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to Rome, where he converted to the Catholic faith in 1369, taking care,
however, not to commit his subjects to a union with the Roman Church.26
22 Ioannis Cantacuzeni Eximperatoris Historiarum libri IV, vol. iii, ed. B. G. Niebuhr (Bonn, 1832),
pp. 295“300. On this meeting and its aftermath, together with translated passages from John VI™s
speech, see Nicol, Last Centuries, pp. 244“6; Nicol, Reluctant Emperor, pp. 130“1.
23 O. Halecki, Un Empereur de Byzance a Rome. Vingt ans de travail pour l™union des ´glises et pour la
` e
d´fense de l™Empire d™Orient, 1355“1375 (Warsaw, 1930; repr. London, 1972), pp. 31“59; Nicol, Last
e
Centuries, pp. 256“61. See also R. Radi´, Vreme Jovana V Paleologa (1332“1391) (Belgrade, 1993),
c
pp. 248ff., with English summary at 465“90.
24 For Amadeo™s expedition, see K. M. Setton, The Papacy and the Levant (1204“1571), vol. i (Philadel-
phia, 1976), pp. 285“326, with references to the sources and previous secondary literature. On the
¬nal Ottoman capture of Gallipoli c. 1377, see below, ch. 6, p. 123.
25 Halecki, Un Empereur, pp. 111“37; P. Wirth, “Die Haltung Kaiser Johannes V. bei den Verhandlungen
mit K¨ nig Ludwig von Ungarn zu Buda im Jahre 1366,” BZ 56 (1963), 271“2; F. Pall, “Encore une
o
fois sur le voyage diplomatique de Jean V Pal´ologue en 1365“66,” RESEE 9 (1971), 535“40; J. Gill,
e
“John V Palaeologus at the court of Louis I of Hungary (1366),” BS 38 (1977), 31“8.
26 Halecki, Un Empereur, pp. 188“236; D¨ lger, Reg., vol. v, nos. 3120, 3122, 3126. On the strictly personal
o
nature of John V™s conversion, see also Nicol, Last Centuries, pp. 270“1; Radi´, Vreme Jovana V,
c
p. 346. For Byzantine“Papal negotiations preceding John V™s conversion, see J. Meyendorff, “Projets
de concile oecum´nique en 1367: un dialogue in´dit entre Jean Cantacuz`ne et le l´gat Paul,” DOP
e e e e
14 (1960), 147“77; see also Kianka, “Byzantine“Papal diplomacy,” 175“94.
29
The shrinking empire between East and West
None of John V™s appeals to European powers produced any concrete
results. To make matters worse, on his way back to Constantinople the
Emperor was detained at Venice for unpaid debts, and he did not return
home until about the end of 1371.27 In the meantime, on September 26,
1371, Ottoman forces won an overwhelming victory against the Serbians
ˇ
at Cernomen on the Maritsa river. The Ottoman victory, which coincided
with John V™s disillusionment with prospects of help from the Catholic
world, seems to have led him towards reconsidering the foreign policy he
had pursued for nearly twenty years. Shortly afterwards, he decided to seek
peace with the Ottomans and bound himself to be a tribute-paying vassal
of Murad I (r. 1362“89), following the example of the Serbian princes who
survived the Maritsa disaster and became Ottoman vassals.28 Bulgarian
princes, too, pursued the same course of vassalage to the Ottomans at this
time.
The reduction of Byzantium to the status of an Ottoman vassal in the
early 1370s marked a turning point not only in the reign of John V but, from
a broader perspective, within the whole history of the Palaiologan period.
Compared, for instance, with John VI Kantakouzenos™ former policy of
coexistence with the Ottomans, the policy of peace and reconciliation to
which John V reverted after 1371 belongs to an entirely different category.
For Kantakouzenos not just vassalage but any status implying inferiority
or subordination to the Ottomans had been out of the question. Kantak-
ouzenos had set up his alliance with Orhan in such a way that by giving
the latter a daughter he had made himself the Ottoman ruler™s father-in-
law, which denoted a relationship of superiority within the hierarchical
framework of Byzantine imperial ideology. Moreover, the main purpose
of Kantakouzenos™ alliance with Orhan was to have recourse to Ottoman
troops, whereas by contrast John V was bound to provide Orhan™s son
and successor, Murad I, with armed forces in ful¬llment of his vassalage
obligations. Thus, having set out to rid Byzantium of the Ottoman men-
ace, John V ended up by reducing his state to the rank of an Ottoman
vassal.
The agreement between John V and Murad I was interrupted for some
years in the midst of a civil war at Constantinople in which the Ottoman
ruler initially interfered on the side of his ally John V, but then trans-
ferred his support to the Emperor™s son and rival, Andronikos IV, during

27 On John V™s detention at Venice and its aftermath, see D. M. Nicol, Byzantium and Venice: A Study
in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 304“9 and the works cited on p. 308,
n. 1.
28 G. Ostrogorski, “Byzance, etat tributaire de l™Empire turc,” ZRVI 5 (1958), 49“58.
´
30 Introduction and political setting
1376“9.29 Once this crisis was settled and Murad I joined his old ally
in 1379, the former agreement between them was renewed, and John V
resumed paying tribute and providing military assistance. Byzantine loy-
alty and subservience to the Ottomans were reaf¬rmed a few years later,
in the Byzantine“Genoese treaty of November 2, 1382.30 Thereafter, to the
end of his life in 1391, John V maintained the policy of appeasement and
conciliation with the Ottomans.
As a result of the developments described above, at the time of his
death in 1389 Murad I was able to bequeath to his son and successor,
Bayezid I, an “empire” consisting of vassal principalities in the Balkans
and Anatolia. A new stage in Byzantine“Ottoman relations was initiated
by Bayezid I, who shortly after his accession embarked upon a systematic
policy of imposing direct control over these vassal states, ¬rst in Asia
Minor, then in the Balkans.31 The earliest signs of Bayezid™s new policy were
witnessed in the Balkans in 1393, with the transformation of Bulgaria into
ˇs
a directly administered Ottoman province in retaliation for John Siˇman
of Bulgaria™s cooperation with Sigismund of Hungary in the plans for
an anti-Ottoman expedition. Bulgaria thus lost its vassal status alongside
the political and ecclesiastical autonomy this status provided. The same
policy was applied in 1394 to Thessalonike and its surrounding regions,
which Bayezid placed under his direct rule, thereby depriving the city of
the relatively independent, semi-autonomous status it had enjoyed since its
surrender in 1387.32 During the winter of 1393“4 Bayezid also summoned his
29 For a full discussion of the Ottoman interference in Byzantine civil wars of the late fourteenth and
early ¬fteenth centuries, including this episode, see below, ch. 6.
30 Belgrano, “Prima serie,” no. 26, pp. 133“40; D¨ lger, Reg., vol. v, no. 3177. Cf. Dennis, Reign of
o
Manuel II, pp. 50“1.
31 Inalc±k, “B¯yaz´d I,” EI2 , vol. i, pp. 1117“19; ™
H. ™ a Inalc±k, “Ottoman Turks and the Crusades,”
pp. 248“54.
32 A considerable amount of controversy exists over Bayezid I™s transformation of Thessalonike into a
directly administered Ottoman territory. Besides the chronological controversy, which is de¬nitively
settled in favor of 1394, some scholars have formulated the theory of a “second capture,” arguing
that the city must have reverted to Byzantine rule at some time between 1387 and the early 1390s
so as to induce Bayezid to reconquer it. The problem stems from references to Bayezid™s “capture”
or “occupation” of Thessalonike, found in the accounts of some Ottoman chroniclers (e.g. Nesri, ¸
following the Ahmedi“Ruhi tradition), as well as in that of Doukas. But although Bayezid must have
certainly had recourse to a show of arms in imposing his stricter regime on Thessalonike, there are no
grounds for supporting the theory of a “second capture” in the absence of direct evidence indicating
that the city had returned earlier to Byzantine rule. Rather, Bayezid™s treatment of Thessalonike
must be seen in the same light as the policy he pursued in the Balkans after 1393, and it represents
within the general scheme of Ottoman methods of conquest a regular (i.e. the ¬nal) stage. Almost
identical is the case of Trnovo, which was formally subjugated to Ottoman domination in 1388
and which Bayezid actually occupied in 1393. See ™ Inalc±k, “Ottoman methods of conquest”; and
his review of Barker™s Manuel II, in Archivum Ottomanicum 3 (1971), 276“8. See also G. T. Dennis,
“The second Turkish capture of Thessalonica. 1391, 1394 or 1430?,” BZ 57 (1964), 53“61, esp. 53“4
31
The shrinking empire between East and West
Christian vassals to Serres with the intention of having them reaf¬rm their
vassalage ties to him. Those who were summoned included Manuel II, who
had succeeded John V as emperor; Manuel™s brother Theodore I, Despot
of the Morea; their nephew John VII, who held an appanage centered
in Selymbria at this time; the Serbian prince Constantine Dragaˇ, whose
s
daughter had married Manuel II in 1392; and Stefan Lazarevi´ of Serbia.33
c
According to Chalkokondyles, shortly after the dissolution of the Serres
meeting and Manuel II™s return to Constantinople, Bayezid summoned
the Emperor to his presence again. When Manuel ignored the summons
twice, the Sultan sent an army to Constantinople, and thus started the ¬rst
Ottoman siege of the Byzantine capital in the spring of 1394. Yet in reality
Manuel™s disobedience must have been a mere pretext for Bayezid, whose
policy of direct control was ultimately aimed at building a uni¬ed empire
with a centralized government, stretching from the Danube in the West
to the Euphrates in the East. The capture of Constantinople was therefore
crucial for the realization of Bayezid™s imperial ambitions.34
While the siege of Constantinople was going on, other Ottoman armies
attended to the occupation of Thessaly and soon brought most of this
region under their direct rule. Having reached the borders of the Pelo-
ponnese, Ottoman forces then started pressuring the Morea as well. By
this time reactions to Bayezid™s aggressive policy had begun to escalate in
Europe under the initiative of King Sigismund of Hungary, who persuaded
the religious and secular leaders of the West to launch a crusade against
the Ottomans. However, on September 25, 1396 the crusaders met with a
disastrous defeat at Nikopolis, which brought their venture to an end while
at the same time con¬rming Bayezid™s control of the Balkans.35 Freed of
(n. 2), with full bibliography on proponents of the “second capture” theory; A. Vakalopulos, “Zur
Frage der zweiten Einnahme Thessalonikis durch die T¨ rken, 1391“1394,” BZ 61 (1968), 285“90.
u
In more recent times, the “second capture” argument has been embraced by T. E. Gregory in his
entry on Thessalonike in ODB, vol. iii, p. 2072: “ . . . the city fell in April 1387. It returned brie¬‚y
to Byzantine hands but was taken by Bayezid I on 12 April 1394.”
33 For more on this meeting and references to the sources, see below, ch. 9, pp. 242ff. According to

Inalc±k, who follows K. Hopf and M. Silberschmidt, the meeting took place not in Serres (rendered
as Ferra© by Chalkokondyles), but in Verrai (Berroia, Turkish Fere or Kara-Ferye): see his review
of Barker™s Manuel II, in Archivum Ottomanicum 3 (1971), 276“7 and, more recently, his “Ottoman
Turks and the Crusades,” pp. 248“9.
34 In other words, the Serres meeting was not so much a cause of the siege of Constantinople as
presented by Chalkokondyles (Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. i, pp. 76“7), but rather these two events,
o
together with the direct occupation of Thessalonike and the campaigns against Thessaly and the
Morea mentioned below, all formed part of one whole scheme; namely, the aggressive policy that
Bayezid began to pursue in the Balkans in the wake of the settlement of his problems in Anatolia.
35 On this crusade, see A. S. Atiya, The Crusade of Nicopolis (London, 1934); Setton, The Papacy and
the Levant, vol. i, pp. 341“69. For the impact of the Ottoman victory at Nikopolis on events inside
Constantinople, see below, ch. 7, pp. 150“1.
32 Introduction and political setting
this threat, the Sultan tightened his blockade of Constantinople which was
to last until 1402, when an unexpected force, not from the West but from
the East, rescued the Byzantines. The lengthy siege came to an abrupt end
as Timur™s (Tamerlane™s) forces defeated and captured Bayezid in the battle
of Ankara on July 28, 1402, at a moment when the Constantinopolitans
were preparing to surrender their city to the Ottomans.36 The battle of
Ankara thus signalled the failure of Bayezid™s imperial designs and ushered
in a period of confusion and civil wars among his sons.
In the course of the new phase of Ottoman conquests and expansion
inaugurated by Bayezid I, the foreign policy of the Byzantine state was
accordingly altered and adapted to meet the changed circumstances. When
Manuel II ascended the throne in 1391, Bayezid, who was occupied then
with establishing his authority over the Turkish principalities of Anato-
lia, had not turned his attention yet to the Balkans. At this time Manuel
found it expedient to continue John V™s policy of peace and accommo-
dation with the Ottomans.37 Earlier in his career Manuel had followed
quite a different course when during the 1380s he led from Thessalonike
an openly aggressive movement against the Ottomans in an attempt to
re-establish Byzantine authority in Macedonia. As already mentioned and
as will be discussed further in chapter 3, this movement turned into an utter
failure with the surrender of the Thessalonians to the Ottomans, leaving
Manuel with no other choice than to go to Bursa and seek peace with
Murad I by promising him allegiance.38 When Manuel assumed power
as emperor, the memory of his failure in Thessalonike was most likely to
have given him added incentive to remain faithful to his father™s foreign
policy and maintain friendly terms with the Ottomans. Hence, only about
three months after his accession, Manuel took part in one of Bayezid™s
Anatolian campaigns in compliance with his duties as vassal. In a let-
ter he wrote to Demetrios Kydones during this campaign, the Emperor
justi¬ed his conciliatory attitude towards the Ottomans by pointing out
that the dangers he faced in Asia Minor were much smaller and less seri-
ous than “those we can expect from them if we do not ¬ght along with
them.”39
36 See below, ch. 7, pp. 181“2.
37 Barker, Manuel II, pp. 84“122, esp. 86. For a review and interpretation of the early interactions
between the Palaiologoi and Bayezid, see also S. W. Reinert, “The Palaiologoi, Y±ld±r±m B¯yez´d and
a
Constantinople: June 1389“March 1391,” in TO ELLHNIKON. Studies in Honor of Speros Vryonis,
Jr., vol. i, ed. J. S. Langdon et al. (New Rochelle, 1993), pp. 289“365.
38 Kydones“Loenertz, vol. ii, nos. 352, 354, 355, 363, 365, 370; Chalkok.“Dark´ , vol. i, pp. 42“4, 48.
o
Cf. Dennis, Reign of Manuel II, p. 158; Barker, Manuel II, pp. 61“4.
39 Dennis, Letters of Manuel II, no. 14, pp. 38“9.
33
The shrinking empire between East and West
However, following the unfolding of Bayezid™s overtly hostile program
of forceful uni¬cation in the Balkans, and in particular subsequent to the
meeting at Serres, Manuel changed his policy once again and abandoned
the compliant conduct he had pursued during the ¬rst three years of his
reign. He made an open demonstration of his new position by refusing
to obey Bayezid™s summons after the Serres gathering, thereby giving the
Sultan a pretext for laying siege to Constantinople. As in John V™s ini-
tial endeavors to resist the Ottomans, Manuel™s anti-Ottoman position
immediately converged into a policy of cooperation with western powers.
Manuel had some involvement, though minor, in the organization of the
Crusade of Nikopolis.40 But it was in the years after the failure of Nikopolis
that the Emperor ventured forth on a full-scale and militant quest for aid
from abroad, which reached a climax with his famous journey to Europe at
the end of 1399, exactly thirty years after John V™s trip to Rome and Venice.
Though Manuel™s journeys took him beyond Italy, to France and England,
where he carried out negotiations with the secular and ecclesiastical leaders
of the West, a central and consistent feature of his policy was to avoid by all
means committing himself and his empire to the union of the Churches.
Despite long years of travels and negotiations, Manuel™s policy of resis-
tance to the Ottomans based on expectations of military and ¬nancial help
from the Latin West proved ineffective. At the time of Bayezid™s defeat by
Timur in the battle of Ankara, the Emperor was still in Europe, waiting
for the Christian powers of the West to take organized action against the
Ottomans. Nonetheless, to the end of his rule Manuel II never completely
gave up hope on this policy and maintained at least a semblance of it,
regardless of the numerous occasions in which the responses and conduct
of western powers disappointed him.41
With no recourse to western aid, at any rate, the Byzantines were able
to gain the upper hand in their relations with the Ottomans during the
two decades following the battle of Ankara. At the beginning of 1403 one
of Bayezid I™s sons and successors, S¨ leyman Celebi, restored by treaty a
u ¸
signi¬cant portion of territory to the Byzantine Empire, including Thessa-
lonike and Kalamaria with their environs, the Thracian coast from Panidos
to Mesembria, the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos, and Skyros, as well as
some unidenti¬ed places in Anatolia. In addition to these territorial con-
cessions, the treaty of 1403 freed Byzantium from its tribute obligation to
the Ottomans and guaranteed the release of all Byzantines held captive by
the Turks. Finally, S¨ leyman promised that his ships would not sail through
u

40 41
See Barker, Manuel II, pp. 129“33. Ibid., pp. 120“99.
34 Introduction and political setting
the Straits without the permission of either the Byzantine emperor or the
other Christian co-signatories of the treaty.42 Noteworthy, moreover, from
an ideological point of view is the fact that in the text of the treaty (which
has only survived in Italian translation of a Turkish original) S¨ leyman
u
continuously addresses the emperor as his “father,” thus assuming a sub-

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