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

VII: The Catalans and Florentines in Greece, 1380-1462,   pp. 225-277 PDF (23.4 MB)

Page 273

Turks tOok Athens over on June 4, 1456, 174 thus bringing to a close two
and a half centuries of Latin domination. 
 Almost four years after the Turkish occupation of Athens, Franco Acciajuoli
wrote duke Francis Sforza of Milan ". . . that while in years gone by I was
ruling the city of Athens and other lands adjoining it, as my father [Antonio
II] and my uncle [Nerio II] and the founders of my house had done through
the course of a hundred years and more, the sultan of the Turks [Mehmed II]
, moved by the wiles of jealous men and having heard of the extraordinary
strength of my castle and city of Athens, decided to see it. And as soon
as he had seen how impregnable it was—and that he had its equal nowhere
in his dominions—he conceived a very great love for it: hence he required
me to be straightway removed from possession of it and to abandon my house
to him, and he gave me another city by the name of Thebes, over which my
fathers had formerly ruled, although they had lost control of the city when
beset by the power of the present sultan's father [Murad II] ."175 Here
is no mention of duchess Clara, and 
 174. Wm. Miller, "The Turkish Capture of Athens," Essays on the Latin Orient
(Cam bridge, 1921; repr. Amsterdam, 1964), pp. 160-16 1, and Latins in the
Levant, p. 437. Cf. Chronicon breve, ad ann. 6964 (1456), appended to Ducas's
Historia byzantina (CSHB, p. 520); Historia patriarchica, ad ann. 6964 (CSHB,
pp. 124—125); Sphrantzes, Chronicon minus (FG, CLVI, 1065A); and the
Pseudo-Sphrantzes, Annales, IV, 14 (CSHB, p. 385). On October 12—13,
1456, the colonial government of Negroponte wrote the Venetian senate of
various offers of towns and castles being made to the republic (Mouchli,
Damala, Lygourio, Phanari), "et de oblatione contestabilis Athenarum et aliquorum
civium deinde pro castro Athenarum" (Senatus Secreta, Reg. 20, fol. 105r,
entry dated November 12, 1456), to which the senate returned a cautious and
noncommittal answer. This text seems to suggest that the Acropolis was still
in Christian hands as of October 1456, but the author of this chapter knows
of no documentary source to justify the statement of Hopf, in Ersch and Gruber,
LXXXVI (repr., II), 128b, that the Turks did not secure the Acropolis until
1458, in which assumption he is still being followed, as by Hans Pfeffermann,
Die Zusammenarbeit der Renaissancepapste mit den Türken (Berne, 1946),
pp. 3, 10—11, and John N. Travios, f1OXeOöO/uK7~ rc.Z~v ' Ai~17znZw
(Athens, 1960), p. 173. Travlos's book is very valuable on the architectural
development of the city of Athens, but contains some unfortunate errors in
 175. Lampros, Eggrapha, part VI, doc. 2, p. 408; also published in N~oc
I(1904), 216—218. Franco's statement that as soon as sultan Mehmed
II saw the "castle and city of Athens" he wanted them, may seem to support
the assumption that the Turks took the Acropolis in 1458 (see the preceding
note) since it was after the Turkish campaign in the Morea in the spring
and summer of that year that Mehmed paid his famous visit to Athens. By this
time, however, Omar Pasha had already taken the citadel. Perhaps Mehmed "saw"
Athens on his way south in the spring of 1458, but Franco's letter is too
vague to form a basis for precise chronology. A petition presented to the
Florentine signoria on October 26, 1458, on behalf of Nerozzo Pitti and his
wife Laudamia, who had been married in Athens about thirty-five years before
and had continued to live there, contained their request to sell a house
in Florence; they needed money, having lost everything "quod . . . de mense
Junii anni MCCCCLVI prout fuit voluntas Dei accidit quod ipsa civitas Athenarum
fuit capta a Theucris. . ." (Miller, Essays, pp. 160—161, referred
to above). Obviously the Turks took 

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