Despotate of Morea

Despotate of Morea

Infobox Former Country
native_name = Polytonic|Δεσποτάτο του Μορέως
conventional_long_name = Despotate of Morea
common_name = Morea|
continent = Europe
region = Balkans
era = Late Medieval
government_type = Principality|
year_start = 1308
year_end = 1460|
p1 = Byzantine Empire
flag_p1 = Flag_of_PalaeologusEmperor.svg
s1 = Ottoman Empire
flag_s1 = Flag of the Ottoman Empire (1453-1844).svg|

image_map_caption = The Despotate of Morea in 1450, showing Mystras.|
capital = Mystras
common_languages = Greek
religion = Eastern Orthodox Church|
leader1 = Michael
leader2 = Thomas Palaiologos
year_leader1 = 1308 – 1316
year_leader2 = 1449 – 1460
title_leader = Despot

The Despotate of Morea ( _el. Δεσποτάτο του Μορέως) was a province of the Byzantine Empire which existed between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries. Its territory varied in size during its 100 years of existence but eventually grew to take in almost all the southern Greek peninsula, the Peloponnesos, which was called Morea in the medieval period. It was usually ruled by the current Byzantine emperor's heir, who was given the title of "despot" or "despoinis" (in this context it should not be confused with despotism). Its capital was the fortified city of Mystras, near ancient Sparta, which became an important centre of Byzantine culture and power.

The Byzantine Despotate of Morea was carved out of territory seized from the Frankish Principality of Achaea. This itself had been carved out of former Byzantine territory following the Fourth Crusade (1204). In 1259, the Principality's ruler Guillaume II de Villehardouin lost the Battle of Pelagonia against the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. Guillaume was forced to ransom himself by giving up most of the eastern part of Morea and his newly built strongholds. The surrendered territory became the nucleus of the Despotate of Morea.

A later Byzantine emperor, John VI Cantacuzenus, reorganized the territory in the mid-14th century to establish it as an appanage for his son Manuel Cantacuzenus. The rival Palaeologus dynasty seized the Morea after Manuel's death in 1380, with Theodore I Palaeologus becoming despot in 1383. Theodore ruled until 1407, consolidating Byzantine rule and coming to terms with his more powerful neighbours – particularly the expansionist Ottoman Empire, whose suzerainty he recognised. He also sought to reinvigorate the local economy by inviting Albanians to settle in the territory.

Subsequent despots were the sons of the Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, brother of the despot Theodore: Constantine, Demetrios, and Thomas. As Latin power in the Peloponnesos waned during the 15th century, the Despotate of Morea expanded to incorporate the entire peninsula in 1430 with territory being acquired through dowry settlements, and the fall of Patrasto Constantine. However, in 1446 the Ottoman Sultan Murad II destroyed the Byzantine defences on the Isthmus of Corinth. His attack opened the peninsula to invasion, though Murad died before he could exploit this. His successor Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured the Byzantine capital Constantinople in 1453. The despots, Demetrios and Thomas, brothers of the last emperor, failed to send him any aid. Their own incompetence at rule led to an Albanian-Greek revolt against them, when they invited in Ottoman troops to help them put down the revolt. At this time, a number of leading Moreote Greeks and Albanians made private peace with Mehmed. [] After more years of incompetent rule on the part of the despots, their failure to pay their annual tribute to the Sultan, and finally their own revolt against Ottoman rule, Mehmed came into the Morea in May 1460. By the end of the summer he had achieved the submission of all Byzantine-held cities. The only non-Ottoman territories were held by Venice: the port cities of Modon and Koroni at the southern tip of the Morea, and the Argolid with the Argos and the port of Nafplion. Monemvasia subsequently handed itself over to Venice at the beginning of the 1464-1478 Ottoman-Venetian war.

Byzantine despots of Morea at Mystras

*Michael Kantakouzenos (1308-1316)
*Andronikos Asen (1316-1322)
*Manuel Kantakouzenos (1348-?)
*Michael Asan ?
**Andrew Asan (?-1354)
*Manuel Kantakouzenos (restored) (1354-1380)
*Matthew Kantakouzenos (1380-1383)
*Demetrius I Kantakouzenos(1383)
*Theodore I Palaiologos (1383-1407)
*Theodore II Palaiologos (1407-1443)
*Constantine XI Palaiologos (1428-1449)
**Demetrios II Palaiologos (1428-1460)
**Thomas Palaiologos (1449-1460)


ee also

* Roman and Byzantine Greece

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