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Duchy of Athens
Δουκᾶτον Ἀθηνῶν ‹See Tfd› (in Greek)
Ducat d'Atenes(in Catalan)
The Lordship of Athens and the other Greek and Latin states of southern Greece, ca. 1210
|Status||Vassal state* of various countries, de facto autonomous|
|Common languages|| French (until 1311)|
Greek popularly and officially after 1388
|Religion|| Roman Catholicism,|
Greek Orthodoxy popularly
|Duke of Athens|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• Duchy established
• Acciaioli rule
• Tributary to Morea
• Ottoman conquest
|Today part of|
The Duchy of Athens (Greek: Δουκᾶτον Ἀθηνῶν, Doukaton Athinon; Catalan: Ducat d'Atenes) was one of the Crusader states set up in Greece after the conquest of the Byzantine Empire during the Fourth Crusade, encompassing the regions of Attica and Boeotia, and surviving until its conquest by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Catalan is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. It also has semi-official status in the Italian comune of Alghero. It is also spoken in the eastern strip of Aragon, in some villages of Region of Murcia called Carche and in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France. These territories are often called Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries".
Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.
The first duke of Athens (as well as of Thebes, at first) was Otto de la Roche, a minor Burgundian knight of the Fourth Crusade. Although he was known as the "Duke of Athens" from the foundation of the duchy in 1205, the title did not become official until 1260. Instead, Otto proclaimed himself "Lord of Athens" (in Latin Dominus Athenarum, in French Sire d'Athenes). The local Greeks called the dukes "Megas Kyris" (Greek : Μέγας Κύρης, "Great Lord"), from which the shortened form "Megaskyr", often used even by the Franks to refer to the Duke of Athens, is derived.
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.
The Duchy of Burgundy emerged in the 9th century as one of the successors of the ancient Kingdom of the Burgundians, which after its conquest in 532 had formed a constituent part of the Frankish Empire. Upon the 9th-century partitions, the French remnants of the Burgundian kingdom were reduced to a ducal rank by King Robert II of France in 1004, and in 1032 were awarded to his younger son Robert per Salic law – other portions had passed to the Imperial Kingdom of Arles and the County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté).
A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity.
Athens was originally a vassal state of the Kingdom of Thessalonica, but after Thessalonica was captured in 1224 by Theodore, the Despot of Epirus, the Principality of Achaea claimed suzerainty over Athens, a claim disputed by the de la Roche in the War of the Euboeote Succession. Like the rest of Latin Greece, however, the Duchy recognized the suzerainty of Charles I of Sicily after the Treaties of Viterbo in 1267.
A vassal is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is also applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.
The Kingdom of Thessalonica was a short-lived Crusader State founded after the Fourth Crusade over conquered Byzantine lands in Macedonia and Thessaly.
Theodore Komnenos Doukas was ruler of Epirus and Thessaly from 1215 to 1230 and of Thessalonica and most of Macedonia and western Thrace from 1224 to 1230. He was also the power behind the rule of his sons John and Demetrios over Thessalonica in 1237–1246.
The Duchy occupied the Attic peninsula as well as Boeotia and extended partially into Thessaly, sharing an undefined border with Thessalonica and then Epirus. It did not hold the islands of the Aegean Sea, which were Venetian territories, but exercised influence over the Latin Triarchy of Negroponte. The buildings of the Acropolis in Athens served as the palace for the dukes.
Attica, or the Attic peninsula, is a historical region that encompasses the city of Athens, the capital of Greece. It is a peninsula projecting into the Aegean Sea, bordering on Boeotia to the north and Megaris to the west.
Boeotia, sometimes alternatively Latinised as Boiotia, or Beotia, is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, and its largest city is Thebes.
Thessaly is a traditional geographic and modern administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey.
The Duchy was held by the family of la Roche until 1308, when it passed to Walter V of Brienne. Walter hired the Catalan Company, a group of mercenaries founded by Roger de Flor, to fight against the Byzantine successor state of Epirus, but when he tried to dismiss and cheat them of their pay in 1311, they slew him and the bulk of the Frankish nobility at the Battle of Halmyros and took over the Duchy. Walter's son Walter VI of Brienne retained only the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, where his claims to the Duchy were still recognized.
The Catalan Company or the Great Catalan Company was a company of mercenaries led by Roger de Flor in the early 14th century and hired by the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos to combat the increasing power of the Turks. It was formed by almogavar veterans of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, who had remained unemployed after the signing in 1302 of the Peace of Caltabellotta between the Crown of Aragon and the French dynasty of the Angevins.
Roger de Flor, also known as Ruggero/Ruggiero da Fiore or Rutger von Blum or Ruggero Flores, was an Italian military adventurer and condottiere active in Aragonese Sicily, Italy, and the Byzantine Empire. He was the commander of the Great Catalan Company and held the title Count of Malta.
The Battle of Halmyros, known by earlier scholars as the Battle of the Cephissus or Battle of Orchomenos, was fought on 15 March 1311, between the forces of the Frankish Duchy of Athens and its vassals under Walter of Brienne against the mercenaries of the Catalan Company, resulting in a decisive victory for the Catalans.
In 1312, the Catalans recognized the suzerainty of King Frederick III of Sicily, who appointed his son Manfred as Duke. The ducal title remained in the hands of the Crown of Aragon until 1388, but actual authority was exercised by a series of vicars-general. In 1318/19 the Catalans conquered Siderokastron and the south of Thessaly as well, and created the Duchy of Neopatras, united to Athens. Part of Thessaly was conquered from the Catalans by the Serbs in the 1340s.
Frederick II was the regent and subsequent King of Sicily from 1295 until his death. He was the third son of Peter III of Aragon and served in the War of the Sicilian Vespers on behalf of his father and brothers, Alfonso ΙΙΙ and James ΙΙ. He was confirmed as King of Trinacria by the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302. His reign saw important constitutional reforms: the Constitutiones regales, Capitula alia, and Ordinationes generales.
Manfred, infante of Sicily, was the second son of Frederick III of Sicily and Eleanor of Anjou.
The Crown of Aragon was a composite monarchy, also nowadays referred to as a confederation of individual polities or kingdoms ruled by one king, with a personal and dynastic union of the Kingdom of Aragon and the County of Barcelona. At the height of its power in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Crown of Aragon was a thalassocracy controlling a large portion of present-day eastern Spain, parts of what is now southern France, and a Mediterranean "empire" which included the Balearic Islands, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, Southern Italy and parts of Greece. The component realms of the Crown were not united politically except at the level of the king, who ruled over each autonomous polity according to its own laws, raising funds under each tax structure, dealing separately with each Corts or Cortes. Put in contemporary terms, it has sometimes been considered that the different lands of the Crown of Aragon functioned more as a confederation than as a single kingdom. In this sense, the larger Crown of Aragon must not be confused with one of its constituent parts, the Kingdom of Aragon, from which it takes its name.
Under Aragonese rule, the feudal system continued to exist, not anymore under the Assizes of Romania , but under the Customs of Barcelona , and the official common language was now Catalan instead of French. Each city and district—on the example of Sicily—had its own local governor (veguer, castlà, capità), whose term of office was fixed at three years and who was nominated by the Duke, the vicar-general or the local representatives. The principal towns and villages were represented by the síndic, which had their own councils and officers. Judges and notaries were elected for life or even as inherited offices.
In 1379 the Navarrese Company, in the service of the Latin emperor James of Baux, conquered Thebes and part of Neopatria. Meanwhile, the Aragonese kept another part of Neopatras and Attica.
After 1381 the Duchy was ruled by the Kings of Sicily until 1388 when the Acciaioli family of Florence captured Athens. Neopatras was occupied in 1390.
From 1395 to 1402 the Venetians briefly controlled the Duchy. In 1444 Athens became a tributary of Constantine Palaeologus, the despot of Morea and heir to the Byzantine throne. In 1456, after the Fall of Constantinople (1453) to the Ottoman Empire, Turahanoğlu Ömer Bey conquered the remnants of the Duchy. Despite the Ottoman conquest, the title of "Duke of Athens and Neopatras" continued in use by the kings of Aragon, and through them by the Kings of Spain, up to the present day.
Athens was the seat of a metropolitan archdiocese within the Patriarchate of Constantinople when it was conquered by the Franks. The seat, however, was not of importance, being the twenty-eighth in precedence in the Byzantine Empire.Nonetheless, it had produced the prominent clergyman Michael Choniates. It was a metropolitan see (province or eparchy) with eleven suffragans at the time of conquest: Euripus, Daulia, Coronea, Andros, Oreos, Scyrus, Karystos, Porthmus, Aulon, Syra and Seriphus, and Ceos and Thermiae (or Cythnus). The structure of the Greek church was not significantly changed by the Latins, and Pope Innocent III confirmed the first Latin Archbishop of Athens, Berard, in all his Greek predecessors' rights and jurisdictions. The customs of the church of Paris were imported to Athens, but few western European clergymen wished to be removed to such a distant see as Athens. Antonio Ballester, however, an educated Catalan, had a successful career in Greece as archbishop.
The Parthenon, which had been the Orthodox church of the Theotokos Atheniotissa, became the Catholic Church of Saint Mary of Athens. The Greek Orthodox church survived as an underground institution without official sanction by the governing Latin authorities. The Greek clergy had not typically been literate in the twelfth century and their education certainly worsened under Latin domination, when their church was illegal.
The archdiocese of Thebes also lay within the Athenian duchy. Unlike Athens, it had no suffragans.However, the Latin archbishopric produced several significant figures as archbishops, such as Simon Atumano. It had a greater political role than Athens because it was situated in the later capital of the duchy at Thebes. Under the Catalans, the Athenian diocese had expanded its jurisdiction to thirteen suffragans, but only the diocese of Megara, Daulia, Salona, and Boudonitza lay with the duchy itself. The archiepiscopal offices of Athens and Thebes were held by Frenchmen and Italians until the late fourteenth century, when Catalan or Aragonese people began to fill them.
Of Burgundian origin, the dukes of the petty lordly family from La Roche renewed the ancient city of Plato and Aristotle as a courtly European capital of chivalry. The state they built around it was, throughout their tenure, the strongest and most peaceful of the Latin creations in Greece.
The Athenian parliament elected the count of Brienne to succeed Guy, but his tenure was brief and he was killed in battle by the Catalans. His wife briefly had control of the city, too. The heirs of Brienne continued to claim the duchy, but were recognised only in Argos and Nauplia.
The annexation of the duchy to first the Catalan Company and subsequently Aragon came after a disputed succession following the death of the last Burgundian duke. The Catalans recognised the King of Sicily as sovereign over Athens and this left the duchy often as an appanage in the hands of younger sons and under vicars general.
These were the vicars-general of the Crown of Sicily, and after 1379 of the Crown of Aragon.
The Florentine Acciaioli (or Acciajuoli) governed the duchy from their removal of the Catalans, with the assistance of the Navarrese. While Nerio willed the city and duchy to Venice, it returned to the Florentines until the Turkish conquest.
Italian poet Dante Alighieri (c. 1265-1321), in the Inferno segment of his Divine Comedy , meets, along with the Roman poet Virgil, the mythological Minotaur and, speaking with him, he mentions "the Duke of Athens" (Theseus).
In Dante's Divine Comedy (especially in Inferno), there are many references to Greek mythology, and the poet connects it to Late Middle Ages Greece, such as with the Duke of Athens.
Walter VI was Count of Brienne, Conversano, and Lecce, and titular Duke of Athens as Walter II.
Walter V of Brienne was Duke of Athens from 1308 until his death. Being the only son of Hugh of Brienne and Isabella de la Roche, Walter was the sole heir to large estates in France, the Kingdom of Naples and the Peloponnese. He was held in custody in the Sicilian castle of Augusta between 1287 and 1296 or 1297 to secure the payment of his father's ransom to the Aragonese admiral, Roger of Lauria. When his father died fighting against Lauria in 1296, Walter inherited the County of Brienne in France, and the Counties of Lecce and Conversano in southern Italy. He was released, but he was captured during a Neapolitan invasion of Sicily in 1299. His second captivity lasted until the Treaty of Caltabellotta in 1302.
During the late Middle Ages, the two cities of Argos and Nauplia formed a lordship within the Frankish-ruled Morea in southern Greece.
Isabella of Brienne (1306–1360) was suo jure Countess of Lecce and Conversano, claimant to the Duchy of Athens and Kingdom of Jerusalem, etc.
The Duchy of Neopatras was a Catalan-dominated principality in southern Thessaly, established in 1318. Officially part of the Crown of Aragon, the duchy was governed in conjunction with the neighbouring Duchy of Athens by the local Catalan aristocracy, who enjoyed a large degree of self-government. From the mid-14th century, the duchies entered a period of decline: most of the Thessalian possessions were lost to the Serbian Empire, internal dissensions arose, along with the menace of Turkish piracy in the Aegean and the onset of Ottoman expansion in the Balkans. Enfeebled, the Catalan possessions were taken over by the Florentine adventurer Nerio I Acciaioli in 1385–1390.
Nerio I Acciaioli or Acciajuoli was the actual ruler of the Duchy of Athens from 1385. Born to a family of Florentine bankers, he became the principal agent of his influential kinsman, Niccolò Acciaioli, in Frankish Greece in 1360. He purchased large domains in the Principality of Achaea and administered them independently of the absent princes. He hired mercenaries and conquered Megara, a strategically important fortress in the Duchy of Athens, in 1374 or 1375. His troops again invaded the duchy in 1385. The Catalans who remained loyal to King Peter IV of Aragon could only keep the Acropolis of Athens, but they were also forced into surrender in 1388.
Nerio II Acciaioli (1416–1451) was the Duke of Athens on two separate occasions from 1435 to 1439 and again from 1441 to 1451. He was a member of the Acciaioli family of Florence, the son of Francesco II, Lord of Sykaminon. His rule was contemporaneous with a renewed Italian philhellenism and corresponding interest in antiquities and the Greek language. Nerio not only spoke Greek naturally, but also owned the most famous monuments of the Hellenic world in his capital of Athens.
Chiara Zorzi or Giorgio, also Clara or Claire, was duchess consort of Athens by marriage to Nerio II Acciaioli, Duke of Athens, and regent of Athens during the minority of her son Francesco I from 1451 until 1454.
Don Alfonso Fadrique was the eldest and illegitimate son of Frederick II of Sicily. He served as vicar general of the Duchy of Athens from 1317 to 1330.
Peter (I) Fadrique, Count of Salona, was the eldest son of Alfonso Fadrique, vicar general of Athens and Neopatras, and Marulla of Verona.
Antonio I Acciaioli, also known as Anthony I Acciaioli or Antonio I Acciajuoli was Duke of Athens from 1403.
Antonio II Acciaioli was the Duke of Athens from 1439 to 1445.
Francis or Francesco I Acciaioli was the son of Nerio II Acciaioli by his second wife Chiara Zorzi. He succeeded on his father's death in 1451 to the Duchy of Athens under his mother's regency.
Louis Fadrique a Catalan nobleman who was Count of Salona, as well as lord of various other towns in Central Greece from ca. 1365 until his death in 1382. In 1375–1381 he also served as the vicar-general of the twin duchy of Athens and Neopatras.
Juande Urtubia was a Navarrese royal squire who led first a contingent of fifty men-at-arms on an expedition to recover the Kingdom of Albania (1376–1377) and later a large army against Thebes and Boeotia, which he conquered in 1379.
Dorotheus I was the Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Athens from ca. 1388 to 1392, and the first to reside in the city since 1205.
Boniface Fadrique was a Catalan nobleman active in Central Greece as lord of Karystos from 1359 until 1365 and then as Count of Salona and owner of various other fiefs in the Duchy of Athens from 1366 until his defeat in a conflict with his nephew Louis Fadrique in the late 1370s.
James Fadrique was a Catalan nobleman who became Count of Salona, as well as lord of various other towns in Central Greece from ca. 1355 until his death in 1366.
Francesca Acciaioli or Acciajuoli was the wife of Carlo I Tocco, Count Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos.