Catalan Company


Catalan Company
Manuscript of the Crònica of Ramon Muntaner.

The Catalan Company of the East (Catalan: Companyia Catalana d'Orient, IPA: [kumpəˈɲi.ə kətəˈɫanə ðuɾiˈen]), officially the Magnas Societas Catalanorum, sometimes called the Grand Company and widely known as the Catalan Company, was a free company of mercenaries founded by Roger de Flor in the early 14th-century. De Flor recruited soldiers left unemployed with the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302 by the Crown of Aragon who opposed the French dynasty of Anjou.

In 1303 de Flor offered the services of his Company to the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus and his son the Basileus Michael IX Palaeologus. The Byzantine Empire was under threat by the Turks who were invading Anatolia.

Roger de Flor's offer was accepted by both Byzantium and by the Aragonese, rulers in Sicily and southern Italy, who were quite eager to rid themselves of unemployed and unruly soldiers. Roger de Flor departed with 39 galleys and transports carrying around 1,500 knights and 4,000 Almogavars, special foot soldiers employed mainly serving the kingdom interests in the Mediterranean Sea, especially by the Crown of Aragon.

Roger de Flor arrived in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) with the help of king Frederick III of Sicily in 1303, and married the niece of Andronicus, daughter of the Tsar of Bulgaria, and was named Grand Duke (head of the fleet). Roger de Flor campaigned with his Company in Anatolia and defeating the Turks but also engaging in widespread violence and looting of the Byzantine inhabitants. By this point, the Catalans, who had recruited nearly 3000 Turkic horse into their ranks, were considered by the Byzantines to be little better than brigands and freebooters. The successes had inflated the already arrogant De Flor, leading him to entertain plans of establishing his own dominion in Anatolia.

This put him at odds with the Byzantine Emperor, and the indiscipline of the Almogavars marked the end of Roger de Flor. On 30 April 1305, he was slain along with 300 cavalry and 1,000 infantry by the Alans, another group of mercenaries at the service of the Emperor. Roger had been in Adrianopolis (modern Edirne) attending a banquet offered by Emperor Michael. The emperor later attacked Gallipoli attempting to conquer the city from the remnants of the Company under the command of Berenguer de Entença who had arrived with 9 Catalan galleys. The attack was unsuccessful, but it largely decimated the Company. Berenguer de Entença was captured by the Genoese shortly after, and later liberated. The Company had only 206 horsemen, 1,256 foot soldiers left and no clear leader when Emperor Michael, trusting in his numerical superiority attacked, only to be defeated in Apros in July 1305.

In 1305, Catalan leader Bernat de Rocafort formed an alliance with Theodore Svetoslav of Bulgaria. De Rocafort married the Bulgarian tsar's sister and several joint Bulgarian–Catalan raids of Byzantine-ruled Thrace were organized as a result.[1] The Company proceeded to devastate the regions of Thrace and Macedonia for the next two years, including an attack on Mount Athos. Until recently no Catalans were allowed on the Athos peninsula by the Athonite monks. However in the past few years and following the payment of reparations by the Catalan government this situation has changed.

Coat of arms of the Duchy of Neopatria.

The Company was a powerful asset in the political arena and Frederick III of Sicily tried to gain control over it. He assigned the Infante Ferdinand of Majorca to Gallipoli to become its Captain. However one of the leaders of the Company, Bernat de Rocafort opposed this move, and faced Berenguer de Entença, Ferran Ximenis d'Arenós, and others who had accepted the Infante. The struggle ended with the departure of both the Infante and Ferran, and with Bernat de Rocafort becoming leader of the Company.

The administrator, Ramon Muntaner also left and later wrote a chronicle about exploits of the Company.

Bernat de Rocafort offered the Company's services to Charles of Valois to strengthen his claim to the Byzantine Empire and whom the Count of Barcelona had expelled from Sicily before founding the Company in a dynastic war for the Crown of Aragon. In 1309, Thibault de Chepoy, the deputy of Charles of Valois, ended the leadership of Rocafort, arresting him and sending him to Naples where he died of hunger the same year.

In 1310 Roger Deslaur then offered its service to Walter V of Brienne Duke of Athens and within a year it freed the duchy of its enemies, only to be betrayed by Brienne who refused to pay for is services. The Company avenged itself, defeating and killing Brienne in the Battle of Halmyros on the March 15, 1311, taking control of the duchy of Athens. Around this time, the Company also conquered the city of Thebes.

No longer under control of the French the new Aragonese lands expanded into Thessaly and became the duchies of Athens and Neopatria. The Catalan rule was to last uninterruptedly until 1388–1390 when they were defeated by the Navarrese Company under Pedro de San Superano, Juan de Urtubia, and allied with the Florentines under Nerio I Acciaioli of Corinth. His descendants controlled them until 1456 when they were conquered by the Ottoman Empire. By that time, like many military enterprises, the Great Company had faded out of history.

Notes

The early history of the Catalan Company was chronicled by Ramon Muntaner, a former member of the company, in his Crònica.

Sources and references

  1. ^ Stilbes, Constantine; Johannes M. (Johannes Maria) Diethart, Wolfram Hörandner (2005). Constantinus Stilbes Poemata. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9783598712357. 
  • Setton, Kenneth M. (general editor) A History of the Crusades: Volume III — The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Harry W. Hazard, editor. University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, 1975.
  • Setton, Kenneth M. Catalan Domination of Athens 1311–1380. Revised edition. Variorum: London, 1975.
  • Catalan Company (1302-1388 AD), by David Kuijt and Chris Brantley
  • History (14th century). Aragon

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Catalan — can refer to:* Catalan people * Catalan language * Catalan wine * An inhabitant of Catalonia * Catalan Ornithological Institute * Eugène Charles Catalan, a mathematician * Catalan solid, a concept in mathematics * Catalan number, a concept in… …   Wikipedia

  • Catalan literature — Introduction       the body of literature written in the Catalan language, a Romance language spoken primarily in the Spanish autonomous regions of Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Medieval period Poetry       Catalan literature has …   Universalium

  • Catalan Campaign (Asia Minor) — Infobox Military Conflict partof=the Byzantine Ottoman wars conflict= Catalan Campaign in Asia Minor caption= date=1303 to c. 1313 place=Asia Minor strength1=6,500 Catalan Company strength2=20,000+ Ottomans [Norwich reports that 18,000 Turks lay… …   Wikipedia

  • Catalan Communications — Industry Publishing Founder(s) Bernd Metz Headquarters New York 43 East 19th Street Key people Bernd Metz Elizabeth Bell Products Comics …   Wikipedia

  • Catalan nationalism — Catalan nationalism, or Catalanism (from Catalanisme in Catalan), is a political movement advocating for either further political autonomy or full independence of Catalonia.Intellectually, Catalanism departs from the unsuccessful attempts to… …   Wikipedia

  • Catalan grammar — is the grammar of the Catalan language.Morphology For general discussion of morphology (not specific to Catalan) see main article Morphology (linguistics). Articles and nounsIn Catalan, all nouns (including those referring to inanimate objects or …   Wikipedia

  • Company — Nom de famille catalan qui correspond au nom commun company (= ami, compagnon). Le sens actuel était déjà le plus répandu au moyen âge, mais il a pu aussi désigner le membre d une compagnie, militaire ou civile. Le cas régime a donné le patronyme …   Noms de famille

  • Catalan cinema —    The Spanish film industry first consolidated mostly in Barcelona rather than in Madrid: it was here that the first production companies were founded, and for several decades representatives of the powerful Lumière, Pathé, and Gaumont companies …   Guide to cinema

  • Catalan cinema —    The Spanish film industry first consolidated mostly in Barcelona rather than in Madrid: it was here that the first production companies were founded, and for several decades representatives of the powerful Lumière, Pathé, and Gaumont companies …   Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema

  • Catalan number — For names of numbers in Catalan, see List of numbers in various languages#Occitano Romance. In combinatorial mathematics, the Catalan numbers form a sequence of natural numbers that occur in various counting problems, often involving recursively… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.