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there was no guarantee that the lessee would necessarily deliver the due
payment. This is illustrated by the example of George Eudokimos, who
refused to pay the annual rent of 28 hyperpyra for a garden he leased from
the monastery of Magistros, alleging as an excuse what appears to have
115 MM, vol. ii, no. 650 (May 1401). For the convent of Pausolype, see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique,
e e
vol. iii, p. 217. For a parallel example from Thessalonike illustrating the increase in the productivity
of gardens leased by the monastery of Iveron to members of the Argyropoulos family, see ch. 4,
p. 62 and note 30. See also Kazhdan, “Italian and late Byzantine city,” 17“19.
116 Hunger, “Inedita,” no. 1, pp. 58“9; Darrouz`s, Reg., no. 3249, p. 469. For the Peribleptos monastery,
e
see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii, pp. 218“22.
e e
117 MM, vol. ii, no. 654 (June 1401). For the convent of Saint Andrew in Krisei, see Janin, G´ographie
e
eccl´siastique, vol. iii, pp. 28“31.
e
178 Constantinople
been an extra tax demanded at that time for the repair of the forti¬cations
of Constantinople.118
The sale of monastic property to laymen, which was prohibited by
canon law except under unusual circumstances, also came to be more com-
monly practiced during Bayezid™s siege, serving as another indicator of
the economic problems encountered by the religious foundations of Con-
stantinople at this time. In April 1400 the monastery of Christ Akatalep-
tos, lacking adequate funds to pay an upcoming tax on its vineyards (t¼
boutziatik»n), obtained the patriarch™s permission to sell a small plot of
land to the Emperor™s cousin Manuel Philanthropenos for a sum of 32
hyperpyra.119 During the patriarchate of Antonios (1391“7), the Constanti-
nopolitan monastery of Hodegoi was likewise allowed to sell a house to
a man called Panopoulos, on the grounds that the sale would be bene¬-
cial to the monastery. Interestingly, this house had come to the Hodegoi™s
possession in 1390 through the donation of a lay couple. It changed hands
three times within less than a decade, almost being surrendered to a fourth
person, Thomas Kallokyres, who temporarily held it as security against a
sum of 300 hyperpyra that Panopoulos, the current owner, borrowed from
him.120 In a somewhat different case that involved not a sale but a transfer
ad vitam, the church of Saint Michael in the Eugenios quarter, being on the
verge of collapse, was entrusted to the care of a man called Hodegetrianos.
Among other things, Hodegetrianos promised to repair half of the church
immediately, to attend to its further improvement, and to hire a full-time
priest as soon as the siege ended.121
The strains imposed by Bayezid™s blockade also appear to have given
rise to some instances of misconduct in the utilization of religious prop-
erty. In January 1401 Eirene Palaiologina made an accusation against her
brother, the oikeios Andronikos Palaiologos, and her uncle, the monk David
Palaiologos, with both of whom she shared the ownership of the church
of Amolyntos. Claiming that her relatives wanted to use the church as a
storehouse for the grapes they harvested on some adjoining vineyards, she
requested from the patriarch the installation of a priest to perform regular
services in the church. The patriarch granted her request, thus preventing
118 MM, vol. ii, no. 651 (May 1401), p. 501. Cf. Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii, p. 313.
e e
119 MM, vol. ii, no. 567. Cf. Darrouz`s, Reg., p. 370 and Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii,
e e
e
pp. 504“6. For Manuel Philanthropenos, see PLP, no. 29769.
120 MM, vol. ii, no. 568 (April 1400). Cf. A. Failler, “Une donation des epoux Sanianoi au monast`re e
´
des Hod`goi,” REB 34 (1976), 111“17. For the monastery, see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii,
e e
e
pp. 199“207.
121 MM, vol. ii, no. 627. Darrouz`s has changed the editors™ date (Dec. 1399) to Dec. 1401(?): Reg.,
e
p. 464. Cf. Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii, p. 341; PLP, no. 21007.
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179
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
the transformation of a private religious foundation into an economic one
by two aristocrats who were seemingly responding to the material oppor-
tunities presented by the wartime economy of shortages.122 In July 1401,
on the other hand, three monks from the Kosmidion monastery signed a
promissory note, declaring that they would no longer sell sacred objects
belonging to their monastery. It appears that these monks, hardpressed by
the misery and poverty that struck nearly everyone in Constantinople, had
endeavored to earn some extra income by traf¬cking in the marbles of the
Kosmidion.123
The sad state of the smaller churches and monasteries of Constanti-
nople illustrated by the foregoing examples stands in striking contrast to
the economic strength and relative prosperity maintained by the monaster-
ies of Mount Athos in the late fourteenth and early ¬fteenth centuries. A
comparison of the well-established Athonite monasteries with the monas-
teries inside the city of Thessalonike revealed in Part II the rather precarious
position of the latter.124 The present analysis has demonstrated how much
more pronounced and visible turned out to be the distinction between
larger rural and smaller urban monasteries in a particular crisis situation
such as a siege or military attack. Lacking the freedom and independence
that allowed the monastic institutions of Mount Athos to bargain and
come to terms with the Turkish authorities, most of the monasteries within
the walls of Constantinople and Thessalonike crumbled when faced with
enemy attacks and could, at best, hope to earn some privileges only after
these cities fell to the Ottomans.
To recapitulate, when Emperor Manuel II traveled to the West at the
end of 1399 in search of ¬nancial and military help, the pressures and
hardships induced by Bayezid™s protracted siege had become excessive in
Constantinople. During the next few years conditions inside the city con-
tinued to deteriorate, leaving almost everyone from the common people
to members of the highest levels of society impoverished and hopeless.

122 MM, vol. ii, no. 621 (Jan. 1401), pp. 457“8. On the church of Amolyntos, see Janin, G´ographie
e
eccl´siastique, vol. iii, p. 157. The church had come down to Eirene and Andronikos from their
e
unnamed maternal grandmother, who was related to the imperial family “ the document calls her
the Emperor™s qe©a “ and bore the rank of protovestiaria (MM, vol. ii, no. 621, p. 456). The latter
had two children: the monk David Palaiologos and Theodora Palaiologina, the mother of Eirene
and Andronikos. Eirene, on the other hand, had a son called Alexios Palaiologos (p. 458), who may
perhaps be identi¬ed with Manuel Papylas™ son-in-law by the same name we have encountered
earlier (MM, vol. ii, nos. 559 and 565; see above, pp. 170, 175). Cf. PLP, nos. 21420, 21422, 21354,
21355.
123 MM, vol. ii, no. 657. On the Kosmidion monastery, see Janin, G´ographie eccl´siastique, vol. iii,
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pp. 286“9.
124 See above, ch. 4, pp. 59“60; ch. 5, pp. 92“7.
180 Constantinople
Dilapidated or demolished houses, unattended monasteries and churches,
uncultivated gardens, vineyards, and ¬elds were spread throughout the
depopulated city that was daily losing growing numbers of inhabitants to
Italian or Ottoman territories. Furthermore, those who remained in the
city not only had to struggle with starvation and exhausted revenues but
also had to protect themselves from opportunistic people who engaged in
pro¬teering. The latter, consisting of a small group of wealthy merchants
and businessmen who managed to continue participating in long-distance
trade despite the blockade, endured minimal losses in comparison with the
rest of the population. Judging from the exorbitant prices they charged for
products they brought into Constantinople, the high interest rates they
demanded for loans they handed out, and the investments they made in
the city™s real-estate market at prices well below actual values, they seem
to have more than made up for whatever dif¬culties their trading ventures
abroad might have sustained as a result of the siege.
If, on the other hand, Manuel II™s departure for Europe in 1399 had
initially aroused among the citizens of Constantinople expectations of
western help, hopes were most certainly dwindling a year or two later,
as the Emperor continued his tour of European courts without having
accomplished much that was deemed satisfactory. Consequently, diverse
groups of people who could no longer tolerate being con¬ned inside a
city with the social and economic conditions outlined above began to
agitate in favor of surrender to Bayezid™s forces. As early as about the
time of Manuel™s departure, the common people had been contemplating
surrender, hoping that they would thereby escape starvation and misery.125
During the years that followed, in addition to numerous citizens who ¬‚ed
from the capital and individually turned themselves in to the Ottoman
soldiers standing guard outside the city walls,126 several embassies were
dispatched to the Sultan to propose to him the delivery of Constantinople.
Patriarch Matthew reports in an encyclical he composed in 1401 that on
three occasions, “a short time ago,” ambassadors had been sent out of
the city to negotiate with Bayezid. The patriarch claims that on each of
these occasions he threatened the envoys with excommunication, lest they
should attempt to betray the city to the enemy.127 During the same year
a priest called George Lopadiotes was summoned to the patriarchal court
for his unseemly and suspicious acts in the service of certain archontes,

125 Doukas“Grecu, XIV.4, p. 85.
126 Livre des fais du Mareschal Bouciquaut, ed. Lalande, I.35, p. 152; Gautier (ed.), “R´cit in´dit,” 106.
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127 MM, vol. ii, no. 626, p. 466.
181
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
which included conveying messages for them outside the city, presumably
to the Turks.128 Indeed, stories about secret deals struck between various
individuals and the Sultan circulated all through Constantinople, revealing
how imminent the city™s capitulation to the enemy must have seemed to
most people at that time. Patriarch Matthew himself was implicated in an
affair of this sort and was accused of having sought from Bayezid a guarantee
for his personal safety and for the security of his position should the Sultan
happen to take the city.129 Whether the accusation was based on truth or, as
Matthew argued, fabricated by his slanderous enemies, it did nonetheless
give rise to widespread suspicion and unrest within Constantinople. Thus,
in 1401 the patriarch was compelled to defend himself through a public
proclamation addressed to “all the citizens, archontes, hieromonks and
monks, and the entire Christian people.”130
Shortly before the battle of Ankara (July 28, 1402) “the inhabitants of
Constantinople” sent another embassy to Bayezid, selected from the city™s
notables. This time, however, because the Ottoman ruler was distracted
by the recent challenge of Timur, they expected to be able to secure some
concessions from him. The ambassadors were to inform the Sultan that the
Constantinopolitans were ready to obey all his orders in the capacity of his
vassals only, “since it was not possible for them to betray the city voluntarily
at any time.”131 But, adds the same source, Bayezid would not hear of such a
bargain, and the embassy ended without even a simple achievement as, for
instance, the grant of freedom to the inhabitants to leave Constantinople
for a place of their own choice, should Bayezid happen to capture the
city.132 What the anonymous Byzantine author reporting this event does
not realize, or does not want to admit, however, is that under the precepts
of Islamic law, a concession such as the one he mentions would normally
be granted to the inhabitants of a city that surrendered, and not of one that
was captured by force. Yet the Constantinopolitans at large seem to have
been familiar with the Islamic practice since, following the failure of the
above-mentioned embassy, “they were all ready to surrender themselves to
the barbarians without battle after the victory [of Bayezid over Timur].”133
This statement is con¬rmed by a letter John VII wrote to King Henry
IV of England scarcely two months before the battle of Ankara, in which
he stressed that the Byzantine capital was on the verge of submitting to
Bayezid™s men and urged the rulers of the Christian West to hurry to the

128 Ibid., no. 637 (April 1401), p. 484. 129 Ibid., no. 626, pp. 465“6.
130 Ibid., pp. 463“7. For the English translation of this text, see Barker, Manuel II, pp. 208“11.
131 Gautier (ed.), “R´cit in´dit,” 108“10. 132 Ibid., 110. 133 Ibid., 110.
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182 Constantinople
city™s aid.134 According to the historian Kritoboulos, too, sometime before
Bayezid™s encounter with Timur, an agreement had been reached between
the Ottomans and “the citizens” of Constantinople, in which the latter
promised to deliver themselves and their city to the Sultan on a speci¬ed
day.135
There is no evidence indicating to what degree, if at all, the Byzantine
government was involved in the preceding arrangements which the sources
vaguely attribute to the “citizens” or “inhabitants” of Constantinople. Yet,
just on the eve of the battle of Ankara, John VII, perhaps pressured by the
determined conduct of the citizen body, is said to have made an agreement
with Bayezid, promising to surrender Constantinople to the Ottomans
immediately after the Sultan™s anticipated victory over Timur.136 About the
same time, with or without the Emperor™s knowledge or consent, a group
of archontes from Constantinople set out for Kotyaeion (K¨ tahya), in order
u
to deliver the keys of the city to the Sultan. Before they had a chance to
complete their mission, however, the news was heard that Timur™s forces
had defeated the Ottoman army near Ankara and taken Bayezid captive.
Delighted at this unforeseen development, the archontes bearing the city
keys returned home, and Constantinople was thus saved from falling into
the hands of the Ottomans.137
The Byzantines perceived the delivery of their capital from Bayezid™s
threat in 1402 as a miracle and ascribed it to divine intervention.138 Some
people, while rejoicing over the interference of the Virgin Mary in their
134 Latin text and English translation in Barker, Manuel II, pp. 500“1, 213“14. The letter is dated June
1, 1402.
135 Kritob.“Reinsch, I.16,10, pp. 32“3. This statement is included in a speech that Kritoboulos has
put into Sultan Mehmed II™s mouth. Chronologically it is rather confused, describing Timur™s
appearance in Asia Minor as “shortly after” (mikr¼n Ìsteron) the crusade of Nikopolis (1396). It
attributes the citizens™ decision to surrender to the severity of hunger and famine.
136 Clavijo, Embassy, trans. Le Strange, p. 52. In accordance with the tradition of Byzantine diplomacy,
John VII had simultaneously reached an agreement with Timur as well: see Barker, Manuel II,
pp. 504“9. The statement by Symeon of Thessalonike that John VII had “promised him [Bayezid]
many things and professed himself ready to pay him heavy tribute, do homage in other ways and
almost serve him as a slave, if only he would consider making peace and not seek to have the
City” seems to re¬‚ect earlier attempts of the Emperor to make peace with the Sultan so as not
to lose Constantinople: see Symeon“Balfour, pp. 46, 118“19. See also MM, vol. ii, nos. 543 (Jan.
1400), 556 (March 1400), pp. 341, 359 for references to certain apokrisiarioi who were apparently
entrusted with the task of negotiating a peace settlement with the Ottomans: cf. Darrouz`s, Reg.,
e
nos. 3098, 3112, pp. 352, 361. For another of¬cial embassy sent by John VII to Bursa, “ad matrem
Zalapi,” in August 1401, see Iorga, Notes, vol. i, pp. 112“13 (document reprinted with translation and
commentary in G. T. Dennis, “Three reports from Crete on the situation in Romania, 1401“1402,”
StVen 12 [1970], 244“6, 249“55); Barker, Manuel II, p. 212, n. 16.
137 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 22/28“30, pp. 184“5.
138 See, for example, Gautier (ed.), “Action de grˆces” and “R´cit in´dit.” Note especially the beginning
a e e
of the latter™s title, “ ižghsiv perª to“ gegon»tov qa…matov par‡ t¦v Ëperag©av Qeot»kou . . .”
183
Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople (1394“1402)
favor on this occasion, were more concerned with what to do in order to
maintain her and God™s favorable disposition towards themselves during
future calamities. Demetrios Chrysoloras, for instance, was of the opinion
that the establishment of social and economic equity was the necessary
precondition for continued enjoyment of divine bene¬cence in Constanti-
nople. In a speech composed for the celebration of the ¬rst anniversary of
the battle of Ankara, Chrysoloras wrote:
If we offer the proper things to the all-pure one [the Virgin], she will deliver us
not only from our present misfortunes, but also from those expected in the future.
And how will this happen? If those who possess do not revel in their possessions
by themselves, but share them with those who do not possess. For it is wrong that
some live in luxury while others perish of hunger, and those who suffer cannot
rejoice easily, seeing that some enjoy all pleasures, whereas they themselves have a
share in none at all.139
Stripped of its religious and moral overtones, Chrysoloras™ thanksgiving to
the Virgin bears testimony to this Byzantine intellectual™s awareness that
Constantinople was merely saved from destruction in 1402 by the timely
emergence of an external power as a rival to Bayezid, and that in the long run
only an internal remedy could ensure the city™s and the empire™s survival

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