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

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

Page 181

clearly indicates that they were often identical. One occasionally would
make a distinction between the rich landlord or ktematikos arc/ion and the
official in charge of civilian administration or the military officer, known
respectively as thematikos and tagmatikos archon, who exercised authority
from the urban center over a district which at times was limited to a city
and its neighboring territory. In certain cases the emperor recognized the
authority and traditional status of the chiefs of foreign populations which
had settled in the empire; by conferring on them imperial titles, he strengthened
their position. It is therefore not surprising that they too were considered
as archontes. This was the case with the chiefs of Slav groups who preserved
their tribal structure in the Peloponnesus, such as the Melings of Mount
 The great provincial landlords were not content with the power deriving
from their estates. In order to enhance their prestige and social ascendancy
they strove to acquire administrative or military functions within the imperial
machine of government or honorary titles in the imperial hierarchy. Imperial
grants of offices and court titles ensured their cooperation. On the eve
of the conquest, several great landlords of Crete and the Peloponnesus bore
court titles, and some had close relations with the imperial court. A Cretan
archon who was a magistros and "friend of the emperor" traveled to Constantinople
and persuaded Isaac II Angelus (1185—1195) to grant an estate to the
bishop of Calamona (Retimo) for his lifetime.2 Leo Sgouros, an archon of
Nauplia in the Peloponnesus, married the daughter of ex-emperor Alexius III
Angelus (1195—1203) in 1204. The association of the archontes with
the church was often quite close, since some of their relatives served as
church dignitaries or officials. Besides, the patronage of ecclesiastical
institutions enhanced their prestige and, occasionally, also their income,
whenever they obtained the management of these institutions and their property.
 Powerful archontes also developed in their own interests a network of personal
bonds of dependence, yet these always retained their private nature and were
never recognized by law or sanctioned by custom. They were thus basically
different from western vassalage. Dependents, real or fictitious relatives,
and allies occasionally constituted a large family or a real clan.3 It is
within this framework that the archontopouloi of Crete and the Peloponnesus
were to be found. In the early thirteenth century, these were not just "sons
of archontes", but a par- 
 2. See text in Borsari, Ii Dominio, p. 18, note 26. 
 3. See an example ibid., p. 60: in the late thirteenth century, four famiglie
were supposed to include about two thousand prole or descendants. 

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