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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 196

 196 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
and Modon in order to reinforce the number of Latins residing in these cities.
In 1340 Venetian citizenship restricted to Romania was granted to the Latins
inhabiting the Venetian quarter of the city of Negroponte and to others who
would settle there. In 1353, after the Black Death, Venice promised full
and unrestricted citizenship to Latins willing to settle with their families
for a period of at least ten years in the cities of Candia, Canea, Retimo,
and Sitia in Crete, of Coron and Modon in the Morea, or in the Venetian quarter
of Negroponte. 
 For lack of adequate sources, it is impossible to assess the relative numbers
of the Latins and Greeks, yet the available information points to the fact
that Latins remained a small minority. According to a list compiled around
1225, the principality of Achaea comprised 170 knightfiefs and could muster
some 450 mounted men. A report written in 1338 or somewhat later assessed
at more than one thousand the number of knight-fiefs existing in the principality
and territories subject to the suzerainty of the prince of Achaea. Even if
accurate, this number is rather unimpressive, especially if the dispersion
of the feudatories is taken into account. Moreover, it would be erroneous
to multiply this number by a family coefficient in order to calculate the
total knightly population. As all long-distance, voluntary, and individual
migration is sex-selective, men accounted for an overwhelming majority among
the knightly settlers; many of them arrived without a family, and subsequent
immigration of relatives did not basically change the sex ratio (number of
men to 100 women) within this group. The situation in this respect was worsened
by the powerful class-consciousness of the feudal nobility and of the nobles
hailing from Venice and other Italian cities who adopted their social ethos.
Social exclusiveness, especially marked in the small group of the barons,
was expressed in their matrimonial policy. Several Moreote knights married
daughters of noble families in areas in the west from which they originated
and later brought them over to Greece. Most of them, however, wedded Latin
noblewomen from the eastern Mediterranean whose families had come from Venice,
other Italian cities, France, or neighboring areas. The smallness of the
knightly class and its predominantly male composition, as well as frequent
marriages in its midst, gradually increased the problem of consanguinity
which restricted marriage within the group, or threatened the validity of
marriages already contracted. Economic considerations no doubt further limited
the chances of marriage opportunities within the same group. It is significant
that in 1336 pope Benedict XII justified his dispensation for a marriage
in Negroponte within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity by stressing
the small number of Latin nobles and his desire to prevent intermarriage
with Greeks. 


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