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)
Ch. VI SOCIAL EVOLUTION IN LATIN GREECE 191 as well as sergeants, was also instituted. As the conquest proceeded, Latin knights assisted by Greeks consulted the Byzantine cadastral registers and divided into feudal tenements land previously held by the Byzantine fisc, the crown, and ecclesiastical institutions housed in Constantinople, land perhaps partly usurped by local archontes. The same holds true of the estates of absentee archontes or those opposing Latin rule, as well as numerous ecclesiastical properties, parts of which were secularized on various occasions. Enfeoffment of knights and mounted sergeants was restricted, however, by the prince and the barons, who were eager to preserve their political, social, and economic ascendancy. Many knights held only one fief, the standard yearly revenue of which was about 1,000 hyperpers, or part of a fief, and mounted sergeants half a fief or even less. The existence of money-fiefs and household knights further emphasizes the precarious standing of many feudatories and their dependence upon their lords.26 The feudal class in the Morea was more numerous than in other areas of Latin Greece and displayed strong cohesion, stability, and continuity. All these factors help to explain the important role of the Morea, especially after 1248 when its prince William II of Villehardouin received from emperor Baldwin II suzerainty over the islands of the Aegean. The main vassals of the prince, including the triarchs (terzieri) of Euboea, the lords of Tenos and Myconos, and the dukes of the Archipelago, participated in court gatherings convened by him and, from 1278, occasionally by his representative or bailie; they also took part in military expeditions. They were thereby closely associated with the progressive growth and diffusion in their own territories of a body of law transcribed in the Assizes of Romania, whose final version in French was compiled between 1333 and 1346. This private legal treatise was based partly upon custom, imported by the conquerors from their native countries as well as from the Latin empire of Constantinople and the Latin kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus, where the Latins faced political and military circumstances similar to those of the Morea, and existed in a virtual state of perpetual war. In addition, the influence of royal Capetian legislation and of the Angevin kingdom of Sicily is perceptible in the Assizes. Byzantine private law applicable to family possessions and agricultural exploitation, as well as various rules concerning the paroikos or dependent persons, were also incorporated, although the conquercrs severely restricted their use when it conflicted with seignorial prerogatives. Finally, the Assizes of Romania also embody legislation emanating from the princely court, and 26. See Jacoby, "The Encounter," pp. 886—887.
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