03 July 2015

Justice

In the Venetian “house of the bailo,” Halkis, during restoration. 
 If it was the house of the bailo, justice might have happened here.


I have been looking for information about justice in the Morea. I have a number of examples where people, like Bartolomeo Minio, acted justly, but I have been trying to get an idea of the process. As usual, there is little information, and what there is is almost entirely about the Venetian system.

In the Venetian città in the Morea, justice was to a large extent determined by custom, with decisions made by the governor and his councillors. The governor was to hold a court every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday, with fines over a certain amount and imprisonments (other than for soldiers) dependent on the majority vote of his councillors. However, the one surviving personal account of Venetian judicial action is a narrative of -- from the anonymous Greek narrator's point of view -- prejudicial and arbitrary actions.

The anonymous Greek narration concludes with his waiting for the sindici.  Venetian justice provided for two sindici to visit each città every two years to hear complaints that locals might have against the governor and his officials.  This worked a little better than you might think: Michele Salomon served a time in prison and paid a stiff fine for overcharging two stratioti on a horse sale, for engaging in trade with a Turk from Athens in wartime, and for cheating a Naupliot woman in a business deal. Another governor spent six months in jail for adultery with the wife of a Greek citizen of Nauplion.  I can identify no other decisions by sindici for the Morea.

A peasant, hired to murder Giovanni Catello by his brothers, only managed to wound him five time. The governor sentenced the peasant in absentia to be hanged at "the forks", after his hand was amputated. We don't know if the sentence was ever carried out, but this is the only judgment I have found for Nauplion.  I wrote about this in more detail here at "The Forks."

We have a few actual records from the court at Patras, possibly a continuation of the court structure there when Patras surrendered to Constantine. Zakythinos points out that in the surviving records of the court, four of the seven members have Italian names: he sees this as an example of decentralization of judicial authority. This is much more likely to be a factor of wealth and status and in fact, the decentralization of judicial authority is better seen in the judicial control of the archons over their people. There are three surviving records of Patras court actions for the fifteenth century. One shows Thomas Palaiologos as Despot giving a decision about land in 1436 against the Jew Salomon on behalf of Nikolas de Leonessa. A second decision in 1438, again involving Nikolas de Leonessa, was signed jointly by Ioannis Kantakuzenos Palaiologos and Theodoros Erastopulos on behalf of Thomas when he went to John VIII in Florence on behalf of Constantine in Constantinople. In 1440, Nicholaos Neapolites who was also notary of Patras, had the position of judge.

Sphrantzes' instructions as governor of Mistra were "to stay here and govern your command well. You are to put an end to the many instances of injustice and reduce the power of the numerous local lords." But Sphrantzes says nothing about what he did. Governors held their own courts and we have no information as to whether there was a distinction between a despot's court and that of a governor when a city had both. When Constantine gave Sphrantzes those instructions, he was leaving to tend to the Hexamilion and then the rest of his territories, exploring options. Constantine had created several large administrative divisions in the Morea: Corinth under Kantakouzenos, Patras under Alexios Laskaris, and Mistra under Sphrantzes. Monemvasia must have accounted for another division, although it is not named. Constantine also left a Ioannis Eudaimonoioannes as intermediary, mesazon. Perhaps Sphrantzes and Eudaimonoioannes conducted the Mistra court in Constantine's absence, as Palaiologos and Erastopoulos did for Thomas. But there is no specific information. Theodoros sat in the court at Mistra and was complimented by Scholarios:
[Theodoros was] naturally inclined to treat others well, a generous giver, very eager to praise virtue in those who pursue it, and to crown them, but very severe in dismissing those who tended the other way, and astute in exacting penalties against those caught in any sort of evil-doing, decreeing them rather in a sense of reason than of anger, looking more to aid than to deal out to a wrong-doer extremes of punishment for extreme crimes . . .


  "Looking more to aid than to deal out to a wrong-doer extremes of punishment for extreme crimes" was a concept dear to Gemistos and is a point where we can probably identify a very specific influence. In the section of his Laws on sexual misconduct, he calls for a court, συνέδριον, to vote on such matters, and though he writes with approval of burning for those found guilty of pederasty, bestiality, and rape, he wants the court to consider the circumstances of the accused, his education, and whether a period in prison might instead bring about a desired correction. Gemistos is said to have been a judge at Mistra, but we have no evidence for it. Nor do we have any evidence for any action of Theodoros as judge.
It may be a subtle comment on Byzantine justice in the Morea that Mazaris has this to say about the judges in Hades:

Don't be afraid of the judges because they are pagan. For they are genuinely devoted to justice. It is precisely for that reason that they were elevated to the supreme court.








26 June 2015

Giovanni's valetudinarian body


Giovanni Dario between his friends, the Bellini brothers.
Gentile Bellini, Procession at San Marco, 1496.

Every week the New York Times interviews a famous person and asks which three people would be the best dinner guests. I would need several dinners, but for one I would choose Giovanni Dario, Cyriaco of Ancona, and Cardinal Bessarion. We know that Dario and Cyriaco were acquainted, and I can demonstrate the likelihood that Bessarion knew both of them. It is possibly not correct to chose only men for guests, but I would prefer an all- women's dinner another time with Cleofe, Paola, and Battista Malatesta. I have written about Cyriaco and Bessarion in recent months, but it has been a long time since Giovanni Dario was a guest here.

He came to mind because a recent publication by Nicky Tsougarakis in Dumbarton Oaks Papers of 14th-century Cretan notarial documents includes a number from 1356-57 with a Giovanni Dario as witness. This is surely my man's great-grandfather: we know he was a notary, as was my Giovanni – or Zuam or Zuan or Zan (I have all three names in a letter to him from the Signoria).
Dario was born about 1414 in Crete, a citizen of the stato da mar. He was at least the fourth generation of his family to be trained and certified as a notary, following his great-grandfather Giovanni (who also owned sheep) and his grandfather and father (both named Marco). Marco Dario fils was also a gold-worker and jeweller, protomaestro of the goldworker’s guild, a procurator of the cathedral of St. Titus, and a merchant who combined business with travels as an emissary for the duca of Crete. I am quite sure, without evidence, that Marco Dario had something to do with Commander Giovanni Delfino's acquisition of the most beautiful small antiquity in existence, that Cyriaco wrote about in 1445. Cyriaco had visited the Dario property at Pediada in Crete, possibly arranging for a shipment of cheese or wine, while looking for antiquities.

Giovanni joined his father in business and political ventures to Constantinople, Venice, Rhodes, and other ports of the eastern Mediterranean, apparently picking up useful bits of Arabic and Turkish to add to his Venetian and Italian. He was licensed as a notary in 1450, which certified him as 
doctissimus in litteris grecis et latinis, which means that he was compentent to write legal documents in both languages. That same year he interpreted for Nicolò da Canale, Venetian ambassador first to the court of Constantine XI in Constantinople, then to the court of Murad IV, and finally to the court of Thomas Palaiologos in the Peloponnesos, and may have translated the final agreements from Greek into Latin for Venetian records. Tradition puts him in the camp of Mehmed II as an observe during the 1453 siege of Constantinople, but documents put him in Sitia in eastern Crete.

Like his father, Dario combined government responsibilities with his own business as a merchant. His knowledge of Greek and Latin extended to the classical forms, and he found his friendships among humanists—writers and artists. One of them was the humanist and hunter of antiquities, Cyriaco of Ancona. Both of them them were engaged in the same kind of work, some of it diplomatic, some of it brokering objets des fines arts between Italy, Crete, Egypt, and Constantinople: both were men of great good humor and good conversation, Cyriaco hyperactive and ebullient, Dario quiet and inclined to sit.
By 1465 Giovanni was employed in the cancelleria in Venice which involved him in most aspects of the Venetian government, especially diplomacy within Italy. He received regular raises of salary, and promotions in titles and responsibilities, but it was was clearly the exhausting Venetian-Ottoman war (from July 1463 to January 1478/79 ) that demonstrated his unique value to the Signoria: he was sent at least four times to Constantinople with various patrician ambassadors to negotiate peace, on one trip negotiating with Mehmed's emissary on Mount Athos.  It was to his great advantage that he could speak Turkish. He went at least twice to Egypt to protest abuses against Venetian merchants in Damascus and Cairo. He continued his own business—just before he left on the second Egyptian voyage, he and his brother contracted with a Paduan goldworker to buy metal and worked silver in Cairo, and exchange a silver cup for a pearl, and then he arranged in Alexandria to export wheat, always needed in Crete.

In Venice, he lived near S. Apostoli (just off the Rialto bridge) with a woman to whom he was devoted, though all we can be sure of is her name, Chiara. Their child Marieta was born, probably, in 1473. The household included his sister Salamona's sons—Francesco, Giovanni, and Andrea Pantaleo (who eventually took Dario for their last name), whom he expected to regard Chiara as if she were their mother.

Because the official ambassador to the Sultan had died, exhausted from his many trips between Venice and Constantinople in the last year of the war, Dario was given broad discretion to negotiate, persuade, and cajole the final peace agreement from Mehmed. Mehmed gave him his cahd-name on 25 January 1478(9), and presented him with a horse, and three cloth-of-gold robes. Mehmed sent a kyahya, Lüfti Beg, back with Dario to Venice to receive the Signoria's confirmation of the agreement, and the Signoria gave Lüfti Beg cloth-of-gold robes of his own in return. Mehmed asked for artists: when Dario returned to Constantinople in early summer, he took with him Gentile Bellini and a sculptor. 

In Gentile's painting above, Dario is shown as an elderly man. The painting was made two years after he died, in 1494 at the age of 80.  He had been troubled for some years with heart trouble.  In Turkey in 1485 he had pled with the Signoria to allow him to return to Venice:

To stay here in order to spend uselessly seems to me unnecessary; besides my age and the condition of my valetudinarian body require a better place than this. because if I should have another attack, it will take me with no coming back Here there is neither doctor nor medicine, nor any tending, either physical or spiritual, and one who dies here dies like a dog. It makes me extremely afraid when I think of such danger, and so I hope in the clemency of Your Most Illustrious Signoria that it will not want such a faithful servant to perish in this way, entreating from you a particular grace in reward for my fatigue, that you grant me welcome permission to come home, and that you do not leave me here to die unnecessarily – because if I live it might happen that some other time I might be a useful instrument for some need of Your Most Excellent State . . .

The Venetian bailo in Constantinople wrote:

He is much loved by the paşas. Frankly, Most Serene Prince, I will say that it would be a sin to lose this man because of his fine service, because he is profoundly fatigued because of his personal condition, incurably sick, he has spent the winter in Adrianople with the greatest discomforts of living and continual fatigue . . . I respectfully request that Your Most Illustrious Signoria grant that he be permitted to return with me on the galleys.

It was another year before he was permitted to return, but he came back to the lovely little house on the Grand Canal that the Signoria gave him in appreciation for his work.  I have written about its decoration here, and about its inscription (and Cyriaco) here.
Despite his age and ill health -- he wrote three wills between then and his death in 1494 -- Dario made a final trip to Turkey in 1487, to persuade Beyazid that Venice would not join the Knights of St. John at Rhodes for a crusade against the Ottomans. In his last, handwritten, will of 1493, he directed his procuratori to free his slaves -- some of them Turkish -- with ten years of service and provide them with adequate clothing and money for the next stage of their lives.

In one of his wonderful letters he wrote: io che son de natura quieta et de etade ormai inclinata a la quiete—"I am by nature quiet and now at my age inclined to rest." That quietness shows in the mild face that gazes from Gentile Bellini's great Procession in the Piazza San Marco. Towards the lower left, where the white-robed figures break, standing between the Bellini brothers, is an elderly balding man, somewhat overweight, in the red patrician "toga" with old-fashioned sleeves to which he was entitled as a Secretary, and Guardian Grande of the scuola of  S. Giovanni Evangelistra. The Bellini brothers were members, too, and Dario was the one who paid them for their work.

There are two clear reminders of Dario's Turkish experience in Venice today, in addition to his letters and the cahd-name with its great gold tugra. One is the small Turkish fountain room he had put in his house at the end of the great L-shaped room of the piano nobile. Marble benches center on a fountain in a small square pool, and windows look out on the garden behind. The second is in that Bellini painting. Dario had taken Bellini to Constantinople to paint for Mehmed. In the painting, Bellini shows Dario carrying a Turkish handkerchief. He never saw the work: it was painted two years after he died, a tribute from a friend.




Much of this blog was taken from this article, published in The Turkish Studies Association Journal.  In it you can read translations of Dario's letters about stratioti, the Kladas affair, and exotic visitors and gifts to the Sultan's court.  Giovanni Dario's web page is here.


19 June 2015

Pierre Antony MacKay


Pierre MacKay, my partner and ξυνεργὸς, died quietly on Sunday morning, June 15. Typically for him on Sunday, he was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, and he went so gently he didn't drop his pencil. Readers of Surprised by Time will be intensely familiar with his work: he is responsible for the wonderful Mistra and Evliya Çelebi translations used here. I am putting a few photographs of him below. His daughters, Camilla and Alexandra, and I are having a gathering here at home on Saturday. We will be using the marvellous Callimachus poem below. It has been very personal to us: every evening for twelve years, when the weather has permitted, we have eaten out under our grape arbor and talked the sun down out of the sky.
Εἰπέ τις, Ἡράκλειτε, τεὸν μόρον ἐς δέ με δάκρυ
    ἤγαγεν ἐμνήσθην δ᾿ ὁσσάκις ἀμφότεροι
ἠέλιον λέσχῃ κατεδύσαμεν. ἀλλὰ σὺ μέν που,
    ξεῖν᾿ Ἁλικαρνησεῦ, τετράπαλαι σποδιή,
αἱ δὲ τεαὶ ζώουσιν ἀηδόνες, ᾗσιν ὁ πάντων
    ἁρπακτὴς Ἀίδης οὐκ ἐπὶ χεῖρα βαλεῖ
 
Someone told me of your death, Heraclitus, and it moved me to tears, when I remembered how often the sun set on our talking. And you, my Halicarnassian friend, lie somewhere, gone long long ago to dust; but they live, your Nightingales, on which Hades who siezes all shall not lay his hand.            by W. R. Paton
























12 June 2015

In recovery: Glitter and be gay


"Glitter and be gay!"  Natalie Dessay.

In recovery”-- this is the third of these.  You may ask, recovery from what? I have had reconstructive surgery again, this time on my right hand, the same kind that I had in January on my left.  

This entry is a great change, in that I have almost never presented any of the music that is so much a part of my life. Here are two, very similar arias, by the same extraordinary singer, Natalie Dessay. I have been playing these over and over recently. First listen to her “Glitter and be gay" from Leonard Bernstein's Candide.

Then listen to her sing Bernstein's inspiration, Zerbinetta's aria “Großmächtige Prinzessin” from Ariadne auf Naxos (my favorite opera) which is #8 on this site.

I don't know what happen to music videos internationally. Good luck.




05 June 2015

In recovery: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly



The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC


In Washington, DC, in April, I went to see the most wonderful thing I know. I have seen many wonderful things in my life, but ever since I saw The Throne of the Third Heaven in 1970, this has outshone everything else.  It is a great throne for God, with altars for the Virgin Mary, Elijah, Moses, and others, crowns, processional regalia, and much else.  It was constructed over nearly twenty years by James Hampton, a janitor in Washington, who had visions.  You can, and should, read a fine essay about him here.  



Over the years, he collected gold and silver foil from wine bottles and cigarette boxes, light bulbs, cardboard cylinders, electric wire, old furniture, and much else in a child's wagon, working five or six hours every night after he had finished his day's work. The little bits of tan you see are pieces of construction paper, faded from the original purple. 


There are innumerable (tan) labels and writings about his visions scattered about these pieces.  Many of the pieces are held together by wrappings of aluminum foil.  This massive powerful display is staggeringly fragile.  


Above the great throne, a sign says "Fear Not."
"We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you, only this we know, that God dwells there among humans . . . For we cannot forget that beauty."  



This creation is put into a category known as  "outsider art."  For another act of worship in outsider art, look at Ag. Fotini at Mantineia




29 May 2015

To the city



 by Rowan Williams

To the City

1. Bosphorus
Once there were chains between the towers
shackling the green-black forest walls across the water
locked in each other's mirror-gaze, chains to choke off
the galleys headed greedily for the tense city. Not now:
this is a motorway shining with oil, the lanes
jostling and humming with their relaxed freight,
birthdays and anniversaries and conference excursions
bouncing and rocking along the cleft so confidently
you could forget the swimmers dead in the green-black
depths, the ones who failed to breach the walls
on the far shore or break the mirror. And the day trips
swing round and land where they began. But in the unquiet
morning dazzle, the dolphins arch and plunge, unannounced,
bright needles pulling threads between air
and sea. They stitch their trails round the lethal cruisers,
the crates of oil and spinning blades, come without call
or cause, go without mercy. Out of the green-black vaults
the thread leaps, wavering in unquiet light,
to tow the boats out of their channels, craw
short to shore, face to face, swimmers to gulls and sailors.


2. Ayia Sofia
And that, the Greeks tell you, is the Conqueror's black handprint,
when he rode in over the ten-foot depth
of corpses; when he leaned over, pushing
the half-globe on its axis, swinging the arrow
towards a new, south-eastern pole. The bars of light
lie angled silently, rolling against the tilted bell:
a tongue's thread cut. The foliage of immense
words painted curling and waving, unmown
green verges of a scoured field, drifts across open mouths
and scratched eyes, the layered dead
under the flaring frozen seraphs. There are no hours
to strike, no consecrating whisper to be marked, where death
so rolls and stacks its fields. Handprints of soot
inside the burnt domes of skulls; the empty segment
on the sundial, where worlds have pulled apart
and shadows stand unmoved, the clock's hands
are nailed still, the bell cracks open to a sky
of frozen stars pointed in accusation,
flaring on spikes, burning for the uncountable names
harvested by conquerors for this or that revelation's sake.


3. Phanar; the Patriarch's Cantor
Anastas. Leaning back, lifting elbows, braced,
jaw out, he curls fingers and lips, to make
his brassy diaphragm a bowl where the round gale
swings on itself, brushed the metal to a shine. Fingers
unfold into the quieter pulsing of a sandy breeze;
the drone shifts with a grind, brows are wiped,
a tired eight-year-old begins to cry, is hugged,
scolded, bundled behind the screen. The wind
starts rising once again, the couriers pick up speed
and ride into the gaping caves, the lifting wind
scrapes sandy flanks against the bowl of lung, sinus,
damp and bone. What does it carry, the straining
weight searing his arms against the stall's wood?
The creak of stones shifting on the hill; forests falling; a body,
massive, limp, released from its ropes around the mast,
struck dumb? The windy grains ringing half-audibly,
bouncing around the bowl's rim? He lifts
his palms again; welcomes the rising, the stone,
the grain, the body, the little pestle
drawn round the bronze. Anastas. Lifted. 



From Rowan Williams, The Other Mountain, 2014.






22 May 2015

In recovery: The warriors


General George Patton, Jr., 1885-1945, 
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

Here are portraits of warriors, dressed to best dramatize their authority and power. Gritti as Doge of Venice in cloth-of-gold and red velvet and ermine.  Patton in battle jacket and cavalry pants, with his ivory-handled pistols, riding crop, dispatch rider's bag, and his four stars -- two sets of two pairs of four stars. (In the portraits of General Marshall and General Eisenhower in the same room, they each only wear one pair of their five stars, but that was Patton.  A friend of my family was his chaplain when he crossed the Rhine: I grew up hero-worshipping him and kept begging for toy ivory-handled pistols only to be told that they were for boys.)

Doge Andrea Gritti, 1455-1538, 
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

In Washington, in April, the similarity between the men and the portraits struck me.  Both men are wearing old leather belts, so old and worn you can smell the sweat that soaked into them over the years and the wars.   The fancy dress does not portray the essence of the men: the belts do.




15 May 2015

Two for Cyriaco




Two documents for Cyriaco of Ancona, one new, one ignored, that contribute to his portrait.


* * * * * * * * * *

Cyriaco  is conventionally thought to have died in 1452 or 1555: I find authors fairly evenly divided on that.  I'm quite sure 1452 is wrong, as I have found the document above which certainly has him alive on 8 March 1454 when he was granted Venetian citizenship at the age of 62. This is not a very exciting or important piece of information, but it was a surprise and raises the question of why Venetian citizenship at this point?  He was 63 and had been going to Venice since he was 10.

This document is available on-line at ASV Senato Privilegi 1425-October 1560.


* * * * * * * * * *

In 1431 Francesco Filelfo, a fellow citizen of Ancona, wrote Cyriaco a letter.  Cyriaco had been studying Greek for five years or so -- we don't know what that means -- but apparently Cyriaco had written a letter in Greek to Filelfo who was teaching Greek in Florence.  To my mind, Filelfo was a bit of a charlatan, and this letter demonstrates it.  His quotation of Homer bears no resemblance to anything Homer ever wrote, thought it seems to refer to Aphrodite and Diomedes in Iliad 5.  And his compliments of Cyriaco's Greek make me wonder what the Florentines were paying to learn from him: Cyriaco's Latin was not so good, his Greek was unlikely to have been any better.  Pierre MacKay translated the letter for me.


Francesco Filelfo to Cyriaco, greetings,
I have for a long time admired your capabilities in language, and now I would have no way of doing so adequately; so much has the beauty of your letters written in Greek astonished me; it informs me vividly that you did not learn it in Constantinople but there in Athens. The grace inherent in your composition is from there. I believe that the first of the Muses, if you were to meet her in person, on experiencing and marveling at the charm of your words would utter that Homeric phrase:
Who and from where are you, where is the city that bore you, For I shall tell you that I, most distinguished of goddesses, am envious At being so utterly defeated by a mortal

Be in good health, therefore, so that you may be able to enchant us and all those others who are similarly disposed toward you with your God-given talent from the Muses. I wish for you also that you may reach the age of Nestor, since you yield in wisdom in no way whatsoever not only to our contemporaries, but even to the outstanding figures of those in the past. Stay well, shrine of the Muses, and love your Filelfo as always, who would for your sake and for the sake of all who support you, jump into the fire, metaphorically, with great eagerness.

From Florence, on the nones of March, in the year 1431 from the birth of Christ. 



This letter can be found on-line as #8 in Cent-Dix Lettres Grecques de Francois Filelfe.










08 May 2015

The wunderkammer



Wunderkammern fascinate me, so I have made my own small cabinet of small things that belong no place in particular. Small things attract other small things, so I am going to have to get another cabinet. Meanwhile, I take some out, put others in, rearranging to find ways for these small things to speak to one another.  Perhaps the main thing they have in common is that each one is small enough to be concealed in my hands

Amethyst and moonstone. 


Ghanaian goldweight snake and tourist Athenian owl.


Fox skull. 


Sixteenth-century Persian sherd.


Hummingbird nest and silkworm cocoons. 


Theo's otter. 


Miniature of a Benin leopard.  


Glass carafe stoppers and a hedgehog.


Corinthian aryballos. 


Firecrest nest, jay and flicker feathers, abalone shell.


Thirteenth-century Corinthian sherd.





03 May 2015

For Bartolomeo, with love and respect



A book on which I have been working far too long – The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio. Vol. 2: Dispacci from Candia, 1500-1502 – has just been published. To have the new book in hand is a pleasure, but this entry is late because I have not known how to bring about the end to this working companionship.  I have nothing more I can write about Bartolomeo Minio. I have not been far from tears as I have autographed books to send out, and as I have tried to write here.

 I discovered Bartolomeo Minio while looking for material on Nauplion at Dumbarton Oaks, long before I thought of graduate school. The 100 pages of his letters from Nauplion became bedtime reading off and on for years.

<They were intensely familiar, of course because of Nauplion, where my house had been attached to the wall he had built, but also because I had grown up in a colonial environment. Minio's constant fatigue and frustration at lack of adequate equipment and money, his isolation, his increasing identification with the local population, all reflected what I had absorbed in my younger years from the adults around me. I found something else, too: the sense of a desperately lonely child, so you can imagine my reaction when I found in Venice a document indicating that his father had remarried when he was two and a half years old. 

He was the youngest child in his family, born in about 1428 and named for his mother's father, and was the only one of his brothers to marry.  His wife was Elena Trevisan. This was normal Venetian practice, and his third son, Francesco, was the only one of his sons to marry.  His oldest son, Marco (born about 1460) , became a prominent Venetian ambassador to the Vatican and Constantinople, and was elected Doge of Crete.  Little is recorded about the second, Alvise (born a year later). There may have been children who did not live. The youngest, Francesco, was born in 1483/4, nine months after Minio returned from his assignment in Nauplion.  Francesco made a fortune in shipping and the transport of pilgrims to the Holy Land, and his wills record a number of houses, including the pretty Ca' da Madoneta on the Rio da Frescada near S. Toma.  The family were all buried at the Franciscan church of S. Francesco dalle Vigne: in several searches I failed to find any tombstones in the hundreds there.


My PhD dissertation was on his letters from Nauplion.  Hans Theunissen from Utrecht published it in his on-line monograph series in EJOS.  One of my dissertation readers, John Melville-Jones from Perth, suggested a published edition of the letters which are preserved in a Minio family copy (written in four different hands, including Bartolomeo's) in the Correr Library in Venice. We published the letters from Nauplion in 2008, and then set to working on another set of his letters, a Minio family copy (by his son Marco) in the Correr, from Candia. This is a total of more than 150 letters written by one man, a very rare inheritance.  

Minio was clearly lonely in Nauplion -- there were probably no patricians there, and I suspect he was acutely class-conscious where Venetians were concerned.  His letters and reports rarely received a response, and supplies were rarely and inadequately sent.  He developed a few very close and protective relationships -- his secretary Eustacio; Antonio Marinato, an Italian commander of foot soldiers, who may have been a part-time pirate, and was kidnapped and sold into slavery; his wife's brother, Piero Trevisan, who commanded a galley occasionally sent to Nauplion; an Ottoman governor who shared all the same problems, and who let him in on a plot to overthrow Mehmed.  

He was a tense man, with neck cramps and migraines.  He had a strong sense of fairness and justice, and though he insisted on following instructions to the letter, he received tremendous loyalty from the Greek and Albanian stratioti, and from the Greek townspeople of Nauplion. He wrote once, in great distress, that he had had to used forced labor at Nauplion for work on the walls.  It was, he said, a hardship for "these poor people," but "I worked with them in person." The Greeks remembered that, and a chronicle records:
At that time, the governor of the place, that is, the Venetian, with all the people of Nauplion, did all the building, and built the walls around, just as they appear today . . . and the governor of the place, the Venetian, gave benefits and many gifts.

Minio died in 1515, in his late 80s.  His failing health is mentioned in several entries in Sanudo's Diarii.  He should have died several other times that we know of: from malaria in Nauplion, from camp fever in the Ferrara war, from pirates in the Bay of Biscay, from pirates off Cyprus, from pneumonia in Crete. In his mid-70s he wrote with pride of his good eyesight, and then rode the length and width of Crete to inspect its fortresses. He was a survivor and a fighter, though I suspect he absolutely hated fighting. Not because of any pacifist leanings, but because it was an indication of disorder, and he did value order above all.

He has been a good companion. I hope he would have liked my work.



The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio. Vol. 2: Dispacci from Candia, 1500-1502. Diana Gilliland Wright & John Melville-Jones. Padua: Unipress, 2015.  Orders here.  

Map by Ioannis Xenodochos, Corfu, 1520.