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259
260 The Despotate of the Morea
province since the accession of Theodore II,2 which reveals his grave con-
cern with the state of affairs in the Despotate under the direction of his
young son. The active role Manuel II assumed in the Morea during this
period consequently drove the region™s quarrelsome landlords, who were
temporarily relieved upon Theodore I™s death, to redirect their customary
resistance to their despots against the Emperor himself. A major manifes-
tation of this was their opposition to the rebuilding of the Hexamilion.3
Manuel II has left us his own analysis of this opposition and its causes:
But then, there was another category, people yielding in rank to no one among the
highest, but certainly inferior in their judgement, who neither intended nor did
anything at all be¬tting their station and reputation of long standing, and who in
their madness left no stone unturned in their efforts to destroy our undertaking.
Although these were few in number, they managed to spread their contagion to a
large number of the more unsophisticated, not to say more stupid . . . Everything
can be attributed to one cause, their desire not to be within those walls, those on
the Isthmus, I mean. For this was a veritable noose around their necks, inasmuch as
it completely prevented them from continuing to perpetrate their former outrages
and from manifesting their loyalty to the despot, not by deeds, but by the mere
claim to be well disposed towards him. It forced them into the position of having
to con¬rm by their actions that they were, in fact, what they only professed to
be. The wall, of course, would tilt the scale in favor of the despot and enable him
to compel them to act according to their profession . . . As a result, those people
did not recognize their real enemies [i.e. the Ottomans] . . . ; thus they practically
called down on themselves their own destruction.4

The Emperor™s testimony is not the only evidence that links the resistance
to the restoration of the Hexamilion with the fear of the local aristocracy
that this would strengthen and stabilize the central government™s control
over themselves. Mazaris™ Journey to Hades, written around the same time,
gives almost a duplicate version of Manuel II™s observations regarding the
“stubbornness,” “ingratitude,” “plotting and deceit” of people from
the aristocratic segment of Peloponnesian society who had no concern
for the common good:
However, even before this illustrious work [i.e. reconstruction of the Hexamilion]
had been completed, the local barons, that turbulent, subversive crowd, who spend
all their lives upsetting the peace in the Peloponnese, men delighting in battles, riots
2 On his ¬rst visit, probably in the summer of 1408, on which occasion he may have written the letter
quoted above, see Barker, Manuel II, pp. 275“6 (n. 132).
3 On this event, see the detailed analysis in Barker, Manuel II, pp. 301“20 and J. W. Barker, “On the
chronology of the activities of Manuel II Palaeologus in the Peloponnesus in 1415,” BZ 55 (1962),
39“55. See also Zakythinos, Despotat, vol. i, pp. 170“5.
4 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 68, pp. 212“15.
261
The ¬nal years of the Byzantine Morea (1407“1460)
and bloodshed, always full of deceit, treachery and falsehood, arrogant barbarians,
¬ckle, perjured and forever disloyal to their Emperors and Despots . . . had the
insolence, the impudence, to rise against their benefactor and savior, each of them
planning to usurp power on his own behalf, and they conspired and schemed with
each other, hatching plots against his Majesty; they also threatened the workmen,
to get them to destroy the wall that was built for their protection and that of their
fellow citizens; and as for their benefactor, leader and patron . . . they boasted that
they would do away with this invincible and noble ruler, either by assassination,
or in pitched battle.5
Similarly, Chalkokondyles, referring to the same event, relates the
Emperor™s con¬‚ict with “the Peloponnesian archontes, who, being in con-
trol of the land for a long time, by no means wish to obey the rulers of
the Greeks, unless something seems to be of advantage to themselves.”6
Thus, Chalkokondyles attributes the audacity and ¬rmness with which
the local magnates resisted the Emperor to their more or less autonomous,
long-term control over the territories which they held. In a panegyric
composed for Manuel II, Demetrios Chrysoloras states, moreover, that
some of those who resisted the reconstruction of the Hexamilion attacked
and occupied several fortresses, hence testifying to the efforts of Pelopon-
nesian magnates to extend their independent control to new territories.7
Mazaris adds, on the other hand, that the Emperor recaptured some of
these fortresses from the rebels.8 Probably alluding to such achievements
of the Emperor, Isidore of Kiev maintains that Manuel II, during his stay
in the Morea, established order and “relieved certain people who had been
seized by tyrannical power.”9
Beneath their reproachful language reserved for the local aristocracy,
these sources convey one of the principal underlying causes for the strong
opposition shown to the rebuilding of the Hexamilion. From the point of
view of some high-ranking inhabitants of the Morea,10 Manuel II™s project,
which was primarily intended to strengthen the security of the region
5 Mazaris™ Journey to Hades, pp. 82“5.
6 Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. i, p. 173, lines 14“18. Chronologically mistaken, Chalkokondyles places this
o
event under the rule of Theodore I.
7 Demetrios Chrysoloras, “S…gkrisiv palai¤n ˆrc»ntwn kaª n”ou, to“ n“n aÉtokr†torov,” ed.
Sp. Lampros, in PP, vol. iii, p. 243.
8 Mazaris™ Journey to Hades, p. 84. See also Cronaca dei Tocco di Cefalonia di anonimo, ed. and trans.
G. Schir` (Rome, 1975), p. 380, vv. 2148“51.
o
9 Published as “ ¬Anwn…mou panhgurik¼v e¬v ManouŸl kaª ¬Iw†nnhn H© toÆv Palaiol»gouv,” ed.
Sp. Lampros, in PP, vol. iii, p. 166, lines 2“3.
10 Manuel II emphasizes that not all Peloponnesians were opposed to the restoration undertaking:
Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 68, p. 211, line 93. He divides the population (comprising of¬cials,
priests and monks, natives and foreigners) into three groups on the basis of their attitude towards the
project: those who approved of it and participated in its accomplishment, including the Albanians;
262 The Despotate of the Morea
before the Ottomans, had the potential of turning into an instrument of
internal control. It is quite pertinent in this respect that, for over a decade
since the time of Bayezid I™s defeat in the battle of Ankara, Ottoman armies
had been virtually absent from the Morea. Consequently, given the lack
of an immediate Ottoman threat, the archontes of the Morea seem to have
construed the rebuilding of the Hexamilion as a measure designed against
themselves, more so than a precaution against future enemy attacks.
There was yet another basis for the opposition to the Emperor™s under-
taking, for which both Chrysoloras and Chalkokondyles provide partial
evidence. The former, in his panegyric for Manuel II, vaguely hints that
in order to ¬nance the reconstruction work the Emperor imposed extra
charges on those who “abounded” in money.11 Chalkokondyles states more
clearly that the Emperor demanded from the Peloponnesians money for the
repairs, but that the archontes refused to comply with his demand.12 Vene-
tian documents supplement the information contained in these Byzantine
sources, con¬rming, ¬rst, that it was not only the rich who were obliged
to pay the special charges as Chrysoloras implies, and revealing, secondly,
that there were others besides the archontes who avoided paying them.
In 1415 Manuel II sent ambassadors to Venice, requesting, among other
things, the return of Byzantine subjects from the Morea who had ¬‚ed
to Venetian territories in order to escape the charges. The ambassadors
indicated that among the fugitives there were many sailors. On September
23, 1415 the Venetian Senate consented to arrange the return only of the
sailors.13 It can be deduced from the importance placed on the sailors in the
course of these negotiations that considerable numbers of them had taken
¬‚ight, leaving the naval protection of the Despotate under high risk. This
would surely account for the Emperor™s insistence on their return more
than anyone else™s. Moreover, the haste with which the above-mentioned
fugitives left the Despotate, within about ¬ve months or even less from
the time of the Emperor™s arrival and the beginning of the reconstruction
work, gives some idea about how burdensome the new charges must have

those who had strong doubts about its feasibility, yet still cooperated with the Emperor; and those
who were completely against it: ibid., pp. 211“17, lines 100“202.
11 D. Chrysoloras, “S…gkrisiv,” in PP, vol. iii, p. 243. This may be a reference to the phloriatikon,
a new tax created apparently for the repair and upkeep of the Hexamilion, which we encounter
in Byzantine documents only from 1427 onwards. On this and other special taxes for the defense
needs of the Morea, see Zakythinos, Despotat, vol. ii, pp. 237“9; S. Trojanos, “Kastroktis©a.
Einige Bemerkungen uber die ¬nanziellen Grundlagen des Festungsbaues im byzantinischen Reich,”
¨
Buzantin† 1 (1969), 54“5; Vranoussi, “Notes sur quelques institutions du P´loponn`se,” 82“8;
e e
Bartusis, Late Byzantine Army, pp. 288“90.
12 Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. i, p. 173. Cf. Cronik¼n perª t¤n to…rkwn soult†nwn, ed. Zoras, p. 51.
o
13 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1592; Iorga, Notes, vol. i, pp. 238“9.
e
263
The ¬nal years of the Byzantine Morea (1407“1460)
been.14 Almost three years later, a representative of Emperor John VIII
and of Despot Theodore II demanded from Venice the return of Moreote
peasants who had taken refuge in Venetian territories in order to avoid the
angariae intended to meet the expenses for the Hexamilion.15 While it is
most likely that these angariae were established at a later date for the upkeep
of the restored forti¬cations, this information, seen especially in conjunc-
tion with the evidence from the document of 1415, indicates how hard
the lower classes were hit by Manuel II™s impositions. We know from the
testimonies of Manuel II himself and of Chrysoloras that the aristocratic
leaders of the opposition to the rebuilding of the Hexamilion, who were
relatively few in number, had enlisted the common people to their cause.16
The documents from the Venetian archives suggest that the Emperor™s
heavy impositions, which gradually drove many of the Despotate™s poor
inhabitants to ¬‚ight, must have been a major factor that incited the lower
classes to join the rebellious aristocrats in the ¬rst place. The latter, on the
other hand, also resented the ¬nancial burdens brought down upon them-
selves by the reconstruction work even though they undoubtedly could
afford them. Recalling Theodore I™s earlier efforts to constrain the aristo-
cracy to pay their regular taxes as well as the role later played by the evasion
of taxes in the ¬nal Ottoman conquest of the Morea,17 the protest of the
archontes against Manuel II™s extra exactions for the Hexamilion in 1415 is
hardly surprising.
In the course of the ¬fteenth century many high-ranking Pelopon-
nesians chose instead to secure part of their movable wealth by deposit-
ing money and jewels in neighboring Venetian territories. In 1418, and
later in 1430, Greek envoys sent from the Morea to Venice demanded the
restitution of a sum of money belonging to a certain Sophianos, which
had been con¬scated by the Venetian authorities of Modon and Coron.18
In 1429 a Peloponnesian magnate identi¬ed as “Manoli Magaducha, dic-
tus protostrator” decided to place his property under Venetian custody in
Coron, “videns malum dominium quod ¬t per grecos.”19 Two of¬cials belong-
ing to the Eudaimonoioannes family, one megas stratopedarches and one

14 Manuel II arrived in the Morea on March 29 or 30, 1415; the reconstruction was begun on April 8
and ¬nished by May 2: see Barker, “On the chronology,” 42“3.
15 Sathas, Documents, vol. iii, no. 731 (June 11, 1418), p. 177; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1697.
e
16 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 68, p. 213; Chrysoloras, “S…gkrisiv,” in PP, vol. iii, p. 243.
17 See above, ch. 9, pp. 253“4.
18 Sathas, Documents, vol. iii, nos. 731 (June 11, 1418) and 953 (Jan. 1, 1430), pp. 178, 366.
19 Ibid., no. 937 (May 30, 1429), pp. 350“1; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 2140. Some scholars have
e
dubiously identi¬ed the person mentioned in this document as Manuel Phrankopoulos: see PLP,
no. 30139 and ch. 9 above, note 69.
264 The Despotate of the Morea
protostrator, followed suit, entrusting their money and jewels to the Ital-
ians of the peninsula.20 What is even more signi¬cant for present purposes
is that some of these individuals or members of their families, besides
simply seeing greater prospects for their economic security among the
Italians, politically upheld pro-Latin sympathies. For example, the megas
stratopedarches Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes played a consistent role in
negotiations with western powers during the ¬rst quarter of the ¬fteenth
century. Early in 1416 he went on an embassy to Venice and then, in
1416“17, attended the Council of Constance, where he made proposals
concerning a project for the union of the Greek and Latin Churches.21
In 1419“20 he was back in Italy, this time to arrange for the marriage of
two Latin princesses, respectively with the Despot Theodore II and his
brother John VIII.22 During his stay in Venice in the course of this trip,
Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes appealed to the Venetian Senate and acquired
permission to export 400 planks of timber from Crete to the Morea, for
the construction of a church.23 Eudaomonoioannes™ name appears again
in a Venetian document of 1422 which shows him to be the leading ¬gure
in the Moreote government™s negotiations with Venice.24 Later during the
same year the Senate of Venice discussed a proposal concerning the grant of
¬efs to Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes and his sons in the Venetian-held ter-
ritories of the Morea.25 Furthermore, it may be recalled that at the time of
the Frankish conquest in the thirteenth century a Eudaimonoioannes and
a Sophianos were among the archontes from Monemvasia who submitted
to Prince William II Villehardouin.26 This suggests that these two families
maintained a ¬rm pro-Latin stance over several generations, unlike most
other aristocratic families of the Morea, whose political attitudes towards
foreign powers showed a tendency to vacillate. Finally, it is worth remem-
bering that in Constantinople, too, there were some Sophianoi who had
strong connections with Italy,27 which indicates that different branches
20 Iorga, Notes, vol. iii, pp. 21“2 (1437), 255“6 (Sept. 12, 1450); Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. iii, no. 2835.
e
21 D¨ lger, Reg., vol. v, nos. 3345, 3354, 3355; Syropoulos, “M´moires,” pp. 104“10, 116. Cf. Gill, Council
e
o
of Florence, pp. 20“2. On Nicholas Eudaimonoioannes, see also Kalligas, Byzantine Monemvasia,
pp. 162“7; PLP, no. 6223.
22 D¨ lger, Reg., vol. v, nos. 3369, 3372; Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, nos. 1757, 1782, 1791. Cf. Gill, Council
e
o
of Florence, pp. 23“4. On marriage connections of the Palaiologan dynasty with Latins in general, see
S. Origone, “Marriage connections between Byzantium and the West in the age of the Palaiologoi,”
in Intercultural Contacts in the Medieval Mediterranean: Studies in Honour of David Jacoby, ed. B.
Arbel (London, 1996), pp. 226“41.
23 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. ii, no. 1734 (April 2, 1419). 24 Ibid., no. 1833 (Feb. 26, 1422).
e
25 Sathas, Documents, vol. i, no. 78 (July 22, 1422), pp. 117“18. The proposal was not accepted.
26 See above, ch. 9, p. 248 and note 61.
27 See above, ch. 8, pp. 192, 197“8 and Appendix III below; Oikonomid`s, Hommes d™affaires,
e
pp. 66“8, 121.
265
The ¬nal years of the Byzantine Morea (1407“1460)
of certain families dispersed throughout various regions of the empire
did sometimes share similar economic interests and political attitudes. In
addition to the above-mentioned individuals belonging to the most illus-
trious archontic families of the Morea, occasionally other less renowned
or unnamed Greeks from the Despotate with money deposits in Venetian
territories are attested in documents of the period.28
The family names of two aristocrats who challenged the rebuilding of the
Hexamilion in 1415 prove helpful in bringing to light concrete information
about the leaders of the rebellion against Manuel II, whom the sources
in general collectively call “toparchai” or “archontes,” or simply describe
as Peloponnesians of high rank. According to the Satire of Mazaris, the
Emperor™s rivals included two men by the names of “Krokodeilos” and
“Helleabourkos,” the scimitar-bearer.29 The latter is also mentioned as an
opponent of the Emperor in the Cephalonian Chronicle of the Tocco, which
renders his name as “Eliabourkos” and ascribes to him the title “megas Tzasi
of the Morea.” This chronicle also adds that Eliabourkos held lands and
fortresses, one of which was the castle of Mantena (Mandinia) in Messe-
nia.30 A sixteenth-century manuscript which contains a theological work
by an author bearing the name Thomas Eliabourkos Notaras indicates,
moreover, that the Eliabourkoi at some point established marriage ties
with the Notarades.31
As to the other rebel named by Mazaris, he probably belongs to the
family of a Greek magnate who handed over his two sons and surrendered
the fortress of Hagios Georgios to Mehmed II in 1460. Sphrantzes identi¬es
this magnate as “Krokondylos,” adding that it would be more appropriate
to call him “Krokodeilos.”32 Hence, it is very likely that the archon who
resisted Manuel II in 1415 was the father or grandfather of the Peloponnesian

28 Thiriet, R´gestes, vol. iii, nos. 2810 (Aug. 12, 1449), 3010 (Jan. 17, 1456).
e
29 Mazaris™ Journey to Hades, p. 84; see also the commentary on pp. 118“19. Cf. PLP, nos. 13822 and

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