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93 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 72“3 (2nd Embassy: § 1); Sathas, Documents, vol. i, pp. 135“6.
94 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 78“9 (2nd Embassy: § 14).
95 For more examples of the violation of Thessalonians™ privileges and local customs, see ibid., pp. 47
(1st Embassy: § 1. Privileges in general); 54, 73 (1st Embassy: §§ 7 and 8, 2nd Embassy: § 2. Privileges
concerning the proper functioning of the Council of Twelve); 79 (2nd Embassy: § 16. Local custom
requiring separate incarceration of men and women); and pp. 103“4 and note 66 above (ecclesiastical
and judicial privileges). See also Tsaras, “Fin d™Andronic,” 426“9.
96 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 56, 76 (1st Embassy: § 12, 2nd Embassy: § 11).
97 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 2131 (May 6, 1429). It has been suggested that “Olbofaci” may be
e
the Latin rendering of the Turkish “Ulufeci,” a member of one of the divisions in the Ottoman
kap±kulu cavalry (i.e. slave soldiers of the royal household): see Matschke, Ankara, pp. 120“3. On
the pendamerea, see note 81 above.
98 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, pp. 80“1 (2nd Embassy: § 20). 99 Ibid., p. 56 (1st Embassy: § 13).
111
Thessalonike under foreign rule
wheat sank just outside the harbor of Thessalonike on a stormy day, and
that the soaked grain, which was distributed to the poor at a low price,
was thereby saved from falling into the hands of speculators.100 From the
instructions sent by the Venetian Senate to Thessalonike at the end of 1424,
we learn that the agents of the duke and the captain tried to gain control
over the food market, by personally interfering in the sale of meat, bread,
and wine, and forcing the prices to go up. The Senate ordered them to put
an immediate end to such practices and to let the sale of these commodities
be free.101 However, abuses and pro¬teering continued as long as the exi-
gencies of the state of war supplied opportunities for exploitation. In 1429,
therefore, when the Thessalonian ambassadors in Venice asked for extra
wheat supplies, they warned the Senate to take precautions against pro¬-
teering and black-market activities by making sure that the wheat would
be sold in the city™s square, at cost, and only to those who paid for it at its
value.102 The ambassadors also sought authorization from the Senate for
the appointment of two of¬cers, chosen from among the Greek citizens,
to supervise weights, measures, and prices, and to serve for a maximum
period of three months so as to reduce the chances of bribery.103
All this evidence con¬rms and elucidates some vague references to the
bad relations between the native Thessalonians and the Venetians found in
the narrative sources. Doukas, for example, writes, “Those who remained
in the city were maltreated in countless acts of unprovoked violence,”
while Anagnostes states, “As you know, the city suffered under Latin
domination.”104 A church of¬cial who ¬‚ed to Constantinople in April
1425 and arranged for the ¬‚ight of his family a few months later, too,
refers to the “enslavement of the city by the Venetians.”105 Finally, in a
funeral oration for the Despot Andronikos, there is another allusion to the
Venetian rule in Thessalonike as being equivalent to slavery.106 As a result,
the general atmosphere within the city became so tense and at the same
time the military situation so insecure that even the Venetian authorities in
Thessalonike were quite discontent with their condition. In 1426 both the
100 Symeon“Balfour, p. 64. 101 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1962 (Dec. 17, 1424).
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102 Mertzios, Mnhme±a, p. 75 (2nd Embassy: § 9). 103 Ibid., p. 79 (2nd Embassy: § 17).
104 Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.4, p. 249, lines 6“7; trans. by Magoulias, Decline and Fall, p. 170.
Anagnostes“Tsaras, p. 6, lines 31“2. Writing in the late ¬fteenth century, Theodore Spandounes
emphasizes, on the other hand, that the type of government set up by the Venetian administra-
tors of Thessalonike differed considerably from what the Greek inhabitants of the city were used
to: Theodoro Spandugnino, De la origine deli imparatori Ottomani, ed. K. Sathas, in Documents,
vol. ix (Paris, 1890), p. 149. See also Tsaras, “Fin d™Andronic,” 427.
105 Kug´as, “Notizbuch,” 152.
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106 A. Sideras, 24 unedierte byzantinische Grabreden (G¨ ttingen, 1982), p. 288; cf. A. Sideras, “Neue
o
Quellen zum Leben des Despotes Andronikos Palaiologos,” BZ 80/1 (1987), 10, n. 49.
112 Thessalonike
duke and the captain of Thessalonike (Bernab` Loredan and Giacomo
o
Dandolo) declared their wish to resign from their posts. For many months,
however, no candidates willing to replace them could be found in Venice.
Consequently, they were obliged to stay in of¬ce until the end of their
two-year term.107 It is clear that by this time the majority of the Repub-
lic™s civil servants had come to regard Thessalonike as an unattractive and
unwelcome post of appointment.
Under such conditions, the inhabitants of Thessalonike became less and
less willing to continue the struggle against the Ottomans. It has been
seen that already at the time of the negotiations for the city™s transfer
to Venice, there was a group of people in favor of surrendering to the
Ottomans. Within a few years after the establishment of the Venetian
regime, greater numbers of Thessalonians, feeling that the Venetians had
not ful¬lled most of what they had undertaken to do, and suffering from
hunger, poverty, mistreatment, and exhaustion, began to show open signs
of reluctance to resist the enemy. In a letter sent to Crete in March 1427 the
Venetian authorities in Thessalonike drew attention to the refusal of the
citizens to participate in defense and combat. They also referred in the same
letter to the ¬‚ight of three captives, by the names of Palapan (Balaban),
Chitir (H±d±r), and Apochafo (Apokaukos?), which particularly worried
them because these fugitives would soon be informing the Ottomans about
the unstable situation inside Thessalonike.108 Nevertheless, despite three
attempts by Murad II to persuade the citizens to surrender and despite the
desire of the majority to do so, the Thessalonians fought until the very
last minute.109 According to Anagnostes, this was, ¬rst of all, because the
inhabitants who remained in the city were so reduced in number that they
were not able to act according to their own wish. Secondly, owing to the
divisions among the population, they could not come to an agreement and
put up a united front in support of surrender. Finally, they were afraid of the
Venetians who pressured them to ¬ght, and particularly of the “Tzetarioi”
who were appointed to watch over them.110 The combined efforts of the
Thessalonians and the Venetians failed, however, and Thessalonike fell to
the Ottomans on March 29, 1430.

From the foregoing discussion of political and socioeconomic conditions
in Thessalonike under three separate regimes, the following conclusions
can be drawn. First, with the exception of the period of the ¬rst Ottoman

107 Thiriet, Assembl´es, vol. ii, no. 1302 (Aug. 24, 1426). 108 Ibid., no. 1306 (March 1427).
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109 Anagnostes“Tsaras, pp. 16“18, 20, 24. 110 Ibid., pp. 8, 10“12, 24.
113
Thessalonike under foreign rule
domination (1387“1403) when the city was temporarily relieved from mil-
itary assaults, a desire for peace, with its corollary prosperity, was what
the Thessalonians all strove for in unison. However, the means by which
people of varying social backgrounds wanted to implement this peace dif-
fered. While opinions did undergo alterations corresponding to changing
circumstances, the lower classes on the whole, both urban and rural, exhib-
ited the highest degree of consistency. Yearning to bring an end to their
economic problems, which the military con¬‚icts with the Ottomans mul-
tiplied and intensi¬ed, the common people under both the Byzantine and
the Venetian administrations regularly insisted on the idea of surrendering
to the enemy on terms. Unfortunately, little is known about the lower
classes during the period of the ¬rst Ottoman domination apart from their
uprising of 1393 against the Greek archontes who had been left in charge of
the local goverment of Thessalonike. But some pieces of evidence point-
ing towards improvements in the economic conditions of the countryside
under the Ottoman regime suggest that the removal of obstacles to agri-
cultural production following the establishment of peace may have served
the region™s peasantry well.
As to the upper classes whose ¬nancial assets, lands, or commercial
interests were at stake, the majority of them preferred to see the establish-
ment of peace in Thessalonike through the elimination of the Ottomans
rather than through a rapprochement with them. Despite certain political
and economic advantages which some high-standing individuals acquired
during the ¬rst Ottoman domination, most members of the aristocracy
suffered material losses and many may have felt their condition to be inse-
cure, if not deteriorating, under the Ottoman regime. Therefore, following
the city™s restoration to Byzantine rule in 1403, the initiative to resist the
Ottomans with the assistance of Venice came from this segment of society.
The policy they supported was one that in the short run necessitated the
continuation of military struggles in order to bring about a lasting peace. To
this end they were even prepared to accept submission to the Latin Church.
Afterwards, however, some among them became deeply disillusioned with
the Venetian regime because it failed to establish the conditions of peace
to which they aspired.
Among ecclesiastical and monastic circles, on the other hand, the only
form of peace that was considered acceptable was one that did not endan-
ger the religious freedom of the Thessalonians. In the course of the ¬rst
Ottoman domination, the citizens witnessed the tolerant attitude of the
Muslim authorities with regard to both the teachings and the internal
affairs of their Church. Despite the fact that many of the monasteries and
114 Thessalonike
small churches within the city experienced a general economic decline,
the Ottomans made no large-scale attempt at Islamization throughout
this period. By contrast, the Venetians who took over the city™s political
administration in 1423 applied strict measures to extend their authority
to its ecclesiastical jurisdiction as well and interfered with the religious
freedom of the Orthodox community, ignoring the guarantees they had
offered initially. The striking difference between the religious policies of the
Ottomans and the Latins, widely known throughout the Byzantine world,
which in fact never forgot the experiences of the Fourth Crusade and its
aftermath, was the primary reason why high-ranking ecclesiastics such as
the archbishops Isidore and Gabriel, who were fundamentally opposed to
both the Latins and the Ottomans, adopted in the end a conciliatory atti-
tude towards the latter when Thessalonike capitulated to Ottoman rule in
1387. Similarly, some monks and monasteries showed signs of accommo-
dation with the Muslim authorities in an attempt to win their favor and to
receive bene¬ts from them during the ¬rst Ottoman domination. In the
decades following the restoration of Thessalonike to Byzantine rule, and
particularly during the Venetian administration, the anti-Latin attitude
of monastic circles seems to have grown stronger. For instance, the anti-
unionist monks of the Blatadon monastery were so ¬rmly opposed to the
Venetian regime that according to a later tradition they allegedly betrayed
Thessalonike to the Ottomans in 1430 by disclosing to Sultan Murad II
a stratagem to conquer the city by way of cutting off its water supply.111
That this highly dubious tradition is rejected by almost everyone is beside
the point. What is more to the point is that the story re¬‚ects surviving
memories of the generally more favorable attitude of monks towards the
Ottomans than towards the Latins. It is after all an authenticated fact that
in 1423/4, immediately before or shortly after the cession of Thessalonike
to Venice, the monks of Mount Athos, with Despot Andronikos™ consent,
went to the Ottoman capital Edirne (Adrianople) and gave obeisance to
Murad II, presumably because they anticipated that the Venetians would
not be as tolerant or as ¬‚exible in religious matters as the Ottomans.112 As
for the monasteries within Thessalonike, after the problems which we saw
they confronted under the domination of Venice, the city™s conquest by
the Ottomans in 1430 may have come as a relief to them, especially when
Murad II granted them “by letters and by word” the right to maintain
their immovables together with their sources of revenue. The Sultan was
111 Chronicle of Hierax (c. 1580), ed. C. N. Sathas, MesaiwnikŸ Biblioqžkh, vol. i (Venice, 1872),
p. 257. See also note 43 above.
112 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 63/4, p. 473; vol. ii, pp. 422“3.
115
Thessalonike under foreign rule
to reverse his policy a few years later, but perhaps no one at the time could
have foreseen this.113
When the Ottoman army entered Thessalonike in 1430, it is reported
that money and valuables belonging to wealthy citizens were found hidden
underneath church altars or buried in graveyards and in other places.114 As
contemporaries to the events of 1453 would later observe in Constantinople
too,115 there was an af¬‚uent minority in Thessalonike which refused to
extend its ¬nancial resources towards the city™s defense needs. It has been
seen that this group opted, instead, for assistance from Venice. Next to
these people stood the bulk of the population which was impoverished and
reduced to misery by the concurrent military and economic hardships of
the times. In a letter written towards the end of the fourteenth century,
Demetrios Kydones had expressed his fear that the deplorable condition of
the poor citizens of Constantinople would eventually lead to civil war.116
Kydones™ prediction concerning the imperial capital turned out to be
the fate of Thessalonike, as revealed by the internal dissensions and social
con¬‚icts discussed in the present and preceding chapters. The city™s survival
before the external enemy, thus, became hopelessly linked to and dependent
upon foreign help from the West, while internally it remained weak and
divided. In many ways, the fate of the “second city” of the Byzantine
Empire foreshadowed what was to take place in Constantinople a few
decades later. As Doukas observed with the bene¬t of hindsight, “This was
the evil and ill-fated ¬rstfruits of future calamities destined to befall the
imperial capital.”117
113 Anagnostes“Tsaras, pp. 58, 64“6.
114 Ibid., pp. 44“8. Cf. As±kpasazade“Giese, p. 106 (= As±kpasazade“Ats±z, p. 173); Nesrˆ, Kitˆ b-±
a
¸ ¸ ¸ ¸ ¸±
Cihan-n¨ mˆ , vol. ii, pp. 610“11.
ua
115 See below, ch. 8, pp. 225ff. 116 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 433 (date: 1391).
117 Doukas“Grecu, XXIX.5, p. 251; trans. by Magoulias, Decline and Fall, p. 172.
part iii
Constantinople




introduction to part iii
In the course of the fourteenth and ¬fteenth centuries Constantinople,
which had once been one of the most glorious and populous urban centers
of the Mediterranean world, was reduced politically and economically to a
rather modest state of existence and was merely able to hold out against the
Ottomans for another twenty-three years following the de¬nitive conquest
of Thessalonike. Constantinople shared with Thessalonike a more or less
identical social structure during this period. In the earlier part of the
fourteenth century its population was made up of three distinct social
layers: a very rich aristocracy, which drew its wealth primarily from land;
a rich “middle” class (the mesoi), including merchants, bankers, small
property owners, and minor functionaries; and the poor, consisting of
small artisans, manual laborers, small cultivators, as well as entirely destitute
people at the lowest end of the social spectrum. After the middle of the
fourteenth century, however, as more and more people from the ¬rst group,
having lost their landed possessions to the Serbs and Ottomans, were
compelled to channel their economic activities towards trade and banking,
the social criteria separating them from rich middle-class merchants became
less clearly distinguishable. Thereafter, as in Thessalonike, a bipartite social
structure with the rich at one end and the poor at the other became typical
in Constantinople.1
Yet, by virtue of its role as the capital of the Byzantine Empire and
the seat of the imperial government, Constantinople maintained a distinct
character from Thessalonike. It was here that the empire™s foreign policy
decisions were taken and implemented. Consequently, in their proximity
to the Byzantine court, the citizens of Constantinople were at once more
familiar with and more directly in¬‚uenced by the actions of the central
1 See Oikonomid`s, Hommes d™affaires, pp. 114“23; Matschke, Fortschritt, pp. 38“62, 74“106; Matschke
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and Tinnefeld, Gesellschaft, pp. 154“66.

117
118 Constantinople
government than the Thessalonians. This factor must necessarily be taken
into consideration in examining the effects of Ottoman advances in Byzan-
tine territories upon the political attitudes of the citizens of Constantinople.
The following chapter, with its direct focus on the Byzantine court and its
relations with the Ottomans during the late fourteenth and early ¬fteenth
centuries, is intended to elucidate this particular aspect of Constantinople.
Having once laid out the proper setting, I will proceed in subsequent
chapters to examine the political attitudes and socioeconomic conditions
that prevailed in the city, ¬rst during the siege of Bayezid I, and then in
the course of the ¬nal ¬fty years of Byzantine rule there.

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