03 August 2012

Stratioti Faces

Soldiers in the Panagia, at Skafi-Prodromi, Crete.
John Pagomenos, 1347.

When Piero Brunoro of San Vidal died in Negroponte in 1461, his company of 42 chavalli and 500 fanti had to be dispersed. Some were merged into other companies, some were discharged. The records of the fanti and stratioti discharged -- 176 of them, a few noted as morto or fuzì -- give a remarkable sense of the international quality of these military companies and, more important, an impression of what these men looked like. They come from all over Italy, Greece and the islands, the Balkans, and across Europe. The injuries and scars are striking, and the descriptions, overall, reflect difficult lives.  

 - Batista da Padoa, de Antonio; short, black eyes, pale, broken nose, scar on right temple.
- Rugier de Burgos, de Diego; ruddy complexion, tall, smallpox scars, 38.
- Zuan de Petra Santa, de Nicollo; young, pale grey eyes, scar between eyebrows.
- Piero del’Arta, de Nicollo; 34, short, mole under the ear; caporal.
- Stefano de Bosnia, de Zorzi; 32; black eyes; wart under right eye.
- Zuan de Belgrado, de Mirislan; blond, pale grey eyes; scar under left eye; 30.
- Zan da Modon, condan * Zorzi; young; short; thin; little beard; scar on right side under lower lip.
- Cazavillan da Zara, condam Lucha; 34; thin; red; scar on right forehead.
- Andrea dele Spezie, di Bertino; scars around eyebrows over nose; servant of Piero Venier.
- Stefano de Narenta, de Zorzi; pale; thin; short; black eyes; servant of Marioto.
- Nicollo da Corfù, de Piero; young, smallpox scars; brown hair; scar on forehead; servant of Greguol da Padua.
- Anton da Rodi, de Marcho; young; brown hair; black eyes; scar on right hand; servant of Zan da Chiarenza
- Zuan de Salonikchi, condan Xeno; 18; brown hair; pale grey eyes; hand covered with scars; servant of Piero da Vinexia.
- Piero Frezer de Napoli di Romania, condan Marco; 36; thin; scar in middle of forehead.

Two entries in the original spelling from the list above:
 - Piero del'Arta, de Nicollo; anni 34; basso; ja. mora soto l'arechia; caporal.

 - Rugier de Burgos, di Diego; rosso, longo, varoloso; anni 38.

The condotta for a band of 31 Albanians included with these does not give descriptions, and is much less carefully detailed, but it lets us know that the band under a capo of stratioti implied the men of the catuna under his authority. A condotta was written for a certain number of men, and if some were hired, others had to be discharged, as this shows:

- Gini Canessi, capo
- Musachi Canessi, his son
- Georgi Canessi, his son
- Dimitri Canessi, enrolled in place of Martino Marcho (discharged).
- Georgi Zanrandino, entolled in place of Laxaro Marcho (discharged).
- Dimitri Marcho (dead)
- Gini Marcho (dead)

Thirty-one men are listed in Gini Canessi's company. They remained in Negroponte for nearly nine years. Twenty-six of Gini Canessi's relatives were killed in Negroponte's defense. The next year he was at Nauplion, leading a band of 25, continuing the war. He was to have a provision of 5 ducats a month (which meant 50 a year, quite decent if actually paid) and was given a present of 25 lire, about 10 ducats.  

* condam = quondam = "son of the late" . . ..

This material is taken from C. Capizzi, "Un documento ineditor sulla guarnigione veneziana di Negroponte," Rivista di Studi Byzantini e Neoellenici 12-13 (1975-1976) 35-108.

1 comment:

  1. The name Canessi is obviously the well known Casnessi. A Gini and a Zorzi appear in Sathas, VIII, p. 353 (Cyprus 1541). The Zanrandino must be Zavrandino. The name is attested in Zakynthos since 1533 and one of them was in the compagnia of D. Palaiologos on 1st January 1539 (1540?), L. Zoes, Lexicon, V. 1, p.618.

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