Post-classical history

Negroponte

Italian name for the island of Euboea (mod. Evia, Greece) and also its principal city, Chalkis (mod. Halkida), which after the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) came under the rule of Frankish crusaders (1204-1209) and subsequently the Venetian Republic (1209-1470).

After the fall of Constantinople (mod. Istanbul, Turkey) to the forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, an army led by Boniface, margrave of Montferrat, set out to conquer mainland Greece. James of Avesnes, accompanied by a force of unknown size, detached himself from this army as it passed through Boeotia and captured the island of Negroponte, with the exception of the ports of Chalkis and Karystos, which were occupied by the Venetians. By 1209 James was dead, and the island was granted to three Veronese lords, known to nineteenth-century historians as the tierzi (triarchs). These lords acknowledged the suzerainty of Venice and met regularly with the Venetian bailli (governor) in Chalkis. There are some fifty-five ruined towers on the island that presumably belonged to the class of soldiers known as sergeants, who held lands from the tierzi.

Negroponte soon became an important Venetian commercial and naval center. Venetian trading fleets sailing to Constantinople called there twice a year to collect local produce from the island itself and from central Greece across the narrow Euripos channel. The significance of the harbor was clearly known to the Venetians in the twelfth century, since they guided the fleet carrying the army of the Fourth Crusade into the harbor in June 1203 to rest and revictual before embarking on the last stage of the journey to Constantinople.

William II of Villehardouin, prince of Achaia, sought to gain control of the island in the years after 1255. After his defeat of the duke of Athens at Karydi, he was only delayed from occupying the island by his subsequent disastrous involvement in Thessaly. During the 1270s, the island formed the base of the renegade Frankish pirate Licario of Karystos. From the mid-fourteenth century, the island suffered from the depredations of Turkish pirates, resulting in the fortification of various centers throughout the island and attempts by the Venetian bailli to encourage Albanian settlers to move there to make up for the devastation of the population. The Ottoman Turks captured the island in 1470, and its loss rocked the Venetian Republic.

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