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unionist Pothos in Thessalonike is correct, then the Emperor™s letter of 1401
suggests that an anti-Ottoman outlook accompanied and complemented
his stance against the Catholics of western Europe.

51 Anagnostes“Tsaras, p. 24, lines 9“14.
52 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 302, lines 34“40. On Manuel™s embassy of 1385 to Pope Urban VI
and the conclusion of an ecclesiastical union in 1386, see Dennis, Reign of Manuel II, pp. 136“50.
53 “ ¬Ek t¦v buzantin¦v ¬Epistolograf©av. ¬IwsŸf monaco“ to“ Bruenn©ou ¬Epistolaª L© kaª a¬
pr¼v aÉt¼n G©,” ed. N. B. Tomadakes, EEBS 46 (1983“6), no. 13, pp. 323“4 (= ¬IwsŸf monaco“
to“ Bruenn©ou, vol. iii: T‡ paraleip»mena, ed. T. Mandakases [Leipzig, 1784], pp. 159“60). See
also PLP, nos. 23433 and 23450, where a possible identity between the two men is suggested; cf.
Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, p. li.
54 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 42, pp. 110“13. See also nos. 17 (to Pothos, kritžv; date:1391) and
35 (to Manuel Pothos; date:1397“8?).
53
Thessalonike: an overview (1382“1430)
Perhaps the most fervent and outspoken advocate of an anti-
Ottoman/anti-Latin position in the period following the restoration of
Thessalonike to Byzantine rule was the city™s archbishop Symeon (1416/17“
29). In his opinion, the best policy for the Thessalonians to pursue was to
put their trust in “our Orthodox masters” and to remain loyal and obe-
dient to the central government at Constantinople. “In my converse and
my advice,” he wrote, “I have been ceaselessly standing up for our own
interest throughout, and urging that we should remain with our own peo-
ple and show endurance and stand our ground and trust in God.”55 But,
as Symeon himself admitted, those who upheld this position were clearly
in the minority during the ¬rst quarter of the ¬fteenth century.56 More-
over, they do not appear to have come forth with any practical program
of their own capable of guaranteeing the security of Thessalonike against
enemy attacks. Symeon, for example, unrealistically hoped that obedience
to Constantinople would ensure help from that quarter, when he was well
aware that the emperors there had “their own preoccupations.” It is equally
dubious whether the hesychast monks who opposed Manuel II™s project
for union with the papacy ever formulated an alternative policy for resis-
tance to the Ottomans. The most they seem to have done was to accept
the status quo once the Ottomans came to power, just as Symeon himself
bowed to the authority of the Venetians despite his initial opposition to
them. The monk Gabriel, for instance, re¬‚ecting around 1384 that Thes-
salonike stood no chance before the Ottomans and fearing captivity, ¬‚ed
to Constantinople in the company of several other monks, but he moved
back to Thessalonike after the establishment of Ottoman rule and in 1397
became the city™s archbishop. In this role Gabriel paid at least two visits
to the Ottoman court in order to secure concessions and kindly treatment
for his ¬‚ock.57 Likewise, the archbishop Isidore Glabas (1380“4, 1386“96),
who ¬‚ed from Thessalonike to the capital at approximately the same time
as Gabriel, thought it best to send a letter to his see after the city™s capitu-
lation to the Ottomans, urging the inhabitants to be obedient to their new
masters in the interest of keeping Orthodoxy “unstained.”58 Isidore, too,

55 Symeon“Balfour, pp. 55 (text), 157 (trans.); see also pp. 57, 63, 73 (lines 34“5): “ . . . t¼ m”nein ËmŽv
met‡ t¤n eÉseb¤n ¡m¤n aÉqent¤n.”
56 Ibid., pp. 55“6.
57 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 324; L. Syndika-Laourda (ed.), “ ¬EgkÛmion e«v t¼n ˆrciep©skopon
Qessalon©khv Gabrižl,” Makedonik† 4 (1955“60), 352“70, esp. 362“7. Gabriel™s enkomion, pub-
lished by Syndika-Laourda as anonymous, has been attributed by Loenertz and, more recently, by
Argyriou to Makarios Makres: see the new edition of the text in Makar©ou to“ Makr¦ suggr†m-
mata, ed. A. Argyriou (Thessalonike, 1996), pp. 101“20, esp. 111“17.
58 Isidore“Lampros, pp. 389“90.
54 Thessalonike
eventually returned to Ottoman-ruled Thessalonike, where he continued
to serve as archbishop until his death. He is known also to have traveled to
Asia Minor in order to negotiate with the Ottomans on behalf of his ¬‚ock,
thus setting an example to his successor Gabriel.59
To recapitulate, it has been observed that the most consistent feature in
the political history of Thessalonike between 1382 and 1430 was the pressure
that the Ottomans exerted on the city, which to a large extent determined
its political atmosphere during these years. In response to the Ottoman
threat, the citizens of Thessalonike became divided, ¬rst, over the issue of
whether to support the cause of war or peace. The people who believed
in the cause of war were further divided into two main groups: those in
favor of an alliance with western, primarily Italian, powers (pro-Latin/anti-
Ottoman) and those insisting that the Thessalonians, regardless of their
past failures, continue to ¬ght on their own (anti-Latin/anti-Ottoman). It
must be emphasized, however, that the respective attitudes of these two
groups towards the Latins were determined by different sets of criteria. The
champions of the anti-Latin/anti-Ottoman position, consisting primarily
of members of Thessalonike™s ecclesiastical hierarchy, were compelled in
their anti-Latinism by purely religious convictions and regarded all “Latins”
as Catholics without differentiating between them. For the advocates of
the pro-Latin/anti-Ottoman position, including, for instance, the people
who convinced the Despot Andronikos to call in the Venetians in 1423,
“Latins” were constituents of distinct political entities, cooperation with
whom was expected to provide concrete public and personal advantages
in the economic, political, and military realms. As for the Thessalonians
who supported the policy of peace, these were generally inclined towards
an accommodation with the Ottomans, the majority among them being
driven by the urge to see the hostilities with the Ottomans reach an end
rather than yearning or working directly for the establishment of Ottoman
sovereignty in the city. The discontentment with the Venetian regime
of 1423“30 seems to have added a strong anti-Latin component to the
ideology of those who were well-disposed towards an accommodation
with the Ottomans, this being a feature that was perhaps not so strongly
pronounced earlier, particularly in the period 1383“7. Finally, another group
distinguished by its pro-Latin sympathies, but refusing to undergo the

59 Isidore™s trip “to Asia” is mentioned in the monody of Constantine Ibankos on his death, published
in E. Legrand, Lettres de l™empereur Manuel Pal´ologue (Paris, 1893), p. 107. A reference to Isidore™s
e
“long journeys” is also found in his eulogy, composed by Symeon of Thessalonike, in the Synodikon
of Orthodoxy, J. Gouillard (ed.), “Le synodikon de l™Orthodoxie, edition et commentaire,” TM 2
´
(1967), 114“15. Cf. Isidore“Laourdas, pp. 56“7.
55
Thessalonike: an overview (1382“1430)
hardships imposed by the ongoing struggle against the Ottomans, consisted
of people who ¬‚ed from Thessalonike and sought new homes in Italian
territories.
The question that must be considered next is what were the speci¬c
circumstances and factors that played a role in the formation of the various
political attitudes delineated above. With this purpose, the following two
chapters investigate the social and economic conditions that prevailed in
Thessalonike in the late fourteenth and early ¬fteenth centuries, consid-
ering separately the periods during which the city was under Byzantine,
Ottoman, and Venetian domination.
chapter 4

Byzantine Thessalonike
(1382“1387 and 1403“1423)



In the late fourteenth and early ¬fteenth centuries Thessalonike was no
longer the thriving city it used to be in the earlier part of the Palaiologan
period. Subjected from the 1380s onwards to continuous Ottoman assaults
and sieges, it was completely cut off by land. Because of the insecurity
of the surrounding countryside, the ¬elds outside the city walls remained
untilled. Commercial activity was disrupted due to the city™s isolation from
its hinterland. As early as 1384 or 1385 Demetrios Kydones wrote that the
suburbs of Thessalonike were devastated and that its once ¬‚ourishing mar-
ket was reduced to misery.1 This picture of economic decline is con¬rmed
by archaeological evidence, which has revealed no sign of any major con-
struction activity inside the city or in the surrounding countryside after
1380.2 In the subsequent generation Symeon described how Mehmed I
interfered with the food supplies in 1417/18 and also lamented the break-
down of business within the city and the destruction of the lands outside
during the siege of 1422“3.3 The city gates seem to have remained closed
throughout the duration of the Ottoman threat.4 The only regular access
that Thessalonians had to the outside world was by sea, and it was by
this means that the provisioning of the city was maintained during these
critical times. Nevertheless, contemporary references to exhausted food

1 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 299, lines 13“16. This may be compared with Kydones™ description of
the city as a lively commercial center in the 1340s: J. W. Barker, “The ˜Monody™ of Demetrios Kydones
on the Zealot rising of 1345 in Thessaloniki,” in Essays in Memory of Basil Laourdas (Thessalonike,
1975), p. 292. The description of Thessalonike found in the anonymous vita of Makarios Makres
(d. 1431), who was born in this city c. 1383 and lived there until c. 1401, is not useful for our purposes
since it is a purely eulogistic sketch with no precise information about the actual conditions during
the years Makres spent in it: see the text published in Macaire Makr`s et la pol´mique contre l™Islam,
e e
ed. A. Argyriou (Vatican City, 1986), pp. 186“9.
2 Ch. Bakirtzis, “The urban continuity and size of late Byzantine Thessalonike,” DOP 57 (2003),
35“64, esp. 38“9.
3 Symeon“Balfour, pp. 50, 55.
4 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 299; Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 5 (1897), 318; Mertzios, Mnhme±a,
pp. 56“7.

56
57
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
reserves, to lack of necessities, and to outbreaks of famine indicate that the
provisions brought in by sea were by no means suf¬cient.5 Besides these
dif¬culties the major problem of ¬nancing the war with the Ottomans
made things worse. Under such severe conditions, almost all the inhabi-
tants of Thessalonike were adversely affected: landowning aristocrats were
deprived of their possessions; merchants were hindered from commercial
activity; and the lower classes were forced to endure increased poverty and
distress.
The losses of the aristocracy occurred both directly, through conquests
and con¬scations carried out by the Ottomans, and indirectly, as a result
of the incessant warfare which devastated the countryside and hindered
cultivation, thereby compelling many landowners to alienate their inoper-
ative and unpro¬table estates. For example, a Thessalonian by the name of
Constantine Prinkips, who owned some property in the region, had come
to lose all his possessions by the time of his death (probably during the
siege of 1383“7) with the sole exception of a vineyard which was entirely
ruined and deserted because of the ongoing war with the Turks.6 Another
revealing case is that of Manuel Deblitzenos, member of a landowning
Thessalonian family of military background, who had a hereditary estate
in Hermeleia, in Chalkidike, which had been con¬scated at the time of
the Serbian occupation.7 Although Manuel recovered his estate when the
Serbian domination came to an end, shortly afterwards (c. 1376) he decided
to give it to the monastery of Docheiariou on Mount Athos in exchange for
three adelphata (annual pensions for life, mostly in kind, sold or granted by
monasteries to individuals).8 The adelphata were supposed to be delivered
to Manuel throughout his lifetime and, after his death, to a second person
designated by him. However, the monastery failed to render to Manuel the
promised amount and the agreement was cancelled, to be renewed though
once again around 1381 with the same terms and conditions. Considering
that an annuity of three adelphata appears low, already from the outset,

5 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 4; Symeon“Balfour, pp. 49“50, 56, 59.
6 MM, vol. ii, no. 471 (July 1394), pp. 221“3.
7 On this family, see N. Oikonomid`s, “The properties of the Deblitzenoi in the fourteenth and
e
¬fteenth centuries,” in Charanis Studies; Essays in Honor of Peter Charanis, ed. A. E. Laiou-Thomadakis
(New Brunswick, NJ, 1980), pp. 176“98. The documents pertaining to the Deblitzenoi have been
subsequently published by the same author in Docheiariou, nos. 10 (c. 1307), 26 (Oct. 1349), 47 (Oct.
1381), 48 (c. 1381), 49 (Aug. 1384), 50 (Jan. 1389), 51 (Oct. 1404), 57 (Dec. 1419), 58 (Dec. 1419).
8 For two recent discussions of the institution of the adelphaton, with references to earlier works
on the subject, see A. Laiou, “Economic activities of Vatopedi in the fourteenth century,” in Ier†
Monž Batoped©ou. Istor©a kai T”cnh (Athens, 1999), pp. 66“72; K. Smyrlis, La fortune des grands
monast`res byzantins (¬n du Xe-milieu du XIVe si`cle) (Paris, 2006), pp. 138“45.
e e
58 Thessalonike
relative to the value of the property which Manuel ceded to Docheiariou,9
the contract™s renewal ¬ve years later with no readjustment is puzzling.
Hence we are led to speculate that on both occasions Manuel was induced
to give away his property to the monastery owing to the economic con-
straints he faced because of the combined effects of Serbian and Ottoman
invasions on his estate; namely, destruction of ¬elds, shortage of cultiva-
tors, and lack of potential buyers.10 Under such precarious circumstances,
and despite Docheiariou™s failure to ful¬ll its obligation at the time of the
initial agreement, it is conceivable that Manuel opted for receiving from
the monastery ¬xed quantities of foodstuffs, for the duration of his life and
that of one of his inheritors successively, as a less risky and more pro¬table
alternative to venturing the cultivation of the estate himself. One may well
imagine what might have become of the estate in the latter case, consid-
ering that a vineyard under his management that formed part of his wife™s
dowry, who also came from a rich landowning family (the Angeloi), was
abandoned and no longer productive in 1384.11
During the same year, Manuel Deblitzenos died while ¬ghting against
the Ottomans in the battle of Chorta¨tes. His widow, Maria, who tried sub-
±
sequently to settle her dowry and inheritance rights, faced certain prob-
lems as the Ottoman blockade hindered the assessment of the couple™s

9 The high value of Deblitzenos™ estate is implied in Docheiariou, no. 48, lines 12“13: “t¼ ‚lon
kt¦ma mou . . . pollo“ Šxion Àn . . .” Given also the fact that the estate™s annual tax revenue
amounted to 100 hyperpyra back in 1349 (Docheiariou, no. 26), its value, notwithstanding the loss
of productivity and depreciation it suffered in the meantime under Serbian occupation, must have
exceeded by far the standard price of 300 hyperpyra required to purchase three adelphata in the
second half of the fourteenth century. Moreover, even the quantities of food per adelphaton which
Docheiariou promised to deliver in this case are lower on average than those registered in other
adelphaton contracts of the same period: see Oikonomid`s, “Properties of the Deblitzenoi,” pp. 184“
e
5. However, a plausible explanation for why Docheiariou kept the annuities low may be that it was
obliged to dispense these for a rather long period (to two consecutive individuals for life, as opposed
to one only), as proposed by Laiou, “Economic activities of Vatopedi,” pp. 67“8. Manuel™s three
adelphata comprised 24 tagaria adelphatarika (= 3 kartai) of wheat, 4 tagaria of dried vegetables,
16 tagaria of wheat in replacement for wine, 2 tetartia of olive oil, and 50 litrai of cheese, which would
roughly correspond to a monetary value of 9 hyperpyra per adelphaton according to a calculation by
Laiou, “Economic activities of Vatopedi,” pp. 71“2 (Appendix). For the measures mentioned here,
see Laiou, pp. 71“2; E. Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (Munich, 1970); Docheiariou, p. 255;
Smyrlis, La fortune des grands monast`res, pp. 144“5 and n. 351, who, however, considers the total
e
amount of food mentioned in our document to be the equivalent of two adelphata rather than three
(see Table 9).
10 Oikonomid`s, “Properties of the Deblitzenoi,” pp. 184“6. Documents dealing with the effects of
e
Serbian invasions on the Byzantine countryside in general and on the aristocracy in particular reveal
striking parallels to the effects of Turkish invasions: see Docheiariou, nos. 42, 43; X´ropotamou,
e
no. 26; etc.
11 Docheiariou, no. 49, p. 263.
59
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
remaining possessions outside Thessalonike.12 Throughout the blockade
it seems unlikely that Maria received any revenues from her holdings in
the outlying region; nor does she appear to have been able to receive from
the monastery of Docheiariou the three adelphata to which she became
entitled after her husband™s death.13 At any rate, both she and her daughter
lived through the period of the ¬rst Ottoman domination in Thessalonike
and saw the city™s restoration to Byzantium in 1403. As late as 1419 Manuel™s
daughter, born of parents who both belonged to large landholding families
and married furthermore to a prominent man (the archon Bartholomaios
Komes), was evidently still reduced in economic terms and pressed by ¬nan-
cial dif¬culties, as she claimed property rights, without any legal basis, over
the estate in Hermeleia held by the monastery of Docheiariou.14
In the period following the return of Thessalonike to the Byzantine
Empire, there were other Thessalonians with wealthy family backgrounds

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