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The Romans of the Chronicle
The Rhomaioi appear in the Greek Chronicle in a variety of forms
(Appendix ±, pp. “°°). In the initial section dealing with the crusades
(±“±) the Rhomaioi are primarily the crusaders™ allies and opponents in
Constantinople, and here we ¬rst meet familiar formulas such as ˜basileus
of (the) Romans™. Later in this section, Rhomaioi is employed to designate
the Nikaian successor state which opposed the Latin empire and went on
to retake Constantinople. Additionally, this section contains three exten-
sive polemical passages in which the Rhomaioi are presented with primarily
religious overtones as untrustworthy schismatics from the Catholic church
of Rome; these polemical passages are considered below. Moving beyond
the prologue concerned with the crusades, the story of the Franks in the
Morea begins at ±, and the situation now becomes more complex, with
Rhomaioi used to refer to a variety of groups.
In the Chronicle, in a way that does not apply to the formal Byzantine
Roman histories, the Rhomaioi stand in contrast to a single named other
group, the Fr†gkoi (Fragkoi: Franks). This is in a real sense the story of a
clash of the Franks and the Romans, and the clash is not merely political. In
all manifestations, the Rhomaioi are presented as the group which contrasts
with the Franks “ overwhelmingly in active opposition to the Franks, but
not always. Rhomaioi is thus used to denote the Byzantine Romans before
±° and the Nikaian and Byzantine Romans after ±° (including those of
Mistra), but also the Roman subjects of the Frankish principality, who are
shown as pro-Frankish. In its use of Rhomaioi for the Byzantine Roman state
the Chronicle shows itself to be ¬rmly in the Byzantine Roman tradition,
but in its extension of the term to other Romans outside the empire
it is signi¬cantly more liberal than the conventional Constantinopolitan
approach.
Beginning with the genitive formula, this is commonest with basileus,
which always has a Byzantine Roman context, whether pre-±°, Nikaian
or with reference to the Palaiologoi. The political aspect to Roman identity
familiar from the more formal histories is thus unsurprisingly strong. This
use further makes clear that the Byzantine Roman authority at Mistra
was seen by the chronicler as part of the rule of the Palaiologoi (see, for
±±
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
example, µ·, µ, µ, µ·). There are nine occurrences of ˜genos of
the Romans™, which is a high number compared to the formal histories.
Suggesting a strong sense of ethnic Roman identity in its connotations of
shared descent, this usage is twice explicitly contrasted with Fragkoi (±·,
°°) with strong ethnic connotations; however, it is also used to denote the
Byzantine Roman state, of Constantinople or Nikaia, or its military arm.
Nevertheless, even when making a political contrast, the ethnic identity
is strong: Prince William asserts that the Byzantine Roman emperor is a
legitimate enemy because he and the prince are not related: ˜and further,
he [Michael Palaiologos] is from the tribe of the race (genos) of the Romans
and I do not share with him any relationship at all™ (±µµ“); thus, political
entities are seen to have their foundation in race. Unsurprisingly, given this
tale of con¬‚ict, military associations are also common, with m†ch (mache:
warfare), foussŽta (phoussata: armies) and ˆll†gi (allagi: squadron) also
each appearing more than once.
Turning to the plain formula, there is much again that is familiar from
the formal histories. Over a third of the occurrences relate to the Byzantine
Romans in a military context and these are dominated by references to
the forces of Mistra battling the Franks of the principality. Around a
quarter of the total have political associations, denoting the subjects (or
rulers) of the Byzantine Roman state either individually or collectively.
The collective application is rare compared to the histories, but there are
eighteen occurrences in the contexts of making war, being ruled by the
emperors and the Byzantine Roman control of territory, which con¬rm
this conception, in this non-Constantinopolitan milieu, of the imperial
state as a collectivity of people. A few uses of the plain formula have strong
religious associations (see ·“±µ), but these occurrences are concentrated
in one of those passages of polemic against the Romans that are written
from a strongly western and Catholic viewpoint, and which should be
considered scribal interpolation. Occurrences in these polemical passages,
which also contain the single use of Rhomaioi to signify the people of
ancient Rome, will be treated with caution as deriving from an explicitly
non-Roman perspective.
So much for the instances of usage in the dominant Byzantine Roman
context. Out of the thirty-seven occurrences of the genitive formula, a mere
three “ genos, pragmata and n»mov (nomos: law) “ relate to the Roman sub-
jects of the prince (hereafter, the ˜Principality Romans™). These occurrences
cluster around the incident, discussed above, when representatives of these
Romans strike a bargain with Geoffrey de Villehardouin: loyalty from ˜we,
the genos of the Romans™ in return for the continuity of the Roman way
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
of life: ˜our faith, our customs, the nomos of the Romans™ (°“µ). This
choice of the ethnic markers of religion and legal tradition by the Prin-
cipality Romans are strongly suggestive of their desire to maintain their
ethnic identity alongside the new political identity. The use of pragmata
comes in the same context: Villehardouin agrees the pact, and is described
as having satisfactorily settled ˜all the affairs (pragmata) of the Franks and
of the Romans™ (°). Thus these uses, unsurprisingly, con¬rm a strong
ethnic Roman identity in contrast to the Franks, and call attention to
some of the ethnic criteria which marked out the two ethnic groups in
the Frankish Peloponnese and were thus brought to prominence by the
closer interaction of these groups. As noted in relation to Gregoras and
Kantakouzenos, religion and legal practice appear as prominent markers
of ethnic borders in the elite writers of the fourteenth century, and appear
again in the Chronicle.
Of around ±µ° total occurrences of the plain formula, only eighteen
indisputably do not refer in the least to Byzantine Romans (i.e., those
under the rule of a Nikaian or Constantinopolitan emperor). Of these
eighteen, fourteen refer to the Principality Romans who are as noted shown
as soldiers in the prince™s army (°, °±, °, °±) and advisers to
the Franks (±, ±µ··, ±·, ±·, ±·µ±, °, µ); they also appear as
otherwise unspeci¬ed loyal subjects (), as monks (···) and as the
audience of the Chronicle (·). Rhomaioi is also used in application to
Roman subjects of the Latin empire (±±, ±±, ±) and to the people
of Epiros (), who were similarly not subjects of the Byzantine Roman
state ruled from Nikaia or Constantinople.
Although this is a small proportion of the total uses of the plain formula,
this pattern of use constitutes the most relaxed application of the termi-
nology of Roman-ness in all the texts considered, and re¬‚ects an ethnic
Roman identity in the Peloponnese in which the political aspect of loyalty
to the Byzantine Roman state plays an absolutely minimal role.
This ethnic Roman identity can also be traced in the scattering of
occurrences of the plain formula which are more generalised, referring
clearly to no single grouping. Four occurrences make reference to the Greek
language, with camotso“kin (chamotsoukin: picnic) and ¬ere±v (hiereis:
priests) described as words which the Romans use, and people who know
˜the gl¤ssan [glossan: language] of the Romans™ being deputed to speak
to the prince™s Turkish mercenaries (°, ··, µ°·, µ). Greek is thus

 Comparably liberal ˜frontier™ applications of Romani to both outsiders and insiders can be found in
the early medieval west: Claude ±: ±“; Pohl-Reisl ±: °“·.
±
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
associated with the Romans although it was clearly a common tongue in
the region, with Romans, Turks and many Franks explicitly ¬‚uent in it.
Similarly regional in application are the references to the warfare of the
Romans, by which is meant the tactic of ambushing with cavalry archers
and ¬ghting with light troops, rather than the heavy-armed battle¬eld
techniques favoured by the Franks; there is in turn an equally strong ethnic
association of Franks with lances (cf. °±“µ, ±, µ±). At ±° and
±±± ˜the warfare of the Romans™ is associated with the Byzantine Romans
and their mercenary Cuman troops, while at °·“·°°· it is repeatedly
characterised as the arti¬ce, knavery and tricks which ˜the Romans and
Turks have™. In this latter instance, the Rhomaioi and Tourkoi are explicitly
contrasted with the Fragkoi; again, the style of warfare is similarly strongly
associated with Rhomania (°, ) and is contrasted with the warfare of
Fragkia “ though it should be noted that Prince William de Villehardouin
was explicitly practised in this war as one from Rhomania, and thus this
identi¬cation was not purely ethnically driven. Generally, though, it is hard
not to see this as a contrast between, one might say, eastern and western
warfare. Just as, in the Chronicle, ˜Franks™ is a relatively unspeci¬c term for
westerners, so there are elements in the terminology of Roman-ness that
allow for a broad regional identity in contrast to the western origin of the
Franks; here again we see the in¬‚uence of the mixed culture behind the
Greek Chronicle. Moreover, in the context of this broad contrast between
the Franks and the Romans, the Principality Romans and Romans of Epiros
were as much Rhomaioi as the Byzantine Romans of Constantinople, Nikaia
or Mistra. Nevertheless, all such Rhomaioi could still be distinguished from
the Cumans and Turks, with whom they yet shared a certain regional
identity.
The Greek Chronicle makes frequent use of Rhomania in various ways.
Firstly, it could signify all the territory historically ruled by the emperor
in Constantinople before ±°, a geographical territory which at its largest
encompasses the Balkans and Asia Minor. Thus the Frankish Peloponnese
was a part of Rhomania: Geoffrey de Briel of Karytaina is, repeatedly, ˜the
¬nest soldier in Rhomania™ (±, µµ, µ·); note too that Guy de la Roche
is said to have travelled from Rhomania to France (Fragkia); the Frankish
lordship of Athens was thus also a part of geographical Rhomania.
But Rhomania also has a more localised signi¬cation. Thus, the Pelo-
ponnese can be distinguished from Rhomania: on the Pelagonia campaign
Prince William and the despot of Epiros travel from Boiotia into Vlachia
and on to Rhomania; again, returning from Constantinople Geoffrey de
Briel travelled from Rhomania through Vlachia to Thebes (µ°, °“µ±,
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
“). Here, Rhomania is the area ruled by the Byzantine (or Nikaian)
Roman emperor, and this is a common narrower reading of Rhomania
within the Chronicle (cf. also especially “, ·±, ··, ±). A strong
association can thus be seen between Rhomania and the rule of the Byzan-
tine Romans.
Rhomania can, however, also denote the Latin empire of Constantino-
ple, for it is that area which was won and ruled by the crusaders (±). The
Latin emperor Robert and Geoffrey de Villehardouin are ˜the two lords of
Rhomania™ (µ); later Robert gives Geoffrey the title ˜Grand Domestic
of all Rhomania™ (°); similarly Ancelin de Toucy™s brother Philip was
˜Caesar of Rhomania™ under Baldwin II (µ±·). After ±° it was general
in the west to call the new Latin empire ˜Romania™ and this is re¬‚ected
in the Chronicle.µ However, the emphasis in the use of Rhomania for the
Latin empire is highly territorial as opposed to political. It is an area in
which the Franks operate rather than a political entity: they have lands or
authority in this area “ the emperor Robert is lord ˜in Rhomania™ (·) “
and this contrasts with the formulation for Byzantine Roman rule ˜of Rho-
mania™ (e.g. ±, µ±, °µ). Despite this Latin application, then, Rhomania
is strongly associated with Byzantine Romans and the rule of Romans over
it is implicitly more appropriate.
In this narrower reading, it is not clear whether Rhomania is understood
to include the Byzantine Roman-ruled parts of Asia Minor, although in
the Nikaian context this would seem unavoidable (cf. Greek Chronicle
·“·°). When the Byzantine Romans recruit for Pelagonia they have
˜all the Romans from Rhomania, those from Tourkia and Anatolia are
innumerable™, and in the later Paris manuscript this latter is changed to
˜uncounted Turks from Anatolia™. The Copenhagen version could be read
to mean that Rhomania included part at least of Anatolia, but a more
natural reading would be that the regions are contrasted. We are up against
the fact that by the time the Chronicle was written the Byzantine Romans
had little hold on Asia Minor, and the chronicler could suppose that any
troops from that region would be mercenary Turks “ although at the time
of Pelagonia this was not necessarily the case.
This expectation that the extent of Rhomania should more ¬ttingly be
ruled by Romans may have extended even to the lands ruled by Franks,
since Byzantine Roman protagonists in the Chronicle repeatedly maintain
that the Roman emperor had a natural, hereditary right to the Peloponnese.


µ Wolff ±: ±“±.
±µ
Meanwhile, a long way from Constantinople . . .
The Byzantine Roman ruler of Thessaly tells Prince William that Michael
VIII Palaiologos ˜is going to throw you out of the Morea, where you have
no right “ he is the hereditary lord of Romania™ (±µ“), and the Grand
Domestic similarly tells the prince; ˜you have not justly inherited the land
of the Morea; you hold it with unjust force, for it is the hereditary rule of
the emperor of Romania™ (µµ“±). Similar claims are made by Michael
Palaiologos himself (°, ·). Such assertions, which are of course
not accepted by Prince William, tally with Pachymeres™ presentation of
Michael Palaiologos™s dreams of reconquest over the lost empire, discussed
above. Interestingly, though, the Chronicle is far more explicit than the
Byzantine Roman historians in setting forth the imperial claim to the
Peloponnese.
The Chronicle™s usage of Rhomania is at ¬rst sight more typically western
than Roman, but in fact it goes farther than any Byzantine Roman source
in asserting the Roman claim to southern Greece. Even in his own auto-
biography, Michael Palaiologos refrained from making any direct claim to
the Peloponnese as Roman land, and one may contrast his description of
the Epirot Romans “ ˜those Romans for many years in rebellion against
the rule of the Romans™ “ with his phrase for his enemies in the Pelo-
ponnese “ ˜those . . . who had as their leader the prince of Achaia™. When
Michael described his recapture of the Peloponnese he spoke of overrun-
ning and subordination, and not of recovery. Nevertheless, this claim
was physically asserted by Palaiologos, even if it was not emphasised in the
elite written record (perhaps because it was seen as not yet completed).
This claim to rights in lost lands gained part of its strength from an eth-
nic understanding of Roman identity: where Romans lived was somehow
Roman land. The broad regional sense of Rhomania and the narrower sense
restricting it to land ruled by the Byzantine Romans are linked by this idea
of predominant Roman residence and prevailing Roman customs, language
and culture in a way reminiscent of Gregoras™ treatment of ˜Roman™ lands
within the Serbian empire.

Fourteenth-century polemic
We have seen how the dominance of the ethnic Roman identity allows
for a freer application of the terminology of Roman-ness. Sometimes, the
contrasting uses of Rhomaioi clash to confusing effect: ˜Listen all of you,


 Gr´goire ±°: µµ.
e
± Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
both Franks and Romans, all you who believe in Christ and bear the
baptism, come here and listen to a great matter, the evil actions of the
Romans, the faithlessness which they have™ (·“·).
This is the opening of the account of the coup by Mourtzouphlos in early
±°, which overthrew Alexios IV and prompted the crusaders to take the
City for themselves. There are two types of Romans here, the hostile and
wicked Romans of thirteenth-century Constantinople, and the presumably
friendly Romans who are listening to the tale. Such a conjunction re¬‚ects
the fourteenth-century origins of the Chronicle, whose audience included
both Franks and Romans who were sympathetic to the tale it told and the
pro-Villehardouin perspective it adopted, and who were also familiar with
the Byzantine Romans of Mistra as potential enemies or allies. As outlined
above, the decline of the principality under Angevin absentee rule coincided
with growing assurance on the part of Mistra, leading Peloponnesians of all
backgrounds to reconsider their loyalties for the sake of increased personal
security. Personal choices led to personal bitterness: ˜These Romans, who
say they believe in Christ “ however much one swears to you and af¬rms
his oath, just so much is he plotting to destroy you, to take the shirt from
your back or to kill you™ (±µ“µ).
This idea of the faithless Roman is a recurring theme in such polem-
ical passages of the Chronicle, namely ·µ“, ±µ“ and ±“. As
discussed above, these vituperative outbursts against the Romans appear
in full only in the Copenhagen manuscript of the Greek Chronicle. Such
passages should be viewed as interpolations into the original Chronicle,
which was not nearly so anti-Roman. The French Chronicle, which is the
earliest of all extant versions, contains none of the lengthy anti-Roman
diatribes, suggesting that its source, which it calls the Book of the Conquest,

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