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governorship of Thessalonike. We know of two parallel incidents that have
been reported in the context of Constantinople and that closely resemble
the present one. They concern Theologos Korax and Loukas Notaras, both
of whom were allegedly promised the governorship of Constantinople
on condition that they would cooperate with the Ottomans and help to
induce the city™s surrender, the former during Murad II™s siege of 1422,
the latter during that of Mehmed II in 1453.17 Whether the stories about
the last two men, based essentially on rumors, were true or false should
not concern us here, since what is signi¬cant for present purposes is the
fact that such rumors circulated widely among the Byzantines and were
considered credible by many, suggesting that the Ottomans did frequently
attempt to entice Byzantine subjects with promises of high of¬cial posts
within their administrative apparatus. As for the above-mentioned general,
if he had indeed been “led astray” by the Ottomans as Symeon declares,
before he could accomplish his designs Thessalonike was handed over to
the Venetians. But back in 1387, when the Ottomans became the rulers of
the city, they may have actually granted positions of authority to certain
Thessalonians with whom they had made prior arrangements.
Some individuals also received economic bene¬ts that took the form of
either property grants or, at the very least, the right to retain their pos-
sessions. During the siege of 1383“7 the Ottoman commander, Hayreddin
Pasa, bestowed on Makarios Bryennios one half of the village of Achinos in
¸
the Strymon region which used to belong to the Thessalonian monastery of
Akapniou. In 1393 the other half of the same village was held by Demetrios
15 16
Symeon“Balfour, p. 56; cf. pp. 157“8. Ibid., pp. 57 (text), 163 (trans.).
17 Doukas“Grecu, pp. 229“35, 379.
89
Thessalonike under foreign rule
Bryennios Laskaris. According to the Athonite document which registers
this information, Demetrios did not have hereditary rights of ownership
over the land; it had been granted to him by the Ottoman Sultan (Murad
I or Bayezid I) as pronoia “ this last term having been employed in the
Greek text as the equivalent of the Turkish t±mar, a military ¬ef.18 The
fact that the village of Achinos used to be the property of a Thessalonian
monastery and that members of the Laskaris family are attested in Thes-
salonike might lead one to suppose that the bene¬ciaries of these grants
were citizens of Thessalonike. Yet prosopographic evidence concerning the
Bryennios“Laskaris family suggests rather that the two individuals named
above were aristocrats from Serres, which is quite likely since Hayreddin
Pasa was in charge of the military operations at Serres too.19 Again in the
¸
region of Serres, a certain Palaiologos, who was also related to the Laskaris
family, is known to have received the village of Verzani in reward for enter-
ing the service of Bayezid I. The village was granted him in full ownership
(i.e. as m¨ lk), so he had the right to bequeath it to his descendants. In 1464“
u
5 Verzani was still in the possession of his family, having ¬rst passed on to
his son Demetrios, then to his grandson.20 Although none of these grants
are directly related to Thessalonike, they are mentioned here as models
representative of Ottoman practice. Our assumption is that the Ottomans
would have repeated in Thessalonike the same policy that they used in
Serres, which they captured in 1383, only a few years before the capitula-
tion of Thessalonike. It is known, moreover, from Ottoman documents
that the t±mar system was applied both at Chalkidike and in the Strymon
region soon after the conquest of these areas from the Byzantine Empire.
The earliest Ottoman of¬cial register (tahrir defteri) including villages from
18 Esphigm´nou, no. 30 (Feb. 1393) and Chilandar (P), no. 160 (Dec. 1392). On the t±mar system,
e
especially t±mar grants to Christians, apart from the works cited above in ch. 2, note 21, see H.

Inalc±k (ed.), Hicrˆ 835 Tarihli Sˆ ret-i Defter-i Sancak-i Arvanid (Ankara, 1954; repr. 1987); M.
± u
Delilbas± and M. Ar±kan (eds.), Hicrˆ 859 Tarihli Sˆ ret-i Defter-i Sancak-± T±rhala, 2 vols. (Ankara,
± u
¸
2001).
19 For a Demetrios Laskaris, who is cited among the “nobles and small nobles” of Thessalonike in
1425, see Appendix II below. On the Bryennios-Laskaris family and its connections with Serres, see
Lefort™s prosopographical notes in Esphigm´nou, pp. 172“3.
e
20 In the ¬fteenth-century Ottoman register where this information is recorded, the grandson is called
“Palolog,” son of “Dimitri,” son/descendant of “Laskari”: see N. Beldiceanu and I. Beldiceanu-
Steinherr, “Un Pal´ologue inconnu de la r´gion de Serres,” B 41 (1971), 5“17. The ¬rst recipient
e e
of Verzani from Bayezid I may perhaps be identi¬ed with a Constantine Laskaris Palaiologos,
doulos of the Emperor, who offered the village of Bresnitza near Strumitza to the monastery of
Chilandar in 1374: Chilandar (P), no. 155. For a doulos Constantine Laskaris, who was in dis-
pute with the monastery of Lavra in 1377 over some property in the region of Serres, see Lavra,
vol. iii, no. 148. Later, a Matthew Palaiologos Laskaris, senator and oikeios of Manuel II, was sent as
ambassador to Murad II to negotiate for peace before the Sultan™s siege of Constantinople (1422):
Sphrantzes“Grecu, X.1, p. 14. Cf. PLP, nos. 14543, 14539, 14552.
90 Thessalonike
Chalkidike mentions endowments (vak±fs) from the time of Bayezid I and
cavalrymen (sipahis) with decrees (berats) of Mehmed I.21 All this evidence
points to the establishment of the ¬rst t±mars in the region of Thessalonike
during the reign of Bayezid I, which is in agreement with the statements
by Isidore, Gabriel™s encomiast, and Anagnostes that this ruler bestowed
certain “gifts” upon the Thessalonians. The grants made to the two aris-
tocrats from Serres, attested in Byzantine documents from the archives of
Mount Athos, are therefore important additions to the evidence preserved
in Ottoman documents. They supplement other known concrete cases of
the application of the t±mar system to Christians as an Ottoman policy for
integrating and guaranteeing the loyalty of the local aristocracy in newly
Inalc±k™s studies.22
conquered regions, treated exhaustively in ™
A different case which illustrates, directly this time, the grant by the
Ottomans of economic privileges to private individuals in Thessalonike
concerns Alexios Angelos Philanthropenos, the Caesar of Thessaly, and his
small convent (the monydrion of Saint Photis) situated inside Thessalonike.
In 1389 Alexios, who held hereditary rights of possession over this convent
through imperial acts, donated it to the Thessalonian monastery of Nea
Mone. It is reported that earlier he had made certain arrangements with
the Ottomans (“Muslims”) concerning the monydrion as well as other
immovables he owned. The exact nature of Alexios™ arrangements with the
Ottomans is by no means clear. What is certain, however, is that it was on
account of these arrangements that he was able to retain his possessions in
Thessalonike after the city came under Ottoman domination and that he
had the freedom to do whatever he pleased with them.23
The people who were able to hold on to their lands under Ottoman rule
as well as those who were offered new grants bene¬ted further from the
novel conditions brought about as a result of the surrender of Thessalonike.
21 V. Dimitriades, “Ottoman Chalkidiki: an area in transition,” in Continuity and Change in Late
Byzantine and Early Ottoman Society, ed. A. Bryer and H. Lowry (Birmingham and Washington,
DC, 1986), pp. 39“50, esp. 44; V. Dimitriades, “Forologik•v kathgor©ev t¤n Cwri¤n t¦v
Qessalon©khv kat‡ tŸn Tourkokrat©a,” Makedonik† 20 (1980), 375“462.
22 See note 18 above.
23 Lavra, vol. iii, no. 151 (Dec. 1389), lines 7“8: “ˆll‡ dŸ kaª –n ta±v katast†sesi v –po©hsa meta
t¤n Mousoulm†nwn pros”nexa kaª aÉt¼ e«v p†san –leuqer©an met‡ kaª t¤n —t”rwn ¡m¤n
kthm†twn.” For a plausible interpretation of this passage, see the commentary to the document
on p. 120; cf. V. Laurent, “Une nouvelle fondation monastique des Choumnos: la N´a Moni dee
Thessalonique,” REB 13 (1955), 123. It should be noted that one of the descendants of Alexios Angelos
Philanthropenos, possibly his great-grandson, was Mahmud Pasa, who served as grand vizier under
¸
Mehmed II, suggesting that the family may have maintained its connections with the Ottomans
through several generations: see Th. Stavrides, The Sultan of Vezirs. The Life and Times of the
Ottoman Grand Vezir Mahmud Pasha Angelovi´ (1453“1474) (Leiden, Boston, and Cologne, 2001),
c
pp. 75“8; cf. PLP, nos. 29750, 29771.
91
Thessalonike under foreign rule
Some signs of economic improvement are noted in the area in the years
following 1387, as the termination of the siege and the establishment of
peace eliminated some of the major obstacles to agricultural production.
For example, Constantine Prinkips™ vineyard mentioned earlier, which had
been destroyed and deserted because of the military con¬‚icts with the
Ottomans, was restored by his son George, who spent some money on it
during the ¬rst years of the Ottoman domination. Between 1387 and 1394
George Prinkips also managed to pay the debts of his deceased father.24
By contrast, some Thessalonian property owners suffered losses under
Ottoman rule. A piece of land situated at Portarea, in the region of
Kalamaria, which belonged to George Anatavlas was con¬scated by the
Ottomans, who then gave it to one of their Muslim subjects. Shortly after-
wards, the monks from the Athonite monastery of Esphigmenou, which
happened to own an estate adjacent to the con¬scated land, became deter-
mined to annex the neighboring property to their monastery. Appealing
jointly to the Ottoman Sultan and to Ali Pasa, they managed, “after much
¸
effort and expenditure,” to solicit the land. When George Anatavlas found
out about his property™s appropriation by the monastery, he took action to
contest his rights over it. In 1388 an agreement was reached between him and
the monks, according to which Anatavlas ceded his land to the monastery
in return for two diakoniai (term designating the annual payment in kind
due, in this case, for two adelphata), one for himself and one for his son
Theodore, to be delivered during their lifetime. The contract ended with
a clause guaranteeing that the property transfer was to remain valid even if
the situation in the region should turn in favor of the Byzantine Empire.25
In other words, even if Thessalonike and its environs were to be regained
from the Ottomans, George Anatavlas and his son were bound to recognize
their agreement with Esphigmenou and could not renounce its validity on
the grounds that the property ought no longer to be legally subject to the
con¬scation carried out by the Ottoman authorities. It is clear that the
monks of Esphigmenou, striving to perpetuate their pro¬table arrange-
ment under all circumstances, added the latter clause to the contract so

24 MM, vol. ii, no. 471 (July 1394), pp. 221“3; see above, ch. 4, p. 57.
25 Esphigm´nou, no. 29 (Feb. 1388). See N. Oikonomid`s, “Monast`res et moines lors de la conquˆte
e e e e
ottomane,” S¨ dostF 35 (1976), 4, n. 11 for an alternative dating of this document to the year 1403.
u
The two diakoniai each consisted of 12 tagaria of wheat, 24 metra of wine, 6 metra of olive oil, 2
tagaria of dry vegetables, and 30 litrai of cheese, which may be compared with Manuel Deblitzenos™
adelphata itemized above, in note 9 of ch. 4. The food items listed in Anatavlas™ agreement roughly
correspond to a monetary value of 20 hyperpyra per adelphaton according to Laiou, “Economic
activities of Vatopedi,” pp. 71“2. On the diakonia, see Smyrlis, La fortune des grands monast`res,
e
p. 139.
92 Thessalonike
that in the possible event of a restoration of the region to Byzantine rule
there could be no question of a return to pre-conquest conditions insofar
as Anatavlas™ property was concerned.
Another Thessalonian family which lost its lands during this period
was that of the Deblitzenoi. When the Ottomans took over Thessa-
lonike in 1387, they occupied (kate©conto) most of Manuel Deblitzenos™
estates, comprising at least 3,500 modioi of arable land, which were in
the possession of his widow Maria at this time.26 But the family™s for-
mer estate in Hermeleia, which Manuel Deblitzenos had ceded to the
monastery of Docheiariou in return for three adelphata, remained undis-
turbed in the hands of the monastery throughout the period of the Ottoman
domination.27
The two examples cited above comply with the privileged status that
Athonite monasteries as well as some other rural monasteries in the Balkans
are known to have enjoyed under Ottoman rule, which allowed them to
maintain their economic prosperity, thus differentiating their fate from
that of lay landowners such as George Anatavlas or the Deblitzenoi.28 Yet a
close look at the experiences of the monasteries within Thessalonike during
the ¬rst Ottoman domination reveals that such a privileged status and its
economic repercussions do not universally apply to the urban monastic
foundations of Byzantium. Notwithstanding the fact that the Ottomans did
in principle respect the religious freedom of the Thessalonians and allowed
the vast majority of their religious institutions to continue functioning
throughout 1387“1403, relatively few monasteries inside the city seem to
have been able to maintain their economic prosperity and to ¬‚ourish like
their rural counterparts.29 So, side by side with certain monasteries that
26 Docheiariou, no. 58, lines 19“21. The estates which the Ottomans occupied presumably included
500 modioi of land situated in the region of Galikos, 1,000 modioi at Kolytaina, and 2,000 modioi
at Omprastos: ibid., no. 49, lines 38“9.
27 See above, ch. 4, pp. 57“9.
28 See Oikonomid`s, “Monast`res,” 1“10; Oikonomid`s, “Properties of the Deblitzenoi,” pp. 176“98;
e e e
E. A. Zachariadou, “Early Ottoman documents of the Prodromos Monastery (Serres),” S¨ dostF u
28 (1969), 1“12; Delilbas± and Ar±kan (eds.), Defter-i Sancak-± T±rhala, vol. i, p. 73; vol. ii, p. 124a
¸
(privileges and exemptions enjoyed by the monks of “Kalabakkaya,” i.e. Meteora, from the time
of Bayezid I to that of Mehmed II). For later developments, see also H. W. Lowry, “A note on the
population and status of the Athonite monasteries under Ottoman rule (ca. 1520),” WZKM 73 (1981),
114“35; H. W. Lowry, “The fate of Byzantine monastic properties under the Ottomans: examples
from Mount Athos, Limnos and Trabzon,” BF 16 (1990), 275“311; N. Beldiceanu, “Margarid: un
timar monastique,” REB 33 (1975), 227“55.
29 The discrepancy between the experiences of urban and rural monasteries in Byzantium has been
noted by some scholars, but none have examined the particular case of Thessalonike in detail. See
A. Bryer, “The late Byzantine monastery in town and countryside,” in The Church in Town and
Countryside, ed. D. Baker (Oxford, 1979), pp. 233“4, where the author notes that under Turkish
pressure and conquest “rural monasteries had a six times better chance of survival than urban ones.”
93
Thessalonike under foreign rule
received special favors and bene¬cial treatment in Ottoman Thessalonike,
we ¬nd many more that experienced major dif¬culties and went into
decline.30
After assuming the rule of the city in 1387, the Ottomans are reported to
have seized the monasteries of Prodromos and Saint Athanasios.31 Whereas
almost nothing is known about the actual circumstances under which they
were seized, we possess more substantial information with regard to the
monastery of Akapniou, which was one of the ¬rst in the city to suffer at
the hands of the Ottomans. We have already seen that during the siege
of 1383“7 the Ottoman commander Hayreddin Pasa con¬scated one half
¸
of the village of Achinos, which belonged to Akapniou, and bestowed it
on an aristocrat, presumably from Serres.32 Subsequent to Thessalonike™s
surrender, Akapniou tried to reclaim its property and succeeded in getting
it back from its new owner. Yet, because of the economic dif¬culties it
was undergoing then, the monastery could not retain the property in its
possession for very long. Impoverished and heavily indebted, sometime
before the beginning of 1393 its monks appealed to the archbishop Isidore
and obtained permission to sell it. Lefort, in his commentary to one of
the two documents concerning this matter, has convincingly argued that
Akapniou™s debts at the time must have been due to the tribute (harac)
demanded by the Ottomans, for it was only in the case of liabilities
Oikonomid`s, in “Monast`res,” 4, points out, though without explicitly making a case for a rural“
e e
urban dichotomy, that the ability of Athonite monasteries to remain in possession of their lands
in the post-conquest period “ne fut pas n´cessairement le cas de tous les monast`res en dehors de
e e
l™Athos” and gives reference to con¬scations suffered by two monasteries within Thessalonike. A
similar situation existed in the province of Trebizond, where during the early years of Ottoman rule
“urban monasteries appear to have lost all their properties, while the major rural foundations such
as Vazelon, Soumela and the Peristera did not”: see H. Lowry, “Privilege and property in Ottoman
Macuka in the opening decades of the Tourkokratia: 1461“1553,” in Continuity and Change, ed.
¸
Bryer and Lowry, pp. 119“27 (p. 122 for the quoted statement); Lowry, “Fate of Byzantine monastic
properties,” 278“9.
30 In this context, the testimony of the Russian pilgrim Ignatius of Smolensk, regarding the ten “won-
drous” monasteries (Blatadon, Peribleptos“Kyr Isaak, Latomou, Akapniou, Nea Mone, Philokalou,
Prodromos, Pantodynamos, Gorgoepekoos, and the metocheion of Chortiates) which he visited in
Thessalonike in 1405, only two years after the city™s restoration to Byzantine rule, must be approached
with caution. As the evidence presented below demonstrates, many monasteries, including some of
those quali¬ed by Ignatius as “wondrous,” underwent major dif¬culties during the ¬rst Ottoman
domination. To what extent they would have recovered by 1405 is hence open to question. See
B. de Khitrowo, Itin´raires russes en Orient (Geneva, 1889; repr. Osnabr¨ ck, 1966), p. 147. Cf. M.

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