07 May 2013

Mapping the territory, Part Two

Detached fresco, Berroia, Ag. Photida
Late 14th-early 15thC.

In March 1489, Ianni Dilalo, Vasili Pullisiano, and Nicola Capsocollo were directed by Antonio Venier and Dominico Bembo, the "magnificent and generous rettori and most worthy provedditori" of Koroni, to make a survey of the property held by Nicola Xachili that had formerly belonged to the late ser Farante Suppin. Dimitri Cutrulli, the captain of Meronada, brought them their orders and papa Dimitri Calamara wrote down the legal record.  This was part of the same survey that was discussed last week.

Nicola Xachili (that Venetian X can be pronounced as a Z or an S or an H) held land at Milopotamia -- notice the mills mentioned.  He was one of the larger landholders, owing 28 perperi* a year.  This is what he owned -- notice that single trees are counted.

*A free tavern, bordered by the public road and the mill of Calamara.

*A garden, one
octava: it has 3 orange trees and 1 walnut.

*On the west a garden, one
octava: it has 4 orange trees.  It borders with the garden of Calamara, and with the garden of ser Gilio Defrancheschi, and with the mill of the signoria, which borders on the public road and is held by the said Nicola Xachili.**

*A vineyard, worked by 1/2 man, produces annually 4 measures of must. It borders on the east with the field of Dimitri Palamida, on the west with the garden of
ser Theofilato Cocalla, on the north with the public road, on the south with the garden of the late Zorzi Chalifa.

* A little garden, one
octava. It has 7 orange trees, 3 fig trees, 1 cherry tree, 1 pomegranate, and 1 walnut. It borders on the east with the public road, on the west with the field of ser Theofilato Cocalla, on the north half with the mill of the signoria, and the other half with the mill and property of Nicodimo, and that mill borders on the public road and on the north with the field of Colafti.

* A field of one mozada. It has 6 olive trees, 3 orange trees, 1 walnut tree, and 6 fig trees.  It borders on the east with the watercourse for the mill, on the west with the field of
ser Theofilato Cocalla, on the north with Colafti, on the south with the said ser Theofilato.

* * * * * *

It is striking to find cherry and walnut trees so far south.  Both this document and the one from last week suggest that land was held  in very small parcels.

Again, I would be grateful if someone could tell me how much land was contained in a mozada and an octava.

* 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.

** The mill belongs to the Venetian administration.  Xachili pays an annual rent for it and is then free to charge customers what he can get.

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.


  1. I will put my comments for both posts here:

    I assume that perperi are morean perperi (= 20 soldi di piccoli and 240 piccoli), whose name derives from the byzantine hyperpyron, to which it was valued at 21/4.

    I also assume that the original text is written in Venetian, not Greek, and that papa Dimitri Calamara was a local priest, acting, as usual, as a secretary/notary (in earlier byzantine deeds, the notary and the secretary who actually wrote the text are mentioned separately and by name in the document). Calamara could have been more of a nickname rather than a surname, since Calamaras (>kalamos, reed, hence qalam) denotes a scribe. It’ sometimes has a pejorative undertone.

    Documents dealing with land, such as sales, testaments, donations to third parties, dowries, divisions of buildings into condominiums etc., always diligently name the neighbors on all sides (E,W,N,S and in between), as well as any existing stone walls and trees. Apart from their apparent economic value, trees are mentioned in legal documents because they could be sold to a third party without selling the land on which the tree stood, in a characteristically byzantine deviation from the roman legal principle of superficies solo cedit.

    Surprisingly (or not), legal documents such as these, following more or less the same structure, and using similar language and stereotypical expressions, continued to be the norm in Greece in Ottoman and modern times - up until 1948, when the Greek Civil Code came to replace byzantine private law. I myself had to read through several notary documents from the 1830s and 1880s that sound a lot like the ones from the Archive de l’Athos.

  2. As for the mozada, I have a few suggestions:
    First of all, it was apparently a unit of weight, not of area. Time and again land was measured according to the annual amount of grain that it could yield. In the testament of Theodoros Karabas he bequeaths a : «Βαρεών αμπελώνα καματηρόν μοδίων βασιλικών έξ» (Archives de l’Athos, Actes de Chilandar, I, p. 206).

    The word mozada de oro is found in a letter from Columbus to the Spanish king from his fourth voyage. De Verneuil gives the explanation that mozada signifies the measure that a jung man can carry.

    Pericles Zerlentis in his “Γράμματα Φράγκων δουκών του Αιγαίου πελάγους 1438-1565” mentions the italian word mozada, συνεκδραμούσης εκ της συνωνύμου δηλούσης την αυτήν χωρητικότητα, ην οι Νάξιοι εις μουζούριον μετέβαλον. Νυν το μουζούρι παρέμεινε παρά Ναξίοις μέτρον χωρούν όκάδας επτά. Και το μόδι ην μέτρον γης παρά Ναξίοις. ..(...).

    Notice a decree by Giacomo Crispo, duca dell Arcipelago:

    Item a detto loco della Marathia come va verso al fiume terreni cluso di mozada una et meza, la lavora lo detto Janni
    Romano, confina con un pezzeto di Chiprio di Franculi Marcado Ca-
    naner. Item li apresso una clusa de mozada una, la lavora Nicola di
    Vassili con la potamida. Item li apresso de pinachada una, la lavora Theodore de Magroni. (...).Nicolo in verso lo rachidi. Item alla
    Peramata alli frascritti de mozade una e mezo, o ver in circa mozada
    un' e mezo de ms. Marin Crispo.

    In the Byzantine Empire and the surrounding regions, the standard μουζούριον (μόδιος) of grain equalled 12.8 kg, but it varied from 12.5 to 17 kg cf. E. Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (Munich 970), 96, p. 88. Ekaterini Mitsiou mentions the mouzourion as the Italian name for the byzantine thalassios modios (17,084 litres). If a mozada is a mouzouri is a modion, it should be approximately a stremma in the early 15th century.

    Those are my ideas, not sure if that’s enough for you to be grateful, though :-).
    No idea about the octava, though.

  3. Thank you for your careful suggestions. I had not thought about the independence of trees from the land. A stremma seems a very little parcel of land.

    I hope someone will try to map this territory from the information given. There is a preliminary map for Patras based on the legal documents in Gerland.

    The conservatism of these documents is fascinating. I have seen a late 19th C family will from North Carolina that follows precisely the same form as the only surviving will from Nauplion, really, only the language is different.


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