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revenues to replenish the imperial treasury persisted, but the siege must have
given rise to an even more urgent need for food supplies, hence incurring
the reversal in Constantine™s policy towards foreign merchants and mer-
chandise. Nonetheless, the Emperor™s efforts were not all that successful
since the Venetian surgeon Nicol` Barbaro, who was present in Constanti-
o
nople during the siege, noted in his diary on the ¬rst days of May 1453 the
“growing lack of provisions, particularly of bread, wine and other things
necessary to sustain life.”160 Some citizens who are described as “drinkers
of human blood” by Leonardo of Chios, the Latin archbishop of Mytilene
156 Kritob.“Reinsch, I.18.9“I.19, p. 37; Doukas“Grecu, XXXIV.11, XXXVI.7, XXXVIII.7, pp. 307, 321,
335.
157 Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 23. Barbaro reports the arrival of four ships “believed to come
from Genoa.” However, Leonardo of Chios writes, without mentioning the exemption, that there
were three Genoese ships from Chios carrying food, arms, and soldiers, accompanied by a fourth
ship belonging to the Byzantine emperor and captained by a certain Phlatanelas (Flectanella) that
was loaded with grain from Sicily: PG 159, col. 931a“c. Cf. Olgiati, “Notes,” 53. On grain imports
from Sicily to Constantinople in the ¬fteenth century, see C. Marinescu, “Contribution a l™histoire
`
des relations economiques entre l™Empire byzantin, la Sicile et le royaume de Naples de 1419 a
´ `
1453,” Studi bizantini e neoellenici 5 (1939), 209“19.
158 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. iii, nos. 2831 (Aug. 4, 1450), 2834 (Aug. 17, 1450), 2856 (June 11, 1451). Cf.
e
Nicol, Byzantium and Venice, pp. 390“1.
159 Kreki´, Dubrovnik, p. 60 and nos. 1197, 1216, 1217, 1222. For the background and further details
c
of the negotiations between Constantine XI and Ragusa during 1449“51, see also ibid., nos. 1144,
1174, 1175, 1193, 1195, 1196, 1198, 1199.
160 Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, pp. 33“4; trans. by J. R. Jones, Diary of the Siege of Constantinople
1453 (New York, 1969), p. 43.
224 Constantinople
and another eyewitness to the siege, made things worse by hiding part of
the available food and driving the food prices up.161 Furthermore, there
is evidence that certain Italian merchants, such as the Genoese Barnaba
Centurione, preferred to sell victuals to the Ottomans rather than to the
famished Constantinopolitans.162 The situation was so severe that soldiers
in charge of guarding the city walls frequently abandoned their posts
in order to look after their starving family members. Consequently, an
order was issued for the distribution of bread to the families of soldiers,
“so that people should not have to fear starvation even more than the
sword.”163
Besides the shortage of food which compelled soldiers to shun their
military duties, overwhelming poverty also pushed many of them into
refusing to ¬ght unless they were paid and predisposed them to desert
their posts in search of alternative sources of income. Some looked for new
employment, but it is doubtful whether jobs were readily available at the
time; others turned to the cultivation of ¬elds and vineyards inside the
city, which must have been an opportune enterprise under the prevailing
circumstances of hunger and poverty. When reproached for neglecting their
military duties, some of the soldiers are reported to have replied, “Of what
consequence is military service to us, when our families are in need?”164 In
order to overcome the problem of desertion, Constantine XI, who did not
have suf¬cient money in the imperial treasury to pay the soldiers, resorted
to the use of Church treasures. He ordered the sacred vessels to be melted
down, and with the coins that were struck from them he paid the guards
as well as the sappers and construction workers who were responsible for
repairing the damaged sections of the forti¬cations.165 A similar problem
emerged on another occasion towards the end of the siege, when people
were needed to carry to the walls a large quantity of newly built mantlets for
the battlements. Since no one wanted to do this job without being paid and
there was not adequate cash at hand, the mantlets remained unused in the
end.166 Likewise, the Hungarian engineer and cannon-maker Urban, who
was in the employ of Constantine XI, abandoned Constantinople in the
summer of 1452 and entered the service of Mehmed II because the Emperor

161 PG 159, col. 935d. 162 Olgiati, “Notes,” 54 and n. 21.
163 Leonardo of Chios, in PG 159, 935d; trans. by Jones, Siege, p. 29. 164 PG 159, col. 935b“c.
165 Ibid., col. 934b; cf. Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 66 (additional note by Marco Barbaro). See
J. R. Jones, “Literary evidence for the coinage of Constantine XI,” The Numismatic Circular 75/4
(1967), 97; S. Bendall, “A coin of Constantine XI,” The Numismatic Circular 82/5 (1974), 188“9;
S. Bendall, “The coinage of Constantine XI,” Revue Numismatique, 6e s´rie, 33 (1991), 139“42.
e
166 Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 50.
225
Constantinople (1403“1453)
had not been able to pay him a satisfactory salary, if any at all.167 Hence,
lack of public funds, combined with the indigence of average citizens,
served in more than one way as impediments to the proper protection of
the Byzantine capital.
The advice that some of the imperial of¬cials offered Constantine XI
at a point when he was contemplating instituting new taxes for defense
purposes illustrates in an even more revealing manner the overall destitution
of the citizen body. The of¬cials emphatically counselled the Emperor
against this measure, arguing that it would be undesirable to overburden
the already impoverished people by means of extra taxes. Indeed, it was in
accordance with their suggestion that Constantine XI ¬nally resorted to the
use of Church treasures, as noted above.168 Gennadios Scholarios, too, in
a lament he composed after the city™s fall on the subject of the misfortunes
of his life, stated that the Byzantine capital was poverty-stricken during
its last years, thus conveying, as do other sources, how pervasive indigence
was throughout the city at that time.169
While the theme of widespread and debilitating poverty recurs in most
accounts of the siege of 1453, Latin eyewitnesses to the event also proclaim
the existence of a wealthy minority in Constantinople who refused to con-
tribute ¬nancially to the city™s defense needs. The unwillingness of rich
Byzantines to make ¬nancial sacri¬ces is underlined by Nicol` Barbaro
o
in his description of the aforementioned incident concerning the trans-
port of mantlets to the walls. According to Barbaro, when no one agreed
to carry the mantlets without payment, the Venetians in Constantinople,
who had been involved in their construction, decided to offer a sum of
money for their transport, expecting those Byzantines who possessed the
means to do likewise. However, this decision aroused the anger of wealthy
Byzantines, and as they could not be persuaded to contribute part of the
money, the project was altogether abandoned.170 In his letter addressed to
Pope Nicholas V on August 16, 1453, Leonardo of Chios reports that the
aristocrats of Constantinople, to whom Constantine XI appealed for ¬nan-
cial assistance during the siege, told the Emperor that their resources had
been exhausted because of the hardships of the time; yet Leonardo quickly
adds that the Ottomans later discovered large amounts of money and
167 Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. ii, pp. 151“2; Doukas“Grecu, XXXV.1, pp. 307“9; Leonardo of Chios, in PG
o
159, col. 932a.
168 Leonardo of Chios, in PG 159, col. 934b; Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 66 (additional note by
Marco Barbaro).
169 Scholarios, ’uvres, vol. i, p. 287: “å p»liv, e« kaª p”niv –n to±v Ëst†toiv cr»noiv kaª Šoikov t¤
ple©oni m”rei kaª f»boiv kaq ¬ ¡m”ran suz¤sa kaª gumnŸ t¦v ˆdom”nhv perious©av –n Œpasin . . .”
170 Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 50.
226 Constantinople
valuables in their possession.171 A note appended to the text of Barbaro™s
diary on July 18, 1453 repeats this information, providing the following
additional details: that an unidenti¬ed aristocrat had 30,000 ducats with
him at the time when the Ottoman army entered the city, that another
unnamed aristocrat of high rank had his daughters deliver to Mehmed II
two dishes ¬lled with valuable coins, and that the latter™s example was
followed by several others who showered the Sultan with gifts of money
in order to win his favor.172 Considering the generally hostile attitude dis-
played towards the Byzantines by both Barbaro and Leonardo of Chios,
we may be rightly inclined to doubt the reliability of their pronounce-
ments on this particular subject. However, the evidence they provide is
corroborated by other contemporary sources. According to Doukas, for
instance, Ottoman janissaries who broke into the house of an uniden-
ti¬ed protostrator on May 29, 1453 found there “coffers full of treasures
amassed long ago.”173 Likewise, the Ottoman historian Tursun Beg, who
was presumably present at the siege, reports that the conquering soldiers
discovered plenty of gold, silver, and jewels inside the houses of the rich
and at the imperial palace, as well as on the corpses of certain members
of the Emperor™s entourage.174 Several contemporary sources note also the
abundance of hoarded coins, jewels, and other hidden treasures, both new
and old, that came to light during the plundering of the city.175 A hoard,
discovered in Istanbul some years ago and containing 158 late Palaiologan
silver coins of which the majority belong to the reign of Constantine XI,
must undoubtedly have been buried around the time of the siege.176 Finally,
Italian archival documents make reference to numerous cases of money,
jewels, and other movable property entrusted by rich Byzantines to Vene-
tian merchants and citizens of Constantinople, both before and after the
city™s fall.177 Thus, all this additional evidence, derived from Ottoman and
Byzantine literary sources and supported by Italian documents as well as
171 Leonardo of Chios, in PG 159, col. 934a.
172 Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet, p. 66 (additional note by Marco Barbaro).
173 Doukas“Grecu, XXXIX.16, p. 363. On the probable identity of this protostrator, see note 179 below.
174 Tursun Bey, Tˆ rˆh-i Eb¨ ™l-Feth, ed. Tulum, pp. 59, 62; cf. summary trans. by ™
a± u Inalc±k and Murphey,
History of Mehmed the Conqueror by Tursun Beg, p. 37.
175 Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. ii, pp. 162“3; Doukas“Grecu, XL.1, p. 375; Barbaro, Giornale, ed. Cornet,
o
p. 59 (marginal note by Marco Barbaro); Leonardo of Chios, in PG 159, cols. 936c, 942a“b;
¨u
D¨ stˆ rnˆ me-i Enverˆ, ed. Ozt¨ rk, p. 50.
uu a ±
176 On this hoard, see Bendall, “Coinage of Constantine XI,” 134“42.
177 Ganchou, “Le rachat des Notaras,” pp. 171“3. Especially revealing is the passage from a Venetian
document dated November 5, 1453, cited p. 173, n. 98: “Quoniam sicut diversis modis habetur tam
ante, quam post casum ammissionis urbis Constantinopolis, multi tam Greci quam alii, tunc ibidem
existentes, dederunt et consignaverunt in manibus quamplurium civium et mercatorum nostrorum,
multas pecunias, iocalia et alia bona sua . . . ”
227
Constantinople (1403“1453)
by archaeological data, con¬rms the assertions of our hostile Latin authors
with regard to the existence of a wealthy group of Constantinopolitans
who feigned poverty in 1453, although it must be granted that the rich, too,
had probably suffered a decline in their fortunes.
It would have been useful for our purposes if the authors in question
had revealed the identities of some of these rich people, since our ultimate
objective is to ¬nd out how the latter were able to maintain their wealth (or a
relatively large portion of it at least) under the existing circumstances that
pushed the majority of their fellow citizens into extreme poverty, rather
than to blame them or judge them as the contemporary sources do in their
typically moralizing and biased manner. At any rate, the fact must not be
overlooked that a wealthy aristocrat such as Loukas Notaras, who is known
to have kept part of his paternal fortunes in Italian bank accounts, did
after all work hard to obtain loans for the protection of Constantinople in
1453,178 and he also put his life to risk by participating in the ¬nal battle
against the Ottomans. Unfortunately, in recounting their stories about the
feigned poverty of wealthy Constantinopolitans, the relevant sources speak
of them in collective terms, without naming any individuals.179 Nonethe-
less, we have seen in other contexts earlier in this chapter, as we have also
seen in the context of Bayezid I™s siege of Constantinople and in the context
of Thessalonike during the late fourteenth and early ¬fteenth centuries,
178 See note 135 above.
179 The only case where a clue exists that might help us identify one of these rich people turns
out not to be very illuminating. This is Doukas™ account of the sacking of the protostrator™s
house which contained coffers full of treasures (see note 173 above). In his narrative Doukas
names three people who possessed this title then: John Corvinus Hunyadi of Hungary, Giovanni
Longo Giustiniani of Genoa, and a certain Palaiologos, who was killed during the siege together
with his two sons (Doukas“Grecu, pp. 271, 331, 383). Of these three, the last is most likely to
have been the protostrator whose house was sacked; nevertheless, his exact identity is dif¬cult
to ascertain. Magoulias (Decline and Fall, p. 314, n. 287) has proposed to identify him with
Theophilos Palaiologos, a unionist who had adopted the Catholic faith and who lost his life
while defending Constantinople in 1453 (see PLP, no. 21466 and note 134 above); yet there is
no evidence to indicate that Theophilos Palaiologos held the title protostrator. Perhaps a more
likely candidate is the protostrator Kantakouzenos mentioned by Sphrantzes (Sphrantzes“Grecu,
p. 90, lines 23“5; cf. p. 80, lines 33), who has been identi¬ed as the son of the mesazon Demetrios
Palaiologos Kantakouzenos (Ganchou, “Le m´sazon,” 245“72, esp. 253“4, 271“2). However, while
e
much information is available on the father, little is known about the son except that he held the
title protostrator and was, according to the sixteenth-century Ekthesis Chronike, one of the aristocrats
Mehmed II executed a few days after his entry into the city (see Nicol, Family of Kantakouzenos, nos.
75 and 76, pp. 192“5; PLP, no. 10962). The argument of Magoulias that Doukas™ rich protostrator
cannot be the son of Demetrios Palaiologos Kantakouzenos because the former and his two sons
were killed in battle according to Doukas, and not executed by the Sultan, is not convincing; in the
same passage Doukas also claims that the megas domestikos Andronikos Palaiologos Kantakouzenos
was killed in the ¬nal assault, whereas the Ekthesis Chronike and the more reliable Isidore of Kiev
con¬rm that he was among those executed a few days later. Cf. Ganchou, “Sur quelques erreurs,”
70“82.
228 Constantinople
that the small circle of people who were able to maintain an economically
favorable position under the growing pressure of Ottoman attacks were
members of the Byzantine ruling class who had ties, generally of an eco-
nomic nature, with Italy and Italians. In the present chapter it has been
shown that the majority of those within the capital who opted for the
policy of ecclesiastical union with the Latin Church belonged to the same
circle as well. Moreover, most survivors of 1453 who managed to ¬‚ee to
Italian-dominated territories were also from the same group of families.
Five Palaiologoi, two Kantakouzenoi, two Notarades, and two Laskareis
are listed among several others in a document which records the names of
Byzantine aristocrats (gentilhuomini) who escaped with their families on
board a Genoese ship on the day of the city™s capture.180 Documents issued
after 1453 which report the presence and activities of Byzantine refugees
in Venetian territories also include such names as Kantakouzenos, Laskaris
Kananos, Sgouros, Basilikos, Mamonas, Notaras, and Phrankopoulos that
are familiar to us from Badoer™s account book.181 Finally, a number of Con-
stantinopolitans mentioned in the letters of Francesco Filelfo as being in
various parts of Italy between 1453 and 1473 bear once again the names of
families whose long-standing economic relations with Italians have been
documented: Asanes, Gabras, Palaiologos, Sgouropoulos, Kananos, and
the like.182 It seems safe, therefore, to conclude that the anonymous group
of rich Constantinopolitans to whom the literary sources of 1453 allude
owed their continued wealth mainly to the connections they (or their
former family members) had established with Italy and Italians. In con-
currence with their material interests which were oriented towards Italian
commercial markets, these people generally supported the policy of eccle-
siastical union with the Latin Church and many of them chose to escape
to Latin-dominated areas following their city™s fall.183
But it is also true that some Byzantines who were likewise well con-
nected with Italians remained in Constantinople after 1453, or returned
there following a period of absence. Among those who stayed in the city
was a group of merchants who had acquired Venetian status presumably

180 See Appendix V(A) below.
181 In addition to Appendix V(B) and V(D) below, see Harris, Greek Emigres in the West, p. 20 and
n. 51 (for Constantine Phrankopoulos, who ¬‚ed from Constantinople to Negroponte, where he
remained until the Ottomans overran the island in 1470, whereupon he went to Rome); compare
with Appendix III below.
182 See Appendix V(C) below.
183 For further references to Byzantine refugees in various Catholic countries of Europe after 1453, see
Harris, Greek Emigres in the West; H. Taparel, “Notes sur quelques r´fugi´s byzantins en Bourgogne
e e
apr`s la chute de Constantinople,” Balkan Studies 28/1 (1987), 51“8.
e
229
Constantinople (1403“1453)
prior to the Ottoman conquest and who continued under Ottoman rule
their trading activities in Italian-dominated areas, particularly in Crete. In
1455 Cretan authorities, who were confused about whether to treat these
men as Venetians or as foreigners with regard to customs duties subsequent
to the changed political situation, decided to consult the Senate of Venice.
The Senate deliberated in response that these “white Venetians” of Con-
stantinople should continue to receive in Crete the same treatment as they

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