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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 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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