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pp. 83“100.
23
The shrinking empire between East and West
between Byzantines and Latins in the Palaiologan period was not merely
religious in scope.12 In the writings of contemporary Byzantines the word
“Latin” often carries different connotations, depending on whether it is
used as a generic term denoting Catholics as a whole, or in reference to
constituents of distinct political entities such as, for instance, the Venetians,
the Genoese, or the Navarrese. As Barlaam of Calabria explained to Pope
Benedict XII in 1339, “it is not so much difference in dogma that alienates
the hearts of the Greeks from you, as the hatred that has entered their
souls against the Latins, because of the many great evils that at different
times the Greeks have suffered at the hands of Latins and are still suffering
every day.”13 Barlaam™s allusion is to the frictions in social relations that
emerged after 1204 in Latin-occupied areas where the Greek population was
forced to submit to the political, economic, and ecclesiastical domination
of the Latins. Despite strong regional variations, in many places the Latins
not only interfered with the religious freedom of native Greeks but also
dispossessed the Greek Church and the majority of local aristocrats of their
lands and imposed their own feudal principles in the countryside, which
resulted in an overall debasement of the social and economic status of the
rural populations.14
Moreover, the restoration of the Byzantine Empire in 1261 did not
diminish the Italian economic dominance in the recovered territories. To
the contrary, whereas Venice by virtue of having been the only partic-
ipant from Italy in the Fourth Crusade enjoyed an almost unique and
unchallenged economic role in the eastern Mediterranean during 1204“61,
thereafter the commercial activities of Italians intensi¬ed with the penetra-
tion ¬rst by the Genoese and subsequently by others who, alongside the
Venetians, received extensive trading privileges from Palaiologan emper-
ors. The stereotypical image of Latins as people who occupied themselves
only with war, trade, and tavernkeeping, which seems to have prevailed
among Byzantines in the second half of the fourteenth century if not

12 On the religious antagonism between Byzantines and Latins and its social and cultural subcontext,
see T. M. Kolbaba, The Byzantine Lists: Errors of the Latins (Urbana and Chicago, 2000) and T. M.
Kolbaba, “Byzantine perceptions of Latin religious ˜errors™: themes and changes from 850 to 1350,”
in Crusades, ed. Laiou and Mottahedeh, pp. 117“43.
13 Acta Benedicti XII, 1334“1342, ed. A. L. Ta˜ tu, Fontes 3, vol. viii (Vatican City, 1958), doc. 43; trans.
u
by J. Gill, Byzantium and the Papacy, 1198“1400 (New Brunswick, NJ, 1979), pp. 197“8.
14 ˆ
See F. Thiriet, La Romanie v´nitienne au Moyen Age (Paris, 1975), pp. 105“39, 287“302; P. Topping,
e
“Co-existence of Greeks and Latins in Frankish Morea and Venetian Crete” and D. Jacoby, “Les etats ´
latins en Romanie: ph´nom`nes sociaux et economiques (1204“1350 environ),” both in XVe Congr`s e
e e ´
international d™´tudes byzantines. Rapports et co-rapports, vol. i.3 (Athens, 1976); and the collection of
e
essays in Latins and Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204, ed. B. Arbel, B. Hamilton, and
D. Jacoby (London, 1989).
24 Introduction and political setting
earlier,15 is undoubtedly a direct manifestation of the continued strong
commercial presence of Italians within the restored Byzantine Empire.
But the same forces that resulted in the strengthening of prejudices and
the development of tensions between Greeks and Latins also brought the
two groups into daily contact with each other. Thus, side by side with
instances of overt hostility, cases of close communication and cooperation
began to evolve, particularly within the economic sphere. In important
trade centers such as Constantinople and Thessalonike certain Byzantine
merchants who established commercial relations with their Italian coun-
terparts bene¬ted from the in¬ltration of the foreign element into their
own domain of activity during the Palaiologan period, even though they
were henceforth pushed to a position subordinate to Italian interests.16
While an undercurrent of hostility and alienation continued to color the
ideological outlook of the majority of Byzantines towards the Latin world,
practical considerations and economic motives simultaneously led some
among them to cooperation and association with speci¬c groups of Latins
who exercised a particular social, economic, and, in some places, political
in¬‚uence in the realm of Byzantine affairs. It is against this background of
contradictory attitudes towards the “Latins” that we can now proceed to
an observation of the relations of the Byzantines with the Ottomans.
Founded at the turn of the fourteenth century in Bithynia, in north-
western Asia Minor, the Ottoman state was at its origins a small frontier
principality of gazi warriors, who engaged in raiding expeditions driven by
the spirit of gaza, an ideology of war that incorporated, along with religious
motivation aiming at the expansion of the power of Islam, other factors
such as the search for booty or pasture and political opportunism.17 At the
15 Demetrios Kydones, “Apologie della propria fede: I. Ai Greci Ortodossi,” ed. Mercati, in Notizie,
pp. 364“5, esp. lines 77“84: “o¬ g‡r ¡m”teroi . . . p†ntav ˆnqrÛpouv e«v í Ellhnav kaª bar-
b†rouv dicotomo“ntev . . . o³v kaª Lat©nouv sunariqmo“ntev oÉd•n perª aÉt¤n ˆnqrÛpinon
Ëpel†mbanon, ˆll¬ aËto±v . . . ‚pla m»non ka© tinav –mpore©av ˆgenne±v te kaphle©av
ˆp”rripton.”
16 K.-P. Matschke, “Zum Charakter des byzantinischen Schwarzmeerhandels im 13. bis 15. Jahrhun-
dert,” Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Karl-Marx-Universit¨ t Leipzig, Gesellschafts- und sprachwiss.
a
Reihe 19/3 (1970), 447“58; Oikonomid`s, Hommes d™affaires; Laiou-Thomadakis, “Byzantine econ-
e
omy,” 177“222; Laiou-Thomadakis, “Greek merchant,” 96“132; N. Necipo˜ lu, “Byzantines and
g
Italians in ¬fteenth-century Constantinople: commercial cooperation and con¬‚ict,” New Perspec-
tives on Turkey 12 (spring 1995), 129“43; Matschke, “Commerce, trade, markets, and money,”
pp. 771“806. For examples of cooperation between Greek and Italian merchants in Latin-dominated
areas, particularly in Venetian Crete and Genoese Pera, see A. E. Laiou, “Observations on the results
of the Fourth Crusade: Greeks and Latins in port and market,” Medievalia et humanistica, n.s. 12
(1984), 51“7.
17 On the role of the ideology of gaza in the early phase of the Ottoman expansion, see the classic work
of P. Wittek, The Rise of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1938); cf. H. ™ Inalc±k, The Ottoman Empire:
The Classical Age 1300“1600 (New York and Washington, 1973), pp. 5“8; H. ™ Inalc±k, “The question of
25
The shrinking empire between East and West
outset, there was perhaps little to distinguish the Ottoman state from the
other gazi principalities of Turkish origin that were scattered throughout
former Byzantine Asia Minor. Within half a century of their foundation,
however, the Ottomans gained a crucial advantage over the rest of these
principalities by acquiring their ¬rst footholds on European soil through
their interference in civil wars at Byzantium. Their occupation of Tzympe
in 1352 was followed in 1354 by the capture of the strategic port of Gallipoli,
both situated on the European shore of the Dardanelles.18 The acquisition
of Gallipoli in particular secured the Ottomans passage from Anatolia to
Europe and opened the way for their systematic advances and settlement
in the Balkan peninsula. During the following decade they extended their
conquests to Didymoteichon and Adrianople, the chief Byzantine cities of
Thrace. Thereafter, they rapidly overran most of what remained of Byzan-
tine territory, capturing in the 1380s important cities such as Christoupo-
lis (Kavalla), Serres, Thessalonike, and Berroia, and beginning to make
inroads further south into Thessaly and into the Morea. By the time of
John V™s death in 1391, in addition to the lands they had conquered from the
Byzantines, the Ottomans had subjugated Bulgaria and most of Serbia and
extended their northern frontier to the Danube. In Anatolia, on the other
hand, their annexation of the Turkish maritime principalities of Saruhan,
Ayd±n, and Mentese during 1389“90 transformed the Ottomans into a
¸
threatening sea power.19 As far as the security of the Byzantine Empire was
concerned, the presence of the Ottomans in the Balkan peninsula and their
growing naval power endangered not only the empire™s outlying provinces
but Constantinople itself, which henceforth had to contend with Ottoman
pressures coming from east and west, by land and by sea. It was on the basis
of this advantageous position that in 1394 Sultan Bayezid I (r. 1389“1402)
conceived of the ¬rst concrete Ottoman plan to conquer the Byzantine
capital.
the emergence of the Ottoman state,” International Journal of Turkish Studies 2/2 (1981“2), 71“9. For
a new assessment of modern scholarship on the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the role of warriors
who claimed to champion the gaza spirit, see Kafadar, Between Two Worlds, with full bibliography.
For a different perspective, rejecting outright the role of gaza and attributing the early Ottoman
conquests singularly to “the greed and ambition of a predatory confederacy,” see now H. W. Lowry,
The Nature of the Early Ottoman State (New York, 2003).
18 N. Oikonomid`s, “From soldiers of fortune to gazi warriors: the Tzympe affair,” in Studies in
e
Ottoman History in Honour of Professor V. L. M´nage, ed. C. Heywood and C. Imber (Istanbul,
e
1994), pp. 239“47; H. ™Inalc±k, “The Ottoman Turks and the Crusades, 1329“1451,” in A History of the
Crusades, gen. ed. K. M. Setton, vol. vi: The Impact of the Crusades on Europe, ed. H. W. Hazard and
Inalc±k, “Gelibolu,” EI2 , vol. ii, pp. 983“7. For the
N. P. Zacour (Madison, 1989), pp. 229“35; H. ™
politico-military history of the early Ottoman state, in addition to the works cited in the previous
note, see C. Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300“1481 (Istanbul, 1990).
19 ™
Inalc±k, “Ottoman Turks and the Crusades,” pp. 239“40.
26 Introduction and political setting
The early Ottoman conquests in the Balkans generally conformed to
a similar pattern whereby, in the ¬rst stage, the native population of the
countryside was driven into the region™s more secure forti¬ed towns by
the incessant raids of the gazis. Once the Ottoman forces gained control
of the surrounding country, their next step was to apply pressure on the
forti¬ed towns themselves. At this stage, however, the Ottomans did not
immediately resort to open warfare but, in accordance with Islamic princi-
ples, offered the inhabitants the option of surrendering on terms. Islamic
law ruled that the inhabitants of a place taken by war could legitimately be
enslaved, thereby being forced to undergo the loss of their personal free-
dom and property. By contrast, those who accepted Ottoman (or any other
Islamic state™s) sovereignty by surrendering were granted the safety of their
lives and movable property, together with their religious freedom, on the
sole conditions of obedience and payment of a special tax called harac or
cizye. In either case, though, whether capture by force or surrender was the
means of subjugation, all lands reverted to the possession of the Ottoman
state. The underlying principle of this policy was that the ultimate goal of
cihad (and of its lesser category gaza), namely the expansion of the abode
of Islam (dar¨ lislam), could be ful¬lled by securing a non-Muslim com-
u
munity™s submission to the authority of an Islamic state and hence did not
necessitate religious conversion or direct conquest under all circumstances.
Applying this policy extensively and liberally, the Ottomans used it with
success to draw into their fold many Christians of the Byzantine Empire
and of other Balkan states by peaceful means rather than by war.20 The ¬rst
Ottoman occupation of Thessalonike in 1387, to be discussed thoroughly
in Part II, took place more or less in this manner with the surrender of the
city™s inhabitants, though after exposure to a four-year-long siege.
By extension, the Ottomans made use of the same principle in their
treatment of states that accepted the sovereignty of the Ottoman ruler.
These states were relegated to the status of vassalage and were expected to
provide an annual tribute and military forces for participation in Ottoman
campaigns. As long as they remained loyal and performed these obligations,

20 H. ™Inalc±k, “Ottoman methods of conquest,” Studia Islamica 2 (1953), 103“29; E. A. Zachariadou,
“More on the Turkish methods of conquest,” Eighth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference, Abstracts of
Papers (Chicago, 1982), p. 20; M. Delilbas±, “Selanik ve Yanya™da Osmanl± egemenli˜ inin kurulmas±,”
¸ g
Belleten 51 (1987), 75“106; V. Panaite, The Ottoman Law of War and Peace. The Ottoman Empire and
Tribute Payers (Boulder, 2000). See also “Dar al-c ahd” and “Dar al-sulh,” in EI2 , vol. ii, pp. 116,
131; M. Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam (Baltimore, 1955); J. T. Johnson and J. Kelsay
(eds.), Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and
Islamic Traditions (New York, 1991). On the difference between gaza and cihad, see Kafadar, Between
Two Worlds, pp. 79“80.
27
The shrinking empire between East and West
their vassal status relieved them, at least in theory, from Ottoman attacks
and allowed them to maintain their political and ecclesiastical autonomy.
To the Ottomans, on the other hand, the system provided extra revenues,
auxiliary forces, and control over territories which they had not conquered
yet. It will be seen shortly that all three major Balkan states “ Serbia,
Bulgaria, and the Byzantine Empire “ had become Ottoman vassals by the
early 1370s.
In the conquered regions, too, the Ottomans pursued a conciliatory pol-
icy towards the native Christians. A signi¬cant feature of this policy was the
readiness of the Ottomans to preserve the status particularly of landowning
aristocrats and military elites by incorporating them into the fabric of the
Ottoman state through the grant of military ¬efs known as t±mars. Thus,
it was possible for former pronoia-holders to become t±mar-holders under
the Ottoman system, which essentially allowed them to maintain their
social status along with their Christian faith. In newly conquered areas the
Ottomans made effective use of this policy as a mechanism for winning
the loyalty of the local populations.21
While the Ottomans were rapidly extending their dominion over Byzan-
tine territories to the west of Constantinople by such means, how did the
Byzantine emperors respond to the changing international political situ-
ation in the course of the second half of the fourteenth century? In 1354,
several months after the Ottoman occupation of Gallipoli, a council of state
was held in Constantinople by the co-emperors John VI Kantakouzenos (r.
1347“54) and John V Palaiologos (r. 1341/54“91) to determine the policy to
be pursued for the recovery of Gallipoli and the removal of the Ottomans
from Thrace. John VI, at whose instigation the Ottomans had entered
Thrace in large numbers during 1346“52 and who had given a daughter
in marriage to the Ottoman ruler Orhan, was known to be the promoter
and advocate of a policy of coexistence with the Turks. On this occasion,
judging that the economic and military resources of the empire, particu-
larly in the absence of a ¬‚eet, were insuf¬cient to undertake armed action
against the Ottomans, and recognizing furthermore the dangers inherent
in ¬ghting them on Byzantine soil, he suggested settling the matter through
diplomacy and negotiation, by means of which he believed Orhan might
be persuaded to withdraw his men from Thrace. “Once we have thus

21 ™
Inalc±k, “Ottoman methods of conquest”; ™ Inalc±k, “Stefan Dusan™dan Osmanl± ™
¸ Imparatorlu˜ una,
g
¨
XV. as±rda Rumeli™de h±ristiyan sipahiler ve menseleri,” in Fatih Devri Uzerinde Tetkikler ve Vesikalar
¸
¨
(Ankara, 1954), pp. 137“84. On the Ottoman t±mar system in general, see O. L. Barkan, “T±mar,”
™ ´
Islam Ansiklopedisi, vol. xii (Istanbul, 1972“3), pp. 286“333; N. Beldiceanu, Le timar dans l™Etat
ottoman (d´but XIVe“d´but XVIe si`cle) (Wiesbaden, 1980).
e e e
28 Introduction and political setting
driven them beyond our frontiers,” he argued in a speech recorded in his
own history, “it will be easier to make war upon them, provided always
that we have the ships to control the sea.” The majority of the senators
and leading of¬cials, however, were in favor of immediate, direct military
action and disagreed with John VI. The latter abdicated a few days later
and his coexistence policy with the Turks was abandoned, at least for the
time being.22
When John V Palaiologos, who had apparently refrained from express-
ing an opinion at the above-mentioned meeting, became sole emperor
upon John VI™s abdication, he at once resolved to take action against the
Ottomans. He knew as well as John VI that the empire™s resources were not
adequate for this task but was not reluctant to turn to western powers for
help. He immediately initiated negotiations with the papacy, striving for
nothing less than a crusade for the elimination of the Ottoman threat.23
As late as 1366, however, nothing on the scale of a crusade had yet mate-
rialized except for a relatively small expedition led by John V™s cousin,
Count Amadeo VI of Savoy. Amadeo™s forces recaptured Gallipoli from
the Ottomans in 1366. But by this time the Ottomans had already pushed
their way well into Thrace, and about ten years later they would manage
to take Gallipoli once again.24 In 1366 John V, hoping to engage Hungary
as well in his struggle against the Ottomans, took the unprecedented step
of going in person to Buda to ask King Louis the Great (r. 1342“82) for
military assistance.25 John™s next major move in his quest to inspire the
western Christian world to action on behalf of his empire was his trip

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