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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

VI: Social Evolution in Latin Greece,   pp. 175-221 PDF (18.9 MB)


Page 183

Ch. VI SOCIAL EVOLUTION IN LATIN GREECE 183 
Pronoiai are mentioned in the preamble of this document, together with patrimonial
estates, in what clearly appears to be a current formula used by the imperial
administration. The provisions of the privilege mention, however, only hereditary
property. The preamble may therefore provide evidence as to the existence
and diffusion of the pronoia in the empire, although not to its extent. It
certainly does not prove that pronoiai were to be found in Crete before 1204,
nor can one deduce this from a grant of Cretan imperial land made in 11701171.~
The main argument in favor of a wide diffusion of the pronoia in the empire
before 1204 rests on the Greek version of the Chronicle of the Morea. However,
this is a late source deriving from a French original; it obviously reflects
conditions existing in the second half of the fourteenth century in the principality
of the Morea, an area feudalized after its conquest by the Frankish knights.
The Greek Chronicle was presumably composed between 1341 and 1388 by a Greek
archon who was firmly integrated into the class of feudatories of the principality.6
His work is therefore not a valid source for a description of Byzantine social
and institutional realities at the time of the conquest, about a century
and a half earlier. In view of his social standing, it is not surprising
that the author was familiar with feudal institutions. His use of pronoia
as the equivalent of fief and of archon as the counterpart of knight may
be explained by the absorption of the archontes into the feudal hierarchy
of the Morea, as well as by the evolution of the Byzantine pronoia in the
period of the Palaeologi and the knowledge thereof in the principality; indeed
the pronoia gradually evolved into a hereditary tenure, its military nature
became more pronounced, and it then resembled the western fief more than
it previously had.7 
 It should also be noted that the Assizes of Romania, a legal treatise compiled
in the Morea between 1333 and 1346, had retained various provisions of Byzantine
law as they existed before the Latin conquest.8 There is no trace, however,
of the pronoia. Although called fiefs, the landed estates of the Greek archontes
of the Morea mentioned in the Assizes were not analogous to Frankish fiefs,
nor were they subject to feudal law; their transfer and succession, as well
as the constitution 
 5. See Jacoby, "Les Etats latins," p. 7—8. 
 6. See Jacoby, "Quelques considerations," pp. 150—158 and 187 on this
version; Jeifreys, "The Chronicle of the Morea," pp. 304—350, attempts
to prove that the prototype was written in Greek. It is impossible, however,
to deal with the subject only on a literary and philological basis. The social
context has to be taken into account, and it is unlikely that Greeks should
have praised the deeds of the Franks before the latter did so. 
 7. See especially Jacoby, "Les Archontes grecs," pp. 429—439. 
 8. See Jacoby, LaFéodalité, pp. 75-82, on the dating of theAssizes,
and pp. 32-38, on Byzantine law therein. 


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