Byzantium Between the Ottomans and the Latins: Politics and Society in the Late Empire
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This is a detailed analysis of Byzantine political attitudes towards the Ottomans and western Europeans during the critical last century of Byzantium. The book covers three major regions of the Byzantine Empire - Thessalonike, Constantinople, and the Morea - where the political orientations of aristocrats, merchants, the urban populace, peasants, and members of ecclesiastical and monastic circles are examined against the background of social and economic conditions. Through its particular focus on the political and religious dispositions of individuals, families and social groups, the book offers an original view of late Byzantine politics and society that is not found in conventional narratives. Drawing on a wide range of Byzantine, western and Ottoman sources, it authoritatively illustrates how late Byzantium was drawn into an Ottoman system in spite of the westward-looking orientation of the majority of its ruling elite.
tensions seem to have spread so fast that the city’s archbishop Gregory Palamas, in a letter he sent to his flock from Asia Minor at the time of his captivity among the Ottomans (1354–5), found it necessary to urge those “who love money and injustice” to practice temperance and equity.6 But the Thessalonians do not appear to have taken heed of Palamas’ words, for his successors, the archbishops Isidore Glabas and Symeon, continued in later years to complain about offenses and injustices committed
were still alive. Throughout this period the Venetians kept them under strict surveillance and deported them successively from Crete to Venice and then to Padua in order to eliminate their chances of scheming with the local inhabitants of any one place. The two remaining Thessalonians were finally set free in or after May 1430, as the Senate of Venice, no longer threatened by them subsequent to the fall of Thessalonike, decided that the cost of detaining them in prison was henceforth
inadequate since lately the Thessalonians had been reduced to living solely on bread. A particularly difficult winter had been experienced that year in Thessalonike under conditions of extreme poverty, dearth, and destitution. Thus, in order to prevent the recurrence of similar hardships in the forthcoming winter, the Venetian administrators were trying to stock up sufficient wheat 67 68 69 Symeon–Balfour, pp. 58 (text), 170 (trans.). Doukas–Grecu, XXIX.4, p. 249; trans. by H. J. Magoulias,
Manuel’s sake he had been compelled to pray for the well-being of “the barbarian” (i.e. Murad I).38 One of the most dramatic consequences of Byzantium’s military service obligation occurred in 1390 when Manuel II and John VII, who were called to take part in Bayezid I’s expedition against Philadelphia, became instrumental in the loss of this last Byzantine possession in Asia Minor to the Ottomans.39 The following year Manuel II, who accompanied the Sultan in yet another campaign, wrote to
VIII’s choice of his other brother Constantine as successor to the throne and simultaneously denied certain territories which had been promised him, went over to Murad II from his appanage centered on Mesembria. Procuring an army from the Sultan, he led an unsuccessful attack against Constantinople which lasted three and a half months (April 23–August 6).95 The deep distrust that the Palaiologos brothers cherished for each other, no doubt originating from conduct such as that of Demetrios, is