Post-classical history


A city in central Greece (mod. Thiva, Greece), under Frankish rule from 1205 to 1311.

Thebes was an ancient city that was founded, according to tradition, by Kadmos in 1313 b.c. Later it became the reputed place of burial of St. Luke the Evangelist. Despite devastation by the Goths in 397 and destruction by an earthquake in 551, the city underwent a revival in the Middle Ages. From the ninth century it was the base of the strategos (governor) of the Byzantine theme of Hellas and established itself as the center of Byzantine silk manufacture. In 1146 the Normans of Sicily sacked it: many native silk workers were taken to Sicily, and the monopoly of the Theban silk manufacture was broken.

In 1205 Thebes was captured by the forces of Boniface of Montferrat and subsequently granted to Otho of La Roche to form part of the lordship of Athens and Thebes. In the mid-thirteenth century, the marriage of Bela of Saint-Omer with Bonne of La Roche brought half the lordship of the city to the Saint-Omer family, which put in hand considerable building works in the city. Certainly before 1311 all those Franks who held land in Boeotia seem to have maintained residences in the city. In 1311 it passed into the control of the mercenary Catalan Company, which also seized power in Athens. To prevent the seizure of the city by Walter II of Brienne in 1332, the Catalans destroyed most of the second city of the duchy of Athens and Thebes. The city fell to the Turks in 1450.

Very little of medieval Thebes has survived. The two major earthquakes of 1853 and 1893, and the depredations of modern development, destroyed what the Catalans did not slight in 1332. Of the city’s walls only three towers survive, and of the magnificent palace built here by Nicholas II of Saint-Omer with moneys derived from his wife, Maria of Antioch, there is nothing to be seen. Thebes also contained a cathedral and many Latin churches.

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