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and in these years immediately before the Ottoman conquest ˜Roman™ can
be seen to have remained in use at all times by the ethnically Roman res-
idents of the region as the major self-identifying term indicative of ethnic
identity. On the periphery of the empire, however, this Roman identity
was more and more divorced from political loyalty.


the sources

Manuel Palaiologos
The future emperor Manuel II Palaiologos was born in Constantinople in
±µ°, the second son of the emperor John V Palaiologos. He was governor
of Thessaloniki in around ±·° and was named as his father™s successor and
crowned co-emperor in ±·, replacing his elder brother Andronikos IV
Palaiologos, who had led an unsuccessful, revolt against their father John
V. Andronikos did not take this demotion lying down. With Turkish help,

 Vryonis ±±: ·“±.
 Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
he led a second, more successful, revolt in ±·: Manuel and his father
John were captured and held for three years. They escaped in ±· and
recaptured the city, thanks to help in their turn from the Venetians and
Turks (Manuel Palaiologos, Funeral Oration ±°±). John V and Andronikos
IV were reconciled in the early ±°s and, as a result, Manuel was barred
from the throne. In response, against his father™s wishes, Manuel returned
to Thessaloniki, where he led an active policy against the Ottomans. This
was bold but rash “ the Turks laid seige to Thessaloniki and took it in ±·.
Manuel had to swear allegiance to Sultan Murad I.
Despite his disobedience and the disastrous loss of Thessaloniki, Manuel
was reconciled to his father in ± and again recognised as heir to the
imperial throne. Andronikos IV was now dead, having rebelled yet again in
±µ. The agreement between Manuel and his father debarred Andronikos™
son John VII from the throne; with grim inevitability, John now rebelled in
his turn and took the city in ±° with Turkish and Genoese help. Manuel
defeated John with help from the Hospitaller knights and at last succeeded
his father on John V™s death in early ±±.
This unrelenting round of domestic disputes had allowed the Ottomans
to exercise considerable in¬‚uence, and Manuel repeatedly served as a vas-
sal at the Ottoman court and on their campaigns in Anatolia. After his
accession to the throne in ±±, Manuel seems to have been determined to
¬ght against the Ottoman in¬‚uence, and the ¬rst decade of his reign was
dominated by the struggle against the inroads of the Ottomans and their
obvious ambition to take Constantinople and the empire; thus he toured
the kingdoms of western Europe in search of assistance (Funeral Oration
±.“±) as Sultan Bayezid laid seige to Constantinople itself.
After their defeat at the battle of Ankara in ±°, though, the Ottomans
were plunged into civil war and Manuel was able to take advantage of this.
A favourable treaty with Sultan Mehmet I put an end to the humiliating
tribute payments and regained Thessaloniki for the Byzantine Roman
empire. However, on Mehmet™s death in ±±, the inept policy of Manuel™s
son and co-emperor John VIII undid all this good work; Manuel was forced
to sign a humiliating treaty and soon after retired to the monastic life. He
died in ±µ.
Manuel™s brother Theodore I Palaiologos was despot of Mistra in the
Peloponnese from ± to ±°·. Byzantine Roman rule in the Peloponnese
had been put on an impressively ¬rm footing under Manuel Kantak-
ouzenos, despot from ± to ±°, who was succeeded by his brother
Matthew Kantakouzenos before Theodore took over in ± (Funeral
Oration ±±±.“±, ±±µ.±°“). For the ¬rst ¬ve years of his reign, Theodore
had to cope with a signi¬cant revolt under his cousin John Kantakouzenos,
·
The long defeat
which attracted considerable local support; Theodore ¬nally managed to
crush this insurrection with help from the Turks (Funeral Oration ±±µ.·“
±±.). However, this assistance was indicative of Ottoman interest in the
region and, from the late ±°s, the Turks began to take a serious and acquis-
itive interest in the Peloponnese. By ±± at the latest, Theodore was “ like
his brother the emperor “ a vassal of the sultan (Funeral Oration ±µ.“
±.±). Subordinate status did not protect Ottoman vassals; rather it was
all too clearly a prelude to outright conquest and, like Manuel, Theodore
looked for western aid against the eastern threat. In the ±°s and early ±°s
he maintained a pro¬table relationship with his father-in-law Nerio Accia-
juoli of Athens (Funeral Oration ±µ.“), while alliances with Venice were
usually more fragile. The despot also had to deal with endemic domestic
unrest; the local subjects of the empire all too easily looked to their master™s
enemies if they thought that might bring them improved security (see, e.g.,
Funeral Oration ±µ.±“). Then, after catastrophic Ottoman raids in ±µ
and ±·, Theodore contracted to sell Corinth, and subsequently Mistra
itself, to the Hospitallers, much to the dismay of his populace and the anger
of the sultan (Funeral Oration ±·.± “±±.±). However, like his brother the
emperor, Theodore was saved by the Mongols, and with his brother™s diplo-
matic assistance he swiftly extricated himself from his commitments with
the knights. He died in ±°·.
The Funeral Oration composed by Manuel II Palaiologos for his brother,
and delivered in ±°, reveals the affection between the two men, and also
provides a wealth of historical detail as the emperor goes into consid-
erable detail about the relationship with the Ottomans and Theodore™s
machinations with the various western groupings, by way of seeking to
defend policies that had made Theodore unpopular with many of his
subjects. The work is an apologia, but in the dearth of historical writing
between Kantakouzenos in the ±°s and the various chroniclers of the fall
of Constantinople writing after ±µ it constitutes a rare nugget of detail
for developments in the Peloponnese in particular. It is written in Manuel
Palaiologos™ particularly complex classicising Greek.

Mazaris
Almost contemporary with the Funeral Oration is the Journey to Hades by
the satirist Mazaris, which was written in the second decade of the ¬fteenth
century. This satire is the work of an educated man, being full of both
Biblical and classical references, but it also approaches the contemporary

 Funeral Oration: Chrysostomides ±µ.
 Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
vernacular in its use of vocabulary and is written in a racy style that is
far removed from the magisterial tones of the classicising historians. The
Journey tells how the author visited Hades in a dream and met various
people whom he had known when they were alive. On the advice of one of
these dead men, Holobolos, Mazaris moved to the Peloponnese, and the
second part of the work consists of the author™s complaints to Holobolos
for giving him bad advice, backed up by a description of the Peloponnese
and its peoples to show just how bad that advice had been.
Little is known of the author beyond what can be gleaned from his
work, but it is clear that he was an imperial civil servant, married and with
several children. He had served the imperial family in some capacity before
and during Manuel II Palaiologos™ visit to the west (±“±°), and on
the emperor™s return had been accused of embezzlement on the island of
Lemnos and had consequently fallen into disgrace. Out of favour with the
emperor (Manuel II Palaiologos) in Constantinople, he was advised to move
to the Peloponnese in around ±± to make his career at the court of Despot
Theodore II Palaiologos at Mistra. He did not ¬nd things easy there at ¬rst,
but eventually gained the patronage of the despot, who commissioned a
copy of this satire. In the course of its scurrilous attacks the Journey to Hades
includes much fascinating detail about the Peloponnese, particularly in its
second half, which Mazaris implies was written some fourteenth months
after his arrival in the despotate.µ The satire seems intended to be read and
enjoyed by the imperial court at Mistra (although not the local residents
of the province), and thus may well re¬‚ect the prejudices of the Byzantine
Roman ruling class with regard to the local situation and people. Certainly,
the Journey to Hades is well paired with the Funeral Oration, as they were
written within ten years of each other and were intended for much the
same audience of the well-educated elite.

The later versions of the Chronicle of the Morea
The Latin principality of Achaia came to an end in ±°; the Byzantine
Roman despotate of Mistra lasted a further thirty years before falling
to the Ottomans in ±°. It is again the Greek Chronicle of the Morea,
which apparently continued to be enjoyed throughout the ¬fteenth century,
that allows us a distinctive glimpse into the Peloponnese in this period.
Manuscripts of the Chronicle from the very end of the ¬fteenth century


µ Journey to Hades: Barry, Share, Smithies and Westerink ±·µ.

The long defeat
have survived, and in their handling of the Greek language they strongly
suggest a close relationship with the spoken language as it developed into
the early modern period. This implies that the Chronicle continued to be
a genuinely popular work. These later versions of the Chronicle also vary
from the earlier Copenhagen manuscript in their treatment of Franks and
Romans, and thus the Greek Chronicle of the Morea offers a chance to look
into developments in the Peloponnese into the ¬fteenth century.
The family of manuscripts of the Greek Chronicle of the Morea can be
divided up thus:
r the Copenhagen manuscript (˜H™), demonstrably the earliest, dating
from the ±°s and closely re¬‚ecting an earlier lost original;
r the two Paris manuscripts and the Berne manuscript, of which Paris 
is the earliest (˜P™), dating to the late ¬fteenth or early sixteenth century;
and
r the Turin manuscript, more closely related to the Copenhagen version
but also of the late ¬fteenth or early sixteenth century (˜T™).
It is practically a given in any examination of the Greek Chronicle of
the Morea that P and T re¬‚ect a more ˜Greek™ perspective on the events
recounted in the Chronicle, in contrast to the more Frankish prejudices of
H.· They thus show, it is implied, an eventual rejection of the Frankish
presence in the Peloponnese over the course of the ¬fteenth century. This
may well be overstating the case but, at the very least, the differences
between these later versions and the earlier H are revelatory of developments
during and after the last years of the Frankish principality.


romans and others at the court of mistra
Compared to his predecessors Gregoras and Kantakouzenos, the emperor
Manuel Palaiologos makes far scantier use of Rhomaios and its associated
vocabulary, with a mere six occurrences only in his Funeral Oration on his
brother Theodore, despot of the Peloponnese (Appendix ±, p. °±). As we
shall see below, Palaiologos preferred to evoke his central sense of identity
through the use of ˜we™, and this was a natural genre-led choice in a speech
ostensibly addressed to his subjects in Mistra, as opposed to the purportedly

 Codex Havniensis µ·: Schmitt ±°: xv“xvi, xxxvi“xxxviii and  under ˜Erard III™; Jeffreys ±·µ:
°µ“; Jacoby ±: ±µµ“. Codices Parisinus gr.  and Parisinus gr. ·µ and Codex Bernensis gr.
µ°: Schmitt ±°: xvi“xviii, xxix; Jacoby ±: ±µ“; Lurier ±: “. Codex Taurinensis B, II.±:
Schmitt ±°: xviii, xxvii“xxx; Jacoby ±: ±µ; Lurier ±: .
· Cf. Jeffreys ±·µ: “·: ˜it has been assumed, probably rightly, that P was written by a Greek who
identi¬ed himself with those under attack [supp. “in the polemic of H”]™ also Lurier ±: “.
µ° Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
more detached historical form pursued by Gregoras and Kantakouzenos
and their predecessors. Nevertheless, there may be more to this than genre
as Mazaris too makes comparatively little use of Rhomaios with again just
a handful of occurrences (Appendix ±, p. °±). Potentially, this decrease in
the use of the terminology of Roman-ness re¬‚ects its waning popularity,
as denoting a Roman political identity which was increasingly out of step
with reality.
Nevertheless, although Rhomaios is so much rarer in both Mazaris and
Palaiologos, both writers™ use of the terminology of Roman-ness con¬rms
the primarily political content observed in earlier writers. Palaiologos twice
uses the genitive formula with arche, with the sense of the territorial extent
of Byzantine Roman rule, and once with eÉdaimon©a (eudaimonia: ˜pros-
perity™), with the sense that the state was ¬‚ourishing. Similarly, he uses the
plain formula once in its collective political sense by saying Bayezid was
plotting evil for the Romans, and once in its individual sense “ Theodore
persuaded ˜the Romans and the Rhodians who held towns in the Pelo-
ponnese™ to make peace (Funeral Oration °µ.±±“±). The context here
is the popular protest against the Hospitallers after Theodore sold them
rights to his dominion in ±°°, and Palaiologos™ account is undoubtedly
an attempt to vindicate his brother™s unpopular policy (Funeral Oration
±·“±±). Here, the Rhomaioi are clearly to be understood as Theodore™s
subjects, and there does not need to be any ethnic content to this use:
Palaiologos has just expatiated at some length on how the involvement of
the Hospitallers caused Theodore™s subjects to renew their devotion to their
beloved despot (cf. Funeral Oration °., °.·). He needs to minimise
the very real unpopularity of Theodore at this time and to portray his
brother as the true ruler in the Peloponnese, and the use of Rhomaioi at
this point is signi¬cant in emphasising Theodore™s legitimacy and standing,
and the subject status of the unruly Peloponnesians. There is less subtlety
in Mazaris: all occurrences of Rhomaios are in the genitive formula, and all
come within the context of references to the fact of imperial rule and thus
bear reference to the state as a collectivity of the Roman people.
Although the references are again scanty, Palaiologos is reminiscent of
his predecessors, and of Kantakouzenos in particular, in his treatment of
the concept of Roman land. Referring to Theodore™s purchase of Corinth
from Carlo Tocco in ±, he credited his brother with the ˜recovery™ of
the city ˜which had been for so long torn from the rule of the Romans™ “
i.e., the city had been under Latin rule since around ±±° (Funeral Ora-
tion ±.±µ“±). Similarly, Theodore ˜brings home™ the cities held by the
µ±
The long defeat
Hospitallers in ±° (Funeral Oration °.±). However, Palaiologos is nat-
urally here talking about successful recovery and, as we have seen in both
Kantakouzenos and Gregoras in the cases of Galata and the Peloponnese,
the pre-±° territorial extension of the empire was not always seen as
sacrosanct. We should perhaps say that, once it was the case that territory
came to be seen as recoverable, then that area was newly celebrated as
inherently and immemorially Roman; if however no chance of recovery
was to be seen then a more pragmatic attitude prevailed. This attitude
can be seen in the historians of the fourteenth century and is continued
by Manuel Palaiologos. The evidence in Mazaris is scanty in the extreme,
but his reference to the island of Thasos as ˜the legendary island of the
Romans™ (Journey .µ“) would tend to con¬rm some territorial aspect
to the political Roman identity.
In summary, it is fair to say that, as with all the earlier high status writ-
ers, the political Roman identity is also dominant in Manual Palaiologos™
Funeral Oration and in the less exalted work of Mazaris, but the sample
of terminology is too small for any closer analysis. At the same time, the
very smallness of the sample perhaps suggests some failure in the Roman
political identity, which was still the primary signi¬cance of Rhomaios for
such educated writers.
It was shown above how the portrayal of Serbs and Bulgarians in both
Gregoras and Kantakouzenos tended towards implying that these peoples
were comparable to the Romans, and certainly illustrated far less of the
automatic disparagement of others that had been customary in Byzantine
Roman culture. The material for such a discussion is once more far scantier
in Manuel Palaiologos™ Funeral Oration. However, Palaiologos was in the
rare position for a Byzantine Roman writer of having travelled extensively
outside his empire, since he had toured western Europe in search of aid
against the Turks from late ± to early ±°. In the Funeral Oration, he
speaks of having visited Italy, France and Britain (±.±°“±±) “ and this
is a presentation of the states of western Europe as distinct and powerful
political units (albeit somewhat inaccurately in the case of Italy), which
perhaps betokens a new realism and respect. Moreover, at ±µ.“° he
speci¬cally and unfavourably contrasts the strength of the Romans with
that of ˜all the western nations (ethne)™. Mazaris (Journey, e.g. ±.°“±,
.“·) is similarly concrete about the western nations in his treatment of
the emperor™s journey, suggesting that this was a more general perspective
on the west. Again, then, in the portrayal of other nations the standing
of the Byzantine Romans is seen to have lost some of its lustre, and this
µ Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
weakening of political status surely continued to be problematic for an
identity which had the imperial state at its heart.
As we have seen, both Palaiologos and Mazaris use Rhomaios extremely

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