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dispatched them to “Turchia” together with the men and merchandise on
them. Therefore, in order to reduce the hazards of their journey to Thes-
salonike, the merchants active in the region requested from the Senate to
be escorted henceforth by the Venetian galleys stationed at Negroponte.40
Another indicator of the insecurity of maritime trade can be found in the
extremely high interest rates charged for sea loans in Thessalonike in the
early ¬fteenth century. Faced with the challenge of a 20 percent interest
rate, which came to replace the customary 12 percent rate, many Thessalo-
nian merchants must have accumulated large debts, unless, of course, they
had suf¬cient funds to engage in moneylending themselves.41
In 1418 the Senate of Venice instructed its bailo in Constantinople to
demand from Manuel II, on behalf of two Venetian creditors called Gior-
gio Valaresso and Demetrio Filomati, the payment of outstanding debts
incurred by certain unidenti¬ed Thessalonians who may well have been
merchants.42 Such a demand from the Emperor concerning the debts of
private individuals seems unusual and can be explained, in part, if one
assumes that the sums borrowed were very high and that the creditors
were persons of some in¬‚uence. In the present context, it is the second
Venetian creditor, Demetrio Filomati, who deserves particular attention
from us, given that he bears a Greek name (Philomates) which reveals his
Greek origin. In a recent article D. Jacoby has argued that Demetrio was
the son of a Greek who had apparently emigrated from Candia to Venice
sometime before 1400 and had acquired full Venetian citizenship.43 As a
40 Sathas, Documents, vol. ii, no. 410, pp. 175“6; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1265 (June 14, 1407). For
e
an earlier measure dating back to 1359 and involving the transportation of Venetian merchandise
from Negroponte to Thessalonike on board the Euboea galley for protection against Turkish pirates,
which seems to have fallen into disuse sometime between 1374 and 1407, see Jacoby, “Foreigners
and the urban economy,” 106“7.
41 Under the Venetian regime (1423“30) the interest rate was reduced to 15 percent, but in response to
a request made by the Thessalonians in 1425 the Senate of Venice allowed the 20 percent rate to be
applied to sums borrowed prior to this new regulation: Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 55“6. On sea loans
of the Palaiologan period in general, see Oikonomid`s, Hommes d™affaires, pp. 59“60; G. Makris,
e
Studien zur sp¨ tbyzantinischen Schiffahrt (Genoa, 1988), pp. 272“5.
a
42 Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 4 (1896), 595“6 (July 21, 1418); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1705. For
e
further connections of Giorgio Valaresso with Thessalonike on the eve of and during the Venetian
regime, see Jacoby, “Foreigners and the urban economy,” 110.
43 Jacoby, “Foreigners and the urban economy,” 109“10 and n. 162. Emphasizing their status as full
Venetian citizens, Jacoby points out that the members of the Filomati/Philomates family in question
66 Thessalonike
second generation Venetian citizen of Greek descent, Demetrio seems to
have pursued close business links with Byzantium and was particularly
active in the affairs of Thessalonike. He also had a brother, Giorgio Filo-
mati, who occupied the post of the Venetian consul in Thessalonike. For
some unknown reason the bailo of Constantinople removed Giorgio from
this of¬ce in 1418, but at his brother™s request he was reinstated in 1419. On
this occasion the Senate of Venice referred to Giorgio as “militem, civem et
¬delem nostrum.”44 When the latter died in a shipwreck near Negroponte
in 1422, Demetrio replaced him as consul until the establishment of Vene-
tian rule in Thessalonike the following year.45 Demetrio Filomati is next
encountered in 1430 in Venice, where a charge was brought against him for
having Orthodox religious services performed in his house.46 We thus learn
that his Venetian citizenship did not affect his religious standing and that
he remained attached to the Orthodox rite even though for economic and
political reasons he and his family had chosen to place themselves under
the dominion of Venice. In 1431 Demetrio went back to Thessalonike, once
again as consul, when the Venetian Senate decided to re-establish the of¬ce
in the Ottoman-ruled city and appointed him, at his own request, to his
former post.47
Demetrio Filomati™s wealth, suggested by his ability to loan money to
Thessalonians who were evidently having ¬nancial problems, gives a hint of
the economic bene¬ts likely to derive from the acquisition of Venetian citi-
zenship, which, however, was not very easy for Greeks to obtain at this time.
Almost as advantageous and easier to acquire was the status of a naturalized
Venetian granted to foreigners residing in non-Venetian territories, but it
is hard to assess whether there were many Thessalonians who opted for


here were not naturalized Venetians as formerly stated in his “Les V´nitiens naturalis´s dans l™Empire
e e
byzantin: un aspect de l™expansion de Venise en Romanie du XIIIe au milieu du XVe si`cle,” TM 8
e
(1981), 225“6.
44 Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 4 (1896), 602 (Jan. 15, 1419); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1725. For
e
the Venetian consulate in Thessalonike, see below, p. 67 and note 51.
45 Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 5 (1897), 128 (Dec. 10, 1422); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1863.
e
According to Jacoby, the ship on which Giorgio lost his life belonged to the Filomati brothers them-
selves, whose commercial interests were concomitant with their of¬cial function in Thessalonike:
Jacoby, “Foreigners and the urban economy,” 110 and n. 166.
46 Thiriet, Assembl´es, vol. ii, no. 1326 (Feb. 15, 1430). The Greek community in Venice was forbidden
e
from celebrating the Orthodox liturgy anywhere in the city prior to the second half of the ¬fteenth
century: see N. G. Moschonas, “I Greci a Venezia e la loro posizione religiosa nel XVe secolo,” «O
™Eranistžv 5/27“8 (1967), 105“37; G. Fedalto, Ricerche storiche sulla posizione giuridiche ed ecclesiastica
dei Greci a Venezia nei secoli XV e XVI (Florence, 1967).
47 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. iii, no. 2225 (Feb. 3, 1431).
e
67
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
naturalization in the period that concerns us.48 It is plausible, on the other
hand, that some Thessalonian merchants who either could not or did not
want to obtain this status sought ¬nancial gains through private arrange-
ments with Italians. We can be almost certain, for instance, that several
of them tried to bypass the payment of customs duties (the kommerkion)
to the Byzantine state by offering the kommerkion-exempt Venetian mer-
chants bribes to carry their merchandise into the city. In 1418 Manuel II
complained to the Senate of Venice about this practice which seriously
undermined the Byzantine economy. Although the Emperor articulated
his complaint with reference to Byzantine merchants in general, without
speci¬cally mentioning the Thessalonians, the document which reports it
contains sections that deal directly with Thessalonike. It is, therefore, quite
likely that the statement about the evasion of customs duties by “Greeks”
was directed not only against Constantinopolitan merchants but against
Thessalonians as well.49
Yet, apart from certain individuals who may have enjoyed bene¬ts
through their association with Italians, on the whole the presence of Ital-
ian merchants in Thessalonike was not very favorable to the interests of
the native commercial classes. In the early ¬fteenth century, the city con-
tained a fairly sizable population of Venetian merchants, as suggested by
the instructions sent from Venice to the bailo of Constantinople in 1419,
ordering him to abolish the new charges he had imposed on the Venetian
merchants and merchandise of Thessalonike.50 From the late thirteenth
century, in fact, a Venetian consul was stationed in Thessalonike to look
after the interests of the Republic™s merchants who conducted business
there.51 Genoese merchants are also attested in the city during this period,
though it must be admitted that they were less in evidence than the Vene-
tians. Their numbers certainly had to have been large enough to warrant
48 On the distinction between full citizenship and naturalization, see Jacoby, “V´nitiens naturalis´s,”
e e
217“35. For a probable case of naturalization in early ¬fteenth-century Thessalonike, see Jacoby,
“Foreigners and the urban economy,” 108; cf. Matschke, Ankara, p. 63, for a different interpretation.
49 Iorga, “Notes et extraits,” ROL 4 (1896), 595“6 (July 21, 1418); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1705;
e
Chrysostomides, “Venetian commercial privileges,” 354“5 (no. 19).
50 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1725 (Jan. 15, 1419). On Venetian traders and their operations in late
e
Byzantine Thessalonike, see now Jacoby, “Foreigners and the urban economy,” 96“111.
51 For the latest discussion on the Venetian consul at Thessalonike, see Jacoby, “Foreigners and the
urban economy,” 98“103, 106“7, 109“10; cf. F. Thiriet, “Les V´nitiens a Thessalonique dans la
e `
premi`re moiti´ du XIVe si`cle,” B 22 (1953), 323“32; Nicol, Byzantium and Venice, pp. 199“200,
e e e
239“40. See also P. Schreiner, “Eine venezianische Kolonie in Philadelpheia (Lydien),” Quellen und
Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 57 (1977), 339“46. It has been argued that the
document published here by Schreiner, which mentions a Venetian consul, pertains to Thessalonike
rather than to Philadelphia: Oikonomid`s, Hommes d™affaires, p. 126, n. 296.
e
68 Thessalonike
the installation of a Genoese consul in the city as early as 1305; however,
from the mid fourteenth century onwards sources only occasionally men-
tion their activities in Thessalonike.52 Hence, a document dating from 1412
refers to two men from Genoa who had bought slaves in Thessalonike
in or shortly before 1410. Although they are not explicitly identi¬ed as
merchants, one of them traveled to Chios in May or June 1410, no doubt
for trading purposes, while the other one, who appears to have been his
agent, remained in Thessalonike and handled the former™s affairs, includ-
ing a dispute over the ownership of a runaway female slave.53 Even under
the Venetian regime, Genoese merchants continued to be active in Thes-
salonike despite the strong commercial rivalry between the two Italian
republics. This is revealed by a document dated 1425, which mentions the
exemption enjoyed by Genoese (and Venetian) traders from commercial
taxes on the goods they imported into the city.54 Had the activities of for-
eign merchants in Thessalonike been restricted to international trade, their
presence would not have necessarily posed so big a threat to the native mer-
chants. However, con¬‚icts were inevitable whenever the Italians, through
their interference in the city™s retail trade, began to compete against and
impede the activities of Thessalonian merchants.55 During the period of
the Venetian domination, for example, Thessalonians demanded from the
Senate of Venice the recognition of a former privilege which granted to
Greeks the exclusive right to sell cloth at retail within the city.56 Clearly,
the native merchants were striving to protect their retail activities from
the intervention of the Venetians. It is very likely that such intervention
occurred earlier, too, while Thessalonike was still under Byzantine author-
ity, considering that there was a fairly large community of Italian merchants
active inside the city then.
In their attempt to safeguard their commercial interests, another group
of Thessalonian merchants seem to have entered into deals with the

52 On the volume and nature of Genoese presence and trading in Thessalonike, see now Jacoby,
“Foreigners and the urban economy,” 114“16; cf. Balard, Romanie g´noise, vol. i, p. 164; M. Balard,
e
“The Genoese in the Aegean (1204“1566),” in Latins and Greeks, ed. Arbel, Hamilton, and Jacoby,
pp. 159“60.
53 Musso, Navigazione, no. 24 (Aug. 27, 1412), pp. 266“8.
54 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, p. 55; see below, ch. 5, p. 107 and note 82. Presumably because of the great
dearth of provisions and other necessities during the Venetian domination, the authorities must
have ignored the traditional rivalry with Genoese merchants and encouraged them to import needed
goods into Thessalonike.
55 For an elaboration of this idea within the framework of Byzantine trade at large, see Laiou-
Thomadakis, “Byzantine economy” and “Greek merchant.”
56 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 57“8; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1995. On the cloth merchants of Thessa-
e
lonike, see Matschke, “Tuchproduktion,” 66“7.
69
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
Ottomans, thus following a course different from their counterparts
who established contacts with the Italians. During the years 1404“23 the
Ottoman akce circulated quite regularly inside Thessalonike.57 Of course,
¸
this by itself does not prove the existence of commercial relations between
Thessalonians and Ottomans. For one thing, the circulation of Ottoman
coins may merely represent a spill-over effect from the time of the ¬rst
Ottoman domination (1387“1403). Besides, by about 1400 the akce func-
¸
tioned as an international currency even in countries beyond the Danube.58
Nonetheless, we do possess further clues pointing to the existence of trade
relations between the two groups. For instance, a certain Platyskalites,
who was arrested during the period of Venetian rule because of his sus-
pect alliance with the Ottomans, bears the name of a Thessalonian family
involved in banking and trade in the early ¬fteenth century.59 Platyskalites™
political orientation may well have been linked to his business interests;
however, in the absence of direct evidence concerning his actual occupa-
tion, this can only be stated as a hypothesis. Similarly, on the eve of the
city™s handover to Venice, the “prominent men” (o¬ doko“ntev) whom the
archbishop Symeon explicitly reproached for wanting to surrender Thes-
salonike to the Ottomans because of their material interests might have
incorporated Greek merchants for whom coming to terms with the enemy
would have ensured access to the city™s hinterland and the resumption of
disrupted commercial activities.60
While some Thessalonian merchants formed bene¬cial connections with
the Italians and some possibly with the Ottomans, others tried to resolve
their ¬nancial and economic problems by turning to pro¬teering. Yet the
commercial classes were by no means the only ones who engaged in illegal
means of making money; both Isidore Glabas and Symeon state that almost
everyone in Thessalonike, regardless of rank, committed offenses for the
57 T. Bertel`, Numismatique byzantine, suivie de deux ´tudes in´dites sur les monnaies des Pal´ologues, ed.
e e e
e
C. Morrisson (Wetteren, 1978), pp. 88“9; Oikonomid`s, “Ottoman in¬‚uence,” 17. For a practical
e
example, see Iviron, vol. iv, no. 97.
58 See M. Berindei, “L™Empire ottoman et la ˜route Moldave™ avant la conquˆte de Chilia et de Cetatea-
e

alb˜ (1484),” Journal of Turkish Studies 10 (1986) (= Raiyyet R¨ sˆ mu. Essays presented to Halil Inalc±k
uu
a
on his Seventieth Birthday), 47“71.
59 For documents on the arrest and exile of Platyskalites together with three other Thessalonians, see
above, ch. 3, note 41. In two of these documents, the name is curiously rendered as “Cazicaliti”:
Sathas, Documents, vol. i, nos. 104 and 108, pp. 168, 170. For the involvement of the Platyskalites
family in trade and banking, see S. Kug´as, “Notizbuch eines Beamten der Metropolis in Thessa-
e
lonike aus dem Anfang des XV. Jahrhunderts,” BZ 23 (1914), 153 (§ 86). See also A. E. Vacalopou-
los, “SumbolŸ stŸn ¬stor©a t¦v Qessalon©khv –pª Benetokrat©av (1423“1430)” and M. Th.
Laskaris, “Qessalon©kh kaª T†na,” in T»mov Kwnstant©nou «Armenopo…lou (Thessalonike,
1952), pp. 135“6 and 334“5; Mertzios, Mnhme±a, p. 45; Symeon“Balfour, pp. 274“7.
60 Symeon“Balfour, pp. 55“6.
70 Thessalonike
sake of material gains.61 Isidore describes how certain wealthy citizens
habitually exploited the poor, both inside the city and in its countryside.
Not only did they demand extremely high interest rates from needy people
who were obliged to borrow money, but when poor peasants could not
repay their debts, their rich neighbors did not hesitate to take over the little
plots of land which constituted the small peasants™ livelihood.62 According
to Symeon, the local governors (archontes) of the city, overtaken by greed
and love of money, misused the authority of their position to snatch away
the belongings of the lower classes. In this manner they set such a bad
example that some among the poor too, imitating the archontes, tried
to seize each other™s possessions.63 Such abuses seem to have been very
common in Thessalonike during both periods of Byzantine rule, when
the hardships and privations due to the war with the Ottomans created
opportunities which some people did not fail to take advantage of. The
wealthy upper classes, however, having greater means for exploitation than
the vulnerable poor, were more active in this sphere. For this reason, back
in 1372, when Demetrios Kydones advised the megas primikerios Demetrios
Phakrases to make use of the local dynatoi in the defense of Thessalonike
against a Turkish attack, he speci¬cally told him to warn the notables “that
the present situation is not an occasion for grasping at some advantage,
nor should they further provoke those who are desperate.”64

61 Isidore“Christophorides, vol. ii, Homily 19, pp. 299“300 and Homily 22, pp. 344“7; Isidore“
Christophorides, vol. i, Homily 30, pp. 77, 82; Symeon“Balfour, p. 47; Symeon“Phountoules,
no. 22.
62 Isidore“Christophorides, vol. ii, Homily 21, pp. 329“30 and Homily 22, pp. 345“7; Isidore“Laourdas,

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