30 April 2013

Mapping the territory, Part One

Detail from 17thC icon of Ag. Menas

Istituto Ellenico, Venice

In March 1489, Petro Charzia, Antonio Varda, and Zuan Palamida, all of Meronada, (perhaps not the three men in the icon above) made a description of the lands and landholders of the casali of Sisani and Nicolizi. The men are identified as vetrani, veterans or respected older residents who can remember land over time. The sites of Meronada, Sisani, and Nicolizi are unknown to me, but because of the mention of the casal of Griso, I am envisioning the general area as west of Koroni (there was a Grisi about where the Grizokampos that I find on GoogleMaps is now).  

Dimitri Cutrulli, the captain of Meronada, brought them their orders for the survey from the "magnificent and generous rettori and most worthy provedditori" of Koroni, that is, from Antonio Venier and Domenico Bembo, and Ianni Stachlo wrote down the legal recordIt is probably not essential to remember these names: it is essential to remember that we have this fragment of witness to their existence and their work.

There are several definitions of casali: think of them as small clusters of houses of people who are mostly paroikoi.  Small, because of needing not to walk too far to work the land. Casali are often named for, say, the head of the family.  Nicolizi may have been named for the stasio** of papa Theodoro Nicolizi who is now dead and whose property is in the hands of Marco Gambrullia.
The first lines give the main landholders.  Marco and Theofilato Gambrullia and Nicola Roditi are the largest, each owing 35 perperi a year.* After them are Anastassi Chithirioti for 11 perperi,  Anastassi Stassopulo for 10 perperi, and Papa Nichita Stassopulo for 15 perperi. Nothing in the list tells us how much land they had, but most of the other properties are located in relation to those of the top five.

The list is not perfectly made, and it is sometimes difficult to identify owners, but we have a detailed description of the countryside and an extraordinary number of place-names. When it lists adjacent landholdings, it tends to list them in the order of E, W, N, S. I imagine a surveyor with good aerial maps and software could make up a map recognizable to the landholders.   Here are some sample entries:

* Anastassi Stassopulo owes for his vineyard at the place called Astavara 1/2 measure of must.  The vineyard borders on a mountain on the east, on the west it borders with Nicola da Ceria, on the north it borders on the public road, on the south it borders on the public road.

* The lake where they wash the linen, called Linovrochio.  After this lake is a place called Santa Barbara.  He pays every year 6 perperi

* A field after Santa Barbara, Stamati Castriti holds one mozada that borders on the east with Papa Nichita Stassopulo, on the west with the public road, on the north with Dimitri Condo, on the south with the field of the Signoria, which Papa Nichita holds as abandoned land of Patea . . . [someone] owes 10 perperi.

* At Linovrochio, a field of 6 octave.  On the east it borders with Papa Nichita, on the north with Petrochili, on the south with Stamati Castriti's woodland and grazing lands.

* At Loganito a field of 1 octava.  It borders with Zorzi Deneto, that is with his olives.

* At S. Herini, a field of 1 1/2 mozada.  It borders on the east with the ruined houses of the late Cardolemi, on the west with the well of Loganito.

* At Frangata, olives and a field of 5 octave.  On the east it borders with the field of the church, on the west with Xeropotamo, on the south with the public road. 

To be continued with a second document, this listing the property of one individual.

* Based on the monetary equivalents Bartolomeo Minio gave 8 years earlier: 1 ducat was the equivalent of 13 perperi & 10 soldi di tornese, while 20 soldi equalled 1 perpero.

** Stasio = the holding of a paroikos, usually a house and nearby land. 
* * * * * * * * *
I am indebted to Konstantina Papakosma for these documents, which I am glad to make available to anyone else.  The originals are found in the Venetian archives, ASVe, Avogaria di Commun, Miscellanea Civil, b. 145, f. 17 et seq.

I would be indebted to anyone who could tell me about octave and mozade.


  1. Dear Diana,

    First of all, congratulations for the blog! It has been - and still is - a very enlightening read. I have some insight to offer which might be helpful to your research.
    Sisani could be modern Zizani (Zizanio on Google Maps) situated in the vicinity Grizokampos, near Kaplani. Nicolizi is, most probably, rendered as Nikolitsi now although this name is probably absent from official maps due to the place-name changes of the early 20th century. For example, Grizi is now officially called Akritochori. All the old names survive in the local oral speech but I speculate they'll die out in a generation or so.



  2. This is so terrific! Thank you.


I will not publish Anonymous comments.