University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

VI: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261,   pp. 186-233 PDF (13.5 MB)

Page 194

each of them first to take an oath5 to sup port and uphold the honor of Venice,
to obey all commands from the doge and his council, to act as a just civil
and criminal judge, to engage in no diplomatic correspondence without the
consent of his council, to distribute property of the commune only with the
consent of his council, and to pay his own debts while not exacting more
than the services due him. His term was to be a short one, as a further precaution
against his assuming too much power. Despite the large gaps in our records
we know of sixteen different podestà-ships during the years between
Zeno's replacement in 1207 and the expulsion of the Latins in 1261. In every
important crisis we find the podestà acting as chief of the Venetian
colony and as faithful agent of the doge. 
 While Zeno was still podestà, in October 1205, he signed another
important treaty with Baldwin's brother Henry, <6> who was acting as
moderator or regent of the empire after Baldwin had fallen prisoner to the
Bulgarians. The new agreement specified that, whenever the podestà's
council and the barons should agree with the emperor that it was time for
a campaign, all knights, Venetian and non-Venetian (or Frankish), would have
to participate in the campaign from June 1 to September 29 (Michaelmas).
If any enemy ruler should have invaded the empire, the knights were further
bound to stay in service as much longer as the "aforesaid council"
should require. The emperor too was to follow the advice of the "aforesaid
council", since it was on this understanding that he had received one
quarter of the empire. The emperor might not punish anybody for infraction
of these military rules, nor could any individual knight punish him for an
infraction. The Franks and Venetians would in each such case appoint judges,
and the emperor would have to render satisfaction before them at the bidding
of the "aforesaid council". 
 This new treaty for the first time bound the Venetians to fight for the
empire. By regularizing the term of military service it further strengthened
the emperor's position. That he was subordinate to the magnates we knew already,
but the wording of the new treaty reveals the form of the body to which he
was responsible. The "aforesaid council" in the treaty is defined
as consisting of the Venetian podestà and his council, acting together
with the non- 
 5 For text and commentary, see R. L. Wolff, "A New Document from the
Period of the Latin Empire of Constantinople: The Oath of the Venetian Podestà,"
Annuaire de l'Institut dephilologie et d'histoire orientales et slaves, XII
(1952), Mélanges Henri Gregoire, IV (Brussels, 1953), 539-573. 
 6 Text in Tafel and Thomas, Urkunden, I, 571 ff. 

Go up to Top of Page