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a detailed chronology: AD 1220-1331

From the first appearance of the Mongols

to the surrender of Nicaea to the Ottoman Turks

With extensive notes on the numbers, equipment and pay

of the Early Palaeogian army.

Compiled by

Michael O’Rourke
Canberra, Australia
April 2010

Email: mjor (at) velocitynet (dot)

Greek Emperors at Nicaea and Constantinople:

John III Doukas Vatatzes, 1221-54.

Theodore II Lascaris, 1254-58.
Michael VIII Palaeologus, co-emperor 1259-61 with John IV Lascaris (at Nicaea),
and sole emperor, 1261-82 (at Constantinople).
Andronicus II Palaeologus, 1282-1328.
Andronicus III Palaeologus, 1328-41.


In the early 13th century, the leading Muslim powers of western Eurasia and north
Africa were (from west to east:) 1 the Almohad Caliphate in southern Spain and
NW Africa: east as far as our Libya; 2 the Ayyubid Sultanate, the creation of
Saladin, d. 1193, in the Levant [Egypt-Palestine-Syria]; 3 the Seljuk (Turkish)
Sultanate of Rum in central and eastern Anatolia; and in Persia, 4 the Empire of
the Khwarizm Shah.
Two small Latin Crusader statelets, much reduced since their 12th century
heyday, held enclaves on the coast of Palestine and Lebanon-Syria. They were
surrounded, except on the sea-side, by the Ayyubids, viz: (a) the ‘Kingdom of
Acre’ under the Hospitaller knights, and (b) the Knights-Templar Principality of
The Mediterranean sphere was divided among two Greek states and two Latin
powers. The Greek Despotate* of Epirus (later expanded into a so-called ‘Empire


of Salonica’) controlled western and central Greece. Lower Greece was in the
hands of the so-called Latin Empire, which also ruled in Constantinople. Crete
was under the rule of Venice. Finally, the ‘Empire of Nicaea’ held western Asia
Minor. Thus there were three competing candidates for the ancient and
prestigious throne of New Rome or Byzantium: (1) the Greek Despot of Epirus,
Theodore Komnenos Doukas [1214-1230]; (2) the Latin Emperor, Robert of
Courtenay [1221-28], who actually held Constantinople; and (3) the ‘Nicaean’
Greek monarch Theodore I Lascaris [12o5-21]. Theodore had been aged about 30
when the Fourth Crusade stormed Constantinople in 1204, ousted the Roman
(Byzantine) emperor Isaac II, and installed a Western (Latin) ruler.
It is also useful to mention the major Latin states in Europe. There were five of
note: (a) the Kingdom of Hungary under the Arpads; (b) the ‘German Empire’ so-
called, under the Hohenstaufen kings, which included Sicily and nominally also
northern Italy; (c) France under the later Capetian kings; (d) Castile [the most
powerful of several Christian kingdoms in Iberia]; and (e) England under the
Plantagenets [Henry III]. Last of all—but very strong at sea—were the small
‘maritime’ states of northern Italy: Venice, Genoa and Pisa (the last being much
weakened after 1284).

(*) The Despot was not an especially tyrannical ruler; his title was just an
ordinary Greek word (despotes) meaning ‘lord’ or ‘master’.

Strong and Weak States

McEvedy & Jones’ (1978) guesstimates of population will serve as a metric for the
relative strength of the Christian states. We will take first the Greek or Aegean
sphere. Their estimate for Greece [present-day boundaries] is one million people
in about 1225. To this must be added a guess for the population of the Nicaean
Empire. Here we can use one-third of what is now Turkey-in-Asia, namely two
million people in the 13th century. Total: three million.
When Greek rule was restored in Constantinople in 1261, emperor Michael
VIII had about two million subjects, if we follow McEvedy & Jones. Other
estimates for the restored empire of around 1265 run as high as five million, not
falling to perhaps two million until the disastrous reign of Andronicus II (by AD
1312) (Treadgold 1997: 700, 841: see the discussion in the entries below for AD
1278 and 1282).
This can be compared with McEvedy & Jones’ guesstimates for the Western
powers in the early 1200s: Hohenstaufen Germany: perhaps 7 M including Sicily;
France: perhaps 6 M people (allowing for the smaller size of 13th C France
compared to today); Castile: about 3.25 M in 1225; and England: about 2.5 M.
Finally we will note the likely size of the strongest Muslim state, the Ayyubid
Sultanate: about 6 million people.

The Early Palaeogian Army . . .

. . . is described in detail in a long section placed before the entry, below, for AD


The following topics are mentioned in the following places:

- Barding (horse armour): 1259 (Battle of Pelagonia); after 1328 (The

Palaeologian Army in about 1330); and after 1333 (Ibn Battuta’s visit to

- Bow-cases: after 1328.

- Composite bow: after 1328 (The Palaeologian Army in about 1330).

- Horse archers in Byzantine service: 1242; 1259 (Battle of Pelagonia); 1261;

1262-63; 1280-81 (Berat: Albanian campaign); 1301-02 (at Baphaeon); and 1320
(the army of Andronicus).

- Kettle-shaped brimmed war-hat or “chapel-de-fer”: before the entry for 1251;

and before 1263.

- Lamellar armour: after the entry for 1262; after 1319; and after 1325.

- Pronoiars: after 1261-63; before 1297-1330; 1298; before 1300; 1313-18; after
1321; before 1326-62; and after 1328.

- Quivers: after 1328.

- Varangians: 1259; 1263; 1271-72; 1272; 1301/02 (Battle of Baphaeon); 1305

(Battle of Apros); before 1320; 1325; and 1329 (Battle of Pelekanon).

Geography and some Technical Terms

“Adrianople” [Hadrianopolis]: Today’s Edirne in European Turkey.

“Asia Minor”: today’s Turkey-in-Asia.

It helps to know the location of two major rivers: in the SW, the Meander
(Turkish: Büyük Menderes) which exits into the lower Aegean; and in the NW,
the Sangarios (Tk Sakarya), whose lower stretch runs from near Ankara down to
the Black Sea well to the east of Cosnatinople.
It also helps to know the eastern Aegean coast: the two major islands are
Lesbos and Chios [English pronunciation “kai-us”: rhymes with ‘bias’]. The town
of Pergamum lay east of Lesbos, but inland. East of Chios was the key port town
of Phocaea (modern Foca) with its famous alum mines. In SW Asia Minor there
was an important cluster of large towns: Magnesia, Smyrna, Philadelphia,
Tralles, Nymphaeum (Tk: Nif), Ephesus and Miletus.

“Basileus”: The Greek word for emperor. Pronounced ‘vasilefs’.

“Caria”: The SW sector of Asia Minor opposite Rhodes. More narrowly, ‘Caria’


was alo the mediaval nme for the ancinet inland twon of Aphrodisias.

“Constantinople” [Konstantinoupolis]: Present-day Istanbul. Located at the top

of the Sea of Marmara [Gk: Propontis], on the European shore, at the
bottom (southern) end of the Bosphorus [Tk: Istanbul Boghazi], the
narrow strait that runs from the Marmara through to the Black Sea [Gk:
Euxeinos Pontos].

“Bithynia”: The NW sector of Asia Minor, adjoining the Sea of Marmara and
extending to the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

“Epirus”: Today’s west-central Greece and southern Albania. Capital: Arta.

“Greeks”: This was a Western term. The Byzantines called themselves Rhomaioi
(Romans). Arabic and Turkish: Rumi. Today’s Greeks call themselves
‘Ellenes (Hellenes).

“Macedonia” [Gk Makedonía]: It is important to distinguish three references: (a)

the ancient and modern region of Greece centred on Thessaloniki; (b) the
Byzantine Theme (province) of Makedonia, which actually covered lower
Thrace; and (c) ‘FYROM’: the modern Slavic state located today in what
was historically SW Bulgaria/SE Serbia.
In the 13th century Greek Macedonia began as part of the Latin Empire of
Constantinople (”Romania”) and ended as part of the Byzantine (Roman/Greek)
Empire. What is now FYROM began as part of Bulgaria and ended divided
between Serbia and the Byzantine empire.

“Morea”, Greek Moreas: The medieval name of the ancient Peloponnesus, the
southernmost segment of modern Greece. The name possibly derived from
the name of the mulberry tree [Gk: moréa], on which silk worms fed. More
probably, given its long O [omega], it derives from moros, ‘fool, rebel,
outlaw’, by implcation ‘lawless land’ (see discussion at The name first appears in the
10th century in Byzantine chronicles.

“Thessaly”: The east-central segment of present-day Greece, centred on the city of

Larissa. Cf Wallachia.

“Thrace”: Modern Turkey-in-Europe plus our south Bulgaria. The Byzantine-

Bulgarian border ran broadly west-east just beyond Byzantine
Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv).

“Türkmen”: Turkish nomads, i.e. non-farmers. Tent-dwellers herding sheep and

goats. “Their [the Mongols] apparition brought some 200,000 people and
the equivalent of three or four million sheep and goats, who displaced the
nomads already there [in Asia Minor] and pressed them westward”


“Wallachia”: Vlach is the ‘exonym’ (outsiders’ name) for speakers of the several
East Romance languages. There are two key references to be distinguished
when we read of Vlachia or ‘Wallachia’: (1) The region of modern Romania
immediately north of the Danube, which emerged as a distinct principality
in 1330; and, of more relevance to us: (2): The duchy or “despotate” in
greater Thessaly, 1271-1318, in what is now central Greece, whose best
soldiers were Romance-speaking Aromanians or “Vlachs”. Greek name:
Megáli Vlachía. Capital: Neopatras or Neai Patrai: modern Ypati (west of
Lamia). Thessaly’s loyalties vacillated between Latin Achaia, Greek Epirus
and Byzantium.

Above: The eastern Mediterranean in AD 1200.


Eastern Asia Minor: Zenith of the Seljuq (Turkish) sultanate of Rum under ‘Ala
al-Din Kay Kubad I. Turkish rule is extended to the Black Sea and southern
Anatolian coast. - See 1221.
Cf 1223-24: expedition to Greek Crimea. Also 1242-43: Mongols arrive.



Intrigued by stories of the Caspian Sea being landlocked, the Mongols sent a
reconnaissance in force around the bottom or southern end of the sea on a two-
year journey, 1220-1221. First they crush (1220) the Khwarizm Shahdom in what
is now NE Iran, and then carve a bloody track across Armenia and Georgia. Now
for the first time, Christendom learned of the Mongols. Having crossed into
Transcaucasia from Gpoergia, the first Mongol incursion reaches what is now
Ukraine and Crimea, before they withdraw to the east vaia the Volga.
Eastern Georgia fell under Mongol domination, but western Georgia remained
free . . . f0r the time being.

In the winter of 1220-1221 the Mongols attacked Georgia, then ruled by King
George Lashen IV. This was the first campaign in which Mongol forces were
opposed by a Christian army. Dennis Sinor (1999) proposes that, though Grigor
of Akanc speaks of the "merciless slaughter" perpetrated by the "nation of the
archers", it can be assumed that the small army commanded by Jebe and Subetei
[Sübügätäi] had no intention of occupying on a permanent basis either Christian
Georgia or Muslim Azerbaijan.

1. Macedonia: The Epirotes advance into Latin-ruled Macedonia, almost cutting
off the highway from Latin-ruled Constantinople to Latin Thessaloniki (Bartusis
p.23). See 1223-24.

The Seljuk Apogee

2. South-central coast of Asia Minor: The Seljuk sultan Kay-Kubad - Kayqubad or
Keykubad ‘the Great’ - acquires ex-Byzantine Alanya [Gk Kalonoros]; it became
thereafter his summer residence. See 1228.
The Christian Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (on the mainland north of Cyprus)
periodically held the port after 1204, and it was from an Armenian nobleman, Kir
(“lord”) Fard, that Muslims took lasting control in 1221 when the Anatolian
Seljuk Sultan Kayqubad exchanged governance of the inland town of Akshehir for
it; as part of the deal Fard’s daughter married Kayqubad (Lloyd & Rice 1958: 3-
“The Seljuks had a robust interest in reusing the classical past for decorative
purposes in their fortifications, and were unusual in their acceptance of iconic
sculpture, including sarcophagi. Sarre [Friedrich Sarre, the German
archaeologist, d. 1945] has provided a photographic record of some of their
spolia-rich* creations. The most famous are the walls of Konya, whose towers
were erected by Alaeddin Kuykubad I in 1221; he encouraged the inclusion of
figural sculpture, inscriptions, and having sculptured stones of various sorts set
into both his gateways” (Greenhalgh, citing T. Talbot Rice, The Seljuks in Asia
Minor, London 1961, p. 153 ff).

(*) Spolia: Re-used materials taken from older buildings.

Robert of Courtenay, Latin ruler in Constantinople, “a weak and feckless youth”


(says Norwich 1995: 193). See 1224.

JOHN (Ioannes) III Ducas Vatatzes,
emperor in Nicaea and Nymphaion.

Aged about 29 at accession. A successful soldier from a military family,

in 1212 John at age 20 had been chosen by the heirless Emperor
Theodore I Laskaris as husband of his daughter Eirene Laskarina (d.
1239) and as heir to the throne. Later he marries Constance-Anna,
Costanza von Hohenstaufen, a nautural (legitimised) daughter of the
German-Sicilian emperor Frederick II.
In this reign Nicaea remained the formal capital where the imperial
coronations took place, but the emperor’s residence and the seat of
government was moved (1222) from Nicaea to Nymphaeum, modern
Nif (renamed Kemalpasha), inland from Izmir-Smyrna.

Norwich 1995: 203 assesses Vatatzes as one of the greatest of all

Greek/Byzantine emperors, at least among the later emperors. He
more than doubled the size of his empire and strengthened the eastern
border with the Seljuq Turks.

“The Lascarid emperors, first at Nicaea, then - for the remainder of their
Anatolian exile - at Nif or Nymphaeum in the southwest, attended to the
economic, military, and physical reconstruction of west Anatolia below the
plateau in order to finance their European campaigns and threats against
Constantinople. They meant to revive Anatolia, but for the sake of
Constantinople. They wanted Anatolia to prosper, but only so they could leave it.
The agricultural prosperity achieved during the half-century of Lascarid rule
centred in the south, in the valleys of the Gediz [near Smyrna] and Menderes
[Meander] rivers. The silk production of Nicaea was Bithynia's major
contribution. John Ill Ducas Vatatzes . . . fostered a more intensive exploitation
of farm resources in the lands surrounding Manisa/Magnesia [north of Smyrna].
His egg ranch is perhaps best known for the crown* its profits bought.” —thus

(*) Vatatzes offered his wife, Irene, a crown "of eggs" or ‘egg-crown’, the famous
öaton, bought with the proceeds of the sale of the first eggs from the imperial
estate. Many of the purchasers of these eggs after 1243 were Seljuq refugees
fleeing west from the Mongols: see under 1243 (Lippard 1984: 177).

Sardis at this time was the seat of a small lordship, on the main highway between
the frontier and the emperors’ favoured residence (Nymphaion) and the treasury
(Magnesia/Manisa). The line of the hihway ran thus: Smyrna, Nymphaion,
Sardis and Philadelphia. Ruth Macrides notes (in her translation of Akropolites)
that the region Philadelphia-Nymphaion-Magnesia - which is to say:


the valley of the Hermus River (Gediz Nehri: east of Izmir) - formed
the heartland of the Nicaean empire. The nearest ports to Nymphaion were
Phocaea (Foca) amd Smyrna (Izmir).


Although the hyperpyron survived the disaster of 1204, coins struck by the exiled
“emperors of Nicaea” at the Magnesia mint in Asia Minor were little by little
debased, falling to 18 carats under John III, r.1222–54 (Grierson 1999)

The Seljuks under Kay Qubadh conquered the Mediterranean coast around
Alanya from the Romaics in 1221 to 1225.

West-central Asia Minor: The small box-like three-storey palace at Nymphaeum
(Nimphaion, Nif, modern Kemalpasa) was apparently built by John Vatatzes in
about 1222. In Turkish the ruins are called Kiz Kulesi [see,_%C4%B0zmir: in Turkish].
The fact that it is one of only four remaining Byzantine imperial palaces built
after 1204 is enough to make it important. It was probably the first to display
Western influences, not heretofore seen in imperial Byzantine audience-halls. It
appears striped, the two upper storeys being built with differently coloured layers
of masonry.

1223: The Franciscan order, founded in N Italy, is recognised by Rome:

piety is equated with poverty; + revitalisation of the Western church.

Breakup of the Latin Empire: Theodore of Epirus—Theodoros Komnenos-Doukas
Angelos—besieges (1223) and takes (1224) Thessaloniki from its Latin king, and
establishes his court there. From 1228 he assumes the title “sovereign and
emperor of the Romans”: basileus kai autokratõr Rõmaiõn; this briefly creates
an Epirote “Empire of Salonika” (until 1246) (Heurtley et al. 1967).
— The Epirote capture of Thessaloniki severed the land link between Latin
Constantinople and Latin Athens; thus the Latin empire became dependent on
maritime links.

There were now two rulers claiming the title "Emperor of the Romans": John III
Vatatazes in Nymphaeum and Theodore in Salonica-Thessaloniki. Or three if we
count the Latin monarch in Constantinople itself.

The central Byzantine realm was at this time divided among four states, two
Greek/Romaic and two Latin: [1.] The Greek 'Empire of Nicaea', which comprised
much of western Asia Minor; [2.] The 'Latin Empire' of Romania ruling


Constantinople, part of NW Asia Minor [see 1225], part of Thrace and (nearly all)
the Peloponnesus; [3.] The Venetians controlled Crete and most of the Aegean
islands; and [4.] The Greek ‘Empire of Salonika’ held the central Balkan
peninsula. (Eastern Anatolia was dominated by the Seljuks of Rum, with a further
"Greek-speaking"/Romaic statelet at Trebizond and an Armenian statelet in
— In short, a small Latin empire of Constantinople or “Romania” - mainly lower
Greece and the capital - was wedged between two larger Greek states: the "empire
of Salonika" (which included Epirus) and the Nicaean 'empire' in western Asian
Minor. As noted, Venice ruled Crete and the Athens sector of the Aegean.
— Thessaly, the so-called "Duchy of Neopatras", also called 'Great Wallachia',
was dominated by Epirus, but was sometimes independent. (This Wallachia is
not to be confused with a later Wallachia, which is part of present-day Rumania.)

2. Crimea: Using their new port of Sinope, the Seljuks tried to control the entire
Black Sea. In 1223-24 (or 1225) they ventured a campaign in the Crimea—
hitherto dominated by the Greeks of Trebizond—resulting in the brief occupation
of the town of Sudak or Sughdaq [centre of the SE coast] (Zahariadou 1989: 213;
Freely 2008: 73).

1. Asia Minor: John III of Nicaea/Nymphaeum decisively defeats the Latins at
Poimanenon and occupies almost all their territory in Asia Minor, i.e. up to the
coast opposite Gallipoli and its hinterlands. Langdon p.1 calls it a “stirring”
Neither side would have deployed large numbers. It has been said that at the
height of its power, in the period 1204-24, the Latin empire possessed fewer than
1,000 cavalrymen (Cassidy p.310, citing Hendricks). Adding foot solders, the
Latin side probably did not even reach 4,000.

NW Asia Minor: After two years of consolidation, reorganisation and the building
of a new army and fleet, in 1224 Vatatzes struck at and defeated a Frankish army
on the same battlefield of Poemanenum or Poimanenon, located south of Cyzicus,
west of Bursa, north of present-day Balikesir, where his father-in-law had been
beaten 20 years previously (LBA p.23).
Cyzicus, Lopadion (Ulubad) and Poimanenon form the points of an equilateral

Poimanenon effectively ended Latin power in NW Asia Minor. The victory

brought Nicaea much of the lands lost by Theodore I along the Aegean coast of
Mysia.* From this position, Vatatzes used his new fleet** to take Samos, Chios
and Lemnos from the Venetians and also to subjugate the minor despotate of

(*) The region that bordered the south coast of the Sea of Marmara.

(**) There were two main naval bases: one for the Aegean at Smyrna and one for


the Hellespont at Holkos, near Lampsakos. In addition ships were sometime

stationed at Stadeia (ancient Cnidus) on the Aegean between Bodrum and
Rhodes and Lampsakos itself on the Sea of Marmara (on the Asian shore, at the
top of the Hellespont opposite modern Gelibolu). —Macrides 2007: 100.

Both John III and Theodore II undertook winter campaigns. After his victory
against the Latins in Poimamenon (1224), John III conducted a series of
operations against Latin possessions in Asia Minor and captured Poimamenon;
Lentiana: a fortress between Lopadium and Cyzicus; Charioros and Berberiakion.
Akropolites points out that these operations were mainly long sieges carried out
during the winter and aimed at exhausting the besieged. –Thus Kyriakidis.

2. John III makes his first foray into Europe, where, faced with little resistance
from the Latins, he takes most of Thrace (LBA p. 23). See 1277.

Frederick II founds Naples University.

Theodore Ducas—Theodoros Komnenos Doukas Angelos— rules at Thessaloniki.
In 1228 he claims the title of emperor. The so-called ‘Empire of Salonica’ covered
most of the central Balkans (Epirus to outer Thrace).
John III Ducas Vatatzes’s ‘Nicaean Empire’ in Asia Minor was not much larger.
See next.

The Nicaean fleet wrests the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Icaria from the
Latins. (Chios and Lesbos lie offshore from Smyrna, close upon the then capital
of Nymphaeon; Samos and Ikaria are further south.) See next.
- The reorganisation or revival of the fleet had probably begun under Theodore
Lascaris, d. 1221, and was continued by Vatatzes (cf Savvides 1981: 98, citing
- Lesbos remained under Byzantine rule 1224-1355.

a. Treaty between Vatatzes and Robert of Constantinople. An exchange of
territory brought the northern boundary of the Nicaean kingdom within sight of
Nicomedia (Nicol, Epiros p.104).

b. The Balkans: The army of Theodore of Epirus (ruling at Thessaloniki)

advanced through the Aegean coast of Thrace and in 1225 (or 1227) seized
Adrianople and the surrounding portions of Thrace from the Nicaeans. Cf 1227.
Theodore marched from Serres NE along the Via Egnatia into Thrace and
occupied Kavalla, Xanthi, Gratziana and Mosynopolis. From there he advanced to
Didymoteichos and Adrianople. The latter had only just fallen into the hands of
the Nicaeans. It promptly surrended to Theodore without a fight (Nicol, Epiros
p.104). See 1225.3 below.


c. Thrace: Having struck a marriage alliance with Bulgaria, Theodore Angelus of

Epirus advances with his army into inner Thrace and reaches the walls of Latin
Constantinople; but of course the city is impregnable (ibid.)
Following his withdrawal to Arta in Epirus, Theodore arranges for a synod to
be convened; it duly declares him “faithful sovereign (basileus) and Roman
emperor (autokrator Rhomaion) (Nicol, Despotate p.105).

From about 1225:

The Seljuqs of Rum establish a trade route from Egypt to their new port of
Alanya, and thence across Anatolia to the Black Sea, the Crimea and the so-called
Golden Horde [or “Kipchak Empire”:* Mongol-ruled Ukraine]
( Cf 1228 – slipyard; and 1230.

(*) Within a few generations the conquering Mongols were absorbed by the
conquered Turkic populations. The process of assimilation was so fast that
Al-'Umari, fl. 1342, could already state in his time that Mongols and Kipchaks
seemed to belong to the same race (Sinor 1999).

Langdon 1992 calls Vatatzes’ campaign in this period Byzantium’s “last” imperial
offensive in the Meander Valley in SW Asia Minor. It would be better to say: its
last effective offensive.* This meant postponing his plans to recover

(*) Cf 1281: Nestongus’s expedition; and 1304: Catalans relieve Philadelphia.

According to Langdon, this campaign “can be likened to a crusade in its zeal”

(p.21). Hopwood (1999) rightly rejects this claim as “extravagant” (Hopwood,
“Frontier’, p. 156; also Freely 2008: 73).

Some estimates of the size of the Nicaean army are unbelievable, but George of
Pelagonia’s “8,055” men (sic: Langdon, his note 186) is within the limit of
credibility. Lascaris had led 2,000 men in 1211, but that was essentially a one-off
flying column, and the usual total he was able to deploy at that time may have
been more like 6,000.
The main Greek sources, George of Pelagonia and Acropolites, do not give the
size of the Turkish force(s) in 1225; but if we take the final zero off Nicodemus
Hagiorites’s fantastic “63,000” we may have a credible figure, i.e. 6,300 men. The
enemy were not the sultan’s professional forces, for Nicaea and Konya were at
peace; rather the Turkish enemy was the irregular light horsemen of the
borderlands. As Hopwood says, “John Vatatzes was marching against Türkmen,
not Seljuks” (“Frontier”, p.157). Hagiorites’ figure might be correct if it meant the
whole of the Turkish tribes - children, women and men - from whom the raiders
were drawn.


The various accounts of the campaign show that the middle Cayster valley inland
from Ephesus - around present-day Tire - was infested with “barbarians”, nomad
Türkmen who were only nominally loyal to the Seljuq Sultan.
Vatatzes first took his army from his capital Nyphaeum eastward – some 50 km
- to Sardes; he then turned south-west and crossed the Cayster River [modern
Küçük Menderes, ‘Little Meander’], specifically to Tire (Thera, Thyraea),
immediately south of that river, and travelled thence west to Ephesus in the lower
Cayster valley. Presumably he was clearing out Turkish strongholds as he went.
From Ephesus he proceeded with his troops SE into the lower Meander
(Menderes) Valley, past modern Selçuk to Magnesia-on-the-Meander: a distance
of under 20 km. They campaigned thence up - that is: eastwards along - the
Meander valley from Tralles (Aydin) to Nyssa, Antioch-on-the-Meander [modern
Kuyucak, east of Nazilli] and Laodiceia [modern Denizli]. Evidently the two
forces clashed below, i.e. a little to the west of, Antioch (Langdon p.32), i.e. near
modern Nazilli. Then in a final sweep, Vatatzes turned north to Tripolis and
Philadelphia (today’s Alasehir), and thence down the Hermus, i.e. west, to Sardes
once again and on to Magnesia-on-the-Hermus (modern Manisa). —Langdon
1992. Cf 1264: Turks have returned.

The Nicaeans take S Thrace from the Latin emperor. Cf 1227.

c.1227: Birth of the Italian painter Giotto, first to move away from
Byzantine-style art . . . cf 1231.

Thrace: John III Vatatze's possession of Adrianople was terminated by Theodore
Komnenos Doukas of Epirus and Thessalonica, who drove the Nicaean garrison
out of Adrianople and annexed much of Thrace in 1227.

1227: d. Genghis Khan. See 1231.

(Or ca. 1227:) The Seljuqs build a dockyard or slip-yard at Alanya: see plan in
Rice 1961.
Situated to the south of the Red Tower, right by the sea, there is a covered
building, quarried out of the rock, where the big warships of the age were built
and repaired in complete security. Galleys were stored out of water when not in
use. The shipyard itself is 56.5 metres long, 44 (or 42.5) metres wide and consists
of five chambers or galleries (long sheds). Each chamber is 7.70 metres wide and
42.30 metres deep, all opening to the sea. In other words, a snug fit for a large
galley of about 5 x 30 metres (source: www.alanya-; accessed September 2006).



The ‘Sixth Crusade’ as later historians call it: The army of the German-Sicilian
emperor Frederick II, later dubbed ‘the Great’, ‘sails’ [or rows: most of his ships
were galleys] via Cyprus to Syria and proceeds overland thence to Palestine. The
Ayyubids cede (1229) Jerusalem to the Latins, and declare a 10 year truce: see
Emperor Frederick II, who had been excommunicated, chose to crown himself
King of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre [28 March 1229], and
then departed (Abulafia 1992: 184). All sides, Jews, Muslim and Christians, were
angered by Frederick's tolerance for the three religions …

In February of 1229 the Egyptian ruler al-Kamil negotiated a 10-year peace with
Frederick II and returned Jerusalem and other holy sites to the Crusader
kingdom. Muslims and Jews were forbidden from the city, except for the Muslim
holy sites around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa.

r. Baudouin de Courtenay or Baldwin II, Latin (Flemish) ruler in Constantinople.
He was 11 years old at accession; the aged John of Brienne, 80 or nearly 80 years
old, lately king of Jerusalem, served as regent. Cf 1230. Also 1235 – attack on
Constantinople repulsed.
- Constantinople's population apparently fell to a mere 35,000 people
(Wikipedia, 2010, ‘Baldwin II’).

1. Crete: Rebellion against Latin (Venetian) rule by the Greek population
(Gertwagen 1998) . See 1230.

2. A fine illuminated manuscript of Dioskorides’ De materia medica (dated 1229,

now in the Topkapi Museum, Istanbul). - a text written by a pagan Greek,
translated into Arabic, copied by a Christian scribe, for use by a Muslim reader. It
was pobaly produced in Syria or northern Iraq
Dioskorides, enthroned, wearing a generic toga-like garment, and, crowned
with a halo, resembles an evangelist in a Romaic icon; and the presenters of the
books, inclining toward him, look like Byzantine angels, but they wear long robes
similar to modern Arab jibbas. All three of the protagonists wear turbans - even
Dioskorides, with his halo. For a reference to Byzantine turbans, see 1320.

1229: The Hafsids (a Berber line) in Tunisia break with the Almohads of

Territory in 1230

The so-called Epirote "Empire of Salonika (Thessaloniki)" ruled most of the

Balkans including part of Thrace, bordering Bulgaria (see next). Its rival the
"Empire of Nicaea" ruled the western third of Asia Minor. These Romaic/Greek
successor-states dominated the small 'Latin Empire' wedged between them. The
Seljuk Sultan ruled the larger part of Asia Minor. See 1234, 1246.


1. Vatatzes sends ships to aid the Byzantine rebels of Crete against their Latin
(Genoese) rulers (Nicol 1992). See 1233.

2. Thrace: Theodoros Angelos, emperor of Thessaloniki, annuls the treaty signed

with the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asan II against Ioannis (John) Vatatzis and
immediately declares war against the Bulgarians. His army is annihilated near
Klokotnitsa on the Evros/Maritza near today’s Haskovo in what is now SE
Bulgaria, about halfway between Adrianople/Edirne and Plovdiv (Norwich 1996:
Epirus attacks Bulgaria: The Bulgarians under John Asen destroy an Epirote-
Salonikan army under Theodore - which will leave the way clear for Nicaea to
claim the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) mantle. Theodore was captured and later blinded.
Cf 1241.
— This victory briefly extended Bulgarian rule into modern-day Albania.
— The Bulgarian Tsar, John Asen, invaded Thessalonica and captured the
Thessalonican-Epirus Emperor, causing the ‘empire’ to disunite into its former
kingdoms of Thessalonica and Epirus. John Asen then made an alliance with
John Vatatzes, and the two forces assaulted Constantinople in 1235. The siege
ended unsuccessfully when John Asen betrayed the Nicaeans, thinking that a new
Byzantine power would be far more troublesome than the existing Latin Empire.
— The "second Bulgarian empire" reached its peak under Ivan Asen II, tsar at
Turnovo [d. 1241]. Bulgaria ruled the whole north Balkans from Belgrade to
Adrianople and from N Epirus to the Danube mouth. A good soldier and
administrator, Ivan restored order, controlled the boyars, and acquired much of
Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, and part of Epirus (1230). See 1235, 1246.
— The first indigenous Bulgarian coinage is created during this reign.
Thrace: Theodore went on campaign against the Bulgarian tsar John Asen II
(1218–41) in 1230, but was defeated at the battle of Klokotnica (located on the
road between Adrianople and Philippopolis), and captured and blinded. The
Bulgarians soon conquered Didymoteichon and many other towns in the
southern Maritza or Evros valley; cf. Nicol, Epiros I, 109–11. Theodore was
succeeded as ruler of Epiros by his nephew, Michael II Komnenos Doukas.

The Bulgarian victory over Epiros at Klokotnica (near modern Haskovo) in 1230
extended Bulgaria’s rule west to the Adriatic at Dyrrachion. The marriage of John
Asen's daughter to Theodore II Laskaris of Nicaea and the creation of a Bulgarian
patriarchate in 1235 mark the apogee of Bulgarian power in this period.

In an inscription on a white marble column in the Church of the Forty Martyrs at

Trnovo (Bulgaria), the tsar of Bulgaria told of the results of his victory in this
“inflated” style; “I, John Asen, in Christ God the faithful Tsar and Autocrat of the
Bulgars, son of the old Tsar Asen … set forth on a march upon Romania [ie
Thessaloniki] and defeated the Greek troops, and I have captured the Emperor


himself, Theodore Comnenus, with all his boyars [nobles], and taken all the
countries from Hadrianople to Durazzo, the Greek territory, as well as the
Albanian and Serbian territories. The Latins [Franks] have kept only the cities
round Tsargrad itself, but even they have become subject to the power of my
Majesty, for they have no king but myself, and only thanks to me have they
continued their existence.” —Vasiliev 1928

3. Eastern Anatolia: Alâeddin Keykubad or Kay-Qubadh of Rum, allied with the

Ayyubid (Egyptian) prince Ashraf, defeated Jala ad-Din, the Khwarizm Shah of
Iran. In this campaign Kay-Qubadh ends the Seljuk dynasty of Erzurum and
annexes its domains. He was to be the last of his line to die (1237) in
independence. Cf 1231: Mongols.
"With order and tolerance of all races and religions established, agriculture
and mining activity revived, … to foreigners Turkey [i.e. Rum] seemed one of
the richest of countries" (Encyc. Brit. 15th ed. p. 944). Cf next; also AD 1232:
Sultan Han; and 1243.

4. Caria, SW Asia Minor: The Çardak han or caravansary (fortified rest house) is
just outside Cardak, east of Denizli on the left side of the Denizli-Afyon road.
According to the seven-line inscription above the door, the Han was built by
order of one Esedettin Ayaz bin Abdullah el Sahabi by his freed slaves in the time
of Alaeddin Keykubat. It appears to have been completed in 1230 in the month of
Ramadan (source: Denizli Tourism website:; accessed 2010).

1230-35: Western Mediterranean: Spanish Christians (Aragonese) —first

mention of Aragon in this chronology—conquer the Balearics from
the ‘Moors’ (Almohads): Majorca falls 1230 and Ibiza in 1235.

r. Prince Manuel Angelos Ducas: younger brother of Theodore I Doukas and ruler
at Thessaloniki, 1230-ca. 1237. He reigned under the domination of his father-in-
law Tsar Ivan of Bulgaria. In 1233 he restored relations between his state, known
to us as the "(ex)Empire of Salonica (Thessaloniki)", and the empire of Nicaea.
His brother John succeeded him to the throne, 1237-42.

Manuel Dukas, son of John Dukas, was Regent of Thessalonica (1230-37), +1241;
1m: ca 1216 Efimia, dau. of Stephen Nemanja the ‘Veliki-Zupan’ or senior
chieftain of Serbia; 2m: ca 1225 Maria, dau. of Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria.

The Aegean: Greeks on various islands revolt against their Italian rulers.

1231: RETURN OF THE MONGOLS: They complete the destruction of the

Khwarizm Shahdom in Iran (1231) and briefly settle in Azerbaijan, 1231-
42. See below: 1236. Also in 1231: Mongols conquer Diyarbakir in
Mesopotamia, briefly ending Ayyubid rule (resumed 1244).


E Aegean: Vatatzes reconquers (Latin-ruled) Lesbos, Chios, Samos and the
neighbouring islands (Gregoras, cited in Treadgold 1997: 963n). See 1233-35.

According to Vacalopoulos (1970: 37, 43), this period saw the first stirrings of a
Greek nationalism.
There does seem to have been a stirring of Greekness or Hellenism; but was it
nationalism? - At any event Vacalopoulos notes that John III Ducas Vatatzes was
prepared to use the words ‘nation’ (genos), ‘Hellene’ and ‘Hellas’ together in his
correspondence with the Pope. John acknowledged that he was Greek, although
bearing the title Emperor of the Romans: “the Greeks are the only heirs and
successors of Constantine”, he wrote. In similar fashion John’s son Theodore II,
acc. 1254, who took some interest in the physical heritage of Antiquity, was
prepared to refer to his whole Euro-Asian realm as “Hellas” and a “Hellenic
dominion”. (What Vacalopoulos does not examine is whether, like the Latins,
they also called their Aegean world ‘Roman-ia’. See earlier under 1204: Imperii
Romaniae.) Cf Acropolites’ “Hellenic land” under 1248.

Sicily, Florence and Genoa: The first gold coins minted in the Latin West
for many centuries.* This signalled the re-emergence of the Western kingdoms
from ‘semi-barbarism’: 1. the AUGUSTALE of Frederick II of 1231: mints at
Messina and Brindisi, 2. the FLORIN of Florence; and 3. the GENOVINO of
Genoa: both appeared first in 1252. Cf 1270s, 1284 (Venice).

(*) The Eastern Empire had produced light-weight gold coins in Italy until the
late 700s; as did the Lombards of Benevento. The last gold coins in the Latin
West had been minted under the Frankish king Louis (d. 810) (Porteous p.56).
Also Byzantine gold coins (nomismata) had continued to circulate in southern
Italy until after the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy (1071).

The Byzantines were still issuing the gold hyperpyron at Nicaea and then (after
1261) at Constantinople. From 1285, however, they will switch largely to silver for
their locally minted coins.
- Silver coinage was minted at Trabzond [med. Trebizond] from the time of
John I (acc. 1235).
- The first Seljuq gold coins appear in 1233. They had to compete with the
currency of Baghdad [now a minor state], the Ayyubids of Cairo, Aleppo [also
Ayyubid] and Florence (the florin, from 1252); all were accepted throughout the
sultanate of Rum (T Rice 1961: 110).

Ruler of Epiros: Michael II Komnenos Doukas, reigned ca. 1231-ca. 1267/68.



Turkish Rum: Building [1229-32] of the Sultan Hani, the great fortified
travellers' inn, east of Konya, west of Aksaray, on the Konya-Akasaray road that
runs south of the great lake Tuz Gölü.
This karavansarai is the largest or one of the largest, the “most splendid”, of
its genre (4,500 sq.m.: 67m x 67m) (Freely 2008: 170). Sultan Alaeddin
Keykubad I built Aksaray Sultan Han in 1229/32. With its buttresses, turreted
towers and sturdy walls, it has the appearance of a fort on the outside (details at

Between 1201 and 1243 nearly 30 fortified rest houses—karavansarai or ‘han—

were erected along the Anatolian high roads for the protection of travelling
merchants. See also 1253-54.

West-central Asia Minor: Turkmen bands were operating freely on the borders of
Byzantium, i.e. in Phrygia, in the valley of the upper Simav Cayi, the ancient
Makestos, east of the Byzantine fortress outpost of Calamus, west of modern
Kutahya, a Seljuk possession since 1182 (Langdon p.23).
- To locate Kutahya, draw a line east from Edremit, Greek Adrymittium, to
intersect with a line south from Iznik (Nicomedia).

1232/34: North-east China, lower Yellow River Valley: combined Mongol

and Song (southern Chinese) forces attack the Jin/Chin; plague kills one
million people in three years. The Jin/Chin used bombs and rudimentary
guns ("fire lances") against the Mongols. "Fire lances" were tubes containing
spears that were fired out by gunpowder.

Above: A Genoese galley.

1. The caesar Leo Gabalas of Rhodes, encouraged by the Venetians, revolts
against Anatolian Romaic (Nicaean) overlordship. Gabalas was de facto a vassal


of Venice (Akropolites, trans. Macrides p.248). See next, and 1233-35.

2. John Vatatzes’s navy was still rather weak. In 1233, during an expedition to
recover Crete from Venice, he lost “30” galleys, which must have been over half of
his navy, and in 1234 he failed to capture Rhodes (LBA p.24). See next, and cf

There is no record of Greek Fire still being used by the Byzantines in the late
period (LBA p.341). Either the knowledge of how to make it had been lost in 1204
or perhaps the ingredients could no longer be obtained. Cf 1249 – Egypt.

East Aegean: Vatatzes notionally recovers Rhodes from the local Greek ruler, Leo
Gabalas. Leo recognises Vatatzes’ suzertainty but also signs a pact with the
Venetians of Crete (Setton p.52; Treadgold 1997: 724).

The Nicaean Emperor John III Vatatzes besieged Latin Constantinople (1235) in
alliance with the Bulgarian Tsar John Asen II. The latter sent 25 large galleys to
help Vatatzes in the siege of Constantinople. The city was saved by the
intervention of a (smaller) Venetian fleet. A second attack in 1236 also failed
(LBA p.24; Treadgold 1997: 724).

1234: Pope Gregory IX establishes the Inquisition in Languedoc [Toulouse

etc: in modern-day southern France] in order to destroy the Cathar
"heresy". Catharism was effectively dead in western Europe by 1300.

1a. – Renewed pact between Nicaea and Bulgaria: Vatatzes’ 13 years old son,
Theodoros II Doukas Laskaris, the future Emperor in Nicaea, acc. 1254, marries
11 yrs old Elena, 1224-ca. 1254, dau. of Ivan Asen II, Tsar of Bulgaria; and

1b. - The Bulgarian patriarchate at Trnovo reverts to Orthodoxy (rejecting Rome),

and, under this treaty, the Nicaeans recognise its independence or “autocephaly”.
Bulgaria had broken with Rome in 1232, with the concurrence of the Eastern
patriarchs; the treaty now supplied political recognition (Obolensky p.314;
Norwich 1996: 197).

1c. Ivan and Vatazes jointly besiege Latin Constantinople.

Formerly Latin Thrace was apportioned between Nicaea and Bulgaria, leaving
the Latins only Constantinople, which held out against a Nicaean-Bulgarian siege
(1235-36). Nicaea now ruled the Gallipoli peninsula and the Thracian littoral


west of the city (ODB ii: 1094; Norwich 1996: 197; Treadgold 1997: 724).
During this siege the prince of Achaia, Geoffrey II, came to the aid of the Latin
Empire with 100 knights, 800 archers and six vessels (Wikipedia, 2010 under

Moorish Minorca paid tribute to Aragon (Spain) but remained effectively


Italian painting: Bonaventura Berlinghieri's altarpiece of Saint Francis is

painted (1235) in the Italo-Byzantine style, which is characterized by a
strict formality, a linear flatness, a shallow space, and an emphasis on the
spiritual. Cf 1236, 1245, 1291, 1297.

Thrace: With Bulgarian aid, the Nicaeans under Vatatzes launch a “massive”
campaign against Latin Romania (Langdon’s word: 1992 p.39); but they fail to
take the capital. The Latins from Achaia sent aid.
The Latins prevailed on land and at sea: the Ventians captured 25 Greek galleys
including the flagship (Setton et al., History of the Crusades, 2005: 219).
The sources mention some Turkish mercenaries serving on the Nicaean ships
during the attack on Constantinople (Langdon, note 175).

1235-36: South-west China: The Mongol general Kuoduan Hequ started to

attack the region of Sichuan with the Chengdu plain. The occupation of this
region had often been an important step for the conquest of the south. The
important city of Xiangyang, the gateway to the Yangtse plain, that was
defended by the Song general Cao Youwen, capitulated in 1236.

Seljuqs attack the Crimea and establish a protectorate over Sudaq. Trebizond and
Genoa has hitherto dominated the Crimea.

Al-Andalus/Castile: On 29 June 1236, after a siege of several months,

Córdoba of the Almohads was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile,
during the Spanish Reconquista.

"Still one Europe, not two": - 'The Madonna and Child' by the Italian artist
Berlinghiero of Lucca, died by 1236, now in the collection of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art NY, is one of the outstanding examples of Western art influenced
by Byzantium. Image at: But see 1245:

1236-43: MAJOR MONGOL INCURSIONS. By 1238 they will defeat the

north Russian principalities and in 1239 occupy Georgia and raid into old


Armenia. Ani was sacked in 1239. They will sack Christian Kiev in 1240;
and then smash through Poland and Hungary 1241-42. The corps based in
Azerbaijan is directed into Armenia and then eastern Asia Minor, where
they attack the Seljuks of Rum (1242-43), who accept tributary
status. The whole of Georgia and Armenia also submit to the Mongols.

1236-48: The south of Spain: rise of Castile. Christians under Ferdinand

III of Leon-Castile advance along the valley of the Guadalqivir, taking
Moorish Cordoba 1236 and the capital Seville 1248. This effectively
brought the Reconquista to its climax, if not quite its end. They also
advance to the east coast, taking Valencia 1238 and Murcia 1243. + 1238-
39: in Grenada, beginning of the building of the Alhambra (“red castle”).

1237-38: In winter: The Mongols cross the Volga into Russia. Riazan was
stormed on 21 December 1237, then Moscow (a minor town or large village
at that time), and on 8 February 1238, Vladimir.

r. John Ducas, nominal ruler at Thessalonica, claiming the title of emperor. His
father Theodore, who was blind [see above 1230], had recently been released by
the Bulgarians and proceeded to depose his brother, the Despot Manuel
Komnenos Dukas. Being blind, Theodore called his son ‘emperor’ and ruled in his
name from the nearby town of Edessa (Treadgold 1997: 724). See 1242: capture
of Theodore and deposition of John Ducas.
Epirus was ruled separately by Michael II Komnenos Dukas, nephew of Manuel
and Theodore.

Baldwin II of Courtenay [Baudouin II de Courtenay], last Latin ruler in
He began his personal rule only after the death (1237) of his father-in-law,
John of Brienne. Baldwin travelled in Western Europe seeking financial and
military aid for his precarious throne. To obtain funds he sold a large part of the
(imagined) True Cross and other sacred relics to Louis IX of France and at one
time pawned his son to the Venetians. See 1240.
The realm which Baldwin governed was after 1240 little more than the city of
Constantinople. His financial situation was desperate, and his life was chiefly
occupied in begging at European courts.

(Or in 1237:) The Balkans: The Nicaeans under Vatatzes engage in war with the
Cumans* in the service of Baldwin. The Bulgarians join Baldwin and the Cumans
in an unsucessful attack on the Greek-held fortress of Tzurulum in eastern Thrace
(Norwich 1996: 197; Langdon p.21).

(*) The Kipchaks or Cumans, Greek: Koumanoi, known to the Russians as

Polovtsy, were a pagan Turkish people living in the Black Sea-Caspian


(Rumanian-Ukrainian) steppe. After 1241, they formed the core population of the
‘khanate of the Golden Horde’. Sulatn Baybars of Egypt, d. 1277, was an ethnic

ca. 1239:
Ioannes (John) Komnenos Kantakouzenos Angelos, the later pinkernes (Imperial
Butler) and Dux of the Thrakesion Theme for the Nicaean Empire (1244-49), +as
the monk Joannikios before 1257; m. before 1240 Eirene Eulogia Palaiologina
(*1218 +1284), sister of the future Emp Michael VIII Palaiologos., under ‘Kantakuzenos family’;
accessed 2010.

1239: Mongols sack Kars and Ani, capital of Armenia.

1239-41: The “Baba’i rebellion” in Turkish Anatolia. Nomadic Türkmen

bands, many of them refugees from the Khwarizmians and Mongols, try to
throw off the rule of the sedentary urban Seljuks. This left Anatolia
seriously weakened on the eve of another Mongol incursion (Langdon

1. Mongols sack Kiev, 6 December (note: in winter). They then proceeded against

2. (or in 1241) Nicaean naval campaign leads to the re-capture of Nicomedia from
the Latins. Akropolites says the Nicaeans lost 13 of 30 vessels they dispatched;
this is the only time he ever mentions the size of the fleet.

Islam: The young Rumi ("Mevlana"), the future famous Muslim mystic,
returns to Konya after studies in Aleppo and Damascus - became a mystic
c.1244; died 1273; wrote mainly in Persian.
When Rumi and his movement were established in Konya, the city was
still under the influence of Christianity, and the Greek language was
common among communities around the city. Thus the Sufis could not
avoid being influenced by the Greek culture and philosophy that were
promoted by the Christians. Rumi wrote a handful of his poems in Greek.

By 1240 there were many sets of trade routes across Seljuk Anatolia, all with
strings of hans (khans or caravanserai) or ‘fortified motels’ for traders and
travellers. Judged by the number of hans, the most important trade route
into the Seljuq capital Konya was the one that ran SW from Kayseri (map in
Nicolle 2008: 19).

By about 1240: The Latin West comes back to cultural parity or near
parity with the 'Greek' or Byzantine East: This is signalled by the


completion of Chartres cathedral, SW of Paris, an early highpoint in the

so-called “Gothic” style of Western architecture. Cf 1290.

1241: The Mongols smash through Hungary and Poland: Battle of

Mohi, east of Budapest, and Battle of Leignitz, NW of Cracow. The
army reached Cracow, already abandoned, on 24 March; it then divided
into two. By strange coincidence (or careful planning?), both victories were
won on the same day, 9 April 1241. Reconnaissance patrols were then sent
into Italy and Austria, and a Mongol detachment rode on briefly to the
Dalmatian coast at Spalato (1242). Thomas of Splatao describes their
armour as “made from layers of bull’s hide, usually thick, impenetrable and
very secure” (Sweeny 1980).
See below under 1242-43.

d. Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria. His rule extended from modern Albania and northern
Serbia east to the mouth of the Danube, and south to western Thrace and a
section of the northern Aegean coast, separating "Greek"-ruled Thessaloniki from
Latin-ruled Constantinople. But the Mongol incursion of 1241 seriously weakened
the Bulgarians. Cf 1242, 1246.

Europe: Having crossed the Hellespont, John III Vatatzes leads a Nicaean
invasion of the Balkans accompanied by the now liberated Theodore Angelus.
Vatatzes and the Grand Domestic, Andronikos Palaiologos, led the army
overland, while Manuel Kontophre led the fleet along the coast.
Old Theodore had been liberated earlier by the Bulgarians and assumed
effective control of the small Thessalonican despotate or “empire”; Vatazes
cunningly invited Theodore to Nicaea and arrested him (1241). Theodore went
back to Macedonia as Vatatzes’ captive; and there his John Ducas, the nominal
emperor of Thessalonica, submitted to Vatatzes. John accepted a demotion to the
rank of despot. A title also garnted to his younger brother Demetrius (Norwich
1996: 198). See 1246.

Vatatzes’ target appears to have been the important centre of Thessalonica, but
his attempts to capture the city through force or subversion failed and he was not
prepared for a protracted siege. Also there was news of a Mongol atck on the
Sultanate of Konya, which signalled danger to the Nicaean east.
The expedition was not a total loss as Vatatzes received the submission of the
Despot of Thessaly (as he now became), who agreed to give up the title
“emperor”, to recognise Nicaean suzerainty over his territory and to give Nicaea
control of the Aegean coast west to the Strymon River. Vatatzes became the sole
claimant to the heritage of the Byzantine throne (Nicol, Epiros p. 139; Bartusis,
LBA p.24). Cf 1246.


The Nicaean expedition was made up mainly of Cumans* with whom Vatatzes
had recently struck a treaty; they served in return for lands along the empire’s
Anatolian borders (Nicol, Epiros p. 138; Treadgold 1997: 725).

(*) Strengthening the defence in Asia: In 1241/42 a large mass of Cumans fleeing
from, or rather: fearful of, the Mongols were settled within Byzantine lands,
namely in the Meander valley and east of Philadelphia. The Byzantine Skythikon
regiment in John’s army would have consisted largely of Cuman allies in native
equipment, i.e. mounted archers. Bartusis notes that they participated in
Vatatzes’ abortive siege of Thessaloniki of 1242 (LBA p.26).
As pictured in Nicolle’s Eastern Europe (1988), a Cuman cavalryman wore a
pointed conical helmet and short-sleeved mail shirt, usually under a long, open
kaftan, and carried a bow and sabre.

The Limits of Mongol Power

It has been calculated that the Hungarian range-lands could provide for the
mounts of fewer than 80,000 warriors - indeed probably more like 40,000, -
clearly far below the strength of the Mongol army.
Thus the Mongol high command found itself in a position similar to that of a
commander of a modern armoured division running short of fuel. Further
advance to the west, into Transdanubia, would have made matters worse. It was
the habit of the Mongols to stop fighting in the spring and let their horses go free
to water and graze and to multiply so that they would be ready for war in the
autumn. This is the reason why in the spring of 1242 the Mongols withdrew from
devastated, overgrazed Hungary to the abundant pastures of the steppe in
modern Ukraine, where they could replenish and strengthen their herds, on
which their military power rested. —Sinor 1977.

Anatolia: Proceeding west from old Armenia and Iran, the pagan MONGOLS
INVADE THE SULTANATE OF ICONIUM. Rum’s neighbours, John III Vatatzes
and the king of Armenia, went (early 1243) to Kayseri to plan the defence.

In 1242-43 the Mongols invaded Seljuk territory, and although John III was
worried they might attack him next, they ended up eliminating the Seljuk threat
to Nicaea. See 1245-46.

In June 1243 the army of the Seljuk sultan Keyhüsrev or Kay-Khusraw II, r. 1236-
46, was crushed by the Mongol commander Bayju or Baidu at Kuse Dag or
Kosedag between Erzincan and Trebizond in NE Asia Minor, and the Anatolian
Seljuks passed under Mongol suzerainty as vassals. Bayju’s army pressed
on as far as Kayseri (Nicolle 2008: 23). Kay-Khusraw II fled to Konya and then to
Antalya, leaving his minister to come to terms with the Mongols. Cilician


Armenia also submitted to the Mongols, and Türkmen revolts broke out along
the Nicaean-Seljuk western frontiers. See 1245, 1256.
It seems that one decisive factor was the much larger number of light horse-
archers on the Mongol side. The Seljuqs had become acclimatised to Middle
Eastern warfare, and depended to a great extent on heavily armoured close-
combat cavalry supported by infantry (Nicolle loc. cit.).
As well as Latin mercenaries, Kaykhusraw had with him detachments sent by
various allies and vassals, namely Nicaea, Trebizond (his vassal) and Aleppo.
(Armenia withdrew from the alliance.) John Vatatzes contributed 400 lancers
(Bartusis, LBA). Qq Or Thedore II?? Cf Cassidy notes to Pachymeres p.114



From 1243:
Westward migration of the ‘Turcomans’ or nomadic Turkish tribes as a result of
the Mongol invasions. Cf 1261, emirate of Menteshe.
The Seljuq economy was destroyed, and a great epidemic followed the Mongol
invasion. Thus the migrants were frequently more like refugees than invaders
(Lippard 1984: 177).
After 1243 there was a no man’s land on the frontier between the Nicaea and
Seljuk lands; the Mongols penetrated no further west than Kayseri until 1256 –
see there.
Fearing the worst, Vatatzes set about strengthening his frontier defences.

German marriage alliance: Aged about 52, Ioannes [John] III Dukas
Vatatzes/Batatzes, Emperor of Nicaea since 1221, marries 12 years old
Constantia, Constance or Costanza [renamed Anna] von Hohenstaufen, the
illegitimate or ‘legitimised’ dau. of the Italo-German emperor Frederick II. Her
mother was briefly recognized as Frederick’s lawful wife and all her children were
thereafter treated as legitimate (Gardner 1912: 168). Cf 1246, 1250. Anna’s
brother Manfred was afterwards King of Sicily. Anna herself returned there in

Muslim mysticism: In Konya, d. Shams al-Din, teacher of the young Rumi.

The latter will found the Mevlevi order of whirling dervishes . . .

Palestine: An army of Khwarizmi Turks, fleeing from the Mongols, enters

Palestine as agents of the Sultan of Egypt. They sack Muslim-ruled
Damascus and Latin-ruled Jerusalem. The latter is nominally restored to
Muslim (Egyptian) rule, allies of the Khwarezmids.
The Latins tried but failed to recover Jerusalem. At La Forbie (Harbiya),
NE of Gaza, the French Count of Jaffa and Ascalon, Walter [Gauthier] de
Brienne of Jaffa, led a combined Syrian-Latin force of 11-13,000 men:
1,000 Crusader cavalry including Templars and Hospitallers; 6,000
Crusader infantry; 4,000 Syrian (“Damascenes”: rebel Ayyubid) heavy
cavalry and some Bedouin light horse (perhaps 2,000). They fought an
army of 11-16,000 troops led by an Egyptian (loyalist Ayyubid) general
Baibars*: 6,000 Mamluk (Egyptian) professional heavy cavalry and
10,000 Khwarezmids including many irregulars.
Walter’s army was all but totally annihilated (Bradbury 2004). The
Mamluks were able to hold off the Latin and Syrian knights while the
highly mobile Khwarezmi horsemen evaded them. Also Baibars seems to
have used more scientific tactics; Walter relied on the courage and
bravado of the all-out charge.
The battle marked the true collapse of Christian power in Outremer
(the Levant).

(*) Not be confused with the identically named Baibars who later became
Mamluk sultan.


Above: Note the absence of plate armour.

Demetrius Angelos Comnenus Ducas, aged about 22, succeeds his older brother
as Despot of Thessalonica under Nicaean suzerainty. See 1246.

Anatolia: Conflict between the sons of Kay-Khusraw, or Keyhüsrev, leads briefly
to the division of Rum into two competing princedoms (nominally under Mongol
suzerainty). Kilijarslan IV rules west of the Halys River - i.e. Konya and the
south-west: bordering the Nicaean realm: cf 1256; while Keykavus II rules at
Kayseri and ‘east’ (north-east) of the Halys River. Cf 1256.

1. Greece: The Epirotes under Michael II Angelos, Despot of Epirus, invade the
Frankish Duchy of Athens and Thebes. In response, the feudal overlord of the
duchy, the new prince of Achaia, quickly rides north with a force of “8,000
cavalry”, and the Epirotes withdraw (Nicol, Epiros p. 142).


2. Thrace: John III Vatatzes advances against the Bulgarians, captures

Adrianople, and takes NW Thrace. Impressed by this, the Greek population of
Thessaloniki, until now a small separate despotate or ‘empire’, open their gates
to him (December) (Setton 1976; Fine 1994: 156). This isolates the Latin
emperor in Constantinople.
When Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes campaigned near the city during his
invasion of Bulgaria in 1246, the local nobility conspired to arrest the despot
Demetrios and turn over the city to the Nicaean emperor.

Thessalonica, December 1246: Ioannes (John) III Vatatzes made a quick and
victorious advance through the central Balkans, during which he captured
Serrhai, Melenikon [Melnik: the region of the middle Strymon valley], Skopje,
Velessa [modern Veles: on the upper Vardar in FYROM] and Prilep, and entered
the city of Saint Demetrios (Thessaloniki) in triumph. He installed as its governor
the Great Domestic Andronikos Palaiologos.
Much of the "empire" of Thessaloniki was annexed, so that the Nicaean
frontier was carried to the Adriatic. And about half of Bulgaria was ceded to
John. To the south, the Wallachian (Vlach) principality of “Neopatras” (Thessaly)
was left independent until 1318. See 1248.
— The Vlach language remained widely spoken in what is now north-central
Greece well into the 20th century. All the Vlach groups use various words derived
from romanus (Roman) to refer to themselves: Români, Rumâni, Rumâri,
Aromâni, Arumâni etc. This can be confusing because the Greek-speaking
subjects of the Byzantine emperor also called themselves Romans (Gk Rhomaioi,
singular Rhomaios).

Peloponnesus: A long but finally successful Frankish-Venetian siege of Imperial
Monemvasia. (Monemvasia would return to Byzantine rule in 1259.)
Achaia was nominally part of the Latin Empire: Prince William II
Villehardouin [acc. 1246] was a poet and troubadour, and his court—at Mistra
from 1249—had its own mint, literary culture, and form of spoken French.
The Principality produced the Chronicle of Morea, a valuable verse history of
the Crusader States in Greece. Achaea's laws became the basis for the laws of the
other Crusader States, combining aspects of Byzantine and French law, and
nobles often used Romaic titles such as logothetes and protovestarios, although
these titles were adapted to fit the conceptions of Western feudalism (source:

1246-75: SE Anatolia: The Karamanid beylik (lordship, principality) was

established by the warlord Karamanoglu Mehmed Bey (an islamised Cilician
Armenian) in 1246. Bey = ‘chieftain or leader’. In 1256 the town Laranda, SE
of Konya, was captured and renamed Karaman. It became the capital of the
Karamanid state in 1275.


fl. Nicephorus Blemmydes, abbot, scholar and man of letters. In 1225 he declined
an offer to become Patriarch. Tutor to the dauphin Theodore, the future Nicaean
emperor (from 1254), Nicephorus wrote many prose works including an
interesting autobiography. He wrote on medicine, philosophy, theology,
mathematics, astronomy, logic, and rhetoric.
He wrote in 1264-1265 an autobiography in two versions (a rare literary genre
in Byzantium).

1. Epirus acknowledges Vatatzes as emperor; the Epirote ruler Michael II receives
the title of “despot” from Vatatzes.
— ‘Neo-Hellenism’: Acropolites chose the Pindos mountain chain in central
Greece as the boundary between Epirus and what Nicaean Greeks called “our
Hellenic land”, neatly disqualifying the Despotate of Epirus as potential Roman
(Byzantine) rulers (cited in M Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium under
the Comneni: 1081-1261, Cambridge 1995 p.528).

2. The Morea (Peloponnesus): The Byzantine outpost at Monemvasia briefly falls

to a Frankish force: cf 1259. William II de Villehardouin succeeded in effecting
the conquest of Laconia, with the reduction of the fortress of Monembassia or
Monemvasia. After a three-year siege by Venetians and the French prince of
Achaia, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, the ‘city’ (kastron, ‘fortified town’)
surrendered because of famine.
A year later (1249), perceiving the strategic importance of the hill of Mystra, in
the mountains west of ancient Sparta, he raised a castle, the ruins of which
survive to this day, on its summit (Andrews et al. 2007).

3. The Genoese briefly seize Rhodes from Nicaea; they were expelled after a few
months (NCMH 1999: 427).

Spain: Ferdinand II of Castile takes Muslim Seville. The Almohads had

abandoned Spain in 1228-29, leaving the local Muslim lords to their fate.

Morocco: The Banu Marin clan - hence "Marinids" - capture Fez. See 1269.

1. 'Seventh Crusade': Louis IX of France sails to Cyprus where he winters (1248)
before proceeding (1249) to Ayyubid Egypt.
Egypt would, Louis thought, provide a base from which to attack Jerusalem,
and its wealth and supply of grain would keep the crusaders fed and equipped.
He takes the NE port of Damietta and penetrates along a main waterway into
the Nile delta; there the French are blockaded by Egyptian galleys and defeated in
1250 (surrender 6 April). This was followed by a coup in Egypt: the Mamluk
leaders killed the last Ayyubid sultan; Louis was freed by them in return for gold
(Setton et al. 2006: 761). See 1250.
One reads that "60,000" French and others were defeated by "70,000"


Egyptians and Turks. Keen 1999: 126 wisely prefers a figure of just 15-25,000 for
the number of combatants in Louis’s army. The Muslims deployed Greek Fire or
something similar against them. Significantly, the Egyptians launched their
Greek Fire (if it was that*) not using force-pumps or siphons in the old Byzantine
manner but in earthenware pots hurled from catapults. Joinville: "This was the
fashion of the Greek fire: it came on as broad in front as a vinegar cask, and the
tail of fire that trailed behind it was as big as a great spear; and it made such a
noise as it came that it sounded like the thunder of heaven. It looked like a
dragon flying through the air. Such a bright light did it cast, that one could see
all over the camp as though it were day, by reason of the great mass of fire, and
the brilliance of the light that it shed."

(*) Interestingly there is no evidence that Greek Fire was still being used by the
Imperials themselves in the late period (LBA p.341). Either the knowledge of how
to make it had been lost in 1204 or perhaps the ingredients could no longer be

2. William [Guillaume] II moved the capital of Achaea to the newly built fortress-
town of Mistra, near Sparta, in 1249. Lurier p.23 calls him the “most celebrated
prince of Morea’s history”.

Crossbowmen and Archers in Western Armies

As will be seen, on some estimates, crossbowmen comprised as many

one-fifth of an army; the true figure is more like one in eight. In English
armies, the proportion of longbow-archers was higher.

According to earlier writers, in the French army which landed at Damietta

in Muslim Egypt in 1248, out of a total of 50,000 men, 5,000 (one tenth)
were crossbowmen. Modern writers prefer a total figure of about 20,000
in all, and crossbowmen may have numbered as few as 2,500.
French vs Flemish: The French army of the Comte d'Artois, which was
defeated by the Flemish at Courtrai (‘Battle of the Golden Spurs’) in 1302,
and which also allegedly numbered some 50,000 men, supposedly
included 10,000 French or foreign cross-bowmen (one-fifth), according to
earlier writers. Modern writers argue that the French at Courtrai were a
classic feudal army of only about 8,000; or even as few as 6,500! There
was a core of 2,500 noble cavalry, including knights and squires.
According to Clifford Rogers, they were supported by 1,000 crossbowmen,
1,000 pikemen and up to 3,500 light infantry, totalling around 8,000 - so
crossbowmen were only one eighth (Clifford J. Rogers, "The Age of the
Hundred Years War." In Maurice Keen, ed. Medieval Warfare: A History
136-160. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
At Crecy in 1346 the French army comprised some 12,000 [or 10,000]
heavy cavalry, 17,000 light cavalry retainers, 6,000 Genoese crossbowmen


[the chronicler Froissart says “15,000”], and more than 20,000 [or
14,000] militia levies who were inexperienced and poorly armed
[bracketed figures from Dougherty 2008: 164]. Total regulars: perhaps
35,000. If we omit the levies, the crossbowmen represented about one
sixth of the professional army.
The English army of Edward III at Crecy had 7,000 to 10,000 (a third
or more) archers (longbowmen) out of a total strength of 19,000 men. Or
perhaps 7,000 (up to 64%) in a total of 11,000 (Wikipedia, 2009, ‘Battle
of Crecy’). Alternatively 5,500 longbowmen (65%) in a total of 8,500
(Dougherty 2008: 164).

Primitive cannons were used at Crecy, but not to any decisive effect: "The
English guns cast iron balls by means of fire ... They made a noise like
thunder and caused much loss in men and horses ... The Genoese were
continually hit by the archers and the gunners...[by the end of the battle]
the whole plain was covered by men struck down by arrows and cannon
balls" (Villani).

At Poitiers in 1356 the French forces consisted of perhaps 8,000 heavy

cavalry, 8,000 light cavalry, 4,500 mercenaries including 2,000
crossbowmen, and possibly 15,000 militia levies. If one ignores the levies,
crossbowmen made up about one in ten. Another estimate of French
numbers is 3,000 crossbowmen, 500 mounted men at arms and 17,000
dismounted men at arms. If so, then about one in seven were
At Najera (Navarette) in 1367 the English under the Black Prince
defeated the French and Castilians. The Franco-Castilian totals were
6,000 ‘men-at-arms’ [meaning heavy cavalry], 4,000 jinetes [light cavalry
with javelins], 6,000 crossbowmen and ‘44,000’ other infantry. Let us
omit half the 44,000 infantry – the total of regulars then becomes 38,000
– crossbowmen making up about one in six.

1250: (a). d. Frederick II Hohenstaufen ‘the Great’ of Germany and “Sicily”

(i.e. S Italy and Sicily).

(b) fl. Albertus de Groot ‘Magnus’, German-Latin philosopher and

theologian, a Dominican monk. Born in Bavaria, educated at Padua and
Bologna, he taught in S Germany and at Paris. Teacher to Thomas

(c) (or 1252:) First Mamluk or “slave-soldier” ruler of Egypt. Cf 1260.

In March of 1250 the French crusader king Louis finally returned to
Damietta, but he was taken captive on the way there, fell ill with


dysentery, and was cured by an Arab physician.

The Battle of Fariskur was fought on 6 April 1250 between the French
Crusaders led by Louis IX and an Egyptian army. The French had been in
retreat following a failed siege of Al Mansurah. The Egyptians were
victorious, and Louis IX was captured along with his army and ransomed
in exchange for the surrender of Damietta, captured earlier in 1248 - the
only real achievement of the Crusade.
Image: There is a good line drawing of Mamluk cavalrymen in
Dougherty 2008: 36.
In May Louis was ransomed in return for Damietta and 400,000 livres,
and he immediately left Egypt for Acre, one of the few remaining
possessions of the crusaders in Syria. Meanwhile, the Mameluk soldiers of
Egypt revolted. Turanshah, as-Salih's successor, took control of Cairo,
creating a Mameluk dynasty that would eventually conquer the last of the
crusader territories. Cf 1252: Baybars.

Western knights c.1225: The helmet might be either a ‘great helm’

(cylindrical ‘head-pot’) or a simple rounded helmet leaving the face open.
Mail from head to foot. The main change since c.1180, besides the helm, is
the surcoat: a loose cloth outer-coat extends to below the knee. Shields are
shorter than in 1180; but still kite-shaped. + Lance and sword. (See
generally Hopkins 1996.)
The ‘great helm’ was never adopted by Byzantine soldiers , ie other than
by the Latin mercenaries employed by Constantinople; the Byzantines in
this period generally preferred the kettle-shaped brimmed war-hat.

The Balkans: Michael of Epirus invades Nicaean territory, taking Prilep and
briefly advancing into Macedonia. See 1252.

1251-65: Reign of Hulagu, Mongol prince, conqueror of Persia and founder

of the ‘Empire of the Il-Khans’ or Mongol-Persian “Ilkhanate”. See 1256.

The Balkans: Vatatzes’ last campaign was a major offensive against Epiros.
Leading a substantial army, he conquered west as far as Prilep and Ochrid (LBA
p.35). The subsequent treaty also gave him Dyrrachion. -Norwich, 1996: 200,
dates this to 1253.
Following an unsuccessful campaign against the Nicaeans, Michael II (Angelus
‘Nothos’) of Epirus is forced to cede the eastern portion of his domains (Thessaly)
to Nicaea. Dyrrachium also went to Nicaea.

1252: (a) The Italians begin minting gold coins (see above).

(b) Spain: Astronomers finish the Tabulae Alfonsinae, drawn up for

Alfonso X of Castile.


(c) Egypt: The Mamluk general Baybars, born a Kipchak Turk in Crimea,
seizes power in Ayyubid Egypt (or after 1260).

Territory in 1252
(after the map in Bartusis, LBA):

The Empire of Nicaea, having recaptured a large section of the Balkans –Thrace,
Macedonia and Thessaly - was already the strongest of the Christian powers in
the Aegean region.
In Europe it ruled a swathe of land from Epiros to S Bulgaria, running from (or
near) the Adriatic to the Thracian Black Sea coast. A notional line running
broadly east-west through Adrianople indicates the Bulgarian-Nicene border.
In Asia, Nicaea ruled the whole NW quarter of Anatolia.
The Latin ‘empire’ was a tiny rump, i.e. just Constantinople and the small
peninsular areas east and west of the capital.
Tracking anti-clockwise, Nicaea’s neighbours were: Bulgaria [cf 1253-56
below]; Serbia; a reduced Epirus (which before 1252 had extended through
Thessaly to the Aegean coast south of Thessalonica); the Latin principality of
Achaia ruling the whole Morea; various Venetian possessions in the S Aegean
including Crete; and the Latin Duchy of Athens (our east-central Greece). The
Sultanate of Rum, ruling three-quarters of Asia Minor, included mainland Caria
north of Romaic Rhodes until 1258 (cf 1253-54).

1. The army general Michael Palaiologos (aged 29)—the future Basileus in Nicaea,
1259-82 (restored 1261 to Constantinople)—marries Theodora Dukaina
Batatzaina, the emperor’s 13 years old niece. See 1256.

2. Venetian naval power was challenged in this period by Genoa. It took three
major wars with Genoa, the first in 1253-99, before Venetian maritime
supremacy was assured. Michael Paleologus would ally himself with Genoa (in
1261) in order to recover New Rome (Constantinople). Cf 1270s.
Compasses and charts began to be used in the Mediterranean by about this
time … see 1270.

Caria, SW Asia Minor: A great part of the Seljuq caravanserai (Tk: han) called
Akhan (ak-han) survives today just six km from ancient Laodiceia, present-day
Denizli City on the Ankara highway. The westernmost of all the caravansaries, it
was constructed by Karasungur bin Abdullah in 1253-54 when he was governor of
Ladik/Laodiceia (Wikipedia, 2010, ‘Denizli’; Freely 2008: 138). See 1258 – taken
by the Nicaeans.
The region was contested ground; but there was peace between Nicaea and
Konya, and the sultan wanted trade with Byzantium to be protected. Ak Han was
the westernmost point in a line of hans built in 1201-07. They provided strong-
points for the protection of goods and traders in an area where security was at a


premium (Hopwood, “Frontier” p.156). Cf 1256: Türkmen detain Michael

Palaeologus SE of Nicaea.

“The uç [“ootch”, frontier] was debatable [sic] land, under the control of nomadic
groups. Sedentarists [farming communities] could only be protected by the
presence of forts, to which they could retire on the arrival of the nomads, and at
which strong defensive forces could be concentrated. . . . East of Magnesia and
Philadelphia . . . Türkmen controlled the countryside: whoever controlled the
strong-points such as Laodikeia/Denizli or Philadelphia/Alasehir controlled the
surrounding area. . . . the cities [read: fortress-towns] at the heads of the valleys
were the crucial centres by which regions might be won” (Hopwood p.155).

1253/54: The Mongol prince Khubilai is victorious in southern China: he

outflanked the Song Chinese forces by capturing Dali (modern Yunnan).

50th anniversary of the capture of Constantinople by the Latins. The late emperor
John III had been 12 when it was lost.

1254-58: THEODORE II Ducas Lascaris,

emperor in Nicaea and Nymphaeum.

Son of John II Ducas and Irene Lascarina (herself the daughter of

Theodore Lascaris, d. 1221), Theodore II was aged 33 at accession. His
wife was Helena, eldest daughter of the Bulgarian ruler.

Bartusis calls him a “sickly vacillating scholar” (LBA p.35); but he lead
a vigorous campaign in 1255 (see there). He wrote two works on
natural philosophy, Kosmike delosis (Cosmic Exposition) and Peri
phusikes koinonias (On Physical Community), in which he brought
simple mathematical schemes to bear on elemental theory and

Greece: The general Alexios Strategopoulos was based at Serres in 1254, and in
the next year, he participated, along with pinkernes (Imperial Butler)
Konstantinos Tornikes, in a failed campaign against the Bulgarian fortress of
Tzepaina in the western Rhodope mountains. As a result, and because of his close
connection to the aristocratic faction around Michael Palaiologos, he was
removed of his offices (Wikipedia 2010, under ‘Alexios Strategopoulos’). See next.

Turkish Rum: The Flemish monk Willem Van Ruysbroeck (‘William of Rubruck’)


travelled east to try to convert the Mongols; on his return journey in 1255 he
passed through Eastern Anatolia (Rum). Writing 12 years after the Mongol
victory at Kosedag, he remarks that the Turkish sultan Kayka’us II, r. 1246-60,
had “no money [literally ‘without a treasure’], few soldiers and many enemies”
(quoted by Cassidy p.113). Cf 1256: Seljuq defeat near Aksaray.
Van Ruysbroeck also underlines that the great majority of the Sultan’s subjects
were non-Muslims, i.e. Armenians and Greeks.

The Nicaean army battles the Bulgarians for control of Thrace and Macedonia.
The struggle continued from the winter of 54/55 to winter 55/56.
In 1255 Theodore II’s army campaigned against the Bulgarians in the Rhodopi
mountains and captured the fortresses of Peristitza, Stenimachos [inland E of
Thessaloniki] and Krytzimos, which the Bulgarians had recently seized, without
encountering significant resistance. However, the imperial army faced
difficulties, since it reached (1256) Tzepaina in the western Rhodopes in mid
winter. The cold weather combined with the mountainous geographical
background of that campaign did not allow the army to stay there for long and to
carry out an attack.
Theodore II, ignoring the forthcoming winter and the severe weather
conditions, assembled a “large” military force in Adrianople (Gregoras states that
Theodore II assembled a much larger army than his father’s) and marched
(south-west) on Tzepaina. But the conditions and lack of supplies - possibly
reflecting poor planning - forced them to pull back (Savvas Kyriakidis, ‘The
Nicaean armies: Logistics, Weather and Geography’, online at
Akropolites mentions the presence of the servants of the soldiers (unarmed or
lightly armed auxiliaries) in the 1255 campaign of Theodore II in Tzepaina.

1. Asia: “In 1256 he [the 33 years old soldier and future emperor Michael
Palaeologus] … fled to the Seljuk court for refuge from Lascarid suspicions and …
served Konya as head of the contingent of foreign soldiers. -
“On the way across the frontier zone east of Nicaea, nomads had ambushed
him [and robbed him of all of his possessions]. The ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) chronicler
Acropolites described his captors. The Turkmen, according to him, >>lie in
ambush on the farthest frontiers of the Seljuks. Filled with irreconcilable hatred
against the Romans, they take pleasure in looting them and seizing booty<<.
Acropolites notes also that at the time Michael passed, they were particularly
rapacious, for Mongol pressure had set many tribes in motion. Such Mongol
pressure, exerted a number of times in the years of Michael's youth and
adulthood, had a decisive effect on the size of the nomadic population at the
western edge of the plateau” (thus Lindner; also Hopwood 1999 and Cassidy
In the SW, Türkmen controlled the countryside east of Philadelphia/Alasehir,
“and whoever controlled the strong points of Laodicia/Denizli and Philadelphia
controlled the surrounding area.” —Hopwood, 1999. - Cf 1280.


2. East-central Anatolia: On 14 October 1256 the Mongols under Bayju inflicted a

second defeat on the Seljuks near Aksaray, NE of Konya. Kayka’us II fless to

In 1256 the Mongol general Bayju asked the Seljukid sultan, Izzeddin Kaykawus
II, to assign him summer and winter quarters in Anatolia for his army and tribes
to settle in. This was after Hulagu Khan had ordered the evacuation of Arran and
Mughan plains to make way for the Mongol imperial army. The sultan rejected
Bayju's demand. The ensuing battle ended with the defeat of the Seljukid army
and their evacuation of the best pasture lands in the modern Tokat-Amasya area,
including the lush Kazova plain, inland SE of Sinope (Inalcik 1980).

Michael Palaelogus fought on the Seljuk side at the head of a unit of the sultan’s
Christian subjects. They were outfitted to look like Byzantine troops, which
confused the Mongols who were expecting to meet Turks. After the battle, in
which Michael killed one of the Mongol commanders, he returned with the Seljuk
commander to Kastamonu. The sultan fled to the Romaics; Lascaris welcomed
both him and Palaeologus, who was forgiven (1257) (Lippard 1984: 186-87). See

Now for the first time the Mongols advanced in strength to the Byzantine
frontier, where they remained for at least four months, through the winter of
1256-57. One detachment advanced as far as Denizli in the SW before the whole
force went into winter quarters, either in Paphlagonia (in the north) or perhaps
west of Aksehir (Philomelion) (Lippard 1984: 23).

This defeat created a situation even more dangerous for the Seljuks than the
earlier defeat at Kose Dag, as from this point onward Mongol troops were
permanently stationed throughout Anatolia, until 1335. Cf 1256 (Qaraman) and

3. Marriage of Georgios Mouzalon*, protovestiaros (chamberlain) of the Nicaean

Empire and megas stratopedarches or head of army logistics (murdered 1258),
to the 16 years old Theodora Palaiologina Kantakouzene, protobestiarissa, born
ca 1240. His position was responsible for the provisioning of the regional armies
(see Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies).
In 1261 Theodora will marry (2) Ioannes (John) Raoul Komnenos Doukas
Angelos Petraliphas, the new protobestiaros of Byzantium (dead by 1274). She
herself died as the nun Kyriake 6.12.1300.

(*) His brother Andronicus Muzalon was made Megas Domesticus or army
commander. They were from an undistinguished family, it being the policy of
Theodore II to raise novi homines (‘new men’) to positions of power and


influence (Nicol, Lady p.34).

1256-60: Powerful Mongol armies invade the Turkish sultanates of the

Middle East: they kill the Caliph and sack Baghdad (1258), and then
advance into Ayyubid Palestine. See 1260.

1256-61: r. Qaraman I, founder of the Qaramanid line of beys in south-

central Asia Minor. = Further decay of Seljuk rule.

1. The Adriatic: Michael II of Epiros vs Manfred, regent of German
(Hohenstaufen) Sicily-South Italy* and son of the late Frederick II. The
Germano-Norman Sicilians invade Epiros: Corfu is captured, along with several
mainland towns. Then peace was made with a marriage: see 1258; and ‘Sicilo-
Italia’ became the ally of Epiros (against Nicaea).

(*) Having crushed by force Papal claims to German South Italy, Manfred was
made “vicar” of the South in 1257 by the official German (Swabian) king of Naples
and Sicily, the five years old Conradin. Manfred was based in Sicily, Conradin in
Bavaria and Swabia.

2. Thrace: In the winter of 1256-57 Theodore II ordered a very large number of

carts from “the Macedonian lands”*, according to Akropolites, to assemble in
Adrianople. They would carry the Nicaean siege engines, as well as food supplies
for the campaign of 1257: see there.

(*) This was a reference to lower Thrace, not Macedonia as we know it. In earlier
centauries the name ‘Macedonia’ had been the name of a Theme (military
province) centred on the lower Evros (Maritsa) River; our Macedonia was called
at that time the Theme of Thessalonica (Treadgold 1997: 546).

fl. "Rumi" or Mowlana, born Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, greatest

Persian mystic poet. His nickname ‘Rumi’ (“Byzantine”) alludes to his
living most of his life in ‘Romania’ (Rum: Asia Minor). Born in Balkh, now
in N Afghanistan, he was the founder of the 'Whirling Dervish' order. He
settled c.1228 at Konya, seat of the Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor. Converted
1244 [aged 37] to mysticism. Prolific poet, writing mainly in Persian; died
"Rum" or Seljuk central Anatolia was at this time wedged between the
Mongol Ilkhanate and the Greeks-Nikaeans-Byzantines, with Cilicia or
Christian ‘Lesser Armenia’ as a small buffer state between Rum and the
Mamluks of Syria-Palestine-Egypt. Cf 1260.

1a. Theodore recalled general Michael Palaiologos from exile, giving assurances
for his safety and position. Michael was restored to his former position of Megas
Kontostaulos, chief of the ‘Frankish’ [Latin] mercenaries.


1b. Macedonia: Following incursions by the Epirotes, Theodore II Laskaris of

Nicaea sends his (now returned) general Michael Palaeologus to Macedonia with
an “inferior” body of troops. In a battle outside Vodena (Bodena, west of
Thessaloniki), Palaiologos led some 500 (sic!) troops: Paphlagonians, second-
rate Thracians and Turks, against the Epirote princeling Theodore (a bastard son
of the ruler Michael Ducas). Acropolites says that Michael’s only good soldiers
were “50” Paphlagonians. The Epitote force agisnt him comprised 500 picked
cavalry. Michael prevailed, and the Epirote Theodore was killed, but such minor
successes could not prevent the loss of most of western Macedonia (Setton 1976:
75; LBA p.35, citing Nicol and Angold). Cf 1259: Pelagonia.
The army led by Michael Palaiologos and Michael Laskaris in Macedonia
encamped in the countryside close to Bodena because that area was a good source
of fodder: Akropolites, I, 146.

Acropolites on the Fighting around Prilep, 1257

Note that a force of 500 men was considered large enough to operate in the field
on its own. Also it seems implied that the Epirote army of ‘the rebel Michael’
[Michael II Ducas] numbered up to 1,500.

“When we met [Acropolites was governor of the Prilep-Ochrid region in today’s

FYROM], we decided on the following: Michael Laskaris would take his entire
army, both the Roman [Byzantine] and the Scythian [Turkish] contingents, leave
the lands around Berroia – for it was there that he was encamped – set out for
Pelagonia [ = where today’s FYROM-Greece border runs] and take up a position
there. Likewise the skouterios [senior court official] Xyleas was to take his entire
military corps (that was quite a large number) and join with Michael Laskaris and
together they were to take up a position in the region of Pelagonia.
. . . The rebel Michael had laid hold of the surrounding territories and
fortresses; one only, Prilep, was wanting and he was pressing, as much as was in
his power, to bring Prilep under him. In this way it would be possible for him to
rule over the surrounding area securely. So, not long after, the renegade Michael
made his first attack on us [Prilep] with his entire army, and he made attempts
on the town by military means. . . . [Meanwhile the emperor] chose . . . Michael
Komnenos, giving him also an army from Macedonia which was very small in
size and worthless in quality. But Michael Komnenos could not object to the
orders he had been given and so, taking that paltry and unwarlike army, he went
to Thessalonike and from there, after crossing the Vardar, which the ancients call
the Naxeios, he joined Michael Laskaris.
… The skouterios Xyleas, who was near the town [Prilep] with the army which
was under his command, saw that the army of Serbs was plundering the land and
setting fires everywhere. He was a man ignorant in matters of war and with no
military experience at all, for he did not have spies at a distance so as to learn
from afar of the advance of the enemy, nor did he know how to array an army in
battle order. He released each man to rush against the Serbs as he wished. Since
their battle order had been broken up and they were few, they fell into the grip of
the Serbs, who were more in number, and they were caught. Some were put to the


sword, others were taken alive and carried off as captives.

. . . The renegade Michael, the despot—having exact information about the
Roman army, how many it numbered and that all except for a small part of it was
useless and worthless—, selected men from his entire army and, separating the
best from the rest – they came to 500 in number – he appointed his illegitimate
son Theodore general, and sent them against the Roman army. … He [Michael
Komnenus] armed himself, taking a spear and the military detachment which
was under Michael Laskaris and which came from Paphlagonia [Asia Minor] (this
alone was better than the others and capable of fighting, numbering 500 men)
and set out against the enemy. . . the Paphlagonians accompanying him engaged
in close combat with the others, man to man, and the renegade Michael's men
were routed at the end of the battle, while those of Michael Komnenos checked
them, taking captive more than 20 of the elite men and putting many others to
the sword. But Michael Komnenos' men were not able to drive them away
because they were very few in number.
. . . The renegade Michael attacked us [the town of Prilep] a second time. Since
there was a cessation of hostilities and he discovered that the imperial forces did
not have the strength to fight him in close combat, he surrounded the town with a
guard and set up siege towers. . . . The men who had planned this beforehand
opened the gates unopposed and the town of Prilep was taken in this way, not by
the excellence of the enemy soldiers, nor because of the place's lack of
fortifications, but because of the foolishness and disloyalty of the garrison. We
also were taken captive and became prisoner.” —Akropolites, trans. Macrides,
online at
2. The Venetians did not commonly sail into the Black Sea, which they left to the
Genoese; but in 1257 a fleet of 10 Venetian galleys, hired by the Latins of
Constantinople, briefly captured Mesembria on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria (D
M Nicol 1992: 186). See next.

(Or from 1253:) First Venetian-Genoese War. Cf 1295: gargantuan Genoese fleet.
The Genoese were defeated in 1257 and 1258. In 1261, they will take their
revenge by assisting Michael Palæologus to reconquer Constantinople, and
obtained from him Smyrna and Pera, and the monopoly of trade in the Black Sea
(Cath. Encyc. under ‘Genoa’). They developed markets rapidly on the shores of
this sea, the principal one being [from 1266] Caffa in the Crimea, and carried on a
brisk trade, exporting mainly slaves, wine, oil, woollens, and silks, and importing
from the Golden Horde skins, furs, wheat and other grains, and from the
Muslims Persian stuffs, etc. (But the export of Western gold and silver to the
Muslim states and the Byzantines was the main way in which the Italians paid for
Eastern luxuries: the deficit favoured the East. Cf Day in Laiou 2002.)

1. MONGOLS SACK BAGHDAD. Some say Hulagu led the largest army ever
fielded by the Mongols. A low figure is 90,000 and a high estimate 400,000
(Cassidy p.282, citing Smith and Saunders). As well as Mongols and Chinese, it
included Persians, Turks, Armenians and Georgians (Saunders 2001).


The city’s inhabitants were massacred: supposedly “80,000” people were

executed in 40 days (Freely 2008: 85). And al-Mustansir the (last) Abbasid caliph
was rolled in a carpet and trampled to death literally under the hoofs of the
Mongol cavalry. He was killed thus because a ruler’s blood should not be seen
being shed. Panic ensues in Ayyubid Syria and Palestine.

2. Greece: Michael of Epiros - Michael II Komnenos Dukas Nothos Angelos,

“Archon of Epirus and Aetolia*” - creates an alliance against Nicaea by giving
away his daughters: (a) Manfred of Sicily married Helena; and (b) William of
Achaia (in the Peloponnese) married Anna. ** Cf 1259: battle of Pelagonia.

(*) Aetolia is the region to the NW of the Gulf of Corinth, inland from

(**) Anna ‘Komneno-dukaina’, “Lady of Kalamata and Clermont”, d.1286;

1m: ca 1258 Guillaume (William) II de Villehardouin, Prince of Achaia d.
1278; 2m: ca 1279 Nicolas de Saint-Omer, Prince of Achaia d. 1294.

4. d. Theodore II Lascaris, Nicaean emperor from 1254. Known for his many
letters, orations and religious poems. The general Michael Palaiologus becomes
regent for Theodore’s eight years old son, emperor John IV Lascaris.
A few days after the death of Emperor Theodore II Doukas Laskaris in 1258,
Michael Palaiologos, aged 34, succeeded the influential bureaucrat and
general George Mouzalon (when the latter was murdered), becoming joint
guardian and regent for the eight years old Emperor John IV Doukas Laskaris
together with the patriarch Arsenios. The latter was co-regent in name only.
Michael was invested with the titles of megas doux (admiral) and, in November
1258, of despotes (“master”) (Wikipedia 2010, ‘Michael VIII’).

5. Last eastward excursion: East of Laodicea – not quite to Antalya, - the

Nicaeans carved out a corridor of territory from Turkish Rum [map in Nicolle
2008: 30]. It was held until 1261. Cf 1261, 1264, 1269: Miletus and Caria.


Above: Michael VIII.

MICHAEL VIII Palaeologus,
emperor of Nicaea and
(from 1261) Constantinople.

Following the death of Theodore, the Nicaean general Michael Palaiologus,

aged 34 in 1258, proclaims himself emperor, in formal terms co-emperor
with John IV Lascaris (aged eight). This effectively ends the Lascarid
dynasty. John’s sisters were to be married to Constantine Tich (Tikh) of
Bulgaria and Nicephorus I of Epirus.

Michael VIII Palaiologos was the son of the megas domestikos Andronikos
Doukas Komnenos Palaiologos and Theodora Angelina Palaiologina, the
granddaughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina

Wife: Theodora. Son: Andronicus, b. 1258, the future Andronicus II. His
daughters Irene and Eudocia married respectively John Asen II of Bulgaria


and John III Comnenus of Trebizond. Two of his "natural" (adopted or

illegitimate) daughters were married to the Mongol rulers, Nogaya/Nopai
and Hulagu, i.e. they joined their harems (cf 1281).

Michael's reign was taken up by his fight against Charles I, the Angevin
(French) king of Naples and Sicily, and against the despotate of Epirus. He
concluded treaties with the so-called ‘Tatars’ [Mongols and Kipchaks] and
Egyptian Mamluks in 1272. For support against Charles, he vacillated
between Venice and Genoa as allies.
Michael was also distinguished for his learning and he left an
autobiography (edited by H. Gregoire, “Imperatoris Michaelis Palaeologi,
‘De Vita Sua',” Byzantion, 29–30: 447–476 [1959–60]).

- Michael’s gold coin, the hyperpyron, had 15 carats; this would fall to 14
carats by 1282.
- The historian George Acropolites, aged 44, formerly tutor to Theodore
Lascaris, was appointed rector of the newly restored university. His History
covers events in the former Nicaean empire to 1261.

Lindner: “Michael VIII Palaeologus, who usurped the Byzantine throne in 1258,
found himself in possession of a pacific Anatolian domain. Its frontier began on
the Black Sea east of Amasra/Amastris* [Paphlagonia: in the centre of the
Anatolian Black Sea coast], cut west to the Sakarya [River: west of Ankara, NE of
Eskisehir/Dorylaion], followed the line of the plateau, excluding Eskisehir
[Dorylaeum] and Kutahya [Kotyaion]**, and then ran south over the Carian
highlands to the Dalaman Cay/Indus on the Aegean [the river that exits opposite
On Michael's accession there was peace in the east. After the recovery of
Constantinople, however, he neglected and even antagonised his Anatolian
subjects at a time when Turkish tribesmen and Seljuk successors were
beginning to look west to their fortunes, away from the increasingly threatening

(*) Amasra lies on the coast nearly at the intersection point of a line drawn direct
north from Ankara.

(**) That is to say: the Turks (the Sahibata clan: see 1270) held the valley of the
Porsuk River, which runs from Kutahya (Gk: Kotaiyon) to Eskisehir (Dorylaion).
Thus, just 15 years after the Mongol invasion had pushed Turkish adventurers
westwards, already the Nicaea-Dorylaion and Bursa-Kotaiyon regions
were borderlands. Cf 1265: the precursors of the Ottomans establish
themselves at Sogut, NW of Dorylaion.
And in the SW, the border was marked out by the mountains between
Laodiceia/Denizli in the (Imperial) upper Meander Valley and the (Turkish)
Dalaman headwaters. Cf 1261, 1264 and 1270: presumably the Inanj [Inanç]
tribe arrived in the upper Meander valley around 1261. Byzantium lost
Denizli in 1262. See also the map in Nicolle 2008: 30.


1a. Michael Palaiologos, aged 34, already a general, and soon to be co-
emperor, is appointed megas dux, admiral of the navy (Polemis p.157, citing
Pachymeres). See 1259.

1b. On the death of Theodore II, George Muzalon becomes regent for the boy
emperor John VII Lascaris. After just nine days Muzalon is assassinated in favour
of Michael Palaiologus, who takes the quasi-royal title of despotes (“master”).

2. Greece: Michael sends an army to Macedonia under the command of his

brother the Sevastokrator John and the new Grand Domestic Alexios
Strategopoulos. They wintered there, ahead of an attack on Epiros. As noted later
(see 1259), the expedition probably numbered some 6-8,000 men.

3. In December Michael is proclaimed co-emperor.

From 1258, Pontus: The destruction of Baghdad by Hulagu Khan in 1258

made Trebizond the western terminus of the Silk Road. The city grew to
tremendous wealth on the Silk Road trade under the protection of the
Mongols. It was by way of Trebizond that Marco Polo returned to Europe
in 1295. See 1297.

1. Asia Minor: At Nymphaeum, the military commander Michael Palaiologus is
proclaimed emperor; he was subsequently crowned jointly with John IV Laskaris
at Nicaea.
The menacing appearance of the Varangian Guard - “the axe-bearing Keltikon
[Celt-unit]” as the Romaic historian Pachymeres calls them - who accompanied
Michael dissuaded any adherents of John Laskaris from making an objection.
Michael himself called them the Engklinobarangoi, ‘Anglo-Varangians’ (Bartusis,
LBA pp.281, 283). See further below undr 1271-72. By this time —probably since
1204—they had ceased to have a battle-field role, their role being confined to
literal guard duties (Bartusis p. 273). They did, however, fight in or with the field
army as late as 1329, at Pelekanos: see there; presumably this was a one-off

2. Epirus: The despot Michael II Komnenus Doukas, seeking an alliance with

Manfred the German king of Sicily (who was being opposed by the Pope), gave
him his daughter Helen in marriage in 1259 and bestowed upon her Corfu as a
dowry (website Corfu-Xenos, 2010: Manfred sent 400 German
cavalrymen to strengthen the Epirote forces – see next, Pelagonia.

3. (cf 1259-61 below:) The Nicaean army under the Palaeologan emperor’s
brother, the sevastokrator John, and the Grand Domestic Alexius Strategopulus,
advances into the western Balkans against the Epirotes. They capture Ochrida


and many other towns in Macedonia and Epiros. The combined Nicaean force
marched from Thessaloniki west to Ohrid and then surprised Michael II and his
Epirote army at Kastoria (south-east of Ohrid). Michael was joined by his son-in-
law William (Guillaume) Villehardouin with Latin and Greek troops from Achaia.
The Epirotes and their Achaian allies pulled back (northwards), but soon the two
armies clashed at Pelagonia near modern Bitola and the Nicaeans prevailed (LBA
The Nicaeans went on to capture the Epirote capital, Arta. The Despot of
Epirus thereby lost a major part of his territories. Nicaea also received the
south-east quarter of the Peloponnesus from the Latins.

The Battle of Pelagonia, 1259

The Pelagonia region is transected by the western stretch of today’s FYROM-
Greek border.

The battle of Pelagonia in 1259 took place near present-day Bitola (Monastir) in
FYROM: the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’. The ‘Greco-Franks’ of
Achaia and their German ‘mercenaries’ were deserted by their Epirote allies and
suffered a disastrous defeat. Many of the princes and nobility were captured.
Held hostage thereafter by the Byzantines = Nicenes (in, it must be admitted,
some comfort), the Franks had to trade some of their conquests for their
freedom. In Villehardouin's case this meant he had to forfeit large tracts of
territory to the Byzantines including the castles of Monemvasia, which he had
only just captured (in 1248), and Mistra and the castle of Grand Magne [south of
Mistra] which he had only just built. —John Chapman, Mani: A Guide, online at; accessed September 2006.

The Allies

On the Epirote-Latin side at Pelagonia, the elite force consisted of 400 heavily
armed German knights sent by Manfred of Sicily. Pachymeres (Cassidy p. 39)
says Manfred sent fully “3,000” Germans but Akroplites and Sanudo agree on
400 (Cassidy, commentary p. 183). It will be noted that Germans fought as the
elite on both sides.
William/Guillaume led the local ‘Franks’, overseas Latins and the Greeks of
Achaia. The latter probably participated in substantial numbers because there
was a general feudal calling-out. Vlachs and Franks from Thessaly and Euboea
were in the allied force as well as the Franks of the Morea. There were also some
Sicilian troops and a few Turks. Again Turks fought on both sides.
In his autobiography, which is preserved, Michael Palaeologus writes
concerning this battle: “Along with them [with “the traitors to the Roman state”,
i.e., the Despot of Epirus and his associates] and their allies, who had as their
leader the Prince of Achaia, whom have I vanquished? - [Answer:] Alamans
[Germans], Sicilians, and Italians who came from Apulia, the land of the
Iapygians* and Brindisi, [and Latins] from Bithynia, Euboea, and the
Peloponnesus” (quoted by Vasiliev, p.472).


(*) This was the name of one of the ancient tribes of Apulia.

A fair guess is that, at the start, the allied Epirote-Latin force was probably larger
than the Nicaean army: perhaps as many as 15,000 (mainly light infantry) (cf
Geanakoplos 1959: 63-64).
— The Chronicle of Morea says William commanded “20,000 troops”: 8,000
“fully armed” (armoured)** or “first-class men at arms” and 12,000 “light armed”
or “on foot” (Setton 1976: 88; also Nicol, Epiros p. 179); but this seems rather too
high for this era, as Cassidy p. 184 rightly points out.
— Geanakoplos 1959: 65 and Runciman, Vespers p.46, suggest that the allied
Epirote-Latin army was initially somewhat larger than the Nicaean force.
— Noting that 400 knights were sent as reinforcements, William may have
commanded as few as 4,000 Achaian and Epirote knights (cf LBA p.37). If so,
then the bulk of the allied force (say 11,000) comprised lesser cavalrymen and

(**) Keen 1999: 191, 199 notes that Latin knights began using horse-armour
(“barding”) from the middle 1200s: mostly in the form of hardened leather, with
metal plates at first confined to the horse’s head and chest. The knight’s own
armour remained mainly mail, although some iron-plate armour is seen from
the mid 1200s, worn to protect the elbows, knees and shins. Full plate armour for
man and horse did not appear until the mid-to-late 1300s.

The Nicaeans

According to the Greek and French versions of the Chronicle of Morea, the
Nicaean force numbered “26,000”, made up of 8,000 cavalry and 18,000 foot
(Nicol 1957: 179; Setton 1976: 88; LBA p.37). One Western source says ‘8,000
foreigners, 12,000 mounted Greeks and 40,000 infantry’ (Setton 1976: 87). But
probably the majority were ‘mercenary’ cavalry, i.e. professional troops of non-
Greek ethnicity. The native ‘Greeks’ taking part in the campaign, probably more
like 1,200 in number, seem to have been mainly foot-archers. But possibly there
were a few Greeks on horses as they asssted the mobile Cuman and Turk units in
the preliminary raiding and skirmishing.
The totals here are not credible. The Palaeologian field army was as large as
perhaps 10,000 men at a later period, not including town-based garrison troops,
according to Treadgold (1997: 819). That indicates the upper limit. Lippard 1984:
16 proposes that at least 20,000 men were enrolled in 1259; but this too is surely
too many. Cf 1304.
According to the Greek and French versions of the Chronicle of the Morea, the
Nicene army included Hungarian and German mercenaries, and Serb and
Bulgarian horsemen, in addition to Turkish and Cuman cavalry and Greek
archers, the latter probably from Philadelphia. In addition there would have been
some troops drawn from the Greek garrison forces of Macedonia and Thrace.
The specific figures are: 2,000 Cumans; 1,500 Hungarians; 1,300 (or 500)
Turkish mercenaries (infantry); 600 or 1,000 Serbs and one detachment of


Bulgarians; “many” Byzantine (“Greek”) arche0rs; and 300 Germans (LBA p.37;
Heath 1995: 34). Total in round thousands: 6,000 men. Likewise Miller 1906
lists the troops on the Nicaean side thus: 300 German knights under the Duke of
Carinthia; 500 Turkish mercenaries; 600 Serbian horse-archers; 1,500
Hungarian horse-archers; “a large number of Anatolians [Romaics] accustomed
to fight against the Turks” [say 2,000]; 2,000 ethnic Cuman horse-archers; and
“a detachment” of Bulgarians. Total: perhaps 5,400+.
— The German knights were the elite troops. But it was the imperial
horse-archers, especially the Cumans and Hungarians, who proved decisive
(LBA p.38).

Bartusis and Treadgold guess that the Nicaean force numbered as few as 6,000
men including 2,000 Cumans, i.e. drawn from Cuman communities settled in
Asia Minor: Bartusis, LBA p.27; Treadgold in Harris 2005: 81. This may well be
an underestimate seeing that the Greek version of the Chronicle says there were
“27” cavalry allagia or allangia - detachments or troops or “companies” - on the
Nicaean side. That would be 9,000 cavalry if three allangia constituted 1,000
men; or even 13,500 if there were as many as 500 in each allagion.(**) The
‘Greek archers’ that are mentioned may have incudeed some cavalry, while others
were presumably foot-archers. If the foot archers numbered over 1,000, then we
have perhaps over 10,000 men in all (9,000 horse and 1,000 foot).

(**) The Chronicle of Morea, trans. Lurier p.207, says three “squadrons” made up
1,000 men, i.e. 333 per squadron. Or, according to the Pseudo-Kondinos of ca
1355, there were 500 men in an allagion (cited in Heath 1995: 14).

The Battle

The Cuman and Turkish horse-archers and Anatolian-Greek archers (probably

also on horseback) on the Nicene side spent a long time harassing the enemy
cavalry. On the allied side there was much “ethnic” tension* between Despot
Michael Angelos’s Greeks and Prince Guillaume’s Latins. The Despot Michael
Angelos’s bastard son John Ducas fell out with Villehardouin. Soon Angelos’s
Greeks became dispirited (Geanakoplos 1959: 71 ff). Some of the the frustrated
Epirote and Achaian Greeks departed, leaving the Latins - Germans and
Achaian Franks - to the mercy of the now larger Nicaean force. Others among
the Epirote and Achaian Greeks defected to the Nicaean side. So the number who
ended up fighting for Villehardouin must have been only a few thousand. Hence
Nicol says that Pelagonia “was hardly a battle” (Lady p.17). As we note below,
after just one failed cavalry charge by the Achaian Franks, the outcome was
decided by an arrow barrage from the horse-archers on the Nicaean side.

(*) Geanakoplos, p. 66: “As in antiquity, the Greeks still considered themselves
superior to the Latins, and on the whole tended to look upon the latter as
supercilious [i.e. patronisingly haughty, disdainful, proud], contemptible, and
heretical. Latin opinion of the Greeks, on the other hand, was even less
complimentary. In general the Greeks were regarded as devoid of moral scruples,


cowards, and schismatics.” In part the harsh judgment of the Latins reflected
their poor opinion of Byzantine military science which had always emphasised
subtle tactics and cunning rather than immediate pitched battles decided by
front-on lancer charges.

In the prelude John Palaiologos assigned to his heavy-armed troops

(“cataphracts”) the task of occupying the strong positions in the surrounding
hills, while, as we have said, he deployed his lighter-armed and more mobile
Cuman, Turk, and Greek archers in harassing the enemy on the plains with
sudden attacks and withdrawals.
The battle proper opened with a charge by the Frankish knights (Achaian and
German heavy lancers) serving on the Latin side against the German knights
fighting for Nicaea. The latter counter-charged. Initially neither side prevailed.
To break the impasse, Palaeologus ordered in his Hungarian and Cuman horse-
archers. Aiming at the horses, they cut down the enemy German
Latin-Peloponnesian knights and along with them the empire’s own
surviving German mercenaries: they were sacrificed. “Let [this] sin be mine”, he
says to the Hungarians in the Chronicle of Morea. —Lurier p.190.
Soon Villehardouin had his horse shot from under him and took to flight (one
imagines by commandeering another horse). Seeing this, his Frankish knights
followed him and the battle turned into a rout. The Nicenes carried out a
thorough pursuit. Most of the surviving Frankish and enemy German knights
were killed or captured, although many of the defeated rank and file managed to
flee home to Achaia (Nicol, Despotate p.182).

Diyarbakir, 1259. After an incursion into Syria and Palestine, the Mongol main
force returned east (in response to news of the death of the Khan), leaving a
garrison corps in Palestine (1260).
- As Mongol vassals, both the Seljuk rulers, the brothers Izzeddin and
Ruknuddin, were forced to join this campaign with their troops (Freely 2008:
85). On this occasion too, Bohemund VI de Poitiers, the prince of Antioch, newly
allied to the Mongols, fought on their side.
- There were two small Crusader states lodged ‘within’ the Ayyubid realm,
namely the Kingdom of Acre (under the Knights Hospitallers) and the
Principality of Antioch-Tripoli (Knights Templars). They mostly sided with the
Mongols. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, especially if he is not Muslim. –
See 1260 (point 4).

Nicaean victory over the Latins at the Battle of Pelagonia in Macedonia, near
Bitola (Monastir), east of Ochrid (1259): as already related, Michael VIII’s
brother John Palaeologus defeats the Epirotes and Latins under Guillaume


[William] de Villehardouin, Prince of Akhaia. Or rather, he defeats the Latins; the

Epirotes melted away before the battle was joined.
The Nicaean army then divides for two further campaigns: one force under
Alexios Strategopoulos takes most of Epirus, briefly capturing the capital Arta;
meanwhile John Palaiologos defeats the Latins of the Peloponnese and sacks
Thebes (LBA p.38). Following these successes, General Alexios, first, and then
Emperor Michael, re-enter Constantinople (1261).

The Chronicle of the Morea (trans. Schmitt, ed, Bury 1904 p.186) mentions that
in Constantinople the Varangian Guard had charge of the prison; they escorted
the Latin lords taken captive after Pelegonia back and forth.

1. Michael Palaeologus takes personal charge of the Nicaean army and invests
Constantinople but it holds out. Realising he needs naval support, Palaeologus
opens negotiations with Genoa (Norwich 1996: 209-10). See 1261.



2b. In Palestine, the battle of ‘Ain Jalud near Nazareth. The Mamluks of Egypt
beat off the Mongol garrison, the first time they were ever beaten: general
Baybars, an ethnic Kipchak Turk, becomes Sultan. Marvellous to relate, Turko-
Egyptian archery, and a feigned retreat, proved superior to Mongol archery.
The Mamluk sultan Qutuz and his general Baibars commanded perhaps 12,000
mainly ethnic Turkish troops (NCMH p. 616). Not counting their Armenian allies
and Syrian conscripts, the Mongols under Kitbuqa [Ked-buqa] numbered about
10,000 men, most of the army having been withdrawn to Central Asia following
news of the death (1259) in China of the Great Khan Mongke. Tschanz 2007
proposes that the total under Kitbuqa was 20,000.
From 1265, the Egyptians will commence the reconquest of coastal Palestine
from the ‘Franks’. See 1268, 1291.

In retrospect ‘Ain Jalud can be seen as one of the most important battles in
history, as it saved Islam. If Egypt had fallen, the Muslims would have become
subjects of a pagan power. The battle strengthened the Muslim side and
weakened the Christian side (the Latin enclaves were soon eliminated), ensuring
that the Mongols in the west would in due course convert to Islam rather than

3. Syria: In line with his alliance with Byzantium, the Mongol prince Hulegu or
Hülagü forced Bohemond VI, the Latin prince of Antioch, to install an Orthodox
patriarch, Euthymius. See next.



SW Asia Minor: Michael’s former host, the Seljuq ‘Izz ad-Din [Izzeddin] sought
refuge in Nicaea after his expulsion by the Mongols. He ceded Denizli/Laodikeia
to the Byzantines (Gregoras IV.2, cited by Hopwood, “Frontiers” p.157).

Asia Minor: In line with the alliance between Constantinople and the Mongol Il-
Khan of Persia, Perso-Mongol troops swept through the no man’s land between
Nicaea and the Seljuqs and briefly “pacified” the Türkmen tribes on the Byzantine
frontier (Lippard 1984: 197). See 1265.

“The alliance with Hulegu was crucial to Nicaea’s success on both fronts. On the
one hand, Michael was able to offset Hulegu’s ties with the Latins and prevent
any anti-Byzantine collusion between the two. On the other, he precluded a
Mongol invasion of his Asian provinces and re-established the equilibrium that
earlier existed between Konya and Nicaea. In one stroke Michael eliminated the
chief threat to Byzantine Anatolia and found an ally to subdue the Turkmens
[Muslim nomads], who constituted the only other threat to Byzantium’s security
in Asia Minor” (Lippard 1984: 197). Cf below: alliance also with Genoa.

2. Nicaea makes an alliance with, and extends commercial privileges to Venice’s

great rival Genoa (13 March 1261).* Total tax immunity: As a reward for naval
and financial aid in recovering the capital, Genoese traders received the right to
trade in all parts of the Romaic empire without taxes. Genoa was to provide up to
50 ships [later 60] for the emperor’s use, with the salaries and other expenses to
be paid by Byzantium (Geanakoplos 1959: 87; LBA p.39). Cf 1262-63:
Peloponnesian expedition.

(*) Interestingly, the treaty also provided that trading posts – consisting of a
loggia, palazzo, church, bath, and houses - were to be assigned to Genoese
merchants in Constantinople, Thessalonica, Aenos, Cassandria, Smyrna,
Adramyttion, and the islands of Crete [i.e. as soon as it was retaken by
Byzantium], Negroponte [Euboea], Chios, and Lesbos (Geanakoplos p. 87).

By the treaty of Nymphaion of 1261, the Genoese were invited into Byzantium in
the hope that they would set themselves up in opposition to the Venetians.
After negotiations, they settled at Galata, on the other side of the Golden Horn,
and founded a colony of their own that was governed by a podesta` (mayor).
Galata occupied the northern shore at the mouth of the Golden Horn. Over time,
the Genoese, who paid nothing to the Byzantine emperor, came to have
considerable control over all the trade of the Black Sea. The Venetians, too,
despite their initial opposition to the reestablishment of Byzantine government in
Constantinople, soon signed a treaty with the emperor (1265) by which they
regained their own quarter of the city, their harbour facilities, their complete
exemption from tax, and their administrative autonomy under a bailo of their


By 1263 Michael was paying the sailors’ wages for 60 Genoese warships, as well
as his own (Nicol, B&V p.180). Gibbon says Genoa had to provide 50 empty
galleys and a further 50 completely armed and manned by Genoese. Cf below,

3. Night of 24-25 July 1261: “800” Nicaean troops, most of whom were ethnic
Cuman horse-archers, under general Alexios Strategopoulos slip into
Constantinople (LBA p.27). Gregoars writes simply of of “800 Bithynian
soldiers”, which may mean Greeks. Cassidy p.300 proposes that the true
numbers in Strategopoulos’s expedition were probably several hundred elite
Cumans supported by (say) 600 less capable Greeks.

15 August: Quiet, restrained, elaborate but non-triumphal entry on foot to the

city by the 37 years old Michael VIII Palaeologus, entering by the traditional
imperial entry point, the Golden Gate, ie from the landward side, the south-west
point. His co-emperor from Nicaea, the boy John IV Lascaris, aged 11, is blinded
and imprisoned.

In July of 1261, as most of the Latins’ forces were fighting elsewhere - conducting
a raid against the Nicaean island of Daphnousia, - general Alexius was able to
convince the guards to open the gates of the city. Once inside he burned the
Venetian quarter - as Venice was an enemy of Genoa, and had been largely
responsible for the capture of the city in 1204. Michael was recognised as
emperor a few weeks later, restoring the Roman (Byzantine) Empire (Wikipedia,
2010, ‘Empire of Nicaea’).

His very first act after recovery of the ‘Queen City’ in 1261 was to march in an
elaborate procession, but on foot, from the Golden Gate, with the icon of the
Virgin Hodegetria, ‘She who shows [points] the Way’ (to salvation),* at the head,
to Hagia Sophia. There he and the entire people gave thanks to God. –Thus the
Greek Patriarchate, 2010, at:

(*) The Virgin holds Christ on her left arm and gestures toward him with her
right hand, showing that he is the way to salvation. The name ‘Hodegetria’ comes
from the Hodegon Monastery in Constantinople, in which the icon showing the
Virgin in this particular stance resided, from at least the 12th century onward,
acting to protect the city. The icon was believed to have been painted by St Luke

3. Constantinople: Founding of what would become the church of St Mary "of the
Mongols". The original structure dates from around 1261; it was added to or
rebulit in 1281-82, and named for the Byzantine former wife of the Mongol khan:


see there.

4. 1261-69: Menteshe Bey, a Turkoman or Türkmen* (nomad) leader, launched

the conquest of Byzantine ports and lands in south-western Anatolia,
establishing, under nominal rule of the Seljuk Sultan, the principality or
beylik of Menteshe. By 1269 he controlled the whole coastal area of Caria.
His capital was later (1280) at Milas/Miletus. - Hans Theunissen's doctoral
dissertation, "Venice and the Turkoman Begliks of Menteshe and Aydın" 1998,
formerly online at; accessed
2007; dead site 2010. See further under 1261 and 1269.
EB15 gives “ca.1290” for the foundation of the dynasty; presumably this was
the accession date of Menteshe’s son Mesud.

(*) ‘Turkoman’ can have two meanings: 1. a nomadic Turk living as a pastoralist;
and 2. a western Turk, as distinct from the eastern Turkish tribes.


Above: SW Asia Minor; modern Turkey. Buyuk Menderes = Meander River;

Bergama = Pergamon; Izmir = Smyrna; Manisa = Magnesia; Aydin = Tralles;
Milas = Miletus, etc, etc.

The Türkmen Beyliks

The principal dates listed here are variously accession dates or proclaimed dates
of independence as given by Nicolle 2008; K Ross at,


accessed 2008; and EB15 = Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th edn.

c.1280: Caria: Menteshe Beg: beylik of Menteshe. As noted above, this tribe had
begun its conquests in the 1260s under the Seljuks. In 1269 the Romaics
withdrew their military forces for a campaign in Europe, and by the end of that
year the Menteshe (briefly) controlled the whole coastal area of Caria,
including specifically the ex-‘Greek’ or Rhomaioi ports at Trachia, Stadia and
Strobilus. Stadia was the ancient Cnidus, modern Tekir, on the long peninsula
extending west between Bodrum and Rhodes. They were pushed back around
1280. The Byzantines very briefly retook Miletus (Tk: Milas) in 1294-95 (see
there); it became thereafter the Menteshe capital. Cf 1304: Expedition by the
Catalan Company: battle with Menteshe.

c.1286 or 1299: In the central west: Ya’qub Ali Shir, first Germiyan bey. But this
tribe had been active there since c. 1275 (Freely 2008: 112).
In about 1275-78 the ghazi chief Ertugrul, father of the Ottoman founder
Osman, had formed a small lordship at Sogut, 125 km east of Brusa, under Seljuk
- or more likely under Germiyan - suzerainty. This indicates where the Byzantine
borderland lay at that time. As it appears, the Germiyan bey Ya’qub first
established his seat at Kütahya, SW of Dorylaeum, in 1283-86 following the
execution of the Rum sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev [Kaykhusraw III]; but
Ya’qub’s independence was not formalised until 1299 (Nicolle 2008: 29, 49).

1292: In Paphlagonia: Yaman Jandar Shams ad-Din: beylik of Candar or Jandar. After
taking it from the Byzantines in 1291 (see there), Candar Bey set up his capital at
Eflâni, NE of Karabuk and west of Kastamonu. Candar then attacked Kastamonu
itself in 1309. His son Süleyman finally captured Kastamonu and Sinop in 1314.

1304, or ca.1308: Ephesus: Muhammad Beg or Mubariz ad-Din Ghazi, first bey of
Aydin. The first seat of the dynasty was at Birgi, SE of Smyrna-Izmir.
Turks, of whatever tribe, controlled parts of the region inland from Ephesus as
early as 1269. At that time the sub-tribe of Muhammad ibn Aydin were still a
member of the wider Germiyan tribe. The final military contest around Tralles
(the future town of Aydin) took place in the 1280s: see there. Emperor
Andronicus recovered, and brought in Greeks to repopulate, a devasted Tralles in
about 1282 but immediately upon his departure, the Turks captured it, along
with nearby Nyassa, definitively from the Greeks (c.1283-84).
In 1304 the empire sent the Catalan Company to recapture the region but
although they defeated the Turks they did not stay. When the Catalans departed,
the tribe of Aydïn Oghlu Muhammad Beg (Muhammad ibn Aydin), still in the
service of Germiyan, proceeded to capture Ephesus and Smyrna, in late 1304
(ODB i:707). The date of 1308 would be the date that he proclaimed his

See 1302: Failed relief expedition sent to Magnesia by the Emperor. 1304:
Expedition by the Catalan Company. Then c.1313: At Magnesia: Sarukhan Beg,
first Sarukhan Bey. The followers of the Sarukhan or Saruhan family took the


town of Magnesia or Manisa, inland NW of Smyrna, in 1313 and established a

lordship (Turkish: beylik), over ex-Byzantine Lydia. Ross and EB15 concur on

Emperor Michael rebuilds a Greek navy. See 1263, 1270.
He brought from the Peloponnese to the capital a colony of Tzakones or
Lakonians—children, women and men from a Greek tribe of the Morea—in order
that the men could serve as marines (“light-armed troops”) on his ships.
(‘Tzakones’ was both an ethnic tag and a functional title: Tzakones means ‘light
infantry, sentinels’ but also they were a tribe from the eastern Peloponnese, viz
Lakonia). This was also in part a move to repopulate the city. When not on board
ships, the Tzakones guarded the sea walls.
Also serving as marines were the Gasmouloi of the capital (English:
‘Gasmules’), the sons of mixed Latin-Byzantine marriages born during the Latin
occupation. “The Gasmules, whom the Byzantines call ‘two-raced’, are born of
Byzantine women to Italian men [mainly Venetians]. They derive their
zealousness in battle and prudence from the Byzantines and impetuosity and
audacity from the Latins” (wrote Pachymeres; quoted by Mirkovic 2001).
Under the Treaty of 1277 between Venice and the emperor, the Gasmules will
be awarded Venetian citizenship, meaning subjects of the doge (Nicol B&V

To row his galleys, Michael recruited as oarsmen “more than 1,000” Greek
(Byzantine) refugees (Geanakoplos 1959: 126, 130). That was enough for only
about 10 ships. Pachymeres (Cassidy p. 81) writes of “thousands” of proselontes
or oarsmen – if we read this as 3,000 then we have enough to man 20 ships. Cf
1262-63: 48 ships in a combined Byzantine-Genoese fleet.
The oarsmen were given substantial farms located at various sites around the N
Aegean littoral in return for naval service (Geanakoplos 1959: 126, 130; LBA
1992: 45-48 citing George Pachymeres, De Michaele et Andronico Palaeologis,
Bonn, 1835, vol. 1, p. 309. Translation in: Geanakoplos, Byzantium, 305.)

There were also significant developments in the army. To stabilise his eastern
borders, Michael converted the Greek highlanders of western Anatolia from
localised frontier militiamen into campaign troops. From paramilitary border
guards, they were transformed into full-time professional soldiers. Formerly
rural landowners, they now became town-dwelling pronoiar-soldiers (drawing
their income partly directly from the nearby farms that constituted their pronoia
and partly as salary from the treasury). But the effect was in fact negative: over
several decades (1261-1291) this weakened their economic and psychological
bond with the frontier and their morale plummeted (Bartusis LBA pp.54 ff). Cf
1265 and 1275.
Pronoiai developed into essentially a licence to tax the citizens who lived
within the boundaries of the grant (the paroikoi). Pronoiars (those who had been
granted a pronoia) became something like tax collectors, who were allowed to


keep some of the revenue they collected.

(*) The pronoiars were relatively high status town-dwelling professional soldiers
who drew their income from a ‘pronoia’ (grant) of rural land-taxes. Most but not
all were ethnically Greek; some would be Latins.
They did not own the farms but rather were the payees of the peasant-farmers’
taxes. A grant of a pronoia was a grant of revenue, not a land grant. Instead of
paying taxes to the central treasury, a nominated set of peasants paid money
direct to the pronoiar. Thus Kantakuzenos writes in the 1300s of those soldiers
“having incomes from villages” (quoted in LBA p. 163).

Rhodes was ruled by Byzantium.

1. Thrace: Byzantine troops take the Black Sea ports of Anchialus and Mesembria
from the Bulgarians (Lippard p.203). Also 1263: capture of Philippopolis (see
there). The Bulgarians were now pushed back to a modest realm south of the
Danube; about half of present-day Bulgaria came under Byzantine rule.

2. SW Asia Minor: Byzantine Laodikeia/Ladik/Denizli is captured by Türkmen.

Its conqueror, the Karamanid emir Mehmet Beg, bore the title “beg al-Uçi”,
literally ‘lord of the borderlands’. Here the ‘beg’ (bey) is ambiguous: it may signify
the office he held under the Seljuks or it may mean he aspired to be an
independent ruler. Later it became the title of the lords of Menteshe, Aydin,
Karaman and Germiyan. But when Mehmet wrote to the Mongol Il-Khan Hulagu
seeking recognition, the Mongols responded by directing their vassals the Seljuks
to send an army to suppress him. This was duly done (1262) by Mongol and
Türkmen troops led by the de facto Seljuk ruler, the pervane (chamberlain)
Mu’in ad-Din (Muineddin) Sulayman (Hopwood, “Frontiers’ p.157).
Mehmet’s son in law, Ali Bey, who had supported the Mongols in this dispute,
was then invested by Hulagu with authority over Ladik and the surrounding area,
which thus became an autonomous Turkmen beylik (Freely 2008: 91).
The period after 1262 sees the emergence in this region of the Inanj [i.e. Tk:
Inanç] tribe, at first loyal to Konya but increasingly independent, even
disobedient, in the 1270s. See 1278.

Europe: Having built up his army and navy, Michael dispatched his forces in
three partly successful western campaigns against: [a] Michael of Epirus (see
1264); [b] the Venetians in the Aegean Islands; and [c] William of Villehardouin,
Latin ruler in the Peloponnesus. As a result, Greek Constantinople recovered
much of the Morea, including Monemvasia and Mistra, i.e. the south-eastern
third of the Peloponnese; and Epirus became a vassal of Byzantium (1264). See
Most of Michael's troops seem to have been ‘mercenaries’ (foreign
professionals) hired for a term, including Turks and a large contingent of Cuman


horse-archers; but there were some native Byzantine regulars, including heavy
cavalry, headquartered near the capital, and various Byzantine irregulars from
Asia Minor (Geanakoplos 1959: 158; Treadgold 1997: 737, 819).

[a] Epirus: Alexios Strategopoulus marched to Macedonia against the Epirotes

but was defeated and captured. So Michael dispatched another army under his
brother the despotes John (LBA p.48). See 1263.
Meanwhile the Bulgarians invaded Thrace; but they were beaten back and the
Byzantines occupied (1263) Philippopolis [Plovdiv], Stenimachos and the Black
Sea towns of Mesembria and Anchialos (LBA p.53). Cf 1264.

[b] Aegean expedition: The protostrator (imperial cup-bearer or groom) Alexios

Philanthropenos took the new Genoese-Byzantine fleet with its Gasmule and
Lakonian or Tzakonian marines and attacked many of the islands held by the
Venetians. Cos, Naxos and Paros were captured and assaults were made on
Euboea (Norwich 1996: 220; LBA p.49, citing Pachymeres).

[c] The Morea: Mistra was handed over to Byzantium by William as part of the
treaty after his defeats, but then William broke the treaty by re-arming. Michael
sent an expedition of supposedly “15,000” men (a third were Turkish
mercenaries) under his brother, the sevastokrator or ‘imperial companion’
Constantine, the parakoimomenos or grand chamberlain Makrenos or
Makroenus and the megas domestikos [army commander] Alexios Philes. Their
troops comprised Turkish mercenaries and Greek troops from Magedon in Asia
Minor; they were transported to Monemvasia by Genoese ships. They marched
from there NW across the Morea towards the Latin capital of Andravida (in the
far west). But at Prinitza, SE of Andravida, in the NW of the Morea, Constantine
was defeated. Prinitza was near modern Vyliza, itself near Olympia (Geanakoplos
1959: 157; Lurier, Crusaders as Conquerors: The Chronicle of the Morea). See

Early 1263: The Byzantine expedition to the Morea/Peloponnesus (Monemvasia)

– comprised of ‘Greeks’ from Asia Minor and Turkish mercenaries - was carried
by Genoese ships, while the small native ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) navy, commanded by
Philanthropenos, recovered some Aegean Islands including Naxos from the
Venetians. Having ravaged the Cyclades, Philanthropenos occupied the southern
coast of the Morea (Lakonia) (Lurier, p.205).
-- The battle of Prinitza (west-central Morea): Constantine was on the brink
of controlling the whole Morea when his army was surprised and routed by—
according to one source—supposedly just “300” or “312” Frankish knights
(Geanakoplos 1959: 159, citing the Chronicle of Morea; Lurier pp. 207-208; LBA
-- The army sent to the Morea under the sebastocrator Constantine supposedly
numbered “15-20,000 men” (including 6,000 cavalry); or rather that was the
number when augmented by local Morean Greeks (“insurgents”) who joined in
on the imperial side. It is said that this included “5,000 Turks”. Bartusis (LBA
p.263) rightly discounts these figures, arguing that if the Byzantines really had


15+ thousand men at Prinitza they would have walked all over the 300 Franks.
Makroenus had earlier been informed that the emperor had authorized him to
hire one thousand more men as reinforcements. This may indicate that the
original expedition numbered of the order of only 2-3,000. Cf 1292, Ioannina.

[d] Soon after Constantine’s defeat on land, a Venetian fleet of 32 galleys fought a
Greek-Genoese fleet of 48 ships—38 galleys and 10 ‘cutters’ or saettie*—near
Spetsai off the NE coast of the Morea. As it appears, 13 of these galleys were
Byzantine vessels. The imperial-Genoese vessels were scattered, with casualties
of about 1,000 men, including a Genoese admiral, as against only 420 Venetians.
—Norwich 1996: 220, citing Martino da Canale. Geanakoplos, 1959: 153, thinks
that “1,000” is exaggerated; but it is just possible: 20 vessels only x 50 dead
(killed or drowned) = 1,000.

(*) Singular saettio: ‘darter, fast mover’.

Troop types in the late Byzantine army

(a) Stratiotai cavalry: armoured lancers. They wore medium armour and a long
triangular shield if from the western provinces; or a round shield if from
Thessaloniki, Constantinople or Anatolia;

(b) Kavallarioi knights: locally born Greco-Franks with heavier armour than the
Stratiotai and on larger horses;

(c) Vardariotai: light foot and light horse, including elite guards infantry
accompanying the emperor, and other light armed infantry, either Tzakones from
the Morea or Catalan mercenaries. Bartusis p. 279 explains the Vardariotai as
part of the retinue of the emperor, a bodyguard or kind of military police.
As pictured in Nicolle, Eastern Europe 1988, Byzantine guards infantrymen
wore a kettle-shaped war-hat and all-over mail (as far as the fingers and toes) and
they carried a small to medium-size (50-60 cm) round shield.

GO HERE for an icon of 1295 showing a saint wearing a ‘kettle’-style
helmet. His cloth outerwear conceals most of his armour; but where it
protrudes at his neck it appears to be lamellar:

(d) Light horse: Turkish allies, Cumans, Alans, and/or Tourkopouloi [see 1264];

(e) Infantry Kontaratoi: unarmoured spearmen; and

(f) Horse and foot archers. The bulk of the infantry were unarmoured archers,
although some archers are shown (in illustrations) wearing armour and shooting
from behind shields in Turkish fashion. – So says

O’Rourke: BYZANTIUM, RECOVERY AND RUIN 1220-1330 Also illustrations in


1262-67: Pisa vs Genoa: five naval battles - Settepozzi, Durazzo, Trapani,

Tyre, and St-Jean d'Acre - were fought across the Mediterranean, in which
Genoa was generally the loser.

1. In the Morea, Constantine resumes the offensive. But his Turks, who had not
been paid for six months, deserted to the Latin side. Constantine then returned to
Constantinople, leaving the chamberlain Makrenos/Makrynos and the general
Philes in charge.
The Achaians (Latins) and the turncoat Turks under William now came
forward to attack, and after a first skirmish in the far west near Andravida, the
Byzantines pulled back. The Latins followed and inflicted a major defeat at
Makry-Plagi in south-central Morea, NW of Mistra. Makrenos and Philes were
both captured. The Latins pressed on to Mistra, which they could not capture,
although they ravaged the district (LBA p.51; Norwich 1996: 222).
The Byzantine army, provoked by Villehardouin, was compelled to fight at
Macryplaghi—in the defile which leads from Megalopolis and Leondari to the
Messenian plain—where it was annihilated. General Macrinos (Makrynos) was
taken prisoner by the Burgundo-Achaean nobleman Anselin de Toucy, “lord of
Mottola” [Italy], who was William’s brother-in-law. Of Burgundian and Greek
descent, de Toucy was born in Achaea; Mottola was his Italian fief.
— This ended the Byzantine offensive in the Morea.

Makrynos’ forces included 1,500 Turkish mercenaries (who deserted to the

Franks) and about 2,000 Anatolians (Byzantines); there were also a few
Varangians on the imperial side, but probably only a small detachment acting as
a body-guard for the commander. Thus a plausible total is 4,000 men, or 2,500
once the Turks defected. It is notable that the Byzantines employed no Latins in
this campaign (Chronicle of Morea, cited by Lurier p.204; Bartusis LBA p.50.
Norwich 1996: 222 says the Turks numbered an unlikely “5,000”).

2. Thrace: Led by the despot John, the Byzantines re-captured all of the Thracian
towns, including Philippopolis/Plovdiv and the fortress of Stenimachos (modern
Asenovgrad or Assenovgrad,* immediately south of Plovdiv). This provoked the
Bulgarians, who in 1265 appeared in Thrace, supported by numerous ‘Tatar’
[Kipchak] mercenaries, and badly devastated the province.

(*) The fortress bears an inscription in Bulgarian, thus - "In 6739 [AD 1231],
Indiction 4, Ivan Asen, by God's will Tsar of the Bulgarians, the Greeks and
other peoples, installed Alexi Sevast [Alexios Sebastos] here in power and erected
this fortress". —Assenovgrad History Museum, “Assen’s Fortress”, at; accessed 2009.


3. SW Aegean: First real battle involving the restored Byzantine navy, a

defeat: naval battle with Venice by the imperial alliance of Byzantium and Genoa.
As noted earlier, a Venetian fleet of 32 ships intercepted 38 or 48 Byzantine and
Genoese warships (39galleysandmaking south for the Morea. The battle took
place off the island of Spetsai (Spetses, Settepozzi) near Hydra, south of Athens:
off the NE coast of the Morea, and was won by the Venetian side (Nicol B&V
p.180; Norwich 1996: 220). See next.

1. The Morea: With the help of Pope Urban IV, Michael VIII concluded peace
with his former enemies in 1263 and 1264 respectively. By the terms of the
treaties, the Achaian leader William II (Guillaume de Villehardouin) was obliged
to cede Mystras, Monemvasia and Maina in the Morea to the Byzantines. (In their
correspondence the pope addresses Michael as “illustrious Emperor of the
Michael VIII had relied on an alliance with Genoa against Venice and the Latin
states of the Aegean Sea, but in the end he made treaties with both Genoa and
Venice, seeking to maintain a balance of power advantageous to the Empire. —
Wikipedia, ‘Michael VIII’, accessed 2009.

2. The naval failure of 1263 caused Michael to lose confidence in the Genoese. So
he discharged about 60 Genoese ships whose sailors’ wages he was paying, and
sent them back to Genoa. He expelled the Genoese colony from Constantinople;
they were required to move to Herakleia, on the Thracian coast of the Sea of
Marmara (Nicol B&V p.180; Norwich 1996: 221). Cf 1265 – negotiations with

Serbia, western Kosovo: Famous mural paintings (frescoes) in the elegantly-
constructed monastery church of Sopochani, built for king Stefan Urosh I.
Interestingly, the apostle Philip and other ancient saints are painted beardless,
while Urosh himself and a procession of local bishops are painted with beards:
Urush has a very dark and quite full beard, and the bishops have full grey beards.
At this time the town of Rasa or Rasha was the centre of the Serbian domains,
and the region to the east close upon Bulgarian Nish was a borderland. The
intersection-point between Rascia/Serbia, Byzantium and Bulgaria lay SW of
Bulgarian Sofia-Serdica, i.e. between Bulgarian Sofia and Byzantine Skopje.
The southern border with Byzantium lay beyond the town of Prizren/Prishtina.
Skopje was the NW outpost of the Byzantines.

Constantinople: According to El-Cheikh, Ibn Jubayr says that the Byzantine
emperor rebuilt Maslama’s mosque in 455/1263 [sic: AD 1077?]. The mosque has
not survived.


The historian Ibn ‘Abd al-Zahir (d. AH 692/1291-92) states that while the
ambassador from Egypt was touring Constantinople with ‘al-Ashkari’ (“the
Laskarid”: Theodore II, d. 1258), they came to the mosque built centuries earlier
by Maslama. Saladin had wanted at one time to reconstruct this mosque, but the
Byzantines had refused. According to Ibn ‘Abd al-Zahir, God postponed this deed,
so that it would be God’s reward for al-Zahir, and a glory for his state. Thus, as
late as the late thirteenth century, and despite the recent destruction of the city
by the Latins, Constantinople’s symbolic importance had not diminished. —
Nadia Maria El-Cheikh, ‘The Islamic View of Late Byzantium’, at

1264: fl. Roger Bacon, English friar and philosopher. Between 1237 and
1245 he taught at the university of Paris. Otherwise he was based mainly in
Oxford. He wrote on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, optics, alchemy
and physiology.

1. Greece: Emperor Michael Palaiologos personally led a large force towards
Macedonia in a display of military strength that caused Epirus to submit to him.
The Despot Michael Angelos accepted the nominal suzerainty of Palaiologos and
agreed to strengthen the bond by dynastic marriages. This submission re-
constituted the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire. But the Latins still
controlled most of the Peloponnese, and the Venetians continued to hold Crete.
Meanwhile Bulgaria requests help from the Kipchaks or so-called "Tartars" of the
'Golden Horde'* in preesnt-day Ukraine-southern Russia; a Kipchak detachment
raids into Byzantine Thrace.

(*) The western-most of the four great khanates into which the Mongol Empire
broke when Kubilai ascended the throne (1260). Also known as the "Kipchak
Empire" because many of its subjects were Kipchak Turks. It was formed In 1242,
when Batu, son of Genghis, established his capital at Sarai, commanding the
lower stretch of the Volga River.

The Tatar incursion into Thrace

A joint Bulgarian-Tatar (‘Russian Mongol’) expedition invaded Thrace up to the

vicinity of Constantinople. They rescued the exiled Seljuk sultan Izz al-Din
(Izzeddin) Kaykaus II from Byzantine Aenos (Enez) where Michael had ordered
him confined (LBA p.53).
— Nogai, a general of the ‘Golden Horde’ (Kipchaks or “Tatars”), led 2,000 men
across the Danube, sending the Byzantine forces fleeing before him. Then, joining
up with the Bulgarians, he and the Bulgarian Tsar devastated the towns of
Thrace. Ainos, the Thracian town at the Aegean mouth of the Ebrus or Maritsa
river, withstood an attack by Bulgarians and ‘Tatars’ but the garrison (which
included Varangians: English-born élite infantrymen) chose to surrender
Izzeddin (Freely 2008: 90). See 1266.
— Marching back through Thrace, Michael has to flee from a raiding force of


Golden Horde ‘Mongols’ (Kipchaks), whom Kaykaus (the ex-sultan detained by

Michael at Aenus) had called to his aid. The Kipchaks rescued Kaykaus, but
Kaykaus’ own Turkish retinue of about 1,000 defected to Michael, and he
enrolled them as a regiment in the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) army under the name
“Turcopouli” (Treadgold 1997: 738).

Because of its location, Constantinople could not be bypassed by traders or

envoys plying between Egypt and the Golden Horde in Russia. Trade had to pass
through the straits controlled by the Byzantine emperor who could, and on
occasion did, detain envoys. One such instance occurred in 1265 when relations
between Berke, the khan of the Golden Horde, and Michael VIII Palaeologus
became strained to the point of open hostility. The probable cause was the
detention by the emperor of the Seljuk sultan `Izz al-Din Kaykawus
II who, out of favour with his Mongol overlord Hulegu, had fled to
Constantinople, where he was coolly received by Michael VIII, reluctant to
antagonize the Il-khan. `Izz al-Din was imprisoned until, in the spring of 1265 (or
more probably 1264), he was liberated by a coalition of the troops of Nogai
(Mangu) and Constantine Tech/Tich, tsar of Bulgaria. The Mongol troops then
ravaged much of Thrace and Bulgaria. —Denis Sinor, ‘Mongols in the West’
See 1266.

A detachment of the Varangian Guard was instrumental in freeing the former

Seljuk sultan Azz-ed-Din [sic: Izzeddin], when the Bulgarian Tsar ambushed the
Byzantine army and besieged them in the small town of Ainos in Thrace. In
return for Azz-ed-Din's freedom, the Tsar granted the garrison their lives and
allowed them to keep the town. A relief force arrived the next day and the
Varangians returned to a furious emperor, who had them flogged, dressed in
women's clothes and led on donkeys around the streets of Constantinople.
Source:, accessed 2009.

2. Caria: Emperor Michael’s brother John campaigns in SW Asia Minor. His

troops pushed the Turks out of the lower Meander or Menderes valley and re-
took Tralles, the modern Aydin, inland from Ephesus. He also took control of the
town of Magedon and the Kaistros or Cayster valley* (LBA p.57). See 1269.
In addition to Latins and Cumans, John’s army included ‘Greek’ troops from
Thrace, Macedonia and Asia Minor (LBA p.31, citing Pachymeres).

(*) From north to south the three key rivers of the Thrakesion region were the
Hermon or Hermos, the Cayster/Kaistros and the Meander. The Hermos
(modern Gediz) enters the Aegean near Smyrna. The Kaistros enters the Aegean
near Ephesus. The Meander enters the Aegean near Miletos.
Magedon, a town in ancient Lydia, lies north of the upper Hermos, near
Saittai/Saettae. Tralles lies inland in the Meander valley. –Cf notes to
Akropolites, trans. Macrides 2007: 153, 382.


3. Syria: Bar Hebraeus becomes Jacobite (Monophysite) maphrian [patriarch] of

the East.

Prince John governs the SW region of Asia Minor, trying to build it up; but when
he departs, the Türkmen reinvade. See 1265 and 1269.

“The reconquest of Constantinople was, in fact, a disaster for the empire's

Anatolian possessions, since with the transfer of imperial attention back to
Constantinople, the Asian provinces were neglected just as the Mongols
weakened Seljuq hegemony over the nomadic Turkmen tribes, allowing them
unrestricted access to the ill-defended Byzantine districts. Most of the
southwestern and central coastal regions were lost by about 1270.” —‘Anatolia’,
(2010): In Encyclopædia Britannica,

1. Marriage alliance with Mongol-ruled Persia: Upon his succession, Abaqa or
Abaka, 1265-82, second of the Mongol Khans of Persia (the “Ilkhanate”), received
(8 February 1265) the hand of Maria Despoina Palaiologina, the ‘natural’ and
adopted daughter of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, in marriage (Lippard
1984: 197; she was the daughter of his mistress, a Diplovatatzina). Hence “Mary
of the Mongols”, the latterday name of the Theotokos Panagiotissa, the
monastery and church she later built or rebuilt in Constantinople. See 1266.
The Mongols effectively governed as far as the borders of Byzantium, the Seljuk
king Ghiyath ad-Din Kay Khusrau III (1265–1284) being simply the nominal or
puppet ruler of all of Anatolia.
More formally, we can say that the Seljuks nominally ruled west of Caesarea,
while the Ilkhans imposed direct rule east of Caesarea. The intersection point of
the realms of the Muslim Seljuks, the Christian Armenians of Cilicia and the
‘pagan’ Ilkhans lay immediately south of Caesarea.

2a. The East: Emperor Michael, writes Lindner, “recalled troops serving in
Anatolia to deploy them in the Balkans. Future Anatolian operations were
undertaken by expeditions from Europe, not by local garrisons.
“To the populace, then, Byzantine military responses were tardy and manned
by soldiers sharing no ties with, and perhaps little care for, the land and citizens
to be protected. The military forces on the borders, the akritai [local militia], lost
their privileges and many consequently deserted. In 1265 Michael confiscated
lands held from the state by some akritai and replaced their revenues with a
pension of 40 hyperpyra (gold coins). He also tried to enrol the akritai in the
regular army. His brother John persuaded him to reconsider, but the akritai were
not convinced of their emperor's good intentions” (Lindner).

It was this mismanagement and neglect of the Anatolian borderlands


that in Pachymeres’ judgement ultimately caused the collapse of the empire

(Cassidy p.332).

2b. NW Asia Minor: As the Byzantine Empire continued the re-conquest of Latin
territory, Turks under Ertoghrul/Ertugrul—father of the Ottoman founder
Osman I—began their raids into Byzantine western Anatolia. Tradition says that
Ertugrul at first commanded just 400 horsemen or families (one family supplying
one horseman). Sogut* and Eskisehir (Dorylaeum) were taken (or settled) in 1265
and 1289 respectively [Fleet 2009: 118] (others say 1277). In 1265 Osman was a
boy aged seven.
Michael Palaeologus was unable to deal with these early setbacks due to the
need to transfer troops to the West.

(*) As the crow flies, Sogut is 60 km SE of Nicaea-Iznik or 125 km east of Brusa:

Cf 1302.

3. The West: Failed treaty negotiations: Byzantium’s attempt to strike a treaty

with Venice was thwarted (1265) by the doge Zeno's arrogance: he refused to
address Michael as 'emperor of the Romans' and insisted on maintaining his own
title (adopted in 1204) as 'Lord of a quarter and half-a-quarter of the whole
Romaic imperium' ["Quartae Partis et Dimidiae Totius Imperii Romaniae
Dominator"]. - Michael in retaliation gave (1267) Venice's rivals, the Genoese,
commercial rights which threatened Venice's own prosperity (Freeman 2004). Cf

4. Nikephoros I Doukas Angelos, the future Despot of Epirus (d. 1295/96),

married Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, Basilissa and later Regent of Epirus
(born ca 1244/50, died 1313).

5. Outremer (Latin Palestine): The Muslims under Baibars, the Mamluk sultan of
Egypt, take Latin-ruled Caesarea Maritima, the Hospitaller fortress Arsuf, and
Haifa. He razes Caesarea to the ground (NCMH p.618).

fl. "Sa'di", Persian poet and popular moralist. Populariser of the ghazal
form of verse. Born in Shiraz, studied in Baghdad, he became a wanderer
until returning to Shiraz in 1256. In this period the Khwarizmi Shahdom
was destroyed by the Mongols [cf above: sack of Baghdad 1258].

Territory in 1265-70

The leading powers of western Eurasia/North Africa were the post-Mongol

‘Golden Horde’ (Kipchak Empire), ruling west to modern Ukraine; the post-
Mongol Ilkhan Empire ruling west to Rum (Turkish Asia Minor); and the
Mamluks in Egypt. Among the Christian powers, the four strongest on paper
looked to be: Castile, France, Hungary and the Christian Roman Empire of the
Greeks (which we call Byzantium). The ‘German Empire’ had lost its unity and


become just a collection of small states.

The Roman (Byzantine) Empire was now centred on the Aegean, controlling
somewhat more territory in Europe than in Asia. The Greeks ruled the north-
western third of Asia Minor; part of the Morea; and much of the northern
Balkans—southern Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia—including a toe-hold as far
as the Adriatic. Constantinople also has suzerainty over Epirus (its vassal since
1262) and thereby the whole lower Adriatic coast.
A line from Skopje running east to Philippopolis (Plovdiv) and thence to the
coast at Burgas broadly indicates the N border. Serdica [Sofia] and Turnovo were
held by Bulgaria, while Skopje and Philippopolis were held by the Byzantines. In
other words, Byzantium held the bottom third of modern Bulgaria.
From west to east, the empire’s neighbours were: 1 Serbia; 2 the subordinate
Despotate of Epiros; 3 the (small) County of Cephalonia; 4 the Frankish or Latin
Principality of Achaia (= the northern two-thirds of the Peloponnese, bordering
Byzantine Morea); 5 the Duchy of Athens; 6 the principality of Wallachian
Thessaly; 7 Venetian-ruled Euboea and Crete; 8 the Venetian-ruled 'Duchy of the
Archipelago' in the Cyclades, west of Byzantine Rhodes: see 1269; 9 Bulgaria;
and, in Asia: 10 the Seljuq sultanate of Rum (subordinated to post-Mongol
The borders of Bulgaria and the Seljuk domains were about equidistant from
Constantinople, the Turks being slightly closer, namely east of Nicaea.

In Asia, comparing the position in 1265 with that in 1214, we see that Turkish
tribes have advanced west into the upper and middle Sangarius basin—the region
between Nicaea and Ankara—and now control, or at least they dominate, the
Dorylaeon [Eskisehir] and Amorium region. The Turkish-Byzantine border lay
just east of Nicaea on the western curve of the lower Sangarius River, or at least
that was the extent of the contested marchland between Byzantium and the Turks
of the Sahib-ata tribe.* On a positive note, the Byzantines controlled rather more
of Caria (SW Asia Minor) in 1265 than they did in 1214, albeit that Caria was
being threatened by the Turks of the Inanj tribe.

(*) Named for ‘Sahip Ata’ or Fakhr al-Din Ali, a leading official at the Seljuq
court; the beylik in question was established in the period 1265-75 by his sons,
hence “Sahipata-ogullari”.
Hopwood, “Frontier” p.155, lists the Byzantine frontier forts as: Leuke/Lefke
on the Sangarius River just east of Nicaea; Melangeia [Malagina], between Lefke
and Vezirkhan/Vesirhan at the curve in the middle Sangarius; Kabaia/Geyve NE
of Nicaea; and the sites named in the Ottoman chronicles as Cadirlu, Leblebeci-
Hisar [elsewhere glossed as Lubluce**] and Kara Çepis [Cadirlu and Kara Çepis
unlocated on my detailed map of Turkey, MO’R]. Turkish leblebeci ‘fruit/nut
market/seller’, hisar = ‘castle, fortress, citadel’; kara = ‘black, noble’.

(**) Or Lüblüce, located on the western slope of Mt Olympus, i.e. south of Bursa,
according to Nicolle 2008: 37.


Byzantium held the SW of Asia Minor until after 1267. But on the borders of Rum
and Byzantium thereafter, there would form various small but aggressive Turkish
ghazi* principalities, namely Germiyan [supplanting the Sahib-ata from 1278:
see there], Menteshe [see 1269: replacing the Inanj] and Aydin [inland from
Ephesus: see 1269, 1280 and 1282].

(*) Ghazi: ‘frontier holy-warriors’ or jihadists.

It is disputed whether the religious motivation of Turkish raiders was dominant

or decisive. Some would say that the idea of ‘ghazis’ is a later construct, proposing
that at the time the main motive for raiding was plunder. It is also argued that the
Turks gained much territory by ‘osmosis’: the Greek peasants preferred the
lighter taxation of the ‘infidel’, and were in many cases, because of that, ready to
change their religion.

1. The north: Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, anxious to make a peace
alliance, gave his other illegitimate or adopted daughter Euphrosyne (Eirene)
Palaeologina to Nogai, de facto* khan of the Golden Horde [Kipchak Empire], as
a wife. Nogai’s son by Euphrosyne, Chaka, will become tsar of Bulgaria. See 1298.

(*) He never formally assumed the title, serving in turn five khans who were his
nominal rulers.

2. d. Helena Doukaina, Manfred’s widow, Greek-born former Queen of the ‘Two

Sicilies’, 1258–1266.

3. The Crimea: Traders from Genoa arrived and purchased the town of Theodosia
from the ruling Golden Horde (‘Kipchak empire’). They established a flourishing
trading settlement called Caffa or Kaffa, which will virtually monopolise trade in
the Black Sea area and serve as the chief port and administrative centre for the
Genoese settlements around the Sea. An Italian outpost on the edge of the vast
Kipchak empire, it came to house ( - after the plague of 1347) one of Eurasia’s
biggest slave markets - exporting mainly Russians and other Slavs via the
Bosporus to Egypt.


With the recovery of Constantinople, there was, once again, a political and to
some degree economic reorientation toward Egypt. Of primary importance to the
Mamluks, and also important for the nexus of relationships between the
Byzantines and the Muslims, was the slave trade, which brought to Egypt slaves
(mamluk, ‘owned’*) for its armies from the Crimea through Constantinople.
Almost immediately after the recovery of the capital, Emperor Michael VIII and


the Egyptian sultan Baibars exchanged embassies regarding the importation of

slaves from the Black Sea. Laiou comments that Gregoras (Bonn ed.), 1:101–2,
records the Egyptians only needed to sail to the northern coast of the Black Sea,
i.e. to Kaffa, once a year, to procure slaves. —Laiou 2001.

(*) The mamluks or slave soldiers, many of whom were Kipchak Turks, were
slaves only in relation to the sultan; they stood far higher in social status than
free-born Egyptians, including other troops. —Daniel Pipes, ‘Military Slaves: A
Uniquely Muslim Phenomenon’, 2000; online 2010 at
Morrisson & Cheynet, in Laiou ed., 2002: 848, have collated the recorded prices
of slaves sold by the Genoese at Pera [Galata: facing Constantinople on the north]
(1281) and Kaffa on the north coast of the Black Sea (1289) and by the Venetians
on Crete (1300). For comparison: In these years the cost of a horse ranged from
12 to 91 hyperpyra (gold coins); median 25.

- Pera: median price for a slave: 20-23 hyperpyra. That is, same as a horse.
Highest: 31 for a “white” slave woman. Lowest: 6.5 for a boy aged 6-7. Some are
referenced as “white”; one was an Abkhasi.

- Kaffa: average 25-40 hyperpyra.

- Crete: median 20-22. Some are referenced as “Turks”.

(a) S Italy passes from German or Hohenstaufen to French or Angevin

rule: 40 years old Charles of Anjou, adjectival Angevin*, brother of the
French king, inherits the title ‘king of Sicily’ (and Naples) and conquers S

In this campaign Provencal, French, Flemish and N Italian troops under

Charles defeat and kill Manfred, the German king of Sicily, at Benevento.
Manfred’s troops were Germans, S Italians and Arabs, i.e. Italian and
Sicilian Saracens. Naples is chosen as the capital.
Angevin S Italy will become a major enemy of the Byzantines. See 1267,
1271, 1274.
The use of some plate armour – supplementing their mail hauberks -
by the German knights at Benevento was a novelty; it did not come into
wide use until the next century.

(*) The English branch of the family is called ‘Plantagenet’.

(b) Iberia: Aragon takes Moorish Murcia.

The Levant: The Mamluk Egyptians attack and conquer Latin-ruled inner


Palestine, the area NW of the Sea of Galilee: they take the Templar castles of
Safed [east of Acre], Toron [ESE of Tyre] and Beaufort [Beq valley: near the
intersection-point of modern Lebanon, Israel and Syria] (Nicholson 2001: 35).
The Latin realm is reduced to a coastal fringe. See 1268: Antioch.

1266-70: France briefly issues its own gold coins, but soon abandoned the
experiment. Cf 1285.

1. Treaty of Viterbo: Charles of Anjou, the French King of Sicily and S Italy,
strikes an alliance with Baldwin, the former Latin emperor (Fine 1994: 170).
Charles promises to help Baldwin retake Constantinople in return for lordship
over the Peloponnesus. Thus Achaia becomes a dependency of Sicily. The
Angevins (Franco-Italians) seize Corfu and move to replace the ‘Orthodox’
[Greek] Church with the ‘Catholic’ [Latin] one.
Fearing further moves from Charles, emperor Michael makes peace with the
Genoese, whose help he expects to need. They are allowed to re-establish their
colony in Constantinople, or rather: outside Constantinople, at Galata on the
northern shore of the Golden Horn, and to set up a trading post in the Crimea. Cf
— Feeling envious, the formerly hostile Venetians now decided to re-open
negotiations with Michael. Whereas earlier the Doge had addressed Michael
using the insulting form ‘Emperor of the Greeks’, he was now ready to return to
the correct title ‘Emperor of the Romans’ (Nicol B&V p.191). Cf 1268: trety

2. fl. George Acropolita or Akropolites.

His historical work, the Annales, embraces the period from the capture in 1204
of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade by the Latins to its recovery in 1261
by Michael Palaeologus, thus forming a continuation of the work of Nicetas
Choniates. It is valuable as written by a contemporary, whose official position as
great logothete [megas logothetes or chancellor], military commander and
confidential ambassador afforded him frequent opportunities of observing the
course of events.
In 1256 he had been made priator, a position which made him responsible for
the Nicaean armies based in western Macedonia. He is often the only source
available for particular battles, and gives detailed descriptions of campaigns and
other events (Encyc. Britt, 1911: Cf 1257.

1. Syria: 18 May: The Mamelukes under sultan Baybars capture Antioch from
the Latins (the crusader Principality of Antioch-Tripoli). They razed the city and
killed or enslaved the population, although Prince Bohemund was able to escape
(Setton et al. 2006: 577). Cf below: 1268-71.


As a result, in the north the Mameluke border now extended to just south of
Syrian Alexandretta, which was part of the kingdom of Lesser Armenia (Cilicia).
To the south, in Palestine-Lebanon, there were two remaining Christian enclaves:
the kingdom of Acre and the (reduced) principality of Tripoli.

2. Treaty with Venice: Michael Paleologus again permitted the Venetians into
Constantinople in 1268 although they were still at war with his Genoese allies,
and peace was concluded in 1270. The Genoese took part in these negotiations
more at the order of Louis IX of France, who needed their fleet for his ill-fated
crusade to North Africa, than out of conviction.
The emperor allowed the Venetians to return to the city in 1268, but the
Genoese retained their increasingly powerful base at Pera (Galata) and the
Venetian dominance of the Bosphorus was broken. The Italians could fight each
other in the Black Sea and the Aegean, but the treaty provided they must stay at
peace between Abydos at the entrance to the Hellespont and the Black Sea exit of
the Bosporus (Nicol B&V p.191).
— In place of permanent quarters in Constantinople, the Venetians were
required to rent houses, bakeries and baths in whatever part of the city they
— The treaty provided that Venice must not transport the troops of any other
power against the empire; Crete was left in Venetian hands as were their
outposts in the Morea.
— Durres [Dyrrhachium] in modern Albania was restored to the

Syria: The Egyptian Mamluks under sultan Baybars effectively end Latin
Christian rule in the Levant: destruction of Antioch/Antakya 1268 and
capture of the great castle Krak des Chevaliers 1271. Cf 1289.
In latter-day Arab historiography, Baybars is a greater hero than Saladin,
because the latter took a more accommodating attitude towards the West


1. Bithynia: Lindner writes thus concerning of NW Asia Minor: “By 1269

travellers [from Nicomedia] could no longer reach Pontic Heraclea [modern
Eregli] overland in safety, thanks to the Turkish nests along the [lower] Sakarya
River [which exits into the Black Sea west of Heraclea]. The town was accessible
by sea alone [i.e via the Bosphoros]. The Turkish occupation of the lower Sakarya
implies that by ca. 1280 the Turks had broken through the network of castles
erected [in the 1100s] by the later Comneni” ( - but others believe that Byzantium
held the lower Sakarya until after 1300). Cf 1291.

2. Caria: Disintegration of the empire in SW Asia Minor: The Menteshe-oglu


Turks under Menteshe Bey invade, or better: they raid, the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi)
ports in Caria [SE Asia Minor], namely Trachia, Stadia [ancient Cnidus, modern
Tekir: on the long peninsula extending west between Bodrum and Rhodes], and
Strobilus. Evidently this was just a temporary or partial irruption; permanent
Turkish rule was not established quite yet. Cf 1277-80. The Menteshe capital is
later (in the 1300s) established at Milas, ancient Mylasa: NE of modern Bodrum.
The despot John had campaigned against the Turks along the Meander River,
at Tralles [modern Aydin, east of Ephesus], and along the Cayster - i.e., NW of
Ephesus - and at Magedon. But as Vryonis (1971) notes, “the army, which
succeeded in an extensive reassertion of imperial authority in parts of Caria in
1269, was soon recalled to Europe and so the Turks re-entered” (1270). The
Meander valley was depopulated, the area of Caria to the south was completely
lost, and Tralles was destroyed (Pachymeres, "De Michaele Palaeologo", VI, 20
and 21, in P.G. [Patrologica Graeca], CXLIII, 929-34). Cf 1277-80 and 1278.
This was before an independent emirate was declared; formally the Türkmen of
Caria acknowledged Seljuk rule.

3. The Byzantines under the ethnic Italian admiral Licario/s recover the North
Aegean Islands from the Latins; also the Dodecanese islands in the SE Aegean
(Rhodes etc) - but Venice retained the Naxos islands. The effect of this was to
establish a notional line running diagonally through the middle of the Aegean:
Constantinople ruled the islands north-east of the line and the Venetians ruled to
the south-west.

4. Charles of Angevin (French) Sicily sets up an anti-Byzantine alliance with

Hungary and Serbia. See 1270-71.

1269: Africa: The Marinids of Fez take Marrakech and bring Almohad rule
to an end. As a result, there are three kingdoms in N Africa, all under
Berber dynasties: the Marinids of Fez (E. Morocco); the Zayyids of
Tlemcen (Algeria) and the Hafsids in Tunisia.

c. 1269-70:
The Capital: It was probably at this time that Michael, under the threat of
invasion by the Franco-Sicilian king Charles of Anjou, reinforced the sea walls of
Constantinople, creating a double-line of walls (Geanakoplos 1959: 129).

The Aegean: The Byzantine navy sailed to Negroponte, as Venetian-ruled
Evvia/Euboea was called, and laid siege to the town of Oreos. Bartusis notes that
this was the first opportunity to demonstrate that the empire did not need
Genoese help to wage sea battles. The fleet of 24 imperial galleys defeated a Latin
fleet of 20 galleys (LBA p.59).

1270: The earliest record of a sea chart, shown to Louis IX, king of France,


during preparations for the 8th Crusade - to N Africa. Cf 1275.

Above: The Aegean in 1265. Venice ruled Modon [Gk Methoni], Euboea
[Negropont] and Crete.

The East and the Aegean Region in 1270

GO HERE for a map of the Empire in this period:

In the East there were three great powers: 1 the Mongol-founded Khanate of the
Golden Horde or ‘Kipchak Empire’ which dominated in the north, from the lower
Danube and the Caucasus to beyond the Aral Sea; 2 the Mamluk sultanate of
Egypt and Syria; and 3 the Mongol Il-Khanate of Persia, ruling from our eastern
Turkey and Syria in the west to present-day Afghanistan in the east (map in
Nicolle 2008: 25).

The Byzantine empire, apparently restored to some of its old glory, now ruled
about half the Balkans and about a quarter of Asia Minor. On paper it looked as
strong as most states in the West, including Castile, France and Hungary.


Somewhat stronger-looking, however, was the German (“pre-Hapsburg”) Empire

which extended from Tuscany to Denmark (cf Times Atlas 1994: 88). But
Germany was really little more than a jumble of feudal fiefs owing distant
allegiance to a ruler on the Rhine.
In Greece, Byzantine Epirus was separated from Byzantine Morea by several
Latin principalities: the Latin (French or Angevin) Principality of Achaia, the
Latin Duchy of Athens and Venetian-ruled Euboea (Italian: Negroponte). Most of
the Aegean islands, including Rhodes, acknowledged Byzantine authority,
although Venice dominated the south Aegean, ruling Crete and the Naxos
-- In Europe Byzantium’s neighbours were: the Kingdom of ‘Sicily’ - Angevin
South Italy – with its capital at Naples [see 1271-72]; the small state of Serbia;
and several Bulgarian statelets.
-- On the Asian side, the upper Sakarya River was a disputed marchland; but in
broad terms Byzantium ruled east of a line from Amastris in western Paphlagonia
to just west* of Laodiceia in central Caria. As noted, Rhodes too was Byzantine.

(*) Others say that all of Caria was controlled by the Turks by 1269. Mehmet Beg
had captured Laodicia/Denizli during the 1260s.

The Turkish Karaman beylik (Iconium) and the Rum Seljuks (Kayseri) controlled
the larger part of Anatolia, both under vassalage to the Ilkhan Mongols of Persia.
Several ghazi beyliks were de facto independent, namely Karaman, and (in the
west, bordering Byzantium) those of the Inanj [ie Tk: Inanç] in Caria (the Inanç,
Inanj or ‘Inanch-oglu’ of Ladik/Laodiceia: Denizli) and (ca. 1275:) the Sahib-ata
in the Lakes region (inland central-west) (the ‘Sahibata’ of Afyon-Karahisar)
under the rule of the sons of the vizier Fahrettin Ali (Freely 2008: 92).** Also, in
the north, the Choban in the Ankara-Sinope region (the Choban-oglu of
Kastamonu). The region between Kutahya and Ankara was a no man’s land
contested between Greeks and and Turks. In the SW, Byzantium controlled most
of the valley of the Meander, but the Inanç ruled to the coast opposite Rhodes
(map in Nicolle 2008: 30).
Thus the weakened Seljuk sultan at Kayseri effectively controlled only the
north-eastern quarter of Anatolia. Cf 1271, 1280.

(**) ‘Sahipata’ was the sobriqet of the Seljuk vizier Fahreddin Ali ibn Husein
(Fakhr al-Din Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Abu Bakr).
A general idea at least of the relative distribution of the Turcomans on the
Byzantine frontiers can be gained from the no doubt exaggerated figures provided
by the Andalusi geographer Ibn Said, fl. 1263. [a] ‘200,000 tents’ of the Inanj or
Inanç in the Tonguzlu valley, ie around Denizli or Ladik, ancient Laodicaea =
SW; the far upper Meander River: see 1278; [b] ‘100,000 tents’ of the Choban in
the Kastamoni region and Paphlagonia = the central-north: see 1290; and [c]
‘30,000 tents’ of the Sahib-ata in the Afyon*-Kutahya (Cotyaeum): the west-
central region, SE of modern Eskisehir, NE of Afyon. Cf 1280-81: forerunners of


the Ottomans.

(*) Afyon or Afyonkarahisar: Greek Akroinon or Nicopolis; NW of the Great

Lakes Region. The beylik was named after Fakhr al-Din Ali [Fahreddin Ali ibn
Husein], better known as Sâhib Ata or Sâhip Ata, who held a number of high
offices at the court of the Seljuq Sultans of Rum from the 1250s until his death in
1288. His sons formed the ghazi outpost in ca. 1275.

Byzantium vs Charles of Anjou: Michael dispatches (1270) an army to the
Peloponnesus (Achaia) against the local Latins, and Charles sends forces to help
them (1272). It is not clear who the imperial commander was: possibly Alexios
The Byzantine army was a “large” one, says Geanakoplos, comprised of
Anatolian Greeks, Byzantino-Cumans and Turks, commanded probably by the
emperor’s nephew the Protostrator Alexios Philanthropenus. The Byzantine
troops slowly ravaged the Morea—for two years, 1270-72— but neither side
wished to fight head-on and so no major engagements took place with the local
Frankish barons (Geanakoplos 1959: 229; Lurier 1964: 261, n85). See 1271-72,
1272 and 1274.

1. Marriage alliance with Bulgaria: Maria, the daughter of Michael’s sister
Eulogia, is married to the Bulgarian tsar (Lippard p.203).

2. Muslim uprising in Anatolia against the pagan Mongols, i.e. local officials of
the Ilkhanids of Iran. The Mamelukes sent aid to the Anatolian Turks, but the
Mongols brutally suppressed the revolt (Inalcik p.6).

1271 = 200 YEARS AFTER THE BATTLE OF MANZIKERT, the disastrous defeat
that allow the first Turks to settle in Asia Minor. Cf 1280-81.

1. The W Balkans: An earthquake wrecks Byzantine Dyrrhachium (Durazzo); the
city is then occupied (1271) by the forces of Charles, the French (Angevin) king of
Naples. Charles posed as the pope's champion, claiming he was leading a crusade
against the schismatic 'Greeks' (see 1281).
In February 1271 Charles began to expand his Adriatic possessions by capturing
Durazzo, and he soon controlled much of the Albanian interior. In February 1272
he proclaimed himself King of Arberia or Albania and appointed Gazzo Chinardo
as his Vicar-General (Jacques 1995: 166).
1272: Epirus: forces of the King of Naples occupy Durrës (Dyrrhachium) and
establish the Kingdom of Arbëria, which is sometimes called, inaccurately, the
first ‘Albanian’ kingdom. The kingdom covered the land of Albania but not the
people of that name. The non-Slavic Albanians* were still in their highland
fastnesses and do not appear as historical actors until the 1300s. See 1280-81
and 1318.


(*) Traditionally scholars have seen the Albanian language as the

descendant of Illyrian, although this hypothesis has been challenged by
some linguists, who maintain that it derives from ancient Dacian or

2. The Varangian guards regiment, which no longer had a battle-field role, was
probably all but entirely English by 1272, when Michael VII specifically refers to
it as comprising Englinvarrangoi. See also 1272 below.
(Earlier, in the 12th century, we find Choniates and Scutariotes referring to
Inglinoi troops.) —Theban Tribunal Sourcebook, “Byzantine mercenaries”, at; accessed 2009.
The Varangians did fight in or with the field army as late as 1329, at Pelekanos:
see there; but presumably this was a one-off performance.

3. Palestine: The Crusader remnant at Acre receives assistance from the English
prince Edward; the Egyptian ruler Baybars arranges for an assassin to try to kill
Edward (this fails).

In these years there was a stable three-way alliance between Byzantium, the
‘Golden Horde’ and Mamluk Egypt.

1. Greece: King Charles of Sicily sends his chancellor Beaumont with 700 cavalry
and infantry to the Morea to aid the Frankish barons fighting against the
Byzantine expeditionary force. The Byzantines, based at Mistra, declined to
engage in open battle, and eventually Beaumont departed (Geanakoplos 1959:

2. Michael concluded treaties with the ‘Tatars’: the Ilkhanid Mongols of Persia,
and the Mamluks in 1272.
The Latin crusader enclaves at Acre and Tripoli, surrounded by Mamluk
territory, were tiny. And the Egyptians and Persians had only a very limited
knowledge of the rising Western powers, including the German Empire. So,
“despite the decline of Byzantium, the emperor was still considered [by the
Muslim rulers] as head of Christendom, the successor of Alexander the Great
of Macedonia and the chief protector of the Christian faith. Such perception was
demonstrated not only by the Mamluk but also the Ilkhanid chancery. However,
the Mamluks brought about an innovation: they recognised the concept of the so-
called Byzantine Commonwealth, an association of the Orthodox states with the
Byzantine emperor as its head”. —Korobeinikov 2004.

3. Date of Michael’s prostagma setting out the rights of his son Andronicus II as
co-emperor. He say that in various processions and at formal receptions the
emperors should be accompanied by several sets of guards: the axe-armed
Varangians and the sword-armed ethnic-Greek Paramonai (their first-ever


mention) with the paramilitary or court police called the Vardariotai, possibly
ethnic Hungarians or Hungaro-Greeks, leading the way (the last-ever mention of
the Vardariots) (Bartusis pp. 276, 279, 283).

Latin Armies

The size of North Italian armies may be noted for comparison with the
numbers cited below under 1273. Florence’s army at Montaperti in 1260
numbered some 15,600 men including 1,600 knights. The allied Guelf
army led by Florence at Campaldino in 1289 numbered about 11,600 men
including 1,600 cavalry. These were major battles, so in more ordinary
clashes the numbers must have commonly been under 7,000 (cf LBA

(Or 1275. Treadgold, State, p.740 prefers 1273:) Rebellion by ‘the Bastard’ John I
Doukas of Thessaly and the megas konostaulos or ‘grand constable’ (cavalry
commander) Andronikos Tarchaneiotes.
Against them, Michael sent a supposedly “large” army to Thessaly under John
Palaiologos and Alexios Kavallarios. They besieged John Ducas in his fortress
capital at Neopatras or Neai Patrai (modern Ypati). John escaped to Thebes and
borrowed 300 knights from his neighbour, the Latin ruler of Athens. Returning
with these, he surprised the Byzantines, still in position, and they withdrew.

For once we have good information on the composition of a late Byzantine

expeditionary army, even if the supposed number (“30,000” men) is not credible.
The cavalry, who were drawn from NW Asia (Bithynia and Paphlagonia),
included Greeks as well as Byzantino-Cumans and the Tourkopouloi: Turko-
Greek Christians, the sons of Greek mothers and Turkish fathers. The infantry
units were ethnic Greeks drawn from Thrace and Macedonia. If 300 knights
could make them withdraw, it would be better to believe that the expedition
numbered more like 3,000 soldiers. See further discussion this under 1275
At the same time the fleet—73 ships under Alexios Philanthropenos, carrying
Tzakone and Gasmouloi marines—sailed to attack Latin shipping off Greece. It
was at anchor off Demetrias, on the mainland opposite the top of Euboea, when
attacked by a much smaller Latin fleet. The Latins appeared to be winning when
(as noted above) suddenly the rebel despot John appeared onshore with
reinforcements; he had ridden the 40 miles or 65 km from Neopatras in one
night. Seeing him appear, the imperial army retired. But in the naval battle, the
Byzantines were victorious. All but two of the Latin ships were sunk or captured
(LBA p.61, citing Gregoras and Pachymeres).

Anatolia, 1273: d. the Persian-born mystic Rumi (Jala al-Din Rumi),

founder of the first dervish order.


Western Galleys, 1273-74

Good information about Sicilian (Angevin) galleys survives from 1273-74.

Length: 40 metres; beam at the wales: 3.69 m amidships (4.61 m at deck
level). Beak or spur: 6.59 m.
Number of oars: 108. Crew: total 152: two masters, two ship’s boys, 4
helmsmen, 36 marines and 108 oarsmen.
Armaments: 200 lances; 47 axes; 40 glass bottles of incendiary materials
(cf 36 marines); 28-30 crossbows, etc etc. (see article by Pryor in Gardiner

1a. The fleet and troops of Charles of Anjou, French king of Naples, conquer
Greek Corfu.

1b. Summer of 1274: Charles of Anjou sent an army into lower Albania, where it
captured the fortress of Berat, SE of Durres/Dyrhachium, and the sea-port of
Butrinto opposite Corfu (Runciman, Vespers p. 176). It included 200 Italo-
Saracen foot archers from Lucera.
October 1274: Emperor Michael sent his troops into Epiros (our W Greece and
Albania) against the Angevin-Italians; the Byzantines re-took two key fortresses:
Butrinto, on the coast opposite Kerkyra/Corfu; and Berat, inland from
Michael began a campaign in Albania in late 1274, where he captured Berat and
Butrinto. He also enjoyed some success in his campaigns in Euboea and the
Peloponnese. - The Angevins retreated to Dyrrhachium, which the Byzantines
next besieged. Meanwhile the Byzantine fleet almost succeeded in cutting
communications between Angevin Italy and Greece, almost preventing Charles
from sending reinforcements to Albania (Geanakoplos 1959: 280; LBA pp.62-63).

2. To undercut Charles, Michael sends delegates to the Latin Council of Lyons:

temporary (soon to fail) rapprochement with the Western Church: see generally
Geanakoplos 1959.
The Orthodox delegates agreed to recognise the Papal claims and to recite the
Creed with the 'Filioque' (“and from the Son”: a formulation that the Byzantines
had long opposed). But this was only an agreement on paper since the clergy and
the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaike) Church in the Imperial City did not accept it (street
demonstrations began in January 1275: Norwich, 1996: 236).
Michael negotiated with Pope Gregory X for a union of the Eastern and
Western Churches, and in 1274 at the Second Council of Lyons his emissaries
agreed to recognise the spiritual supremacy of the pope. However, in 1281,
Michael's policy, sincere or not, was violently opposed by most of his people, and
in 1281 he had to persecute and imprison large numbers of them in order to
persuade the papacy that the union of the churches was being implemented
(NCMH p.585).

1274: d. Aquinas, greatest of the medieval Latin philosophers. The


Muslim-Spanish philosopher Ibn Rushd known to the Latins as Averroes, d.

1198, is cited repeatedly as a major authority in Aquinas's works.

Mongol invasion of Japan, with roughly 23,000 men (15,000 Mongol &
Chinese soldiers and 8,000 Korean troops), in 300 large vessels and 400-
500 smaller craft.

Black Sea trade: The Genoese, allies of Byzantium, set up trading posts in the
Crimea (at Caffa) - part of the Khanate of the ‘Golden Horde’ - and at Trebizond -
the independent Greek statelet -, giving them access to the Russian and Iranian
(Ilkhanate) markets.
— Crimea: In the late 13th century, traders from Genoa arrived and purchased
the town of Theodosia from the ruling Golden Horde. They established a
flourishing trading settlement called Caffa or Kaffa, which virtually monopolised
trade in the Black Sea area and served as the chief port and administrative centre
for the Genoese settlements around the Sea. It came to house (in the 1300s) one
of western Eurasia's biggest slave markets.
The tiny Greek “empire” of Trebizond (called ‘empire’ because its ruler lay
claim to the throne of New Rome) ruled part of the Crimea (Cherson) at this time,
while the ‘post-Mongol’ Khanate of the Golden Horde controlled what is now
southern Russia, and the Mongol Khanate of Persia ruled what is now Iran. Cf

After the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, much trade to and from the Christian
West had been diverted through N Iran (Tabriz) and via the Black Sea. The trade
of Genoa is said to have expanded fourfold in the years 1274-93, stimulated in
part by its use of gold coinage (the genovino) (Porteous p.88).

At this time the Seljuq Turks of Anatolia continued to recognise Mongol

suzerainty - ruling from Persia as the still-pagan "Ilkhanate".

1270s: Marco Polo in China (travels c.1271-92: at the khan’s court from
1275): he reported seeing four-masted sea-going junks crewed by up to 300

c. 1275:
Many of the Byzantine highlanders of Anatolia (akritai, borderers, military
irregulars) abandoned their posts due to arrears in pay (LBA p.155). Cf 1277-80:
the Meander Valley.

Italy: Date of the oldest surviving sea chart, the 'Carta Pisana'
[Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris].


1275-1325: The stern rudder was introduced on Mediterranean ships in

this period, replacing, or at least initially supplementing, the two side-
rudder oars of Antiquity (Alertz in Gardiner 2004: 151). Cf 1277-78.

1. The Adriatic/Albania: The Byzantine navy continues its blockade of Angevin
Dyrrhachium; but Charles’ forces held out.

2. Greece: Michael Palaeologus dispatches a large, ethnically mixed army

supposedly of “over 30,000” [sic!] men against John Ducas of Neopatras, known
as John ‘the Bastard’ of Thessaly. Although there were some ethnic “Greeks”, on
this occasion the imperial army was largely comprised of Cumans: presumably
drawn from Byzantino-Cumans earlier settled a generation earlier in Asia Minor;
also some Turkish ‘mercenaries’.
Sanudo’s figure is 30,000; while Pachymeres says that the imperial army and
fleet together numbered 40,000 (Genanakoplos 1959: 282; Setton 1976: 423).
These figures are impossible to accept. As we remarked earlier, if the land army
could be scared off by the appearance of “300” Latin knights, then its true size
may been more like 3,000 men.
The land expedition was jointly commanded by Michael’s brother the Despot
John Palaeologus and Alexios Kaballarios. The emperor also ordered a fleet of
“73” ships (Pachymeres’ figure) under the protostrator Alexios Philanthropenos
to attack the Latin lords of lower Greece, thereby preventing the dispatch of aid to
‘the Bastard’.

Land Battle of Neopatras (lost): As described earlier, the Byzantines caught ‘the
Bastard’ in his fortress at Neopatras but he managed to sneak away to Thebes,
where he linked up with the local Latin lord de la Roche. Allegedly with just ‘300’
or ‘500’ Greco-Frankish knights, de la Roche rode to Neopatras where he
surprised and drove off the large army of Byzantine ‘mercenaries’ (Geanakoplos
1959: 283, Setton 1976: 423; the figure of 500 is from Gregoras). More likely, the
300 were simply reinforcements for a substantial army under ‘the Bastard’.

Naval Battle of Demetrias (won): The Latins followed through by sending galleys
from Crete (Venetians) and Euboea (ruled by other Italians: ‘Lombards’) to attack
the imperial fleet at anchor in the Gulf of Volos/Demetrias (today’s Gulf of
Pagasitikos: a gulf of the Greek mainland, opposite the top of Euboea). This time,
however, it was the Latins who were routed. The sources differ on the numbers of
ships involved: 50-80 for the emperor versus 30-62 on the Lombard-
Venetian side. Pachymeres writes of “about 30” vessels. Sanudo says the Latins
deployed 12 galleys and transports and 50 other ships with oars. Only two of the
Latin ships escaped (Geanakopoulos 1959: 282-84, citing Sanudo, Gregoras and
Pachymeres; also Runciman, Vespers p. 177, and Setton 1976: 424).

The Eastern Aegean: The Genoese merchant, ambassador and adventurer


Benedetto Zaccaria [aged about 40 in 1275] first appeared in Constantinople with

his brother Manuele (Manuel) in 1275, at imperial invitation. It was then that he
was first appointed administrator of the alum* mines of Phocaea. He built a
plantation there, from which he traded with a number of Mediterranean and
Asian cities, accumulating considerable wealth. In 1282, still in the emperor's
service, he acted as an ambassador to Peter III of Aragon, encouraging him to
continue the war with Angevins over Sicily (Wikipedia 2010: ‘Benedetto I
Zaccaria’). See 1302.

(*) A mineral used as a dye-fixer. Mundane repost that the town had 3,000
Greek inhabitants, “all” of whom “worked” the alum, around 1300.

1276: 1. First Dominican pope.

2. fl. Gregory al-Faraj, called "Bar-Hebraeus", Syriac-speaking historian and

philosopher. Knew Greek and Arabic as well as Syriac. Born in Malatia
[Melitene]; from 1264 "Catholicus" or head of the Jacobite church. Syria at
this time was ruled by the Mamelukes of Egypt, with Latin enclaves at
Tripoli and Acre. Persia was ruled by the ‘Il-khanate’ [Mongols]. Cf 1277.
In Arabic: Ibn Al-'Ibri (“Son of the Hebrew”), or Abu al-Faraj, Latin name
Gregorius: medieval Syrian scholar noted for his encyclopaedic learning in
science and philosophy and for his enrichment of Syriac literature by the
introduction of Arabic culture.
Bar Hebræus has left a large historical work called Makhtbhanuth
Zabhne, "Chronicon", in which he considers history from the Creation down
to his own day.

3. fl. "Juwayni", Persian historian of the Mongols. Author of "History of the

World Conqueror" [written 1252-60]. Participated in the Mongol sack of
Baghdad [1258], of which he later became Governor. Died in disgrace 1283,
having been accused of dealing treasonably with the Mamelukes. Cf 1277.

The Aegean: Licario, a Euboean-born Italian mercenary from Vicenza or Verona,
managed to distinguish himself in naval operations in the Aegean. Commanding
24 galleys, he established a tenure in Karystos (Euboea) and soon rose to the rank
of Megaduke or megas doux: commanding admiral in the Byzantine Navy (Setton
1976: 426). The Venetians, who deployed 20 galleys locally, continued to hold
part of Euboea but Licario domianted most of it. Between 1276 and 1280, Licario
(Gk Ikarios) ransacked the Sporades and the Cyclades in the name of Byzantium.
See next.

1. The Aegean: Michael Palaeologus embarks on an offensive to expel the Latins
entirely from the Greek islands. He sends his commander or ally Licario, a
locally-born Italian, with a combined land and sea force to attack Euboea.
Euboea - medieval Negroponte - was briefly regained for Byzantium by the


Italian-born ‘grand duke’ (megas doux) Licario, ca. 1277. Nicol calls him “the
emperor’s own licensed pirate”. Licario was granted the island as an imperial fief.
He also briefly recaptured most of the Venetian-ruled islands of The Archipelago,
with the notable exception of Naxos (Geannakoplos 1959: 296). See next: treaty
with Venice.
— The forces of the renewed Byzantine Empire under the admiral Licario
captured many of the islands from Marco II Sanudo, but not Naxos and Paros, in
the late 13th century. The Byzantine revival was to prove short-lived though, as
they relinquished control of their gains in 1310.
— The tiny size of 13th century armies is underlined by the number of local
Euboean-Latin troops Licario had to supply to fight for the empire, namely just
200 men (LBA p.61; Norwich 1996: 239)

2. Renewal of the treaty with Venice. Evidently the Byzantines had recovered
their confidence: instead of a truce or treaty between equals, now Michael
reverted to the older practice of issuing a charter (chrysobull, chrysobullos logos,
‘gold-sealed letter’), as if it were a gracious dispensing of privileges to an inferior.
In place of temporary rented accommodation, the Venetian traders were granted
a permanent residential-commercial quarter in Constantinople, and a similar
base in Thessaloniki (Nicol, B&V p.198).

3a. The East: The Mamluk ruler Baybars I invaded SE Anatolia, defeated the local
Mongols, and penetrated as far west as Kayseri (in Seljuk Rum). He briefly took
Konya, from which the Seljuk court had already fled, on 21 April 1277 and
assumed the title Sultan of Rum. But it was really just an incursion and following
his withdrawal, Baybars died (1 July), apparently of poisoned kumiz, the
fermented drink made from mare’s milk. The Mongols resumed control of Konya
(Freely 2008: 95).
After 1277 the Mongols installed direct rule in Rum, with the Seljuq rulers
(Keykavus II in the west and his nephew Keyhusrev III in the east) as their

3b. Central Anatolia: “Mongol pressure on the Seljuks in 1277 brought still more
nomads west. An Arab geographer, writing in mid-century, describes the results:
some 30,000 tents of nomads in the mountains of Gerede Bolu, east of the
[upper] Sakarya [NW of Ankara] and another 100,000 tents near Kastamonu [N
Anatolia]. Thus, in search of pasture, unsure of their proper niche in their new
home on the Bithynian frontier, the Turkmen were even more dependent on
predation for survival and well-being” (Lindner).
The next period of massive population movement in Asia Minor began in 1277
when the native Seljukid aristocracy and their Turcoman supporters allied
themselves with the Mamluks of Egypt and rose up to fight a Holy War against
the ''impious" domination of the Mongols. See next.

In about 1277 (or “c. 1275”), Ertugrul Ghazi, died ca. 1280 or 1281, father of the


first Ottoman/Osmanli ruler, Osman Ghazi, formed a small lordship at Sogut,

located to the south of the middle Sangarios-Sankrya River SE of modern Bilecik,
or about halfway between Nicaea and Eskisehir, Gk: Dorylaion (maps in Nicolle
2008: 33, 37; also Freely 2008: 99). As the crow flies, Sogut is 60 km SE of
Nicaea-Iznik or 125 km east of Brusa: Cf 1302.
The historicity of Ertugrul used to be doubted; but coins bearing his name have
been discovered, apparently dating from the 1270s (Nicolle 2008: 28).

The Byzantine fortress at Bileçik, Gk Belokoma, thus became (until 1299: see
there) the outermost defence of the empire. Bilecik lies on a line from Dorylaeum
(Eskisehir) to Nicaea, somewhat nearer the latter than the former.

“All the chroniclers are agreed about the ancestral pastures of the Ottomans, . . .
The winter pastures (klslak) lay in the vale of Sogut, a fertile glen lying on the
most direct route linking Bilecik or Belocome and Eskisehir [Dorylaeum].
Summer pasture (yaylak) lay in the mountains of Ermeni Beli (the "Armenian"
Pass) and Domaniç* [or Domanits], southeast of the Bithynian Olympus [Tk: Mt
Uludag] and west of Eskisehir. The route up country [WSW] from winter to
summer pastures passed by [sic: well south of] Bilecik, Yarhisar and Inegöl on the
way to Domaniç” (Lindner; also Vacalopoulos p.64 and Nicolle 2008: 33).

(*) Domanic is about half-way from Eskisehir (Gk: Dorylaion) to Bursa. Inegöl, N
of Domaniç, lies a little nearer Bursa, about two-thirds of the way from Turkish
Sogut to Byzantine Bursa. The mountains between Domanic and Inegol reach
over 1,800 metres.

1277: In Wales some 16,000 English troops - probably the largest army
assembled in the British Isles since classical Roman times - fought the
Welsh. Edward I subsequently raised an army of up to 30,000 men,
including many second-class peasant foot soldiers, for the Falkirk campaign
of 1297 against the Scots under Wallace (Prestwich, cited by Keen 1999:
126). See 1282: perhaps 10,000 in the Byzantine army.

1277-78: Out into the Atlantic! - First Genoese and Majorcan, then
Venetian, galleys found a way to get through the Straits of Gibraltar and
thence to the English Channel. The key to this seems to have been gaining
access to Muslim ports on the southern side, where they could lay over
during difficult weather (Pryor in Gardiner 2004: 2113). –The Christians of
Castile already held the western, outer of Atlantic side of the strait, but the
whole southern side was controlled by the Muslim Marinids of Morocco.
One imagines gold or silver changed hands!

1. “Uprising of Ivaylo/Ivailo”: In Bulgaria, a great peasant revolt broke out in
which the Tsar is deposed and killed; the rebels were defeated with Byzantine aid


(1279-80). Cf below under 1279.

2a. Anatolia: The pervane or Turkish chamberlain Muineddin Süleyman (Ar.

‘Mu’in ad-Din Sulayman’) was the Mongol (il-Khan) deputy ruling the Seljuks.
(The sultan was still a child.) According to the 14th century Syrian chronicler
Aqsarayi, the pervane’s death in 1277 – executed by his overlord the Il-Khan –
ended his close supervision of the western borderlands (Turkish uç, marches)
and freed the Türkmen to invade Rum (Hopwood, “Frontiers” p.128.). See
next and below under 1278.

2b. SW Asia Minor: The Turks capture the inland towns of Caria [ancient
Aphrodisias] and Antioch on the Meander*, and raid Rhodes (1278). Cf
1278-84: Turkish pirate base near Greek Ephesus. —Savvidis & Ozansoy,
‘Turkish Raiders’, Adalya website,; accessed 2009.

(*) There were three Antiochs: 1. on the Meander; 2. in Pisidia (south-central

Anatolia); and 3. Syria.

Anatolia: The Il-Khan and his Seljuk vassals move to restore their rule in Asia
Minor by suppressing the various rebel Turkmen. A Mongol-Seljuk army
campaigns to Tokat, Aksaray, Konya and Kayseri. The Seljuk vizier Fahrettin Ali
(“Sahip Ata”) then pursued a pretender west to Afyon, accompanied by the
Germiyan tribe. Having captured and killed the pretender, they continued on
SW to subdue the Turkmen of Denizli (Ladik), near the Byzantine border. The
emir Ali Bey, originally installed by Hulagu in 1262, was captured and executed
(Freely 2008: 97). - See 1285-86: Karacahisar; and 1286: Kütahya.

By 1278, when Andronicus Palaeologus, the future emperor, led a failed

campaign to clear the Turks from the Meander valley, already Antioch
[Antioch on the upper Meander] and Caria - to the south of the Meander - had
been lost: “ta’ ga’r kata’ Mai’andron kai’ Kari’an kai’ ‘Antio’xeian ho’dh kai’
teteleuth’kei” (writes Pachymeres 468.16). Cf below, 1280.
The forerunners of the Menteshe beylik already, around 1278 [cf 1280-90],
attempted the first semi-permanent Turcoman landing on Byzantine Rhodes
from the adjacent Anatolian coastline of Makri/Fethiye. They held the island's
eastern section for some time, until 1282/83. —Savvidis & Ozansoy, ‘Turkish
Raiders’, Adalya website,; accessed 2009. Cf 1278-84:

The Restored Empire in 1278

In 1278 Constantinople ruled the north-western fifth of Asia Minor; most of the
Aegean (to Rhodes and Monemvasia in the Peloponnesus) and the central and
northern Balkans west to Albania. Thus its territories were nearly equally


balanced between the Asian and European sides, the European domains being
somewhat larger. The population was about five million, according to Treadgold
(1997), or about half the 10-12 million people that John II Comnenus, d. 1143,
had ruled – albeit now more prosperous.*
The neighbouring states were: 1. The Seljuks of Rum and its nominally subject
beyliks: see 1280; 2. A reduced Bulgaria south of the lower Danube, centred on a
line drawn from Sofia to Varna: see 1279; 3. Serbia - a short border in the far
north-west of Byzantine Albania; 4. Various Greek princedoms in Epirus,
acknowledging Byzantine suzerainty; 5. The Angevin or French-ruled rump of the
former 'Latin empire' known as "the principality of Achaea" in south-central
Greece; 6. the Latin duchy of Athens; and 7. Venetian-ruled Crete.
In Asia Minor, the border with the Sultanate of Rum ran broadly SW to NE,
from the Meander Valley to the Black Sea coast at Heraclea Pontica. The Greeks
held the lower Meander valley including Ephesus, Tralles and Philadelphia, while
the Turks controlled the upper valley south and east of Philadelphia. In the
Marmara Sea region, Byzantium held Prusa (Bursa), Nicaea and Nicomedia, but
there were Turks as close as the lower-middle Sangarios (Sskarya) valley.
In the central Balkans, the imperial border ran from the Adriatic coast near
Durres (medieval Dyrrhachium: held by Naples at this time) broadly east across
what is now southern Bulgaria to the Black Sea coast at Mesembria. Sofia and
Varna were Bulgarian, while the Byzantines held Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv)
and Mesembria.
Most of today’s Greece was ruled by the Byzantine emperor, except for the
Ionian Islands and Achaea, the Latin state in the NE Peloponnesus, and the Latin
Duchy of Athens, a vassal of Achaea.
Nearly the whole of the southern sector of the Aegean Sea was Byzantine as far
as Rhodes, while Venice continued to rule Crete (map in Treadgold 1997: 744).

(*) Prosperity: “The increase in the number of craftsmen in the countryside under
the Palaiologoi constitutes a phenomenon familiar to economists as an indicator
of growth. … in general terms, during the Byzantine period as a whole, or at least
until the situation was reversed by the crisis in the 1350s [i.e. the Black Death
followed by civil war and then the entry of the Turks into Europe], there occurred
a relative rise in the living standards of the middle and lower social categories,
excluding marginals.” —Morrisson and Cheynet 2002.

1. Italy vs Byzantium: Negotiations between pope Nicholas III and emperor
Michael, flowing from the earlier Council of Lyons. The former sought proof that
Byzantium really wished to belong to a reunited Christendom, while the latter
was encouraging a patron who would rein in Charles of Anjou, ruler of S Italy.
The papal legates reached Constantinople in late spring of 1279 (Runciman,
Vespers p.189). see 1281.

2. Popular revolt in Bulgaria. Although, as we have seen, the rebel Ivailo killed
tsar Constantine (1277) and was able to extend (1278-79) his authority across
much of the country, he also met with resistance, and the capital Tarnovo


remained under the control of the legitimate tsar, seven years old Michael Asen
II, and the widowed tzarina Maria Kantakouzena (Michael VIII’s niece).
The Byzantines intervene in Bulgaria, take Tirnovo and install their candidate,
John Asen, as Tsar. – Eirene Palaiologaina, dau, of Michael VII, marries John
(Ivan) III Asen (1277 or 78). This prompted Maria to marry Ivailo who was now
recognised by some as tsar (1278).
A rumour of Ivailo's death caused panic in Tarnovo, where the nobility
surrendered (early 1279) to a new Byzantine army and accepted Ivan Asen III as
emperor. Ivan Asen III was enthroned, while Michael ordered his niece Maria
Kantakouzena and his grand-nephew Michael Asen II to be sent into exile to
Byzantium. Shortly after this, still in 1279 Ivailo suddenly appeared before
Tarnovo with an army, but failed to take the well-fortified city. He nevertheless
defeated a larger Byzantine relief force (perhaps 10,000 men) in the battle of
Devnya (or Devina) and another numbering 5,000 in the Balkan passes.
The battle of Devnya occurred on 17 July 1279 near Devnya, Varna Province,
Bulgaria. Ivailo of Bulgaria attacked the Byzantine army sent to help his rival for
the crown Ivan Asen III. With the personal participation of Ivailo the Byzantines
were defeated although their army was much larger (up to perhaps 10,000 men).
Soon after the victory Ivan Asen III was forced (1280) to flee from the capital

William Wallace leads a Scottish revolt against England. See 1298.

Asia Minor: Selahaddin or ‘Saladinus’ is the first-known Turkish corsair*,
operating from Ania/Anaea, south of Ephesus. His ships raided the Cyclades, the
Sea of Marmara and even into the Black Sea! (Pryor 1988: 167). Ephesus was
under Byzantine control, but inland Caria, it seems, was at this time a marchland
contested between Greek farmers and Turkish warrior-herders. Cf 1280-96:
emergence of the beyliks of Menteshe.

(*) A distinction is sometimes drawn between ‘pirates’ who act for themselves
and attack everyone, and ‘corsairs’, seaborne thieves who sail under the flag of a
monarch and do not attack his vessels.

Sicily: Prelude to the ‘Sicilian Vespers’: According to legend, it was as early as
1279 that Byzantium, the native Sicilians and the king of Aragon began plotting
against the French ruler of Sicily, Charles of Anjou. The true date is probably later
– in 1280 (Runciman Vespers pp.208-10).

Water-mills and paper: The major centre of Italian paper manufacture

developed after 1276 at Fabriano, inland from the port of Ancona in east-
central Italy (part of the Papal State). By 1300 the Europeans' ability to
harness water power to run paper mills made their product cheaper, if not
initially better, than that available in North Africa and Egypt, and
imported Italian paper soon began to supplant local production in


Muslim North Africa and Spain. By the mid-14th century, governments

too – the Marinids and Hafsids - succumbed: North African chanceries
were using Western papers (source:

End of the Mongol conquest of China: On 19 March 1279 the Chinese

general Zhang Hongfan of the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty annihilated the last
fleet of the Southern Song Dynasty at Yamen (today Xinhui County,
Guangdong Province).

By 1280:
Byzantine Asia: No longer restrained by Konya, the Turkmens were plundering
the fertile valleys of western Anatolia, cutting communications between the
Rhomaoi towns, and the emirs were beginning to carve out small lordships or
principalities ("ghazi" or jihadist emirates). Cf 1281.
— The Turks laid siege to Tralles (Aydin) in about 1280. The co-emperor
Andronicus and Andronicus Nestongus were dispatched with a small force
(Langdon p.10).
— The town of Tralles/Aydin was rebuilt by Andronicus about 1280 (perhaps
1281); it was superseded a few years later, after the Seljuk/Turcoman conquest,
by a new town, Aydin, founded by the amir Aidin in a lower situation. See next.

Hopwood says that by 1280 the akritic (frontier guards) system had
largely collapsed, although the fortified centres of Magnesia ‘ad Sipylum’
[Manisa; at the foot of Mt Sipylos] and Philadelphia, and the forts of Neocastra,
still held out against the nomadic Turkmen – until 1313 in the case of Magnesia.

The Bosphorus: The Genoese build the great castle of Anadolu-kavagi (to use its
later Turkish name). It is located inside the top section of the Bosphorus channel,
on the Asian side, with a view north to the Black Sea (Nicolle 2008: 39).

fl. Menteshe Beg: c.1290: Foundation of the emirate of Menteshe in Caria, the far
SW of Asia Minor. See 1282.

Names: The Venetian writer Sanudo calls Michael “l’Imperio di Romania”,

‘the Emperor of Romania’.

Last significant Byzantine offensives. Three campaigns: (1) against the
Serbs; (2) into Asia Minor, where the border with the Turks was extended south
to the Meander valley, the present-day Menderes River in west-central Asia
Minor; and finally (3) in the West to combat another Angevin (Franco-Sicilian)
invasion of presentday Albania, which was beaten back. Most of Albania was
recovered from the Angevins.


As noted earlier, Michael’s total field army numbered perhaps 10,000, not
including town garrisons (Treadgold 1997, p. 819). Lippard 1984: 16 proposes,
per contra, that the Byzantine army had at least 20,000 men.

(a) Against Serbia: The imperial troops that took part in the battle of Belgrade in
1281 were commanded by the despot Michael, the son-in-law of the ruler; the
grand domestikos Michael Tarkhaniotes; the grand stratopedarch or
quartermaster-general* John Synadenus; and the eunuch Andronicus
Oenopolita, then ‘tatas of the imperial palace’ [an obscure title]. —Pachym. I,
512; cited by Guilland 1943.

(*) Formally this position was responsible for the provisioning of the army.

(b) Asia: Michael VIII Palaiologos took an army into Bithynia in the autumn of
1281 to combat the threat from a Turkish tribe later to be known as the
Ottomans* (see below). He found the area of the Sangarios or Sakarya River,
south-east of Nicaea, abandoned and impassable. One imagines that all the
roadways and tracks were overgrown with brush.
Having known this region well from his service there as a young general some
30 years earlier, Michael fell into despair on seeing what he described as a
‘Skythian desert’ (Gk: eremia), presumably meaning that Greek farmers had
retired westward (or had themselves switched to pastoralism) and that the area
was now being occasionally grazed by Turcoman pastoralists or else was literally
abandoned. There were, however, still abundant fruits** on the trees, enough to
feed his army. —Pachymeres VI.29, cited by; also Hopwood, “Frontiers” pp. 157, 159.
See 1282.
At the same time, another small force under the co-emperor Andronicus and
Andronicus Nestongus proceeded to the lower Meander: see further below under

(*) Ertugrul Ghazi, died 1281, was the father of the first Ottoman or Osmanli
ruler, Osman Ghazi. Under Seljuk suzerainty, Ertugrul had formed, ca. 1277, a
small lordship or mini-emirate at Sögüt, to the south of the middle Sangarios
River, SE of modern Bilecik, or about halfway between Nicaea and Dorylaeum
(Eskisehir). As the crow flies, Sogut is 60 km SE of Nicaea-Iznik or 124 km east of
Brusa: Cf 1302.
Osman Ghazi was just 23 when he succeeded to the leadership of the Kayi clan
in Sögüt in 1281.

(**) The most widely grown fruits in Byzantium were apples, cherries, figs, pears
and pomegranates (Rautman p.176).

(c) The lower Meander/Maiander: Hopwood, ‘Frontiers’ p.158, notes although

the ‘akritic system’ (Gk akrites, ‘borderer’: defence by part-time frontier guards)
had largely collapsed by 1280 (for which Pachymeres blames the emperor), the
fortified cities of Manisa/Magnesia-ad-Sipylum and Alasehir/Philadelphia and


the forts of Neokastra [the region to the north of Magnesia] still held out.
Nomadic Türkmen, however, were by now active around Miletos on the Aegean
coast at the mouth of the Meander, Priene [the one-time Aegean port near the
Meander mouth, N of Miletos, SE of Samos*] and the lower Meander valley

(*) Near modern Söke. Silting of the Meander has moved both Priene and
Milet/Miletos well inland.

The opening of the Meander valley to Turkish raids can be directly attributed,
says Hopwood, to Mehmet Beg. His seizure of Denizli/Laodiceia opened the head
of the Valley to the Turkmen. Michael intervened, and sent his heir apparent,
Andronicus, to revitalize the defence of the region. His army, of cavalry and
heavy infantry, easily dispersed the light horse of the Turkmen, and he reached
Aydin/Tralleis half-way up the valley. There, according to Pachymeres (VI.20), he
was “seized by the charm of the place” and decided to refound it as
Andronikopolis or Paleologopolis. Hopwood proposes that the real beauty of
Tralleis was its position at the mid-point of the valley, blocking access to the
plains of the lower Maiander. The decision to refortify the town was “an
imaginative counterstroke”. But see 1282.

(d) Albania 1280-81: Charles opened his campaign in present-day Albania, where
his general Hugh (Hugues or Hugo) de Sully captured Butrinto from the
Despotate of Epirus in 1280 and besieged Berat. But the town held out.
The Angevin general Sully, a Burgundian by birth, crossed (late 1280) from
Italy to the NW Balkans with a Franco-Sicilian army of some 8,000 men: 2,000
horse including perhaps 500 Angevin knights, plus 6,000 infantry including
many crossbowmen and a few Italo-Saracen foot-archers from Lucera
(Geanakoplos 1959: 330; LBA p.63, citing Sanudo; also Norwich 1996: 246). They
proceeded inland into Byzantine-ruled western Macedonia to besiege the
fortress-town of Berat (in present-day south-central Albania: south of Tirana; SW
of Lake Ohrid) which they intended to use as base for their advance on
A Byzantine army of relief, including a contingent of Turks, under the grand
domestic Michael Tarchaneiotes arrived in March 1281. Hugh of Sully was
ambushed and captured, and his army put to flight. The Byzantines took
possession of the interior of Albania. —Wikipedia contributors, "Charles I of
Sicily," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (2010).
Emperor Michael, fearing that Thessalonica would be attacked next, dispatched
(early 1281) his best troops under the Grand Domestic or megas domestikos
Michael Tarchaneiotes. We may guess his army was of the same order of
magnitude as Sully’s: say 7,500 men. When the Byzantines reached Berat, Sully
himself went out to reconnoitre; he was captured by a body of Turkish auxiliaries
serving on the Byzantine side and his bodyguard fled. Hearing of this, the entire
imperial army immediately rode forward, and nearly the whole Angevin-
Italian army was either killed or captured. As earlier at Pelagonia, the horse-
archers on the Byzantine side concentrated their fire on the horses of the


heavily-armed Latin knights (Geanakoplos 1959: 332-33; LBA p.63; Norwich

1996: 247).

According to Geanakoplos, p. 334, “after Pelagonia and the reconquest of

Constantinople, Berat was probably the most important military encounter of
Palaeologus with the Latins during his entire reign. Not only were the vast
Angevin preparations of 20 months destroyed and Berat saved, but all of Epirus
dominated by Berat and loannina soon again fell into imperial hands, a
circumstance which enabled Michael's troops to advance on Dyrrachium and
Avlona. More important, the victory marked the complete failure of the attempt
to launch a land expedition against the capital. Thus, as a result of his defeat at
Berat, Charles had to shift his strategy to a sea attack against Constantinople, a
fact which now made indispensable the support of the Venetian fleet.”

The Adriatic: Eloquent testimony to the inadequacy of Angevin naval strength at

this time is provided by an incident in July of 1281, when eight warships
(“quattro grosse navi e quattro galere”) were “boldly” dispatched by the Emperor
against the Regno [Angevin kingdom] itself: the unexpected appearance of Greek
vessels and their harrying of the Apulian coast near Otranto seems to have
provoked near-panic among the Sicilian (Angevin) officials (Geanakoplos p.336).
See next: Angevin-Venetian alliance.

1280-1330: Western galleys switch from a bireme system using two lines
of oars to trireme or three levels. It seems likely, says Pryor in Gardiner
2004: 116, that this occurred during the protracted ‘War of the Sicilian
Vespers’ between the Angevins, Sicilians and Aragonese, from 1282: see
there. Cf also 1294, 1308 and 1321 (Byzantium).

1. SW Asia Minor: Co-emperor Andronicus having returned to the capital,
Andronicus Nestongus continues a campaign against the Turkmen in the
Meander Valley. See 1283.

2. The West: Venice switches sides and agrees with the French (Angevin) king of
Sicily and Naples, Charles of Anjou, to strike an alliance aimed at restoring the
Latin Empire. In response Michael seeks support from Genoa, the king of Aragon
and the Sicilian nobility. See 1282: ‘Sicilian Vespers’.
“A treaty was concluded (1281)”, writes Vasiliev, “between Charles [as] the
titulary Latin Emperor, and Venice ‘for the recovery of the Empire of Romania
[i.e. Byzantium] which is under the sway of the Palaeologus’ (ad recuperationem
ejusdem Imperii Romaniae, quod detinetur per Paleologum). A vast coalition
formed against Byzantium: the troops of the Latin possessions on the former
territory of the Byzantine Empire, the troops of Italy and of Charles' native
France, the Venetian fleet, the papal forces, and the armies of the Serbs and
— Pope Martin IV, a supporter of the Angevin Charles, broke (October 1281) the
union of the churches by excommunicating Michael, while Charles's troops, with


those of Venice, invaded Epirus [see above: late 1280]. Michael saved his throne
by financing a rebellion in Sicily, which broke Charles's power in the famous
‘Sicilian Vespers’, the uprising of the Sicilians against the French - see 1282.

3. Muslim alliance: Faced with common enemies, the Byzantine-Egyptian

(Ayyubid) alliance served as a counterweight to Western, Mongol, and Turkish
threats. The good relations extended into the reign of the Egyptian sultan
Qalawun, who exchanged sworn undertakings in 1281 with Emperor Michael VIII
in which they agreed to maintain ‘love and friendship without limit of time’. —
Nadia El-Cheikh, in Laiou & Mottahedeh 2001: 67.

4. The Capital: Return of Michael's natural and adopted daughter Mary/Maria

from Baghdad, after the death of the Mongol (Ilkhanate) ruler, Hulagu. She
founds or rebuilds a convent attached to church of St Mary "of the Mongols" [Gk:
Mouchliotissa], as it later became known. Maria had married, i.e. joined the
harem of, Abagha, Mongol khan of Persia, while another illegitimate or adopted
daughter Euphosyne, married Nogay, khan of the Golden Horde.

1281-89: Palestine-Lebanon: Under Qalawun, the Mamlukes of Egypt

reduce the small Christian enclaves (kingdom of Acre and principality of
Tripoli). Mamluk rule extended from Syria to Egypt; thus Acre and Tripoli
survived as islands in a Muslim sea.
Having defeated the ‘Mongols’ [Ilkhanate of Persia] at Homs in 1281,
Qalawun’s troops captured Margat, the Hospitaller castle north of Tripoli,
in 1285 and Tripoli in 1289. He died in 1290 en route to attack Acre.

Period in which the Muslim merchant Abdallah b. Muhammad lived in
Constantinople. He compared it to Alexandria and described the Muslim quarter,
with some exaggeration, as two-thirds the size of Damascus. This suggests
nevertheless that the city had recovered some of its former size and opulence (El
Cheikh 2004: 206).

Bithynia: r. Osman or Othman (Arabic Uthman) I, founder of the future Ottoman
line of beys and sultans. Cf 1290.
The chronology of his activities before 1302 cannot be established accurately,
but Osman appears to have been elected chieftain by his tribesmen sometime
around 1280, and to have led their seasonal migrations and predatory raids from
their pasture areas around Dorylaeum (Eskishehir) in northwestern Anatolia. Cf
Turkish tradition says he was recognised by the sultan Alaeddin Keykubas as
lord of Sögüt in 1284.
Within a century (by 1382), the Ottoman Turks will reach the Aegean, cross
into Europe and take control of the northern Balkans.

1280s: “We learn that the Byzantine lord of Inegol [near Bursa: west of Ottoman


Sögüt] was harassing Osman's movements from winter to summer pastures. To

ease the journey and increase his mobility, Osman arranged to leave heavy goods
with the Byzantine lord of Bilecik for safekeeping when his families were on the
march. The women loaded their belongings on oxen and placed them in the
citadel of Bilecik. When they returned in the fall, they offered cheese, carpeting,
rugs and sheep as payment. This became a routine arrangement” (Lindner).
But after this time, farming began to supersede pastoralism, and it was
probably the ‘sedentarisation’ of the Türkmen that explains the emergence of the
Ottoman emirate (Hopwood, “Frontiers” p.159).

“Osman had good relations with his Byzantine opposite number, the lord of
Beloukome/Bileçik [20 km NW of Osman’s base at Sögüt]. He [Osman]
intervened in local disputes and thereby outflanked the major Byzantine forts of
Cadirlu, Leblebeci and Kara Çepis* in his advance down to the plain. These forts
only yielded to the Ottomans after they had been hopelessly outflanked, as the
Ottomans had not the means [i.e. siege engines] to capture them” (Hopwood,

(*) Leblebeci = Lüblüce, located south of Bursa according to Nicolle 2008: 37.
Cadirlu and Kara Çepis = presumably somewhere east of Inegöl. –These sites are
not found on my detailed map of Turkey, MO’R.

1. The far NE: The rulers of tiny Trebizond [Gk: Trapezontos] called themselves
‘Grand Komnenos’, Gk: Megas Komnenos, and at first claimed the traditional
Byzantine title of "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans". After reaching an
agreement and marriage alliance with Constantinople in 1282, the official title of
the ruler of Trebizond was changed to "Emperor and Autocrat of the entire East,
of the Iberians [Georgians*] and the Transmarine Provinces" and remained such
until the end in 1461.
Michael’s daughter Eudokia Palaiologina, +1302; m. 1282 Ioannes II
Komnenos, Emp. of Trapezunt (+1297).

(*) An affectation: Georgia was a separate and larger state than Trebizond.

2. FYROM: Stefan II Milutin of Serbia was an ally of Charles of Anjou.

Immediately upon his accession to the throne, Stephan attacked Byzantine lands
in Macedonia. In 1282, he conquered the northern parts of Macedonia with the
Byzantine-ruled town of Skoplje, which became his capital. Emperor Michael VIII
Palaiologos began preparations for war but he died later the same year before
their completion (Norwich 1996: 260).

3. NW Asia Minor: Lindner writes that “in early 1282, Turks on the lower Sakarya
[River] had already repelled Byzantine troops. Michael's expedition took the field
late in the summer. He advanced up the Sakarya east of Nicaea [i.e. in the
direction of Sogut, seat of the proto-Ottoman Turks] and was soon surrounded by
the desolation which his western concerns had crowded out of his mind. He was


unable to catch the Turks.” Cf above, 1280-81: “Scythian desert”.

“There were very few people tilling the soil, and it was difficult to provide even
the coarsest of bread for the soldiers. A mute witness, samples of the bread, the
brown harvest of Michael's hopes blasted, was sent to Constantinople. The
emperor turned back, marched west of Bursa [Gk: Prousa], and [re-]fortified the
cities of Achyraous and Ulubad/Lopadion. The latter lay on the western end of
Lake Apolyant or Lake Uluabad: west of Prusa/Bursa, about half-way along the
highway** from Cyzicus/Erdek [east] to Bursa. Achyraous was further south,
halfway to Smyrna. Michael's resolve to protect these cities, far below the plateau,
distant from the Sakarya, reveals the collapse of the frontier defences” (so
argues Lindner). Cf 1290-93.

(**) From west to east, the old Roman highway ran from Cyzicus [near modern
Erdek] past Lake Apolyant [Ulubat Golu] through Lopadion and east to Bursa.
The fortress at Lopadion had originally been built in 1130, so we may imagine
Michael was restoring it.

4. Sicily: Emperor Michael of Byzantium, aged 58, fomented the massive revolt
afterwards known as the "Sicilian Vespers"*, beginning in Palermo on 29-30
March 1282. The rising wrecks Charles' plans for another invasion of the ‘Greek’
(Rhomaioi) empire. Bartusis calls it “the crowning achievement in the long career
of a master diplomat” (LBA p.64).

Michael VIII in his memoirs wrote: “The Sicilians, disdaining the rest of Charles'
force as despicable, dared to raise arms and free themselves from slavery.
Therefore, if I said that God who granted freedom to them, granted it through
us, I should tell the truth” (Vasiliev’s rendering). Runciman, Vespers p. 220,
quotes it thus: "Should I dare to claim that I was God's instrument to bring
freedom to the Sicilians, then I should only be stating the truth".

(*) ‘Vespers’ means evening prayers. The sobriquet was first used in the late
1400s, alluding to the legendary use of Easter bells to call the insurgents to arms
the following day (Easter Tuesday). Alternatively the revolt began as a local riot
in Palermo, the first Frenchman being killed only seconds before the bells were
sounded for vespers on Easter Monday, 30 March.

Beginning in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Palermo on the NW coast,
the Sicilian people rose up against the French. In the course of one night and one
morning, 2,000 French men and women are killed; Angevin (French) flags are
replaced with those of the late Frederick II [d.1250: the former German king of
Sicily]; and heralds are sent to ignite support across Sicily. The revolt first
spreads south to Corleone, then east to Messina. Within a few weeks, Sicily was
cleared of all Frenchmen; the island passed to Aragon.
Peter (Pedro) of Aragon landed in Sicily six months later, on 30 August,
entered Palermo and then sent envoys to parlay with Charles who had earlier


crossed from Calabria to Messina. Fearing Peter’s popularity with the Sicilians,
the Angevin withdraw back to the Italian mainland (Norwich 1996: 251).
Peter of Aragon accepted the throne offered by the Sicilians, and a 20-year war
for possession of Sicily followed between the Angevin kings of Naples and the
Aragonese kings of Sicily. The Almogávares (Aragonese and Catalan light
infantry) [see 1303-04] formed the most effective element of Peter’s army. Their
discipline and ferocity, the force with which they hurled their javelins, and their
mobility, made them very formidable to the heavy cavalry of the Angevin armies (
—Wikipedia, 2009, under ‘Almogavars’). Later, - see 1303 – they will also prevail
over the Turkish horse-archers in Asia Minor.

1292: Final annexation of Wales by the English.


Above: Michael VIII Palaeologus.

Territorial review

At the end of Michael’s reign, the empire held lands in Europe and Asia: more in
the former than in the latter.
In the east Byzantium ruled the north-western fifth of Asia Minor, from
Nicomedia in the north to Miletus in the SW. Its European domains comprised
Thrace and thence west to Epirus and Albania, where Angevin [French] Naples
held a number of ex-Romaic cities; Macedonia and Thessaly; a part of the
Peloponnesus (Mistra and Monemvasia); and Constantinople.

Byzantium's European territories were significantly larger than the

size of its Asian provinces. The longest land transect was a line across the
northern Balkans from the Adriatic coast of Albania to the Black Sea coast NW of
Constantinople, with Scopia/Skopje, Philippopolis/Plovdiv and Mesembria as the
northernmost imperial possessions.

— Latins: Angevin (French) Naples [until 1282] and various subordinate Latin
dukes still held half the Peloponnesus and the middle section of Greece (Patras,
Corinth, Athens); and, as noted, Venice held Crete and a few islands in the
Aegean. Byzantium ruled only the SE quarter of the Morea.

— Asia Minor was divided one-fifth to four-fifths between

Byzantium/Rhomaniya and the Seljuks of Rum, themselves subject to the
Mongol Il-Khan of Persia, with the Sultan of Iconium ruling as nominal overlord
of the various petty Turkish emirs. Cf 1290: The Ottomans will proclaim their

— In the SW, the Turks held most of Caria. The frontier ran along the line
Miletus-Tralles-Philadelphia, the middle Meander valley having become a
marchland. Cf 1294 – Miletus.

— In Bithynia, Byzantium ruled only a little to the east of Brusa, Nicaea and
Nicomedia, i.e. to the lower Sangarios River. Cf above, under 1281: “Scythian

— Constantinople controlled nearly the whole Aegean. The Latins controlled

Crete [Venice]; a few Aegean islands, namely Paros and Naxos [Venice] ; and the
Principality of Achaia, i.e. most of the Peloponnesus and to Athens.

— A further "Greek" kingdom continued in coastal NE Asia Minor and in the

southern Crimea (Cherson): the tiny “empire” of Trebizond.

In short, the “Empire” was penned in between the Seljuks of Rum, the ghazi
emirates [see 1282], Venetian Crete, the Latin principality of the Peloponnesus
(Achaea), the Serbs (at Pech and Nish), and the Bulgarians (at Sofia). It consisted


essentially of the wider littoral of the Aegean: northern Greece; the central
Balkans from present-day Albania to Thrace; Constantinople; and the north-
western fifth of Asia Minor. The population totalled about five million.

Changes since Comnenian Times

If we compare the restored empire of Michael Palaeologus in 1290 with that of

the Comnenoi 140 years earlier, under John II, we find that the empire is about
one-third smaller. The net losses were as follows:

a. The East Mediterranean-southern Asia Minor: Cilicia lost to the Armenians;

Cyprus to the Latins; and the Attalian-Carian (Pamphylian) coast to the Turks.
The Armenian ruler of Cilicia had first obtained the title “king” in 1199. Then
in 1221 the Seljuqs took Alanya, breaking land commerce between Christian
(Greek) Asia Minor and Christian (Greco-Armenian) Cilicia.

b. The Aegean: was again almost all Greek; but Crete, Paros and Naxos have been
lost to the Venetians.
Venetian rule had been established on Crete, Paros and Naxos in 1204 and
1210, and Constantinople never recovered them.

c. Lower Greece: Various Latin lords controlled most of the Morea and the
Thebes-Athens sector.
Latin rule had been first established in Corinth and the Morea in 1205,
immediately after the capture of Constantinople by Latin (Franco-Venetian)

d. In the NW: The Serbs have taken Belgrade and the whole Morava valley above
Nish from the Bulgarians.
During the 1180s, Belgrade had been fought over by Hungary and Byzantium,
while the Serbs encroached in the south.
In 1189 when Barbarossa’s crusade came through, Nish was held by Nemanja’s
Serbs. But the Byzantines under Isaac Angelus decisively re-asserted their power
in 1191, defeating Nemanja and making the Morava the border between Serbia
and Byzantium. Then from 1192 to 1204 there was a four-way contest for the
Morava valley between the Serbs, Hungarians, the newly resurgent Bulgarians,
and the Byzantines. Various Serb princes were allied with Bulgaria and Hungary.
Responding to a Hungarian invasion, in 1203 the Bulgarians invaded the NW
domains of Byzantium, attacking Nish and Belgrade.
After 1204, with the fall of Constantinople to the Latins, it was left to Hungary
and Bulgaria to fight for Belgrade; the Serbs still had no unitary kingdom.
Bulgaria ruled the Morava valley for most of the 1200s.
An attack on Belgrade by the restored Byzantine empire in 1281 (see above)
was unsuccessful.
Then in 1284 Serbia finally obtained official control of Belgrade, which was
formally ceded by Hungary.


e. Albania, Macedonia and Thessaly are Greek again: recovered from the Latin
Empire during the 1200s.

f. The sub-Danube region - Bulgaria north of the Balkan Range - was controlled
by Byzantium in 1143; in 1282 it is Bulgarian again.
The ‘Second Bulgarian Empire’ emerged in 1185-97 by breaking from Byzantine
rule. Between the autumn of 1185 and the spring of 1186, the Bulgarians revolted
and drove the Greeks out of the whole of northern Bulgaria, with the exception of
Varna; and in 1187 and 1190 Byzantine re-invasions were defeated.
Thus in 1282 Scopia/Skopje, Philippopolis/Plovdiv and Mesembria were the
northernmost imperial possessions.

g. Northern Asia Minor and the Black Sea coast: The littoral east of Heraclea,
including Sinope, has moved from Greek to Turkish rule.

* * *

To recap. The restored "empire" of 1261 was already a middle power. After
1283/85 it would lack a navy, and at best it could field about 10,000 troops - half
the size of Alexius’s forces in 1100; and after 1300 fewer than that. From this
time all Byzantine field armies will be quite small.
"Abuse of the pronoia system [land titles held nominally in return for military
service, or more exactly: diversion of land taxes from the state to the soldiery]
(writes Hussey) had its effect on the army which became almost entirely
mercenary and was consequently a heavy expense" (Hussey p.76; cf Treadgold
1997: 749, 819).
The pronoia, usually consisted of the concession of the income from cultivated
lands together with the paroikoi [tenants, workers] established on the land in
question, and it included not only the taxes but part of the income of the land as
well. However, various fiscal rights of the state, unrelated to land, such as for
instance customs dues, water rights and fishing rights, were also given as
pronoiai. In most cases, the pronoia was granted to an individual, either for a
specific period of time or, more often, for life, in return for his military service. —
Foundation for the Hellenic World, ‘Economics in the Late Byzantine Period’
online at, accessed 2009.

In these years, Byzantium’s main opponents were the Serbs in the west and the
Turks in the east. The latter, however, were not a unified power but divided into
several statelets or beyliks. The Ottomans, under their first emir Osman, 1281-
1326, were at first just one of a half-dozen Turkish ghazi emirates or beyliks in
Asia Minor recognising the distant suzerainty of Rum and their overlords the
Mongol Ilkhans of Persia.

1282-1328: ANDRONICUS II Palaeologus


Son of Michael VIII, Andronicus was aged 24 at accession.

First wife: Anna of Hungary, d. 1281. Second wife, marr. 1284:

Yolanda-Irene of Montferrat, dau. of the Marquis of Montferrat in
"Germanic" Italy, d. 1317. Andronicus's sisters married John Asen III
of Bulgaria and John III of Trebizond.
— In their own signatures, the emperors of the Palaeologan dynasty
used the following formula: X en Khristoi toi theoi basileus kai
autokrator ton Rhomaion ho Palaiologos, ie. "X in Christ the God,
sovereign and emperor of the Romans [= Byzantines] the
— The gold coin of Byzantium, the hyperpyron, now contained 14
carats; by 1310 this would be reduced to 12.

Andronicus was “a well-educated prince, eloquent, devoted to learning, and very

pious, but weak, and susceptible to every influence, especially to that of his
second wife, Yolande de Montferrat. He was devoid of any political qualities.” —
Diehl in Baynes 1949: p.44.

The Balkans: Now formally allied with the Angevins, John Doukas of Thessaly
again attacks Byzantine Macedonia. Emperor Michael appealed for help from his
son-in-law* Nogai, the khan of the Golden Horde [Kipchak Empire], who sent
4,000 troops. But no expedition proceeded against Thessaly because meanwhile
Michael died – in December 1282 (LBA p.64). Andronicus acceded to the throne.
See 1283.
“With him [Michael VIII] died the last pretence that the union of the churches
[West and East] could ever be achieved by force” (Nicol, Lady p.38).

(*) As noted earlier, Michael married two of his illegitimate and adopted
daughters to the ‘Mongol’ kings: Euphrosyne married Nogay, khan of the Golden
Horde; and Maria married Abagha, khan of Persia.

2. Sole emperor from 1282, Andronikos II immediately repudiated his father's

unpopular Church union with the Papacy, but was unable to resolve the related
schism within the Orthodox clergy until 1310. Andronikos was also plagued by
economic difficulties, and during his reign the value of the Byzantine hyperpyron
depreciated precipitously while the state treasury accumulated more than seven
times less revenue (in nominal coins) than it had done previously. —Wikipedia,
2009, ‘Andronicus II’.

At the beginning of his reign, in 1282, Andronicus ruled probably about five
million people; by 1312, however, after the loss of almost all of Byzantine Asia
Minor, he will rule only around two million. “The empire [will lose] at least half
its population in 30 years. This was the real catastrophe”, writes Treadgold,
State p. 841.


3. SW Asia Minor, inland in the Meander valley: Possible date of a second

capture, and destruction, of Byzantine Tralles - the future Aydin - by Menteshe’s
Turks. Nearby Nyssa [Tk: Sultanhisar], further upstream, also fell (Parry & Cook
1976: 12). Langdon (1992) prefers to date this to late 1283 or early 1284. See
below under ca. 1283.

According to Pachymeres, the fortress-town of Tralles had recently [ca 1280]

been repopulated or recolonised and re-fortified with as many as “36,000” Greek
settlers or re-settlers (3,600 would be more credible). The Turks reduced the
town by blockade and starvation, refusing to let the inhabitants surrender until
most of them had died (Pachymeres, "De Michaele Palaeologo", VI, 20 and 21, in
Patrologica Graeca, CXLIII, 929-34, cited in Vryonis 1971). See 1294.
Lindner: “In 1282 [or earlier] Michael's son Andronicus led a force up the
Meander to rebuild and resettle Aydin/Tralles. He planned to create a large and
prosperous city, and a friendly estimate of the population of his new foundation
endows this "Andronicopolis" with the improbable total of ‘36,000’ [sic]
residents. When Andronicus departed without engaging the Turks in the
surrounding countryside, they cut (ca. 1283) the water supply and forced the
city's prompt capitulation.” The Turkish leader on this occasion was one
Menteshe Bey (Pachymeres VI.21, cited by Hopwood, “Frontiers” p.158).
Lower Meander Valley: The Turks destroy, ca. 1283, a “large” army under
Andronicus Nestongus at Nyssa, modern Sultanhisar, upstream from Tralles;
Nestongus is captured. Following this, the Turks cut off the water supply to the
refortified town of Tralles and it was forced to surrender (1283 or 1284)
(Langdon p.10).
This sealed the fate of the lower Meander. See 1293: tribute exacted from
Byzantine Miletus.

NW Asia Minor: Failure also marked Michael's own effort in Bithynia. There,
frontier garrisons which had not received their wages left their posts. In early
1282 Turks on the lower Sakarya had already repelled Byzantine troops. As
noted earlier, Michael's expedition took the field late in the summer. He
advanced up the Sakarya south-east of Nicaea and was soon surrounded by the
desolation which his western concerns had crowded out of his mind. He was
unable to catch the retreating Turks (Sinor 1996: 16). Cf 1285/86: Bursa.

1. The west Aegean: The last occasion on which a Byzantine blue-water
fleet was sent into action was in 1283: about 80 [or 73] galleys and other
vessels went to support an army that had invaded Thessaly. (Cf 1329, 1348, 1321.)
This required the imposition of extra taxes.
In 1283, as we have seen, Andronikos’ first cousin the protovestarios (‘Master
of Robes’) Michael Tarchaneiotes led a large army overland to Demetrias (at the


top of the gulf south-east of Larissa), a fortress town held by the Thessalians
under John Doukas’s son Michael. There the army was joined by the fleet of 80
ships under Tarchaneiotes’s brother in law Alexios Raoul, son of Ioannes Raoul
Komnenos Doukas Angelos Petraliphas. The Byzantines took the town, but they
were then struck down by disease and had to withdraw (LBA p.68).

Andronikos thereafter disbanded or at least heavily reduced the size of the navy
(1285) in order to concentrate his meagre budget on his land forces. By the year
1300, Constantinople had lost control over most of the Aegean (Nicol pp.114-15;
LBA p.66). Cf 1285, 1296.

Evidently the Palaeologian army was never larger than about 5,000 men, or at
least not after 1300 (Treadgold 1997: 819). Cf 1304, 1321.

2. Anatolia: Ahmet, the Mongol khan of Persia, orders the Seljuq leader
Keykhusrev III murdered and he instals the latter’s nephew Ghiyas al-Din
[“Giyas-eddin”] Mes’ud II as Seljuk puppet ruler at Erzincan. Mes’ud’s cousin
Keykubad III contests control of the west/southwest (until 1298). Cf 1290.

Aragon: fl. Ramon Lull, writer in Catalan and Latin. The first considerable
writer in a Romance language. Cf Dante = 1315. After Castile, Aragon was
the second strongest power in Iberia, Portugal occupying third place.
Muslim rule was limited to the small emirate of Granada. See 1291 for
more on Lull.

Gregory of Cyprus, patriarch in Constantinople. A student of George Acropolites
[see under 1261], Gregory wrote an autobiography and many theological works.

1. The first Venetian gold coins appear: the pure-gold ducat, from Lat. Ducatus
“duchy”. This was a token of the collapse or near collapse of the debased
Byzantine gold coin, the hyperpyron. The ducat quickly ousted the
hyperpyron as the standard currency for Mediterranean trade.

2. The Serbian king Dragutin was given Belgrade by the Hungarian Crown; for
the first time Belgrade came under Serbian rule.

1284: Naval battle of Meloria: Genoa crushes Pisa; the latter never



Italian art: In his altarpiece of the Madonna Enthroned with Angels and
Prophets, the Florentine painter Cimabue (pron. “chimabooway”) moves beyond
the strict conventions of the Italo-Byzantine style towards an increased
naturalism in the treatment of space and in the solid three-dimensionality of the
Virgin's throne. He is generally regarded as the last great Western painter
working in the Byzantine tradition. Cf 1291 - Cavallini.

Kipchak and Mongol troops of the Golden Horde led by Nogai made an
unsuccessful attack against Hungary in 1285 alongside Cuman troops.
After ravaging Transylvania, Nogai was beaten off by the Hungarian royal
army under Ladislaus IV in an area near Pest and ambushed by the
Szekely (Transylvanian Magyars) in the return.

1. Asia Minor: Osman’s Turks capture the Byzantine fort known to them as
“Kuluca-Hisar” in the vicinity of Inegöl, i.e. east of Bursa. Or in 1288, if we follow
Linder. Inegöl was about two thirds of the way from Osmanic Sögüt to imperial
Ottoman tradition has it that in 1284 the Seljuq sultan or pretender Alaeddin
Keykubat sent a decree announcing that the rule of the border frontline region
around Sögüt was given to Osman Gazi. —Turkish Ministry of Culture,
‘Chronology’, at; accessed 2008.
More likely, Osman’s Turks operated under the oversight of the Germiyanids:
see 1286 and 1288 below.

2. As noted, Andronikos disbanded or at least heavily reduced the size of the navy
(1285) in order to concentrate his meagre budget on his land forces (Nicol pp.114-
15; LBA p.66).

To save expenses, Andronicus dismisses his two marine regiments, the

Gasmouloi and Tzakones, thus effectively disbanding the Byzantine navy,
preferring to rely wholly on Genoese ships to transport his small army (Treadgold
1997: 747). Bartusis, LBA pp.68-69, reads it as a heavy reduction rather than a
complete disbanding: the rowers continued to serve, and not all the Gasmouloi
were immediately discharged. By about 1320 (see under 1321), Byzantium
maintained only about 10 galleys, compared with at least 50 in the 1270s. (On
Treadgold’s figures, 1997: 843, the cost of maintaining and manning one war-
galley was equivalent to the pay of about 1,400 soldiers.)
Inalcik (“Siege” p.95) sees the decision as sensible, as the emperor had to pay
his mainly ‘mercenary’ (salaried) land-troops to resist the Turcoman onslaught in
Anatolia. Cf 1292: Genoese ships.

According to Gregoras, the unemployed Byzantine mariners ran away and joined


the Turks, i.e. presumably at the Seljuk ports of Antalya and Sinope (cited by
Zachariadou p.216).

3. Church of ‘St Mary of the Mongols’ in Constantinople: As we noted earlier,

Maria Palaeologina, illegitimate-adopted daughter of Michael VIII Palaeologus
(1261-1282), had been given in marriage to the Khan of the Mongols, Hulagu or
Abagu (thus Pachymeres). After the death of her husband (1265), she returned to
Constantinople and founded the convent and church, probably in 1285.

Gunpowder reaches the Levant

The ‘Book of Horsemanship and the Art of War’ was written in 1285 by Najm al-
Din Ahdab, a Syrian officer (Syria was then under the Mamluk-Egyptian rule). It
is full of information on how to distill oil to make kerosene; how to prepare
explosives from gunpowder; how to fit the multiple fuses into the various kinds of
"naphtha pots"; and even how to build "flying fire"- rockets! The author includes
sketches (drawings) of the weapons he mentions, and one is indeed a crude
missile armed with a "naphtha pot". But, were all of these weapons actually used?
There are no written records saying they were. Cf earlier under 1218. —Zayn
Bilkadi (1995), ‘The Oil Weapons’,;
accessed 2009.
The first reference to guns (cannons) in the Balkans comes in 1378 [in 1389
they are said to have been used by both Serbs and Turks at Kossovo]; but
firearms would not decide field battles until the 1500s. The Genoese of Galata
were using primitive bombards from 1392 (LBA p.337).

1285 or 86:
1a. (c.1286:) NW Asia Minor: The Byzantine magistrates responsible for Inegöl,
SE of Bursa, and Karacahisar or ‘Kuluc-hisar’, just east of Dorylaeum/Eskisehir,
cooperate to resist the Turks of Osman Gazi. According to Lindner, these two
fortress-towns held out until 1288; and he thinks Karacahisar was actually a
Germiyanid fortress.
As we noted earlier, Osman’s father, the ghazi chief Ertugrul, under Seljuk or
Germiyan suzerainty, had formed, c. 1277, a small lordship at Sogut, 125 km east
of Brusa (see next), about halfway between Nicaea and Eskisehir, the former
Dorylaeum. Presumably in the period 1277-85, the Turks raided westward
towards Bursa. See next; also 1286: Germiyan beylik.

1b. Prousa/Bursa: “A letter of 1285 or 1286 from Patriarch Gregory II proves that
danger [from the Turks] had already touched Bursa. Andronicus had imposed a
fine on the city, and the patriarch had received complaints of its severity. He
advised Andronicus of the difficulty in raising such a large sum, as the nearby
Turks [i.e. east of Byzantine Inegöl] would remain a threat to the city's
prosperity, and, if there were no resources left locally, might bring about its ruin.
Gregory claimed that the proposed fine of 600 hyperpyra was excessive: 300
would be quite enough. For the sake of comparison, the proposed pension to be


granted to the akritai [border militia] of Asia Minor under Michael VIII in the
1260s had been 40 hyperpyra each [per year]. Bursa's commerce and the silk
trade must have been languishing indeed, if a single levy of 600 hyperpyra was
considered a crushing blow” (thus Lindner). On the other hand, Cassidy p. 88
(citing Anarkis) proposes that Prousa may have had as many as 30,000
Cf 1290-93 below.

Beautiful Rumi

In Muslim writings of this period the physical beauty of the Rumi or Byzantine
people is emphasised, as it was in earlier centuries.
The Baghdad-based Persian cosmographer al-Qazwini, d. AH 682, AD 1285,
states that the Rumi or Byzantines were mostly white, with blond hair: i.e. brown
or light brown, and sturdy bodies. Similarly, the Andalusian-born geographer Ibn
Sa‘id, d. AH 678 or 685: 1274 or 1286, stresses the whiteness and blondness of
the Byzantines, stating that the inhabitants of the ‘sixth climate’ (the north) are
characterized by extreme whiteness, blue eyes, and blond hair and they often
have freckles on their faces.
These physical attributes were highly valued, as can be deduced from various
adab works and special manuals, which delineate the prevalent Arab typology of
beauty. —Nadia Maria El-Cheikh, ‘The Islamic View of Late Byzantium’, at; accessed 2010.

Arta in Epiros: The Church of Parigoritria was built during 1285-89 by
Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas and his wife Anna Palaiologina Cantacuzene. It
is an attractively-crafted four-storey building.

From 1285:

After 1285 the Byzantine navy suffered catastrophic losses, and by the year 1300
Constantinople had lost control over most of the Aegean. See next.

Seeking to increase revenue and reduce expenses, Andronikos II raised taxes and
reduced tax exemptions, and dismantled or heavily reduced the Byzantine
fleet (80 ships) in 1285, thereby making the Empire increasingly dependent on
the rival republics of Venice and Genoa. In 1291, he hired 50-60 Genoese ships
(LBA, pp. 67 ff; Fryde 2000: 93). Edmund Fryde calls this “one of the most
fateful misjudgments of his reign”.
Later, in 1320, he tried to resurrect the navy by constructing 20 galleys, but he

2. Anatolia: After the execution of Ghiyas ad-Din Kay-Khusraw III in 1284, the
Mongols gave the Seljuk throne to Ghiyas ad-Din Mas'ud II (1285-98, 1303-08), a


son of 'Izz ad-Din Kay-Ka`us, who had come from Crimea to claim his patrimony.
However, he made Kayseri, not Konya, the seat of his government. His reign
marks the definitive rise to power of the Türkmen frontier chieftains, especially
the Qaramanids, the Ashrafids, and, on the Byzantine borders, the Germiyanids.
—Encyc. Brit. ‘Anatolia’,
decline; accessed 2009.
See 1286 and 1290.

Mas’ud led several ineffectual campaigns against the emerging Turkmen

principalities, the Beyliks, always on behalf of the Mongols and usually with
Mongol troops. Notable among these is the expedition beginning late in 1286
against the Germiyan.

1. Syria/Mesopotamia: d. ‘Bar-Hebraeus’ (Gregory Abu al-Faraj), catholicus
(patriarch) and historian of the Monophysite or “Jacobite” church. His nickname
derives from his birthplace, Ebra near Malatya. Studied in Antioch and Lebanese
Tripoli, then under the rule of the Egyptian Mamluks. Bishop of Aleppo and then
primate of the Syriac Christians. He left a large historical work called
Makhtbhanuth Zabhne, or Chronicon, in which he considers history from the
Creation down to his own day.

2. Turkish Anatolia: The role of the Germiyan line was key to the emergence of
the western Anatolian beyliks. Their state was based on Kütahya, SW of
Dorylaeum, and founded or formalised in 1286 (Nicolle 2008: 29). The first emir
was ‘Alishir, known as "Karmanos [Karaman] Alisourios" to the Byzantine
historian Gregoras and "Alisuras" to Pachymeres (Nicol 1993: 142).
The beylik rapidly attracted considerable support as a centre of resistance to
Mongol (Persian Il-Khan) domination, and Germiyan beys also sent raiders (or
allowed them to go) down the western valleys to take over Byzantine territory.
Several commanders of such forces established their own beyliks, which
eventually stretched as far as the Aegean coast (see 1304). This was the origin of
Aydın and Saruhan, who soon became significant sea powers, and Karasi
who, despite eventually covering a large area facing the Byzantines across the
Dardanelles, initially lacked a formidable navy. The first little Ottoman beyliks
[see 1290] also seem to have emerged as an offshoot of the Germiyan.

Kantakouzenos (senior), father of the future emperor, was Governor of the
Peloponnese, ca 1286-1294. Born ca 1265, died in the Peloponnese 1294 (his son
was born after his death); m. ca 1290/92: Theodora Palaiologina Angelina, born
1275-78, died under house arrest in Constantinople, 6.1.1342, buried in the
Convent of Kyra-Martha, possibly the dau. of General Chandrenos and Theodote
Glabaina Tarchaneiotissa (thus website; accessed 2010.)


1. Asia: Osman’s Turks capture (c. 1288) the one-time Byzantine fortress of
Karacahisar, south of Dorylaeum (Eskisehir). Lindner calls this the ‘first
conquest of the proto-Ottomans’. Based at Sogut, NW of Dorylaeum,
Osman’s tribe was probably still a junior member of the Germiyan beylik. See
--- Lindner thinks Osman captured Karacahisar, near Eskisehir, from fellow
Turks, i.e. the Germiyanids. —Explorations in Ottoman Prehistory, p. 80.
--- “Except for an episode in the last half of the 1280s, the emirs of Germiyan had
been Seljuk allies, and they seem to have inherited some of the Seljuk pretensions
to authority, weak though it may have been, over the marches. It is my belief that
the enmity between the Ottomans and Germiyan goes back to the Ottoman
seizure of Karacahisar, . . . . It also seems that Germiyan favoured harsher
treatment of the Byzantines than did Osman. Under these conditions, living with
hostile neighbours to the south and threatening Mongols to the east, Osman's
interest in co-existence with the relatively weak Byzantines makes sense. Some of
these Byzantines found him a promising leader and they joined the tribe,
becoming his followers, or ‘Osmanlis’ ” (Lindner).

2. The eastern Aegean: Benedetto I Zaccaria, c. 1235–1307, the Genoese-born

admiral, breaks with the empire as the Lord of Phocaea from 1288 and later the
first Lord of Chios (from 1304), the founder of Zaccaria fortunes in Byzantine and
Latin Greece.
Already a successful merchant, Benedetto – aged about 29 - had first appeared
as a Genoese ambassador to the Byzantine court in 1264. In 1275, at imperial
invitation, he was first appointed administrator of the mines of Phocea. He built a
plantation there, from which he traded with a number of Mediterranean and
Asian cities, accumulating considerable wealth. In 1282, still in the emperor's
service, he acted as an ambassador to Peter III of Aragon, counselling him to
continue the war with Angevins over Sicily.

3. The Balkans: The empire recovers the region around Dyrrhachium from the
Angevins (the French of Sicily).

Nicholas IV, the first Franciscan pope.

1288-1326: Large church and town clocks begin to appear in England and
France: true clocks with non-Chinese style ’escapements’. The metaphor of
the world as a huge piece of clockwork first appears in the writings of
Nicholas of Oresme (1382).

Asia Minor: One traditional date (others give “1299”) for the supposed handover
to Osman Gazi of the authority for the areas in and around Eskisehir (Gk:
Dorylaeum) and Inönü by the Seljuq sultan or pretender Alaeddin Keykubat [Ala
ad-Din Kayqubad III] (website, 2010).
The Il-Khans, the Mongol overlords of the East, variously deposed and installed


several sultans in Anatolia – in formal terms it was Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II who
was sultan in 1289.

2. Palestine-Lebanon: The Mamluks under sultan Qalawun take Christian Tripoli

and Beirut. Now only NE Palestine - Acre, Tyre, and Sidon - and the two Templar
castles of Tortosa [Syria] and Athlit remained in Latin hands (Irwin 1986: 75).
See 1290.

Above: Icon of St Demetrius, ca 1290, Monastery of Protatos, Mt Athos. His

corselet is lamellar armour, upwards-overlapping iron platelets. The transverse
cord tied with a knot may be a baldric or perhaps a shield-strap.
The saint is generally depicted as beardless, but does sometime appear with a
beard. Beardlessness indicates his youth, not that he was a eunuch.


1. Osman or Uthman: 1259–1326, leader of the Ottoman Turks - as they would
later be called after him - and founder of the dynasty. He proclaimed (1290) his
independence from his nominal overlord, the Seljuk Turks, upon the collapse of
their empire. In that year his name began to be read aloud during the Friday
prayer service, signalling the beginning of his independence (discussion in
Singh p. 68). See 1299-1300.
Aided by an influx of Muslim warriors, Osman will - from about 1300 - expand
his state in NW Asia Minor at the expense of the petty Christian lords (Byzantine
magnates) who are his neighbours. By 1308 Ottoman rule will extend NW to the
Sea of Marmara. See 1290-93 below.

2. 1290-91: The Egyptian Sultan Qalawun dies en route to capture Christian Acre
on 10 November 1290; but his son al-Kalil conquers it the following year. Acre,
the last Latin/Crusader foothold in Palestine, falls (1291) to Islam in the
shape of Mamluk Egypt (Bradbury 2004). End of 'Frankish’/Christian rule in the
Holy Land. The Knights of St John (‘Hospitallers’) transfer to Cyprus.

3. fl. Theodora Kantakuzaina Raoulina (c.1240-1300), nun and scholar.

In 1256 she married the high official George Mouzalon, a commoner who in
1258 (see there) momentarily became regent before being assassinated by the
aristocracy and the military, among them her uncle Michael Palaiaolos, who took
the throne as Michael VIII. She was then married to John Raoul, one of Michael’s
allies, who now became chamberlain. She was exiled for her opposition to the
emperor’s policy of uniting the Eastern and Western churches. After her uncle’s
death, by now a nun, she embarked on a life of scholarship (1285: aged about 45).
In her works she quotes from many of the ancient Greek texts such as Homer and
Euripides (Nicol, Lady, chapter 3).

1290: First successful French gold coin, the petit royal assis.

c. 1290: Eye-glasses or ‘spectacles’ seem to have been invented in Florence

in 1285 or a few years later. These were convex lenses, of help only to the
far-sighted. Concave lenses of use to the near-sighted were not developed
until the 16th century (Cipolla, Before the Industrial Revolution, 1994,

Asia Minor: fl. Yunus Emre, Turkish poet and mystic (sufi). He almost
certainly lived in east-central Anatolia in the Karaman (Larende) area and
belonged to a family who had emigrated from Khorasan (NW Persia) to the
village of Seyh Haci Ismail. He was a contemporary of Rumi, who lived in
the same region. Rumi composed his collection of stories and songs for a
well-educated urban circle of Sufis, writing primarily in the literary
language of Persian. Yunus Emre, on the other hand, travelled and taught


among the rural poor, singing his songs in the common tongue of Turkish.

Emperor Andronicus spent the years from 1290 to 1293 in Anatolia arranging
defences (Lindner, in Sinor 1996).
He went to Bithynia and examined the fortified keeps near the Sakarya River,
east of Nicaea. He then turned south-west to Nicaea and Lopadion which is
modern Ulubad, west of Prusa-Bursa. After lengthy stays in these two towns, he
moved (1291) south to Nymphaeum (inland from Smyrna), where he passed two
years in the former Lascarid capital. (See under 1291.) He concerned himself with
the towns and their security, if not with their provisioning. He made no sorties
into the countryside, and the chroniclers do not record any encounters with
Turkish forces (as Lindner remarks). Cf 1291, 1294.
— This would mean only that the emperor did not go up into the highlands. For
Halil Inalcik states, in “Osman Ghazi’s siege”, that despite claims to the contrary
by Pachymeres, it was not until after 1300 that Osman raided down as far as the
lower Sakarya/Sangarius River [i.e. east of Nicomedia]. See below: “defection” of
— In the SW, the middle Meander valley, including Tralles/Aydin, had been lost
in the early 1280s. Thus in the 1290s the borderline between Greek and Turk
must have run along the hills (watershed) between the Hermus Valley (including
Smyrna and Nymphaeum) and the Meander Valley (including Tralles/Aydin). Cf
1293 and 1294: the struggle for Miletus; and 1297: Philadelphia as a Byzantine
border stronghold.

From c.1290:
Candar or Jandar Dynasty: also called Isfendiyar, a Turkmen dynasty (c. 1290-
1461) that ruled in the Kastamonu-Sinop region of northern Anatolia.
Paphlagonia: Ian Booth [] writes that
“Candar Bey made …. Eflâni [NE of Karabuk; west of Kastamonu] his capital in
1291, which means that it was still in Byzantine hands until then. However
Candar’s attack on Kastamonu in 1309 suggests that it was no longer a Ghazi
state by then, which is consistent with Pachymeres’ claim [queried by most
historians] that in the 1290s the Ghazi fighters of Paphlagonia joined Osman on
the Sangarios frontier.”
Booth proposes that Paphlagonia defected from the empire rather than
being conquered: “Andronikos II’s financial and military policies caused the
loss of Anatolia, but … people are usually unwilling to change sides unless they
can see a very good reason for doing so. … I believe that in 1291 such a reason
existed. Mongol control was slipping, so that instead of facing a great power, with
its need to support an army and an aristocracy, Byzantium faced the Beyliks.
Young, vigorous, more democratic and short of manpower, they offered the
Byzantine peasant[s] hope, in return for a change of religion.”

Italy: As noted earlier, the Florentine painter known as “Cimabue”, pron: ‘chee-
ma-boo-way’: Bencivieni di Pepo, c. 1240-1302, was the last great Italian artist


in the Byzantine style, which had dominated early medieval painting in Italy.
Among his surviving works are the frescoes of New Testament scenes in the
upper church of S. Francesco, Assisi; the “Sta. Trinita Madonna” (c. 1290; Uffizi,
Florence); and the “Madonna Enthroned with St. Francis” (c.1290–95; lower
church of S. Francesco). See 1291 – Cavallini.
The first ‘post-Byzantine’ painter was Cimabue’s pupil Giotto (aged 20 in about
1287), who among many other things painted a portrait of his near coeval Dante.
In his Purgatorio Dante (aged about 37 when Cimabue died in 1302) wrote:
O vanity of human powers,
how briefly lasts the crowning green of glory,
unless an age of darkness follows!
In painting Cimabue thought he held the field
but now it's Giotto has the cry,
so that the other's fame is dimmed.

Art historiographers from the 14th century to the present have recognised the art
and career of Cimabue as the dividing line between the old and the new traditions
in Western European painting. - Source: “Cimabue", Encyclopædia Britannica.
2006. Accessed 2010. <>.

1. Asia: As noted, after inspecting the Sangarius frontier, Andronicus proceeded
south to the old Nicaean capital of Nymphaeum, which, since the loss of the
Meander valley [cf above: 1269 and 1282], had become a border fort.
(Nymphaeum: inland from Smyrna; modern-day Kemalpasha). Cf 1293 –
Miletus, and 1294.

2. Epirus: (or 1292:) Following a revolt in Epirus, fomented by the Angevin king
Charles of Naples, Andronicus had a Genoese fleet land a small force there, but
the Epirote leader Nicephoros called in the Latins of the Peloponnese [where
Florent of Hainaut was Prince of Achaea] and they defeated the Byzantines and
Genoese. Cf 1294: recapture of Miletus.
--- The Byzantine expedition was made up mainly of Turks and Byzantino-
Cuman soldiers; there were no Latin mercenaries enrolled on the imperial side.
This is the last occasion on which we hear of Byzantino-Cuman soldiers (the
descendants of the Cumans earlier settled in Byzantine Anatolia), presumably
because by 1300 they became culturally fully assimilated (LBA p.27).
--- According to the Chronicle of Morea (Lurier p.315), 60 or 40 Genoese galleys
were hired; this fleet sailed around to the Adriatic coast off Arta. That number of
ships might have carried several thousand troops. Simultaneously a large land
army of “14,000” cavalry and “30,000” infantry (sic: 1,400 horse and 3,000 foot
would be more credible: total say 3,400?) proceeded through central Greece
(“Vlachia”) to Yannina/Ioannina, the fortress-town north of Arta. Hearing that
the prince of Achaia was approaching with an army (possibly they did not know
he commanded only 400-500 men), the imperial army withdrew. The fleet too
withdrew after some inconsequential plundering (LBA p.70).


3. Macedonia: Stephen Milutin of Serbia took from the empire Scopia [Skopje]
and the upper Axius (Vardar) valley, the river that runs SE from Skopje. Others
say Skopje had been taken in 1282 (Nicol 1993: 119; the chronology is disputed:
discussion in Fine 1994: 219). Cf 1297.

4. Emergence of Western art: In his fresco of the Last Judgment (c.1291) in the
church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome, Pietro Cavallini abandons
Byzantine conventions and paints more sculpturally solid, almost perspectivised,
figures. One might call it, Whiggishly, a ‘pre-Renaissance’ style.

GO HERE for a detailed photograph in high resolution:

The East: The civil war in the llkhanid (Mongol-Persian) Empire (1291-1295) and
a series of rebellions on the part of several Mongol military governors in Anatolia
(Tughachar and Baltu in 1297; Sulemish in 1298-99) with the ensuing repressions
resulted in the immigration of more Turcomans and, now, of certain Mongol
tribes as well, putting further pressure on the Byzantine frontier. —Inalcik 1980.

Latins Closing the Gap with Byzantium

“The rebirth of the state [in the West] and, thereby, of its tributary
domination, observable in [western] Europe since the thirteenth century,
had the effect of bringing about the establishment of detailed fiscal
registers, first of all in the large Italian communes. The oldest surviving
fiscal cadasters, such as the great cadaster of Orvieto of 1292, have been
analyzed with the help of the computer. The analysis shows clearly that
they, like the equivalent Byzantine documents, followed principles of
bureaucratic formalization that, in themselves, were responses to the needs
of the state and to social conditions”: Toubert in Laiou ed., 2002: 388.

Stoned in Tunis

Preaching to the unconvertible: About 1291, but some say 1285, the Catalan*
(Majorcan-born) royal official, monk and writer Ramon Lull or Llull - he is
known to us mainly as an author - went to Tunis, preached to the Muslims
or ‘Saracens’, disputed with them in philosophy, and after another brief
sojourn in Paris, returned to the East as a Christian missionary.
Others place this in 1293. Deciding on an overseas mission, Llull enlisted
the support of James II of Aragon, who recommended him to King Abu Hafs
Omar I of Tunis, where Llull arrived in mid-1293. Adopting a common
Dominican tactic, Llull challenged local Islamic scholars to a debate on the
relative truth of their faiths, which led to his speedy banishment from Tunis
and return to Naples.


(*) At this time Catalonia was part of the kingdom of Aragon, which ruled
the NE quarter of our Spain, and also the Balearics including Majorca.

Lull was in Tunis again in 1304. After undergoing many hardships and
privations, he returned to Europe in 1311 for the purpose of laying before
the Council of Vienna his plans for the conversion of the ‘Moors’ to
Christianity. Again in 1314 or 1315, now an old man of 82, he set out for
Tunis—the Hafsid caliphate of Tunis: cf above 1270—where he was stoned
nearly to death by the Saracens. Evacuated to Majorca, he died soon
thereafter (1316) from the effects of the stoning.

Lower Greece: The Chronicle of Morea covers the period 1202-1292 in the
Peloponnese: English trans. H.E. Lurier, Crusaders as Conquerors: The
Chronicle of Morea, New York: Columbia UP, 1964.

SW Asia Minor: The Turks applied a policy of extracting tribute from the
Byzantine towns and the countryside which they controlled but had not yet
conquered. In about 1293 the Turks of the Maiandros - the Upper Meander Valley
- imposed a tribute upon Miletos, the Greek town near the mouth of the
Meander. See next.

Asia: In 1293 Alexios Doukas Philanthropenos, a soldier with much experience
(but also with Arsenite* connections), was sent by Andronicus to the south to
secure the lower Maeander Valley. Philanthropenos advanced into the emirate of
Menteshe and his troops recaptured the fortress of Melanoudion (north of
Philanthropenus successfully protected Miletus from Turkish bands, securing
booty in gold, silver, sheep- and donkey-skins. His accomplishments, and his
generosity to his enemies in victory, won over some Turks, who formed a
separate corps among his men. His soldiers, and the populace he was protecting,
rose in revolt against Constantinople in 1294 (or in 1296) under his banner: to
the Greek farmers he represented a blow against high taxes, and to the nomad
Turks (in Lindner’s view) he was a successful (tribal?) chief. Hopwood,
“Frontiers’ p.159, sees this as an attempt to set up a separatist state in the uç
Andronicus and his advisors had to rely on bribery and deceit to put down the
revolt and, in late 1295, to imprison and blind its leader ( - thus Lindner).

(*) From Arsenios Autoreianos, Patriarch of Constantinople (1254-59 and 1261-

65). A supporter of the rights of the Laskarids and a defender of the observation
of the rules of the Church. He was deposed by Michael VIII Palaiologos. His
followers, the ‘Arsenites’, broke away from the official Church, causing what
became known as the Arsenite schism, which ended in 1310 when a compromise
was negotiated with the Church, during the reign of Andronikos II.


1. SW Asia Minor: As noted, Andronicus' nephew Alexius Philanthropenos
campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor and briefly recaptures Miletus (in the
far SW: Milet, near Aydin). He enlisted defeated Turks and Greek refugees from
Crete to build up his army and scored what Bartusis calls a “dazzling” series of
victories in 1294-95 (Bartusis, LBA p.74). His soldiers proclaim Philanthropenos
emperor (1295), but his officers are soon bribed into seizing and blinding him. Cf
1295, 1296.
Alexios Philanthropenos Tarchanaiotes was placed in command of Nymphaion
and Lydia during the Turkish campaign ordered by Emperor Andronikos II in the
early 1290s. He advanced into the emirate of Menteshe and recaptured
Melanoudion, the fortress in the Meander Valley inland from (north of) Miletos.

An island monastery abandoned by its monks before 1295 served as residence of

the widow of the emir of Menteshe. Alexis Philanthropenos besieged and took
over this island, and appropriated the riches. —Ragia 2007.

2. Lower Greece: Philip of Anjou, Prince of Taranto, is named by his father,

Charles of Naples, as putative suzerain of all the Angevin possessions in the
Balkans, from Albania to Athens, and is invested with the presumptive title
‘Despot of Romania’ (meaning in this context present-day Greece).
Philip marries (1294) Thamar Angela Komnene Dukaina, “Lady of Bonditza
and Lepanto”, the daughter of Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, despot of Epirus
and Anna Kantakuzene. With this marriage, Philip becomes leader of the
Aetholian league and Prince of Corfu. He also buys the title and much of the
possessions of the Despotate of Epirus.

1294: (1) Death of the Mongol (Yuan) emperor of China, Khubilai Khan.

(2) The Venetians build the first of the so-called ‘great galleys’ – armed
cargo-galleys that were longer, deeper and broader and so more suited to
transporting goods: hull about eight m wide; length 53 m – about twice as
wide and 30% longer than before (Casson, in Gardiner 2004: 123, 125).
See next.

Venice vs Genoa in the Adriatic, Marmara and Black Seas.
At Laiazzo, on the coast of Armenia, the Genoese were victorious (1294). The
Venetians retaliated by destroying the Genoese quarter of Galata, the region or
suburb opposite Constantinople on the north (1296). Then in 1298 Lamba Doria,
an early representative of the Doria family, famous in the annals of Genoa, totally
destroyed a Venetian fleet of 95 galleys near the island of Curzola or Korcula, an
island off the (Venetian-ruled) Dalmatian coast. —Kleinheinz Med Ital 2004, I:
307; Cath. Encyc., under ‘Genoa’, at




Above: Icon of St Mercurius, 1295.

The nature of his armour is obscure: perhaps lamellar at the neck and a
corselet with mail underlay? His sword/sabre looks about 70 cm long (around 2 ft
4 in).

1. Asia: Following the capture and blinding of Alexius Philanthropenos, Turks re-
invade and again seize the Meander Valley in east-central Asia Minor. The region
was by 1300 divided between the emirs of Aydin (north), and Menteshe (south).
Interestingly, the Aydin-oglu were Shi’ites (Moosa 1987: 446).
Cf 1296, 1299 and see 1302.

2. Andronicus’s son Michael Palaiologos, aged 18, is made junior emperor of

Byzantium, and marries Rita (aged 17; d. 1333), dau. of King Leo III of Cilician
Armenia. - Cilicia was a small Christian state lodged between the Anatolian
Turks, their overlords the Il-Khans (the Mongols of Persia) and the Egyptians

Italian fleets

“The Venetians, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, never put to

sea a fleet as large as the great Genoese fleet of 1295 with its 165 galleys
and some 35,000 men [av. 212 per vesel], but still fleets of 40 to 50
galleys were common and, allowing a conservative estimate of 200 men on
each galley, that would give 8,000 to 10,000 men for a major battle fleet.”
—Dotson 2001. Cf below: 1296.
Genoese and Venetian naval forces were smaller in the next century: e.g.
a fleet of 35 galleys dispatched by Venice in 1350, soon after the Black
Death: battle of the Bosphorus vs the Genoese under Doria.

Iran: Under Ghazan (Mahmud), the Mongol Ilkhan rulers of Persia convert from
Buddhism to Islam.

1. Asia: Andronicus again marched forth for the east in late May 1296. After a
series of earthquakes (1 June - 17 July), however, which he interpreted as an
admonitory omen, he gave up the campaign (Lindner, ‘Nomads and Ottomans’).

2. A Venetian fleet of 75 ships rows into the Sea of Marmara and attacks and
burns the Genoese colony at Galata and part of Constantinople itself. First of a
series of naval battles fought off Constantinople between the Venetians and the
Genoese, Byzantium's suppliers and protectors.
The Genoese retaliated later in the year, attacking the Venetian quarter in
Constantinople (Norwich, Decline p.262).


When the Venetian-Byzantine war broke out in 1296, Venice openly

encouraged its most prosperous subjects to arm their own galleys and move
independently around the Aegean. The Imperial navy had been
disbanded, and so Andronicus could not prevent the Venetians from
occupying various Aegean islands. Although Genoa and Venice made
peace in 1299, a state of hostilities continued between Byzantium and Venice
until 1302 (Mahaira-Odoni, 2007). Cf 1298.

3. fl. Maximus Planudes [aged about 36], scholar and man of letters, born in
Nicomedia. Imperial secretary and abbot. Teacher and polymath, he was one of
the first Byzantines to have a thorough acquaintance with Latin.
“Arabic” numerals and the zero, originally borrowed from India, were
introduced into Byzantium from Persia by Maximus Planudes in about AD 1300.
He also edited the newest version of the ‘Greek Anthology’, a collection of ancient
and later lyrics and epigrams.
Sent to Venice as ambassador in 1327, “he taught [many] 14th century Italian
humanists, [and] was a pioneer in bridging the intellectual gap between East and
West ...” (Dudley & Lang, p.205). See also under 1310.

4. (or 1295/96:) The Cilician Armenian king Hethum and his brother Thoros
went to Constantinople to see their sister Rita marry the Caesar [junior emperor]
Michael IX Palaeologus.

By 1296:
SW Asia Minor: The Menteshe family, Turkish "ghazi" lords, controlled inland
Caria = further decay of Seljuk and Byzantine rule.
After repulsing a Byzantine attack under Alexius Philanthropenus in 1295 (see
there), Mentese's son Mesud occupied part of the island of Rhodes in 1300. -
Encyc. Britannica 15th ed. ( = ‘EB 15’) under ‘Menteshe’.

After 1300 western Asia Minor will be divided between as many as nine beyliks or
"ghazi emirates". The four western-most beyliks were those of: 1. the Ottomans:
at first at Sogut near Eskisehir; later at Bursa; 2. Sarukhan: at Manisa/Magnesia
from 1313; 3. Aydin: at Birgi; and 4. Menteshe: later at Peçin Kale near
Milas/Mylasa. Cf 1299, 1300, 1302, 1304, 1305, 1308, etc.

1296-1316: Ala-ud-din Khilji (a Pashtun, born Ali Gurshap), ruler of the

Turko-Afghan Khilji dynasty in northern India (”Sultanate of Delhi”).
Mongol incursions from Central Asia were defeated in 1297 and 1299.
McEvedy & Jones’s (1978) guesstimate for the population of the Indian
subcontinent in 1300 is 90 million. Thus the Khilji empire, which extended
from our N Pakistan south to Gujurat and east across N India to present-
day Bangladesh, may have contained some 60 M people . . . compared with
‘only’ 80 M in all of Europe and, after a century of almost non-stop warfare,
85 M in China Proper [the eastern 2/3 of the modern Republic], the latter
down from perhaps 110 M around 1200.


1297, Scotland: Scottish victory over the English at Stirling Bridge. Some
2,300 Scots under Andrew de Moray and William Wallace defeated perhaps
9,000 English and Welsh led by the Earl of Surrey, John de Warenne. A
contemporary said that English losses in the battle were 100 cavalry and
5,000 infantry killed.

The emperor’s cousin John Tarchaneiotes was governor of SW Asia Minor from
1297 or 1298. He was a skilful general with good administrative abilities, and
temporarily improved the position of the Byzantines in the area. But he was
blamed for planning a conspiracy against the emperor and was forced to leave
Asia Minor in 1299/1300.
— General John Tarchaneiotes went south, and in another attempt to rebuild the
local armed forces, equalised the size of soldiers' holdings so that all could afford
to serve. Unwilling donors among the larger pronoiars and the bishop of
Philadelphia (present-day Alasehir) turned against him and secured his recall in
the summer of 1299 or in 1300. —Rudi Lindner, in his Nomads and Ottomans,
Bloomington, 1983.

The tiny so-called ‘empire’ of Trebizond reached its greatest wealth and influence
during the long reign of Alexios II (1297–1330).

Above: Anatolia and the Black Sea in about 1300. Karvuna, NE of Bulgaria
proper, did not in fact become a separate Bulgarian principality until about 1320.


1. Outer Macedonia: Annoyed by the guerilla attacks of the Serbs, Andronikos
sent an army to Macedonia under his nephew Michael Tarchaneiotes Glabas, the
megas konostaulos or ‘great constable’ - commander of the knights. But the
general quickly saw that his regular troops could not easily deal with guerillas,
and he persuaded the emperor to deploy diplomacy (LBA p.73): see 1299,
Metochites’s embassy to Milutin.

2. The emperor's cousin John begins rebuilding a native Byzantine army in Asia
Minor. By 1301 it is clear, however, that the experiment is not successful, the new
troops being judged of poor quality. Cf 1301, 1302.
Bartusis proposes that by this time there were probably more pronoiars
(soldiers drawing their income from farm taxes) - say 3,000? - than mercenaries
(soldiers paid from the imperial treasury) in the central army: say 2,000? (LBA

3. Italy: A Genoese fleet enters the Adriatic and defeats the Venetian navy.
Among the captured Venetians was one Marco Polo.
In a fleet action near Curzola/Korcula in 1298 a Genoese fleet of 78 ships
heavily defeated a Venetian one of 98. However, the Genoese admiral Lamba
Doria also suffered such heavy losses in the battle that he did not press on to the
lagoons of Venice.

Scotland 1298: English victory at Falkirk: The first major battle to be

decided by the longbow. Some 6-12,000 Scots under Wallace were
defeated by 15-18,000 English.

1298-99: Italy: Marco Polo dictates his Description of China.

“Contemporaries [in Europe] were reluctant to believe him … Who can
blame them when Venice, [western] Europe’s largest city had a population
of 160,000 while China’s, Hangchow, had [perhaps] a population of six
million?” (Adshead p.110, citing Elvin’s Pattern of the Chinese Past, 1973).

The Hazards of Overland Travel

After the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261, the eastern part
of the Via Egnatia became once more the main axis for communications with
Thessaloniki, although poor weather conditions were often an impediment to
travel: in November 1298, for example, there was so much snow on the road from
Selymbria [just west of Constantinople] to Thessaloniki that the journey took
Andronikos II more than a month. (In summer travel by ship would be
preferred.) —Avramea 2002.



Tsar Chaka was tsar of Bulgaria from 1298-1300. He was the son of the Mongol
leader Nogai Khan and his Byzantine Greek wife, Euphrosyne, the daughter of
the late Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. He was installed on the Bulgarian
throne by his brother-in-law Theodore Svetoslav.
Chaka had led his supporters into Bulgaria, intimidated the regency for Ivan II
into fleeing the capital, and imposed himself, or was imposed, as ruler in
Turnovo in 1299. It is not completely certain whether he reigned as Emperor of
Bulgaria or simply acted as overlord for Theodore Svetoslav.

Anatolia: acc. of the last Seljuq ruler, Mesud II, 1298.
His reign saw revolts by Seljuk and Mongol generals against the Mongol
overlordship exercised from Persia. In the west, the Turcoman frontier chiefs felt
secure from Mongol intervention, and so they were able to intensify their raids
into the Byzantine lands. The raids extended from the lower Sakarya valley in the
NW to Ephesus in the SW (Inalcik, “Siege” p.82).
The expansion of the Turcoman tribes toward the lower Sangarius (Sakarya)
River and their relentless raids into the Byzantine province of Mesothynion (the
peninsula of Nicomedia) were recorded by the contemporary historian
Pachymeres. He traced this back to the disorders which took place in the
Paphlagonian frontier area between the Sangarius River and Kastamoni. —
Inalcik 1980.

Hoping to interest the Mongol (Persian) Il-khan, and to persuade him to bring
the Turcomans into line, Byzantium arranged for Maria, illegitimate sister of
Andronicus II, to marry Ghazan Khan (died 1304). But the Mongols were unable
or unwilling to deliver on the deal.

By 1299:
Central Asia Minor: At this time, the strongest of the several Turkish
principalities (the "ghazi" emirates) was the beylik (lordship) of the Germiyan-
Oghullari at Kütahya, which controlled most of classical Phrygia [inland west-
central Asia Minor]. An inscription has Ya’qub ruling a large region SW and NE
of Kütahya, namely: from Ankara in the NE to Gumushar, Sivriköy, Simav/Simay
and Kula [near Philadelphia] to the SE and as far as Tripolis on the far upper
Meander [NE of Denizli, near modern Yenicekent]. Afyon (SE of Kütahya),
Denizli itself (Ladik) and Aydin in the lower Meander valley were held by his
relatives or vassals (Freely 2008: 112; also map in Nicolle 2008: 33; but Freely
also says, p.139, that Kutahya was not taken by the Germiyanids until 1302). Cf
1304: Ephesus under threat.
Byzantium paid tribute (money) to Ya'qub I (“Ali Shir”), 1299-1327. The
Ottomans at Sogut (see next) were less powerful. See 1304.

Embassy to Serbia led by Metochites. His ‘caravan’, as Vanni 2007: 12 imagines
it, travelled first to Byzantine Thessalonica and thence by the inland road NNW
to Serbian-ruled Skopje.


So imbued were the Serbs with the imperial ideology of Byzantium that King
Milutin’s court panegyrist, the future archbishop Danilo II, referred to the
basileus of Constantinople as “the universal emperor of New Rome”; and a pupil
of Danilo described him in the same vein as “the orthodox universal emperor, the
Lord Andronicus” (Obolenksy p.327).
Byzantium/Rhomaniya recognised Milutin's conquests in Macedonia. Milutin
came to Thessaloniki, wehere he marries (Easter 1299) the emperor's five-years
old daughter, Simonis.
Simonis, the daughter of Emperor Andronikos II, was married at age five to the
middle-aged ruler of Serbia: aged about 40. He injured her by premature sexual
intercourse so that she was rendered incapable of childbearing (!!)
ml; also in Nicol’s The Byzantine Lady, 1996: 52.

2. NW Asia Minor: The Turks under Osman captured the Byzantine fortress of
Bilecik, known to the Byzantines as Belikoma or Belokoma, SE of Nicaea. Bilecik,
30 km NW of Sogut, was just 40 km from Byzantine Nicaea and 75 km from
Bursa. (Some place this 10 years earlier: in 1289.)
The Turkish Ministry of Culture states that it was in “1298” that Osman’s men
captured the forts of Bilecik, Yarhisar, and Inegöl, and this involved the
presentation of Nilüfer Hatun, a Greek woman captured during the action, to
Osman Gazi to become his wife. – Turkish Ministry of Culture, ‘Chronology’, at; accessed 2008.
Freely 2008: 104, citing Pachymeres, dates the Turkish capture of Bilecik to
after 1302.

Acknowledging this feat, the ex-ruler of Rum (Konya), Alaeddin Keykubat - the
still deposed Ala ad-Din Kay Qubadh III: he will return to the throne 1301-1303 -
sent him "a horsetail, a standard and a drum" as the insignia of sovereignty in
699 A.H. (1299 AD). Others say in 1295 and that the sultan who sent the insignia
was Giyaseddin Mes'ud.* Thereupon, Osman minted coins and had the Friday
prayers recited in his name alone. Cf 1300-26: raids in the direction of
Nicomedia. —Korkut Ozgen, ‘Osman’, at; accessed 2009. Also Encyc. Brit.
1911 edn under ‘Turkey’

(*) Ruling in Kayseri, the formal sultan was Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud or Mas'ud II,
last of the Seljuk sultans of Rum. Both he and Kay Qubadh were puppets of the
Mongol il-Khan of Persia. Mesud was deposed and restored three times between
1284 and 1307.

The lower town of today’s Bilecik contains the remains of Belikoma Kalesi, a
Byzantine fortress - now a monastery - which fell to Osman Gazi, son of Ertogrul
and first in line of the Ottoman rulers (1299-1326). According to a later tradition,
Nilphur or Nilüfer Hatun or Helen, described as a beautiful Greek ‘princess’, i.e. a
grandee’s daughter, taken captive at the time, later became the wife of Osman's


son and successor Orhan. In Persian Nilüfer means ‘the Water-lily’ which may
suggest she was in fact a Persian concubine (Runciman 1965: 36; Pierce 1993).
According to Turkish legend, Orhan’s first wife was Holofira or Hulufira the
daughter of the Byzantine ‘Prince’ of Yarhisar [east of Yenihisar]. Or her father
was the castellan of Aydos or Aetos (Hopwood, “Frontiers” p.159: not located by
me, MO’R). Engaged to the (Byzantine) Lord of Bilecik, she was captured in the
spring of 1299 and was “given” to Orhan. Alternatively Holofira eloped with
Orhan by leaving her marriage ceremony with the ‘Prince’ of Bilecik. After she
was married to Orhan Ghazi, she converted to Islam and her name was changed
to Nilüfer Hatun. She gave birth to Murad. —Peirce 1993.

3. Treaty between Venice and Turks. Crete was the eastern-most outpost of the
Venetian empire.

4. Cyprus: Most slave-traders here were Genoese or Ligurian [NW Italians], while
Venetians do not appear till 1299 (and also after that date did not participate in
slave sales in Cyprus, perhaps because they concentrated such activity in Crete).

Mongol incursion into Syria, defeated by the Mamelukes of Egypt. Cf 1303.

Populations, State Budgets and the Size of Armies, ca 1300

In 1282 Andronicus II had still ruled about five million people. By 1312, after the
loss of almost all of ‘Greek’ (Roman: Rhomaike) Asia Minor, this will fall to
around two million (Treadgold 1997: 700, 841). From a middle-level power,
dominant in the Aegean, Byzantium will decline to the status of a
minor kingdom (albeit still as strong as any one of its immediate
Compared with perhaps 300,000 a century earlier, Constantinople’s
population in 1300, according to Mathews 1998: 41, was about 50,000. Thus only
2.5% of the emperor’s subjects lived in the capital. But “50,000” may be too

In Byzantine history over the long term (or at least until 1204), the proportion of
the population who served in the armed forces ranged between 1 and 2% - with a
high point of 2.4% under Basil II in 1025 (Treadgold Army p.165). Thus, on a
population basis, we might expect the armed forces to have numbered around
75,000 men in 1282 and 30,000 even as late as 1312.
In fact all the evidence points to very small armies after 1204. The central
army numbered just 6,000 men in the later 1200s, if we may believe the
Pseudo-Kodinos (a document of the 14th century, quoted in Heath 1995: 14).
Partly the small numbers reflect a lower overall income collected as taxes.
Even in the low point of the dark ages of the 8th century, Constantine V had still
ruled an empire of about seven million people, and his annual budget was up to
two million nomismata [0.29 nomismata per taxpayer]. This can be


compared with the half-million or so hyperpyra typically collected in the years

after 1312. (The empire was more prosperous in the 14th century, but the
population much smaller.)

According to one authority, Andronicus spent about 450,000 hyperpyra per

annum just on the Catalan Company in 1304-05 [see there], and nearly
bankrupted the empire doing it (Bartusis, LBA p.148). There were 7,800 men in
the Company by 1304, and they were very highly paid, especially the Catalan
cavalry. Thus if instead he had spent 450,000 hyperpyra on less highly paid but
still good quality salaried soldiers or so-called ‘mercenaries’, then he might have
afforded up to 15,000 men.

Military pay was much higher by the early 14th century than in the 8th century,
another lowpoint in the empire’s fortunes, when ordinary soldiers were paid only
five nomismata. (Soldiers at that time drew most of their income from their land-
holdings.) In the 1320s the average pay of a ‘mercenary’ or professional was 86
hyperpyra p.a., with 36 p.a. considered a low rate of pay (LBA pp.153, 266;
Treadgold 1997: 843 uses 72 hyperpyra p.a. as an average). Averaging the cash
outlay across all soldiers, including those who were self-financing soldiers
(pronoiars and small-holder troops), the per capita cash cost of a soldier might
have been about 25 hyperyra, or five times the cash cost of an 8th century soldier
(when most troops wer farmer-soldiers).
Around 1320 Andronicus managed to raise one million hyperpyra from his
approximately two million subjects, but that was quite exceptional. In the 1320s
the outlay from the treasury for military expenses was probably at most 150,000
hyperpyra per annum, about a third of the normal annual revenue [total say
450,000 or 0.23 hyperpyra per taxpayer] (noting that not all soldiers
received cash: Bartusis, LBA pp.85, 147-48, 266). The 13th and 14th centuries were
a period of greater upheaval and instability, but apparently ‘tax productivity’ was
about the same if we assume equal efficiency in tax collecting and equal value
between the 8th century nomisma and the 14th century hyperpyron.
Bartusis calculates that the state budget in the 1320s was large enough to hire
at most about 1,700 mercenaries (LBA p.266); but, as we have said, there were in
addition pronoiars and small-holder troops who were largely self-financing.
Thus, as against the perhaps expected number of 30,000 men, we find (see 1313-
18) that Andronikos in the latter part of his reign could field just 3,000-4,000

1. Eastern Aegean: Turks pillage Chios (Pryor 1988: 167).

2. fl. the Palaeologan statesman, historian and hagiographer, Constantine

Akropolites, 1250-1324; he recopied at least 27 ancient vitae of Byzantine saints.

3. fl. Theoleptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia, ca. 1250-ca. 1326. He opposed the

attempted church union of East and West and promoted Hesychasm (“holy


silence”: mystical aesceticism). —The life and letters of Theoleptos of

Philadelphia, ed. and trans. Angela C. Hero, Brookline, Mass.: Hellenic College
Press, 1994.

The Poor, the Middling and the Rich

In villages the majority of households appear to have possessed no animals or

only very few, in contrast to the great landowners, who owned huge herds. For
example it is recorded that in 1300, out of 130 households of the village of
Gomato in Macedonia, the eight best-off families owned 928 animals (oxen,
sheep, goats) between them [average 116 per ‘rich’ “peasant” householder], a
number in striking contrast with the “70,000” sheep and numerous other
animals owned and lost by the general and later emperor John Kantakouzenos
during the civil war of the 1340s. —Foundation of the Hellenic World,; accessed Dec 2004.

But, except for oxen, animals were a luxury for farmers. Of 164 hearths counted
in 1301 on the properties of Iveron in the Thessaloniki region, during a period of
strong demographic pressure, the registered population comprised an average of
4.9 persons per hearth, and an average of 4.7 persons on the [leased] properties
of the Athonite monastery of Lavra. The number of persons that a farm could
feed was obviously related to the available means of cultivation. On the properties
of the Iveron monastery, households were large among the few peasants who
possessed two plough teams (four oxen: 7.5 persons, or 1.9 per ox), large too in
hearths with only one team (two oxen: 5.6 persons, or 2.8 per ox) or a single ox
(5.1 persons), but small among those, including share-farmers and landless
labourers, who owned no oxen (4.1 persons) (Lefort in Laiou ed. 2002).

Turkish beyliks formed or forming in c. 1300:

(towns are those eventually ruled; not necessarily all held in 1300 ... )

a. Karasi: In 1300-02 it held part of the central-eastern Aegean coast west of

Bergama/Pergamum opposite Lesbos, but was mostly located inland around
Balikesir, abutting Germiyan.

b. Ottomans: In 1300 they held the inland Bilecik-Sogut-Eskisehir region SE of

Nicaea. The Germiyan-Ottoman border lay between Kutahya and Eskisehir.

c. Saruhan: Inland from Smyrna; northern side of the Hermus Valley: formed
after 1300. Its seat was later (1313) at Manisa (NE of Smyrna); and afterwards at
Foça (coastal Phocea), the fortress-town of Saruhan [NE of Smyrna and Manisa],
Gordes and Demirci [NE point]. Manisa was taken in 1313: see there.

d. Aydin: Inland from Ephesus: southern side of the Hermus Valley and also the
Meander Valley. The final military contest between Greeks and Turks on the
middle Meander River around Tralles (the future town of Aydin) took place in the


1280s. Subject to Germiyan until after 1304. – At Birge [see 1304], Ayasuluk,
north of Kusadasi: coastal Ephesus, 1304, 1308; Tire NW of Ephesus: also
1304; and Izmir: coastal Smyrna 1310.

e. Germiyan, since before 1286: inland: From near Balikesir (NW) to its seat at
Kutahya (NE) and south to Ladik [Laodiceia: modern Denizli] and west beyond
Afyon as far as Lake Tuz (map in Nicolle 2008: 33). Largest of the western
— To locate Kutahya, draw a line east from Edremit (Adrymittium) to intersect
with a line south from Iznik (Nicomedia).
— The isolated Byzantine fortress-town of Philadelphia was wedged between the
beyliks of Aydin and Germiyan: see 1304.

f. Menteshe, established in Caria in the SW c. 1300 by Menteshe Beg Mas'ud.

Turks had first held much of this region in the 1260s, but their rule was not made
definitive until the later 1290s. The seat was the fortress of Peçin Kale near Milas,
ancient Mylasa: inland, NE of modern Bodrum.

g. Hamid: Egirdir-Isparta-Antalya, i.e. in the region between the great lakes and
the S coast.

h. Karaman, the successor state in the ex-Seljuq heartland. At Nigde; ‘Laranda’

or Karaman, a town SE of Konya; Ereneek, Mut, Aksaray, Sivrihisar and Konya
(captured in 1328), i.e. broadly the region centred on a notional line from Konya
to Kayseri.


The Largest Cities West of India in 1300

(1) Cairo of the Mameluks was in first place according to Chase-Dunne and
Willard [online], with a population of some 400,000. (2) Paris was second,
having grown, they believe, to 228,000 [sic]. The NCMH p.27 proposes 200,000
for Paris.
Then we have (3) Fez of the Marinids with 150,000 - its population down
despite the founding of the new city in 1276, and (4) Tabriz in Mongol Persia with
125,000. In what is now northwestern Iran, Tabriz was the capital of the huge
Perso-Mongolian state headed by Ghazan Khan in 1295, conventionally called the
“Ilkhanate”. (5) Venice with 110,000; or 100,000 if we follow the NCMH. Fifth
was the highest rank that Venice would attain, although it would match this
position again in 1550 AD. In 1300 Constantinople had (they assert) fallen to
seventh place, with presumably some 75,000.
In contrast, McEvedy, in his New Atlas 1992, thinks the population of
Byzantine Constantinople was still in the top five: of the same order of
magnitude as Capetian Paris, Venice, Mamluk Cairo and Tabriz of the Il-
khans. Fez is not ranked. He also notes that a number of other Western cities
were growing fast: Ghent, Milan, Genoa and Florence. Cf 1303: the Florentine
painter Giotto.
For Florence, the median of three estimates cited by Goldthwaite 1982 is
“96,000”. The NCMH says 100,000.
In Plantagenet England, London in 1300 probably had around 80,000 people;
thus Barron 2004: 238. Palliser et al. offer 50-80,000 for London: “much smaller
than Paris or Milan”.

1. Constantinople: The so-called 'Palace of Constantine', modern Tekfur Saray,
Turkish for ‘Sovereign’s (emperor’s) Palace’, is the only well-preserved example
of East Roman palace architecture that survives in modern Istanbul. It is the shell
of a three-story rectangular building of limestone and brick, laid in patterns and
stripes, with vaulted windows. An extension of the Blachernai Palace, dating from
about 1300, it is called the 'Palace of Constantine' and is attached to the land
walls not far from the Golden Horn (photo, Mathews p.40).

2. The emperor's cousin of the same name, Andronicus Palaeologus, composes

Callimachus and Chrysorrhoe, a Western-influenced romance of chivalry with
erotic themes.
The hero finds the heroine hanging naked by her hair from the battlement of a
magic castle of an ogre-dragon that he kills after an improbable pole-vault over
the walls. The finale has him ravish her after bathing together, both acts in
defiance of Byzantine morality. —Barry Baldwin, ‘Ancient Science Fiction’, at; accessed

1300-26 or 1290-1326:
East-central Anatolia: Osman Ghazi, the founder of the Ottoman state, is


mentioned for the first time in Byzantine sources at the turn of the fourteenth
century as the leader of vigorous raids by Turcomans into the Byzantine territory
at the most advanced section of the frontier.
— If we follow Pachymeres, l. x. c. 25, 26, l. xiii. c. 33, 34, 36; Nicephorus
Gregoras, l. vii. c. l., and the first book of Laonicus Chalcondyles the Athenian,
then Othman’s tribe first invaded the region of Nicomedia in “1299”
(Gibbon, chapter LXIV). Others prefer c.1301, at least for the investment of
Nicaea – see there.
— Nicolle, 2008: map p. 37, has Osman’s domain in 1300 extending to Yenisehir
in the NW and Eskisehir (Dorylaeum) in the SW [about 90 km]; and from Inegöl
in the west to a little beyond the Sakarya River in the east [also about 90 km].

Thrace: A large body of Alans* - a Christian tribe, - having been pushed south
across the Danube by the ‘Mongols’ (Kipchaks), seeks service in the Byzantine
Seeking a more effective army, Andronicus settles “10,000” or “16,000” Alans
including women and children in Thrace, giving them land in return for military
service by the men. He also paid for the men’s horses and arms. The Catalan
chronicler or memoirist Ramon Muntaner would call the Alans “the best cavalry
there is in the East”, meaning on the Byzantine side (quoted in Heath 1995: 21).
Two regiments of Alans—presumably about 2,000 men in each—are posted
to Asia Minor to fight the Muslim Turks, but many soon deserted (1302). Cf 1301-

(*) The Alan language was an Eastern Iranian language, from which modern
Ossetian descends. The kingdom of Alania, located in Northern Caucasus, was
Christian, or partly Christian, from before AD 900. After the Caucasus fell under
the Mongol yoke in the 1200s, some Alans migrated west into Eastern Europe,
and in Hungary they became the Jasz ethnic group.

c. 1301:
Osman Ghazi’s troops devastate large areas of southern Bithynia
and lay siege to Nicaea (today’s Iznik), the former Byzantine (Nicaean)
capital. The emperor dispatches an expeditionary force. See next: Battle of
By 1301 Osman’s forces controlled most of the triangle whose points were
Dorylaion (Eskisehir)-Bursa-Nicomedia.
Although the word “siege” is used, it was actually a fairly loose investment. The
aim was to cut off Nicaea’s food supplies. Pachymeres writes of the Turks
“uprooting vineyards, destroying crops , and finally attacking . . . the citadel”
(quoted by Freely 2008: 104).
By setting up a blockade and organising raids into the countryside, the ghazis
or raiders—self-imagined ‘religious warriors’ who of course took slaves and
plunder—sought to subdue the entire Greek-Christian population outside the city
walls. But Nicaea was not entirely blockaded; there was communication to the
capital via one precarious route to the west, past Iznik Lake, to the port of Kios,


modern Gemlik.

Asia Minor: Halil Inalcik, in “Osman Ghazi’s Siege”, has studied the prelude
(1301-02) to the battle of Bapheon or Koyunhisar, fought west of Nicomedia or
Izmit, which is to say: inside imperial territory. It took place probably in 1301, but
possibly in 1302. Bartusis prefers to date it to 27 July 1302 (LBA p.76; also
Norwich 1996: 263).
Osman, already aged 44 and leader of his “tribe” for 21 years, now for the first
time appears by name in the Byzantine chronicles (Pachymeres calls him Atman:
Freely 2008: 104). He won his first major battle against the Byzantines as a
ghazi (raider) chieftain at Baphaeum (Koyunhisar) on the coastal plain about 35
km or 20 miles west of Nicomedia in 1301 or 1302. Nicolle 2008, map at p.37,
places Bapheus close upon Nicomedia itself.
For this the distant Seljuq sultan gave him the title of bey or beg: ‘lord,
chieftain, master’. In effect the Ottomans were thenceforth independent of the
powerless and near defunct sultanate at Konya.

“Contemporaries rightly regarded the Byzantine defeat at Bapheus as a turning

point in their history”, says Nicol, B&V p.223. It demonstrated that the
medium cavalry and heavy infantry of the empire could no longer hope to
repulse, or even to hold the enemy – at least in the countryside. But high-walled
Nicaea would hold out for nearly 30 more years.

Battle of Baphaeon, 1301 or 1302

Before investing Nicaea, says Inalcik, Osman’s troops raided into the lower
Sakarya valley in order to take control of the main highway linking Nicaea to the
eastern interior. Then, learning that the Emperor was preparing an army against
him, Osman appealed for, and was given, aid from the Sultan of Konya. Several
thousand troops arrived to strengthen Osman’s forces.
Andronicus sent a force of some 2,000 troops under the heteriarch or
guards commander Mouzalon to relieve the blockade on Nicaea. The breakdown
is not given, but we may guess that in this force there were some 500 Greek
(Byzantine) regular armoured infantrymen and Varangians (these latter were the
emperor’s body-guard); 500 Greek irregulars or militia: some cavalry, but
probably mainly infantry; and 1,000 Alan cavalry: horse-archers.
At Bapheon they faced a much larger force of (say) 6,000 Turks, both
infantry and cavalry, i.e. light infantry and horse-archers (Inalcik p.95, citing
Pachymeres; but Bartusis, LBA p.76, proposes that the Turks numbered 5,000
and were all light cavalry).
The early Ottomans seem to have been an army of speed and finesse, not pure
hitting power. Most elements were light troops (foot and horse); they seem to
have deployed no heavy (armour-wearing) infantry at all.


Some sources say the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) expedition came by ship; others that it
travelled overland from Constantinople. The battle was fought near where the
highway from Nicaea reached the southern shore of the Gulf of Izmit
(Nicomedia), i.e. a little west of modern Karamursel, so probably the expedition
came part of the way by land, before being ferried south across the tongue of
water that forms the Gulf.
The Byzantine side was undisciplined and disunited and was quickly forced
back. According to the main Greek source (Pachymeres), many of the Byzantine
regulars and militia fled towards Nicomedia. Simultaneously, however, the
emperor’s Alan cavalry counter-attacked, saving some of the surviving Greeks.
Indeed the Alans briefly succeeded in surrounding the large Turkish force; and
troubled them with arrow fire for some time before themselves having to retire
(Pachymeres, cited by Inalcik p.95).
The Turkish sources say that the Turks moved to engage the Byzantines as soon
as the expeditionary force disembarked. They say it was the Greek militia who
fled in the direction of Nicomedia; while the regulars, aided by the Alans, tried to
get back on board the ships; most were cut down, many drowning.
After the battle, some of the surviving Byzantine army “swarmed ignobly into
the nearby city [town] of Nicomedia”, writes Pachymeres. It was not all that near:
some 40 km.

Inalcik notes that the imperial side was mainly composed of mercenaries, or de
facto mercenaries, meaning professionals (Varangians and Alans) who fought
mainly for their large salaries, whereas most of the Turks fought for free, partly
from religious fervour and partly for booty.
This fact by itself tells us little or nothing about why the Turks prevailed: time
and again in history we find professional ‘mercenaries’ annihilating enthusiastic
amateurs. Nor is it inevitable that horse-archers ‘must’ prevail against less mobile
heavy infantrymen. Presumably the imperialists were poorly trained and poorly
led, while the Turks were well-led, and, because of their pastoral way of life, well-
trained for skirmish-type fighting. And they had the numbers.

NW Asia Minor: Following the victory at Baphaeon, the Turkish beys - the
forebears of the Karesi and Ottomans - swept westward and ravaged all
of the country from Brusa to Nicaea, up to the shore of the Sea of Marmara, and
even as far as the Aegean coast: Pergamum fell in 1302 but Byzantium would
hold many of the towns, including Bursa and Nicaea, for many years (Nicol
pp.133-34; also Nicolle 2008: 37). See next: Karesi. —Inalcik, Halil, The Ottoman
Empire : The Classical Age, 1300-1600, translated by Norman Itzkowitz and
Colin Imber, New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas, 1989.

Other Turks advanced in the central-west of Asia: Soon after 1301, they overran
the whole of the Hermus and Cayster valleys, and a fort on the citadel of Sardis
[east of the old Nicaean seat of Nymphaeum] was handed over to them by
treaty in 1306. The last Byzantine coin discovered at Sardis was minted under


John V (1341–91).

1. The Venetian fleet makes a further incursion into the Marmara. They burnt
houses on the southern shore of the Golden Horn and captured the island of
Prinkipo (today’s Buykada), which was packed with Greek refugees from the
Turkish wars. (See next.) To save the refugees from being killed or enslaved,
Andronicus agreed to a treaty restoring all Venice’s privileges in Constantinople
(Norwich 1996: 263).

2. The eastern Aegean: The Genoese Benedetto Zaccaria was named (1302)
admiral by Philip of France, meaning ‘corsair’ (licenced pirate). In that capacity
he conquered the ex-Byzantine island of Chios (1304: see there), which had
thitherto been in the hands of Muslim corsairs. He also occupied Samos and Cos,
which were almost completely depopulated, and the Byzantine emperor
conceded him sovereignty over those islands and Chios for two years, under
Byzantine suzerainty. It is from this date that Benedetto is accounted Lord of
Chios and begins his career as a statesman and ruler. –Wikipedia authors, 2010,
under ‘Benedetto I Zaccaria’.

3. SW Asia Minor: The co-emperor Michael campaigns in western Anatolia. He

marched down to Magnesia [Tk: Manisa] on the Hermos River, NW of Smyrna,
with a force of Alans and others, probably no more than 3,000 soldiers in all. But
there his army fell apart by desertion before any military operation against the
Turks could be conducted. When Michael, with some remaining troops, fell back
(i.e. withdrew northwards) to Pergamon, many of the inhabitants of Magnesia
panicked and followed him, in a scramble for safety, as they saw it (LBA p.77). Cf
Vryonis notes that Andronicus withdrew to Magnesia-on-the-Hermus (Turkish
Manisa, NW of Smyrna); but outside its walls, the region was ravaged by the
Saruhan Turks** and many Byzantines fled to the Aegean and the European

(*) There were two towns called Magnesia: (north) Magnesia-on-the-Hermus,

modern Manisa, NE of Smyrna; and (south) Magnesia-on-the-Maeander inland
SE from Ephesus, near modern Germancik.

(**) The Saruhan Turks would make Manisa-on-the-Hermus their capital in 1313
(Freely 2008: 133).

— In the early 14th C the Kurdish-Syrian writer Abu’l-Fida (Abu al-Fida, fl. 1323)
mentions the raids of Turkish ships across the Gulf of Makri/Fethiye, i.e. the
coast of the mainland NE of Rhodes. He calls their enemies ‘Kara’ites’, meaning


Greek Carians. Hopwood, “Frontier” p.155, deduces that this gulf now constituted
the uç [borderland or marches] between the Türkmen and the Nicenes, but with
the added sophistication of being carried out by sea.
— Rhodes was attacked by the Menteshe Turks in 1302-3, in 1303-4 and in 1307.
The Turcoman remnants were eventually evicted from Rhodes after 1309/10,
when the island passed into the hands of the Hospitaller Knights of St. John of

At the start of Andronicus's reign (1282), the north-western third of

Asia Minor was firmly in Romaic imperial hands; but 20 years later it
had nearly all been lost to the Ottomans and other Turkish beyliks. Cf
1303, 1308.

From 1302:
NW Anatolia: The principality of Karesi, 1302-1361, was founded or proclaimed
at inland Balıkesir, halfway between Bergama and Bursa.

The Erdek peninsula is the 25 km wide bulbous peninsula, almost an island, that
projects northwards from the bottom side of the Sea of Marmara. The town of
Erdek is on the west coast of the peninsula of that name; Edincek is on the
mainland and slightly inland. The Karesi Turks will later construct a shipyard on
the western coast of the Sea of Marmara near Edincik, itself near Byzantine
Cyzicus: south of modern Erdek.
The ships built there would soon threaten the control by the Byzantine navy of
the Northern Aegean and the Sea of Marmara.
But Cyzicus itself and the peninsula of Artaki or Erdek remained in Byzantine
hands, although under threat from the nearby Turks. The narrow neck of the
peninsula was defended by a strong wall which the Turks regularly assaulted.
The Catalan Company in 1303 were to drive back the Turks (see there).
According to the Catalan chronicler Muntaner, the peninsula contained
“20,000 hamlets, manors and farms”. This sounds like a vast exaggeration, as
one would expect it to have fewer than 20,000 people; but plainly the region was
closely settled. —The Chronicle of Ramón Muntaner, translated into English by
Lady Goodenough:

1. SW Asia Minor: The Turks built a number of vessels and began to attack the
neighbouring Greek islands: Chios, Samos, Carpathos, Rhodes and many others.
“The Holy War”, writes Zachariadou, 1989: 214, “was transferred to the sea”. See
1304: Genoese occupy Chios, and 1305: Genoese occupy Rhodes.

2. South-east of Nicaea: The Ottomans now held the fort or fortresses of the
Melangeia district [Malagina: captured c.1300, near the future Yenisehir* or ‘new
town’: see 1323], which lay between Prusa and Nicaea. This obstructed the main
Byzantine overland route to Bithynia (Magoulias, notes to Doukas 1975: 266). See


(*) Melangeia or Malagina was more properly the name of the region around the
Sangarios River SE of Nicaea and east of Yenihisar. The exact location of the
Byzantine fortress has not been established.
Lindner notes that the larger Byzantine towns held out: their high, heavy walls,
which the Lascarids had prudently repaired, could easily withstand the light arms
of the Ottoman forces. A flow of refugees, from the countryside into the towns
and across the straits to Constantinople, grew in 1302-1303. —Lindner, ‘Nomads
and Ottomans’ (1983), at; accessed
2009. Cf 1303-04 - fortresses.

The empress Eirene/Irene, born Yolanda of Montferrat (Italy), leaves the capital
to reside in Thessalonica, where she maintains a separate court.

1. Thrace: The Bulgarian tsar Theodore Svetoslav turned on Byzantium, which
had inspired several Tatar (‘Golden Horde’) invasions and had managed to
conquer many Bulgarian fortresses in Thrace. In 1303 his army marched
southwards and regained many towns. In the following year the Byzantines under
co-emperor Michael Palaiologus (aged 27: eldest son of Andronicus II and father
of Andronicus III) counter-attacked and the two armies met close to the Skafida
river near Sozopolis, south of Burgas (1304). The Bulgarians won.
Theodore Svetoslav felt secure enough to move on to the offensive by 1303 and
captured the fortresses of northeastern Thrace, including Mesembria (modern
Neseber), Anchialos (Pomorie), Sozopolis (Sozopol), and Agathopolis (Ahtopol)
in 1304 (Fine 1994: 229). The Byzantine counterattack failed at the battle of
Skafida near Sozopolis, where the co-emperor Michael IX Palaiologos was turned
to flight.

2. Asia: Osman’s forces press on past Byzantine Nicaea towards Nicomedia. “On
the hills all the way to [Nicomedia] there was not a single tree, but many
[Byzantine] fortresses, prosperous towns and villages” (so wrote the 14th century
Turkish historian Lufti Pasha, quoted in Inalcik, “Siege”). The lack of trees was
perhaps the result of scorched earth practices by either or both sides. Or it may
just have represented the result of millennia of intensive farming.
Andronicus’s army fades away, and much of the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) population
of Asia Minor was in panic, abandoning territory to the Turks. As the latter
advanced, a revolt broke out. The emperor tried to rebuild his army but failed,
and this was carefully noted by Roger de Flor: see next (Treadgold, State p.750).

3. The ‘Catalan Grand Company’, a mercenary division recently fighting in

Sicily for Aragon, was encouraged to offer its services to Byzantium. Or rather,
they imposed themselves on the emperor and insisted that he pay them. The
Catalans and Aragonese who served Byzantium under de Flor initially comprised


some 1,500 cavalry and 5,000 or more infantry. More troops arrived
subsequently, bringing the total to some 7,800 men by 1304. The core of their
army was the Almugavari [Greek: Amogavaroi], light and mobile infantrymen,
initially numbering 4,000.
The first contingent arrived at Constantiople in September 1303.
Their leader was Rutger von der Blume, 36 years old in 1303, a Sicilian-
German whose name was rendered in Romance as ‘Roger de Flor’; his father had
been falconer to Frederick II of Sicily and Germany (d.1250). While still a boy,
Rutger or Roger served with the Aragonese (whose kingdom incorporated
Catalonia) in North Africa and Sicily in 1281 and later joined the Templars in
Palestine: he fought in the siege of Acre in 1291.

The troops of Rutger or Roger de Flor, according to his companion Ramon de

Muntaner [vol. ii. p. 137], were 1,500 ‘men at arms’ (heavy cavalry), 4,000
Almogavares, and 1,040 other foot, besides the sailors and mariners: total over
6,540. Treadgold, in Harris 2005: 81, suggests that the combined total of
Byzantine armed forces was probably fewer than this (say 5,000 men). As we
have said, more troops arrived subsequently, bringing the Catalans to some 7,800
men by 1304.

The emperor Andronicus II accepted de Flor’s offer of service; and in September

1303 Roger with his fleet and army arrived at Constantinople. He was adopted
into the imperial family, was married to a grand-daughter of the emperor, and
was made grand duke (megas doux) and commander-in-chief of the army and
the fleet.
The Catalans had no sooner arrived in Constantinople [September 1303] than
they got involved in a bloody melee in the street with the local Genoese
community. Soon afterwards [1303-04] they were shipped to Anatolia ahead of
an expedition to relieve Philadelphia [today’s Alasehir], an inland Byzantine town
entirely surrounded by the Turks for some years. (Philadelphia was wedged
between three ghazi emirates: Karasi, Germiyan and Aydin.)

After some weeks lost in dissipation, intrigues and bloody quarrels, Roger and his
men were sent into Asia, and after some successful encounters with the Turks
(probably the Karesi or Saruhans), they went (late 1303) into winter quarters at
Cyzicus (“Artaki”) on the southern coast of the Sea of Marmara.
The Company was reinforced by, briefly, some “8,000” Alans (imperial
mercenaries: the figure is exaggerated) and a small force of Romaniyan troops
under the general Maroules (Lowe 1972: 23). Most of the Alans would refuse to
join the Catalans for the march to Philadelphia in 1304; but even so, the
expedition may have numbered about 15,000 all told in the first phase, and over
7,000 when it departed for Philadelphia. Specifically, Pachymeres (II.424: cited
in Bartusis p.155) says de Flor led south 6,000 of his Westerners, 1,000 Alans
and an unspecified number of Byzantines (say 500).
They took the field in May 1304 (see entry below) and rendered the important
service of relieving Philadelphia [today’s Alasehir], then invested


(blockaded) and reduced to extremities by the Turks.

Syria: A Muslim army led by Egyptians (Mamelukes) defeats the last-ever

Mongol invasion.

Italy: d. Boniface VIII, called “the last medieval pope” - in the sense of a
clergyman dictating to kings. Cf 1309.


Above: Almugavars. Note the absence of shields.

Catalan-Aragonese soldiers

Almugavars [Gk: Amogavaroi] had been present at every strategic juncture of


James I of Aragon’s (d. 1276) contribution to the Spanish Reconquest.

“Unencumbered”, writes Morris, “by the ubiquitous heavy plate arms and
armour* that characterise warfare of [a later period], the Almogavars excelled in
the use of light projectile weapons such as the azcona, a short, light lance
[throwing spear**], and they usually carried three or four [heavy] javelins, which
they would fling with enough force to pierce through the best armour of the age
[i.e. usually mail; sometimes lamellar]. They also carried a coutel or colltell, a
long, cruel-looking dagger [or better: short sword***] whose potency was …
noted by Muntaner: ‘And of the Almogavars [he writes] I can tell you the deed of
one called Porcell, who was afterwards of my company in Romania [Greece]. He
gave such a cut with his coutel to a French knight that the greaves with the leg
came off in one piece and besides it entered half a palm into the horse's flank’
(Muntaner, 463).”

‘”Their armament consists of a strong combat knife, a long sword, a lance and
arrows. They wear on the head a kind of protective casque in the form of an iron
skullcap (calotte) consisting of a wire lattice intersecting as a cap.* A leather bag
enables them to carry victuals and tools and supplements their equipment. They
are Catalans, Aragonese and mountaineers” (thus the Catalan chronicler Desclot,
fl. 1285; my translation from a French website, MO’R).

Their technique was to throw their weapons from fairly close range, aiming for
the horses rather than their riders; once a cavalryman was unseated they would
close in to kill with sword or dagger (Dougherty 2008: 149). Horse-archers
carried fairly small bows with limited range, so presumably the Almogavars
sprinted forward before throwing their javelins.

(*) The later Catalan writer, Moncada, d. 1635, wrote in his Expedicion de
Catalanes y Argoneses al Oriente of “an iron network worn on the head like
a helmet” (quoted in Freely 2008: 105). Presumably this meant a mail coif.

(**) Moncada’s “pointed staff”.

(***) In pictorial sources, it is worn at the waist but does not reach the knee.

“When an Almogavar was mounted, he would place the azcona [short spear or
javelin] in his stirrup, bracing it with one foot, thus piercing, on the first charge,
the chest of his adversary's horse. At the Battle of Gagliano (Sicily) against the
300 handpicked French knights, ironically calling themselves the Knights of
Death, more than 100 of them fell victim to these tactics. The Almogavars "went
about amongst them as if they were walking in a garden" (Muntaner, 458). —
Morris 2000.

c.1303: Padua: Giotto’s fresco painting of The Lamentation: = “post-

Byzantine” art in Italy. Cf 1315.


Romania and Anatolia

The memoirist of the Catalan Company, Ramon Muntaner, consistently calls the
European side of the Empire ‘Romania’, while the Asian side is called ‘Anatolia’.
This reflected an emerging Latin style, by which for Westerners the name
‘Romania’ came to mean greater Greece. In Greek ‘Romania’ simply meant the
Empire fullstop, in both Europe and Asia.

By 1304:
Asia Minor: Recurrent Turkish raids had again reached Ephesus and Caria, the
SW coast. Most of the regions between the Meander and the Cayster Rivers, i.e.
inland from Ephesus, were in the hands of the Turkmen. So severe were the
Turkish raids, said Pachymeres, that imperial rule in “the inland regions of
Bithynia, Mysia, Phrygia, Lydia and enchanted Asia, except only for the fortified
towns, came to an end” (quoted in Vryonis). ‘Mysia’ meant the region that
included Pergamum. ‘Asia’ meant the central-western segment of Asia Minor
(west of Amorium).
In other words, Byzantium controlled only parts of the coast and a few inland
towns; the hinterlands were dominated by the pastoralist Turkomans.

Andronicus did not raise a native army for further campaigning. As noted, he
turned to the Catalans and to diplomacy. Some time before May 1304, he
attempted to bring Persian (Mongol) pressure to bear on the Anatolian emirs
through an embassy to Ghazan Khan in Tabriz, and, after Ghazan's death, to his
successor Uljaytu. The llkhans, recent converts to Islam, did not see the offer of a
marriage alliance as inducement sufficient for a Mongol attack against the west.

The Expedition into Asia Minor 1304

The Catalans based themselves at Erdek (“Artaki”: ancient Cyzicus) on the

southern shore of the Sea of Marmara. In late 1303 they fought with a force of
Turks camped not far from Erdek (presumably Karesi Turks) who had been
making spasmodic attacks on the isthmus wall that guarded the ‘neck’ of the
peninsula. There were women and children on the Turkish side. This perhaps
suggests they may have been herding their herds through the region, or more
likely that they had established a semi-permanent base-camp.
The Turks fought hard, but were defeated, more than 3,000 horsemen and
more than 2,000 men on foot being killed (Muntaner: trans. Goodenough p.409).
The 17th C writer Moncada says the Catalans left the site of the battle near Cyzicus
“strewn with 3,000 dead horsemen and 10,000 (foot) men” (quoted in Freely
2008: 106), but this is contradicted by Muntaner. The Turkish women and
children were taken as slaves and sent to Constantinople.

On 1 April 1304 (the northern spring), augmented by smaller numbers of Alans


and Byzantines, the Company marched south. Advancing rapidly, they defeated a
Germiyanid army in western Phrygia and then freed Philadelphia and Ephesus
(by October 1304).

Also at Cyzicus a brawl between the Catalans and Alans had led to large-scale
fighting. Thus, when the expedition headed south to relieve Philadelphia, only
about 1,000 Alans were prepared to continue under de Flor’s command. The
expedition probably numbered fewer than 8,000 men: some 6,000 Catalans,
mainly infantry; about 1,000 Alans, all cavalry, and a small contingent of
Byzantines, also cavalry, under Marules (Lowe 1972: 29).
From Cyzicus, de Flor’s men proceeded up the valley of the River Macestus,
the modern Simay River to Achyraous, i.e. to the east of the lake Kus Golu and
then south-west in the direction of modern Balikesir. The Turkish tribe of the
Karesi had recently entered this region, but most of its Greek towns must have
been still unsubdued. Immediately to the east were the lands of the Germiyan
Our imperial mercenaries pressed on south-westward to the Turkish
(Germiyanid) fortress at modern Soma, Byzantine Germes, which lies east of
Pergamon-Bergama. The Germiyanid capital was far to the east at Kutahya. The
Turks at Soma had heard of the Catalans’ fierce reputation, and were preparing to
abandon the fort when they were surprised and quickly defeated by the Catalan
The expedition then turned south-east and proceeded via Thyatira, modern
Akhisar, into the valley of the Hermes River (Gediz Nehri). The modern highway
from Akhisar to Alasehir (medieval Philadephia) indicates the general direction
that they took. Having crossed the river, they proceeded past old ruined Sardis—
an ‘acropolis settlement’ inland from Smyrna: see discussion below—which lay
just south of the river itself. Thence they continued ESE towards Philadelphia,
today’s Alasehir. The town was a Greek enclave surrounded on all sides: by the
domains of the Saruhan Turks on the west, the Aydin Turks on the south-west,
and the Germiyan Turks on the north and east (map in Nicolle 2008: 33).
Muntaner says extravagantly that it was “one of the largest cities in the world”
with a perimeter measuring “18 miles” [presumably 4.5 km x 4.5 km] (trans.
Hughes p.55)
Philadelphia was under siege by “20,000” Turks led by the emir Ya’qub ibn
Ali-Shir of Germiyan. An alternative figure is 12,000 Turkish infantry and 800
cavalry. A battle was fought on the plain NW of Philadelphia in which de Flor’s
men crushed the Turks, who Muntaner calls “the tribes [or bands] of Sara-
Khan [Saruhan] and Aydin”. He claims that only about 1,000 Turkish horse
and 500 foot survived (Hughes trans. pp. 55-56; Lowe 1972: 33; also Chaytor,
cited below: curiously Norwich 1996: 267 says the Turks were from Karaman,
further west).

It seems curious that light infantry should be able decisively to defeat highly
mobile light horse, but the Catalans were, somehow, a very powerful force –
presumably due to their esprit de corps and battle-hardened condition as much


as their technique. As we remarked earlier, they threw their weapons from fairly
close range, aiming for the horses rather than their riders; once a cavalryman
was unseated they would close in to kill with sword or dagger (Dougherty 2008:
149). Horse-archers carried fairly small bows with limited range, so probably the
Almogavars sprinted forward as soon as they reached arrow-range, throwing
their javelins on the run.

Next, from Philadelphia, the Company travelled south-west to Tyre (Tire) which
is 80 km SE of Smyrna/Izmir. There a raiding party of Turks appeared, being the
survivors from Philadelphia “along with others from the tribe of Menteshe”
(Muntaner: Hughes p.57; in the Catalan text Menteshe is rendered as
“Mondexia”: Goodenough p.415). Moncada calls their chief ‘Sarkan’, i.e. possibly
Saruhan (cited by Freely 2008: 106). The Company, or a detachment of it
numbering just 1,200, attacked and defeated them (Muntaner s. 206; Hughes
p.57). According to Moncada, 1,000 Turkish cavalrymen and 2,000 of their foot
soldiers were killed; but this actually refers to later clash at Anaia (see later).
Muntaner says “over 700 horse and many afoot” died on the Turkish side at Tyre
(Goodenough p.415).
The Catalans then retired NW to the old Nicaean capital of Nymphaion -
today’s Kemalpasha, inland from Izmir/Smyrna, - and further NW thence again,
to Magnesia [Manisa]. So outraged were the local Greeks at the plundering of the
Catalans that the people of Magnesia refused to let them in, and the town was
then besieged. There arose great friction between the local Byzantines and their
new masters, who exacted limitless tribute in preference to regular (but lower)
taxation from those they had liberated (Lindner, Nomads and Ottomans, 1983).
Roger had begun the siege of Magnesia when he was recalled by an urgent
message from Andronicus, who wished him to support his nephew Michael in a
war against the Bulgarians.

A further 1,300 Catalans landed at Gallipoli towards the end of 1304 and they too
forced Andronicus to hire them. They proceeded by ship to the port of Anaia (on
the Asia Minor coast below Ephesus), where, after a brief stop at Ephesus, de Flor
had established winter quarters.* The reinforcements had only just arrived when
“the cry of alarm was raised that the Turks of the band (tribe) of Atia [sic: Aydin]
were raiding the huerta [irrigated land, orchards, kitchen gardens] of Ani
[Anaia]”. The Company went out to attack them and killed 1,000 Turkish
horsemen and “full 2,000 men afoot” (Goodenough p.418).

(*) The treaty of 1261 with the Genoa had given Genoese traders the right to
use Anaia as a waystation.

De Flor himself was called back to Constantinople and he travelled by sea. The
expedition passed back through Ephesus and Magnesia (October 1304), and then
marched north broadly following the line of the coast in concert with the galleys
that had come to collect De Flor. By this point, the Catalans, who had recruited
nearly 3,000 Turkic horsemen into their ranks, were considered by the
Byzantines to be little better than brigands and freebooters.


Finally the Company re-crossed the Dardanelles to land at Neapolis on the

Gallipoli peninsula, where it went into winter quarters around the town of
Gallipoli. Muntaner speaks of the Gallipoli peninsula as “the most fertile country
in the world”, there being bread, wine and fruit of every kind, while the towns
provided good houses and other amenities of life. This is further evidence for the
prosperity of the early Palaeologan period.

In order to afford the Catalans, Andronicus raised (1304) taxes and further
debased the hyperpyron, reducing it to 12 carats, i.e. just 50% gold.
The new taxes led (1305) to a rebellion in Bithynia (Treadgold, State p.751).

1. W Asia Minor: Loss of the Cayster Valley, inland from Ephesus. Seeing the
Catalans depart, the Turks immediately moved to capture Ephesus,
specifically in October 1304, according to Oikonomides, Turks 1305 p.159. They
also captured nearby Thyraia [Tk: Tire] and subsequently Pyrgion [Tk: Birgi] in
Mehmed Aydin-oglu (Aydin’s eldest son) and his ally Sasa beg of Menteshe
took Ephesus on behalf of the Germiyan emir (Nicol, Last Centuries, p.143).

Future emirate of Aydin: The tribe of Aydïn-oghlu Mehmet Beg (Arabic:

Muhammad ibn Aydin), at this time still in the service of Germiyan, captures
Ephesus and Smyrna, in 1304 (ODB i:707). To forestall Mehmet from taking
the ex-Romaniyan island of Chios, offshore from Smyrna, the Genoese of
Phocaea under their “lord” Benedetto Zaccaria, aged 69, seized the island. Cf
1305, 1308.
Vryonis notes that all the Byzantines in Ephesus not put to the sword were
transferred to another town nearby, today’s Ayasoluq [modern Selçuk], briefly
leaving the former empty. But by 1340 a bishop was able to return to Ephesus
from Constantinople, a signal that many Greeks came back to the city after 1305.

Chios comes under the temporary rule of the Genoese adventurers Manuele and
Benedetto Zaccharia, Benetto having married the emperor's sister. This follows a
treaty with the emperor, which concedes a 10-year right to 'protect' the island
providing that it remains under Byzantine sovereignty and the imperial standard
flies above the kastron or fortress.
Benedetto Zaccaria was officially admiral to Philip of France, and in that
capacity he conquered the island of Chios (1304), which had hitherto been in the
hands of Muslim corsairs. At first, he gave the government of the isle over to his
nephew Tedisio. In 1304 he also occupied the islands of Samos and Cos, which
were almost completely depopulated, and the emperor conceded him sovereignty
over those islands and Chios for two years, under Byzantine suzerainty. It is from
this date that Benedetto is accounted Lord of Chios and begins his career as a
statesman and ruler (‘Zaccharia’, Wikipedia, 2010).

2. The Turks applied a policy of extracting tribute from towns and the


countryside which they controlled but not yet conquered. In about 1304 the city
of Prousa/Bursa began to pay tribute to the Ottomans.

3. The Genoese received permission to fortify their colony at Galata with a circuit
wall (Nicol B&V) . See next 1304-05: Crimean slave trade.



1. De Flor and his men wintered in the Gallipoli peninsula and refused to start on
campaign in the spring of 1305, claiming that they were owed back pay.

2. Slave trade via the Bosphoros: ‘Tatars’, i.e. Kipchak Turks from the Golden
Horde north of the Black Sea, were still the most important group of slaves
traded (sold mainly to Egypt) on the Venetian-ruled island of Crete; thereafter,
almost all victims of the slavery business were Greeks. — Zachariadou 1983.

The Mediterranean as a Christian lake: Western merchants and shippers by the

end of the crusading period dominated maritime trade in the eastern
Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The Muslims, if not the Greeks, “had lost the
shipbuilding art” (to quote Ibn Khaldun). It was the Genoese who organised the
slave trade from the Crimea to Mamluk Egypt, the trade in timber from Asia
Minor to Egypt, and the trade in Cypriot textiles in Turkey and Syria (Day in
Laiou ed. 2002: 813).

Sardis, inland from the old Nicaean seat of Nyphaeum, 1304-06:
“The acropolis furnished the last piece of evidence for the Byzantine period in
the narrative of a Turkish attack of 1304. The Turkomans [warrior pastoralists] . .
. proposed to the Sardians that they allow them to share the fortress. The locals
refused and resisted a siege, but were finally forced to agree [in 1306] when they
ran short of water and suffered from not being able to till their fields. In this
account, the nature of the acropolis settlement becomes clear. Although some of
its inhabitants may have been soldiers only, many were farmers, who worked
land in the plain below, leaving the fortress every day to attend to agriculture, [a
system] attested in the entire Byzantine record only here”. —Foss and Scott,
2002, in The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the
Fifteenth Century, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou; emphasis added.

Rebellions by mercenary Turks and Catalans bring the ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) state
to near collapse. Profiting from the chaos, the Ottomans and other Turks seize
most of west-central Asia Minor.


As noted, the Catalans comprised 1,500 cavalry and more than 5,000 or more
infantry: total up to say 7,800 men by 1304. They outnumbered Andronicus’s
own field forces of perhaps 4,000 men; and the Romaniyan navy was non-
existent (Treadgold 1997: 819). See 1305, 1307.
In accounts of the Catalan Company's actions, it is invariably the less well paid
infantrymen, the Almughavars, who are given credit for carrying the tide of
battle. As we noted earlier, they fought with a short spear that could be thrown,
several javelins, and a large dagger or short sword, but (usually) no shield. How
they could defeat the horse-archers of the enemy Turks is quite obscure. –
Perhaps by staying beyond the (short) range of the cavalry bow, or positioning
themselves on broken ground, and choosing the right moment for a foot sprint,
hurling their javelins.

After initially routing the Turks in western Asia Minor, the Grand Company
rebelled. As noted, they fought their way from the isolated inland Byzantine-
governed town of Philadelphia and across the Turkish-dominated hinterlands in
1304 before returning to winter in Gallipoli. Then, with various Turkish allies,
they will ravage through Gallipoli and Thrace (1304-06) and south to
Thessalonica (1308).
Not only was much harm done to the empire's territory in Europe, this also
allowed the Turks to advance further in Asia Minor (as noted: to
Ephesus, on the coastal plain of SW Asia Minor, 1304) and the Genoese were able
to seize more Aegean islands. Seeing Andronicus's European lands devastated,
and the Turks in control of practically the whole of the emperor’s former Asian
lands, many observers now began to believe that the Byzantine state was

Genoese rule the islands of Samos and Icarus, in the south-east Aegean off
Ephesus. See 1329: Byzantine recovery of Phocaea and the islands of Lesbos and

Soon after 1300, Andronicus II introduced the so-called silver basilicon or
“imperial” coin, modelled on the Venetian silver ducat (coin “of the doge”: ducal
coin) and which was of a comparably high purity. Of pure silver, it was made flat
and not concave, and at 1/12 of the hyperpyron, it corresponded to the old
miliaresion and thus fitted easily into the system of account. —Grierson,
‘Byzantine Coinage’:

1. The increased taxes levied to pay the Catalans provoked a revolt in Bithynia
(Bartusis p.79).

2a. Thrace: The Romaniyans assassinate Roger de Flor (4 April 1305). The junior


emperor Michael Palaeologus, aged 28, not daring to attack the fierce and now
augmented bands of Catalan adventurers in the Gallipoli peninsula, invited their
leader Roger to Adrianople. There he contrived the assassination of the Catalan
leader and the massacre of a part of his Catalan cavalry. Roger’s death would be
avenged by his men in a fierce and prolonged war against the Greeks. —
Wikipedia 2009, ‘Roger de Flor’.

2b. Thrace: Michael Palaeologus eventually marched against the main Catalan
force with a substantial army (up to perhaps 10,000 men; but probably fewer),
but on 10 July 1305 he was defeated at Apros, which is modern Kermeyan, to the
north of the Gallipoli peninsula (some authors date this battle to 1307). See next.

3. Andronicus seeks and receives a promise of a marriage alliance with the

Mongol ruler of Persia, the Il-Khan Ôljaitü or Uljaytu who promises to send
troops to rescue Nicaea from Osman Gazi; but the deal fell through (Freely 2008:

The Battle of Apros, 1305

The imperials:

The Catalan memoirist Ramon Muntaner writes of ‘14,000 horse’ and ‘30,000
foot’ in the imperial-Greek army; but these numbers are not credible. In his
Aragon, Chaytor says Michael probably led ‘10,000’ men, but even that seems
too many.
There were five Byzantine battalions or syntaxeis at the battle of Apros,
differentiated by ethnicity: [unit 1] the Alans and [2] Tourkopouloi or Turcopoles,
converted Christian Turks with bow and shield, in the van, followed by the [3]
Macedonians, the Anatolians [cavalry], the Vlach infantry and [battalion 4]
Byzantine farmer-militiamen or light infantry called the Thelematarioi;* they
served as a rear-guard along with [unit 5] the ‘imperial taxis’, presumably a
division of imperial guardsmen, probably including Varangians (cf LBA pp 43,
If we guess that each syntaxis contained 2,000 men, then we might have an
army of 10,000. But knowing how expensive soldiers were, and how little money
the empire had, it would be more likely that the actual figures were units of 1,000
making up a total of 5,000 men.

(*) The Thelematarioi were ethnic Greeks living in the rural hinterland adjoining
Constantinople on the west. The name meant "voluntaries" or ‘waverers’, derived
from a propensity (i.e. before 1261) to shift allegiance at will to either the Greek
or Latin side (Geanakoplos 1959: 95).

The infantry formed up in the centre, with cavalry on either wing and a small
reserve or rearguard. Michael’s cousin Theodore commanded the Turcopoles and


Alans on the left. The ‘Grand Heteriarch’ or head of the palace guard commanded
the Thracians, Macedonians and Vlachs on the right. Michael himself took
command of the reserve or short second line (Lowe 1972: 77; also Bartusis, LBA:
The Late Byzantine Army, 1992: 256).

The Catalans:

The Catalans under Bernat de Rocafort numbered about 3,000 men, or 2,500
according to Chaytor, i.e. not their full strength.

The battle:

The Catalans defeated the larger Romaniyan army at Apros (1305), and later the
Romanian Franks of the Duchy of Athens at Kephissos (1311; near Thebes) in
pitched battles. They did so, in part, because the Catalans were ‘leaner and
meaner’ than their "soft" opponents. That is, they were battle-hardened and self-
confident. Or so propose David Kuijt and Chris Brantley, ‘Catalans’ at
The defeat at Apros was due in part to Paleologus’s Alans, who, fearful of
Catalan wrath at the loss of their leader de Flor, deserted the Imperial army in the

After the battle:

Michael withdrew behind the walls of the fortress-town of Didymoteichon. The

Catalans for their part advanced to Rhaidestos which was located immediately
NE of Apros: present-day Tekirdag, halfway between Gallipoli and
Constantinople. They massacred the Greek population of the town. Rhaidestos
then became a centre of operations for an ineffectual blockade of Constantinople
and raids throughout Thrace for approximately two years, 1306-1307 (LBA p.81).
Cf 1305-06: Turks.

3. Eastern Aegean: Benedetto Zaccaria, a Genoese merchant-adventurer,

occupies the island of Chios to the west of Genoese-ruled Phokaia and persuades
the Emperor Andronicus to cede it to him as a freehold property for 10 years.
Chios was an important source of alum, a coagulant and dye-fixer, and the
aromatic resin known as mastic that was used as an aphrodisiac and medicinally
and in cooking (most of which went to the Egyptian port of Tinnis). Having no
navy and only a tiny army, Andronicus was no doubt more relieved than angry
(or so Nicol imagines, B&V p.223).

In the same year another Genoese adventurer, Andrea Morisco, attacked and
occupied the island of Tenedos at the entrance to the Hellespont (Nicol, B&V


Following the battle of Apros, the Catalans invited Turks from Asia Minor to fight
with them as allies. Gregoras says the Turkish corps numbered 2,800 men: 800
horse and 2,000 foot (cited in Oikonomides, Turks 1305 p.159).
Gregoras says that the Catalans at Gallipoli first invited 500 of the Turks as
allies from the opposite side (of the Dardanelles), i.e. from Asia Minor, and that
many more volunteered their services. A second group also arrived in 1305. They
did not ask for any money; all they wanted was to keep the booty that they would
gain, giving only one fifth to the Catalans. See 1306 below.

The Balkans: The Empire's problems were exploited by Theodore Svetoslav of
Bulgaria, who defeated the co-emperor Michael IX and conquered much of
northeastern Thrace and its Black Sea ports in c.1305–1307. The conflict ended
(1307) with yet another dynastic marriage, between Michael IX's daughter
Theodora and the Bulgarian emperor (Norwich, Decline p.273).

Because of the Catalans, land communications between the capital and
Macedonia were interrupted. Cf 1308.

1. The Catalans and their Turkish allies devastated Thrace, destroying what they
could not steal and selling many Byzantines into slavery.
“They [also] attacked Stenia, which was the imperial arsenal [ship-shelter]
about eight miles [13 km] to the north of the Golden Horn [near modern Rumeli
Hisar]. Making a great circuit, they avoided Constantinople itself and advanced to
the shore of the Black Sea, leaving devastation behind them, until they reached
the arsenal; they burnt some 150 [sic*] ships in course of construction or
completed, seized four of their galleys which the Greeks had captured at the time
of the assassination, set the town on fire, broke down the dykes which kept out
the sea-water, loaded their galleys with booty and sailed [back] in front of
Constantinople”. —H. J. Chaytor, History of Aragon.

(*) This is too many for the navy; nearly all must have been civilian vessels.

(Possibly around 1307:) Gregoras says the Catalans so terrorised the countryside
in Thrace that the Greek peasants could not leave their refuge in the fortified
towns and cultivate the land for two entire years; Oikonomides prefers to date
this to 1311-12: see there (quoted in Laiou-Thomadakis p.261; and Oikonomides).

2a. Asia: The citadel of Sardis, the town east of the old Nicaean seat of
Nymphaeum, was handed over to the Turks by treaty in 1306 (Encyc. Brit. 1911: Cf 1308.


2b. The large town of Philadelphia, today’s Alasehir, in Asia Minor: twice, in 1306
and 1324, was besieged by the Turks; but it managed to retain its independence
for decades - until after 1390, when it was captured by the combined forces of the
Turks and the Constantinopolitans.
In a letter from the 1320s, Manuel Gabalas, a church official from Philadelphia
writing to the future metropolitan Matthew of Ephesos, gave two reasons why
towns (polismata) in a far-off region in the midst of Turkish enemies were still
under Byzantine control: “First, because of their fortifications, and (second)
because they always find a way to get along with their enemies. This has created
such a relationship of trust between them that our people for a very long time
now have been holding all the gold and silver the others [the pastoralist Turks]
own in trust for them, all their Persian [sic: Turkish] belts, rugs, precious
mantles, and robes.* And there is agreement that neither the emperor nor the
military commanders who are appointed from time to time are allowed to
appropriate these things”. —Quoted by Matke 2002.

(*) This repeats the pattern of accommodation reported around Bilecek in

the 1280s: see there.

In Italy: Beginnings of post-Byzantine or post-'Gothic' art: Giotto

completes his fresco cycle in the Arena Chapel, Padua.

Catalonia: Ramon Lull pleads for a trade ban in his “De fide” (1306): “The
slave trade with the Mamluks from Greece [Grecia, Byzantium*] to Egypt,
exercised by profiteers falsely calling themselves Christians, is to be
suppressed by the galleys [of a Christian admiral yet to be appointed]. ...
Christians, such as the Genoese and Catalans, shall buy their spices outside
the lands of the Sultan, from Baghdad and India, whereby [Lull imagines]
Egypt would be reduced to such poverty that within six years it can be easily
conquered by the Christians”.

(*) That is, the Italians’ export of slaves from the Black Sea region via the
Sea of Marmara.

1. Asia: Ottoman Turkish advances in the NW of Asia Minor lead to the isolation
of Bursa. According to Ottoman tradition, the fortress-towns of Kestel, on the
main highway immediately east of Bursa, and Kete or Kite, west of Bursa, were
captured in the ‘Dinboz War’ of 1306, and the first military treaty in Ottoman
history was signed. —Thus the ‘Ottoman Website’,; accessed 2010.
“The small forts fell before the cities: in 1306 Kite/Katoikia, a small keep west
of Bursa, surrendered to a surprise attack which befell the garrison as it was
being mustered. A year or so later, the garrison of Gubekler/Koubouklia, a small
fort near Ulubad [Lopadion]*, betrayed their post to the Ottomans. The Bursans,
now isolated, had to pay tribute to Osman.” —Lindner, "The Tent of Osman, The
House of Osman" in his Nomads and Ottomans, Bloomington, 1983: extracts


online at Cf 1308.

(*) Ulubad or Ulubat lies west of Bursa, at the western end of Lake Ulubad
(Ulubat Golu). Byzantium held onto Lopadion itself for several more decades.

2. Eastern Aegean: The ‘Hospitallers’ or Order of Saint John purchased (1306-7)

the islands of Rhodes, Kos and Leros from the Genoese admiral or corsair
Vignolo Vignoli, who had established loose control over these supposedly
Romaniyan islands.
Little detail is known about the Order’s occupation of the islands but it appears
to have involved fighting against the local Greek inhabitants who fiercely opposed
the Order’s arrival. Various dates are proposed for the actual occupation of
Rhodes, from 1308 to 1310.
—Nicolas Vatin, L'Ordre de Saint-Jean-de Jérusalem, l'Empire Ottoman et la
Méditerranée orientale entre les deux sièges de Rhodes, 1480-1522, Paris, 1994;
and Nicolas Vatin, Rhodes et l'Ordre de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem, Paris, 2000,
cited by Atauz 2004; also

1a. Inner Thrace: Ainos, the Thracian town at the Aegean mouth of the Ebrus or
Maritsa river, withstood an attack by the Catalans (ODB under ‘Ainos’).

1b. The devastation wrought by the Catalans in the environs of Gallipoli was so
great that they were no longer able to live off the land, for they did not themselves
engage in agriculture. So, in mid 1307 the Catalans razed the stronghold of
Gallipoli and, with their Turkish allies, departed for the richer lands of
Macedonia (Magoulis, notes to Doukas 1975: 268). See 1308: Thessaloniki.
Bartusis, LBA p.82, says they comprised nearly 10,000 fighting men: 6,000
Catalans and renegade Greeks and other Christians, and 3,000 Turks, making
them the strongest military force in the Aegean region or at leaqst the strongest
Christian force.

2. (or 1308:) Asia: According to one his own inscriptions in the town, Mehmed
Aydinoglu captures, or recaptures, the town of Birgi, Gk: Pyrgion, ESE of
Smyrna, in the Cayster Valley (Oikonomides, Turks 1305-1313, p.167). It became
the seat of the Aydin emirate. See 1308 and 1310.

3. In 1307 Andronikos II imposed an extraordinary tax, the sitokrithon, on two of

the most important agricultural products, wheat and barley, in order to cover
part of the huge expenses created by the Catalan wars and to counter the financial
effects of the loss of Asia Minor. —Foundation for the Hellenic World, online
2010: ‘Economics in Late Byzantine Period’, at



Geography: The peninsula that juts SE into the NW Aegean is the Halkidiki; the
collection of monasteries jointly called Mt Athos is located on the top ‘finger’.
The hill called Athos is near the tip of the top finger.
Macedonia: The Catalans raid into the peninsula of Mt Athos and plunder the
monasteries. The Company and its allies, drawn from many nationalities, now
numbered some 8,000 or 10,000 fighting men (women and children would have
made up as least as many again) (Loew 1972: 113; LBA p.82; Norwich 1996: 272).
Vasiliev notes that an eyewitness, a pupil of Daniel, igumen (abbot) of the
Serbian monastery of Chilandarion on Mount Athos, wrote: “It was horror to see
then the desolation of the Holy Mountain by the hands of enemies.” The Catalans
likewise burned the Russian monastery of St. Panteleemon, also on Mount Athos.
So great were the atrocities perpetrated by the Catalans on their march through
Thrace and Macedonia in 1307-08, that their name has entered and stayed in the
Greek language as proverbial for cruelty and evil (Magoulias, notes to Doukas
1975: 268).

c. 1307-18: Italy: Dante writes the Divina Commedia, the first great
'vernacular' [non-Latin] poem of Western Europe.

1308: Andronicus II aged 50.

1. Bithynia: The Ottomans push west past Asian Mt Olympos (Uludag) and
capture Lüblüce, south of Bursa (Nicolle 2008: 37). See next.

2. Naval threat to Bursa: The conquest of the island of Karolimne (Tk: Imralı,
from ‘Emir Ali’) off the shore of the Sea of Marmara in 1308 perhaps marked the
first Ottoman naval victory. With a naval or pirate base established on it, the
island, which was the first ever-captured by the Ottomans, enabled them to exert
some control of traffic in the Sea of Marmara and potentially to cut the
connection of the Byzantines to Bursa. The name of the island Imralı is derived
from the name of its conqueror Emir Ali.
Nicolle, 2008: 37, queries this tradition as just legend. If there was an
expedition, he thinks it was just a raid.

3. Macedonia: The Catalan Company besieges Byzantine Thessaloniki, which

holds out.
By 1308 bloody internal dissension, and ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) resistance to the
Catalans' constant raids from their base in Gallipoli, had forced the latter to move
to what is now Northern Greece, as we have seen. Using the Thessalonica region
as a centre of operations, the Company raided Macedonia and ravaged the rich
monasteries at Mt Athos.
The Catalan war is related in detail by the Byzantine historian George
Pachymeres, in the xi-th, xii-th, and xiii-th books, till he breaks off in the year
1308. Nicephorus Gregoras (l. vii. 3-. 6) is more concise and complete.
Pachymeres’ literary activity was considerable, his most important work being
a Roman (Byzantine) History in 13 ‘books’ (parts), in continuation of that of


Georgius Acropolita from 1261 (or rather 1255) to 1308, containing the history of
the reigns of Michael and Andronicus Palaeologi.

3. (Various dates have been proposed, from 1308 to 1310:) The ‘Hospitallers’ or
Knights of St John establish their headquarters in Rhodes; they policed the
surrounding waters against the Turkish pirates.

4a. Ephesus, the last remaining Byzantine town on the Aegean coast, falls to the
Turks. Although the town was given to the Aydin-oglu Turks, it was Osman’s
‘proto-Ottoman’ troops who took the major part in capturing it (Runciman 1965:

4b. [or 1307:] W Asia Minor: The Aydin-oglu Turks re-capture Pyrgion (Birgi)
(SE of Smyrna, N of Aydin).

Aydin declares independence from its Germiyan overlord. Mehmet Beg Mubariz
ad-Din Ghazi, r.1308-1334, founded a dynasty in territories he had conquered in
the Aegean region, including Birgi, Ayasoluk (modern Seljuk, near ancient
Ephesus), nearby Tyre [Tire: located at the third point of an equilateral triangle
with Ephesus and Aydin as its other points] and later Izmir (Smyrna) [in 1310:
see there]. His son and successor, Umur Bey, Umur I, 1334-48, will organise a
fleet and lead expeditions to the Aegean islands, the Balkans, and the Black Sea
coasts, intervening in dynastic quarrels and assisting John VI Cantacuzenus in
the neighbouring Byzantine Empire.

5. Death of Mesud II, the last Seljuk Sultan. Seljuq (central and eastern)
Anatolia is again placed under direct Mongol rule - by a regional governor

First recorded appearance in the West of the trireme galley: a Genoese

ship with 150 oars (Pryor in Gardiner 2004: 116). Cf 1321 – Byzantium.

From 1308:
SW Asia Minor: Mehmed Bey, ruler c. 1308-34, founded the Aydin dynasty in
territories he conquered in the Aegean region, including Birgi, Ayasoluk (modern
Seljuk), Tyre, and later Izmir. The latter-day town named Aydin is near med.
Tralleis, inland from ancient Ephesus.
Mehmed Beg Aydin-oglou killed his former ally Sasa Beg of Germiyan in 1308
and proclaimed the independence of the Emirate of Aydin from Germiyan.
Source: EB15; also Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Foundation for Medieval
Genealogy, at

Macedonia: After the rupture with the Byzantine Empire, the Catalan Company
had to find ways of subsisting without the pay they received from Byzantium.


Selling prisoners as slaves was one of them. Using first Gallipoli and then
Cassandria [Kassandreia on the lower ‘finger’ of the Chalcidice/Halkidiki
peninsula] as trading bases, the Company facilitated the slave trade;
intermediaries bought the Company’s prisoners and resold them on Venetian-
ruled Crete. The notary Angelo Cariolo, who conducted his business in Candia on
Crete, recorded 43 sales of slaves that explicitly mention the Company as the
original source or provider, in only four months (July to September 1308 and
April 1309). These slaves were in large majority Greeks, with only few Bulgarians
and others. —Duran i Duelt, 2000.

Macedonia and Thessaly: Turkish irregulars, many originally from the clan of
Aydin-oglu, fought as volunteers alongside the Catalans in Romaniyan Europe.
They fought for a share of the plunder. Oikonomides (in Turks 1305 p.161) argues
that, although they appeared to be simply auxiliaries of the Catalans, the Turks
were actually planning their own jihad-type conquests in Europe. Cf 1310. (No
such conquests were actually made during the next half-century.)

1. The NW sector of Asia Minor, centred on a line from Ephesus to Nicaea, is
contested by the Byzantines and several Turkish beyliks: the Saruhan, the Karasi
and the Ottomans.

2. The Morea: Cantacuzenus senior, 1308-1316, and then Andronicus Palaeologus

Asen, 1316-1323, ruled as governors at Mistra.
The father of John Kantakouzenos was given the lands of Morea in
Peloponnese by the emperor Andronikos II in 1308. He governed there until his
early death in 1316 (G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, p.497).

SW Asia Minor: r. “Mehmed Bey” or Mohammad Beg Mubariz ad-Din Ghazi,
ruler of the Aydin dynasty. See 1310.

1. Greece: The Catalan Company marches into Byzantine Thessaly. Some of the
Turks who were marching with them left to take service with the king of Serbia.

2. Rhodes: Having succeeded in suppressing local Greek resistance, the Latins

of the Knights of St John or “Hospitallers” migrate from Cyprus to Rhodes -
which they will hold until 1522. The Grand Master was Foulques de Villaret
(Occitan: Folco del Vilaret, also Fulk de Villaret), a native of Occitania, today’s
On 15 August 1309, after over two years of campaigning, the island of Rhodes
surrendered to the knights (date as given by Wikipedia 2010 under ‘Knights
Hospitaller). They also gained control of a number of neighbouring islands, as
well as the Anatolian ports of Bodrum and Kastelorizo.


3. d. Thamar, Greek-born (Epirote) Princess of Taranto, 1294–1309.

1309-77: Under French dominance, the popes resided at Avignon: the so-
called ‘Babylonian captivity’, France being ‘Babylon’.
The family of Petrarch, then aged six, came to Avignon in 1310.

c.1310; or 1315-21:
1. Constantinople: Re-building and redecoration (by 1321) of the “Chora” Church,
Gk: he Ekklesia tou Hagiou Soteros en te Chora, anglice: "The Church of the
Holy Redeemer in the Fields", today’s Kariye Camii (mosque: now a museum).
For Ousterhout (1988) and everyone else, it is one of the most beautiful
examples of a Byzantine church. The mosaic-work*, considered the finest
example of the ‘Palaeologian Renaissance’, includes a fine Christ Pantocrator and
a picture of Theodore Metochites, the ‘prime minister’ (mesazon) and Grand
Logothete, wearing a massive turban.

(*) See 1320 below: the use mosaics in Byzantium ends when it becomes too
expensive for a now impoverished state.

2. Pre-Renaissance Italy, 1310: The Italo-Byzantine style of painting was

abandoned altogether by the Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone [his father’s
name], who adopted a more naturalistic approach based on the observation of
nature. In his ‘Madonna Enthroned’, forms are foreshortened and modelled in
light and shade to create figures that have sculptural solidity and weight.
Naturalism was employed also by the Roman-born painter Cavellini, fl. 1300.

1. Final Turkish capture of Smyrna or Izmir: The Genoese had claimed
Smyrna as their own and built a castle under the name of "St. Peter". They kept
Smyrna until 1310, when the lower part of the town was taken from them by
Umur, son of the Emir of Aydın. The upper citadel held out until 1317.
Smyrna: Mehmet Bey’s son Umur Bey (as he later was) first captured the fort of
Kadifekale [Tk: ‘velvet castle’] at the top of the town, still intact today, in 1310,
and then the lower castle of Sancakkale (Ok Kalesi: called St. Peter at that time)
and used the town as a base for naval raids (Wikipedia 2010 under ‘Izmir’). The
northern coastline of the Gulf of Izmir (Karsiyaka today) was, in the meantime,
held by the sons of Saruhan, another bey. A little further north, the Byzantines
held an enclave around Phocaea. Cf 1313: Saruhan captures Manisa.

2. Thrace: An element of the Turks who had marched with the Catalans—1,300
horse and 800 foot under a commander named Halil—asked the emperor to
allow them safe passage home to Asia. This was agreed; but trouble broke out,
and Halil decided to call for reinforcements from Asia. He then began ravaging
Thrace. The co-emperor Michael IX marched against them with an army of
“10,000” [sic!] but was defeated by “barely 2,000 Turks” (LBA p. 82, quoting a


Latin source; also Freely 2008: 107). A lower figure, 4,000 men at most, would
be more plausible for the size of the imperial army. Halil continued to ravage
Thrace until 1312, when his force was destroyed.

3. Athens: In 1310, the Catalans accepted a new employer, Walter [Fr. Gautier]
de Brienne, the new French (literally Champagne-born) duke of Athens (John
V.A. Fine Jr., The Late Medieval Balkans, Ann Arbor, 1987). In six months they
captured over 30 ‘castles’ (towers and fortresses) for him, and conquered most of
Thessaly (allied to Constantinople), but when peace was concluded in 1311, de
Brienne attempted to dismiss them without pay, and answered their reasonable
demands with insults. This led to their rebellion and open battle: see 1311.

4. d. George Pachymer or Pachymeres, Byzantine scholar and historian; deacon

of the church and professor at the Patriarchal Academy. His best known work
was in East Roman historiography, an eye-witness history of the reigns of
Michael VIII and Andronicus II; his main interests were mathematics and the
theory of music.

5. d. Maximus Planudes, Greek scholar; monk and mathematician who

recommended the use of Arabic numerals; wrote a historical geography; rewrote
Aesop's fables; one of first scholars to translate Latin works into 'Greek'
[Rhomaike: the Roman language].

Monasteries restored at Mt Athos. See 1312.

Thessaloniki: The Church - originally a monastery - of the Holy Apostles is the
finest late Byzantine construction that still survives in the city. It has drum-like
domes typical of the period (Rice, Art p.247).

Constantinople, overlooking the Golden Horn: Construction or re-building of the
Church of the Mother of God ‘Pammakaristos’ (Gk: “Joyous” Mother of God),
with the famous mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. Today it is Fethiye Camii
mosque/museum. Picture in Rice, p.233.
After Hagia Sophia and the Chora Church, it has the most extensive surving
Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul.

Greece: The Catalan Company, with its Turkish auxiliaries, defeats the 'Frankish'
barons of eastern Greece at the Battle of (the river) Kephissos near Thebes, and
assumes control of the Duchy of Athens, ruling there until 1385.
Gautier [Walter], duke of Athens had some “6,400” cavalry and “8,000” foot
according to Gregoras. The Chronicle of the Morea says 6,000 horse and foot.
This seems plausible, as the Catalin memoirist Ramon Muntaner mentions just
700 “French” knights fighting for Athens, perhaps implying that the rest were


ethnic Greek cavalry (“others from that country”). Certainly Muntaner says that
the foot soldiers were all local Greeks (3,000 men if we delete the final zero from
Muntaner’s ’30,000’: Hughes p.147). Walter would have had more men if it had
not been for the fact that 500 Catalans still in his employ deserted to join the
enemy arrayed against him.
He faced a force of Almogavars (Catalan infantry), 6,000 strong, which was
bolstered by Turkish [some 2,000 men: or 1,100 according to Gregoras] and
Thessalian contingents. —Morris 2000; DeVries 1998: 61. (Cf 1311-13.)
This force had occupied several of Gautier's Thessalian fortresses at his refusal
to pay four months' worth of wages for service against his many enemies. When
the duke demanded their unconditional surrender, the Almogavars had refused
and had readied themselves for battle, flooding the fields or choosing already
marshy ground where they expected the Frankish knights would charge.
They laid a trap for their erstwhile employer Duke Gautier (Walter) at
Kephissos by arraying for battle behind a newly flooded field or “bog” which
Hughes says was Lake Copais. Walter and his Frankish knights charged
unknowingly into the mire and were destroyed by the resourceful Catalans. He
and a large proportion of his knights were slaughtered, leaving the Catalans
masters of his Duchy.

Cultural revival in N. Italy: fl. Albertino Mussato of Padua, author of the

first play to have been composed in classical [antique] metre since
Antiquity; in imitation of Seneca (Kraye 1996: 7). Cf 1315 - Dante, and 1317 -

Gallipoli and Thrace: Following the Catalans’ victory over the duke of Athens,
their Turkish allies decided (1310 or 1311) to return home with their booty.
They struck a deal with the Byzantines who agreed to help transport them back
to Asia in Genoese ships. The Turks numbered some 2,100 men (1,300 horse and
800 foot). But trouble broke out and the Turks seized a fortress in the Gallipoli
peninsula as a base and began raiding. In 1311 they inflicted a major defeat on an
army led by Andronicus’s junior co-emperor Michael IX. For nearly two years (to
1312), their attacks laid waste the whole of Thrace. Gregoras reports that the
Romaniyans, shut inside their fortified towns, were no longer able to cultivate or
sow their fields (Oikonomides, “Turks 1305”, p.161; Freely 2008: 107).

1. (Or 1313: see there:) The Serbs intervened on the emperor’s side against the
Turks: Milutin sent 2,000 Serbs who managed to annihilate the Turks near
Callipolis/Gallipoli (LBA p.83; Treadgold 1997: 753; Freely 2008: 107:
Oikonomides prefers 1313: see there). But this served only to stop the Turks from
entering Europe: no lost imperial territory was recovered by the Byzantines. See

2. The Mt Athos monasteries were placed under the direct control of the


3. The Aegean, off Amorgos (in the eastern Cyclades): The galleys of the
Hospitallers of Rhodes defeat the boats of the Menteshe Turks (Pryor 1988: 170).

1312: Genoese mariners rediscover the Canary Islands (- Portuguese conquest,


At the beginning of his reign, in 1282, Andronicus had ruled probably

about five million people; by 1312, however, after the loss of almost all
of Byzantine Asia Minor, he probably ruled only around two million.
“The empire had lost at least half its population in 30 years. This was the
real catastrophe” (Treadgold, State p. 841).

North of the Danube: The military clout of the khanate of the Golden Horde
(‘Kipchak Empire’) peaked during the reign of Uzbeg, 1312-41, whose army is said
- perhaps an exaggeration - to have exceeded 300,000 warriors. This might be
correct if it represented every able-bodied man aged 15 to 45.* This is known
from the reports of Battuta: cf below under 1331-33.

(*) McEvedy and Jones’ (1978) guesstimate for the population of European
Russia and Ukraine in 1300 is ‘nine’ million with a further 1.5 M in present-
day Rumania. If half were ruled by the khan, he could have had over four
million subjects. But one imagines he did not enrol many Slavs or Vlachs in
his army.

1. Eastern Aegean: Benedetto II Zaccaria, 1235-1314, known as Paleologo (after
his Greek wife, a Greek noble), was the Lord of Chios and Phocaea, as well as
other Aegean islands from 1307. Paleologo was the son and successor of
Benedetto I Zaccaria. On the death (1307) of his father, his cousin Tedesio
Zaccaria, the subordinate governor of Phocaea, formed an alliance with the
Catalans of Gallipoli against the Ottoman Turks (this was before the Catalans left
for Macedonia). In 1313, he was forced to abandon the port, and its nearby alum
mines, to the Byzantines and temporarily retire to Thasos. But the Zaccarias
returned in 1314.

The increased importance of Chios at this period is evidenced by the coins, which
the Zaccaria brothers minted for their use, sometimes with the diplomatic legend,
"servants of the Emperor” (Miller 1921: 290).

2a. Thrace: The Romaniyans defeat Halil’s Turks and force them back to their
fortified refuge on the Gallipoli/Kallipolis peninsula. Then:

2b. King Stephen Milutin sends a force of 2,000 Serbians to aid his father-in-law


Andronicus against them. A major victory against Halil and Umur the future
pasha of Aydin (and conqueror of Ephesus) is achieved at present-day Camilikoy
on the Gallipoli peninsula. Finally:

2c. Following up the victory, a combined force of Serbs and Byzantines crossed
into Asia and proceeded against the Aydin Turks. But the Asian bridgehead that
they briefly established was soon abandoned by the Byzantines (Oikonomides,
“1305”: pp.165 ff). Cf 1317 – Bursa.

3. Central-western Anatolia: Sarukhan bey, r. 1313-1348.

In 1313 (date given by EB15; also Freely 2008: 133), the followers of the
Sarukhan or Saruhan family take the town of Magnesia or Manisa,
inland NW of Smyrna, and establish a lordship, Turkish: beylik, over Lydia.
They will become a minor naval power in the Aegean, along with the
neighbouring Aydin-oglu (since 1308). Nif (Nymphaeon)* was also taken,
although Nif and Sart (Sardis) were long disputed with Aydin (Pitcher 1972: 33).
After its conquest of Manisa (1313), the Saruhan dynasty's principality
extended its territories to the Aegean Sea. Surrounded by the other Türkmen
principalities of Aydin, Germiyan, and Karasi, Saruhan became a seafaring state
with a relatively large fleet. It controlled the port-town of Phocaea at various

(*) Only 90 years earlier Nif had been the residence of the Nicaean emperors . . .

Andronicus rebuilds a small native army.
In about 1320 his plan was to enlarge his army a little to 3,000 cavalry - 1,000
mercenaries in Bithynia and 2,000 in the Balkans, - and enlarge the navy to 20
ships (“triremes”) (a plan never realised) [Gregoras, cited in LPA p.85]. So we
may guess that by about 1318 (see more under 1320) the salaried army reached
only about 1,500 cavalry and his navy perhaps 10 galleys. Of course the self-
financing native cavalry and infantry - pronoiars and military smallholders -
must be added, and we can probably assume they too numbered 1,500 or up to
2,500 - for a total of 3,000-4,000 land troops.
In 1329 (see there) Andronicus was able to muster just 4,000 men for an
incursion into Asia Minor.
Gibbon, chapter 63: “The youth of Andronicus had been without spirit, his age
was without reverence: his taxes produced an unusual revenue of 500,000
pounds [sic!]; yet the richest of the sovereigns of Christendom [sic!*] was
incapable of maintaining 3,000 horse and 20 galleys, to resist the destructive
progress of the Turks” (citing Gregoras, l. viii. c. 6).

(*) One might imagine the German emperor and the French king as richer, as
they ruled perhaps 15 million people and 13 million respectively (McEvedy &
Jones 1978); but the system of taxation was still less developed, less centralised
and less monetized in the West. Also Andronicus would certainly have had the
highest income per taxpayer.


1314, Scotland: At the Battle of Bannockburn, some 7,000 Scots, including

500 knights, under Robert Bruce defeated perhaps 25,000 English, of
whom 2,500 were cavalry, under Edward II. It appears that both sides
deployed longbow archers, crossbowmen and slingers. Longbowmen
formed probably a majority on the English side.

1. Galata, the Italian suburb of Constatinople: Built in 1314, the Palace of the
Genoese podestà (magistrate, governor), Montani de Marinis, was known as the
Palazzo del Comune (Palace of the Municipality) in the Genoese period. The
ruins still stand in a narrow street behind the famous Bankalar Caddesi (Banks

2. Greeks sold as slaves in Spain: James II of Aragon and the citizens of

Barcelona expressed scruples about selling enslaved Greeks in the market in
1314, on the grounds that they were found to be Christian. [Presumably they were
traded to the Muslims of N Africa.*] The trade may have been rendered doubly
repugnant to them because many of those Christian slaves were children. —
Verlinden 1964: 428.
According to Lane, 1973: 133, most of the slaves bought or sold by the Venetians
around 1300 were Greeks, but during the 1300s the view developed that fellow
Christians should not be trafficked, and the Black Sea, i.e. the Kipchak Empire
(Khanate of the Golden Horde) became the main source of supply.

(*) Greek slaves from the Morea were traded from Rhodes by Venetians.

2. N Anatolia: Candar's (Jandar’s) son Süleyman re-captured ex-Seljuq

Kastamonu and Sinop and in 1314 accepted the suzerainty of the Il-Khans, the
Mongol rulers of Persia, until the breakdown of Il-Khanid power - at the death of
its ruler, Abu Sa'id - in 1335.

Travel in the Aegean

Shortly after 1310 - before 1318, - the learned monk Theodoulos (Thomas
Magistros) travelled on a Greek ship from Thessalonike to Constantinople. The
voyage out lasted 20 days, and the return trip, during which the ship called at a
number of harbours, took 45.
Magistros describes the journey he made across the northern Aegean by
merchant ship sometime between 1314 and 1318 in his Concerning a Voyage
from Thessalonike to Byzantium and back to Thessalonike. He left Thessaloniki
on 1 October and reached Constantinople via Lemnos, Imbros, Samothrace,
Tenedos, the Hellespont, and the Propontis or Sea of Marmara in 20 days. The
return journey, in midwinter, took 45 days and involved 24 days of enforced
immobility, at first because of a calm and then because of bad weather (Avramea,
The ship must have been large and two-masted, and it had a numerous crew


and a lifeboat. It carried passengers, but also engaged in entrepôt trade.

Magistros was impressed by the skill of the helmsman and of the sailors as they
scrambled up the masts when the vessel was under sail.
He also states that the crew tended to use “mixed Greek” when at work, and
this is, perhaps, the earliest reference to the lingua franca of Mediterranean trade
(Makris in Laiou ed., 2002), Called Sabir, it was based mostly on Italian and
Provençal but with many Greek words.

1314-46: Georgia partially recovers under King Giorgi V 'the Brilliant'.

Georgia was hemmed in between ‘Mongol’-ruled Ukraine, which historians
call the Khanate of the Golden Horde or “Kipchak Empire”, and the
Ilkhanate or Mongol-ruled Persia.

1. Literacy: Legal decisions in Byzantium were written out in triplicate so that the
imperial chancery and both parties to the judgment would have a copy. In a
dispute over land heard in the patriarchal court in 1315, a woman and her sister-
in-law produced six documents between them, all relating to the same plot of
land, two of which turned out to be forgeries. Herrin 2007: 121 cites this as
evidence of a relatively high level of literacy.

2. fl. Manuel Moschopoulos, Constantinopolitan scholar and teacher, who had

studied under Planudes. He is best remembered as a lexicographer and
philologist (Fryde 2000). He was a nephew of the bibliophile bishop of the reign
of Andronikos II, Nikephoros Moschopoulos. He was a student of Maximos
Planoudes and a commentator on (perhaps also an editor of) classical Greek
poets. Among other works, he wrote a grammar of the ancient Greek language, a
treatise on magic squares and an anti-Latin treatise.

1315: Using halberds, the Swiss defeat the Austrians at Mortgarden near
Lake Egeri or Ägeri-see, the glacial lake in the Canton of Zug, the first
major victory by Swiss peasant infantry over German knights.
The Confederates prepared a road-block and an ambush at a point
between Lake Aegeri and Morgarten pass where the small road or path led
between the steep slope and a swamp. About 1,500 men attacked from
above with rocks, logs and halberds. The knights had no room to defend
themselves and suffered a crushing defeat, while the foot soldiers in the rear
fled back to the town of Zug.
Bradbury 2004: 244 says that this was probably the first time the Swiss
deployed the halberd, a long pike headed with a large blade that was both
pointed for pike-work and edged as an axe.

Italy 1315: fl. Dante, the first major western poet to write in a 'vernacular'
(non-Latin) language, i.e. Tuscan Italian. In his Inferno, he generously
places the Muslims Avicenna, Averroes and Saladin not in Hell but in


Thessalonica: A marble inscription of 1315/16 was found when the sea-wall was
being demolished in the early twentieth century. It refers to the repair of part of
the wall or the extension of the sea-wall toward the sea by Hyaleus, logothete of
the army in Thessalonike, a year before the death of Empress Irene-Yolanda, wife
of Andronikos II, who had been living in Thessalonike since 1303. —Bazirkis, in
Talbot ed., ‘Late Byzantine Thessalonike’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 2003;
accessed online 2010.

c. 1315-21:
The Peloponnesus: Andronikos Palaiologos Asen (Gk Asanes), Andronikos II’s
nephew and son of the Bulgarian tsar, was governor of Byzantine Morea. He
expanded imperial rule further into the Morea against the Franks (LBA p.71). His
daughter Irene Asanina married, ca 1319, John Kantakuzenos, the soldier and
future emperor.

The Ottoman heir and future bey Orhan, aged 32, took a second wife “Asporsha”
or Aspordja: Asporça Hatun. She is said to have been—which is not at all credible
—emperor Andronikos III’s daughter. Her name suggests she was of Greek origin.
But in truth the only thing we know about her is that Orhan’s father gave her title
to several villages (see discussion in Pierce, The Imperial Harem: Women and
Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, Oxford Univ. Press, 1993).
Their son Ibrahim, b.1316, was afterwards Governor of Askishehir: d.1362.

1. Asia: The Ottomans resume the offensive around Byzantine Bursa. Osman’s
troops attacked the Romaniyan fortresses at Karatekin, Ebesuyu, Tuzpazarı [near
Bursa], Kapucuk and Keresteci. They managed to capture Orhaheli, SW of Bursa,
and Bithynian Mt Olympus in 1317. In the same year they took the regions of
Kocaeli, to the east of Nicomedia, and Akcakoca on the Black Sea east of Eregli.
See next: siege of Bursa. —Turkish Ministry of Culture, ‘Chronology’, at; accessed 2010.

2a. (Or 1318:) In 1317, Martino Zaccaria, the Italian lord of Phocaea and Chios,
conquered the lower section of Byzantine Smyrna and in 1318 defeated a Turkish
flotilla at sea, briefly imposing a tax on Turkish commerce vessels (Wikipedia,
2009, ‘Martino Zaccaria’). See next.

2b. At Smyrna, the Aydınoglu Turks finally take the upper citadel
(Greek Pagos; Tk: Kadifekale, ‘velvet castle’) from the Byzantines. The Genoese
will hold the lower town until 1329. —Nicol 1993: 143.
Most of the town’s population, obviously, were Greeks; one can only imagine,
imperfectly, what may have been the daily relations bwteen Turk, Greek and
The capture of Kadifekale (the citadel) on Pagos Mountain by Aydınoglu


Mehmet Bey inaugurates the real Turkish age in Izmir (Smyrna). His troops took
Kadifekale in 1317 or 1318 but he was unable to capture the harbour-castle (lower
citadel). Plainly the Genoese were superior at sea, able to prevent any full
blockade of the latter.

3. d. Eirene Palaiologina, born Yolanda of Montferrat, Empress 1288/9–1317.

1317: fl. Giotto, the Tuscan (Italian) painter and architect. From 1334 he
was the city architect of Florence.

1. Bithynia: The Ottomans, one among several ghazi emirates in Asia Minor,
blockade Bursa (Prousa). Cf 1325.

2. Italo-Turkish contest for the Aegean: the warships of Mehmed Beg, the Emir of
Aydin, fought running battles against the navies of the Genoese family of Zaccaria
in Chios and the Knights of Rhodes; his pirate ships preyed on Venetian
merchantmen in the Aegean and plundered the Venetian-ruled islands. Cf 1319.

c. 1318:
John Cantacuzenus, the future emperor, at this time an army officer and friend of
the young prince Andronicus [III], marries Eirene Asenina (Irene Asanina),
daughter of Andronicus Asen, Despot of Morea, and grand-daughter of the
Bulgarian tsar, John III Asen. See 1320-21.

1. As noted, the Aydinoglu Turks take most of Smyrna (LBA p.203, citing

2a. Greece: The Despot of Thessaly - "Wallachian" Thessaly: modern east-central

Greece - died childless and his lands were divided between his more powerful
neighbours: the revived Byzantine Empire and the Catalan Duchy of Athens.
When the Despot of Epiros was assassinated that same year, Epiros passed briefly
to Cephalonia (ruled by Nicholas Orsini) before being absorbed into the
Byzantine Empire (formally annexed in 1336).
The sole success achieved by Andronicus II's tiny native Byzantine or Romaic
imperial army, re-created from about 1313, was against the independent 'Greek'
[Rhomaion] principalities in northern Epirus [our west-central Greece], which
were annexed in 1318. The appearance of a Byzantine army in northern Thessaly
led the Greeks of northern Epirus to declare loyalty to Andronicus, and in 1319
the Epirote ruler Nicholas Orsini formally ceded the north in return for
Andronicus’s recognition of his rule in the south (Treadgold 1997: 754). Cf 1318-
33: Vlachs.

2b. The Catalans of Athens conquer the southern part of the Wallachian duchy of


Neopatras or Neai Patrai, on the northern side of the Gulf of Corinth.

Greece: Byzantine-ruled Thessaly is ravaged by migrating Vlach tribes from
Albania called the Malakasioi, Bouioi and Mesaritai, said to number 12,000.
Presumably that means about 3,500 fighting men. The Greek and Catalan lords
and castellans were forced to take shelter in their fortresses. Eventually in 1333 or
1334 the Albanians swore allegiance to Andronicus III, and some were inducted
into the imperial army (Vacalopoulos pp.7 ff).
In A.D. 1334 a group of people from the mountainous areas of Thessaly, who
lived in no town but in inaccessible places, submitted to the Byzantine Emperor
Andronicus III, because they were afraid of being attacked during the time of
heavy snows. They were "Albanians with no king, called after their tribal chiefs
Malakasii, Bouii, and Mesaritai". Two of these names have persisted into modern
times: the Vlachs (Romance-speakers) of the villages from Malakasi to Gardhiki
[east of today’s Albania-Greece border] are the Malakasii, and the Frasherots of
Southern Thessaly are also called Bouii (Hammond, Epirus, Oxford, 1966).


GO HERE for a contemporary wall-painting of Emperor Andronicus II and King

Milutin of Serbia:

Near Chios: Just two large galleys and two fuste—smaller 30-oar, 60 oarsmen*
galleys—of the Hospitallers of Rhodes were enough to destroy 30 Turkish
(Aydinoglou) vessels.
The weakness of the Turkish naval forces during the 14th century was due to
their use of small, light boats [Tk: kaliyota or kalita, from Venetian ‘galiot’] and
lack of experience at sea; the Christians relied on large war-galleys and of course
had a long maritime tradition. Only Aydin among the Turks built some large
galleys (Pryor 1988: 67, 170; Zachariadou pp.214-15). See 1320.

(*) The fusta or fuste was in essence a small galley -- a narrow, light and fast ship
with shallow draft, powered by both oars and sail. Typically it had 12 to 15 oars
operated by two-man rowing benches on each side, and a single mast with a
lateen (triangular) sail. More precisely: pairs of rowers aft and single rowers on
each side forward of the mast (Runciman 1965: 75).


Above: Painted icon in Chilandar/Chilandarion Monastery, Mt Athos: Saint

Procopius in the southern choir of the main church, c. 1319.
Points to note: 1 the triangular shield strung at his back; 2, the black shape
behind his body which is clearly a square-box quiver, and 3 the transverse strap
across his chest which would be a baldric. The curved brown object behind his
right thigh is possibly a bow-case. The arrows appear to be stored in the quiver
points-upward, the style favoured by cavalry (foot-archers tended to prefer
round-cylindrical quivers in which they stored their arrows with fletching
upwards). Thus he probably represents a horse-archer.

Jewish manufacturers and merchants: In a letter of Andronikos II to the Venetian
doge dated 1319/20, intended to settle a dispute between Venetian Jews and
Byzantine Jews, the emperor says: 'Regarding the Jews, we respond thus: that


our Jews (nostri Judei) are a legitimate possession of the Empire, and for that
reason an allotted place is given to them for their dwelling in which they can live
and practice their own skills, paying to the Empire that which is ordered them.'
He continues to say that the incoming Jews from Venice, who decided to settle
in the Empire, should follow the same regulations and afterwards describes
further details of trade regulations binding for Byzantine Jewish skin and fur
producers and merchants. Since these kinds of exchanges are not unique, it is
safe to conclude that, with regard to the Jews, the Byzantine emperors followed a
relatively tolerant policy, because they had a vested economic interest in doing so
(thus Mirkociv, Byzantinism 2001, accessed 2010 at: www.isidore-of-

Territory in 1320

Byzantium still, but only just, held the entire southern littoral of the Sea of
Marmara. On the Aegean side the border between the Karasi Turks and the
Empire lay between Adramyttium (Edremit) and Biga, near the coast of the Sea
of Marmara. To the east, the imperial towns of Prousa (Bursa), Nicaea and
Nicomedia lay just on the Byzantine side of the Byzantine-Ottoman border (map
in Nicolle 2008: 33).
McEvedy and Jones (1978/1992) estimate that the entire Balkan region, from
Croatia to Crete, contained about five million people at this time; thus Byzantium
cannot have ruled more than about two million, indeed probably fewer.

The Army of Andronicus

Reading backwards from 1321, we can perhaps deduce that in 1320 the land
forces of the ‘empire’ numbered no more than about 3,000 salaried soldiers, or
say 4,000 if we add those troops dependent on landholdings.
In 1320, as Treadgold relates (1997: 819, 841-43; cf Nicol p.162), Andronicus
calculated that his revenues would allow him to enlarge his army by 1321 to
perhaps 5,000 men: it would have consisted of (a) 500 troops of the imperial
bodyguard (Varangian infantry); (b) about 3,000 cavalry in several regular or
standing units (both foreign ‘mercenaries’ and native “pronoiar” soldier land-
taxers, or more exactly: soldiers authorised to collect land taxes); and (c) some
1,500 others on hire for specific campaigns. (This was about half the number that
Constantinople had been able to field in 1283.) But his grandson's revolt (1320)
prevented this plan from being realised. Cf 1329.

The plan for the navy was to acquire 20 galleys; again this was not realised.

Numbers are indicative:

1,500 cavalry: up to 500 Frankish or Greco-Frankish mercenary knights,* about
500 Byzantine horse called stratiotai (pronoiars), and about the same number of
lesser light-armed cavalry, including horse-archers. The pronoiars were
considered inept and unenthusiastic.


(*) After 1315 some Frankish nobles reconciled themselves to their new
overlords and served in the army as paid professionals.
1,500 infantry: say 500 Varangians (until 1329); 1,000 other infantry: ‘Greek’
(Rhomaioi) garrison spearmen and garrison archers [most of the full-time troops
were assigned to garrisoning fortresses]; Byzantine farmer-archers, i.e.
unsalaried small-holders; and finally irregulars called “hillmen” i.e. ethnic Slavs
called Melingoi** and/or Tzakones, Greeks from the Morea; both prone to
banditry. Cf 1321.
(**) Slavic groups living in the Balkans esp. the Peloponnesus. - In 1204, the
French invaders of the Peloponnesus had noted that, after more than three
centuries of East Roman rule, there were still two independent Slav peoples,
the Ezeritai and the Melingoi, in the fastness of Mount Taygetos in Laconia,
west of Sparta and Mistras.
Total say 3,000 – but built up to about 4,000 by 1329: see there.
An icon of St Demetrios carved in steatite dated to the early 14th C takes the form
of a Byzantine archer, probably a cavalryman as he also carries a lance. That a
cavalryman is depicted is also suggested by his lamellar body armour. An apron
or skirt of large scales, prpesumabaly leather, covers his hips and upper thighs.
He carries a short, strung recurve bow that is about half his height, so perhaps 85
cm in length (short for a Byzantine bow).* He holds three arrows in his left hand
that appear about 45 cm long; also very short, if depicted to scale. —Go here:

(*) Byzantine cavalry bows, at least in the 10th century, were normally longer than
117 cm, and infantry bows larger still: Leo’s Taktika and the Syllagoge, cited by
McGeer p.213; Parani p.141.

1. Rebellion by Andronicus [III], the emperor's grandson. The young Andronicus
was disinherited by his grandfather; but in 1321 a group of young nobles and
landowners, led by John Cantacuzeus, came to the aid of the younger

2. Theodore Metochites, Byzantine scholar, became Grand Logothete or chief

minister in 1320; he wrote on every branch of the 'Outer Learning' or non-
theological studies and 'Inner Learning': philosophy (he favoured Plato),
education, the sciences and astronomy. His histories show an honest objectivity.
He cites over 80 classical authors whose works were presumably in his
personal collection (Rautman p.289).
Metochites is depicted in a famous mosaic (c.1310) in the Church of the Saviour
in Chora (Kariye Camii). He wears a massive Turkish-style turban and a long
kaftan-like full-sleeved tunic. The Church also has other fine mosaics of this
period, e.g. "The Virgin Interceding with Christ" (pictures Rice, Art p.225, 229;
Treadgold 1997: 831).
Cf Ibn Battuta, visiting in 1332: “The inhabitants of the city, soldiers and


civilians, small and great, carry over their heads huge parasols, both in winter
and summer, and the women wear large turbans.”
Metochites’ residence, a lavish group of buildings, included a bathhouse
(Rautman p.92).

At a period when the structure of the state was steadily disintegrating and
finances deteriorating, - when the Empire, torn by the quarrel between
Andronicus II and his grandson Andronicus III, had to face incursions by the
Turks, the Catalans and the Genoese, - a group of scholars flourished under
Andronicus II. With their works on the classic authors and the exact sciences,
these men sparked a new flowering of the letters and arts, known today as the
‘Palaeologan Revival’. The group included the well-known historian and tutor
of Metochites's children, Nicephorus Gregoras, and the writer Nicholas
— Thus an anonymous author, article ‘Istanbul Tours’, at; accessed 2008. Cf 1325 below.

3. The Aegean, off Rhodes: Just 10 Genoese and Rhodian (Hospitaller) galleys
accompanied by 20 small boats “annihilated” a fleet of 80 Turkish (Menteshe)
vessels - which possibly included a few small galleys. Only six Turkish vessels
escaped. As noted earlier, the weakness of the Turkish naval forces during the 14th
century was due to their lack of a long maritime tradition and the use of small
boats; the Christians relied on large war-galleys. Among the Turks only the beylik
of Aydin built some substantial galleys (Pryor 1988: 170; Zahariadou pp.214-15).
See 1321: Ottoman boats

Venice, 1320: The Arsenal Nuovo or “new dockyard” was built, much larger
than the original. It enabled all the state's navy and the larger merchant
ships to be both constructed and maintained in one place. The Arsenal
incidentally became an important centre for rope manufacture, while
housing for the arsenal workers grew up outside its walls.

1. The Ottoman fleet made its first landing, using small boats, in Thrace in
southeastern Europe.

2. First phase of a series of civil wars: 1321-22 (or to 1327). Andronikos II will
have to share the empire with his grandson, Andronikos III, when he fails to win
the civil war.
The general who led the grandson's forces was a young John Kantakouzenos,
aged about 26, who received an appanage in Thrace with the promise of general
exemption from taxation. See 1325.
Kantakouzenos later recalled that, because of the civil war, already in 1322
some peasants were leaving their villages and no taxes could be collected from
them (Laiou-Thomadakis p.261).

3. A small ‘Mongol’ contingent – troops of the Golden Horde or ‘Kipchak empire’


- passed through Bulgaria and raided Thrace in 1321 and again in 1322 (Lippard
p.211). Cf 1324.

The Armed Forces

[Cf above: 1318:] At this time, as we have said, the Byzantine army was tiny: of
the order of perhaps 4,000; or just 2,000-2,500 men if we count only the
The elite were several hundred “mercenaries”, meaning salaried professional
knights, usually Latins or Byzantines of Latin descent. Heavy cavalry pronoiars—
Greek-Romanic and Franco-Greek horsemen paid from diverted land taxes —
numbered about 500. In addition there was an unknown number of lesser cavalry
and infantry. Cf 1329: field army of some 4,000 men.
- Kantakuzenos guessed that the army he assembled in 1321 to fight for
Andronikos included “5,000” cavalry, but he had not counted them and this was
purely a guess. The true number was probably more like 2,500 (says Bartusis in
LBA p.223).
- As pictured in Nicolle’s Eastern Europe 1988, a Byzantine infantryman wore a
tall pointed brimmed war-hat or ‘chapel-de-fer’, mail to the elbows and thighs,
and carried a sword and spear and medium-sized convex-triangular shield.

The navy had perhaps 10 ships (fewer than 20), each manned by 154 men. This
suggests they were probably Italian-style triremes, i.e. three rows each of 25 oars
on both sides (see the discussion at pp. 842 ff in Treadgold, State, 1997, citing
LBA: Bartusis).

There is no known instance of mosaic decoration in Byzantium after

1320; only frescoes. This is probably to be explained by the negative economics
of a small population fighting a civil war (Sevcenko in Treadgold‘s Renaissances,
1984 p.161).


From the begining of John Kantacuzenus’s alliance with the younger

Andronicus (III) Palaiologos to the year that John’s son and co-
emperor Matthew Kantakuzenus renounces his claim to the throne
and John V Palaiologos becomes sole emperor.

From 1321:
Thessaly was governed by a young, 26 years old, Ioannes (John) Kantakouzenos -
the future John VI - son of the late Governor of the Peloponnesus. Born
posthumously 1295, died Mistra, Peloponnese 10.6.1383, aged 88, buried there;
m. before 1320 Irene of Bulgaria (+1363-79).
Kantakouzenos was Megas Papias or senior palace official ca. 1320-1325 and


Governor of Thessaly in 1321; then Grand Domestic or commander in chief of the

army (II.1325-1340), Regent of Byzantium (14.6.1341-8.2.1347), Emperor for
nearly eight years (2.2.1347-10.12.1354) – crowned in the Church of the Virgin,
Blachernai 21.5.1347. He abdicated the throne at the Blachernai Palace 10.2.1354
and adopted the habit of a monk, under the name of Joasaph. Although
domiciled in a monastery, Ioannes continued to remain politically active.

NW Asia Minor: The Ottoman army under the command of the heir, Orhan
Ghazi, aged about 37 in 1321, captures many towns and forts. For the first time
they extend their rule to parts of the coast, taking Mudanya and Gemlik, both
port-villages on the Marmara, north of Byzantine Bursa (in “1321”; Nicolle
2008: 37 places this after 1326); Akyazi east of the lower Sangarios and Ayankoy
(both 1323); Karamursel on the southern coast of the Gulf of Nicomedia and
Karacabey between the lakes west of Bursa (1324); and Orhaneli, south-west of
Bursa (“1325”: in 1317 according to Nicolle 2008: 37). This effectively
isolated Byzantine Bursa. Cf 1323: Yenisehir.
—Source: ‘Dawn of the Ottoman Empire’, online at; accessed

1. Thrace: Taking advantage of the Byzantine civil war, the troops of George
Terter II of Bulgaria invaded Byzantine Thrace and, encountering little, if any,
resistance, conquered the major town of Philippopolis (Plovdiv) and part of the
surrounding area in 1322 or 1323. A ‘large army’ [sic!] of 3,000 men - “1,000
picked cavalry of Alans and Bulgarians and twice as many foot shield-bearers” -
was stationed at Plovdiv to hold the town (large for this period: Kantakuzenos,
quoted in LBA p.295).
A Bulgarian garrison was installed under the command of a general named
‘Ivan the Russian’, while a court scribe praised George Terter II as a "possessor of
the Bulgarian and the Greek [Romaike] sceptre". The defence of Philippopolis
against the Greek-Romanics was led by Itiles or Itil and Temeres or Timur, Alan
soldiers in service of Bulgarian Tsar George II Terter.
A new campaign during the same year brought the subjugation of several
fortresses around Adrianople, but the Bulgarians were now turned back and
defeated by Andronikos III. See next.

Then 2. Byzantine reconquest of Philippopolis and other Thracian towns: from

Mesembria to Stilvno, inland from Varna. There must have been much more
posturing than actual fighting: Kantakuzenus says that in the siege of
Philippopolis just three [sic!] soldiers were killed on the Byzantine side, although
“many” were wounded; while nil Bulgarians died despite “many” being wounded
(!) (LBA p.268).
The Romance-speaking ‘Rumanians’ of Wallachia are mentioned by
Cantacuzenus under the name of Ungro-Vlachs, fighting on the Bulgarian side, in
the battle waged by Mikhail III Shishman (1323-1330) against the Byzantines,


who were besieging the town of Philippopolis.

3. Civil war: The younger Andronicus besieged the town of Apros – inland, west
of the Sea of Marmara - which was loyal to the older Andronicus. The garrison of
the town comprised 100 soldiers (cavalry, archers and slingers) and a larger
number of armed civilians. The older Andronicus sent reinforcements from
Constantinople consisting of 220 cavalry, 200 archers and 30 crossbowmen.
Thus the defenders numbered some 750 (Turnbull 2004: 35).

4. Crimea: Khan Ozbeg [Uzbeg] attacks the Genoese slaver entrepot of Kaffa
[Feodosiya], sacks Sudak, and allows (1332) the Venetians back to Tana on the
Sea of Azov.
The Golden Horde Kipchaks sacked Sudak under Khan Ozbeg in 1322 as a
result of a clash between Christians and Muslims in the city. The Genoese
merchants in the other towns were not molested in 1322. The Pope intervened
and asked Ozbeg to restore the Latin Catholic churches that were destroyed.
Ozbeg was friendly towards the Pope and exchanged letters and gifts. Khan
Ozbeg signed a new trade treaty with the Genoese in 1339 and allowed them to
rebuild the walls of Kaffa. In 1332 he had allowed the Venetians to establish a
colony at Tana on the Don.

The two Andronikoi make peace in 1322; this lasts until 1327.

c. 1323:
Asia: Osman’s Turks found Yenihisar or Yenisehir (“new fort, new town”), south
of Byzantine Nicaea on the road from Bursa to Nicaea. He moved his capital
there. As the crow flies, less than 20 km separates Yenisehir from Nicaea, which
from 1324 the Turks will blockade by land.
The empire was not yet quite so impotent that no attempt could be made to
attack Yenisehir. Cf next: expedition to Philadelphia, 1324, and attempt to relieve
Bursa, 1325.

1. Byzantine science: For 10 centuries after Ptolemy we can distinguish only one
European astronomer. namely Nicephoros Gregoras, 1295-1360. His teacher was
Theodoros Metochites, one of the most significant scholars of Byzantium. The
literary work of Gregoras is especially important, while Byzantine astronomy
owes indisputable progress to him. Gregoras was the first to propose, in 1324, a
correction to the calculation of the date of Easter, and to the Julian calendar
similar to that adopted later, in 1582, by Pope Gregory XIII. — Theodossiou, et
al., 2006. See below under 1330: solar eclipse.

2. The Balkans: The ‘Mongols’ (Kipchaks) of the Golden Horde raid into both
Bulgaria and Byzantine Europe. Andronicus III could not quickly assemble an


adequate force to counter them because it was the ‘off-season’; his troops had
returned to their respective towns (LBA p.236).
Allegedly “12” tumens (sic: 120,000 men!) under the command of Taitakh and
Toghlu invaded Thrace. A more likely figure would be 12,000. They pillaged the
country for 40 days and encountered small-scale, sporadic resistance from the
troops of Andronicus III. Kantakuzenus discounts the rumour that the older
Andronicus (II) called in the Mongols to punish the Thracian population for
having supported his grandson (Lippard p.211). Cf 1328.

3. SW Asia Minor: Andronikos II recalled the blind old general Alexios

Philanthropenos from retirement and sent him to Asia. He led no army, but such
was his reputation that the local Greek-Romanic militia managed to force back
the Turks who were besieging Philadelphia, today’s Alasehir in central-western
Asia Minor, the last 'Greek' outpost south of Bithynia, an island in a Turkish-
ruled sea (LBA p.88, citing Akropolites). Cf 1325.

4. W Greece: The Angevins of Naples annex Greco-Italian Cephalonia, modern

Kefallinia/Kephallenia, and attach it to the rule of Achaia/Akhaia.

Prosperity and Life Expectancy before 1347

(i.) The Morea

The island-fortress of Monemvasia developed into one of the most dynamic and
wealthy ‘cities’ of Byzantium. Its difference from the other towns is best depicted
by a list of 1324, containing the contributions of the metropolitan sees of the
empire for the support of the patriarchate of Constantinople. The contributions,
3,108 hyperpera, were defined in proportion to the financial means of each see.
The smallest amount is 16 hyperpera, offered by one see, and the largest is 800,
offered by the ‘metropolis’ (metropolitan church) of Monemvasia, four times the
contribution of Thessalonike and more than one-fourth of the total. Kalligas
suggests that about 7,000 people, perhaps even 10,000, occupied the island-
town. The island is tiny, so the houses must have been very densely clustered or
else the figure includes suburbs on the mainland. —Kalligas, ‘Monemvasia’, in
Laiou ed., 2002. - See further 1330-34.

Cf Morrisson and Cheynet: “The increase in the number of craftsmen in the

countryside under the Palaiologoi constitutes a phenomenon familiar to
economists as an indicator of growth. … in general terms, during the Byzantine
period as a whole, or at least until the situation was reversed by the crisis in the
1350s [i.e. the Black Death followed by civil war and then the entry of the Turks
into Europe], there occurred a relative rise in the living standards of the middle
and lower social categories, excluding marginals.” — Morrisson and Cheynet


(ii.) Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy

Gregory Clark, 2007: 95-95, presents some useful estimates for the ancient and
late medieval periods. But all they show is that at every period and in every place
in the pre-industrial world, including Byzantium, the broad picture was the same:
death at a young age was more common and life was shorter than in our world.
The Byzantine figures are presented last below.

Where data allows it to be calculated, we find that life expectancy at birth was
lowest in the towns of sub-tropical Antique Roman Egypt (data from before AD
250) and filthy Enlightenment-era London (late 1700s). Fully 30% of infants died
in London at that time. Infant mortality, of course, and adult mortality too, were
always higher in the cities, particularly because of infectious diseases.
Cf Bousas: “Provincial Byzantine cities were usually small in area and densely
populated, with all that that implied for the hygiene and comfort of the
inhabitants”. —‘Aspects of the Byzantine City’, in Laiou ed., 2002: 507.

Early modern England overall (1550-1799) had the highest figures for life
expectancy at birth, indicating that rural England was the ‘least bad’ place to live
as a child. Infant mortality was “only” 17% in the later 1770s. - For adult survival,
clean rural Japan in the later 1700s and certain less urbanised Chinese provinces
in the early 1800s were best.

We will now look at ancient Rome, England in the later Middle Ages and
Renaissance Italy, before coming to Byzantium.

(a) Ancient Roman Empire, 2nd and 3rd centuries AD

For Antiquity, only Roman Egypt has yielded data – in papyri manuscripts and
inscriptions - sufficient to allow life expectancy at birth to be estimated. Rural
Egypt (28 years), was from this point of view a safer and healthier place to live
than urban Egypt (24 years). The same data show that 55% of rural Egyptians
made it to age 15, as against 52% in the cities. No surprise here.
Anecdotally, of course, we know that cities were always unhealthy compared to
the country, at least until the later 19th century. And both figures are entirely
typical of the preindustrial era: a similar level of mortality was experienced in
the clean and peaceful Japan of the later 1700s (rural areas: only 52% surviving
to age 15).
If you did make it to 15 in Roman Egypt, your life expectancy was 41 years in
the country as against 37 in the towns. (Cf rural Japan, late 1700s: 57 years:
adult mortality lower than in Roman Egypt.)
The same measure - life expectancy at age 15 - for upper-class Italians in the
Ancient Empire was 53 years, and for ex-slaves in Italy 48 years. The reasons for
the differences between Egypt and Italy are not known: Egypt under the Romans
was quite prosperous and entirely peaceful compared to most provinces. But the
Egyptians all lived along the marshy Nile …


The point to be made is that, in ancient Italy, you would see plenty of people aged
over 50 but very few as old as 70.

(b) England before the Black Death, early 14 century AD

In the early 1300s those English tenant-farmers—the rural middle or middling

class—who made it to age 15 had a life expectancy of 48 years, similar to Antique
Italy. After the Black Death: 52 years for tenants, similar to rich Italian-Romans
in Antiquity.
Clark offers no figures for life expectancy at birth, although for England
somewhat later, i.e. in the early modern period (after AD 1550), estimates range
from 35 to 38 years, noticeably higher than for Antique Egypt.

(c) Renaissance Italy, early 15th century

Clark 2007: 94 cites Herlihy’s analysis of data for the Tuscan town of Pistoia. Life
expectancy at birth was 29 years, i.e. the same as rural Egypt in Antiquity. But
only 44% made it to age 15, i.e. fewer than in Roman Egypt. Life expectancy at 15:
45 years, i.e. lower than in ancient Italy. It is a wild guess, but one guesses . . .

(d) Medieval ‘Roman’ Empire (Byzantium), 14th century

For the Greek-Romanics, Laiou 2002: 52 has posited a life expectancy at birth of
22.5 years for females and 22.295 [sic: 22.9?] years for males in about AD 1325.
For those who survived their first year, life expectancy rose to 33 years, and at
five years the life expectancy becomes 47.5 years. Presumably this translates to
over 50 years at age 15.
This estimate (he says) may, in fact, be too pessimistic. It is not possible to
compare the data from the early and the late period, and thus any effort to trace
differences in the life expectancy over the course of the empire must fail. The
point remains clear that in both periods (before and after 1000) the life
expectancy at birth was low by our standards. In the later period, life expectancy
increases significantly for those who survive the first few hazardous years.

Byzantine men of letters in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries, very far from
typical, died at the high average age of 71, which is at least as good as the figures
for similar groups in the fourth century, the sixth century, and in western Europe
of the late eleventh and twelfth centuries. —Laiou, citing A. Kazhdan, “Two Notes
on Byzantine Demography of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,” Byzantinische
Forschungen, 8 (1982): 117.

(iii.) Lifespan and Stature

According to L J Angel, who has studied skeletal remains, Byzantine life

expectancy, or at least that in Constantinople, was superior to any before about
1800. On the other hand, his conclusions for male stature, average height being a


good correlate of diet, shows no great difference between Byzantium and the rest:
Western Europe, Baroque period 172 cm [5ft 7.7in]; Byz C’ple 169.8; medieval
Greece 169.3 and Antique Imperial Rome 169.2 [5ft 6.6in].
Median lifespan in years (males) based on skeletal remains: Byzantine
Constantinople 46 years; Imperial Rome around 300-400 AD: 39 years;
Byzantine Greece 38 years and Baroque Eastern Europe, 1500-1700, 43 years
(Angel 1984). This seems to say that half of all males in the Byzantine capital died
at ages older than 46; but in fact the datum would probably be life expectancy at
age five. Evidently it comes from burials; dead infants would not normally be
carefully buried. Thus it would seem that “46 years” is the median age at death of
skeletal material that has survived in graves and in other burial sites, eg on the

The Ottomans invest Romaic Nicaea. Cf 1325.

1. Andronikos III, aged 28, is re-crowned co-emperor. The civil war between him
and his grandfather had ended (in 1322) without serious fighting, but it had
disrupted agriculture, particularly in Thrace, and had paralysed the economy.
Due to the bad economic situation of the empire, Andronicos II the elder
subjected its people to further ruinous taxation. By playing on their grievances,
the young Andronicos III gained followers everywhere in Thrace. He promised
immediate remission of taxes for all. On 2 February 1325 Andronicos III was
crowned as emperor in his own right at a ceremony in St Sophia in
Constantinople. It was probably now that John Cantacuzenus was promoted to
the high rank and office of Grand Domestic or megas domestikos—general of the
army—which he was to hold for the next 15 years.
In his description of the marriage of Andronicus III Palaeologus in 1325,
Cantacuzenus writes that the procession included “those having axes, called
Varangians”, and eunuchs in charge of escorting the empress (vol I, 199; Bartusis
p. 281). He also mentions the numerous eunuchs who surrounded the ministers
of the empress regent Anna of Savoy (II, 223), and those who were present at the
marriage of his own daughter Theodora Cantacuzenus to the Sultan Orkhan (II,
588). —Guilland 1943.

2. Traditional date for the Ottoman capture of: 1 Orhaneli, SSW of Bursa near Mt
Olumpus [Uludag], and the fortresses of 2 Bolu = Gk Bythinion, in the NE, far to
the E of Nicomedia: inland from coastal Heraclea on the Black Sea; 3 Kandıra:
near the Black Sea coast to the west of the lower Sakarya River; 4 Ermenipazarı;
and 5 Devehisarı (I have not located the latter two: MO’R).
We must imagine, I suppose, a patchwork or sprinkling of forts, imperial and
Turkish, scattered across the region – the Greeks holding a number of forts in
Ottoman dominated districts and the Turks holding a number of forts on the edge
of Imperial territory.


3. NW Asia Minor: General John Cantacuzenus / Kantakouzenos leads a vigorous

offensive in Bithynia, but he fails to break through to the besieged Greek city of
Bursa/Prusa (LBA p. 89). See 1326 – fall of Prousa (Bursa).

Plate Armour vs Lamellar

Among élite Western knights, some plate armour was beginning to appear by
Lamellar armour seems not to have been widely used in Western Europe. There
the age of mail (ca 1066-ca 1250) was followed by the introduction of some
auxiliary plate armour* (ca 1250-ca 1330: continuing to 1350) and an age of early
full plate armour (ca 1330-ca 1410).

(*) Brian Palmer’s illustration (in Dougherty 2008: 49) shows an English knight
of 1350 whose main armour is still mail, worn all over, from head to finger and
toe. Or rather the main hauberk extends not quite as far as the knee; this is
complemented with mail leggings (chausses) up to the knee. Plates are added to
(strapped over) the mail at vulnerable areas: the right arm and elbow and the legs
from knee down to the toe.

From the last decade of the 13th century, references in the West to the ‘coat of
plates’ become more and more common, until after c. 1320 there is hardly an
inventory, account, or will in which armour is mentioned that does not include an
example (Claude Blair: European Armour circa 1066 to circa 1700. London: B.
T. Batsford, 1958, p.40).
A body-coat of metal platelets was now worn over the mail hauberk, and some
plate armour was added to protect the upper arms, lower legs and feet. The
cylindrical ‘great helm’ was still in use but also a close-fitting plain “bascinet”
helmet. The shield is quite small and chevron-shaped, serving to protect just the
arm rather than the whole body (Hopkins 1996; Palmer loc. cit.).

1. Mt Athos, Greece: Turkish incursions (sea-borne raids) cause those outside the
fortified monasteries to flee. Gregory ‘the Sinaite’ and his disciples Isidore and
Kallistos (future patriarchs) flee, as does a young Gregory Palamas, to
Thessaloniki. They plan to go east to Jerusalem and Sinai, but only the Sinaite
and Kallistos do so. Gregory and Isidore remain in Thessaloniki.

2. Constantinople: fl. Manuel Philes, ca. 1275-1345, Greek-Romanic poet and

diplomat, author of many short occasional poems.
Raised in Ephesus, he was a poet at the imperial court of Andronikos II and
Andronikos III Palaiologos. He was a pupil of George Pachymeres and wrote
poems of various kinds - didactic, panegyric, epitaphs, historic and others - which
reflect his close relationship to the imperial family, the aristocracy (the


Melissenoi, among others) and the patriarch.

3. Painting (icon) of the Archangel Michael, with massive wings: described by

Rice, Art p.244, as "one of the most exquisite works of the Palaeologue age that
has survived". Now in Pisa: Museo Civico.

4. Aragonese-ruled Sicily: Northeastern Sicily, and particularly the religious

communities nestled in its wooded Nebrodi and Peloritan mountains, remained
distinctly "Byzantine" into the 14th century, even while the rest of Sicily's
Christians gradually embraced the "Latin" authority of Rome (the Vatican).
Authors often refer to these monastic and parochial communities as "Basilian,"
which is to say "Orthodox". Their religious and artistic heritage was, and is,
distinctly Greek.
“Orthodox monasteries in places like San Marco d'Alunzio (which has a small
but interesting museum of medieval Byzantine art) and Alcara Li Fusi* were
somewhat remote, isolated even by Sicilian standards, reached by winding
mountain trails. But there was also a political reason. For several decades during
the fourteenth century, though Sicily was nominally ruled from afar [i.e. by
Aragon], a period of feudal chaos at home, resulting in effective localized control
by several prominent noble families (the Chiaramonte clan comes to mind),
meant that abbots were relatively free from the direct influence of Rome.” —
Antonella Gallo, ‘Byzantine Northeastern Sicily’, at; accessed 2010.

(*) Both located inland from the NE coast, about halfway between Cefalù and

After 1325: Spread of rudimentary, and very unreliable, firearms in

Western Europe. But sword, lance and bow will remain the dominant
weapons for several centuries.

W Aegean: Recounting the year 1325, the Venetian traveller and writer Marino
Sanudo mentions “the raids by the Turks on the island of Negroponte [Euboea,
modern Evvia, under Venetian rule]”, whence they deport the population as
captives. In 1329 he reports that they “repeatedly raided the said island and the
mainland of [Latin-ruled] Athens, destroying everything outside the fortified
places and reducing the populace into slavery. Nicola Sanudo, the duke of Naxos
and Andros, alone lost 15,000 people on his dominions, through death,
abduction, and flight” (quoted by Friedrich Kunstmann (1855)
Studien über Marino Sanudo den Älteren: mit einem Anhange seiner
ungedruckten Briefe, at
One imagines the two islands were effectively depopulated. Cf 1344.



Asia Minor, 6 April 1326: Finally starved into capitulation, the city of Prousa
(Tk: Bursa) surrenders to Osman's son and successor, Orkhan or Orhan.
Osman dies immediately afterwards, and Orhan makes it his capital (Norwich,
Decline p.278). Cf 1329.

The Ottomans now ruled from Mt Olympus and Bursa NE to the environs of
Nicaea (still in Byzantine hands) and thence NE to the lower-middle Sakarya
River east of Nicomedia. They had access to the coast only at a couple of points
(map in Nicolle 2008: 37). Cf Mudanya and Gemlik: above, 1321-25.

Hopwood: “The emirate truly develops when a town with a fort is taken.
This can be seen for the Ottomans with Yenisehir and then Bursa, for the
Germiyanoglu with Kütahya, and for the Aydinoglu with Ephesos/Selçuk. . . . The
urban centre, together with the skills of the refugees from the Mongols, formed
the basis for the emirates” (“Frontiers” p.159).

2. Thrace: Andronicos II had employed Turkish mercenaries to fight his battles in

Thrace, hoping that they could be relied upon to return in Asia Minor when they
had earned their pay. But some stayed as brigands. In 1326, the pretender’s new
grand domestic (army commander), John Cantacuzenus, was set upon by some of
them, unhorsed and wounded in the foot while on his way to Didymoteicho
(south of Adrianople/Edirne).

3. Andronicus, the future emperor A. III, marries Joanna or Anna of Savoy (1306-
One of the larger Franco-Italian lordships, the County of Savoy [Italian
Savoia] extended from our SE France, near Lyon, to our NW Italy: near Turin.

Once Were Warriors

In 1326 Theodore Palaiologos, Marquis of Montferrat, a younger son of

Andronikos II, wrote a treatise on military affairs. He writes of the Byzantines as
a people “not at all accustomed to arms or the things necessary for war”, and of
fortresses “small ... and badly equipped for defence” (quoted in Bartusis, LBA
pp.10, 89). Presumably the contrast was with northern Italy, where he spent most
of his life. Even if exaggerated, for Theodore was bitter at his father’s neglect of
him, this shows the parlous position of the empire. Cf below (after 1328):
Bartusis’s poor opinion of the pronoiars.

Emir Orkhan (Orhan) rules in Bursa as the first leader of the “Ottomans” or
Osmanli, so-called after his father. By 1337 he will take NW Asia Minor from the
Byzantines. See 1331 etc.
The first Ottoman silver coins (akche) are minted in Bursa in 1327. This


suggests that Orhan made it his capital almost immediately. —Freely 2008: 114.

Latin studies in Byzantium: Maximus Planudes, the theologian, grammarian and
rhetorician, lived in the early part of the 14th century; in 1327 he was appointed
ambassador to the Venetian Republic by Andronicus II. Among his works were
translations into Greek of Augustine's De Civitate Dei [‘City of God’] and Caesar's
De Bello Gallico [‘Gallic War’].

Civil war breaks out again between the two Andronikoi. The Serbs declared for
the younger Andronicus, the Bulgarians for the elder. See 1328: Thessalonica.
We must not imagine that the fighting was very desperate. On the contrary,
there was much posturing and many insignificant skirmishes. For example, at the
battle of Mauropotamus on the Asian side of Constantinople in 1328, the number
dead, counting both sides’ casualties, was . . . just 10 men (Gregoras I: 415, cited
in LBA p.268; similarly tiny figures occur throughout Cantacuzenus’s memoirs).

Defeat in Asia, 1327/28-1330:

Bithynia: A large-scale Ottoman campaign in 1327/28 reached the outskirts of
Üsküdar (Scutari) on the Bosphorus opposite Constantinople and captured
several towns (Nicolle 2008: 37). The Greek-Romanics were defeated at
Pelekanon: modern Pendik the following year [see under 1329] and at Tavsanclı
(Philokrene, NE of modern Gebze: nearer Nicomedia) in 1330. Meanwhile, the
Ottomans took control of the southern shore of the Gulf of Izmit/Nicomedia,
leaving the major Byzantine city of Nicomedia virtually cut off, especially as
Byzantine naval power was fading fast.

1. Asia Minor: The Greek towns still remaining in the Cyzicus district were again
harassed by the Karassians [Turks of the Karesi beylik], and when the emperor
made a
pilgrimage to the Virgin of Artaki, he took the opportunity of interviewing the
emir of Karasi at Pegae [Biga: SW of Cyzicus]; the latter received him with all
courtesy and promised to desist (Hasluck 1910: 203).

2. Thrace: The Bulgarian tsar Michael Shishman led a force of about 3,000
cavalry - Bulgarians and ‘Mongols’ or better: Kipchaks from the Khanate of the
Golden Horde - into Thrace, ostensibly to aid Andronicus II, but in reality to
plunder. He penetrated as far as the very walls of Constantinople, before deciding
to return home (Lippard p. 211; LBA p.91). Cf 1330.

Michael Asen III of Bulgaria sent a detachment to ostensibly help Andronikos II,
but intended to actually capture the emperor. Forewarned by his grandson,
Andronikos II prudently kept the Bulgarian force of 3,000 cavalry away from the
capital and his person.


3. The Capital surrenders (24 May 1328) to the younger Andronicus. The
dispirited citizens of Constantinople, tired of the fighting and (because of naval
warfare between the Venetians and Genoese) short of food, let him and 800
troops of his general Cantacuzenus into the city (Powell 2001); the older
Andronicus is deposed and becomes a monk.
Cantacuzenus, aged about 33, declines an offer to be made co-emperor, but
agrees to continue in the post of Grand Domestic or commander in chief.

4. ‘Thomas Magister’ (Theodulos Monachus), fl. 1328: ‘Greek’ (Rhomaioi) monk,

scholar and man of letters. An associate of Metochites. Lexicographer and literary

5. Anatolia: In 1328 the Qaramanid Turkmens [mentioned above in the campaign

of the Catalans: 1304] took Konya, and in 1335 Mongol power will collapse,
clearing the way for the political fragmentation of the beylik (principality,
marcher lordships) period in Anatolia.

Moscow replaces Vladimir as the seat of the Metropolitan See in what is

now Russia. -The Ukrainian steppe at this time was controlled by the
‘Khanate of the Golden Horde’ or Kipchak Empire; and what is nowadays
north-west Russia-in-Europe was divided between several Russian
principalities including Riazan.

Provence: The Franciscan philosopher, English-born William of Occam, was

imprisoned in Avignon on charges of heresy; he escaped to Munich where
he died (1349). Often called "the last of the scholastics".

Territory in 1328
From map in LBA; also Times Atlas 1994: 92 and Nicolle 2008: 37 and 53.

Byzantium still held substantial lands in Europe but it was nearly defunct in Asia.
Large parts of Albania and northern Epiros [since 1318], all of Macedonia and
Thrace still acknowledged the Greek emperor; and also about a third of the
Morea (Peloponnesus). The Bulgarian-Byzantine border ran through the
southern half of today’s Bulgaria.
In Asia, however, Byzantium controlled only the Optimaton province and parts
of Bithynia in the far NW, in other words the narrow littoral of the Sea of
Marmara. See 1329 below – last offensive.

The beyliks bordering Byzantium in Asia were: the Ottomans, Karasi and
Germiyan. The Emirate of Karasi held parts of the southern shore of the Sea of
Marmara, as did the Ottomans (Bursa had been captured in 1326), but most of
the littoral was still Byzantine. The Ottomans were pressing hard upon Byzantine
Lopadion (Ulubad), Nicaea and Nicomedia.
— In the farther SW of Asia Minor, there were three further beyliks: Sarukhan,


ruling from Manisa (old Magnesia: inland NE of Smyrna); Aydin: HQ at Birgi:

inland SE of the Byzantine enclave at Smyrna, and Menteshe at Milas (old Mylas,
further south near modern Bodrum).
— Importantly, the sea routes were controlled by the Italian powers, Venice and
Genoa. Venice ruled Crete and the S. Aegean Islands, while Genoa held Chios and
dominated the routes in the eastern Aegean that ran from the Ionian or Asian
coast into the Black Sea.

The Palaiologan Army in about 1330

After Bartusis, Late Byantine Army [LBA], 1992.


After 1204 it was unusual for a Byzantine army to number more than a few
thousand men. Bartusis, LBA p.266, calculates that the state budget in the 1320s
was large enough to hire at most about 1,700 full-time professionals or
‘mercenaries’. But there were in addition pronoiars and small-holder troops who
were largely self-financing. Thus the men who could be called soldiers numbered
over 3,000.
The largest imperial field army mentioned in Kantakuzenus’s works [fl. 1345]
numbered 5,000 men; the largest in Gregoras [fl. 1340] was 3,000 men (LBA
p.260 ff). This covered all the campaign troops supported by the empire whether
by salary or other means: small-holder troops, pronoiars and imperial
‘mercenaries’ of differing ethnicities. In addition, there were often ‘allied’ foreign
troops deployed at no cost to emperor (or rather: no cash cost). They fought for
booty. The median figure for Turks in several campaigns was 6-8,000 men, and
the median for other allies 2-3,000. This on rare occasions an expeditionary force
could exceed 10,000 men.
Interestingly, in 1332, according to Ibn Battuta, who was a careful observer,
fully “5,000” Byzantine cavalry or horsemen, all in armour, rode out to meet the
Byzantine wife of the ‘Golden Horde’ khan (see below under 1332). One must
assume that this included not only regular soldiers but also garrison troops and
probably some civilians riding with them. Alternatively we should strike off a zero
and read this as 500.

Adding together imperial and (unpaid) allied troops, an expeditionary army of

some 5,000 men was possible, and one as large as 10,000 men was exceptional
but not unknown.

Such are the figures when time allowed for a full muster of the army and allies.
But when an emergency called for a scratch army, the force deployed must have
numbered only in the hundreds!! (LBA p.269).
Garrisons guarding major towns and fortresses tended to number around 2-
300 men per site, but figures as low as 30 men are reported. These troops were
lower status amateur soldiers who did not go on campaigns (LBA pp.296, 299).
Cf 1342.


Small-holders, pronoiars and mercenaries

To simplify, there were three categories of imperial troops who went on

campaign: (1) Small-holder soldiers, mainly infantry, numbering as many as
2,500 in a very large army of 5,000. (2) The pronoiars, never numbering more
than “several hundred”, who were seen as the ‘ideal’ soldiers, being in theory
well-equipped and well-trained native ‘Greek’ cavalry. Finally (3) salaried troops,
so-called ‘mercenaries’, mostly foreigners or foreign-born, who were the actual
elite, and numbered up to 2,000 (LBA p.267).

1. Small-holder infantrymen

This term applied to land-owners who were semi-professional unsalaried farmer-

soldiers. Or better: soldier-landlords, as they may not personally have done the
farming. Many were native Greek-Romanics, but others were foreigners granted
land in return for military service, e.g. the Cuman horse-archers transplanted to
Asia Minor in 1241-42.
Effectively all of the infantry (foot archers) would have been small-holder
soldiers. Some were spearmen.

Foot archers are referred to as ‘light’ infantry, but in one illustration in LBA we
see them wearing both helmets and body armour and carrying large, flat, box-
style quivers. Bow-cases are also shown in illustrations. Parani 2003: 142 notes
that both flap-closed box-quivers (arrow tips upwards) and open types (feathers
upwards) are seen in late Byzantine art, the former being more common.

2. Pronoiar cavalry

These were the Byzantine professional cavalry armed with lance and sword.
As pictured in Nicolle’s Eastern Europe 1988, a Byzantine pronoiar cavalryman
wore a metal helmet in the form of a low dish-shaped brimmed war-hat; a short-
sleeved mail hauberk extending from head (mail hood) to the knees; high boots;
and he carried a medium-small convex triangular shield.

The pronoiars were relatively high status town-dwellers who drew their income
from a ‘pronoia’ (grant) of rural land-taxes. Most but not all were ethnically
Greek; some would be Latins.
They did not own the farms but rather were the payees of the peasant-farmers’
taxes. A grant of a pronoia was a grant of revenue, not a land grant. Instead of
paying taxes to the central treasury, a nominated set of peasants paid money
direct to the pronoiar. Thus Kantakuzenos writes of those soldiers “having
incomes from villages” (quoted in LBA p. 163).
Not only were they few in number, the pronoiars as a group seem to have been
not very capable, often functioning just to bolster the elite mercenary units.
Bartusis, LBA p.344, points outs unkindly that there was no occasion when they
ever played a decisive role in battle.


3. Foreign professionals

As Bartusis uses it, ‘mercenaries’ simply means salaried full-time soldiers who
are not Greeks. It is an unhappy term: cf the Gurkhas in the 20th C British army:
salaried foreigners, but an elite and totally loyal.
In the literature the elite imperial troops are called ‘mercenaries’ because
nearly all were foreigners or at least of foreign descent: Alans, Cumans, Turks,
Bulgarians, Serbs, Italians, Germans, French, Catalans, English and other Latins.
Typically they were either Western ‘men at arms’ (heavy lancers) or Eastern
horse-archers. The Varangian Guard of course were ethnic English guards-
- Ibn Battuta in 1332 reports that some horses in the Byzantine army wore
horse-armour of mail.

A notional field army might be composed as follows:

600: foreign knights, e.g. Germans (lancers).

1,000: horse-archers, e.g. Turks, Alans and/or Cumans.
400: Byzantine pronoiar cavalry (lancers).
1,250: Byzantine infantry, mostly archers. Also from 1329 [see there] a few
Italian infantrymen, probably crossbowmen, served Byzantium. The
Varangians in this period did not normally go on campaign, and not at all
after 1329.
Total: 3,250

Cavalry armour

The following details refer to cavalry. As noted, the Varangians, who were
armoured infantry, had ceased during the 1200s to be a field regiment (their
appearance on campaign in 1329 is exceptional). The only remaining infantry
serving on campaign were unarmoured light infantrymen, mainly archers. If they
wore armour, it was quilt not metal.

Head: The typical, perhaps even standard, cavalry helmet was the “war hat” or
chapel de fer, a relatively tall, brimmed conical helmet. As noted above, some
brimmed war-hats were low and dish-shaped. But conical helmets without brims
are also shown in contemporary illustrations (LBA p.325; Heath 1995).

Neck armour, aventails: Both plate and mail neck-guards were worn. Sometimes
they were rigid or semi-rigid lamellar structures of metal or leather. But mail
hoods were also in use.

Body: Probably mail was the most common type of armour used by cavalry.
There were short and long types, some sleeveless, some with sleeves, some with
attached hoods, some without. Sometimes lamellar cuirasses (made of platelets of


metal or hardened leather) were worn over, or instead of, mail hauberks. Over
this again, on top, was worn a quilted or padded cloth surcoat.

In the fighting against Epirus in 1257, on one occasion the emperor’s uncle
Michael Lascaris is said to have worn a corselet instead of a full breastplate “so
that he could flee the more readily when caught in a hard plight” (Setton 1976:
75, citing Acropolites). This may imply that the better class of Byzantine
cavalrymen ordinarily wore some plate armour*, but of a kind that did not cover
the whole body.

(*) Keen 1999: 191, 199 notes that Latin knights began using horse-armour
(“barding”) from the middle 1200s: mostly in the form of hardened leather, with
metal plates at first confined to the horse’s head and chest. The knight’s own
armour remained mainly mail, although some iron-plate armour is seen from
the mid 1200s, worn to protect the elbows, knees and shins. Full plate armour for
man and horse did not appear until the mid-to-late 1300s.

A good illustration of lamellar armour can be found in the monastery of the Forty
Martyrs near Sparta. The wall paintings of the cave church are dated by one
inscription to 1304/5. St Demetrios sits astride a white horse with his spear held
across his chest. The saddle has a raised cantle and pommel, features also found
on the Sinai portraits, ca. 1275, of Sergios and the images of St George at
Nauplion and St John Chrysostom, Geraki. In Demetrios’ portrait, the saint
wears a sleeveless waist-length lamellar corselet and a long surcoat over ornately
patterned leggings. The upper arm protection is pteruges (wide strips) evidently
of leather. His boots extend up to mid-calf. —Sharon E. J. Gerstel, ‘Art and
Identity in the Medieval Morea’,

Shields: The late Byzantine shield was the so-called ‘kite-shaped’ type, actually an
elongated triangular shape and slightly curved: very slightly convex. It was
medium to large in size: three to five feet (90-150 cm) high and quite narrow:
about 45 cm or 18 inches wide at the top (LBA p.326; Heath 1995: 44).

Cavalry horse armour: There is some evidence that on occasion horses wore
mail or metal lamellar barding. Presumably this was rare, barding being used
only by nobles and perhaps the most elite cavalry (LBA p.324). As we have said,
Ibn Battuta in 1322 (see there) reports that in the Byzantine army many horses
wore horse-armour of mail. Although the occasion was ceremonial, it can be
believed that such armour was also worn in battle.


Swords: The typical sword was straight and of medium length: perhaps up to 90
cm long, to judge from depictions in art. Some straight swords had a slightly
curved tip and there were also curved sabres.

Maces – are mentioned in texts and seen in illustrations. One illustration, in LBA


p. 326, suggests that maces could be quite long, perhaps 60 cm. —In a battle
fought in 1211, emperor Theodore I Lascaris personally slew the sultan Kay-
Khusraw with a mace.

Spear: Spears or lances were the main weapon of the cavalry. Illustrations in art
may be unreliable, but it would appear, see e.g. illustration in frontispiece of LBA,
that the late Byzantine cavalry lance was shorter than the 12 ft or 3.5 metre
kontarion (long pike) of earlier times. Heath 1995: 43 says the infantry spear was
about 8 ft or 2.4 m long.
The couched charge was used, having been adopted from the West in the
Comnenian period.

Bow: The Byzantines used the Eastern-style composite recurve bow.

Amazingly (in view of earlier history), the bow was little used by the late
Byzantine cavalry (pronoiars). Bartusis says that native Byzantine cavalry
used the sword and lance “almost exclusively”. But this may be doubted. First,
several of the contemporary illustrations in his book show military saints in the
guise of well equipped armoured soldiers who can only be cavalrymen, and they
definitely carry bows, bow-cases and quivers as well as swords and lances (LBA
p.330). Second, hunting with the bow was a favourite sport of the Byzantine
aristocracy; and Manuel Philes, aged about 25 in 1300, even wrote a poem about
the emperor’s ornamental quiver (Parani 2003: 142). Third, Ibn Battuta
mentioned cavalry carrying both bows and lances in 1332 (see there). Finally, as
Heath remarks, 1995: 24, Byzantine archers were frequently brigaded alongside
Cuman mercenaries and Turkish auxiliaries on the battlefield, and this probably
indicates that some Greek-Romanic archers were horse-archers or multi-
weaponed horse-lancer-bowmen.
But, however that may be, certainly the composite recurve bow remained an
important weapon by virtue of its use by allied or mercenary horse-archers and
the Byzantine infantry. One has to guess, but perhaps as many as 40% of an army
carried bows.

Cross-bows: The Latins made wide use of the cross-bow, but it was not much
used by the Byzantines, except in the case of town garrisons. (This makes sense:
accuracy is not important in the effect of an arrow-storm during a battle in the
field, and the plain bow can be fired more quickly; the only real advantage of the
crossbow is that untrained soldiers can learn to use it more quickly, whereas the
plain bow demnds expertise and long years of practice.)

Firearms – have not yet appeared. The first reference to guns (cannons) in the
Balkans comes in 1378 [cf 1389: said to have been used by both sides at Kossovo];
but firearms would not decide field battles until the 1500s. The Genoese of Galata
were using primitive bombards from 1392. The first siege in which the Ottomans
used cannon was the 1422 siege of Constantinople (LBA p.337).

7. PRELUDE TO THE FALL: the 1300s


At this time the major cities of the greater Mediterranean world, with over
50,000 people, were (from east to west): Tabriz in the Mongolo-Persian
Ilkhanate; Mameluke Cairo; Byzantine New Rome or Constantinople;
Venice; Florence; Milan (nominally part of the German empire); Genoa;
Paris; and the French-ruled woollen cloth-making city of Ghent in Flanders
(thus McEvedy, New Atlas 1992). It will be noticed that of the 10, only two are
Mamluk Cairo, with probably 300,000 people in 1315, was possibly the world's
largest city; it was overtaken by Hangzhou/Hangzhou, China, when the Black
Death hit the cities of western Eurasia in 1348: Hangchow would reach ‘432,000’
in 1350. Then Nanking/Nanjing, China, by 1358: ‘487,000’ people (AD 1400).
According to Matschke 2002, the population of Constantinople may still have
exceeded 100,000 during the early Palaiologan period, though shortly before the
city fell to the Turks (in 1453) the number was barely half that.
Runciman 1965: 9 agrees; he offers “100,000 and . . . still shrinking” in the year
Old Rome, with perhaps 35,000 people, had now recovered to second-rank

* * *

The resurgent Turks overcame the remaining imperial territories in Asia Minor.
Under Orhan, the Ottomans took Bursa in 1326, Nicaea (Iznik) in 1331, and
Nicomedia (Izmit) in 1337. Some years later they will cross into Thrace and
eastern Macedonia (from Gallipoli, 1352-54).
Ottoman architecture, which had its origins in Iznik, showed a development
which reached a monumental scale in the early Ottoman capital Bursa. The
mosque constructed for Osman Gazi’s son, Alaeddin Bey, in 1326, and the Orhan
Bey Mosque, constructed in 1339, have both been restored several times over the

1328-41: ANDRONIKOS III Palaiologos

Andronicus III Palaeologus, aged 32 at acc.: grandson of Andronicus

II, who he deposed after a series of civil wars.
1st wife: Adelaide [Adelheid] von Brunschweig [Brunswick], renamed
Irene, d. 1324. 2nd wife: marr. 1326: Joanna/Giovanna/Anna of Savoy.
His youngest sister was married to successive tsars of Bulgaria. His
chief minister and general was John Cantacuzene, later Emperor John
During this reign the Ottoman Turks gained almost complete
control of NW Asia Minor, while Stephen (Stefan) Dushan of Serbia
conquered large parts of Macedonia and Albania.


At age 70 Andronicus II abdicated (i.e., was deposed) and retired to a monastery;
his grandson assumed the throne as Andronicus III.
The Venetian and Genoese traders of Constantinople were at this time engaged
in a naval war being fought around the city. A Venetian fleet of 40 ships was
blockading the Genoese colony of Galata (Pera) and the mouth of the Golden
Horn. This meant that Genoese food ships carrying grain and fish from the Black
Sea could not get through to the harbour and the Byzantine population was short
of food.

“During the campaign of the Venetians against the Genovese [sic: Genoese] in
1328, a number of Genovese and Byzantine merchant ships were taken as hostage
to secure a ransom. Upon release of these ships, the urban population [of
Constantinople] was relieved to see that their cargoes of grain and salted fish
originating from the shores of the Sea of Azov and the deltas of the Don and
Kuban rivers had survived intact. At a time when the wheat-growing fields of
Thrace and Macedonia were destroyed by incessant hostilities and warfare, the
helpless capital had turned more than ever to these supply zones on the
northern littoral of the Black Sea. However, the era of 1325-28 marked also the
disintegration of the Byzantine monopoly over the Black Sea grain
trade as well as the control of Constantinople over the grain exports to the West.
The Genovese had the upper hand in the trade of the Black Sea grain.” —Eyüp
Özveren, at
Evidently what is meant, however, is that the proportion of Genoese ships
increased relative to Greek-Romanic. The Genoese had been bringing grain to
Constantinople from the Black Sea littoral for many decades. Matschke has
underlined that “native (Byzantine) ships with native merchants and a variety of
native products are attested between Thessalonike and Constantinople and
between various Black Sea ports, independent of the Italians and with no
connections to them. Their presence reveals that one cannot speak of a true
monopoly of Genoese and Venetians on either side of the straits” (in Laiou 2002:

Western Eurasia in 1328

(Times Atlas 1994: 93, and map in Nicolle 2008: 53).

In the Muslim East the leading powers were the Mamelukes of Egypt ruling as far
north as Syria; the Ilkhans of Persia who dominated as far as eastern Anatolia
(Rum); and the Golden Horde or Kipchak Empire, ruling east of Hungary.
Among the Christian powers, the strongest on paper look to be: Castile, now
controlling the European side of the Gibraltar Strait; Aragon, whose power
entended to Sardinia and Sicily; France; and Hungary, which dominated Croatia
and Bosnia. And although small on land, Vencie asnd Genoa are all powerful at
sea. Byzantium, with the loss of nearly all its Asian lands, has fallen from
among the most powerful states. Cf Ibn Battuta’s list of the strongest monarchs
(below: after 1331).


Turning to the Aegean region, we will begin with the sea-trade routes and the
islands. Byzantium still held both sides of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. So
there was no impediment—except Turkish pirates [see under 1330-34]—to
Christian: Venetian and Genoese: galleys sailing to Constantinople; the Genoese
also operated in the Black Sea. Cf 1329: leasing of Venetian galleys.
Genoa held several trading enclaves inside the Black Sea: two on the
Wallachian coast above the Danube delta; one in the Crimea; and another on the
Turkish/Trebizond coast at Amastris.
In the Balkans Byzantium still ruled from Albania and Epirus through
Macedonia to Thrace. The empire’s longest land transect was from Albania east
to the capital.
The Aegean islands were broadly divided west-north-east between Venice,
Byzantium and Genoa. Lesbos is Byzantine, while Chios is Genoese [see 1329].
Genoa also controls an enclave on the Turkish coast at Phocaea. Cf 1329: Smyrna.
Crete is Venetian; the Venetians trade east to Rhodes and further.
In Asia Minor, the interior Germiyanid state appears as the strongest of many
Turkish beyliks, with the small land-locked Ottoman state perhaps in second
place. (Cf evidence from Doria, Al-Umari and Ibn Battuta: below, after 1331.)
Byzantium rules the whole southern littoral of the Sea of Marmara, controlling it
against the Karesi and Ottomans. Cf 1329: battle of Pelekanon.
The Byzantine empire still looks on the map like the strongest state
in the Aegean region (setting aside Bulgaria and the Germiyan beylik), but as
we will see, it is weakening in relation to the still inferior but fast-rising powers
of Serbia and the Ottomans. The empire extends, as we have said, west across the
Balkans to the Adriatic Sea (Albania and Epirus), and south to Thessaly.
Constantinople also controls the SE third of the Peloponnesian peninsula called
‘the Morea’. Thus Byzantium has become an essentially ‘European’ realm.
The Orthodox Bulgarians rule north of a notional line from Philippopolis to
Burgas. The former town is Byzantine, the latter Bulgarian. Orthodox Serbia
extends not much further south than Skopje. Cf 1330: Serbians defeat Bulgarians.
There are still two Catholic (Latin) states in lower Greece: the Catalan Duchy
of Athens and the ‘Greco-French’ (Angevin) Principality of Achaea in the
Peloponnesus. Cf 1330: the Greeks take Kalavryta.
To the west the other Latin powers are: Venice, the Kingdom of Naples (S
Italy), and Aragonese Sicily.

1a. Planning to proceed against rebellious Chios, Emperor Andronikos III
negotiated a peace agreement with the Turks of Saruhan (Manisa) in 1329.

1b. Eastern Aegean: Andronikos III effected the recovery of Phocaea and Lesbos
and Chios (the two largest eastern islands) from Benedetto Zaccaria in 1329, but
this did little to stem the Ottoman advance in Asia Minor.
The Greek inhabitants of Chios, led by Leo Kalothetos, rebelled against
Zaccaria rule in 1329. The emperor intervened, captured Martino Zaccaria and
imprisoned him in Constantinople. —Nicol 1972: 176.


Zaccaria had a standing army of two galleys, 100 cavalrymen and 1,000 (or
“800”) infantrymen, according to the Wikipedia authors (under ‘Chios’ 2010,
citing Benjamin Arbel, Bernard Hamilton and David Jacob, Latins and Greeks in
the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204 [1989]). Miller 1921: 292 says Zaccaria
had 800 men. The island’s revenues amounted to the surprisingly large sum of
120,000 hyperpyra (gold coins) - equivalent to more than a 1/10th of the state
budget of the empire at its highest in this period (Treadgold, State p.839).
Presumably the income from the alum mines of Phocaea is included here.
Andronicus III declared Martino Zaccaria deposed. With a fleet of 105 [sic!]
ships and boats, the Byzantines invaded Chios (Miller 1921: 292; Wikipedia,
2009, ‘Martino Zaccaria’). One imagines the large majority were small boats
rather than large galleys. Martin was taken prisoner to Constantinople. And
Andronicus compelled the subordinate governor of Phocea, Andreolo Cattaneo,
to swear fealty to him.
When the Genoese Martino Zaccaria surrendered Chios to Andronicus, the
former’s 800 Italian soldiers were given the choice of leaving or “taking
mercenary pay to serve the emperor”. Most chose to become mercenaries and
either stayed on Chios or “numbered themselves among the servants of the
emperor”, i.e. joined the imperial army (Kantakuzenos, quoted in LBA p.209).

2a. Asia: The Aydin-oglou Turks had held the upper fortress at Smyrna since
1317; in 1329 under Umur Pasha they took its lower harbour from the Genoese. –
Nicol B&V p.252; also ‘Aydin-oglu’, in Encyclopedia of Islam, Leiden, Brill 1960,

2b. The N Aegean: Sailing from Smyrna and Ephesus, the fleet of the Aydin-oglou
under Umur Pasha attacks Christian ships off the Dardanelles (Pryor 1988: 167).
According to Lemerle, Umur’s men also attacked Chios around this time, perhaps
in early 1330, after the withdrawal of Zaccaria’s Genoese from that island. As
related in the later Turkish chronicle Dusturname by Enveri, the Turks “took
innumerable boys, virgins and young women and gold and silver beyond
reckoning” . . . “moon-faced virgins …. (and) beautiful Frankish [Italian] boys”
(quoted in Paul Lemerle, L’Emirat d’Aydin, Paris 1957).

4. NW Asia Minor, 10 June: The last eastern offensive by Byzantium. At

Pelecanus or Pelekanon, which is possibly modern Pendik*, on the road from
Constantinople to Nicomedia, the second and last major battle is fought
between the Empire and the Ottomans in Asia (cf earlier Bapheon, 1301
or 1302). Andronicus, accompanied by Cantacuzenus, makes a last valiant
attempt to recover some of Asia Minor: unsuccessful attempt to force back the
Ottomans who were besieging Byzantine Nicomedia and Nicaea. The emperor
himself was wounded by a Turkish arrow (Bradbury 2004: 11).

(*) Pryor and Nicolle say the battle was fought, after a march of more than two


days, at Pendik, 30 km from the capital, which is just NW of Gebze (Pryor 2006:
285; Nicolle 2008: 37; also Freely 2008: 114). Liakopoulos says Pelekanon is
modern day Eskihisar, also near Gebze in Bithynia, on the N shore of the Sea of
Marmara, more than halfway from Byzantine Nicomedia to Constantinople,
specifically about 45 km from the latter (in his ‘Ottoman Conquest’, Norwich says, which seems most unlikely,
that Pelekanos is today’s Manyas, i.e. well west of Bursa.

The Battle of Pelekanon, 1329

In the battle of Pelekanon, about 8,000 Ottoman troops, or better: armed

retainers, under Orkhan defeated about 4,000 Byzantine soldiers under
Andronicus and the grand domestic John Cantacuzenos. There were perhaps as
few as 3,000 on the imperial side of whom 2,000 were regulars (LBA p.91;
Norwich 1996: 285; Freely 2008: 114). Cantacuzenos commanded the right wing.
The lower totals are credible because they are fully consistent with the figures
offered for the number of dead and wounded: see details below. As noted,
Andronicus himself was wounded in the battle, as was Cantcuzenos (Nicol,
Cantacuzene 2002: 32).

In the time available, Andronicus was able to draw troops only from the capital
and Thrace; the troops of Macedonia and “the rest of the west” (i.e. our Albania)
did not participate (Bartusis, LBA p.236). He managed to assemble some 2,000
regulars, so we may deduce that the whole professional land forces in
1329 totalled no more than about 3,000. Adding irregulars, he may have
commanded as many as 4,000 men at Pelekanon.

The 2,000 regulars on the Greek-Romanic side were mainly cavalry - say 1,500 -
but also included the elite Varangian infantry guard, say 500 men. They were
bolstered by an equal or larger number of irregulars: inferior ‘peasant’ infantry,
i.e. farmers who were given a sword or spear (LBA p.214, 236, citing Gregoras).
Noting that initially the imperials held their own against the Turks, we must
imagine that many of these Byzantine farmer-infantrymen were archers.

This (1329) is the last time we hear of the Varangians as a campaigning

unit; after about 1329, or even earlier, they become or became palace guards
normally serving only in the capital or escorting the emperor when he travelled.
The very last reference to axe-bearing soldiers “of British race” comes in 1404
(Heath 1995: 23; Bartusis p.275). Cf 1341, 1355.

The first phase of the battle went in the empire’s favour. In a battle that took up
most of the day, the Byzantines beat off two Turkish attacks. If we may believe
Kantakuzenus—and his modest figures are consistent with other data from this
period—then the Byzantines sustained just “two” dead and a “few” wounded, as
against nearly 700 (sic) dead on the Turkish side, in the opening phase of the
battle. Noting the small numbers on the imperial side, we may imagine that the


Turks were not always very fearsome in this era. Indeed one writer (see below
under 1330) described the Ottoman horsemen as mediocre (“not good”) and the
infantry as more warlike in appearance than in reality.
In any event, the Byzantines thought they had won and, as evening
approached, began returning to their ships. But the fighting was renewed, and in
the second phase “127” Byzantines were killed. Andronicus himself was lightly
wounded. The Turkish casualties in this second phase are not recorded but
presumably were fewer than 127 (Kantakuzenos I: 347 ff, cited in LBA p.269;
Norwich 1996: 285 gives a slightly different account).
The Ottomans gave the Greek-Romanic troops no chance to retreat in an
orderly fashion. Having made its way back to its ships, the dispirited imperial
army was led safely back to Chrysopolis (Skoutari, Üsküdar) and then ferried to

Lindner: “Orkhan's force consisted of nomad [horse] archers. A series of brief

encounters was indecisive, but the Byzantines were able to repulse two larger
Turkish attacks. It would seem as though the two armies had fought to a draw,
although the Byzantines began to return to camp as victors. It was only during
the undisciplined retirement of the Byzantine infantry [towards their ships on the
coast] that the Turks were able to sow panic and turn an indecisive encounter
into a rout. It was the aftermath of the battle, not the direct encounter itself,
which furnished Orkhan with victory” (thus Lindner; also LBA p.91).
It would seem that either the imperial troops were well led, or the average
Turkish light cavalryman, a ‘gifted amateur’, was not yet as capable as
the average professional or semi-professional soldier serving
Byzantium, or both. Moreover many Turks were light infantrymen, or better:
mere unarmed herdsmen with a bow and dagger. None were full-time
professional troops, as were so many of their opponents.

4. Venice: The Pregadi (the Senate) decided in 1329 to auction the state galleys
and offer them on lease to the highest bidder voyage by voyage, on a given route
and under binding conditions. The experiment began with the trade to and from
the Eastern Empire, and the success of the operation led to its being extended to
the galleys bound for the other destinations. This system ensured work for the
Arsenal, the largest state industry even in time of peace. —‘Veneto’ website:; accessed 2009.

1330: 1000th anniversary of the founding of Constantinople.

1. fl. Demetrius Triclinius, a writer of commentaries on classical lyric and
dramatic poetry.

2. Asia Minor: “In about 1330”, says Inalçik, “Al-'Umari's [d. 1349] two sources
estimated that the 16 Turcoman principalities established by that time could
mobilise over half-a-million cavalrymen—the figure given by Balaban the


Genoese [the Genoa-born mamluk Domenico Doria]—or over a quarter-of-a-

million according to Haydar al-Uryan [Shaikh Haidar].'' The latter figure yields
an average of about 17,000 men. In addition, they mentioned an unspecified
number of infantry.
The figures (writes Inalcik) were obviously greatly exaggerated [but Balaban’s
total is perhaps not incredible if it comprised all able-bodied men aged 15 to 50 . .
. - MO’R]. However, if we remember that the majority of these forces consisted of
Turcoman tribesmen, the figure given for each individual principality can be
interpreted as the relative number of fighting tribesmen dependent upon a
particular lord or ruler. It is noteworthy that the highest figures in these accounts
were given for the Mentese-oghlu (100,000 in Caria) [10,000 would be more
credible: MO’R], the Aydin-oghlu (70,000 in lonia), the Osman-oghlu
(Ottomans - 40,000 in Bithynia) [cf below: 1331], the Karasi-oghlu (over
40,000 in Mysia), and the Sarukhan-oghlu (18,000 in Lydia) - all of whom
were operating in the area captured from the Byzantines in western Anatolia
between 1260 and 1330.” –Inalçik 1980. Cf Ibn Battuta’s figures in the table
below, afer 1331.
“The geographer al-Umari, whose sources provide information on the Ottoman
domains ca. 1331, presents a … critical assessment of Orkhan's strength.
According to his informants, Orkhan had 25,000 or 40,000 mediocre horse and
an almost innumerable infantry, more warlike in appearance than in reality”
(Lindner, emphasis added: cf Doria’s judgement below).
If 8,000 of them could be held to a draw by 3 or 4,000 Byzantines (above:
1329), then certainly the quality of the Turkish forces must have been limited.
Nicolle, Janissaries 1995: 7, notes that Orhan first enrolled a corps of fulltime
infantry at around this time, i.e. by 1338. The Janissaries as such were formed
somewhat later.

— The figure of 25,000 Ottoman cavalry comes from al-Umari, ca. 1331: see the
table below, after 1331. The judgment that they were “not good” is that of the
Italian mamluk Domenico Doria (‘Balaban’); he says “40,000” were cavalry
(Lippard 1984).
— In the case of Aydin, Cantacuzenus reports that on a later occasion (in 1343)
Umur came to help leading 29,000 men (or 15,000) transported by 380 (or 300)
boats, some of whom may have been volunteers from other emirates as well men
from the Aydin emirate (Zachariadou p.217). That is an average of 76 men per
boat. Presumably all were warriors who also rowed and sailed, i.e. none were
specialist oarsmen.
— Doria (Balaban) says Aydin had “70,000” cavalry enrolled; but this figure
probably included all troops including the poorest infantry; al-Umari more
plausibly says Aydin could field “10,000” cavalry.

Emergence of plate armour in Western Europe: After c. 1330 illustrations

of knights armoured entirely or almost entirely in mail are rare (Claude
Blair, European Armour Circa 1066 to Circa 1700. London: B. T.
Batsford, 1958, p. 41). Armour was expensive and only the very rich could
afford to keep up with changes in style. Almost to the end of the 14th


century, many knights made do with armour composed mainly of mail,

supplemented by a few pieces of plate (David Edge and John M Paddock,
Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight. Hong Kong: Crescent Books,
1998, p.93).

1. Asia Minor: Orhan defeats the Byzantines in the battle of Philokrene in the
Mesothynian peninsula (entry under ‘Orkhan’ in Brill’s Encyc. Islam, 1936, ed.
Houtsma, citing Cantacuzenus and Gregoras; inexplicably Nicolle 2008: 37 lists it
as an Ottoman defeat). Others say this was just a sequel to the battle of
Pelekanon, fought in 1329 (Heath & McBryde 1995: 8; Freely 2008: 115). The
modern-day location is variously given as either Bayramoglu or Tavsanclı; both
are near Gebze, about half-way between Constantinople and Nicomedia.
It was now clear that Nicaea could not survive.

2. North-central Morea: The Greek-Romanics capture Kalavryta from the Franks.

Kalavryta lies between Patras and Corinth.

3. Low-point in Bulgarian power: the Serbs under prince Stefan Dushan defeat
and capture the Tsar Michael Shishman, who was being aided by Byzantium. The
western Bulgarian domains were absorbed by Serbia which was now the rising
power. Cf 1336.

The Bulgarians under Michael III, although aided by 3,000 ‘Mongols’ (Kipchaks
and Ossetians), were heavily defeated by the Serbs at Velbuzhd or Velbazhd, a
pass near Kyustendil*, and large parts of Bulgaria came under Serbian
domination. Michael's army was estimated by contemporaries to be 12,000
strong. Stefan Urosh strengthened his army by more Spanish and German
mercenaries (1,000 soldiers each), who were the elite in a force that comprised a
total of 18,000 troops (numbers as given by Cantacuzenus and Gregoras). If these
figures may be believed, they suggest that both these states were significantly
stronger than Byzantium.**
As Runciman notes, 1965: 37, Bulgaria never recovered from this defeat; later
in the century, following the Serbian defeat at Kosovo (1389), the rump of
Bulgaria fell to the Turks.

(*) Located near the present-day ‘corner-point’ of Serbia, FYROM and Bulgaria.

(**) McEvedy & Jones’ guesstimate for the population of Bulgaria [present-day
borders] in 1300 is around 1,000,000. The number of able-bodied men might
have numbered some 150,000; so the figures are possibly credible.

Stefan Decanski (Dushan) of Serbia, after defeating a Bulgarian army at Velbuzd

—modern Kustendil in the far west of modern Bulgaria—expanded his dominion
down the Vardar valley (past Skopje) in 1330. “The Serbian army, 15,000 strong


[sic], included 1,000 Spanish mercenaries, reflecting the increasing importance

mercenaries had on warfare during the period and the value of Serbian mines to
pay for them. Decanski took advantage of the victory to extend Serbian control
over [part of] Bulgaria but did not attack the Empire. The Serbian nobility, as
usual, were more anxious [just] to gain booty from the rich Byzantine lands”. —
Thus ‘Balkan Military History’, at, accessed
March 2010.
See 1331: raids into Byzantine Macedonia.

4. 16 July: Solar eclipse predicted (calculated) by Nikephoros Gregoras, and

described in his Ekthesis psephophorias ekleipseos heliou, ed. and French trans.,
Calcul de l'eclipse de soleil du 16 juillet 1330, by J. Mogenet, Amsterdam: Gieben,

Turkish power is asserted across the Aegean. Raids are made as far as Venetian
Euboea and the Greek mainland. The inhabitants of Byzantine Lesbos in about
1330 and those of Byzantine Monemvasia in the Morea in 1333-34 were reduced
to the status of tributaries by Umur, the future bey of the Aydin-oglu. Cf 1332
and 1333.
The Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta (see next) admired the few galleys that Aydin,
unlike the other ‘maritime emirates’, managed to build.

1. Thrace: A ‘Mongol’ (Uzbek) raiding party clashes with the Byzantine army. The
Bulgarian leader John (Ivan) Alexander, Michael Shishman’s nephew and
successor, was born a ‘Tartar’ (Kipchak); he led 2,000 ‘Mongols’ and some
Bulgarians into Thrace; they recaptured the Black Sea ports of Mesembria and
Anchialus (Lippard p.211).
A mere “102” Greeks were killed or captured (Kantakuzenos, cited in LBA
p.269). This was regarded as a major defeat. So, in view of the modest size of the
losses, we may guess the Byzantine force numbered not more than about 1,000.
Cf 1337.

2. To their north, the Ottomans attack and annex the tiny beylik of Göynük (east
of Geyve) (Nicolle 2008: 37).

3. Offered generous terms, Nicaea surrenders to the Turks. Following an

Ottoman victory over the Byzantines at Philokrene, on the road from
Constantinople to Nicomedia: just west of the latter, in 1330, the Ottoman Turks
under Candarli Kara Halil Pasha, a military judge from Bilecek, finally enter
imperial Nicaea (Tk: Iznik) on 1-2 March 1331 (Nicol 1993: 170). Those Greeks
who wished could leave unmolested, taking their holy relics; the claim that most
chose to stay seems unlikely (see next: Ibn Battuta).
Candarli Kara Halil Pasha is supposed, but this is doubtful, to have founded the
Janissary corps of professional infantrymen thereafter.


Measured along a line Constantinople-Nicomedia-Nicaea, the last is 120 km (75

miles) from the first as the crow flies, about the same distance as from Sydney to
Newcastle or London to Dover or Southhampton.
The Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta arrived in Nicaea in October 1331, seven
months after its surrender. He found the city ". . . in a mouldering [decaying]
condition and uninhabited except for a few men in the sultan's service." Inside
the city walls there were orchards, farms and cultivated fields. By contrast, the
Ottoman seat of Bursa, taken from Byzantium half a decade earlier, was a
thriving city (Lippard 1984: 5). Cf 1334.
Ibn Battuta: “The sultan of Bursa is Orkhan Bek [sic: bey], son of Othman
Chuk. He is the greatest of the Türkmen kings and the richest in wealth,
lands, and military forces, and possesses nearly 100 fortresses which he is
continually visiting for inspection and putting to rights. He fights with the
infidels and besieges them. It was his father who captured Bursa from the Greeks,
and it is said that he besieged Yaznik [Nicaea] for about 20 years, but died before
it was taken. His son Orkhan besieged it 12 years before capturing it, and it was
there that I saw him.”

The Roman (Rum, Byzantine) emperor had consistently figured in earlier Muslim
lists of the world’s greatest rulers. Now he is finally omitted. For Battuta, the
seven mightiest kings are: 1. the Marinid sultan of Morocco, Battuta’s own
sovereign; 2. the Mamluk sultan of Egypt; 3. the Mongol Ilkhan in Iraq; 4.
Uzbek, the Khan of the Golden Horde or Kipchak Empire in present-day Ukraine
and west Central Asia; 5. the Jagatai Khan of Turkestan-east Central Asia; 6.
India; and 7. China (cited in El Cheikh 2004: 213). The Latin kingdoms such as
Castile and Germany are not noticed, or at least not rated.

Quote: “The illustrious Sultan Muhammad Uzbeg Khan [of the Golden Horde] is
the ruler of a vast kingdom and a most powerful sovereign, victor over the
enemies of God, the people of Constantinople the Great, and diligent in warring
against them. He is one of the seven mighty kings of the world, to wit: [first],
our master the Commander of the Faithful, may God strengthen his might and
magnify his victory! [i.e. the sultan of Morocco]; [second] the [Mamluk] sultan of
Egypt and Syria; [third], the sultan of the Two Iraqs [Ilkhanate]; [fourth], this
Sultan Uzbeg; [fifth], the sultan of Turkistan and the lands beyond the Oxus [the
‘Chagatai’ or Jagatai khanate]; [sixth], the sultan of India [Muhammad bin
Tughluq of Delhi]; and [seventh], the sultan of China [i.e. the Yuan or Mongol

3. Acc. Stephen (Stefan) Dushan, Serbian king: he will bring Serbia to the height
of its power. See 1336.

4. Byzantine Macedonia: Serbian raids in the neighbourhood of Berrhoea [Verria:

west of Thessalonica] disrupted monastic life, so Gregory Palamas returns to


Mount Athos.

The Ghazi Emirates in 1330-33

Ibn Battuta travelled east from Nicaea to Sinope on the Black Sea coast in 1330-
32; later (1333) he proceeded south from Bursa as far as Ephesus.
— He describes Orhan of the Ottomans, perhaps too generously, as already the
“greatest of the kings of the Turkmens and the richest in wealth, lands and
military, possessing nearly 100 fortresses” (cf Nicolle, Ottomans 2008: 35). As
noted below, Doria (Balaban) and al-Umari more credibly place Germiyan in the
first place.
— He calls Balikesir (Gk Akhyaous), the principal town of the Karesi emirate,
“populous”, yet it had no working mosque (only a roofless one); one can only
guess that most of the town was Greek. Most of its major products, laudanum and
silk, were exported to Greek Constantinople.
— Bergama, also part of the Karesi beylik, was in ruins except for a large and
mighty fortress on a hill.
— Phocaea was held by the Genoese Zaccaria family.

Turkoman Forts and Cavalry Forces

According to Doria [Balaban], al-Umari and ibn Battuta; cited in Lippard 1984:
5 ff; listed from largest to smallest -

We assume the troop numbers are just counts of able-bodied men. These cavalry
would be mostly “amateurs” , i.e. herders with useful archery skills.

Largest cavalry force (Doria): Germiyan, Aydin, Menteshe.

Ditto, al-Umari: Germiyan, Antalya, Karaman.
Most forts (Doria): Germiyan, Aydin, Menteshe.

The ranking below is based on the average of Doria and al-Umari for cavalry.
Column b. = Doria (cavalry), c. = Doria (forts), d. = Al-Umari, citing Shaikh
Haidar (ca. 1331)

a. b. c. d.
Beylik Most Most Forts Haidar - horse
Horsemen (Doria)

(1) Germiyan: 100,000 Germiyan: 40,000 cavalry -

capital at Kutahya; cavalry 350+ Germiyan


according to Doria,
the most powerful Ibn Battuta’s
of the Turkmen 1st in terns of
chieftains. cavalry
Ibn Battuta said Germiyan,
Orhan of the with 70 K.
Ottomans was
‘greatest of the
kings of the
Turkmens’: with
almost 100

(2) Aydin-oglu, 70,000 –/+ “300” Haidar’s equal 1st:

capital at Birgi: fortresses. 40,000 – Antalya

Ibn Battuta 2nd, with 300 forts – Aydin.

55 K: Aydin.

(3) Menteshe: ?50,000+ 200 forts – 40,000 – Karaman

Ibn Battuta’s 3rd,
with 36 K:

(4) Emirate of “Larger “over 50” 30,000+ -

Karasi/ Baliksehir; army” than forts. Kastamonu;
plus others at the
Bergama. Ottomans, ie 150 forts in the
40,000+ Karaman byelik
Ibn Battuta’s 4th,
with 30 K: Karasi.

(5) Ottoman (Bursa 40,000 and 50+ forts - 25,000 cavalry

segment only): “50+” forts. + Ottomans of
8,000 cavalry Bursa, ie
Ibn Battuta’s 5th, at the sub- Doria’s figure
with 27 K: emirate of is half that of
Kastamonu. Nicaea with Ibn Battuta.
“30” forts.

(6) Kastamonu: 25,000 and 50+ forts:

40+ Balikesir


(Ibn Battuta’s 6th: fortresses. (Karesi)

24 K: Antalya.)

(7) Karaman: 25,000 40+ 10,000 – Birgi

(Ibn Battuta’s 7th
strongest: 18 K :

(8) Emirate of 20,000 and 3,000 – Goynuk:

Bergama: Karasi “15” the garrison of a
family: Bergama fortresses. single town east of
itself was in ruins Geyve; subject to
except for a large the Ottomans.
fortress on a hill.

(9) Saruhan: 18,000 ie 30 - Nicaea 3,000 –

10,000 at (Ottoman Kerdele/Gerede:
Manisa plus beylik of) small beylik in NE
8,000 at Kas Anatolia; west of
Berdik; and Kastamonu.

(10) Nicaea 8,000 25 forst in the 3,000 – Mentehse

(Ottoman sub- beylik of
emirate): Antalya

(11) Antalya: 8,000 20 forts: 200 [sic] –

Saruhan Malikkesri
(Balikesir/Karasi) –
presumably just the
size of the garrison.

(12)– Geyve: 50 km 7,000 and 15 forts: Geyve has 10

east of Nicaea; “10” forts. Bergama fortresses,
presumbaky an concurring with
Ottoman vassal Doria.

(13) Denizli: 5,000 10 Geyve

(14) Tavas, south of 4,000. 4 forts- Tavas



1. Aegean region: Narrative sources mention high numbers that imply a large
population before the Black Death. Sanudo, for example, tells of 25,000 Greeks
(Byzantines) taken slaves during the Ottoman raids of 1331 and 1332 (Fleet 1999,
chapter 4, “Slaves”) . Cf 1332 below.
In Fleet’s book, the following places are noted as having slave markets on the
period 1300-1350:

Aydin: Sultanhisar (Nyssa), Ania.

Angevin Naxos – much used as a sales stop by Turks.
Foca (Phocaea) – slaves exported to Sicliy.
Geneose: Black Sea, Pera, Chios.
Karesi: unspecified.
Menteshe: Theologus, Magnesia.
Rhodes of the Hospitallers.
Saruhan: unspecifed.
Venetian: Crete.

According to Lane, 1973: 133, as noted earlier, most of the slaves bought or sold
by the Venetians around 1300 were Greeks, but during the 1300s the view
developed that fellow Christians should not be trafficked, and the Black Sea, i.e.
the Kipchak Empire (Khanate of the Golden Horde) became the main source of

2. The writer Nikephoros Gregoras, 1293/94–1360/61, began his career as an

astronomer and ended it as a theological controversialist. Some of his letters and
a few passages of his Roman History touch upon philosophical subjects:
especially noteworthy is the vehement criticism of Aristotle in the dialogue
Phlorentius, ostensibly an account of the author's debate with fellow theologian
Barlaam of Calabria (c. 1290–1348) in 1331–32. —Stanford Encyc. of
Philosophy, at;
accessed 2009.

Serbian control of Bulgaria will be ended by Ivan IV (Ivan Alexander 1331-72),
but Bulgaria will be left divided into rival states; the two largest, one was based at
Veliko Turnovo and the other at Vidin, will be ruled by Ivan's two sons. See next.

1. Thrace: Last-ever major clash between Byzantines and Bulgarians.
The Byzantines overran Bulgarian-controlled northeastern Thrace. In response,
Ivan Alexander, who was dealing with rebels in the north, rushed southward with
a strong army and swiftly caught up with Andronikos III at Rusokastro, a
fortress-village south of Aytos, west of Karnobat, in the Burgas region.
After giving the impression that he wished to negotiate, Ivan Alexander,
reinforced by Mongol or Kipchak cavalry (“8,000” Bulgarians and “3,000”


Mongols), overwhelmed the smaller but better organised Byzantine army

(“3,000” men) in the three-hour Battle of Rusokastro. The contested ‘cities’
surrendered to Ivan, while Andronikos III sought refuge within the walls of
Rusokastro. The war ended with Ivan Alexander meeting Andronikos and
agreeing to a peace based on the status quo (Wikipedia, 2010, under ‘Ivan

2. The Aegean: The Emirs of Aydin (Smyrna) and Menteshe (Miletus) began to
exact tribute from the island of Negroponte [Euboea], the Duchy of the
Archipelago (Naxos) and a number of other islands under Venetian lords. The
Rhomaniyans too were forced to pay annual tribute. Cf next. Also 1333: Ottoman
A Turkish armada of 70 (small) vessels that sailed against the Christian islands
in 1332 included more than 300 renegade Christians. Sanudo* calls them perfidi
Christiani (Zacharidou p.216; also Pryor 1988: 171). At an average of just four
men per boat, we may guess that the Christians were the pilots or navigators
while the Muslims rowed and fought.

(*) Chronicle of Marino Sanudo (Istoria del Regno di Romania): the story of the
Frankish states of Greece, written in the period 1326-1333 by the Venetian
Marino Sanudo Torsello.

3. First Balkan expedition by Umur, bey of Izmir [Smyrna]: a failed attack on

Gallipoli and Thrace. Cf 1334.
First European alliance against the Turks: a five-year agreement of
cooperation was signed by Venice, Byzantium and the Hospitallers of Rhodes (see
A. Laiou, 1970: Marino Sanudo Torsello, Byzantium and the Turks: The
Background to the Anti-Turkish League of 1332-1334). The relative weakness of
the Turks as mariners is illustrated the size of the proposed fleet: the plan was to
create a Christian fleet of just 20 galleys, of which 10 would be contributed by
Constantinople. This was considered enough to defeat the many small boats of
the weaker Turkish fleets. - Cf 1333 and 1334.

Bithynia: Andronicus in person took a relief ship to Nicomedia to bring food to its
starving inhabitants. While there he arranged to meet Orhan, and a settlement
was agreed, the first formal treaty between a Byzantine emperor and an
Ottoman emir. Andronicus promised to pay 12,000 gold coins in return for peace
and the continued rule of the little of Bithynia that still remained in Christian
hands (Nicol, Cantacuzene p.33).

Small Turkish Boats vs Large Christian War-Galleys

Alone among the emirs of the Asian coast, Umur Pasha Aydinoglu constructed a
few modestly-sized war galleys. Including small boats, Umur dispatched at
different times naval expeditions of 75, 170 and 250 vessels.
The other emirs relied wholly on small boats which they deployed in fleets of


sometimes over 200. On one occasion the emirs are said to have combined their
forces into a large fleet of “800” boats (Zachariadou pp.215 ff, and Ozturkler,
“Umur” at;
accessed 2007).
While the light vessels of the Turks allowed them to transport significant
numbers of warriors to the Aegean islands, they were unable to confront the large
galleys with their high central fire-platforms (or “castles”). Also, until about 1400
the Turks remained most uncertain at sea due to their lack of experience (or
better: lack of a maritime tradition) and were generally easy to defeat. The naval
forces of the Genoese, Venetians and Byzantines are widely reported in our
sources as superior to the Turkish fleets (Zachariadou pp.215 ff). See references
to Christian victories under 1319, 1320 and 1334.

Ibn Battuta describes Byzantium and the Byzantines

The Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta, aged 28, visited Constantinople in 1332. He
recorded, as would be expected, that Greeks (Byzantines) were still to be found in
large numbers in Turkish western Anatolia.

In one passage he recounts a visit home to Constantinople by the Byzantine wife

of Uzbek, Khan of the Tatars or Kipchak Turks (‘Golden Horde’), in whose party
he was travelling. Note: Uzbek was the khan’s name; ethnically he was a Mongol.
Reign: 1313-41. Most of his subjects were Turkic-speaking groups. Uzbek
islamicised the formerly shamanist Horde, or at least its western regions. The
capital was at Sarai, on a tributary of the Volga River.

“The amir [i.e. Kipchak army commander] Baydara with 5,000 troops travelled
with her [one of the khan’s wives, the khatun ‘Bayalan’, a Byzantine noblewoman:
an illegitimised (adopted) natural daughter of Andronicus III], and her own
troops numbered about 500 horsemen, 200 of whom were her attendant slaves
and Greeks [Byzantines], and the remainder Turks. She had with her also about
200 maidens, most of whom were Greeks, and about 400 carts and about 2,000
draught and riding horses, as well as 300 oxen and 200 camels. She had also 10
Greek youths and the same number of Indians, whose leader-in-chief was called
Sunbul the Indian; the leader of the Greeks was a man of conspicuous bravery
called Michael …
The Greeks had heard that this khatun was returning to her country, and there
came to this fortress [in Thrace, at the Byzantine border] to meet her the Greek
Kifali [i.e. Greek kephale, meaning ‘head, chief, governor’] Nicholas, with a large
army and a large hospitality-gift, accompanied by the princesses and nurses from
the palace of her father, the king* of Constantinople . …. [At the Danube or
perhaps further south:] The commander Baydara returned [to Khan Uzbeg] with
his troops, and none travelled on with the khatun but her own people.”
The Rhomaniyan princess quickly reverted to Christian habits: “She left her
mosque behind at the fort and the practice of calling to prayer was abolished. As
part of her hospitality-gifts she was given intoxicating liquors [i.e., wine], which
she drank, and swine, and I was told by one of her suite that she ate them. . . .


Sentiments formerly hidden were revealed because of our entry into the land of
the infidels, but the khatun charged the amir Kifali to treat us honourably, and on
one occasion he beat one of his guards because he had laughed at our prayer.”

(*) Emperor Andronicus III was aged 35 in 1332; his wife Anna of Savoy was aged
about 26. But this daughter was either the daughter of Andronicus’s first wife,
Irene (d. 1324) or else an adopted daughter … .

Bayalan is met by her Brother

A significant point in the following text from Ibn Battuta is that some cavalrymen
carried both bows and lances and rode horses with some sort of barding (horse
armour). It may be implied that one in 20 rode armoured horses.

(In inner Thrace, some 10 miles from Constantinople:) “ . . . her brother, whose
name was Kifali Qaras, arrived with 5,000 [sic!]* horsemen, fully accoutred
in armour. When they prepared to meet the princess, her brother, dressed in
white, rode a grey horse, having over his head a parasol ornamented with jewels.
On his right hand he had five princes and the same number on his left hand, all
dressed in white also, and with parasols embroidered in gold over their heads. In
front of him were 100 foot soldiers and 100 horsemen, who wore long coats of
mail over themselves and their horses, each one of them leading a saddled and
armoured horse carrying the arms of a horseman, consisting of a jewelled
helmet, a breastplate, a bow, and a sword, and each man had in his hand a lance
with a pennant at its head. Most of these lances were covered with plaques of
gold and silver. These led horses [that] are the riding horses of the sultan's
[emperor’s] son.
His horsemen were divided into squadrons, 200 horsemen in each squadron.
Over them was a commander, who had in front of him 10 of the horsemen, fully
accoutred in armour, each leading a horse, and behind him 10 coloured
standards, carried by 10 of the horsemen, and 10 kettledrums slung over the
shoulders of 10 of the horsemen, with whom were six others sounding trumpets
and bugles and fifes.”

(*) This must surely have represented all the cavalry enrolled in or hired for the
Byzantine army, which at this time was tiny. —See the discussion of the army
under 1310, 1313-28, 1318, 1321 and 1328 earlier. In 1322 an expeditionary force
of 3,000 men was called a “large” army.

Ibn Battuta enters the City

“When we reached the first gate of the king's [emperor’s] palace we found there
about 100 men, with an officer on a platform, and I heard them saying "Sarakinu,
Sarakinu" ["Saracen, Saracen"], which means Muslims. They would not let us
enter, and when those who were with the khatun [the Greek wife of the Khagan]
said that we belonged to their party, they answered, "They cannot enter except by
permission". So we stayed at the gate. One of the khatun's party sent a messenger


to tell her of this while she was still with her father [the emperor]. She told him
about us and he gave orders that we should enter, and assigned us a house near
the khatun's house. He wrote also on our behalf an order that we should not be
abused wheresoever we went in the city, and this order was proclaimed in the

The Greek monarch receives Ibn Battuta

“I reached a great pavilion, where the king (Emperor) was seated on his throne,
with his wife [?or mistress], the mother of the khatun, before him. At the foot of
the throne were the khatun and her brothers,* to the right of it six men and to the
left of it four, and behind it four, every one of them armed.
The Emperor signed to me, before I had saluted and reached him, to sit down
for a moment, in order that my apprehension might be calmed. After doing so, I
approached him and saluted him, and he signed to me to sit down, but I did not
do so. He questioned me about Jerusalem, the Sacred Rock, the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre, the cradle of Jesus, and Bethlehem, and about the city of
Abraham [Hebron], then about Damascus, Cairo, Iraq, and Anatolia, and I
answered all his questions about these, the Jew interpreting between us.
He was pleased with my replies and said to his sons, "Treat this man with
honour and ensure his safety". … I requested him to designate someone to ride in
the city with me every day, that I might see its marvellous and rare sights and tell
of them in my own country, and he appointed a man as I had asked. They have a
custom that anyone who wears the king's robe of honour and rides his horse is
paraded round with trumpets, fifes and drums, so that the people may see him.”

(*) This is curious. Andronicus’s eldest son, the future John V, was aged just two
years in 1334. Also it is said that Bayalun was Andronicus’s illegitimate or
legitimised (adopted) daughter, and not the daughter of his wife Anna of Savoy.

13 Villages within Constantinople

At Constantinople:
"At dawn (he writes) the drums, trumpets and fifes were sounded; the troops
mounted, and the king [emperor] with his wife, . . . came out, accompanied by the
high officials of state and the courtiers. Over the king's head there was a canopy,
carried by a number of horsemen and men on foot, who had in their hands long
staves, each surmounted by something resembling a ball of leather, with which
they hoisted the canopy. In the centre of this canopy was a sort of pavilion which
was supported by horsemen [carrying] staves".
"The city lies at the foot of a hill which projects about nine miles into the sea,
its breadth being the same or greater. On the top of the hill there is a small
citadel and the Emperor's palace [meaning the disused ancient palace in the
eastern sector rather than the Blachernai in the far NW sector]. Round this hill
runs the city-wall, which is very strong and cannot be taken by assault from the
sea front. Within its circuit there are about 13 inhabited villages.* The principal
church [Hagia Sophia] is in the midst of this [main] part of the city."


(*) Arable lands within the city had been cultivated at least since the time of
Michael Palaeogus (1260s) and no doubt earlier, during the period of Latin rule:
Pachymeres 187, II.6-14, cited by Geanakoplos 1959: 130.

More fully: “The part of the city on the eastern bank of the river [sic: southern
side of the Golden Horn] is called Istambul, and contains the residence of the
Emperor, the nobles and the rest of the population. Its bazaars and streets are
spacious and paved with flagstones; each bazaar has gates which are closed upon
it at night, and the majority of the artisans and sellers in them are women. The
city lies at the foot of a hill which projects about nine miles into the sea, its
breadth being the same or greater. On the top of the hill [near the city’s eastern
point] there is a small citadel and the Emperor's palace. Round this hill runs the
city-wall, which is very strong and cannot be taken by assault from the sea front.
Within its circuit there are about 13 inhabited villages. The principal church is in
the midst of this part of the city.”
"The second part [of the city], on the western [i.e., north of the City proper]
bank of the river, is called Galata, and is reserved to the Frankish Christians who
dwell there. They are of different kinds, including Genoese, Venetians, Romans
[sic: ?other Italians] and people of France; they are subject to the authority of the
king of Constantinople …. They are all men of commerce and their harbour is one
of the largest in the world; I saw there about 100 galleys and other large ships,
and the small ships were too many to be counted."

Ibn Batutta visits a Convent and (perhaps) meets the Retired Emperor

“I entered a monastery [nunnery] with the Greek whom the king had given me as
a guide. Inside it was a church containing about 500 virgins [nuns] wearing hair-
garments; their heads were shaved and covered with felt bonnets. They were
exceedingly beautiful and showed the traces of their austerities [presumably
fasting: M.O’R]. A youth [?eunuch] sitting on a pulpit was reading the gospel to
them in the most beautiful voice I have ever heard; round him were eight other
youths on pulpits with their priest, and when the first youth had finished reading
another began. The Greek said to me, "These girls are kings' daughters [i.e.
nobles] who have given themselves to the service of this church, and likewise the
boys who are reading [are kings' sons]."

Ibn Battuta met the retired emperor-monk Andronicus II (1258-1332), or rather,

someone who was represented to him as the retired emperor:
“When the Greek [Battuta’s guide] saw him he dismounted and said to me,
"Dismount, for this is the king's [emperor’s] father". When my guide saluted him
the king asked him about me, then stopped and sent for me. He took my hand
and said to the Greek (who knew the Arabic tongue), "Say to this Saracen
(meaning Muslim), 'I clasp the hand which has entered Jerusalem and the foot
which has walked within the Dome of the Rock and the great church of the Holy
Sepulchre and Bethlehem,'" and he laid his hand upon my feet and passed it over
his face. I was astonished at their good opinion of one who, though not of their


religion, had entered these places. Then he took my hand and as I walked with
him, asked me about Jerusalem and the Christians who were there, and
questioned me at length.”

Now, as Ross Dunn has pointed out, Andronicus senior had died in 1332, so could
not have been met by Ibn Battuta in 1334; possibly his Greek guide was having a
bit of fun. —Dunn 2004: 72.

The Ghazi Beyliks

In the early 14th century western Asia Minor was divided between as many as
nine Turkish beyliks or "ghazi emirates". The four western-most beyliks were
those of the Ottomans (at Bursa); Sarukhan (at Manisa); Aydin-oglu (at Ephesus
and Birgi) and Menteshe (at Milas). It was not until the reign of Bajazet or
Bayezid, 1389-1402, that the Ottomans would finally removed the last of their
Turkish rivals and establish their rule over all of Asia Minor.
During the 1320s and 1330s the Ottomans swallowed up their western
neighbour, the emirate of Karasi/Qarasi, with its seat at Pergamos, SW of Bursa.
To the north, the last years of Osman's reign and the first decade of Orkhan's rule
saw Ottoman expansion down the Sakarya/Sangarius River as far as the Black
Sea. These campaigns were against Muslim, not Christian, beys.

* * *
From Recovery to Ruin

It is instructive to compare the restored empire’s size in 1261 with its position 80
years later.
The era began with Byzantium dominant in the Balkans, and much stronger
than the then minor states of Serbia and Bulgaria. But within a generation the
empire was so weak that it could no longer afford, or belived it could no longer
afford, a blue-water navy. And after 1300, when the Serbs asserted themselves by
encroaching on imperial lands as far as the Aegean, and Bulgaria expanded into
northern Thrace, Byzantium did not have the money or men to expel them. It is
no surprise that large scale mosaic artworks were no longer produced after 1320.
In Asia, Constantinople still ruled between a quarter and a third of Asia Minor
in 1261. Eighty years later this had all been lost, except for several islands in the
eastern Aegean. The Türkmen first of all, having been pushed westward by the
Mongols, and then a powerful new local sultanate, the Ottomans, steadily took it
Thus, having begun as the strongest power in the region between Hungary and
Persia in 1261, and still recognised as a major power, by the 1340s Byzantium was
nearly the weakest.

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