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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
(1975)

V: The Morea, 1364-1460,   pp. 141-166 PDF (15.1 MB)


Page 162

162 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
rental of 1,000 ducats. Stephen retained his spiritual jurisdiction while
the Venetian governor conducted the secular administration in the archbishop's
name. 
 Having acquired Naupactus (Lepanto) in June 1407, Venice now controlled
the two keys to the Gulf of Corinth and could protect her important commercial
interests at Patras against the Turks or any Christian competitor. The republic
appeased Suleiman, the ruler of European Turkey, by paying tribute for both
places. The payment for Patras was made through prince Centurione, himself
tributary to the Turk. The prince at first protested the Venetian lease of
Patras, but his position was so precarious that he seriously considered offering
his own land to the republic. Yet when his conflict with the Tocchi was renewed
Centurione was so successful on land and sea that the brothers appealed to
Venice to accept them as vassals. Instead the republic mediated a three-year
armistice in 1414 whereby the prince of Achaea retained Glarentsa. 
 It was about this time that Centurione, along with other Christian princes
of the Balkans, sent felicitations to Mehmed I, "the Gentle man," now the
sole ruler (1413—1421) of the reunited Ottoman empire.35 The cordial
relations which emperor Manuel II enjoyed with the sultan enabled him to
spend a year in the Morea (1415— 1416). During this memorable visit
the basileus pacified the des potate internally and erected the Hexamilion.
He also—according to the historian Ducas—imposed his authority
on prince Centurione and the Navarrese feudatories, so that on departing
for the capital "he left behind his son Theodore as despot of all Pelopennesus."36
The claim is exaggerated, but it almost became a reality as a result of the
war between the Byzantines and Centurione in 1417—1418. In 1417 John
(VIII) Palaeologus, the emperor's eldest son, captured Androu sa, "the key
and entrance" to the rich province of Messenia, as a Venetian chronicle describes
it. The same source remarks that Centurione was always concerned to amass
money and to keep only enough troops to guard his places, instead of maintaining
men in the field.37 The Byzantine forces overran Messenia and pressed 
 35. Ducas, XX (CSHB, pp. 97—98). Hopf probably reads too much into
this passage when he states that Theodore II Palaeologus and Centurione did
homage to Mehmed (in Ersch and Gruber, LXXXVI [repr., II], 76A). 
 36. Ducas, XX (CSHB, p. 102). The "Chronicle of the Tocchi" may now be adduced
as evidence that Centurione and the Achaean nobles recognized Manuel as suzerain,
at least for the moment. See the extract published by Schirô in Byzantion,
XXIX—XXX (1959—1960), 228—230, especially lines 1976, 1984—1986.
 37. Cronaca dolfina, MS. in the Museo Correr, Venice, cited by N. Iorga,
Notes et extraits pour servir a l'histoire des croisades, I, 267, note 3.


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