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empire which he recounts and exempli¬es, as it were against his will. Here
we see a disjunction between the political and cultural aspects of identity,
brought to the fore by the fact of political power passing out of the hands
of ethnic Romans, and a consequent emphasis on the ethnic element of
identity.
Although Laskaris was able to combine both political and religious
authority in his reborn empire, the Frankish conquests also initiated a split
between the Roman religious identity and the Roman political identity that
was of major signi¬cance. Thus we saw from Akropolites how some Romans
under the Latin empire appealed to the Emperor Henry for protection
of their Orthodox tradition while nonetheless af¬rming their political
allegiance to him. Thus one™s Roman loyalties might be split, with political,
imperial, allegiance going to the emperor in Constantinople but religious
allegiance going to the patriarchate, or at any rate not to the same church
as that of one™s ruler. A similar compromise was reached in the Morea
· Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
and it is safe to say that, where Latin rulers were both happy to allow
religious freedom and strong enough to provide effective government, their
Roman subjects were for the most part content to be ruled by them. There
were always exceptions among the class most likely to be dispossessed by
incoming westerners; nevertheless, the habit of subjection was strong and
in this case the Byzantine Roman political tradition worked in the Latins™
favour.
Thus the Frankish conquest was an event of major signi¬cance for
the Byzantine Roman identity which brought the religious, cultural and
perceived racial aspects to the fore at the expense of the political, forging
new ethnic identities. The strength of the political imperial tradition is
graphically shown by the initial acceptance and success of the Latin empire
(and its adjuncts in southern Greece). However, while it is undeniable that
many ethnic Romans were content to serve their new Latin masters, it is
similarly clear that the fact that they were Latin and not Roman highlighted
the religious and cultural differences between Latins and Romans, and gave
these added force as expressing Roman-ness in contrast to Latinity and
giving the subject Romans a sense of group identity. In turn, the ethnic
sense of being Roman, which was made manifest by cultural attributes,
came strongly to the fore. You could now be Roman without being a
subject of the emperor of the Romans: this was, indeed, a weakening of
the imperial position.

In the long run and with the ascendancy of the Nikaian empire, however,
the political aspect of Roman identity appears to have been little affected
by the Frankish conquest. Certainly, for the elite historians of Byzantium
writing in the period, the political aspect remains for the most part pre-
eminent in their presentations of the Rhomaioi.
In retaking Constantinople, Michael Palaiologos reunited imperial rule
with its traditional trappings, and his triumph was understandably widely
viewed as a vindication of the Byzantine Roman imperial tradition. Akropo-
lites™ History is a panegyric of Michael Palaiologos, who promoted himself
as the new Constantine, and Michael™s active policy of reconquest is borne
out by both Pachymeres and the Chronicle of the Morea. Such an expan-
sionist policy may attest to the new strength of the ethnic aspect of Roman
identity, as Michael was trying to reincorporate into the empire all those
areas with Roman residents that had been lost to the Latins; Akropolites™
ascription of Roman status to the Peloponnesians who served in the army
of the prince of Achaia witnesses to the strength of this ethnic aspect,
as does the attention given by Pachymeres to the thelematarioi and those
·
Roman identity and the response to the Franks
he labels Rhoma¨zontes who were similarly explicitly called Romans while
±
nevertheless living outside the Roman state (of Nikaia) and thus hav-
ing no political Roman identity beyond a historical, transgenerational,
allegiance.
All these examples, however, reaf¬rm that the political aspect was still
extremely potent, at least among the elite commentators. As a means
of demoting the status of the Epirot rivals to Nikaia, Akropolites strongly
wished to avoid naming any non-Nikaians as Romans. The political agenda
is clear “ Nikaia was the true state ˜of the Romans™ “ and the example just
cited of the Peloponnesians should be viewed as an aberration. Thus too
Pachymeres limited his use of Rhomaioi for those outside the Nikaian or
Byzantine state, typically employing more speci¬c or more neutral termi-
nology. Yet, unlike Akropolites, Pachymeres wanted to emphasise that there
were Romans outside the state, as his concern was to suggest that ethnic
identity should coincide with political allegiance although it regrettably
often did not. Pachymeres thus simultaneously demonstrates the desired
strength of the political aspect of Roman identity, and even more the
actual strength of the ethnic aspect. In the world outside Constantino-
ple, this latter aspect was becoming dominant. On the evidence of the
Chronicle of the Morea for the Latin states of southern Greece, Rhomaioi
had, both in application to individuals and occasionally also collectively, an
entirely ethnic and non-political sense, although it could also still be under-
stood in its collective political sense as referring to the state of Nikaia or
Constantinople.
In Choniates, we see ˜Christian™ used as an alternative term to deny
Roman identity to certain people, and there was typically little direct asso-
ciation between being Christian and being Roman in the writers of the
thirteenth century. Pachymeres notably avoided the use of Rhomaios for
the Orthodox Christians in recounting the debates and process of church
union. The multi-stranded Byzantine Roman identity was again weakened
as a result of Michael Palaiologos™ religious policy of pursuing union with
the church of Rome; indirectly, this too was a result of the Frankish con-
quests since, in an attempt to neutralise the threat of renewed attacks from
the west, Michael sought to appease the Latins with religious concessions.
Through his ill-judged attempts at church union, the emperor presented his
subjects with a choice of political loyalty to the emperor or religious loyalty
to the perceived purity of the Orthodox tradition: once again, a disjunction
between the political and religious aspects of the Roman identity had been
made explicit. Although this dilemma was removed by Andronikos II in
an explicit renewal of anti-unionist Orthodoxy, the imperial position had
· Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
thereby again been weakened. The dispute over church union had led to
the emperor deposing Patriarch Arsenios, but many held out for Arsenios
as legitimate patriarch against his imperially sponsored successors; Michael
Palaiologos™ high-handed religious policy struck at the heart of the ideology
of the emperor as defender of Orthodoxy and again allowed for divided
loyalties. This example of opposition to an emperor on religious grounds
may have intensi¬ed the struggle against hesychasm, championed by John
VI Kantakouzenos in the middle of the subsequent century.
How much did such con¬‚icts impinge on the sense of Roman identity
outside the hothouses of Constantinople and Mount Athos? On the evi-
dence of the Chronicle of the Morea, the Union of Lyons impinged not
at all on the Peloponnese, where traditional Orthodoxy was maintained
under Latin rule. In a rare nod at the distant provinces, Gregoras says that
anti-unionist monks were stirring up feeling in the Peloponnese in the
±·°s (Gregoras Roman History i.±·“), but this comment again primarily
serves to illustrate the independent leanings of the Peloponnesians, since
Gregoras presents the feeling as being as much against the emperor and his
policy as it was against the local Latins. In the provincial Peloponnese, the
religious controversy thus perhaps served only to weaken further whatever
remnants remained of the imperial identity.

Yet the political aspect of Roman identity remained strong in all the writings
of the fourteenth century and into the ¬fteenth. It is worth noting that
such familiar formulations as basileus or basileia ˜of the Romans™ are used
in the Greek Chronicle of the Morea just as they are used in the elite
historians to denote a collective sense of the Byzantine Romans as the
stuff of the imperial state. This collective sense is dominant in Gregoras
and Kantakouzenos and, given the limited use they made of Rhomaioi,
also in the Funeral Oration of Manuel Palaiologos and in Mazaris™ Journey
to Hades. In fact, it is possible that this political aspect was emphasised
ever more strongly in direct proportion to the decline of the state, as if
to reassert what no longer seemed so obvious about the empire of the
Romans. Thus, in the ±°s Patriarch Anthony insisted to Tsar Vasili I of
Moscow that the emperor remained superior in rank to all other rulers
and authorities, due and receiving, even from the Latins, ˜the same honour
and the same subordination which they gave him in the early days when
they were united with us™. The patriarch acknowledged all the problems
confronting the emperor, surrounded by enemies, his lands dramatically
reduced, his supposedly unique title stolen by rival rulers, but insisted on
the continuing sacred role of the ˜basileus and autokrator of the Romans,
·µ
Roman identity and the response to the Franks
that is, of all Christians™ (basileÆv kaª aÉtokr†twr t¤n <Rwma©wn,
p†ntwn dhladŸ t¤n cristian¤n).
However, alongside such apparent failures to acknowledge the realities
of their own times, historians like Gregoras and Kantakouzenos were else-
where more pragmatic. Thus there is in both an idea of naturally Roman
territory, but this is only applied to territory that has been successfully
reacquired by the Byzantine Romans . . . Perhaps, with the imperial throne
itself in dispute and the empire under such pressure, a defensive conser-
vative return to the old imperial dogmas was inevitable; thus so much in
Kantakouzenos in particular seems to recall the ideology re¬‚ected in Cho-
niates a century and a half before. Yet this political identity now seemed to
apply more theoretically than practically, and problems arose when indi-
viduals or more speci¬c actual groups entered the equation. Firstly, like
Akropolites and Pachymeres, Gregoras and Kantakouzenos both acknowl-
edged the existence of Rhomaioi outside the political sphere of in¬‚uence of
Constantinople. As with Pachymeres, the importance of the political aspect
of identity led Kantakouzenos, and later also Manuel Palaiologos, to deny
the name of Roman to certain other groups: the Verrhiotes and Epirots
(by Kantakouzenos) and the Peloponnesians (by both Kantakouzenos and
Palaiologos) were all denied the name of Romans because they were not
loyal to Byzantine Roman power. But why were they expected to be so
loyal, unless they were Romans? Undoubtedly, such groups were expected
to be loyal because they were identi¬able as Romans in other ways and,
though Kantakouzenos does not make this clear, Palaiologos at least refers
to genos and faith as reasonably leading to the expectation of certain loy-
alties among the Peloponnesians, an expectation that was disappointed.
Such people were Roman in a way that had come to be entirely divorceable
from the question of loyalty to the Constantinopolitan state, other than by
an appeal to family history, to a past transgenerational identity as subjects
of the Byzantine Roman state. Similarly, Romans in Mamluk and some
Latin-controlled areas could still be acknowledged as Roman because of
these kinds of aspects “ they were, we might say, ethnic Romans. The
battle for political supremacy seemed suf¬ciently lost in Cairo or the areas
controlled by the Italian republics. In contrast, the trouble with the Pelo-
ponnesians, Verrhiotes or Epirots was that their ethnic Roman identity

 Miklosich and M¨ ller ±°“° ii: ±“; the relevant passages are translated in Barker ±µ·: ±°·“.
u
This patriarchal letter has been rightly cited as evidence for the decline in imperial prestige throughout
the ˜Byzantine commonwealth™, and for the corresponding rise in standing of the patriarch: Barker
±µ·: ±°µ“±°, ±“; Obolensky ±·±: “.
· Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
should have coincided with a political identity as Romans, one which
was seen by the Byzantine Roman leadership as viable “ but as individ-
uals or communities that was not what they wanted. Individual ethnic
identity had thus come to be potentially in con¬‚ict with the ideologically
desired Roman political identity. The Chronicle of the Morea reveals that
the natives of the Peloponnese called themselves Romans, and that this
self-identi¬cation was bound up primarily in the Orthodox faith and an
accustomed, inherited, way of life, but not in any automatic loyalty to the
Byzantine Roman state.
None of the elite fourteenth- and ¬fteenth-century sources strongly
associate being Roman with possessing a distinct Christian identity, though
the Christian and Roman identities were applied to interlinking groups.
Indeed, the lack of equivalency between the group ˜Romans™ and the group
˜Christians™ is on occasion made explicit by Gregoras, who himself felt a
strong personal sense of identi¬cation with his vision of correct Orthodoxy,
but nevertheless very rarely associated Orthodoxy with being Roman. He
associated the quality of ˜Roman™ most strongly with its political focus, and
he also came into violent personal con¬‚ict over religion with the political
power; the two identities thus sat uneasily together in his life as in his work.
Nevertheless, we have seen that the profession of Orthodox Christianity
was, along with language and appearance, an important element in the
package of cultural phenomena that were expressive of the ethnic Roman
identity. Explicit in the Chronicle of the Morea, this cultural and ethnic
aspect is almost wholly negatively formulated in the elite sources, but
we can nevertheless glimpse a familiar conception of Orthodox Romans,
dressed as Romans, acting like Romans, identi¬able to one of their own
as distinct from any other group. Moreover, though one could change the
externals that outwardly identi¬ed one ethnically, it was harder to lose one™s
essential identity, which was a matter of birth, of ethnic descent. Thus it was
possible to have Romans outside the Byzantine Roman state and, further,
to de¬ne areas outside the Roman state as nevertheless Roman. Gregoras
implies that it was both the external phenomena like laws and religious
practice, and the residency of ethnically de¬ned Romans that allowed such
areas to be identi¬ed as Roman despite their political af¬liation, and thus
his formulation accords with that of the Chronicle of the Morea.
It is furthermore clear from the later sources that the relationship with
the non-Roman other had fundamentally altered, with Gregoras, Kantak-
ouzenos and Manuel Palaiologos all presenting the Byzantine Roman state
far more as one among equals. The dichotomy between Romans and bar-
barians had largely broken down, though it survived in the elite works as
··
Roman identity and the response to the Franks
an exercise in rhetoric. Again, in the Greek Chronicle of the Morea and in
some of the vernacular romances we see a positive attitude to westerners
in particular that re¬‚ects the reality of mixed ethnicities in the region. The
westerner remained an alien other, but he was better known; the situation
was far less black and white.
Moreover, it is clear that, in the Peloponnese at least, the sense of ethnic
identity occasioned or, at least in some ways, heightened by the closer
contact with westerners was not the most signi¬cant category of group
identi¬cation in his period. Rather, the coming of the Franks gave impetus
to an already strong sense of regional loyalty. In the mixed ethnic society
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries this regional identity exerted
in¬‚uence across ethnic borders.

Returning to the hypotheses posed at the start of our enquiry, we can ¬nally
present some answers.
r There was no single uniform sense of ethnic identity among the
Romans.
The conquest of Constantinople and the empire, in that it attempted to sep-
arate imperial rule from the Roman ethnic base, encouraged an aggressive
sense of ethnic identity among the educated Byzantine Romans. There was
a renewed sense of imperial destiny under the Palaiologoi, and also a search
for validation of the Roman ethnicity that included a revisiting and re-
evaluation of the Hellenic past, although this renascent Hellenism does not
come across as particularly signi¬cant in the historians. Outside Nikaian
and Constantinopolitan circles, the Romans living under Latin rule also
became more aware of certain ethnic attributes through the sustained con-
tact with another group, and they attached more value to these attributes;
the profession of Orthodoxy was particularly signi¬cant in this regard.
However, the political aspect of Roman identity decreased in importance
more quickly outside elite circles, and the Frankish conquest gave an added
push to the regional separatism that was already of considerable signi¬cance
at the end of the twelfth century. Thus, there was geographical variation in
the ethnic identities of the Romans. Although the Byzantine Romans were
able to re-establish their power at Mistra in the fourteenth century, for many
in the Peloponnese Roman identity was far more about ethnic descent,
Orthodoxy and cultural style than about imperial loyalties. Over and above
this, in the Peloponnese a regional loyalty that could operate across ethnic
boundaries was of far greater signi¬cance than an ethnic identity spurred
on by any oppositional contrast with the incoming Franks. Even more
· Being Byzantine: Greek identity before the Ottomans
than before, the Constantinopolitan Roman was a different beast from the
Roman of the western Peloponnese, the Roman of Trebizond, the Roman
living in Cairo, or the Roman living in Epiros. The Frankish conquest
fractured the Roman world, and presented workable alternatives to rule

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( 54 .)



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