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they chose to mortgage it and took care to incorporate into the mortgage
contract a set of conditions regarding its redemption in the likely event of
their return.95
Pepagomenos™ sons should be considered lucky because in the course of
Bayezid™s siege many people ¬‚ed Constantinople without having had the
opportunity to sell or mortgage their property. The creditors of the two boys
should be considered lucky as well since it was not uncommon for indebted
citizens who ran away from the capital to leave behind unpaid accounts.
Such was the manner in which the son-in-law or brother-in-law of a priest
93 MM, vol. ii, no. 560. This act has been dated to March 1400 by Darrouz`s: Reg., pp. 364“5.
e
94 MM, vol. ii, no. 587 (July 1400).
95 Ibid., no. 610 (October 1400). The elder brother bears the last name Chrysoberges, while the
younger one is called Pepagomenos like their father; the act omits their ¬rst names.
172 Constantinople
called Zotikos ¬‚ed while he still owed money to a woman by the name of
Athena¨sa. At the outset of 1400 his abandoned house in Constantinople lay
±
in such a ruined state that the only use that could be made of it was by way of
demolishing it and selling the construction materials. Since the patriarchal
act hints at the possibility of this man™s return to Constantinople in case of
the establishment of peace with the Ottomans, it might be inferred that he
had intentionally retained the house, hoping someday to come back and
reoccupy it. It is, on the other hand, also conceivable that he kept the old
house not because he desired to do so, but because he had not been able to
sell it at the time of his departure.96 Given the cash shortage noted above
and the scarcity of citizens able or willing to invest in real estate, it is not
surprising that people who left Constantinople during the siege frequently
abandoned their immovables within the city. In the Kynegoi quarter, for
instance, an estate belonging to a certain Maurommates remained neglected
for several years following the ¬‚ight of its owner. Then, on a piece of
land attached to this estate, the proprietor of the adjacent garden, the
oikeios Markos Palaiologos Iagaris, started cultivating wheat around 1399
or earlier. In May 1401, on account of Maurommates™ prolonged absence,
the patriarchal court granted Iagaris permission to continue using his
neighbor™s land for an annual fee of one hyperpyron. In addition, Iagaris
was authorized to build a fence around it for protection against robbers
who had been menacing the area. In the opinion of the patriarchal court
and of Iagaris himself, who undertook the construction of the fence at his
own expense, the likelihood of Maurommates™ return to Constantinople
appears to have notably diminished as many years elapsed after he deserted
the city along with his property therein.97
If the lack of buyers and the urgency of circumstances compelling people
to leave Constantinople were factors that reduced their ability to liquidate
their immovables prior to the time of departure, the example of Anna
Tornaraia Moschopoulina suggests another possible obstacle, namely the
joint ownership of property. Anna had inherited from her father, the priest
George Moschopoulos Sisinios, one quarter of a church, the rest of which
belonged to her orphaned nephew in June 1400. Anna, who was away
from Constantinople at this time, had apparently left the city without
having made any arrangement for the transfer of her share of the church.
Therefore, at the request of her nephew™s guardian the patriarchal court
ruled that, in case she died abroad intestate, her part must revert to her
96 Ibid., no. 543 (January“February 1400).
97 Ibid., no. 649. This act, dated October 1400 in MM, has been redated May 1401 by Darrouz`s, Reg.,
e
p. 433.
173
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
young relative. Had Anna attempted to sell her share prior to her depar-
ture, notwithstanding her limited chances of ¬nding someone willing to
purchase one-fourth of a church, one may well imagine the objections
she might have faced from the nephew™s guardian against the idea of her
bringing in an outsider as the co-owner of a joint family property.98
All the references to ¬‚ight that have been considered so far involved
either individuals or nuclear families.99 One patriarchal act discloses, on
the other hand, a case of mass desertion from a small residential area in
the vicinity of the Hippodrome. The inhabitants of this neighborhood,
people with low incomes apparently, used to rent their dwellings from
the nearby church of Saint John the Theologian. But because of the
Ottoman siege, almost everyone had abandoned the place by July 1402,
with the exception of one or two tenants.100 Granted that the present
case happens to be a unique documented incident of mass desertion, it
is nonetheless signi¬cant for several reasons. First of all, incidents like
this one are generally hard to come by among the acts of the patriarchal
court because of the very nature of these documents; most cases that were
brought to court involved disputes between particular individuals. More-
over, the acts tend to mention details such as the ¬‚ight of people only
incidentally, when they occur in connection with the dispute at hand.
Consequently, references to the ¬‚ight of citizens recorded in the acts not
only constitute a small fraction of the actual number of people who must
have ¬‚ed Constantinople during Bayezid™s siege, they also pertain primarily
to propertied people since they are found in cases involving various forms
of ownership disputes, partnership agreements, sale or loan contracts, and
the like. Hence our last piece of evidence documenting the ¬‚ight of an
entire community made up of people with modest means who occupied
the porticoes they rented from the said church is of utmost interest and
value. It suggests that citizens belonging to the lower classes who deeply
suffered from the hardships of the siege and who had little or no property to
forfeit were as inclined as the rest of the population, if not more so, to leave
the capital even though they are rarely visible in the documents. Thus, with
the additional help of some other references encountered in the literary
sources of the period,101 we can begin to form a more complete picture of
98 MM, vol. ii, no. 576 (June 1400).
99 See also ibid., no. 658, for the ¬‚ight of another individual, the priest Gabras, who was the great-
uncle of Anna Batatzina Gabraina. He left Constantinople sometime before July 1401, “di‡ tŸn
–nta“qa ›ndeian.”
100 ´
Ibid., no. 648 (July 1402). Cf. C. Mango, “Le Diipion. Etude historique et topographique,” REB
8 (1950), 152“61, esp. 157“8; Bernicolas-Hatzopoulos, “First siege,” 44.
101 See pp. 150“2 above.
174 Constantinople
the impact of ¬‚ight on the overall population and physical appearance of
Constantinople during the siege years.
There can be little doubt that the steady outpouring of Constantino-
politans proved highly detrimental to the security of the besieged city by
depriving it of defenders and, furthermore, by lowering the morale of
those who stayed behind. The Byzantine government and particularly the
Emperor could not help but react to this situation with utmost disapproval.
For instance, in 1396 Manuel II reproached Demetrios Kydones, who had
recently left Constantinople to go to Italy, with the following words:
[Y]ou who have preferred a foreign land to your own . . . Do not imagine that
you are ful¬lling your obligations toward it by loudly lamenting its fate while you
stay out of range of the arrows. In its time of crisis you must come and share the
dangers and, as much as you can, aid it by deeds if you have any interest in proving
yourself a soldier clear of indictment for desertion.102

Yet apart from such words of disapproval, sources give no evidence of the
implementation of consistent of¬cial measures aimed at restraining the
¬‚ight of the capital™s inhabitants during this period. Only one patriarchal
act from the year 1399 reveals the personal efforts of Manuel II to prevent
an oikeios in his service from leaving the city. The latter, whose name was
Manuel Palaiologos Rhaoul, had fallen into the grip of poverty in the
course of the Ottoman siege. Between October 1397 and October 1399
he sold a large ¬eld to the monastery of Saint Mamas for 800 hyperpyra
with the intention of departing from Constantinople together with his
entire household. However, the Emperor found out about his plans and
obstructed them.103 Manuel Palaiologos Rhaoul thus stayed behind, but it
has been seen that many others succeeded in taking ¬‚ight. In other words,
although Manuel II may have been able to interfere with the plans of an
aristocrat who worked in his service and was close to him, he could not
effectively counteract the overall problem of ¬‚ight, which may be attributed
to the absence of strict formal measures in Constantinople at this time,
comparable, for instance, to the unpopular prohibition of property sales
enforced in Thessalonike during the Venetian regime.104
102 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 62, pp. 172“3. See also ibid., no. 30, written during the same
year (1396), for Manuel II™s reprimanding attitude towards another prominent Byzantine, possibly
Manuel Kalekas, who had just moved from Constantinople to a location under Italian rule.
103 MM, vol. ii, no. 528 (Oct. 1399). On Manuel Palaiologos Rhaoul, see Fassoulakis, Family of
Raoul-Ral(l)es, no. 41, pp. 56“7; PLP, no. 24134. On the monastery of Saint Mamas, see R. Janin,
La g´ographie eccl´siastique de l™Empire byzantin. Premi`re partie: Le si`ge de Constantinople et le
e e e e
patriarcat “cum´nique, vol. iii: Les ´glises et les monast`res, 2nd edn. (Paris, 1969), pp. 314“19.
e e e
104 See above, ch. 5, pp. 109“10.
175
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
Following the hindrance of his plans, Manuel Palaiologos Rhaoul, who
had sold the aforementioned ¬eld only because he intended to leave Con-
stantinople, wanted to get it back from the monastery of Saint Mamas.
Rhaoul™s desire to retrieve his ¬eld, for which he had received a rather good
price,105 is not without signi¬cance. Despite some depreciation in the real
value of goods, immovable property in Constantinople was still considered
a safer form of wealth than liquid assets because whereas cash was steadily
losing value, prices were expected to go up as soon as the siege came to
an end. This optimism about the termination of the siege, coupled with
the expectation of a rise in prices, are both re¬‚ected in an act of January
1401 concerning the sale of a house, in which the patriarch pointed to a
likely increase in the price of the house in the event that peace should be
established with Bayezid.106 In a legal dispute discussed earlier, we have
seen that Manuel Papylas, who brought a case against his son-in-law for
having spent the cash part of his daughter™s dowry, asked for the money to
be restored in the form of immovable goods.107 While Papylas intended in
this manner to protect his daughter™s dowry from being squandered again
by his son-in-law, he may have been simultaneously striving to avoid its
becoming devalued under the impact of current economic pressures. It was
probably with the same motive that Manuel Palaiologos Rhaoul tried to
regain possession of his ¬eld after his plans were altered, instead of keeping
the 800 hyperpyra he had received for it.
If, on the other hand, the monastery of Saint Mamas was ¬nancially
strong enough to afford to dispense this substantial sum of money on
Rhaoul™s ¬eld, thanks primarily to its wealthy ktetor Nicholas Sophi-
anos,108 numerous other monasteries and private churches in Constantino-
ple showed signs of economic and physical decay during Bayezid™s siege.
For example, a church named after a certain Gabraina was in a ruined
state until a nun called Theodoule Tzouroulene took over its management
and restored it with her own money and with donations from others.109
In 1397 the nuns of the convent of Theotokos Bebaias Elpidos, “because
of the necessity and distress they were suffering from the siege,” appealed
for the right to use as cash 200 hyperpyra out of a donation of 300 hyper-
pyra, which had been endowed speci¬cally for the purchase of property.
The convent, founded in the early fourteenth century by a niece of the
Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, also needed repairs even though it had
105 For an evaluation of ¬eld prices within the city during the siege, including Rhaoul™s, see pp. 153“4
above.
106 MM, vol. ii, no. 623, p. 461. 107 Ibid., no. 565 (April 1400); see p. 170 above.
108 On this person, see PLP, no. 26412. 109 MM, vol. ii, no. 579 (June 1400).
176 Constantinople
been restored merely two years prior to the siege. But owing to the patron-
age of Eugenia Kantakouzene Philanthropene, a great-granddaughter of
the original foundress (Theodora Synadene), who made a donation of 200
hyperpyra in September 1400, its church and bell tower “which were in
danger of collapsing” could be restored.110 The overseer of the monastery
of Saint Basil, on the other hand, had to borrow 209 hyperpyra in order to
undertake much-needed repairs and the cultivation of a vineyard.111 The
vineyards and ¬elds outside the city walls belonging to the Charsianeites
monastery were totally destroyed and remained barren throughout the
Ottoman blockade, while the tower, presumably protecting the monastic
estates, was burnt down during an enemy attack.112 Not even the monastery
of Bassos, which was the private property of John VII™s mother, could ward
off destruction in the midst of the instability and insecurity that prevailed
within the besieged capital.113 But most importantly, the church of Saint
Sophia too, according to a letter written by the Patriarch Matthew, lay in
critical condition and suffered from great need because it was deprived of
its external revenues as a result of the persistent siege.114
The gardens and vineyards of several other monasteries in the city lay
fallow or produced low yields like those of Saint Basil and Charsianeites.
Among the more enterprising monasteries some sought to remedy this
problem by entrusting their unproductive lands to the care of laymen.
For instance, a garden belonging to the convent of Panagia Pausolype was
given to two brothers bearing the family name Spyridon, who were expected
to transform it into a pro¬t-yielding vineyard within ¬ve years. Thereafter,
the wine produced from the output was to be divided equally between the
two parties, while the convent for its part was required to pay the brothers 6
hyperpyra at harvest time each year. In addition, the brothers were granted
the right to transmit the vineyard to their heirs as long as the latter agreed to
abide by the same conditions. Whereas the convent used to earn scarcely
110 H. Delehaye, Deux typica byzantins de l™´poque des Pal´ologues (Brussels, 1921), pp. 102“5; English
e e
trans. in BMFD, vol. iv, pp. 1567“8. For the convent, see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii,
e e
pp. 158“60. For Eugenia Kantakouzene Philanthropene, see Nicol, Family of Kantakouzenos, no.
55, p. 164; PLP, no. 10936.
111 MM, vol. ii, no. 653 (June 1401), where the editors wrongly locate the monastery in Caesarea,
Cappadocia. For the Constantinopolitan monastery, see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii,
e e
pp. 58“60; Syropoulos, “M´moires,” pp. 102, 186.
e
112 Konidares and Manaphes, “ ¬Epitele…tiov bo…lhsiv,” 478, 480, 481 (= Hunger, “Testament,” 299,
301); English trans. in BMFD, vol. iv, pp. 1637, 1639. For the Charsianeites monastery, see Janin,
G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii, pp. 501“2.
e e
113 MM, vol. ii, no. 573 (May 1400). Cf. Darrouz`s, Reg., pp. 374“5; Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique,
e e
e
vol. iii, pp. 61“2.
114 MM, vol. ii, no. 629, pp. 469“70. This letter to the metropolitan of Stauroupolis has been dated
to March“April 1401 by Darrouz`s: Reg., pp. 417“18.
e
177
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
20 hyperpyra from the entire garden prior to this agreement, in 1401 it
received more than 50 hyperpyra from only its own share of the vineyard.
The ¬vefold increase in the total income derived from this garden/vineyard,
even after the probable effects of in¬‚ation and devaluation are taken into
account, signals a considerable rise in its productivity, which must be
attributed to the successful management of the Spyridones.115 Towards the
end of 1401 or the beginning of 1402 the Peribleptos monastery leased a
plot of land to a man called Manuel Katalanos, who agreed to exploit
it as a vinery for an annual rent of 20 hyperpyra. The lease was to last
for the duration of Katalanos™ lifetime and was transferable to his heirs
afterwards.116 Here we see a different kind of arrangement made by a
monastery which, just like the aforementioned convent of Pausolype, was
trying to put one of its unproductive or underproducing lands to a better
use. Instead of sharing the pro¬t from the output produced, however,
Peribleptos found it preferable to receive a ¬xed rent payment from its
tenant. This may well be due to the unstable conditions created by the
Ottoman siege which must have rendered successful managers such as
the Spyridon brothers unique and exceptional. During the same year as
the latter were noted for having substantially raised the productivity of the
garden entrusted to them, the nuns of the convent of Saint Andrew in
Krisei ¬led suit against two laymen to whom they had leased a vineyard
on the similar condition that the tenants would work on ameliorating the
land for four years and thereafter share with the convent half of the yield.
The nuns were dissatis¬ed with the work done on the vineyard in the
course of the ¬rst two years and wished to cancel the contract. The experts
who were sent to examine the vineyard agreed with the nuns™ assessment
of the two men™s performance, and the lease was accordingly canceled.117
Yet, even in cases when monastic property was leased out in return for a
¬xed rental fee in order to avoid such risks as in the previous example,

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