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a a a ¸

Gazavˆ tnˆ me, ed. H. Inalc±k and M. O˜ uz (Ankara, 1978). An English translation of this text is
aa g
now available in C. Imber, The Crusade of Varna, 1443“45 (Aldershot, 2006), pp. 41“106.
53 Tursun Bey, Tˆ rˆh-i Eb¨ ™l-Feth, ed. A. M. Tulum (Istanbul, 1977). For a facsimile edition and
a± u
summary English translation of this text, see H. ™ Inalc±k and R. Murphey, The History of Mehmed the
Conqueror by Tursun Beg (Minneapolis and Chicago, 1978). On Tursun, see also H. ™ Inalc±k, “Tursun
Beg, historian of Mehmed the Conqueror™s time,” WZKM 69 (1977), 55“71. For doubts concerning
his participation at the siege, see now N. Vatin, “Tursun Beg assista-t-il au si`ge de Constantinople
e
en 1453 ?,” WZKM 91 (2001), 317“29.
54 ¨u
Fatih Devri Kaynaklar±ndan D¨ stˆ rnˆ me-i Enverˆ: Osmanl± Tarihi K±sm± (1299“1466), ed. N. Ozt¨ rk
uu a ±
(Istanbul, 2003).
55 A notable exception is an unpublished Ottoman survey book (tahrir defteri) for Istanbul and Galata
dated December 1455. Despite the fact that parts of the document are inextant, the survey is expected
to reveal the names of a large proportion of Byzantines who chose to become Ottoman subjects and
remained in Constantinople after 1453 or returned there following a short period of ¬‚ight. Professor

Inalc±k is preparing an edition of this crucial document for publication. For a detailed analysis
of its sections covering Galata, see H. ™ Inalc±k, “Ottoman Galata, 1453“1553,” in Premi`re rencontre
e
internationale sur l™Empire Ottoman et la Turquie moderne, ed. E. Eldem (Istanbul and Paris, 1991),
pp. 31“44, 115“16 (Tables I and II); for the sections dealing with Istanbul, see H. ™
Inalc±k, “Istanbul,”
EI 2 , vol. iv, p. 225.
chapter 2

The shrinking empire and the Byzantine dilemma
between East and West after the Fourth Crusade



Towards the end of his life Emperor Manuel II (d. 1425) is reported to have
remarked, “Today, as troubles accompany us constantly, our empire needs
not an emperor (basile…v) but an administrator (o«kon»mov).”1 Manuel
uttered these words in reference to his son and co-emperor, John VIII,
with whom he was in disagreement over the two interrelated, principal
foreign policy issues of the time: ¬rst, whether to adopt an aggressive
or a peaceful stance towards the Ottomans, and, secondly, whether or
not to implement the union of the Byzantine Church with the Church
of Rome. With regard to the second matter, Manuel™s preference was to
sustain negotiations with the papacy so as to intimidate the Ottomans, yet
without ever allowing the union to materialize. In relation to the Ottomans,
he was in favor of maintaining a fa§ade of peace and friendship with them,
rather than pursuing an openly aggressive policy. John VIII™s views on
both matters differed from those of his father, whose policies he found
to be excessively passive and conciliatory. On his part the senior emperor,
Manuel II, regarded his son as an ambitious ruler with unrealistic visions
and ideals that might have been appropriate in the Byzantine Empire™s old
days of prosperity, but by no means be¬tting its current circumstances.
The two questions of foreign policy which brought the co-emperors into
con¬‚ict with each other were crucial issues that in essence dominated
the political history of the Byzantine Empire throughout the entire last
century of its existence. Faced with the constant threat of collapse under
the pressure of Ottoman attacks, Byzantium had been reduced at this time
to a small-scale state squeezed between the Ottomans and western powers,
and with its continuously shrinking boundaries it was an “empire” in name
only. Hence Manuel II™s call for an “administrator” (oikonomos) to manage

1 Sphrantzes“Grecu, XXIII.7, p. 60, lines 1“2, and on what follows, see XXIII.5“7, pp. 58“60; cf. J. W.
Barker, Manuel II Palaeologus (1391“1425). A Study in Late Byzantine Statesmanship (New Brunswick,
NJ, 1969), pp. 382“3, 329“30; 350“4, 390“1.

18
19
The shrinking empire between East and West
and coordinate the state affairs on the basis of relatively modest goals, as
opposed to an “emperor” (basileus) with universalist aspirations.
Around the middle of the fourteenth century, when the Ottomans
crossed to Europe and began to establish themselves in the Balkan penin-
sula, all that was left of the Byzantine Empire besides Constantinople and
its environs was the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor, some territories
in Thrace and Macedonia, the city of Thessalonike, a few islands in the
Aegean, and part of the Peloponnese. Almost all of Asia Minor, once the
empire™s backbone for manpower, food resources, and tax revenues, had
long been lost to a number of Turkish principalities. A large portion of the
Peloponnese was in the hands of various Latin princes and the Republic of
Venice, while the Byzantine possessions in the peninsula suffered under the
double pressure of foreign incursions and internal strife. In the Balkans the
neighboring states of Serbia and Bulgaria, with their constant ¬ghting and
attempts to enlarge their boundaries, enhanced the political instability of
the area. The empire™s remaining territories in Thrace and Macedonia were
in a devastated state and depopulated, ¬rst, because of plundering raids
by Serbian and Turkish forces; secondly, because of a series of dynastic
struggles in the ¬rst half of the fourteenth century that quickly evolved
into major civil wars; and ¬nally because of the Black Death of 1347“8.
The disruption of the empire™s agricultural base in this way seriously under-
mined the food supplies and made the Byzantines increasingly dependent
on grain transports from Genoese-controlled areas in the Black Sea.2
The state ¬nances and economy, too, were in a precarious situation
during the Palaiologan period. In the ¬rst place, tax revenues from the
countryside were severely diminished by the pronoia grants of successive
emperors to state of¬cials or to their own political supporters, as well as
by donations of imperial land to ecclesiastical institutions, both phenom-
ena dating back to the second half of the thirteenth century as far as the
Palaiologan period is concerned.3 Territorial losses to foreign invaders also
resulted in progressive cuts in the tax yields. Thus, in the ¬nal years of the
fourteenth century, as the Byzantine scholar John Chortasmenos observed,
2 For the general political history of the Palaiologan period, see D. M. Nicol, The Last Centuries
of Byzantium, 1261“1453, 2nd rev. edn. (Cambridge, 1993). For surveys of the rural and the urban
economy in the same period, with extensive bibliography, see A. E. Laiou, “The agrarian economy,
thirteenth“¬fteenth centuries,” in EHB, vol. i, pp. 311“75; K.-P. Matschke, “The late Byzantine urban
economy, thirteenth“¬fteenth centuries,” in EHB, vol. ii, pp. 463“95.
3 G. Ostrogorskij, Pour l™histoire de la f´odalit´ byzantine (Brussels, 1954), esp. pp. 83“186; P. Charanis,
e e
“The monastic properties and the state in the Byzantine Empire,” DOP 4 (1948), 99“118. For a
review of modern debates on the pronoia institution, see A. Kazhdan, “Pronoia: the history of a
scholarly discussion,” in Intercultural Contacts in the Medieval Mediterranean: Studies in Honour of
David Jacoby, ed. B. Arbel (London, 1996), pp. 133“63.
20 Introduction and political setting
Constantinople was almost the only place from which the emperor still
collected revenues.4 But here, too, the state treasury was deprived of a
large portion of its former revenues owing to the commercial privileges,
including complete or partial exemptions from customs duties, that had
been granted to Italian merchants, who dominated Byzantium™s foreign
trade and, to a smaller extent, its domestic trade throughout the Palaiolo-
gan period. In this context, the striking gap between the respective ¬gures
reported by Gregoras for the mid-fourteenth-century annual customs rev-
enues of Byzantine Constantinople (30,000 hyperpyra) and of Genoese Pera
(200,000 hyperpyra) is indicative, albeit somewhat exaggerated.5
Another key weakness of the Byzantine Empire during these years of
intense military danger was the state™s inability to maintain a strong army
and a well-equipped ¬‚eet of its own. Soldiers with pronoia-holdings did
not always ful¬ll their military obligations as growing numbers of pronoia
grants, which had originally been handed out only for the lifetime of
an individual in return for services performed, became hereditary, most
notably from the mid fourteenth century onwards. The state, therefore,
came to rely more and more either on private armies of landed magnates
when these were available, or on mercenary soldiers who could only be hired
in small numbers given the state™s limited ¬nancial resources and the fact
that mercenaries were expensive and required cash payments.6 Meanwhile,
the lack of a proper Byzantine ¬‚eet served to increase the empire™s already
excessive dependence on the maritime cities of Italy, particularly Venice
and Genoa, which possessed strong navies.
Furthermore, the civil wars of the ¬rst half of the fourteenth century
not only helped to speed up the process of political disintegration and
economic decay but also played a direct role in facilitating the expansion
of the Ottomans as many of the contending parties turned to the latter
for military assistance. Although by no means the ¬rst contender to have
recourse to Turkish aid, John VI Kantakouzenos stands out among the rest
on account of the intimate ties he formed consecutively with Umur Beg
of Ayd±n (r. 1334“48) and with the Ottoman ruler Orhan Beg (r. 1324“62).
4 H. Hunger, “Zeitgeschichte in der Rhetorik des sterbenden Byzanz,” Wiener Archiv f¨ r Geschichte
u
des Slawentums und Osteuropas 3 (1959), 157, n. 22.
5 Nicephori Gregorae Byzantina Historia, vol. ii, ed. L. Schopen (Bonn, 1830), pp. 841“2. On the com-
mercial privileges of Italians in this period, see J. Chrysostomides, “Venetian commercial privileges
under the Palaeologi,” StVen 12 (1970), 267“356; M. Balard, “L™organisation des colonies etrang`res
e
´
dans l™Empire byzantin (XIIe“XVe si`cle),” in Hommes et richesses dans l™Empire byzantin, vol. ii, ed.
e
V. Kravari, J. Lefort, and C. Morrisson (Paris, 1991), pp. 261“76. On customs duties in general, see
H. Antoniadis-Bibicou, Recherches sur les douanes a Byzance (Paris, 1963), pp. 97“155.
`
6 e`
N. Oikonomid`s, “A propos des arm´es des premiers Pal´ologues et des compagnies de soldats,” TM
e e
8 (1981), 353“71; M. C. Bartusis, The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204“1453 (Philadelphia,
1992); M. C. Bartusis, “The cost of late Byzantine warfare and defense,” BF 16 (1991), 75“89.
21
The shrinking empire between East and West
It is a well-established fact that the Ottomans, whether independently or
with the consent of their own government, began to settle permanently
on European soil after having come to Thrace as Kantakouzenos™ allies in
the civil war of 1341“7.7 Yet while Kantakouzenos was certainly responsible
for precipitating this development, it is also true that the events that
transpired in the course of the next hundred years, culminating in the
Ottoman conquest of the Byzantine capital in 1453 and of the Despotate
of the Morea in 1460, ought to be viewed against the background of a
combination of factors in which he had little or no part. These factors
include some of the long-term consequences of the Fourth Crusade, the
policies and methods of conquest employed by the Ottomans, as well as the
of¬cial course pursued by successive Byzantine governments with regard
to the Ottomans, the western powers, and the papacy. What follows is
a brief examination of these factors that will serve to highlight the dual
challenge Byzantium faced from the Ottoman and Latin worlds during
these critical times. It will hence establish the proper background for
subsequent chapters in which the political attitudes that prevailed among
various segments of Byzantine society vis-`-vis the Ottomans and the Latins
a
are analyzed, in conjunction with contemporary socioeconomic conditions,
within the framework of three particular regions of the empire comprising
Thessalonike, Constantinople, and the Morea.
It might be appropriate to begin with the Fourth Crusade, which pre-
ceded the foundation of the Ottoman state by nearly a century but left deep
and long-lasting marks on the consciousness and ideology of the Byzan-
tine people, while at the same time fundamentally affecting the structure
of Byzantine society. For instance, a characteristic trait of the Palaiolo-
gan period, the political fragmentation and dismemberment of the once
uni¬ed structure of the Byzantine Empire, is a transformation fostered
by the creation of a number of Latin and Greek successor states on the
empire™s territories at the end of the crusading enterprise.8 It is true that

7 On this civil war between John Kantakouzenos and the supporters of John V Palaiologos, see G. Weiss,
Joannes Kantakuzenos “ Aristokrat, Staatsmann, Kaiser und M¨nch “ in der Gesellschaftsentwicklung
o
von Byzanz im 14. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden, 1969); K.-P. Matschke, Fortschritt und Reaktion in Byzanz
im 14. Jahrhundert. Konstantinopel in der B¨ rgerkriegsperiode von 1341 bis 1354 (Berlin, 1971); E. de
u
`e `
Vries-van der Velden, L™´lite byzantine devant l™avance Turque a l™´poque de la guerre civile de 1341 a 1354
e
(Amsterdam, 1989); D. M. Nicol, The Reluctant Emperor: A Biography of John Cantacuzene, Byzantine
Emperor and Monk, c. 1295“1383 (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 45“83. For Kantakouzenos™ relations with
the Turks, see also the references cited in note 1 of ch. 6.
8 On the Fourth Crusade and its consequences, see now A. Laiou (ed.), Urbs Capta: The Fourth Crusade
and its Consequences. La IVe Croisade et ses cons´quences (Paris, 2005). For the successor states, see
e
the general overviews by D. Jacoby, “The Latin Empire of Constantinople and the Frankish states
in Greece” and M. Angold, “Byzantium in exile,” both in The New Cambridge Medieval History,
vol. v, ed. D. Abula¬a (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 525“42 and 543“68.
22 Introduction and political setting
decentralizing and secessionist tendencies existed within the empire prior
to 1204,9 but the Fourth Crusade transformed these somewhat random ten-
dencies into a ¬rmly established pattern with the result that they re-emerged
as a standard feature of the restored Byzantine Empire after 1261. Thus,
decentralization was accompanied in the course of the Turkish expansion
of the Palaiologan period by the creation of more or less autonomous local
administrative units supervised by certain individuals or groups who either
seized or were granted the rights of government, as in Thessalonike, Byzan-
tine Morea, and other places.10 This led to the emergence of a multiplicity
of centers where foreign policy decisions could be, and were, made inde-
pendently of and sometimes at variance with the decisions of the central
government in Constantinople. While the state theoretically continued to
function as a central power in the sphere of foreign policy, in practice the
above-mentioned developments created a political atmosphere that was
conducive to con¬‚icts and differences of opinion. In the face of Ottoman
attacks, when unity was essential for putting up an effective front against
the enemy, the Byzantine central government™s inability to override the
particularism of provincial governors and magnates oftentimes proved to
be a severe impediment to defense.
Another consequence of the Fourth Crusade with signi¬cant long-term
implications was the crystallization of anti-Latin sentiments among the
predominantly Greek population of Byzantium. Such sentiments had been
in existence already since the eleventh century, but after the disruption
and shock of the Latin conquest, Greek antagonism towards Latins “
as the Byzantines collectively referred to Catholics of western Europe “
intensi¬ed.11 Nevertheless, it is crucial to differentiate between various
aspects or forms of anti-Latin feeling because the resentment that existed
9 N. Oikonomid`s, “La d´composition de l™Empire byzantin a la veille de 1204 et les origines de
e e `
l™Empire de Nic´e: a propos de la Partitio Romaniae” in XVe Congr`s international d™´tudes byzantines.
e e
e`
Rapports et co-rapports (Athens, 1976), vol. i.1, pp. 3“28; J.-Cl. Cheynet, “Philadelphie, un quart
de si`cle de dissidence, 1182“1206,” in Philadelphie et autres ´tudes, ed. H. Ahrweiler (Paris, 1984),
e
e
pp. 39“54; R. Radi´, “Odpacni gospodari i vizantiji krajem XII i prvim deˇenijama XIII veka,” ZRVI
c c
24“5 (1986), 151“283, with English summary at 283“90; J.-Cl. Cheynet, Pouvoir et contestations a `
Byzance (963“1210) (Paris, 1990), esp. pp. 446“73.
10 E. A. Zachariadou, “ ¬Efžmerev ˆp»peirev gi‡ aÉtodio©khsh stªv «Ellhnik•v p»leiv kat‡ t¼n ID©
kaª IE© a«¤na,” %ri†dnh 5 (1989), 345“51; N. Oikonomid`s, “Pour une typologie des villes ˜s´par´es™
e ee
sous les Pal´ologues,” in Geschichte und Kultur der Palaiologenzeit, ed. W. Seibt (Vienna, 1996),
e
pp. 169“75.
11 H. Ahrweiler, L™id´ologie politique de l™Empire byzantin (Paris, 1975), pp. 75“87, 103“28; Oikono-
e
mid`s, Hommes d™affaires, pp. 23“33. For the background to the use of the term Latinoi as a generic
e
appellation for western Europeans, see A. Kazhdan, “Latins and Franks in Byzantium: percep-
tion and reality from the eleventh to the twelfth century,” in The Crusades from the Perspective of
Byzantium and the Muslim World, ed. A. E. Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh (Washington, DC, 2001),

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