Death
of the ±°s must have devastated the village communities and affected
their economic potential, and Turkish raids had had a ruinous effect. Most
settlements on the Acciajuoli estates are listed as having deserted hearths in
the ±µ°s, and the grant of Corinth to Nicholas Acciajuoli (±µ) mentions
the depopulation of the district as the peasants had ¬‚ed. Things were no
better three years later when Marie of Bourbon™s agent Nicholas of Boyano
found the coast of the Gulf of Corinth deserted (Longnon and Topping
±: ±µ±). This is the context for the Chronicle™s nostalgia for the good
old days of the thirteenth century. Economic decline, natural disasters and
political instability had worked together to make the Peloponnese a far less
happy place.
In ±·· the then prince, Joanna of Naples, gave the principality of
Achaia to the Hospitaller knights of St John on a ¬ve-year lease, in an
attempt to maintain an effective defence of her principality, in particular
against Turkish raids. The Hospitallers employed the Navarrese companies
of mercenaries, which had had their origin in the campaigns waged by
Charles II of Navarre against Charles V of France and had then come east
in the service of Louis d™Evreux to press his claims in Albania. On Louis™
death, the mercenaries took service with the Hospitallers in Epiros and
then, soon after, they or some part of them are found serving the Hospital
in the Morea. In ±± the Hospital™s lease of the principality came to an
end and by the autumn of that year the Navarrese had entered the employ
of Jacques des Baux, latest pretender to the principality. In his name they
began to conquer large areas of the Peloponnese. When Jacques des Baux
died in the summer of ± the Navarrese Company were the single most
organised western grouping in the Peloponnese, and moreover the most
effective administration that most people there could remember. Like the
Catalans and the conquerors of ±°, these hard-bitten troops turned out
to be far from disastrous administrators. In ±, the Gascon Peter Bordo
de St Superan took over leadership of the Company, and in the following


µ Laiou ±·: µ“·; Kalligas ±°: ±°±“±µ, ±“µ.
°
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
year he concluded a signi¬cant treaty with the Venetians in which he had
the backing of all the important western lords, secular and spiritual, of the
Peloponnese.° A further document of ±± shows him in direct personal
possession of all the traditionally princely lands in the principality; in ±
St Superan ¬nally bought the title of prince from the Angevins for himself.
He died six years later, after which the principality was ruled for some
three decades by the Zaccaria family before at last becoming part of the
Byzantine Roman despotate of Mistra, which enjoyed its greatest successes
in these years.
Little is yet known about the quality of Navarrese rule during the twenty
years in which they dominated the Peloponnese. No contemporary chron-
icle deals with them in any depth, although their history has been pieced
together from archival material, including Venetian, Catalan and Hospi-
taller, in the work of R.-J. Loenertz, Rubio y Lluch and Anthony Luttrell.±
The fundamental point to appreciate here is how much local support the
Navarrese received: their impressive military capability made them a con-
vincing source of authority in chaotic times, with a proven ˜capacity for
effective violence™ (see above, p. µ°). We have noted the wide backing which
St Superan swiftly gained for his dealings with Venice. Moreover, in his
attacks on the territory of the despotate, the Navarrese had, as Peter Top-
ping puts it, ˜a permanent invitation from the landowning caste (archontes)
of the Byzantine province to support their rebellions against the despot™.


the chronicle of the morea: an analysis
The Greek Chronicle of the Morea is a work of the fourteenth century and
must remain the primary resource for inter-ethnic relations in that period.
The educated Byzantine Roman writers can hardly bring themselves to call
the Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians of the Peloponnese ˜Romans™ at
all but, as we have already seen, there is no doubt about the ethnic status
of the Peloponnesians represented in the Chronicle. Submitted to the same
kind of analysis as that applied above to the elite Byzantine Roman writers,
the Greek Chronicle gives a unique insight into the contrasting perspective
of those provincial Romans who made up a signi¬cant part of the audience

° Topping, ˜The Morea ±“±°™, in Setton, ±“ iii: ±µ±.
± Loenertz ±µ; Rubio y Lluch ±°; Luttrell ±· and ±.
 Cf. Manuel Palaiologos™ Funeral Oration ±.°“±µ.±.
 It should again be emphasised that ˜the Greek Chronicle™ here refers to the earliest, Copenhagen,
version of the Greek Chronicle. The later ¬fteenth- and sixteenth-century versions are discussed in
the following chapter.
±° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
of the Chronicle. While sharing much with the elite historians in terms
of vocabulary and the familiar formulas of Roman identity, the Chronicle
presents the strongest portrait of the ethnic Roman identity, where political
allegiance was irrelevant, and regional identity was far more important.

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