27 May 2010

Nauplion: The Little Churches

This woodcut of Nauplion was published in 1686 with the Venetian reoccupation of Nauplion, and although it was based on an image made at least 150 years earlier it has added new detail. Where its original had a sparsely occupied city, this shows the lower city of Nauplion crowded with houses and churches, some with the familiar little Argolid domes. It nicely illustrates what Bernard Randolph, who published in 1689, said of Nauplion: "the houses stand thick and very full of People." It was the largest city in the Morea then.

In 1696 and 1700, the Venetians listed the churches they found, 26 on one list and 25 on the other. The author from whom I took the lists printed one list in Italian and one in Greek translation: I have used both sets of names and I have marked on the table below with an X the names I can identify on both lists. 

There are 20 names of churches inside the walls of Nauplion and 6 outside.  Most of these churches will have been small family donations, used only on their feastdays.  Several churches have multiple names: these are identifiably Latin churches with the names of the saints to whom the various altars are dedicated.  Another Venetian list says there are 5 Latin churches, but these lists have more than five.  The author from whom I am drawing is not reliable about giving dates, so it is quite likely that some of the churches evolved after the 5-church list.
Some of the churches are reported as owning vines or olive trees: most are listed with a number of houses and residents, which indicates a neighborhood or parish.  These numbers are given below. But more important, we can read a great deal of instability in the view of Nauplion that emerges from the lists.

The lists show a total of 795 houses, with 3,484 residents.  However, a large number counted as residents are oarsmen from the fleet -- kept there for construction work on the walls, armory, gate, and imperial staircase, and we do not know how many ships of the fleet were stationed there at the time.  Each had easily 200 oarsmen, so the influx or departure of so many males from, say 3 or 4 ships would have a large effect on such a small community.  The community of Ag. Sotiros is almost solidly a near-slum of oarsmen and immigrants.

Another example is the case of the Madonna of Vatopedi where the neighborhood is solidly Athenian.  After the Venetians under Morosini took Nauplion in 1686, they went on to Athens where they smashed the Parthenon.  Once it was decided that Athens would be too difficult to hold, as of 1688, they offered to transport to the Morea any Athenians who wanted to go.  Simultaneously, they evicted Moreote Turks from their homes, transported them to the beach at Faleron and abandoned them.  Abruptly Nauplion found itself burdened with Athenian refugees, increasing its population by nearly a third.
It looks as if the better-off moved into the 50-some houses in the emptied-out Turkish neighborhood, took over a church, and settled in.  Many more lived in shacks outside the walls, as you can see with the Anargiri and Ogni Santi, and in the cells at the Metamorphosis.  Two churches are associated with Russians. I have no idea what the Russians were doing in Nauplion at that date.  The conquering army had large contingents of Slavs, Croatians, and Scandinavians: possibly it had Russians, too.

The Beata Virgine Tragella with 2 noblemen's houses intrigues me.  Tragella is a family name so perhaps one of those houses was a Tragella house?  I suspect, because of the grander houses, it is located to the west end of the city, near the Amfitryon Hotel, where we do find most of the larger Venetian houses of the period.  On the other hand, B. V. Tragella has an altar dedicated to S. Antonio, and I find elsewhere that the Franciscans were given  the little mosque on the plateia the (used for a cinema) which they dedicated to S. Antonio.  S. Antonio does not otherwise turn up on the list and it is possible that the Franciscans moved in after the list was made.
I have put in bold lettering the names of the churches I can surely identify with present-day churches.  It will be noticed that there is no Ag. Sophia: the one surviving Byzantine church is now called Ag. Sophia but what its name is on these lists is anyone's guess.  I am unsure as to which church is the present Panagia, a 15th century church completely rebuilt in this period.  The present Ag. Nikolaos was apparently built after the lists and replaced either of two churches called S. Nicolò on the list.  Panagia and Ag. Nikolaos both have typically Italian flat coffered wood ceilings. When Bartolomeo Minio was building the city wall in 1480, he referred more than once to S. Nicolò on the edge of the marsh. The 1713 inscription from the "new" construction is reportedly kept in the museum. The present facade is much later and the bell tower is modern.  There was a second S. Nicolò nearby on the beach at Karathona, built out of profits from the wine trade and probably a 15thC church which may be included here.

An Ag. Spyridon is listed. The present church was built in 1702 by a confraternity,  ἀδελφότητος on the surviving inscription. Because the lists are from 1696 and 1700, there probably was a smaller, older one.  It is odd to think of Naupliots building a church to Ag. Spyridon anyway: he is a Corfiot saint, but a number of Corfiots could have been living there as merchants, or, more likely, recently arrived with the new Venetian occupations.  This is supported by another list that considers 267 of the 278 residents of the Ag. Spyridon district as foreigners. Ag. Spyridon is -- you will not be surprised to learn -- in the heart of a Turkish neighborhood of large houses.

The little Panagitsa, muse for so many bad Nauplion poems, was then known as the Madonna of the Golden Spring at the Lazareto, which means that the backpackers I remember from 30+ years ago were camping out where Nauplion's contagious used to live.

If you consider the number of churches in the old city of Nauplion now, the number of 25-26 is quite remarkable.  I can think of 9, though only 4 are used regularly   -- Panagia, Ag. Nikolaos, Ag. Spyridon, Ag. Giorgios, Ag Sophia (nearly always closed), chapels of the Archangel Michael & Ag. Paraskevi, Panagitsa, and a cave church by the elevator to Akro-Nauplion, always locked shut and whose name I think is Ag. Apostoli -- Ogni Santi on this list.  I have never found it unlocked there is nearly always a burning lamp inside. [Note: none of these churches looked in 1696 like they do in these pictures.]

The sakalarios signed a document with his title -- unfortunately, not with his name --  in 1679, before the Venetians arrived, being one of those responsible for the finances of the Agia Moni,  He is identified as being 'of Nauplion,' not resident in the monastery.

Churches inside the city vines/olives owned houses
S. Demetrio
[probably outside city]

13 x
S. Zorzi 
[probably outside city]

S. Nicolò a Xerombalo 0/24 47 x
Sta Maria

B. V. (Blessed Virgin, Beata Virgine) Mazzucato (Ματζουκάτου)  [a family of that name here in 1480] 8/0 27 x
S. Zuanne del Sachelario (treasurer) & SS. Adriano, Bernardo, Zorzi 4/32 37
S. Arcangeli / 
Ασώματι Αρφανού
0/9 17
S. Salvador

B.V. Tragella & SS. Teodori, Antonio, Michael

0/34 39 & 2 noblemen’s houses x
Sta. Anastasia 0/20 41 x
B.V. della Comunità & S. Michael

S. Nicolò & S. Trinità 0/20

Madona Ghrisopigi à Lazareto

S. Spiridon

S.i Teodori e la B. V. Pletori (marketplace)
Ogni Santi
 [the cave church by the elevator to Akro-Nauplion]
0/13 52 & 11 houses of Russians
Redentor e S. Michael 14/0

BV la Madonna di Vatopedi 20/41 53 [mostly Athenians] x
S. Salvador e BV, 
papà Conomo

Chiesa Catedrale, S. Nicolò, S. Pantaleon
[called S. Athanasio in 1500]
0/7 26 x
Αγ. Μαρίνα

Παναγία Ορφανή

Παναγία και Σωτήρας
Σωτήρα και Ασωματος
51 [mostly little houses and shacks of Westerns, Russians, and oarsmen from the fleet]
Παναγία Ορφανή

Παναγία της Κουμουνιτάς
Αγ. Νικόλαος Παπακόνδη
Athenians living in the monastic cells

Churches outside the city

S.i Anargiri, S. Zorzi
32 [refugees from Athens] x
Ogni Santi
[possibly this one out where the cemetery is]

46 [immigrants] x
S. Zorzi στὸ ζευγολατιό Οχμετάνι [a private church on a large landholding]
19 [Albanians] x
VB del Vurducha
Γενέσιο Θεοτόκου του παπά Βουρδούχα
1 12 x
Αγ. Γεώργιος 3 95 [foreigners]
S.a Veneranda
[Αγ. Παρασκευή στη σπηλιά?] [the road going out from the main gate was called the strada S.a Veneranda in 1500]
1 1 nun x

 Of course, further information on any or all of this is most welcome.  

The information here is taken from Ευτυχια Δ. Λιατα, Το Ναυπλιον και η Ενδοχωρα του απο τον 17ο στον 18ο αι (Αθηνα, 2002) which analyzes the Venetian statistics.  The Greek names of churches are by Liata: the Venetians gave Greek churches the equivalent Italian names and dis not identify to which confession they belong.

20 May 2010

Prayer for the Beloved City

Aeschylus, the choruses from Eumenides 921-2001 in an unidentified modern Greek translation; in English, Richmond Lattimore with small modifications; original Greek.

. . . Έτσι προφητεύω και εύχομαι.
Ζωοδότης ο Ήλιος, να δίνει στη γη ν' αναβλύζουν αγαθά και χαρές ατελείωτα.
. . .
Χιονιάς να μη φυσήξει δεντροξηραντής - ευχή και έργο κάνω - ούτε λίβας που τα μάτια τυφλώνει των φυτών να μην περάσει προς τα δω. Κι αρρώστια των καλών καρπών να μην πέσει εδώ ποτέ. Ο Πάνας να βοσκά κοπάδια καλόγεννα και να δοξάζουν τους θεούς τα πλούτη της θείας ετούτης γης.
 . . .

Και τον άγουρο των παλικαριών το χαλασμό ξορκίζω. Μοίρες, σεις που ορίζετε,
- θεές και αδερφές μου - στις κοπέλας τις καλές δώστε να καλοπαντρευτούν,
που μπαίνετε στα σπιτικά και κάθε ώρα βρίσκεται ο ίσκιος σας παντού ο πολυτιμημένος.
. . .
Των συμφορών η Διχόνοια, εγώ η εύχομαι, ποτέ να μην ξεσπάσει στην πόλη. Μήτε εμφύλιο αίμα οργής να πιεί η γη. Και να ζητά για το χυμένο αίμα άλλο αίμα.
Τη χαρά ν' ανταποδίδουν αδερφωμένοι οι πολίτες κι από κοινού ν' αποφασίζουν.
Η συμφωνία σώζει απ' το κακό τους ανθρώπους.
 . . .

Χαίρετε και να ζείτε τις χαρές του πλούτου.
Χαίρετε πολίτες, αγαπημένοι του Δία, αγαπημένοι της αγαπητής Παλλάδας.
Και πάντα να δείχνετε φρόνηση. Όποιους προστατεύει η Παλλάδα, ο Δίας τους νοιάζεται.

So with promise of good
I speak this prayer for them
that the sun's bright magnificence shall break out wave
on wave of all the happiness
life can give, across their land
. . .
Let there blow no wind that wrecks the trees.
I pronounce words of grace.
Nor blaze of heat blind the blossoms of grown plants, nor
cross the circles of its right
place. Let no barren deadly sickness creep and kill.
Flocks fatten. Earth be kind
to them, with double fold of fruit
in time appointed for its yielding. Secret child
of dearth, the hidden wealth, bestow
blessing and surprise of gods.
. . .
Death of manhood cut down
before its prime I forbid:
girls' grace and glory find
men to live life with them.
Grant, you who have the power.
And o, steering spirits of law,
goddesses of destiny,
sisters from my mother, hear;
in all houses implicate,
in all time heavy of hand
on whom your just arrest befalls,
august among goddesses, bestow.
. . .
This my prayer: Civil War
fattening on men's ruin shall
not thunder in our city. Let
not the dry dust that drinks
the black blood of citizens
through passion for revenge
and bloodshed for bloodshed
be given our state to prey upon.
Let them render grace for grace,
Let love be their common will;
let them hate with single heart.
Much wrong in the world thereby is healed.
. . .
Xairete, xairete. High destiny shall be yours
by right. Farewell, citizens
seated near the throne of Zeus,
beloved by the maiden he loves,
civilized as years go by,
sheltered under Athene's wings,
grand in her father's sight.

ἇι τ’ ἐγὼ κατεύχομαι
θεσπίσασα πρευμενῶς
ἐπισσύτους βίου τύχας ὀνησίμους 
γαίας ἐξαμβρῦσαι 
φαιδρὸν ἁλίου σέλας.
. . .
 δενδροπήμων δὲ μὴ πνέοι βλάβα,    
τὰν ἐμὰν χάριν λέγω, 
φλογμοὺς ὀμματοστερεῖς φυτῶν 
τὸ μὴ περᾶν ὅρον τόπων, 
μηδ’ ἄκαρπος αἰα-
νὴς ἐφερπέτω νόσος,
μῆλά τ’ εὐθενοῦντα Πὰν
ξὺν διπλοῖσιν ἐμβρύοις
τρέφοι χρόνωι τεταγμένωι· γόνος 
πλουτόχθων ἑρμαίαν
δαιμόνων δόσιν τίοι.
. . .
ἀνδροκμῆτας δ’ ἀώ-     
ρους ἀπεννέπω τύχας·
νεανίδων δ’ ἐπηράτων 
ἀνδροτυχεῖς βιότους δότε, κύρι’ ἔχοντες, 
θεαί τ’, ὦ Μοῖραι
δαίμονες ὀρθονόμοι,
παντὶ δόμωι μετάκοινοι,
παντὶ χρόνωι δ’ ἐπιβριθεῖς, 
ἐνδίκοις ὁμιλίαις
πάνται τιμιώταται θεῶν.
 . . .
τὰν δ’ ἄπληστον κακῶν     
μήποτ’ ἐν πόλει Στάσιν
τᾶιδ’ ἐπεύχομαι βρέμειν, 
μηδὲ πιοῦσα κόνις μέλαν αἷμα πολιτᾶν 
δι’ ὀργὰν ποινὰς
ἀντιφόνους Ἄτας
ἁρπαλίσαι πόλεως,
χάρματα δ’ ἀντιδιδοῖεν
κοινοφιλεῖ διανοίαι 
καὶ στυγεῖν μιᾶι φρενί·
πολλῶν γὰρ τόδ’ ἐν βροτοῖς ἄκος.
 . . .
 <χαίρετε> χαίρετ’ ἐν αἰσιμίαισι πλούτου,   
ἴκταρ ἥμενοι Διὸς
παρθένου φίλας φίλοι,
σωφρονοῦντες ἐν χρόνωι· 
Παλλάδος δ’ ὑπὸ πτεροῖς
ὄντας ἅζεται πατήρ·

14 May 2010

Archons: Demetrios Laskaris Asan of Mouchli


This court official of Mistra  is standing in for Demetrios Laskaris Asan.  He was known to the Venetians in Nauplion and Argos as Demetrios Laskaris, and to the Greeks as Demetrios Asan, and it has taken a while to figure out that they were the same person.  Demetrios was the kefali, or governor of Mouchli, one of the Byzantine border fortresses, and he was not one of the glories of Byzantium.
Mouchli is this great bald peak, to the left of the highway from Myloi to Tripolis, just at the point where you begin to come down out of the mountain curves.  It has the same configuration as the peaks of Mistra and Karitena, and it is completely isolated from the mountains that chain down from west of Argos.

Mehmed II did not take Mouchli by blocking an aqueduct, as Kritoboulos claimed, because there is no place from which an aqueduct could have brought water to Mouchli. [Late correction: not Kritoboulos: Chalcocondylos.] There are still springs on the hillside, and they and cisterns would have been adequate for a city that probably never held even 2000 people.  Mehmed took Mouchli by a simple surrender from Demetrios Laskaris Asan because six years earlier he had already pledged his loyalty to Mehmed.  

Little is left of Mouchli now -- this photo shows the most interesting remains, though there are considerable traces of walls made from the local stone and the same color -- but there was never much of Mouchli.  Twenty-five years ago you could still find traces of a fresco on a wall fragment of what is called the Mouchliotissa, a church of the Virgin.

Like Mistra, Mouchli was a new city, founded for its defensive site at the end of a major mountain pass.  It was built by Andronikos Asan, Byzantine governor of the Morea between 1316 and 1322.  He was the son of Tsar Ivan IV of Bulgaria and Eirene Palaiologos, sister of Andronikos II who appointed him to the job.  Asan's daughter Eirene married John VI Kantakouzenos, whose daughter Helena married John V Palaiologos, which makes Andronikos Asan the great-grandfather of Manuel II and Theodoros I Palaiologos. From then until the final surrenders to Mehmed in 1460, Asans married Palaiologoi and held governorships.

It is difficult to think what would have supported the city of Mouchli, other than sheep and goats, and high-level brigandage --  waylaying travelers and merchants from Venetian Argos and Nauplion, raiding the Argolid.  We have evidence for both.  Last spring the apple trees were blooming across the hillside, and there is a nearby town named for pear trees, but fruit cannot have contributed much to the economy.  

Demetrios Laskaris Asan was a difficult person.  Anonymous of Nauplion went to him in 1449 to complain about Mouchli Albanians rustling his animals at the Fair of Ag. Demetrios, and Asan's response was to imprison and torture him for two months, before sending him home.  (Another Asan at Mouchli did this to Nicolò Catello of Nauplion in 1399 when he went to clarify a financial matter.  The Venetian governor had to write to the Despot, Theodoros I, to get him freed.)

The Venetian community of Argos wrote a complaint to the Signoria of Venice about Asan, about what happened at the same Fair of Ag. Demetrios that Anonymous attended:
Also, about the Albanians who live in the territory of Your Excellent Signoria -- [Demetrios Laskaris Asan] orders them about and attacks and beats them, and takes them by force and imprisons them, and judges them in his way and says that they are his and not the Signoria's.

And he makes the Chief of the Albanian catuna pay 1 gold ducat for each hearth, for some two ducats, and for some three according to the families that he has. The said Chief is called the primicerio, and if he doesn't pay immediately, his cow or horse or sheep is taken, and he is put in prison. Because of this they ask the favor that they be protected so that they want to be under Your Signoria rather than under Greeks. La chiefali of Mouchli is named Dimitri Laskaris.

He came to trade at the Fair of S. Francesco at Kiveri, that was last Saturday and that he should favor our journey, for we wanted to go to Venetian territory for the one at Nauplion since I trade with him. And the Sunday of which Dimitri was at the fair we were making our way between Argos and Kiveri. He dashed past the toll post, and we were surrounded, and we were seized and we were unhorsed and were taken with an Albanian from Argos who came with us to bring the horses back.

And he strikes to the ground and inflicted much dishonor on Messer the Rettor [Perigrino Venerio di Bernardo], and has horses given to us, pretends to let us go on our way, and he sends a man to say that we would be held in Mouchli. And because of that Messer the Rettor sends the horseman to see what was going to happen to us, and thus he was held as well. And he has the horse of Messer the Rettor taken -- the poor young man went on foot -- as far as Argos, where he ate, and ordered taken the pigs of the brother of the Albanian whom he had in prison. And he sent the Albanian to take the horse of the priest-teacher and [he said] “Give it to me and then I will give you your pigs!”

Answer. We are writing the Lord Despot Demetrios [Palaiologos at Mistra] in the usual form to satisfy custom that he should see that similar incidents do not occur.
This is only part of a fascinating document, and it gives us a lot of subsidiary information, such as the fact that there was a Franciscan monastery at Kiveri [now Myloi], and that pigs were raised in the territory.  But this makes two serious incidents -- the Anonymous affair, and this last, really a cluster of incidents -- involving Demetrios Laskaris Asan of Mouchli and the Fair of Ag. Demetrios of 1449, and we have no reason to think he was any worse than a number of other archons of the Morea.  People who lament the fall of Byzantium might bear in mind that the archon business was a very large proportion of that civilization for all of its thousand years, in Asia Minor and in Greece.

Demetrios Laskaris Asan was acquired by Mehmed at the surrender of Mouchli in 1460, and then was the intermediary who arranged for the surrender of Demetrios Palaiologos, Despot of the Morea, and Mistra on 29 May. [Late correction: Mouchli was surrendered in 1458, and it was Mathaios Asan of Corinth who dealt with his brother-in-law, Demetrios Palaiologos, on Mistra.] He would have accompanied Mehmed when he returned to Constantinople.  It was Mehmed's practice to keep the nobles of conquered lands close to him so he could keep an eye on them, occasionally putting them in governing positions in other territories with other languages.  But we don't know what happened to him after 29 May 1460. [Correction: after the summer of 1458.]

This last dramatic view shows what Anonymous and the assorted prisoners and merchants saw as they looked to Nauplion beyond the distant mountains, with Mouchli on the right. 

06 May 2010

Pavane for a Dead Princess: Part Five

This image will represent Cleofe Malatesta.  It is painted on the wall of the throne room in her sister, Paola's palace in Mantua, and its features strongly resemble features in the portraits of her brother, Carlo, and Paola, below.   Compare the nose, chin, supraorbital arch. It is true that I once used another image of the same woman for Maria of Trebizond, but that was because I accepted the pronouncement of an Important Art Historian. We were wrong. 
I have written here on Sophia of Montferrat and how men talked about her face.  This entry is on how men talked about Cleofe's clothes.  Cleofe was an Italian woman of the early Renaissance, and brought with her to Greece manners and dress quite different from what was assumed appropriate for Greek women.  Certainly, her dress made more of her visible than Greek dress would have.  This is the sort of thing Cleofe may have worn on a formal occasion:

While this is what a woman of her class would have been expected to wear at Mistra, except for full-press court occasions.  You can see that the difference would have been noticed:


A year and a half before Cleofe arrived in Greece, Theodoros wrote the pope that she would be able to keep her Italian customs, and her religion.  She arrived in the fall of 1420 and the wedding was 19 January 1421.  Then she disappears from written records for six years, except for the information in Paola's account books that she was sending Cleofe an annual gift of Mantuan cheese.   

Six years later, in February 1427, Battista, their sister-in-law, wrote Paola that Cleofe was dressing as a nun.  This was a great shame. A fabric specialist  who worked on fabrics found in a Mistra grave wrote: "Most Byzantine fabrics are dense and relatively thick; it seems that the criteria of lightness and suppleness were not prevalent in Byzantium."

A mutual friend who had visited Cleofe reported that she said, "I have not become a nun because I was anointed with a little oil."  Far from it.  She had now achieved the status she should have had six years earlier, but only now did she tell her family that at the time of the marriage, Theodoros had announced that he would live with her for six years, only, without sex.  

At the end of the six years, before they knew this, there were worried letters from the family to the Pope fearing Theodoros would abandon her.  Then the next month there was the letter about dressing like a nun.  It does look as if, for his own complex reasons which he probably did not understand, Theodoros offered her a real, sexual marriage, in exchange for conversion to Orthodoxy and a change of dress.  A year later, in early 1428, there was a baby girl, and in April 1433 she died in giving birth to a son. 
That would be it, except that at the memorial service, the Mistra men talked about her clothes.  Plethon, who was for inexplicable reasons considered to be a great philosopher, spoke first.  He assured Theodoros that he could believe in the immortality of the soul because horses do not commit suicide. Then he complimented Cleofe's "sober prudence in putting off her leisurely ways and taking up the decorous restraint of our women."  He also commended her fasting. It is difficult for a modern, Western women not to think that he was pleased to think of the erasure of her body.

The next speaker was her doctor, Demetrios Pepagomenos.   He responded to Plethon, speaking obliquely, but disagreeing at length about clothes, and lamented

her youth, in which she had such grace, [and] the beauty, which has not been concealed, as might have been proper, but in a cruel way. . . . The wearing of clothes outside our habits of dress, beyond our temperament and sense of what, so to speak, is naturally required, was a matter of her unmaterial and spiritual nature. [Look at the untidy hair and imperfect posture in the top picture.] . . .  Not that there might ever be perfection more perfect than perfection, or that clothing will change character, but nonetheless, there was some length of time before the end, when, unless she was constrained by official ceremonies, she wore the fashion of those who live monastically (μονάζουσι) so that what was earlier unappreciated by outsiders, was now obvious to all.

In 1955,  a few fragments of the body of a young woman were found in a grave in the palace chapel of Mistra.  Among them were bits of fabrics from two gowns, with enough stitching in place to make the style of dress clear.  The outer gown was of a silk Italian brocade with a top styled like this: 
This V-necked gown was worn over a sheer silk gown very like the gown the Cleofe-stand-in  is wearing here.  The fabric expert noted how very soft and light these tomb fabrics were. 

The speaker after Pepagomenos was Nikeforas Cheilas.  He blasted Plethon's ego and then accused Pepagomenos of killing his patient.  He went on to describe Cleofe's death as being like "like the falling and shattering of a precious crystal." Going beyond clothing, he said:
Gone is the shrine of all virtues and graces, the most holy queen, the rainbow shining brilliantly in the beauty of her body, flashing out more intensely than any statue or image . . . [she] enjoyed a sort of splendor and radiance . . .