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Despotate of the Morea

Despotate of the Morea
Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μορέως
Despotate of the Byzantine Empire

1349–1460
The Despotate of the Morea in 1450, divided between the two brothers, Thomas and Demetrios Palaiologos
Capital Mystras (with Glarentza after 1428)
Languages Medieval Greek
Religion Eastern Orthodox Church
Government Feudal monarchy
Despot of Morea
 •  1349–1380 Manuel Kantakouzenos
 •  1449–1460 Thomas Palaiologos
Historical era Late Medieval
 •  Established 1349
 •  Disestablished 1460

The Despotate of the Morea or Despotate of Mystras (Greek: Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μορέως, Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μυστρᾶ) was a province of the Byzantine Empire which existed between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries. Its territory varied in size during its 100 years of existence but eventually grew to include almost all the southern Greek peninsula, now known as the Peloponnesos. It was called Morea during the medieval period. The territory was usually ruled by a close relative of the current Byzantine emperor, who was given the title of despotes (in this context it should not be confused with despotism). Its capital was the fortified city of Mystras, near ancient Sparta, which became an important centre of Byzantine culture and power.

The Despotate of the Morea was created out of territory seized from the Fourth Crusade (1204). In 1259, the Principality's ruler William II Villehardouin lost the Battle of Pelagonia against the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. William was forced to ransom himself by surrendering most of the eastern part of Morea and his newly built strongholds. The surrendered territory became the nucleus of the Despotate of Morea.

A later Byzantine emperor, appanage for his son, the Despot Manuel Kantakouzenos. The rival Palaiologos dynasty seized the Morea after Manuel's death in 1380, with Theodore I Palaiologos becoming despot in 1383. Theodore ruled until 1407, consolidating Byzantine rule and coming to terms with his more powerful neighbours—particularly the expansionist Ottoman Empire, whose suzerainty he recognised. He also sought to reinvigorate the local economy by inviting Albanians to settle in the territory.

Subsequent despots were the sons of the Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, brother of the despot Theodore: Constantine, Demetrios, and Thomas. As Latin power in the Peloponnese waned during the 15th century, the Despotate of the Morea expanded to incorporate the entire peninsula in 1430 with territory being acquired by dowry settlements, and the conquest of Patras by Constantine. However, in 1446 the Ottoman Sultan Murad II destroyed the Byzantine defences—the Hexamilion wall at the Isthmus of Corinth. His attack opened the peninsula to invasion, though Murad died before he could exploit this. His successor Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured the Byzantine capital Constantinople in 1453. The despots, Demetrios Palaiologos and Thomas Palaiologos, brothers of the last emperor, failed to send him any aid, as Morea was recovering from a recent Ottoman attack. Their own incompetence resulted in an Albanian–Greek revolt against them, during which they invited in Ottoman troops to help them put down the revolt. At this time, a number of influential Moreote Greeks and Albanians made private peace with Mehmed.[1] After more years of incompetent rule by the despots, their failure to pay their annual tribute to the Sultan, and finally their own revolt against Ottoman rule, Mehmed came into the Morea in May 1460. Demetrios ended up a prisoner of the Ottomans and his younger brother Thomas fled. By the end of the summer the Ottomans had achieved the submission of virtually all cities possessed by the Greeks.

A few holdouts remained for a time. The rocky peninsula of

See also

  •  

Sources

  1. ^ Contemporary Copy of the Letter of Mehmet II to the Greek Archons 26 December 1454 (ASV Documenti Turchi B.1/11)
  2. ^ Monemvasia.com website, http://www.monemvasia.com .
  3. ^ The Greek Travel website, http://www.thegreektravel.com/lakonia/monemvasia.html .
  4. ^ Katsoulakos.Com website, http://katsoulakos.com/mani-history-new.html .
  5. ^ Apodimos.com website, http://www.apodimos.com/arthra/07/Jan/OTTOMAN_in_the_MOREA_in_the_OUTER_MANI/index.htm .
  6. ^ Geni website, http://www.geni.com/people/Thomas-Palaiologos/ .
  7. ^ William Miller, "Monemvasia," The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1907, p. 236 (online at https://archive.org/stream/journalofhelleni27sociuoft#page/236/mode/1up .

References

The Byzantine Empire and the Latin and other states resulting from the Fourth Crusade, as they were in 1265. The Byzantine province of the Morea is also shown.
(William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 1911).

Byzantine despots of the Morea

Contents

  • Byzantine despots of the Morea 1
  • References 2
  • Sources 3
  • See also 4

After 1461 the only non-Ottoman territories were possessed by Venice: the port cities of Modon and Koroni at the southern end of the Morea, the Argolid with Argos, and the port of Nafplion. Monemvasia subsequently surrendered itself to Venice at the beginning of the 1463–1479 Ottoman-Venetian war.

[7][6][5][4][3][2]

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