<<

. 10
( 67 .)



>>

ordinate position in relation to the Byzantine ruler. The elevation of the
emperor™s status from vassal to that of “father” is a clear manifestation of
the reversal brought about in Byzantine“Ottoman relations after the battle
of Ankara.43
Throughout the next decade the Byzantine government was able to
maintain the ascendancy it gained over the Ottomans in 1402“3, by merely
playing the game of diplomacy and exploiting the rivalries among Bayezid™s
sons. Supported by Manuel II, one of these sons, Mehmed I, ended up
being the ¬nal victor of the internecine strife and ascended the Ottoman
throne as sole ruler in 1413. Relations between the Byzantines and Ottomans
remained relatively peaceful during much of the reign of Mehmed I
(r. 1413“21), who immediately upon his accession acknowledged the terms
of the treaty of 1403 as well as his position as the “obedient son” of the
emperor.44 Con¬‚icts or tensions did arise occasionally, and Manuel II never
ceased from his efforts to obtain assistance from the West; yet a semblance
of peace and friendship was preserved by both sides.45
However, Mehmed I™s death in 1421, shortly after the coronation of
Manuel II™s son John VIII as co-emperor, became the occasion for a crisis
within the Byzantine court that, in turn, led to a bigger crisis in Byzantine“
Ottoman relations. Having grown accustomed during the interregnum
period to interfering in the rivalries for succession to the Ottoman throne,
the Byzantine government held a council meeting in 1421 to determine
Mehmed I™s successor. Manuel II™s opinion was not to interfere at all
and to accept Mehmed™s eldest son and designated successor, Murad II,
as sultan. John VIII, on the other hand, suggested supporting a rival

42 The treaty of 1403, concluded in Gallipoli before Manuel II™s return from his European journey, was
signed by John VII, who acted as Manuel™s regent and co-emperor during the latter™s absence. The
other co-signatories included Venice, Genoa, the duke of Naxos, and the Hospitallers of Rhodes,
who had formed an anti-Turkish league (liga) at this time. G. T. Dennis, “The Byzantine“Turkish
treaty of 1403,” OCP 33 (1967), 72“88 (text of the treaty at 77“80); Matschke, Ankara, pp. 40“141; E.
A. Zachariadou, “S¨ leyman Celebi in Rumili and the Ottoman chronicles,” Der Islam 60/2 (1983),
u ¸
268“96.
43 See Matschke, Ankara, pp. 51“6. It should be added too that Doukas does not fail to mention the
father“son relationship between the Byzantine emperor and S¨ leyman: Doukas“Grecu, XVIII.2,
u
p. 111.
44 Doukas“Grecu, XX.1, XXII.5, pp. 133, 157“9.
45 Barker, Manuel II, pp. 287“9, 318“20, 331“54, 389“90.
35
The shrinking empire between East and West
claimant to the throne, the pretender Mustafa, whom the Byzantines held
in their custody at Lemnos since 1416. At the root of these diverging
opinions lay in reality a much broader con¬‚ict concerning the empire™s
general international orientation, as the Byzantine court stood divided
between those who supported Manuel II™s policy of passive resistance
to the Ottomans, and those who clustered around the young Emperor
John VIII and advocated a more aggressive policy. The latter group, we do
not know whether by the strength of their numbers or by their arguments,
won the debate. Manuel, who was quite old by this time, did not ¬ght
back and left the matter to the care of his son.46 However, the scheme
of John VIII and his supporters back¬red when Murad II (r. 1421“44,
1446“51), after immediately capturing and killing Mustafa, retaliated by
laying siege to both Constantinople and Thessalonike. Manuel II™s words
about his son cited at the opening of this chapter were triggered in part by
the outcome of the Mustafa affair, which laid bare the dangers associated
with the course of action John VIII was prepared to take in contradiction
to the policy Manuel had pursued since the battle of Ankara.
Murad II™s siege of Constantinople turned out to be short and unsuc-
cessful, but his armies continued to pressure Thessalonike so forcefully
that in 1423 the city was ceded to Venice and remained under Venetian
domination until 1430, when Murad ¬nally conquered it. In 1423 another
Ottoman army attacked the Morea and caused great destruction in the
peninsula. Towards the end of the same year, in response to the growing
Ottoman danger, John VIII decided to explore the possibility of west-
ern aid and traveled to Venice, Milan, and Hungary, without, however,
achieving much and merely adding his name to the list of previous emper-
ors who had made likewise fruitless attempts. Meanwhile, in February
1424, about three months after John VIII™s departure from Constantinople
and probably without his knowledge,47 a treaty was concluded between
the Byzantine and Ottoman governments which introduced peace, yet
through terms that were extremely unfavorable to Byzantium. The price
for peace basically amounted to the revocation of the major advantages
that Byzantium had acquired by the treaty of 1403: a large portion of the
territory that S¨ leyman had restored to the empire was surrendered to the
u

46 Sphrantzes“Grecu, VIII.3; Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. ii, pp. 1“3. Cf. Barker, Manuel II, pp. 340“59. The
o
pretender Mustafa claimed to be a son of Bayezid I.
47 Despite his failing health, Manuel II (d. 1425) presumably took advantage of John VIII™s absence to
initiate peace talks with the Ottomans at this time. John™s brother and regent, the future emperor
Constantine XI, may have been involved in the arrangements too, even though on the basis of what
is known about Manuel™s foreign policy it is more likely that the initiative came from the latter.
36 Introduction and political setting
Ottomans, and, more signi¬cantly, after about twenty years of freedom
from the burden of tribute, the Byzantine emperor was once again reduced
to the status of a tribute-paying Ottoman vassal.48
The question of Church union, it may be recalled, was the second
bone of contention between Manuel II and John VIII. As the union of
the Churches was inextricably linked with the question of western aid to
Byzantium, each emperor who turned to the Latin West for military and
¬nancial assistance against the Ottomans had to confront it. John V had
sought a solution to the problem through his personal conversion. Manuel
II, for his part, perpetuated the negotiations for union, yet by making
its implementation strictly conditional upon military assistance, he could
avoid it so long as this prerequisite did not materialize.49 John VIII, too,
used the inducement of union to get help from the West, but he deviated
from the pattern set by his predecessors by actually agreeing to the union at
the Council of Florence in 1439, whereas both John V and Manuel II, for
all their differences, had been extremely cautious about not committing
their subjects to such an act.50 The Union of Florence, accepted on papal
terms and implying therefore the Byzantine Church™s subordination to the
Church of Rome, was bitterly resented by the populace of Constantinople,
who simply regarded it as the betrayal of their Orthodox faith.51 For the
next thirteen years until the city™s fall to the Ottomans, the inhabitants
of Constantinople were torn by controversy over this issue. And while
con¬‚icts between the unionists and anti-unionists dominated the city™s
political atmosphere and consumed the energies of both the citizens and

48 Byzantium™s territorial losses in 1424 included the cities and towns on the Black Sea coast (except
some fortresses such as Mesembria and Derkoi), Zeitounion, and the lands along the Strymon:
Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.1, p. 245. Compare these losses with Byzantium™s territorial gains in the
decade following the battle of Ankara: Doukas“Grecu, XVIII.2, pp. 111“13 (treaty with S¨ leyman,
u
1403), XX.1, p. 133 (treaty with Mehmed I, 1413); Dennis, “Byzantine“Turkish treaty of 1403,” 78. The
amount of the tribute demanded by the Ottomans in 1424 was 300,000 aspers according to Doukas,
or 100,000 ducats according to a contemporary Venetian document from Coron reproduced in
Marino Sanuto, Vite dei duchi di Venezia, ed. L. A. Muratori, RIS, 22 (Milan, 1733), col. 975b. It
should be noted that while Constantinople was free from the tribute obligation throughout 1403“24,
in Thessalonike payment of tribute may have been resumed around 1411: see below, ch. 4, p. 64 and
note 38; ch. 5, note 6. Cf. D¨ lger, Reg., vol. v, nos. 3412“14.
o
49 Barker, Manuel II, pp. 321“31, 391; J. Gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge, 1959; repr. with
corrigenda: New York, 1982), pp. 20“39. For Manuel II™s earliest projects for union during his
regime in Thessalonike, see below, ch. 3, pp. 46, 52.
50 Even though the union was concluded at the end of the Council of Ferrara“Florence (1438“9),
John VIII initiated negotiations with the papacy much earlier, in 1430, during the same year as
Thessalonike fell to the Ottomans. See Gill, Council of Florence, pp. 42“3.
51 J.-L. van Dieten, “Der Streit in Byzanz um die Rezeption der Unio Florentina,” Ostkirchliche Studien
39 (1990), 160“80.
37
The shrinking empire between East and West
their rulers, the Ottomans, who were themselves experiencing factional
politics, continued to make their headway in Christian lands.
In November 1444 Ottoman forces in¬‚icted a devastating defeat on a
crusading army at Varna, in Bulgaria. The Christian army that Murad II
crushed on this occasion was the long-delayed prize for which John VIII
had concluded the Union of Florence ¬ve years earlier. The failure of the
Crusade of Varna demonstrated to the Byzantines that their submission to
the Latin Church had been in vain, thereby strengthening the position of
the anti-unionists, while at the same time leading to despair many of those
who had put their trust in Latin help for the salvation of Constantinople. As
for John VIII, there was little he could do after Varna apart from trying to
placate the Sultan with gifts and congratulations.52 But Murad II was hard
to placate at this stage, and in 1446 he struck back by invading Thessaly
and the Morea. The Sultan™s armies exposed the Despotate of the Morea
to the most severe attack it had met from the Ottomans to that day, and
the province was subsequently reduced to a tributary status.53
Thereafter rapid deterioration set in at Byzantium. Inside Constanti-
nople, the Union of Florence was so unpopular that John VIII™s successor,
Constantine XI (r. 1448“53), avoided imposing it on his subjects (that is,
till the very eve of the city™s fall) even though he considered himself of¬-
cially bound by it in the international arena. While pursuing a consciously
ambiguous policy towards the Union, Constantine made the usual appeals
to western powers “ Venice, Genoa, Florence, Ragusa, Hungary, Aragon,
and the papacy “ for assistance against the Ottomans. Despite his many
pleas, which were accompanied by extra inducements such as the offer of
Lemnos to King Alfonso V of Aragon and Naples, or of Mesembria to John
Hunyadi of Hungary, Constantine XI had no success in arousing the west-
erners to his plight.54 At the time when Murad II passed away (1451), leaving
52 O. Halecki, The Crusade of Varna. A Discussion of Controversial Problems (New York, 1943); F.
Babinger, “Von Amurath zu Amurath. Vor- und Nachspiel der Schlacht bei Varna (1444),” Oriens
3/2 (1950), 233“44; Setton, The Papacy and the Levant, vol. ii, pp. 82“107; A. Hohlweg, “Der
Kreuzzug des Jahres 1444,” in Die T¨ rkei in Europa, ed. K.-D. Grothusen (G¨ ttingen, 1979),
u o
pp. 20“37; M. Chasin, “The Crusade of Varna,” in A History of the Crusades, gen. ed. K. M. Setton,
vol. vi: The Impact of the Crusades in Europe, ed. H. W. Hazard and N. P. Zacour (Madison, 1989),
pp. 276“310; Imber (trans.), Crusade of Varna, pp. 1“39 (Introduction).
53 D. A. Zakythinos, Le Despotat grec de Mor´e, rev. edn. by C. Maltezou (London, 1975), vol. i,
e
pp. 204“40; see below, ch. 10, pp. 272“3.
54 The most recent contribution to this subject is E. Malamut, “Les ambassades du dernier empereur
de Byzance,” in M´langes Gilbert Dagron (= TM 14) (Paris, 2002), pp. 429“48. In addition to the
e
sources and earlier studies cited in this article, see M. Carroll, “Constantine XI Palaeologus: some
problems of image,” in Maistor. Classical, Byzantine and Renaissance Studies for Robert Browning,
ed. A. Moffatt (Canberra, 1984), pp. 329“30 (n. 2), 338“43; D. M. Nicol, The Immortal Emperor.
38 Introduction and political setting
the throne to his son Mehmed II (r. 1444“6, 1451“81), who shared the impe-
rial ambitions of Bayezid I, it seemed as though Constantinople had little to
rely upon besides the legendary strength of its walls. Conquering the Byzan-
tine capital on May 29, 1453, Mehmed II realized his great-grandfather
Bayezid™s premature and unful¬lled goal of building a universal empire
with Constantinople at its center. Seven years later, Mehmed II subjugated
the Morea as well, thus putting an end to the last vestige of the Byzantine
Empire.55
The Life and Legend of Constantine Palaiologos, Last Emperor of the Romans (Cambridge, 1992),
pp. 16“17, 41, 48“51, 55“63.
55 Although in a broad sense the Empire of Trebizond, which Mehmed II conquered in 1461, might be
considered the last outpost of Byzantium, technically speaking it had not been part of the Byzantine
Empire since its establishment as an independent, separatist state just on the eve of the Fourth
Crusade. Moreover, it was remote and had little bearing on events in Constantinople and the rest
of the empire. Therefore, the discussion of Trebizond falls outside the scope of the present book.
part ii
Thessalonike




introduction to part ii
Thessalonike, the “second city” of the Byzantine Empire and the major
administrative, economic, and cultural center of medieval Macedonia, was
the scene of almost uninterrupted military struggles and climactic political
events between 1382 and 1430, which once resulted in the city™s complete
independence from Constantinople under Greek rule, and no fewer than
three times in its subjection to foreign domination. In 1382 Manuel II
Palaiologos, deprived recently of his right of succession to the imperial
throne at the conclusion of a civil war in Constantinople, left the Byzan-
tine capital with some followers and established himself in Thessalonike as
Emperor.1 Acting independently of John V™s government in Constantino-
ple, Manuel started from his new base a vigorous campaign against the
Ottomans with the aim of recovering the regions of Macedonia and Thes-
saly that had been conquered by them. In spite of some minor victories
initially, at the end of four years under Ottoman siege the Thessalonians
pressured Manuel to give up the struggle, and following his departure
from the city they surrendered to the Ottomans in the spring of 1387. For
the next sixteen years Thessalonike remained under Ottoman domination,
until its restoration to Byzantium by the Byzantine“Ottoman treaty of
1403 signed in the wake of the battle of Ankara. The city was then ceded
to John VII Palaiologos (d. 1408), who ruled there semi-independently
as “Emperor of all Thessaly”2 to the end of his life. After him, from
1408 to 1423, Manuel II™s third son Andronikos (under the tutorship of
Demetrios Laskaris Leontares during his minority) managed the affairs of
the city, holding the title “Despot” (despotes). Throughout this period, the

1 Manuel II was not a foreigner to Thessalonike, where he had ruled as Despot during 1369’73. On
the civil war of 1379’81, which ended with the re-designation of Manuel™s brother and nephew,
Andronikos IV and John VII, as successors of John V, see below, ch. 6, pp. 126“30.
2 John VII™s title is reported only by Doukas: Doukas“Grecu, p. 113.

39
40 Thessalonike
Ottomans made several attempts to capture Thessalonike. The ¬nancial
and military resources, supplies, and strength of the city were so reduced by
these persistent attacks that the Despot Andronikos, unable to obtain help
from Constantinople, was in the end compelled to hand it over to Venice.
During the seven years of their administration the Venetians made many
peace advances to the Ottomans, all of which failed. Nor did they succeed
in protecting and provisioning Thessalonike adequately. On March 29,
1430, the city ¬nally fell to the forces of Sultan Murad II.3
With this complex background permeated by constant political ¬‚uctu-
ations in the mere space of half a century, Thessalonike stands out as a
remarkably appropriate and interesting setting for an analysis of political
attitudes. Moreover, the city™s particularly volatile internal history punc-
tuated by a series of social upheavals provides an ideal opportunity for
studying the Thessalonians™ attitudes within their proper sociopolitical and
socioeconomic context. The aim of the chapters in Part II is to enhance
our perception of Thessalonike™s internal history as well as its relations
with Constantinople, the Latins, and the Ottomans during the period in
question, by on the one hand examining the effects of Ottoman pressures
in terms of the different political attitudes that emerged there, and on the
other hand exposing and analyzing the socioeconomic adjustments and
internal tensions that accompanied these turbulent years of siege, military
struggle, and political change.
3 On these events, see A. Vakalopoulos, History of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 1972), pp. 62“75; Dennis,
Reign of Manuel II; Dennis, “Byzantine“Turkish treaty of 1403,” 72“88; J. Tsaras, “La ¬n d™Andronic
Pal´ologue dernier Despote de Thessalonique,” RESEE 3 (1965), 419“32; P. Lemerle, “La domina-
e
tion v´nitienne a Thessalonique,” Miscellanea Giovanni Galbiati, vol. iii (Milan, 1951), pp. 219“25;
e `
D. Jacoby, “Thessalonique de la domination de Byzance a celle de Venise. Continuit´, adaptation ou
e
`
rupture?,” M´langes Gilbert Dagron (= TM 14) (Paris, 2002), pp. 303’18; M. Delilbas±, “Selˆnik™in
e ¸ a
Venedik idaresine gecmesi ve Osmanl±“Venedik savas±,” Belleten 40 (1976), 573“88; Delilbas±, “Selˆnik
¸ ¸ ¸ a
ve Yanya™da Osmanl± egemenli˜ i,” 75“92; Vryonis, “Ottoman conquest of Thessaloniki,” pp. 281“321;

<<

. 10
( 67 .)



>>