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subject for the period 1403“23. Like most of his contemporaries, Symeon
has a tendency to attribute the misfortunes of the Thessalonians and their
helplessness before the Ottomans in stereotypical fashion to their sinful
behavior, depravity, and need for repentance. However, underneath his
moralistic tone, it is possible to detect traces of concrete information on
social conditions in the city during these years. In a long passage, after


81 Ibid., nos. 808 and 810; M. Spremi´, “La Serbie entre les Turcs, les Grecs, et les Latins au XVe si`cle,”
c e
BF 11 (1987), 438, n. 16; K.-P. Matschke, “Zum Anteil der Byzantiner an der Bergbauentwicklung
und an den Bergbauertr¨gen S¨ dosteuropas im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert,” BZ 84“5 (1991“2), 57“67.
a u
82 Matschke suggests, for instance, that Rhosotas™ move to Serbia may have coincided with the ¬rst
period of Ottoman domination in Thessalonike: “Zum Anteil der Byzantiner an der Bergbau-
entwicklung,” 62“3.
83 “Com´die de Katablattas,” ed. Canivet and Oikonomid`s, 49. Note that in one of his letters Isidore
e e
Glabas names a certain Rhosotas, along with a Tzymisches and a Klematikos, among the notables
of Thessalonike: Isidore“Lampros, Letter 6, pp. 380“1. Cf. PLP, no. 24579.
77
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
reproaching the wrongdoings and ingratitude of the citizens towards God,
Symeon writes:
The archontes live wantonly, hoard their wealth, and exalt themselves above their
subjects, freely performing injustices, not only offering nothing to God, but also
stealing away from God. They believe this to be their power, and they consider
the poor citizens and their subordinates as scarcely human. But the poor, too,
imitating those in authority, arm themselves against each other and live rapaciously
and greedily.84

Then follows a description of various religious offenses, committed both
by the rulers and the subjects, on account of which God has punished
them by their present misfortunes. But the common people, not realizing
this according to Symeon, blame the archontes for all their troubles and are
prepared to rise up in rebellion against them, expecting that “they might
thus live freely and uncontrolled.” This account, marked by Symeon™s
critical and disapproving attitude towards the archontes, whom he holds
responsible for the reprehensible actions of the common people as well,
reveals to what extent the latter felt oppressed in the early ¬fteenth century
by the conduct of the civil authorities and were consequently inclined to
give up “ indeed some of them did, as Symeon acknowledges “ their own
masters (desp»tai) of the same faith and race in favor of either Ottoman
or Venetian sovereignty.85
A similar atmosphere of social discontent was witnessed in Thessalonike
earlier in 1393, when the hostility of the common people towards the
archontes had reached such an intensity that the latter, anticipating the
outbreak of a popular movement against their rule, wanted to resign.86 In
this case, too, the overriding grievance of the populace was that they were
being oppressed by their political leaders. At this date Thessalonike was
under Ottoman rule. However, as the city was granted a semi-autonomous
status following its surrender to the Ottomans in 1387, the administrative
functions had remained in the hands of native Greek of¬cials who were
obliged to pay regular visits to the Ottoman court. The social con¬‚icts
of 1393 depicted by Isidore Glabas are, therefore, relevant to the present
discussion.
A notable feature of Isidore™s account is his favorable and positive atti-
tude towards the archontes, which sharply contrasts with Symeon™s account
composed about three decades later. Although at an earlier date Isidore
had voiced complaints against certain municipal governors who declined
84 Symeon“Balfour, p. 47, lines 9“14. 85 Ibid., p. 47, lines 14“38.
86 Isidore“Laourdas, Homilies IV and V, see esp. pp. 64“5.
78 Thessalonike
to give assistance to poor and wronged citizens or else executed orders for
the secularization of ecclesiastical property,87 in principle he considered it
proper, useful, and necessary for all Thessalonians to revere, to love, and
to give support to the archontes.88 Fearing that the disagreements between
the people and the governors in 1393 might lead to some form of political
change, he composed two homilies, one to instruct the citizens to put an
end to their disturbances, and the other to persuade the archontes not to
resign from their posts.89 He argued that the archontes deserved respect for
all the tasks and troubles they shouldered on behalf of the people: they
were the ones who acted as mediators between the Thessalonians and the
Ottomans, who bore the latter™s insults and maltreatment, who left their
families behind, traveled through dangerous lands on embassies to the
Ottoman court, and thus enabled the inhabitants to continue to live in
peace.90 Drawing a comparison between those who govern the state and
the common people who work with their hands (i.e. craftsmen, artisans,
and peasants), Isidore suggested that the latter were un¬t to take part in
the administration of the city since they did not have the bene¬t of educa-
tion that distinguished the ruling elite from themselves.91 He advised the
archontes “ whom he quali¬ed as “the distinguished,” “the honorable,”
“the few select” citizens “ to act as be¬tted their own class and to ignore
the complaints of the people as incoherent utterings.92
The divergence between Symeon™s and Isidore™s views need not, however,
be taken as evidence that the archontes in power during the last decade of
the fourteenth century differed fundamentally from the ones who held
of¬ce in the early decades of the ¬fteenth century, at least in terms of
their treatment of and attitude towards the common people. From the
distinction Isidore draws between those who were created by God as ¬t
for governing and those who knew how to use different tools yet had no
education, it is clear that he is not talking about the actual archontes in
of¬ce in 1393, but that he is referring in abstract and idealized terms to
a traditional ruling class to which the archontes belonged. Symeon, on
the other hand, who is more precise compared with Isidore, seems to be
pointing a direct ¬nger at the speci¬c archontes of his own day. In any case,
since the tensions between the people and their governors appear in the

87 Ibid., Homily I, p. 29 and Homily II, pp. 38“9; Isidore“Christophorides, vol. ii, Homily 19, p. 300
and Homily 22, p. 345; Isidore“Christophorides, vol. i, Homily 28, pp. 46“9 (= Isidore“Tsirpanlis,
568“70) and Homily 30, pp. 82“4.
88 Isidore“Laourdas, Homily II, p. 39, lines 15“18.
89 Ibid., Homilies IV and V, respectively. 90 Ibid., Homily IV, pp. 57“8.
91 Ibid., Homily V, pp. 61, 63. 92 Ibid., Homily V, pp. 63“4, 61.
79
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
writings of both, there is no reason for supposing that there was a change in
the social conditions existing within Thessalonike. Isidore feared, however,
that such a change might take place and, therefore, focusing on the positive
attributes of the archontes as a class, praised and defended them. Symeon,
not interested in the theoretical attributes of a superior ruling class, seems
to have looked at the actual state of affairs and reported his observations in
a more or less realistic and critical manner, openly revealing his bitterness
towards both the archontes and the common people who imitated them.
But who precisely were the archontes who became the object of so much
discussion and controversy? Given the key role they played in the political
and social life of late Byzantine Thessalonike, it is unfortunate that they
remain by and large unidenti¬ed in the writings of Isidore and Symeon,
who always refer to them collectively, without naming any particular indi-
viduals.93 However, with the use of prosopographic data compiled mainly
from fourteenth- and ¬fteenth-century Athonite documents, it has been
possible to uncover the identities of some ¬fty archontes of Thessalonike.94
Thanks to this additional body of concrete evidence, we can form a more
precise idea of the archontes than our literary sources would permit and
gain further insights particularly about the social and economic charac-
teristics of this group, which may, in turn, enhance our understanding of
the sociopolitical con¬‚icts discussed above. As can be seen from the list
presented in Appendix I, many of the archontes belonged to well-known
aristocratic families of Thessalonike, including the Angeloi, Deblitzenoi,
Kasandrenoi, Melachrinoi, Metochitai, Rhadenoi, Spartenoi, Tarchaneio-
tai, and Choniatai. In addition, certain family names show continuity
over time: for example Kokalas (c. 1320 and 1336), Kyprianos (1348“61
and 1414), Metochites (1373“6 and 1421), Prinkips (1407“9 and 1421), and
possibly Komes (1366 and 1404“19). Some other cases of recurring family
names, yet without any indication of continuity over time, may be noted
as well: Nicholas and Petros Prebezianos (1366), George and Andronikos
Doukas Tzykandyles (1373“81 and c. 1381, respectively), John Rhadenos and
Stephanos Doukas Rhadenos (1415“21). Occasionally kinship ties can be
traced between archontes who bear different family names, as in the case
of the brothers-in-law Manuel Phaxenos and Theodore Doukas Spartenos
(1341), or that of Manuel Deblitzenos (1381) and his son-in-law Bartholo-
maios Komes (1404“19). It is not certain, but Symeon Choniates (1361“6)
93 See note 83 above for an exception.
94 See Appendix I below, with references to the documents. For some earlier observations on the
archontes of Thessalonike, see Tafrali, Thessalonique, pp. 22“3, 75“80; B. T. Gorjanov, Pozdnevizan-
tijskij feodalizm (Moscow, 1962), pp. 86“7, 252“3, 269“71, 349.
80 Thessalonike
may have been the grandfather of George Angelos (1381), and the latter, in
turn, Manuel Deblitzenos™ brother-in-law.95 On the basis of these obser-
vations, we can thus conclude that a series of interrelated local families
yielded successive generations of archontes, forming what appears to have
been a tightly linked, more or less homogeneous social group.
More than half of the archontes listed in Appendix I are quali¬ed in the
documents as oikeioi and/or douloi, sometimes of the emperor, sometimes
of the Despot of Thessalonike, and sometimes of both. While there is
nothing unusual about the application of these honori¬c epithets to civil
dignitaries, which was standard procedure in the Palaiologan period, being
an oikeios or doulos was nonetheless a mark of distinction and undoubtedly
enhanced the archontes™ sense of belonging to the elite of their society.96
Noteworthy also is the fact that the last seven individuals who appear
in Appendix I were all members of the Senate of Thessalonike in 1421.
The presence of Senate members among the archontes of Thessalonike is
con¬rmed in another Athonite document dating from 1414, which makes
reference to two Šrcontev t¦v sugklžtou, but unfortunately does not
disclose their names.97 Besides people of civilian status, moreover, we can
also detect some individuals of military status in the list: for example
one megas primikerios (Demetrios Phakrases, 1366), one megas droungar-
ios (Demetrios Glabas [Komes?], 1366), one megas chartoularios (Laskaris
Metochites, 1373“6), and one kastrophylax (Demetrios Talapas, c. 1381).
Manuel Deblitzenos, too, belonged to a family of soldiers and was himself
a military man.98
The documentary sources, in addition to allowing us to identify a sub-
stantial number of archontes and their social pro¬le, also provide data with
regard to the economic character of this group. It is not clear from the
documents what kinds of material compensation they received for holding
government of¬ces, yet the prosopographic survey suggests that the bulk
of their income derived from other sources of revenue. Some archontes or
their extended families were landowners in possession of large- to medium-
sized holdings in the surrounding countryside, primarily in Chalkidike.99
95 See Oikonomid`s, “Properties of the Deblitzenoi,” p. 195, n. 27; Docheiariou, p. 260.
e
96 On these epithets, see J. Verpeaux, “Les oikeioi. Notes d™histoire institutionnelle et sociale,” REB 23
(1965), 89“99; ODB, vol. i, p. 659; vol. iii, p. 1515.
97 Docheiariou, no. 54, line 11.
98 On the military character of this family, see Oikonomid`s, “Properties of the Deblitzenoi,”
e
pp. 177“8.
99 E.g. the archontes Manuel Phaxenos, Theodore Doukas Spartenos, Manuel Tarchaneiotes, and
Manuel Deblitzenos cited in Appendix I below, as well as various members of the archontic
families of Kokalas (PLP, nos. 14090, 14094), Stavrakios (PLP, nos. 26702, 26703), Maroules
(PLP, no. 17156), Kasandrenos (PLP, nos. 11312, 11313), Angelos (PLP, nos. 91030, 91031), Gazes
(PLP, no. 3444), Melachrinos (PLP, no. 17633), and Rhadenos (PLP, nos. 23987, 23992).
81
Byzantine Thessalonike (1382“1387 and 1403“1423)
In addition, some possessed urban properties (such as houses, shops, or
workshops) inside Thessalonike.100 Some archontes were connected, on the
other hand, with the guild-like associations of Thessalonike:101 Theodore
Brachnos (1320) was exarchos ton myrepson, while Theodore Chalazas (1314“
26) was simply myrepsos. The latter, moreover, bears the name of a family
among whose members moneychangers (katallaktai) are attested in the
early ¬fteenth century, thus suggesting that some archontes may have been
engaged in business and banking.102 Incidentally, Rhadenos, who served
Manuel II as counselor during 1382/3“7, was the son of a wealthy merchant
and had two brothers who engaged in business, even though we possess only
clues, but no conclusive evidence, to his personal involvement in business
affairs.103 On the other hand, it seems most likely that the archon Nicholas
Prebezianos (1366) engaged in trade himself, for a mid-fourteenth-century
account book originating from Thessalonike gives evidence of a business-
man (cloth merchant?) by the name of kyr Nicholas Prebezianos.104 It
should be noted that the author of this account book, a landowning mer-
chant who was the nephew of the latter, is identi¬ed through his brother™s
name as a Kasandrenos105 and might have possibly belonged to the same
branch of this well-known Thessalonian family from which stemmed the
archon Manuel Kasandrenos (1381). Kasandrenos™ business circle in the
1350s included at least two other individuals who may also have been con-
nected with archontic families: one Tzykandyles, who traded in various
commodities including wheat, barley, caviar, ¬sh, and different items of
clothing,106 and one George Gazes, who traveled to Serres with wheat he
acquired from Kasandrenos.107 Finally, Demetrios Laskaris Leontares, who

100 Manuel Deblitzenos owned several houses and small shops in the city: Docheiariou, no. 49,
pp. 263“4. A certain Maroules who owned some properties in the Omphalos quarter of Thessalonike
may perhaps be identi¬ed with the archon John Maroules: ibid., p. 263; cf. PLP, nos. 17143 and
17153. House-owners are also attested among members of the archontic families of Allelouias (PLP,
no. 674), Melachrinos (PLP, no. 17627), etc.
101 See ch. 3, note 2 on these associations.
102 Kug´as, “Notizbuch,” 153 (§ 86); see p. 75 above. The involvement of Thessalonian archontes
e
in business and banking, suggested here, runs parallel to the phenomenon discussed by K.-P.
Matschke, “Notes on the economic establishment and social order of the late Byzantine kephalai,”
BF 19 (1993), 139“43, where the author presents evidence for the connection between provincial
municipal administration and commercial/¬nancial enterprise in the Palaiologan period.
103 See above, pp. 60“1 and notes 19, 20. For a female pawnbroker belonging to the Rhadenos family
in early ¬fteenth-century Thessalonike, see Kug´as, “Notizbuch,” 144 (§ 9).
e
104 P. Schreiner, Texte zur sp¨ tbyzantinischen Finanz- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte in Handschriften der
a
Biblioteca Vaticana (Vatican City, 1991), p. 85 (§§ 61, 63); cf. PLP, nos. 23700 and 23702. See also
Schreiner, Texte, p. 84 (§ 53), for Nicholas™ brother, kyr Manoles Prebezianos, who traded in cloth
(from Serres).
105 Schreiner, Texte, pp. 82 (§ 4), 86f.; cf. pp. 81, 98. For a discussion of this text and the individuals
in question here, see also Matschke and Tinnefeld, Gesellschaft, pp. 166“72.
106 Schreiner, Texte, pp. 83, 84, 87, 88 (§§ 26, 45, 50, 100, 125, 136). 107 Ibid., p. 84 (§ 48).
82 Thessalonike
as a non-native of Thessalonike cannot strictly be considered among the
city™s traditional ruling families, but who was nonetheless very active in its
government between 1403 and 1416, may have had important commercial
dealings in Pera and perhaps bribed two Genoese of¬cials in 1402.108
The names of some of these archontes themselves or of their family
members reappear in a Venetian document of 1425, dating from the period
of the Venetian domination in Thessalonike. This document lists ¬fty-
nine Thessalonians, described as gentilomeni e gentilomeni picoli, whose
¸
109
names are reproduced in Appendix II. They were granted raises in the
monthly salaries they received from Venice for the services they rendered
in the defense of Thessalonike. Among them, Calojani/Jani Radino, one of
the three ambassadors sent to Venice in 1425 to request these raises and to
make other demands, can be identi¬ed with the apographeus John Rhadenos
(1415“21). In all likelihood, he also participated in a second embassy dis-
patched to Venice for similar purposes in 1429.110 Included in the Venetian
payroll of 1425, we also ¬nd one Georgio Radino, who was presumably some-
one related to John Rhadenos. Secondly, Thomas Grusulora/Chrussulora,
another ambassador present at Venice in 1425, is no doubt the same per-
son as the senatorial archon Thomas Chrysoloras (1421). Thirdly, Ducha
Melacrino may be identi¬ed with John Douk(a)s Melachrinos (1415) in
Appendix I. Four additional members of the Melachrinos family appear as
well in the Venetian document of 1425. One of them, moreover, is reported
to be the son of George Argyropoulos, member of a prominent Thessalo-
nian family with three further representatives in the same source. Other

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