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22 Dennis, Reign of Manuel II, pp. 125“6. For the negotiations of the Venetian Senate with the Turks
concerning commercial privileges during 1384, see Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. i, nos. 667, 672, 677, 678.
e
On the good relations between Murad I and Venice, see also E. A. Zachariadou, Trade and Crusade;
Venetian Crete and the Emirates of Menteshe and Ayd±n (1300“1415) (Venice, 1983), p. 74 and n. 328;
E. A. Zachariadou, “Marginalia on the history of Epirus and Albania (1380“1418),” WZKM 78
(1988), 201“2. Although the Ottomans had been allied to the Genoese since 1352 and maintained
close commercial relations with them, Murad I simultaneously welcomed the diplomatic approaches
of the Venetians so as to neutralize the two rival Italian powers: see ™
Inalc±k, “Ottoman Turks and
the Crusades,” p. 245.
23 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 302, lines 34“40. 24 “Sumbouleutik»v,” ed. Laourdas, p. 298.
25 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 324, lines 39“42.
47
Thessalonike: an overview (1382“1430)
treacherously fought on the side of the enemy.26 It is evident that as the
Ottoman siege persisted for several years and meanwhile no help came to
Thessalonike from Constantinople, from the Morea, or from any of the
western powers to which Manuel made overtures, more and more inhab-
itants joined the ranks of those who were from the beginning in favor of
an accommodation with the enemy.
After the restoration of Thessalonike to Byzantine rule in 1403, the city
seems to have enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity owing to
the internal problems of the Ottomans in the aftermath of the battle of
Ankara.27 However, as soon as the Ottomans recovered their strength and
resumed their attacks, beginning with Musa™s siege of 1411“13, Thessalonike
turned into a scene of con¬‚icts between those in favor of ¬ghting against
the Turks with western assistance and those inclining towards an accom-
modation with them.28 These con¬‚icts reached a climax during another
siege launched in 1422“3 by the forces of Murad II. Symeon™s account of
these years makes it clear that once again Thessalonike™s isolation from
Constantinople and the unavailability of assistance from the imperial gov-
ernment played a crucial role in the outcome of events. Pointing to the fact
that the Despot Andronikos (r. 1408“23) had no one to call on for help
against the Ottomans, Symeon states that the Emperors in Constantinople
(Manuel II and John VIII) “had their own preoccupation with the capital
city.”29 He then reports that he himself and the Despot both petitioned
Manuel II several times, requesting people with military skills and ¬nancial
resources to be sent to the city™s aid. In response to their repeated pleas,
the Emperor eventually dispatched an unidenti¬ed military commander to
Thessalonike. But the latter brought with him neither ¬nancial help nor, it
seems, any ammunition. Instead he proposed the use of local resources for
the city™s defense needs, suggesting the establishment of a common fund
“to which each member of the Senate and of the citizen body (™kastov
t¤n te t¦v sugklžtou kaª polite©av) would contribute out of his own
assets.” This proposal met with opposition from all sides. Some wealthy
Thessalonians responded by taking ¬‚ight. The common people began
to riot in favor of surrender when the news spread in the city that the
Ottomans had approached the above-mentioned military commander for
26 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, p. 187.
27 See below, ch. 4, pp. 62“3. See also Doukas“Grecu, XVIII.2, p. 113.
28 See Symeon“Balfour, pp. 47“59 (text) and 119“72 (commentary).
29 Ibid., p. 56. The “preoccupation” mentioned by Symeon refers no doubt to Murad II™s siege
of Constantinople (1422) which, like the simultaneous blockade of Thessalonike, was an act of
retaliation for John VIII™s support of the pretender Mustafa: see above, ch. 2, pp. 34“5; and below,
ch. 8, pp. 187“9.
48 Thessalonike
a peace settlement, provided that he would drive the Despot Andronikos
out of Thessalonike. Some rich and in¬‚uential men, on the other hand,
tried to convince the Despot to make an alliance with Venice. In the end,
Andronikos gave in to the pressure of the latter group, and Thessalonike
was ceded to the Venetians who took over its provisioning and defense.30
Concerning the same event, Doukas states somewhat more brie¬‚y that the
Thessalonians, subjected to daily Ottoman attacks, starving from a short-
age of provisions, and expecting no assistance from Constantinople, which
“was suffering her own calamities and was unable to send help,” dispatched
ambassadors to Venice.31
The city™s transfer was presumably arranged without consulting
the authorities at Constantinople since the Venetians, after accepting
Andronikos™ offer, took the additional step of announcing the decision
to the imperial government in order to ensure its approval. The Venetians
were prepared in fact to call off their agreement with the Despot, should
the Byzantine Emperor not consent to it.32 But the Emperor did apparently
give his consent, for, according to the Chronicle of Morosini, on the day of
the city™s takeover (September 13, 1423) the Venetian galleys that entered the
harbor of Thessalonike were accompanied by a Byzantine imperial galley.33
It is evident from Symeon™s description of Murad II™s blockade and
subsequent events that, in the absence of help from Constantinople, the
inhabitants of Thessalonike were left with two choices: either to surrender
to the Ottomans as in 1387, or to submit to Venetian authority.34 Even
30 Symeon“Balfour, p. 57; cf. pp. 161“3. 31 Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.4, p. 247.
32 Sathas, Documents, vol. i, nos. 86 (July 7, 1423) and 89 (July 27, 1423), pp. 133“9, 141“50; Thiriet,
R´gestes, vol. ii, nos. 1892 and 1898.
e
33 Lemerle, “Domination v´nitienne,” p. 222. In a Venetian document dated April 2“4, 1425, we ¬nd
e
another con¬rmation of Manuel II™s consent: see Setton, The Papacy and the Levant, vol. ii, p. 21,
n. 66. For the date of the Venetian takeover, see Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. ii, pp. 423“4.
34 The Chronicle of Morosini, too, presents these as the two options, both of which had been pursued:
“. . . quelo imperio eser in debel condition e queli da Salonichi aver mandado a dir al Signor turco de
volerseli dar con questi pati: diser loro apareclarli de darli le do parte de soa intrada, e de la terza viver
per loro e de remagnir in bona paxe, e in quanto no queli manderia al Rezimento de Negroponte, che
queli se daria puo (puoi) a la dogal Signoria de Viniexia . . . ” Quoted in F. Thiriet, “Les Chroniques
v´nitiennes de la Marcienne et leur importance pour l™histoire de la Romanie gr´co-v´nitienne,”
e e e
M´langes d™Arch´ologie et d™Histoire 66 (1954), 278, n. 1. The question arises as to whether the
e e
negotiations between the Thessalonians and the Sultan mentioned by Morosini can be identi¬ed
with those described by Symeon (Symeon“Balfour, p. 57, lines 31“4) between the Ottomans and
the military commander from Constantinople. The terms given by the two sources are different;
however, Morosini™s focus is on the terms offered by the Thessalonians (1/ :2/ division of the city™s
33
income between the Greeks and the Turks respectively), whereas Symeon states the terms offered by
the Ottomans (lifting of the siege in return for the Despot™s removal from the city). On the other
hand, Morosini shows the Thessalonians as approaching the Ottomans, while Symeon presents
the Ottomans as making overtures to the Byzantine general. Another possibility is to identify
49
Thessalonike: an overview (1382“1430)
Symeon, who was nearly as much opposed to the Latins as he was to
the Turks, declared that Thessalonike, by being handed over to Venice,
“escaped being betrayed to the in¬del.”35 Hence in 1423, by contrast to the
situation in 1387, the political attitude that won the day in Thessalonike
was pro-Latin, and speci¬cally pro-Venetian. This attitude was embraced
primarily by people who supported the cause of war against the Ottomans
and wielded substantial power and in¬‚uence over the governance of the
city. Their opinion thus prevailed over that of the common people who
were agitating in favor of surrender to the Ottomans. In addition, there
was another group inside Thessalonike that shared pro-Latin sympathies
but, not truly believing in the cause of war, chose to depart from the city.
Their ¬‚ight to Venetian territories is attested as of 1411.36
Yet, as the above-mentioned riots of 1423 in favor of surrender indicate,
the option of an accommodation and reconciliation with the Ottomans
continued to be popular among certain segments of the population, par-
ticularly among the lower classes, in the course of the years that followed
the restoration of Thessalonike to Byzantine rule. In fact, a group of
citizens who actively supported this position were instrumental in send-
ing embassies to negotiate with the Ottomans during the sieges of Musa
(1411“13) and of Murad II (1422“3).37 It is also reported that many inhabi-
tants ¬‚ed from Thessalonike at this time to join the Ottomans.38
During the period of the Venetian domination, the popularity of an
accommodationist policy with regard to the Ottomans appears to have
grown considerably, spreading across to other sectors of Thessalonian soci-
ety besides the lower classes. Doukas informs us that the Venetian author-
ities in Thessalonike seized large numbers of native aristocrats who were
suspected of cooperating with the enemy and deported them to Negro-
ponte, Crete, and Venice.39 Doukas™ testimony is con¬rmed by a group of
Venetian documents that report the arrest and exile of four Thessalonians
to Crete on the grounds of their suspected association with the Ottomans
at the onset of the Venetian regime. The arrested Thessalonians, whose
the Thessalonian embassy to the Ottomans in Morosini™s account with a similar embassy, again
depicted by Symeon (p. 57, lines 4“5), that was sent out from Thessalonike before the arrival of
the Constantinopolitan general, in fact, even before Andronikos and Symeon asked Manuel II for
assistance. For different views on the reliability of Morosini, see Thiriet, “Chroniques v´nitiennes,”
e
272“9 and Tsaras, “Fin d™Andronic,” 421“5.
35 Symeon“Balfour, p. 59, lines 7“8.
36 N. Iorga, “Notes et extraits pour servir a l™histoire des Croisades au XVe si`cle,” ROL 4 (1896), 554“5,
e
`
573“4; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, nos. 1592 and 1635; Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 81“2; Symeon“Balfour,
e
pp. 47, 57, 59.
37 Symeon“Balfour, pp. 49, 55“7. 38 Ibid., p. 59. 39 Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.4, pp. 247“9.
50 Thessalonike
leader was a man called Platyskalites,40 presumably had close ties with
Murad II since in 1424 their release was proposed to the Sultan in exchange
for the Venetian ambassador Nicol` Giorgi (Zorzi), who was held captive
o
by the Ottomans. This plan never materialized and the four Thessalonians
remained in exile until 1430, at which time only two of them were still alive.
Throughout this period the Venetians kept them under strict surveillance
and deported them successively from Crete to Venice and then to Padua
in order to eliminate their chances of scheming with the local inhabitants
of any one place. The two remaining Thessalonians were ¬nally set free in
or after May 1430, as the Senate of Venice, no longer threatened by them
subsequent to the fall of Thessalonike, decided that the cost of detaining
them in prison was henceforth super¬‚uous.41
We possess further evidence of the widening appeal of a conciliatory
attitude towards the Ottomans in the course of the Venetian regime. During
an Ottoman attack that took place in 1425 or 1426, it is reported that many
Thessalonians, including people who had been appointed to guard the city
walls, ¬‚ed to the enemy.42 Shortly before the ¬nal assault on Thessalonike,
on the other hand, as the eyewitness Anagnostes observed, “the majority
were annoyed because it was not possible for them to surrender the city to
the Turks.”43 According to Anagnostes, Murad II, who twice sent a group
of Christian of¬cers in his army to persuade the Thessalonians to rise up
against their Venetian governors, expected indeed to take the city without
bloodshed, through the cooperation of its inhabitants.44 The Venetians,
too, suspected a favorable attitude towards the Ottomans on the part
of the Thessalonians and placed among them troops of “Tzetarioi” “
described by Anagnostes as robbers gathered by the Venetians from various
places and employed as guards “ who were given orders to kill those who
might be contemplating surrender.45 After the city™s conquest, moreover,
some Thessalonians blamed the archbishop Symeon (although he had
died about six months earlier) for what happened, presumably because
of his determined opposition to the Turks and the pains he had taken
to prevent the city™s capitulation to the enemy.46 The diffusion of this
40 For more on Platyskalites and his family connections, see below, ch. 4, pp. 69, 75 and notes 59, 78.
41 Sathas, Documents, vol. i, nos. 104, 108 (June 28, 1424); Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 5 (1897),
169 (June 25, 1424), 354“7 (May 2“8, 1427); ROL 6 (1898), 53 (May 15, 1429); H. Noiret, Documents
in´dits pour servir a l™histoire de la domination v´nitienne en Cr`te de 1380 a 1485 (Paris, 1892), p. 328;
` `
e e e
Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 58“9 (July 7, 1425); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, nos. 1943, 2115 (Nov. 27, 1428),
e
2135, 2197 (May 11, 1430).
42 Symeon“Balfour, p. 60. 43 Anagnostes“Tsaras, p. 12, lines 5“7. 44 Ibid., pp. 16“18, 20.
45 Ibid., pp. 20 (lines 1“9), 24 (lines 9“12). 46 Ibid., pp. 20“4.
51
Thessalonike: an overview (1382“1430)
conciliatory attitude towards the Ottomans among various elements of the
population, which by 1429“30 was recognized both by the Ottomans and
the Venetians, must be attributed in part to the Thessalonians™ discontent
with the Venetian regime and to the failure of the Venetians to bring the
war with the Ottomans to an end.47
Another factor that drew many to support submission to Ottoman rule
is to be sought in the policies and methods of conquest applied by the
Ottomans in the course of their expansion in Byzantine territories. A quick
glance at the evidence presented above concerning the “pro-Ottoman”
Thessalonians reveals that all their activities coincide with times during
which the city was either blockaded by Ottoman forces or was under
threat of an attack. Such was the case, for instance, during the sieges
of 1383“7, 1411“13, and 1422“3, as well as throughout the period from
1423 to 1430, when the Ottomans, aggravated by the Venetian takeover,
noticeably increased their assaults upon the city.48 The primary goal of the
“pro-Ottoman” activists in all these instances was to ensure the peaceful
surrender of Thessalonike to the Ottoman armies stationed outside its
walls. In other words, their pro-Ottomanism manifested itself ¬rst and
foremost as a favorable attitude towards surrender. This was due to the
well-dispersed knowledge that the Ottomans, acting in accordance with
the principles of Islamic law as pointed out earlier, offered their Christian
enemies the option of surrendering with certain guarantees and rights as an
alternative to capture by force.49 Consequently, during periods of intense
military threat in particular, many Thessalonians showed a determined
preference for the peaceful occupation of their city by the Ottomans in
order to avoid enslavement. In 1383 Manuel II, observing this tendency
among the citizens of Thessalonike, had written of the need to persuade
them that “it is nobler and far less shameful to suffer willingly the lot
of slaves for the sake of their own freedom than, after having become
slaves in heart, to try to gain the rights of free men.”50 Manuel™s failure
to persuade the Thessalonians became clear when they surrendered to
47 For the tensions between native Thessalonians and Venetian authorities during 1423“30, see below,
ch. 5, pp. 105ff. Some later chronicles mention that Thessalonike was betrayed to the Ottomans in
1430: see Vryonis, “Ottoman conquest of Thessaloniki,” pp. 287, 309“10. Given that none of the
contemporary sources provide such evidence, this must be a later distortion stemming from the
knowledge of the presence of a strong group in the city that favored and worked for its surrender to
the Ottomans.
48 Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.4, p. 247.
49 See above, ch. 2, pp. 26“7, 30“1 (note 32) for a discussion of the Ottoman methods of conquest.
50 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 4, pp. 12“13. For a similar pronouncement by Manuel II to
Thessalonians during the same year, see “Sumbouleutik»v,” ed. Laourdas, p. 298.
52 Thessalonike
the Ottoman forces in 1387. Approximately four decades later, under the
Venetian regime, it seemed almost as if history was about to repeat itself
in Thessalonike. As pointed out above, the Thessalonians were deterred
from surrendering in 1430 only because of the strong pressure the Venetian
authorities applied on them. According to Anagnostes, it was as a result of
this, and “not because of the disobedience and resistance of those within,”
that Murad II declared war on the city and took it by force.51
In addition to the people with pro-Venetian sympathies and those who
on the contrary favored an accommodation with the Ottomans, there was
yet a third group in Thessalonike consisting of individuals who objected to
any rapprochement with either the Latins or the Ottomans. The leading
members of this group were the hesychast monks. During the siege of 1383“
7, for instance, they challenged Manuel II, when he appealed to the pope
for military assistance and promised in return to bring about the union
of the Church of Thessalonike with the Roman Church. The pro-Latin
Demetrios Kydones, who was naturally critical of these hesychasts, portrays
them contemptuously as people “who think that they can serve God only
by hunger, pallor, and [sitting in] a corner, and who make ignorance the
symbol of virtue.”52 Among those who reacted to Manuel II™s project for
union, alongside the hesychast monks Kydones speci¬cally names a certain
Pothos, who may perhaps be identi¬ed with Manuel Pothos. The latter
was the recipient of a ¬‚attering letter from Joseph Bryennios, whose anti-
unionist sentiments are well known.53 Possibly as early as 1391 Manuel
Pothos resided in Constantinople, and in 1401 he received a letter from
Paris written by the Emperor Manuel II. At this time Constantinople
was besieged by Bayezid I, and the Emperor encouraged Manuel Pothos
to continue doing his best for the protection of the capital against the
Ottomans.54 If the proposed identi¬cation of Manuel Pothos with the anti-

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