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afterwards, however, most of the Navarrese took service with Jacques de
Baux, claimant to the principality of Achaia in opposition to Joanna of
1 On the rule of Manuel Kantakouzenos, younger son of Emperor John VI, in the Morea, see
Zakythinos, Despotat, vol. i, pp. 95“113; Nicol, Family of Kantakouzenos, pp. 123“8; S. Runciman,
Mistra: Byzantine Capital of the Peloponnese (London, 1980), pp. 50“7.

235
236 The Despotate of the Morea
Naples. But always in search of lands to conquer for themselves, they soon
managed to establish effective control over much of Achaia. Following
the death of Jacques de Baux in 1383 they pressed direct claims to the
principality, and eventually their commander Pierre Lebourd (Peter Bordo)
de Saint Superan acquired the title of Prince of Achaia (c. 1396). Stationed
¬rmly in the northern Peloponnese up to the death of Saint Superan in
1402, the Navarrese subjected the Byzantine Morea and the rest of the
peninsula to constant raids and plundering expeditions throughout this
period.2
Such were the general conditions in the Peloponnese when Theodore
I Palaiologos (r. 1382/3“1407), son of the Emperor John V, arrived at
the province as successor to the ruling house of Kantakouzenos. Await-
ing Theodore were also a series of internal problems that were intricately
linked with the external conditions outlined above. According to a now
lost late fourteenth-century inscription found in Parori, near Mistra, which
gives a brief account of Theodore™s deeds from 1382 to 1389, the Despot
was engaged in a relentless ¬ght against the disobedient landlords of the
Byzantine Morea during the ¬rst ¬ve years of his rule. The local land-
lords, described as “lovers of dissension” and “treacherous to authority,”
made every effort to drive Theodore out of the Peloponnese and even
plotted to murder him with the intention of being able to remain without
a master (ˆdesp»twv m”nein). In their persistent attempts to undermine
the Despot™s authority, they called on the help of “Latins,” in collaboration
with whom they attacked their fellow countrymen, uprooting nearly every-
thing and causing great harm and physical destruction. Thus, implies the
inscription, the dissidence of the landowning aristocracy proved not only
detrimental to the internal affairs of the Despotate but, more dangerously,
it precipitated the expansion of Latin power within the province: “For us
confusion, but strength for the Latins.”3
2 A. Bon, La Mor´e franque. Recherches historiques, topographiques et arch´ologiques sur la principaut´
e e e
d™Acha¨e (1205“1430), vol. i (Paris, 1969), pp. 254ff.; J. Longnon, L™Empire latin de Constantinople et
±
la principaut´ de Mor´e (Paris, 1949), pp. 334ff.; K. M. Setton, “The Latins in Greece and the Aegean
e e
from the Fourth Crusade to the end of the Middle Ages,” in The Cambridge Medieval History,
vol. iv/1 (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 388“430; K. M. Setton, Catalan Domination of Athens, 1311“1388,
2nd rev. edn. (London, 1975), pp. 125“48; R.-J. Loenertz, “Hospitaliers et Navarrais en Gr`ce (1376“
e
1383). Regestes et documents,” OCP 22 (1956), 319“60; A. Luttrell, “Appunti sulle compagnie navarresi
in Grecia, 1375“1404,” Rivista di studi bizantini e slavi 3 (1983), 113“27.
3 R.-J. Loenertz, “Res gestae Theodori Ioann. F. Palaeologi. Titulus metricus a.d. 1389,” EEBS 25
(1955), 207“8, vv. 5“35. For a French translation of the text, see R.-J. Loenertz, “Pour l™histoire
´
du P´lopon`se au XIVe si`cle (1382“1404),” Etudes Byzantines 1 (1943), 159“61. An allusion to the
e e e
internal dissensions of the Despotate can be found in Kydones™ letter to Theodore dated 1383, where
the native inhabitants are described as “o¬ Peloponnžsioi . . . ˆllžloiv –piboule…ein kaª poleme±n
kaª lhste…ein ˆf”ntev . . .”: Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 293, lines 32“3; cf. lines 72“3.
237
The Morea (1382“1407)
These con¬‚icts were in part connected with a dynastic struggle that
Theodore I Palaiologos confronted as soon as he set foot on the Morea.
In the interim between the death of the Despot Manuel Kantakouzenos
in April 1380 and Theodore™s arrival during the winter of 1382“3, Manuel™s
elder brother Matthew Kantakouzenos had temporarily assumed power in
the Morea. However, one of Matthew™s sons, either John or Demetrios Kan-
takouzenos, who aspired to taking over the government of the Despotate,
rose up in rebellion, ¬rst against his father, then against Theodore I.4 The
account of these events which Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos has incor-
porated into the funeral oration he composed for his brother Theodore
sheds further light on some of the information recorded on the Parori
inscription. Manuel II writes that Matthew Kantakouzenos™ son, in order
to achieve his dynastic ambitions, had not only won over to his side a
considerable number of local Greek people but had also hired merce-
nary bands of Turks and Latins with whose help he spread confusion
and panic throughout the province.5 It is known that Turkish mercenar-
ies had been employed in the Morea since the latter half of the thir-
teenth century.6 As for the “Latins” mentioned in both the funeral oration
and the Parori inscription, evidently these were the Navarrese who had
established themselves in the neighboring principality of Achaia at this
time, as recounted above. This supposition ¬nds con¬rmation in a let-
ter written by the Latin archbishop of Argos at the onset of 1385, which
reports the seditious acts undertaken against Theodore I by the aristo-
crats (barones) of the Despotate “ a reference, no doubt, to the son of
Matthew Kantakouzenos and his partisans “ who had joined forces with the
Navarrese.7
The sudden and unexpected death of Matthew™s son,8 the exact date
of which remains unknown, served only to eliminate the dynastic aspect
of these con¬‚icts, without bringing them to an end. It has already been
seen that according to the Parori inscription Theodore I™s struggles against
the dissident elements within the landowning aristocracy of the Morea
continued for ¬ve years, until about 1387“8, by which time Matthew™s
4 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 33/11; Manuel II, Fun. Or., pp. 115“19. On these events and
the debate over the identi¬cation of the rebellious son of Matthew Kantakouzenos as either John or
Demetrios, see Loenertz, “Pour l™histoire,” 161“6; Nicol, Family of Kantakouzenos, pp. 157“9.
5 Manuel II, Fun. Or., pp. 117“19.
6 See Zakythinos, Despotat, vol. i, p. 39; vol. ii, pp. 45 (n. 4), 133 (n. 1).
7 MP, no. 27, p. 58. Note also the reference here to the use of Turkish soldiers by Theodore (lines 53“4)
rather than by his opponents. A letter by Kydones, also dated 1385, alludes to Theodore™s simultaneous
battles against “westerners” (i.e. the Navarrese) and his own subjects: Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii,
no. 313, p. 239.
8 Manuel II, Fun. Or., p. 119.
238 The Despotate of the Morea
son was certainly dead. Furthermore, even as late as 1395, during a battle
of the Despot™s forces against the Navarrese, a group of Greek aristocrats
were found ¬ghting on the side of the enemy.9 Hence, it is clear that
the opposition of some of the local aristocracy to Theodore I, as well as
their collaboration with the Navarrese, outlasted the dynastic war of the
early 1380s initiated by Matthew Kantakouzenos™ son, whom the unruly
Moreote landlords must have regarded and exploited as a mere instrument
to gain further independence from central authority.
In order to counteract his internal and external enemies during the
¬rst years of his rule, Theodore I had neither adequate ¬nancial means
nor military resources available to him because of the civil war in Con-
stantinople between his father John V and his brother Andronikos IV
which immediately preceded his arrival in the Morea.10 This explains why
he initially sought to appease the Moreote aristocracy by offering them
certain unidenti¬ed cities and lands.11 He also sent several embassies to
them in an effort to promote peace and bring to an end the civil dis-
cords that permeated the Despotate.12 Meanwhile, during 1384 he entered
a triple alliance with his brother Manuel II, who was engaged then in
a war against the Ottomans in Thessalonike, and with the Florentine
Nerio Acciaiuoli, who was in con¬‚ict with the Navarrese.13 When this
alliance did not prove fruitful for either Theodore or Manuel, the fol-
lowing year the two brothers appealed to Venice for help against their
respective enemies, the Navarrese and the Ottomans. Despite Theodore™s
offer to cede to Venice certain territories in the Morea in return for the
Signoria™s assistance against the Navarrese, the Senate acted hesitantly and
two years later, on July 26, 1387, signed a treaty of good neighborliness
with the Navarrese.14 This was the renewal of a treaty signed in 1382, and
in choosing to maintain peaceful relations with the Navarrese the Senate
was no doubt moved, among other reasons, by the fear that the Navarrese
might otherwise transfer the southern Peloponnesian port of Zonklon (Old
Navarino) to the Genoese, which would be highly detrimental to Venetian
commercial interests.15

9 Ibid., pp. 123“7; Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 33/18 (4 June 1395). Cf. Zakythinos, Despotat,
vol. i, pp. 155“6; Loenertz, “Pour l™histoire,” 173“4.
10 Manuel II, Fun. Or., p. 113. On this civil war, see ch. 6 above.
11 Loenertz, “Res gestae,” 208, vv. 42“3.
12 Ibid., p. 208, vv. 47“8. Cf. Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, no. 313, p. 240, for a reference in a letter dated
1385 to a peace agreement between Theodore and certain rebellious subjects of his.
13 MP, no. 27, p. 58. See ch. 3 above, p. 46. 14 MP, nos. 28, 32, 33, pp. 60“1, 67“78.
15 For the Veneto-Navarrese treaty of 1382, see ibid., no. 17, pp. 36“9. For Venice™s persistent efforts
from 1384 onwards to acquire Zonklon from the Navarrese and worries that the Genoese might
239
The Morea (1382“1407)
Finally, frustrated over the futility of his peaceful approaches and conces-
sions to his aristocratic subjects who persisted in their insubordination and
cooperation with the Navarrese, and unable to obtain any relief from the
foreign powers to whom he had so far made overtures, Theodore I decided
during the ¬fth year of his rule to call on the help of the Ottomans.16
Thus, as con¬rmed by a Byzantine short chronicle, in 1387 (September)
the Ottoman commander Evrenos Beg marched through the Morea “by the
wish of the Despot.”17 Supported by Evrenos™ troops, Theodore launched
a successful offensive against his enemies, both internal and external. Yet,
in an ironic way not foreseen by Theodore, part of his territories which
had been previously occupied by the Navarrese and independence-seeking
Greek aristocrats were seized in the course of this campaign by Evrenos
Beg™s soldiers, who apparently refused to restore them to the Despotate.18
Consequently, Theodore was compelled to pay a visit to the Ottoman ruler
Murad I, with whom he arranged favorable terms, and thereupon, return-
ing to the Morea, he was able to gain full control over those lands that
were held by the local magnates (dun†stai) prior to Evrenos™ interven-
tion. Shortly after the conclusion of his alliance with Murad I, Theodore
also captured Argos, which Marie d™Enghien Cornaro had recently sold to
Venice.19 It is noteworthy that at the outset Theodore appealed directly
to Evrenos Beg, without entering formal diplomatic relations with the
Ottoman court. He seems to have opted for an of¬cial alliance with Murad I
only when Evrenos and his men turned out to be almost as menacing as
the Navarrese forces and the Greek landlords against whom they had been
called in to ¬ght. Theodore™s decision to offer allegiance to Murad I at this
time may also have been in¬‚uenced by the example of his brother Manuel II,
who adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Sultan subsequent to
the Ottoman capture of Thessalonike (spring 1387).20 Thereafter, with the
Ottoman ruler on his side, Theodore began to assert his authority over the
secure the port, see ibid., nos. 25, 26, 32, 33, 117, 118, 168, 314, pp. 54“6, 68, 73, 77, 225“8, 336“7,
587; Sathas, Documents, vol. i, nos. 22, 44, 45, pp. 26“7, 52“62.
16 Loenertz, “Res gestae,” 209, vv. 50“61. The Parori inscription calls the Ottomans “ *gar ›ggonoi”
and “ ¬Agarhno©.” Already in 1385 Theodore had employed the services of some Turkish mercenaries:
see note 7 above.
17 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 33/14(CP); vol. ii, p. 335.
18 Loenertz, “Res gestae,” 209, vv. 68“75.
19 Ibid., 209“10, vv. 76“80. For the agreement concerning the sale of Argos (and Nauplia) by Marie
d™Enghien, widow of Pietro Cornaro, to Venice on December 12, 1388, see G. M. Thomas and R.
Predelli, Diplomatarium Veneto-Levantinum sive acta et diplomata res Venetas, Graecas atque Levantis
illustrantia a 1300“1454, 2 vols. (Venice, 1880, 1889; repr. 1964), vol. ii, no. 126, pp. 211“13; cf. MP,
no. 45, pp. 97“8. For Theodore™s siege and capture of Argos, see MP, nos. 46 (Dec. 22, 1388) and 47
(Feb. 18, 1389), pp. 99“105. See also pp. 256“7 below, for the aftermath of the Argos affair.
20 See Loenertz, “Pour l™histoire,” 168“70.
240 The Despotate of the Morea
Peloponnese and embarked upon repressive measures against his unruly
subjects.
Yet it is crucial to consider here, with the bene¬t of hindsight, the broader
implications of Theodore I™s appeal to the Ottomans, which introduced
them into the Peloponnese for the ¬rst time, properly speaking. During
the earlier part of the 1380s the Despotate of the Morea had been spared the
large-scale Ottoman incursions that other Byzantine possessions in Thrace
and Macedonia were undergoing. Apart from Turkish pirates from the
Anatolian emirates who incessantly menaced the coast of the Peloponnese21
and Turkish mercenaries to whom almost all the regional powers, Greek
as well as Latin, had recourse at one time or another, there was as yet no
Turkish/Ottoman presence to account for in the peninsula until the advent
of Evrenos Beg and his troops in response to Theodore™s call. Therefore,
while through the assistance of Evrenos Beg the Despot was able to ful¬ll his
immediate goal of forestalling the Navarrese and suppressing his rebellious
subjects, at the same time he introduced to the area the Ottomans, who in
the long run had the potential to turn into a major threat, and he exposed
to them the social con¬‚icts troubling his state.
These dangers became apparent during the reign of Bayezid I, who
pursued a more aggressive policy towards the Byzantine Empire than his
predecessor Murad I. Early in 1395 the Despotate of the Morea suffered
its ¬rst massive Ottoman raid, which was led by Theodore I™s former
ally, Evrenos Beg. Acting in alliance now with the Navarrese, Evrenos
conquered the Byzantine fortress of Akova (February 21, 1395),22 but shortly
afterwards withdrew his armies. Then, following Bayezid I™s victory at
Nikopolis, the Morea became the scene of a new wave of Ottoman attacks
between 1397 and 1400.23 Although these were mainly punitive raids that
ended with the withdrawal of the Ottomans after a certain amount of
plundering activity, the Despotate nonetheless must have been left in a
ravaged state. Data concerning Venetian holdings in the Peloponnese,
which likewise suffered from Ottoman attacks during this period, give
a hint of what corresponding conditions in the Greek Despotate would
have been like. For instance, Ottoman raids in 1395 and 1397 resulted in
considerable devastation and depopulation in Argos and its environs, due

21 On Turkish naval operations in the Aegean during the early part of the fourteenth century, see
E. A. Zachariadou, “The Catalans of Athens and the beginning of the Turkish expansion in the
Aegean area,” Studi medievali, ser. 3, 21 (1980), 821“38; ™ Inalc±k, “Rise of the Turcoman maritime
principalities,” 179“217.
22 Schreiner, Kleinchroniken, vol. i, Chr. 33/17; vol. ii, pp. 355“6.
23 On these attacks, see Zakythinos, Despotat, vol. i, pp. 155“8.
241
The Morea (1382“1407)
in large part to the enslavement and ¬‚ight of the peasant population.24
When the forces of the Ottoman commander Yakub Pasa captured Argos
¸
in June 1397, at least fourteen thousand people were taken captive and
possibly deported to Anatolia.25 After the withdrawal of the Ottomans,
the Venetian authorities took several measures to repopulate Argos and
its territory, so as to guarantee both continued agricultural production
and proper protection. Efforts were made to settle foreigners, in particular
Albanians, who were given arable land and vineland, with the expectation
that the newcomers would contribute to cultivation as well as to defense.26
In addition, former inhabitants who had ¬‚ed Argos because of Ottoman
attacks were encouraged to return through the offer of lands, vacant houses,
and a ¬ve-year exemption from all required services and payments except
the guarding of the walls (angaria guarde).27 Yet, as late as 1404 the region
was still depopulated and ¬lled with uncultivated ¬elds and vineyards,
which the Venetian government continued to distribute in an attempt to
attract inhabitants, both old and new.28 Conditions were critical in Coron,
Modon, and their territories, too. In 1395 the Venetian Senate ordered part
of a grain shipment (1,000 out of 4,000 staria) which was supposed to be
sent to the island of Negroponte to be set aside for Coron and Modon,
where there was a serious shortage of food, due presumably to hostilities on
the part of the Ottomans.29 Ottoman raids, persistent throughout 1401“2,
forced the inhabitants to remain within the forti¬cations, resulting in great
destruction in the countryside, the enslavement of peasants, cessation of
agricultural production, and widespread poverty. By the summer of 1402
the situation had deteriorated so much that the Maggior Consiglio (Great
Council) in Venice decided to send food to the villeins of Coron and
Modon, where people were perishing daily from famine as no one dared to
step outside the walls either to cultivate the ¬elds or to gather the crops.30
24 Argos, occupied by Theodore I in December 1388 or January 1389, had been returned to Venice in
1394: see below, p. 257 and note 90. For the effects of the Ottoman incursions of 1395 in the plain
of Argos, see MP, no. 169, p. 339 and no. 171, p. 341 (n. 3).
25 Fourteen thousand captives reported in the capitula presented to the Venetian government by the
inhabitants of Argos in 1451: MP, no. 197, p. 392. According to Chalkokondyles, on the other
hand, the captives numbered thirty thousand and were deported from Argos to Asia Minor, but the
historian expresses reservations about the truth of this information: Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. i, p. 92.
o

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