Post-classical history

Chronicle of the Morea

A chronicle that is the most important single source for the political history of the Frankish lordships in Greece in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It exists in French, Greek, Aragonese, and Italian versions, in a total of eight manuscripts, of which five are of the Greek text. The Greek version is in popular verse, whereas the other three are in prose.

The French version survives in a single manuscript (MS Bruxelles, Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier, 15702). It covers events from 1095 to 1303 but has a brief chronological table appended that brings events down to 1333, incidentally recording that Catherine of Valois-Courtenay (d. 1346) was still alive. The scribe specifically stated that the French version was an abridgment of an original text that formerly belonged to Bartolomeo Ghisi and was found in his castle of Thebes in Greece, where he had been the castellan from 1327 to 1331. The text appears to have been written between 1333 and 1346 and to have relied upon a French prototype.

The Aragonese version, also known as Libro de los Fechos et conquistas del Principado de la Mores, was commissioned by Juan Fernandez de Heredia, grand master of the Order of the Hospital (1377-1396). His scribe, Bernard of Jaca, completed the work of copying on Thursday, 24 October 1393, presumably in Avignon, where Heredia was then resident. The Aragonese text builds upon the French version and incorporates new material for the years 1305-1377. The Italian version belongs to the sixteenth century and is an abridgment and translation of the Greek version.

Of the five manuscripts of the Greek chronicle, the two fullest are MSS København, Kongelige Bibliotek, 57 (=H) and Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, gr.2898 (=P). From internal evidence it appears that P is slightly later in composition than H. They both cover the years 1095 to 1292. Later material has been added that refers to the Catalan slighting of the castle of Thebes in 1332. Manuscript H refers to Erard III le Maure, lord of Arkadia (d. 1388), as still being alive, whereas P suggests that he was dead. The anonymous author was well informed on matters of chivalry and was intensely pro-Frankish.

The issue of the language in which the prototype of this chronicle was written has been a matter of great debate and is still an open question.

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