Administration and settlement in Venetian Navarino

Pylos Regional Archaeological Project, Part VI: administration and settlement in Venetian Navarino

Siriol Davis


Documentary sources dating from the Venetian occupation of the Peloponnese (1688-1715) confirm a pattern, established by the late 17th century, of Ottoman estates dominating the lowland plain while the majority of Greeks lived in inland villages. The Venetians encouraged migration to the cities in an attempt to create an urban society that would support their administration. They failed to achieve this aim, as this study of Venetian Navarino shows, not only for lack of an urban tradition, but also because their policies for land distribution and taxation did not provide political or economic incentives for moving to the city. As a result, the settlement pattern in the Peloponnese remained remarkably stable throughout the Venetian occupation.


Records designed to assess public revenue–censuses, cadastral surveys, and tax registers–all demonstrate the interest of the state in promoting stability and continuity in settlement. (1) Ottoman registrars recorded villages whether or not they were inhabited, on the basis that since they had once provided revenue, they might yet do so again. As Halil Inalcik has pointed out, this policy was not, therefore, only a passive one of recording the vicissitudes of the rural population, but was also the basis for action that led to the regeneration of deserted areas: “it was the state which mainly was responsible for the continuity of the rural landscape and topography. The state was concerned because the protection of tax resources depended on the identification of village units.” (2)

One result of this attitude is that the history of settlements is preserved in the records for the historian or archaeologist. In recent years archaeologists and others have begun to realize the potential of Venetian and Ottoman archival sources for illuminating the historical geography of the late medieval and early modern period. (3) At the same time, they have become aware of the need for more sophisticated analysis of material culture. These developments are closely connected to the dramatic rise in the number of diachronic regional studies projects in the Aegean. (4)

The Peloponnese in particular has benefited from a number of surveys, such as those in the Argolid, Methana, the Corinth area, and the Asea Valley. (5) This article is based on research undertaken as part of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP), a diachronic regional project that has recruited specialists from many different fields to investigate the history of land use and settlement in the territory of Pylos. A detailed study of Venetian Navarino, it is one of a series of publications presenting the results of PRAP, including preliminary archaeological and environmental data and ethnographic research. (6)

The sources used in this article date from the Venetian occupation of the Peloponnese, or Morea, of 1688-1715. While it is usually known as the “Second” period of Venetian rule (to distinguish it from periods of Venetian control of the cities of Nauplion, Methone, Korone, and Monemvasia between the 13th and early 16th centuries), it was only in the 17th century that Venice acquired sovereignty over the whole peninsula. This conquest was the last time that the Venetian Republic was to make substantial territorial gains in its overseas empire, which at one time had stretched from the Ionian islands in the west to Cyprus in the east. Venice’s participation in the war against the Ottoman Empire waged by the Holy League was inspired by the hope of recovering Crete, lost in 1669. Instead of Crete, however, Venice acquired, as a result of the war, the Morea and Santa Maura (Lefkada), possessions finally confirmed in the Peace of Karlowitz, signed in 1699. It was difficult, however, for Venice to sustain the Morea while all of central Greece was under Ottoman control, and the Turks successfully recovered it in 1715. This last Veneto-Turkish war marked the end of three centuries of rivalry for naval and commercial hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean. The peninsula remained in Ottoman hands until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. (7)

To provide a context for the material presented below, I will first summarize the picture that has emerged so far of the population and settlement history of Messenia from the Roman era to the 19th century. (8) In general, the region is characterized by relatively large, multiperiod sites that were the foci for nucleated settlement. The Roman era (first century B.C. to sixth century A.D.) shows evidence of more intensive settlement relative to that of the preceding period, particularly on the coast. Testimony to this is the Late Roman villa at Dialiskari, north of the Bay of Navarino. Germanic and Vandal incursions of the third-fifth centuries, followed by earthquakes and plague in the sixth, may have driven the surviving population inland. The presence of Slav immigrants during the seventh -eighth centuries contributed to a period of prosperity in the Middle Byzantine period (10th-12th centuries), yet at the same time pirate raids appear to have driven the population to abandon the coastline once more. Documents from the Frankish period (1205-1432) indicate some continuity in the settlement pattern until the Black Death of the mid-14th century, which may have killed as much as a third of the population. This loss was to some extent made up by the immigration of Albanians in the 14th and 15th centuries. Changes in the settlement pattern after this date are very difficult to judge from the archaeological record since contemporary ceramics useful in dating the sites are still so little understood.

Peter Topping, working with the Minnesota Messenia Expedition in the 1970s, was the first to use Venetian sources for Messenia together with archaeological survey material. (9) Using Frankish and Venetian documents, he outlined fluctuations of the population for the Morea. After the disruption of the Veneto-Turkish wars in the late 15th century and the submission of the peninsula to Ottoman rule, there appears to have been a recovery of the population. An Ottoman census of 1530 documents a population of about 200,000. From the late 16th century there are reports of a flight of inhabitants caused by heavy exactions of tribute and forced conscription of Christians. Venetian reports of a severely depopulated peninsula in 1688 led Topping to surmise a general decline in the 17th century. This pattern fits our knowledge of a widespread economic crisis in the Ottoman empire in the 16th century. Venetian population estimates suggest that the population increased from ca. 86,000 in 1689 to ca. 250,000 in 1709. The Ottoman reconquest in 1716 is thought to have been followed by a period of growth (although one disrupted by the rebellion of 1770), allowing the population to rise to about 440,000 on the eve of the Greek War of Independence in 1821.

There is little official documentary evidence for the population of the 17th- or 18th-century Ottoman Morea and, as mentioned above, the ceramic record is not sufficiently understood to allow for detailed conclusions. The Venetian documentation therefore has the potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of developments both before and during the period of Venetian rule. It has traditionally been held that in the 18th century the Greek population fled to the upland regions to avoid Turkish oppression and only returned again to the plains after the War of Independence. This view has been challenged by Frangakis-Syrett and Wagstaff, who used Venetian early-18th-century data and French 19th-century data to show that more than a third of the population was in fact living at an elevation of less than 100 m. (10) Their argument has received support from archaeological and archival evidence collected by PRAP that indicates that early-19th-century travelers’ reports of a desolate coastal landscape are deceptive and cannot be relied upon. Previewing some of the Venetian evidence presented below, Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr observed that, although by the late 17th century the lowlands around the Bay of Navarino were dominated by Ottoman estates and the majority of the Greek population was settled inland, the inhabitants were for the most part living at elevations of less than 200 m and at no great distance from the coast. (11)

In this context it is pertinent to ask what evidence Venetian sources can offer for the decline of population in the 17th century, the concentration of population on high or low ground, and the effects of the Veneto-Ottoman war of 1686-1688. Can we determine from these sources whether the pattern of settlement established by 1700 reflected a long-established one or in what ways it may have affected Venetian ability to exert control over the Morea? Before introducing the sources in more detail, it is appropriate to give a brief history of the Venetian occupation.


The conquest of the Morea was celebrated in Venice as a glorious revival of her overseas empire and plans were made to develop a suitable political and economic infrastructure. (12) Francesco Morosini, the supreme military commander during the conquest, encouraged the urban populations to draw up their own charters to be submitted for approval; thus, 16 formal citizen bodies, or comunita, were created in the first 10 years. (13) The comunita, modeled on those in use in the Ionian islands, were responsible for justice, market regulation, policing, and public health in the cities. In 1688 three magistrates, Michiel, Corner, and Gritti (known as the Sindici Catasticatori), were sent to the Peloponnese. Their commission was to establish an administrative framework, conduct a census and cadastral survey to establish the resources of the peninsula, and draw up a taxation policy and legal statutes for its governance. The peninsula was divided into the four provinces of Romania, Achaia, Laconia, and Messenia, which were further subdivided into 25 territories, largely based on the previous Ottoman districts (Fig. 1). (14) Nauplion became the capital of the Morea under the administrative direction of the Provveditore Generale dell’Armi, the supreme military and civil authority; a governor (provveditore) with civil and military powers and a rector (rettore) for economic matters were assigned to the capital of each province.


The most urgent task facing the Sindici Catasticatori was to revive agricultural production and produce a surplus that would help defray the costs of the continuing war. Venetian reports of the state of the Morea at the time of the conquest in 1686-1688 paint a picture of desolation caused by plague and the flight of the population. They indicate that 30% of the villages were deserted (a reduction from 2,111 inhabited villages to 1,455). (15) The authorities quickly encouraged immigration. The result was an influx of people from Ottoman central Greece, the Aegean islands, and the Ionian islands. While Athenians settled mainly in the northeast of the peninsula, Messenia benefited in particular from the arrival of a large number of natives of Chios, who had left their island en masse after a loss to the Turks in 1695 ended the brief Venetian occupation. (16) The native inhabitants included a small number of Muslim converts to Christianity.

Venice had, by right of conquest, inherited much of the arable land of the peninsula from the departed Turks. Through a system of auctions, public land was rented out to local people and also granted rent-free to immigrants for limited terms. In order to distinguish between public and private property, native inhabitants were encouraged to come forward with title deeds or proof of ownership in the form of sworn testimony of witnesses. Until proper cadastral surveys could be completed, it was difficult to ascertain exactly how much land was available and indeed how much had been granted. In the early years of occupation a chaotic situation developed and the status of much land was not recorded.

Initially the male population was required to supply labor services for defensive works at the isthmus of Corinth while inhabitants of the villages were also required to supply lodging and provisions for the dragoons. After ascertaining the taxes that had been collected under the Ottomans, the Sindici Catasticatori decided to retain those they deemed reasonable, while abolishing others and introducing some new ones. Tax revenues were adversely affected by Venetian commercial policies demanding that goods from overseas territories could only be exported to Venice in order to increase customs revenues there. This prohibition on exports to traditional markets on the Greek mainland and islands and in North Africa was disastrous, causing falling prices and cash shortages in the Morea.

The peace of 1699 inaugurated a new phase in the occupation, allowing a more systematic approach to government. The peace treaty confirmed the loss of territories in central Greece that the Venetians had occupied during the war and prohibited emigration to the Morea from Ottoman territory. In 1698 Francesco Grimani had been appointed Provveditore Generale dell’Armi and dedicated himself to creating order out of the chaos he found on his arrival. Under his authority a full census was completed in 1700. (17) He took measures to increase cultivation and introduced longterm leases in place of the short-term grants of land in use until then. He ordered detailed cadastral surveys in order to determine whether a tithe of produce or a fixed impost on agricultural land would be the most efficient method of taxing agricultural revenues. In 1701 another team of inspecting magistrates, the Sindici Inquisitori, arrived in the Morea. Some labor requirements, which had already been commuted into cash, were abolished, but the syndics increased the percentage of tithe taken to replace the lost revenue. Seeing the damaging effects of protectionism, they allowed free export of produce to any destination on payment of a double duty. While these measures should have stabilized the economy, the demobilization of troops stationed in the Morea led to a drop in consumption and revenues, and exacerbated the perennial problem of brigandage. Although revenues had become more stable by 1712 and money was invested in impressive fortifications such as the Palamedi fortress in Nauplion, Venice was unable to defend the Morea from Ottoman assault. /////////////////// Venetian failure to maintain control over the Morea is often attributed to the disaffection of their Greek subjects, who, alienated by the commercial and religious policies of the Republic and the venality of Venetian officials, failed to support them in the face of Ottoman attack. (18) On the other hand, 19th-century historians suggested that Venetian encouragement of communal organization in the Morea had a stimulating effect, which bore fruit in the movement to independence a century later. (19) More recent research has shown that there was a sector of the population loyal to Venetian rule. Eutychia Liata has pointed out that Nauplion, alone among the cities of the Morea, attempted to resist the Turkish onslaught; this city, unlike the others, had a class of Greek merchants and entrepreneurs, mainly Athenian in origin, who were dependent on trade with Venice for their prosperity and feared a return to Ottoman rule. (20) The absence of a vigorous urban Christian population in the other cities of the Morea at the time of the conquest and the Venetian failure to promote such a phenomenon is a key factor in explaining their failure. (21)

The Venetians were aware that the socioeconomic structure they had inherited in the Morea was different from what they were accustomed to in other Greek lands. This was the first time they had conquered land that had undergone a prolonged period of Ottoman occupation. While they understood the importance of filling the vacuum left by the departed Turkish elite, their policies were ill adapted to the situation. Their commercial policy, in particular, inhibited entrepreneurial development. Historians of Venice have pointed to the financial mismanagement and incompetence of Venetian officials, the unsuitability of the legal framework designed for the Morea, and the resulting alienation and lack of collaboration or integration between the Venetian rulers and their subjects. (22)

How can we explain Venetian failure here, given their success in other Greek territories? The variety of forms of domination that developed in the Venetian overseas empire are well known. They included territories ruled by Venetian families in a type of vassal-relationship with the Republic (the Cyclades and Kythera), situations where the local elite were accommodated and granted privileges (Corfu), and an instance where the indigenous nobility were dispossessed and replaced by Latin colonists (Crete). Moses Finley, in his typology of colonies, suggested that Venetian Romania (i.e., the former Byzantine territories ruled over by Venice) could not be defined as colonial since agriculture remained in Greek hands and there was minimal immigration from Venice. (23) More recently, Sally McKee has emphasized how the Venetian administration of Crete anticipated elements of later forms of European colonialism in terms of the extent of direct intervention from a distant metropolis and the role of ethnicity as a tool of domination. (24)

The Venetian occupation of the Peloponnese was too short to allow comparison with the development of colonial rule over several hundred years on Crete. A more recent classification than Finley’s allows us to include the peninsula in the category of “exploitation colony,” characterized by military conquest for the purpose of economic exploitation, ruled directly from the metropolis but with an insignificant colonial presence. (25) The key characteristic of the Peloponnese in this period was that the Venetians took over a province of a rival empire in which the indigenous population had been ruled by a foreign elite. The destruction or desertion of this group forced the new rulers to attempt to form a group of people whose interests would converge with their own. Osterhammel has described this type of situation as one in which “a collaborative association had to be built up ‘from below.'” (26) In this the Venetians met some success only in Nauplion and Patras.

The present study of Venetian policies as they were implemented in the region of Navarino demonstrates the failure of administrators to create an urban community in a province far from the capital and elucidates the underlying socioeconomic structures that made this goal so difficult to achieve. While the Greek population was anxious to avail itself of the privileges attendant on membership of the comunita, the insecurity of the times and lack of an urban tradition led them to avoid residence in a coastal city. The evidence of the documents on landholding patterns and control of resources helps to explain this phenomenon by elucidating the settlement pattern as it was at the time of the Venetian conquest. The Venetian sources for the territory of Navarino illustrate the preconquest pattern of the dominance of the coastal lowland by Ottoman estates cultivated by sharecroppers and the clustering of independent villages inland; the private property of the villagers consisted mainly of vineyards while the many olive trees were almost exclusively Turkish property. Immigrants were given generous concessions of former Turkish property, with the result that the native inhabitants were still largely excluded from these resources. I suggest that an important factor in their reluctance to move to the city was their desire to reside near the vineyards that were under their control.

Examination of the documents relating to land distribution reveals the confusion and tensions that resulted from the privileged treatment of immigrants as well as the instability generated by frequent transfers of property. At the same time, however, the interaction between the Greek villagers and the Venetian authorities does demonstrate a degree of leadership and communal organization. Finally, comparison with Ottoman data from 1716 allows us to consider the extent to which the Venetian wars and conquest were a cause of depopulation and abandonment of land.


Most judgments on this period have been based on the reports of Venetian Provveditori Generali, published in the late 19th and early 20th century by Spiros Lampros. (27) More recently, publication of the census of 1700 and the cadaster of Vostizza (Aegion) has provided rich data on settlement and land use. (28) Topping consulted the cadaster of Nauplion, which has since also been referred to by the Argolid Exploration Project. (29) Liata has recently published data from the cadasters of the territories of Argos and Nauplion. (30)

The Venetian occupation generated a vast amount of paperwork, much of which remains unpublished and is contained in archives held in Venice and Athens. Most of our information dates from the period of the generalship of Francesco Grimani (1698-1701) and the period of inspection by the Sindici Inquisitori (1701-1704). Detailed sources for the later period of Venetian rule are less abundant. (31)

Each provveditore or rettore sent regular letters (at least once a week) to the Provveditore Generale reporting on the state of affairs in his jurisdiction, specifically describing revenues and accounts, matters of security, public works, the organization of labor services, quartering of troops, and requirements of the munitions. These letters often enclosed documents relating to the matters under discussion such as accounts, or petitions from subjects. The Provveditore Generale in his turn replied to these letters, sent regular dispatches to Venice, and at the end of his term of office wrote a final report (relazione) summarizing his achievements and making recommendations for his successor. While in office he also issued various decrees and diplomas, some in response to requests from individuals or communities; decisions he made regarding distribution of property and privileges while touring the provinces are recorded in registers for that purpose. Public property and tax revenues were regularly auctioned to the highest bidder, a system explained at greater length below. The results of these auctions were recorded in registers arranged by territory. This study draws mainly on tax registers, registers of the disposition of public property, and letters sent from the local officials in Messenia to the Provveditore Generale.


The province of Messenia was divided into nine territories: Arcadia (Arkadia), Fanari, Calamata (Kalamata), Leondari, Andrussa, Caritena (Karytaina), Navarino (Pylos), Coron (Korone), and Modon (Methone) (Fig. 1). The Sindici Catasticatori described the population of Navarino and Modon as follows:

Quelli di Navarin Novo e Modone era gente applicata alla Marina

et al solito della Natione sono cavilosi e pieni d’artifficii,

avezzi alla ment[…] mentre frequente tenevano il comercio con

li corsari di Barbaria, e vestono habito usitato da Greci, che

esercitano l’arte marinaresca. Questi territorii sono la maggior

parte in colline, e monti che non sono molti aspri, e in quelli

delle due Navarini s’estende una fertile, se ben piciola pianura,

ne molte coltivata che circonda il suo celebre Porto, irrigata da

rivoli d’aque, e torrenti, havendo sul Porto stesso le peschiere

dette di Navarin Vechio, che si ritrovi in cativissimo stato….

Li prodotti dei preacenati terreni soggetti a questa camera di

Modone consistono in formenti, vini et oglio in quantita, lane,

formaggi, seda, grana, cera, miele e qualche quantita d’altre

biade, che sono per uso del Paese. (32)

The people of New Navarino and Modon were people engaged in

seafaring and, as is usual with this nation, are quibbling and

full of artifice, used to [lying]. (33) They often had commercial

contacts with the corsairs of Barbary and they dress in the style

of Greeks who exercise the seafaring trades. These territories

are for the most part hilly and mountainous, but not high, and

in the territory of the two Navarinos there is a fertile, if quite

small, plain, not much cultivated, which circles its celebrated

port and is irrigated by rivulets and streams; the same port has

the fisheries known as those of Old Navarino, which are in a

very bad state…. The products of the abovementioned territories,

subject to the treasury of Modon, consist of wheat, wine, and

oil in abundance, wool, cheese, silk, kermes, wax, honey, and

some quantity of other grains, which are for local use.

The Venetian census of 1689 recorded the population of the territory of Navarino as 1,275, while that of 1700 gave the population of the province of Messenia as 49,778 and that of the territory of Navarino as 1,797, or 445 families. (34) This increase can in part be accounted for by immigration, as we shall see (see Fig. 2 for the distribution of population according to the 1700 census; and Table 1 for the number of families per village). It is clear from Figure 2 that about a third of the population was clustered in the two villages of Cavallaria and Ligudista, while the coastal plain was largely devoid of habitation. Confirmation of this pattern and information about the livelihood of the residents of these villages can be found in the dispatches of the provveditori, discussed below. The cultivation of the plain, mentioned in the above quotation, will be considered in the section on the Ottoman data.


In terms of political organization, each village unit became a comune represented by elected elders; this was a continuation of the Ottoman system. Terms for their election and responsibilities were codified by Antonio Zeno (Provveditore Generale in Morea 1690-1694). The elders were intended to be the most respected and prosperous members of the community; in fact, it seems that they were often poor people chosen for the ease with which they could be manipulated by the real leaders of the community, who wished to evade any official obligations. (35)


The Bay of Navarino was guarded by two forts known as “Navarin Vechio” (Old Navarino, modern Palaiokastro) and “Navarin Nuovo” (New Navarino, modern Neokastro, outside the modern town of Pylos; see Fig. 3 for plan). In the spring of 1703 the governor of Old Navarino described the parlous state of the fortress: there were only 24 soldiers and two sergeants, and the gate of the fort closed only with a chain while that of the castle was always open as there was no means of closing it. The walls were weak in many places and the towers threatened to collapse. There were only 10 houses standing (including the administrative building), the governor’s house was half destroyed, cisterns were in a poor state, there was no inventory of munitions, and the guards did not even have oil to light their lamps at night. (36) On a visit in 1705, Antonio Nani (Provveditore Generale in Morea 1703-1705) found both forts to have many structural imperfections. (37)


Some of this ruinous state was attributable to the wars of the Venetian conquest. A report of 1689 lists 82 destroyed houses in Old Navarino and only 20 left standing. (38) Even so, the structural weaknesses suggest that Old Navarino had been suffering from neglect before the Venetian conquest, and the main residence for the Turkish officers was the new fortress, built by the Turks in the 16th century. (39)

New Navarino became the capital of the Venetian province of Messenia and the seat of the military governor of the territory. (40) The Venetian bombardment and an explosion in a powder store in 1686 had caused some damage to the fortress. In 1689 Venetian reports noted that the public buildings in New Navarino and Modon had been ruined by fires, bombs, and soldiers scavenging for firewood. An assessment of the public buildings in New Navarino in that year lists 142 ruined houses in the fortress (fortezza), castle (castelo), and suburb (borgo) (Fig. 3). (41) This source also lists the number of undamaged buildings, enabling us to conclude that prior to the Venetian conquest the Turkish-owned property in the fortress consisted of 185 houses and 24 shops; the castle, 13 houses; and the suburb, 67 houses and 2 shops. Venetian attempts to repopulate the fortress were not entirely successful, as we shall see.

The comunita of New Navarino was instituted in 1687. (42) Members of the comunita were drawn from the most prosperous and eminent inhabitants. Membership was restricted and conferred benefits such as exemption from onerous labor services. In their charter the inhabitants asked for 52 families to be incorporated in the comunita. A maximum of 60 was set. They also asked for exemption from paying entrance dues on imported goods, which was refused, and that foreigners should be allowed to reside in the borgo for reasons of commerce, which was granted. (43)

The comunita also asked for, and was granted by Francesco Morosini, Captain General of the fleet, 20 ruined houses in the piazza for their residence. (44) In 1693, however, Antonio Molin (Provveditore Estraordinario in Morea 1692-1693) commented that the Greek inhabitants of Modon, Coron, and Navarino were building houses in the suburbs; he wanted to demolish those structures in order to compel the Greeks to reside within the city walls. (45) The provveditore of New Navarino also complained in 1699 that the citizens had never wanted to live in the piazza, although he had made every effort to persuade them. (46) Many of those who had benefited from concessions of houses in the city actually resided in the villages of Cavallaria and Ligudista. The provveditore made a proclamation that if they did not take up residence in the city within two months the plots would revert to public ownership; he also insisted that elected officers of the comunita must reside either in the city or borgo. (47) According to the census the population of the fortress in 1700 was still only 29 families and the borgo 30 families. (48) This is a small population in comparison with other cities of the Morea at this time: Coron had 335 families, Calamata 404, Argos 209, and Tripoli 274. Nauplion far exceeded other cities in size with 1,952 families. (49)

Why were the members of the comunita so reluctant to live in the city? First, it is likely that they had never lived within the walls during the Ottoman period. It is difficult to estimate the pre-war Christian population of the city, but the Venetian lists of public property suggest that there were a substantial number of Turkish residences in the fortress and castle. (50) The fact that there was apparently only one Orthodox church, which was outside the walls of the city, would imply that there were no Christian residences within the fortress. (51) This seems to have been a general characteristic of the First Ottoman period.

In studies of the population of Ottoman cities in the Balkans, a longterm increase in the urban Christian population between the 16th and 18th centuries has been perceived. It is also noted, however, that the Hapsburg-Ottoman wars of 1682-1699 must have changed the population balance in cities of the Balkans, perhaps leading to an increased Muslim preference for city-dwelling in those areas retained by the Ottomans. (52) It is possible that in the Peloponnese the insecurity of the Cretan wars (1645-1699) may have encouraged the Muslim population to reside within the fortified area, if they were not doing so already. (53)

As mentioned earlier, the Venetians were acutely aware of the absence of a Christian urban middle class on whom they could rely to support their administration, and the creation of the comunita was intended to remedy that situation. Ottoman towns rarely possessed charters and therefore one must presume that the institution of the comunita was an innovation for most of the cities of the Morea. (54) It is not surprising then that many members of the comunita were of rural origin. Molin described them with contempt as rustics with plows in hand claiming to be citizens. (55) The motivation for joining the comunita and the way in which people attempted to retain the privileges of citizenship while remaining resident in the villages will become evident in the following discussion of public service.


As Dokos has shown in a recent article, the system of public service instituted by the Venetians had serious ramifications for the nature of the comunita, the extent of social stratification within Greek society, and the movement of labor. (56) Public service in this period included personal services such as labor on the fortifications being built at the isthmus of Corinth and the quartering and provisioning of dragoons and their mounts in the villages in the winter months. (57) These obligations were initially rendered in kind, in terms of labor or provisions, but were gradually commuted to cash contributions. (58) The documents from Messenia for the period 1698-1700 indicate the organizational problems associated with the demands made on the population and the reasons for this eventual decision.

The contributions of each village household for the quartering, re-equipment of the cavalry, and public works at Corinth were decided by the village elders in consultation with the syndics of the comunita. (59) The original system for the support of the dragoons was for villagers to take forage, cereals, and wood to the nearest warehouse. Since public warehouses were only located in the provincial capitals, this could involve lengthy and arduous journeys. It was considered better, therefore, to quarter the troops in the villages. This solution was accepted by village elders in the territory of Arcadia on condition that, rather than quartering dragoons in small villages where they were unsupervised and likely to cause trouble, several larger centers would be selected where they could more suitably be lodged. Each unit of 15 households provided a cash contribution with specified amounts of bread and hay per day. Villagers would then bring their provisions to the nearest center. (60) A report dating to 1699 groups all the villages of the territory of Navarino under Ligudista, indicating that it was the supply center for the territory of Navarino. The territory was responsible for the upkeep of 17 dragoons for the seven winter months. (61) In 1705 this number was readjusted to four dragoons. (62)

A report of 1703 on the siting of winter quarters comments that the troops in the territory of Arcadia were best lodged in the city of Arcadia itself; as for those of Modon, Coron, and Navarino, it was difficult to find a suitable site as there was no village centrally located and large enough to lodge an entire company. (63) While a system of barracks relieved the villagers of having to lodge the dragoons in their houses, the obligation to transport provisions using their own animals at times when they were needed in the fields was burdensome.

There were certain circumstances under which people could be exempted from public service. For example, those local men conscripted for guard duties were exempt from the obligation to go to Corinth to labor on the isthmus fortifications. (64) On one occasion villagers in Modon were exempted from service on the grounds that their village was situated on a public road, obliging them to supply travelers with food and lodging, and thus they should not be subject to further burdens. (65) Contributions of hay, wood, and animals were expected on the occasion of a visit by the Provveditore Generale. In 1703 the provveditore of New Navarino noted that he would raise these from those villages not currently contributing to the quartering of dragoons. (66)

Perhaps the most significant grounds for exemption from public service was membership in the comunita. In New Navarino members had been granted in their charter exemption from service for one servant and one animal. (67) Exemption from public service was also extended to Chiot immigrants in Modon and Navarino, as well as to the agricultural laborers (all apparently natives of the Morea) on their lands. (68) This situation led to cultivators on tenanted public land leaving to work on land that had been conceded to immigrants in order to benefit from such exemptions; in this way they were under the protection of the large proprietors, who actively recruited them. In spite of their exemption from public service, citizens and Chiot immigrants were still technically liable for contributions in cash and kind to support the dragoons. Since the syndics of the comunita were responsible for allotting these obligations, however, they illegally exempted both the members of the comunita and the laborers on their land. (69)

We have confirmation of this practice in Messenia. Carl-Antonio Chicerio, a Venetian official writing from Gargagliani in Arcadia, reported in 1701 that citizens of the comunita of Modon, Navarino, and Arcadia who were resident in the villages were attempting to obtain exemptions not only for personal labor services, but also for the cash contributions for the upkeep of the dragoons. While they were entitled to exemption from the former, they were liable for the latter, having been recorded as village residents at the time when the system came into operation. He asked for advice on how to prevent this abuse, which overburdened the poor. (70)

Angelo Emo (Provveditore Generale in Morea 1705-1708) recommended that citizens residing in the villages whose economic status was no different from that of their neighbors, and who had joined the comunita after the establishment of the public services, should not be allowed to escape their obligations. (71) This had already been suggested by the Sindici Inquisitori in 1702, (72) but it was not until 1713 that it was finally decided that members of the comunita should be liable for supporting the dragoons, although exemptions were still valid for key workers such as saltworkers, manufacturers of gunpowder, and woodcutters. (73)

The system of public service raises a number of issues. Clearly village elders had a considerable role in determining liability for service and the organization of supplies, and we have seen that they imposed conditions when negotiating with the authorities over the matter of quartering troops. The large number of people claiming exemptions, both legally and illegally, created an intolerable burden on the rest of the population; Venetian governors recognized the acute social problems this created but were slow to take remedial action. The loan of animals caused particular hardship and led to concealment of animals and temporary flights to the mountains; according to Grimani, evasion of public service also led to more permanent desertion of settlements. (74) This development is significant in the context of the argument for desertion in the Ottoman period. Such a motive for desertion, together with the potential effect of service exemptions on the movement of labor, needs to be borne in mind when considering the settlement pattern. The fact that citizens were able to take advantage of exemptions while still resident in the villages would naturally be a disincentive to move to the city. (75) The effect of this factor on membership of the comunita will become evident in the following discussion on security.


Considerations of security are a key factor in explaining the settlement pattern and reluctance to live near the coast. Attempts to ensure better security also highlight issues such as sparsity of population, exemptions from public service, and resistance to Venetian authority.

The problem of lawlessness in rural areas, initially exacerbated by the displacement of people during the war and later by the unemployment that peace brought to erstwhile soldiers, was never really solved by the Venetians. The scale of the problem can be gauged by comments in the letters of the provveditori. In August 1698 the provveditore of Arcadia was recruiting men to help keep down bandits; volunteers were exempt from other public service. (76) In September 1700 a group of 40 robbers went at night to the village of Suman Aga, setting houses on fire and stealing animals and goods. (77) Such malviventi (criminals) posed a recurring problem, as attested by the plea of the provveditore of Arcadia, Zuanne Pizzamano, for cavalry to get rid of them in June 1703. (78)

The system used to deal with this problem was an institution inherited from the Ottomans: the appointment of meidani, or “security guards.” (79) Among the privileges that the comunita of New Navarino sought was the right to elect a captain of meidani to put an end to the frequent robberies of horses and goods; it was suggested that for this purpose they unite with the territory of Modon, since the population was sparse. (80) Their request must have been granted since we know that in August 1698 three captains of meidani–two from Ligudista and one from Suman Aga–were elected by the comunita of New Navarino. They were required to mortgage their property to insure against the need to pay compensation for damage done by robbers. (81)

In addition to the problem of local brigands, enemy raids were a hazard until the peace of 1699. In June 1698 a Turkish vessel entered the port of New Navarino and disembarked on the shores of the village of Curbei, taking 26 people captive. The rettore of New Navarino was horrified that the enemy vessel had managed to enter the bay without being observed. In a letter he raised the problem of guard duty. Of the 280 families in the territory most were members of the comunita and therefore exempt from public service; of the remainder who were eligible, seven people were obliged to work on the fortifications at Corinth. The rettore asked for these seven men to be exempted so that he could use them for essential guard duty at the scoglietto, (82) without burdening those who were already oppressed with the demands of public service. (83) In another serious incident in August 1698 Turkish “pirates” landed at Vromoneri, attacked Gargagliani, and captured 19 people whom it was surmised they were planning to sell as slaves at Monemvasia. Local people gave chase as far as the plain but to no avail. It seemed the pirates had a lair on the island of Proti. The provveditore was intending to punish three villagers from Flocca who were responsible for guarding the coast at that point and who had failed to raise the alarm. He commented that even the largest inland villages were not secure. (84)

The obligation of the local inhabitants to stand guard duty was a matter for dispute. In March 1699 the residents of the borgo of Navarino sent a petition to complain about their duties in guarding a point two miles distant (opposite the small island in the bay), which had formerly been guarded by the villagers of Pispisa, Zaimogli, Curcunara, Cramidi, and Curbei. The townspeople, both citizens and common people, would not tolerate this innovation and were prepared only to guard a post near the town (“S. Nicolo”), as they had done under the Turks, when they had paid for a guard at another point, named “Tripio Lithari.” They protested that now there were only 20 families in the borgo to bear the burden of these services, including 14 “foreign” families, from the islands of Kythera and Zakynthos. (85)

The problem of piracy off the coast continued in peacetime. In May 1703 a Turkish vessel lying off the island of Proti was attacked by Maltese corsairs. The rice they took from the vessel was then sold to locals, from Filiatra and Arcadia, and several elders of Gargagliani were imprisoned for failing to inform the authorities. (86) Again in June of that year a corsair vessel arrived with merchandise taken from a ship attacked in Crete; the provveditore of Arcadia sent the cavalry and the ship left for Malta. (87) In August 1704 the provveditore again intervened to protect a French ship from chase by a Barbary corsair. (88)

Here we see the serious problems of security, both external (piracy) and internal (marauding gangs), that affected not only the coast but the inland villages as well. Policing the territory was made difficult by the sparsity of population, exemptions from service, and the refusal of many to cooperate with the authorities. We have seen here the very high percentage of population enrolled in the comunita. This was a widespread phenomenon in the Morea. (89) Since the privileges of membership were not related to residence in the city, were there any economic attractions to urban life?


Analysis of the taxation data for the territory can provide useful information regarding the general nature of the local economy. More specifically, figures for the tithe allow us to see which villages were producing agricultural revenue at this date. Interpretation of the taxation figures requires an explanation of the taxation system. (90)

The Ottoman system of taxation extant in the Morea prior to the Venetian conquest was based primarily on personal or household taxes imposed on both the Christian and Muslim populations. In addition, there was a tithe on agricultural produce, and taxes levied on pasturage, slaughtering, the use of mills, beekeeping, and the raising of pigs. Duties applicable in an urban context included customs and market taxes, and duties on the sale of certain produce such as oil, wine, candles, and soap. Fishing and the collection of salt were state monopolies. Numerous extra taxes were also raised to supply provisions to officials and in time of war.

The most radical change enacted by the Venetians was to abolish the direct personal and property taxes, such as the harac, avariz, and ispence, that had been characteristic features of Ottoman rule. (91) They retained only one direct tax, the tithe on agricultural produce (decima). (92) All other taxes were classified as either dazi (duties on consumption and customs duties) or appalti (monopolies on sale and production of goods). The Venetians retained all the duties mentioned above and multiplied the number of monopolies. In addition to retaining those on salt and fishing, they introduced a number of monopolies in the cities, such as on the production or sale of spirits, playing cards, hostelries, sausage, pasta, bread, and coffee. (93)

By abolishing personal taxes the Venetians hoped to provide some measure of relief to the population, thus showing themselves in a good light. At the same time, however, their approach was conservative in the sense that they preserved many preexisting taxes, making any study of taxation in the Venetian overseas empire a complex one. The history of each region is reflected in the survival of taxes from previous eras. Andreades’ study of taxation in the Ionian islands confirms the bewildering variety of taxes for each island under Venetian rule. (94) If there is one unifying characteristic, it is the number of indirect taxes on consumption, reflecting the customary Venetian dependence on trade and urban life. This emphasis distinguishes the Venetian taxation system from the Ottoman approach, which was based on peasant households. The Venetians hoped that with the completion of the cadasters they could evaluate the extent of cultivated land and decide whether to continue with the decima or replace it with a tax based on units of property, as they had introduced in their Italian territories. (95)

The Venetians farmed out the collection of all taxes to private individuals or companies at auction. Table 2 lists the auction figures for taxes in the territory of Navarino for 1700-1706; see also Tables 3 and 4. These figures are taken from registers that recorded the results of the annual auctions. The entries are brief and simply give the name of the tax (or in the case of the tithe, the names of the villages concerned), the year and amount due, and the name of the tax-farmer. Further details about negotiations over taxes or problems with auctions are found in the letters of the provveditori to the Provveditore Generale. The duties and monopolies required the observation of terms and conditions that were set out in the capitoli dei daci (clauses concerning duties) for each province, found among the general correspondence of the Provveditore Generale. (96)

The capitoli for each tax specify the duration of the tax-farming contract, dates on which payments were due, the requirement for the tax-farmer to supply the names of people who would guarantee his payment, and the obligation to record all income in a book with an official stamp. In the case of duties, the rates of collection were fixed. (97) For monopolies the contract often mentioned the geographical limits of the contract (for example, within the city walls), the obligation of the monopoly-holder to make adequate provision of the relevant commodity, and the sale prices. (98)

The figures shown in Table 2 can give us an idea of the commodities produced and sold and the relative values of different sectors of the economy. (Several taxes–on the use of mills, sheepfolds, the production of gunpowder, and salt–were auctioned in Nauplion since the contracts covered the whole peninsula.) The taxes shown here indicate the role of pastoralism, stock-raising, the production of wine, and fishing in the local economy. The fishery was the lagoon of Osman Aga (Fig. 2, “Osmanaga”), also exploited by the Ottomans. (99) Some of the taxes on consumption, such as those on playing cards, spirits, and tobacco, were almost certainly aimed at the garrisons of the forts and were Venetian innovations.

In Table 2, the figures represent the sum a tax-farmer was prepared to pay for the right to collect a tax on an annual contract, after taking into consideration his estimated expenses and a margin of profit. It is difficult to say how far they directly reflect trends in production and consumption. Fluctuations in the yearly values could be caused by a variety of factors such as climate, competition for contracts, pressure by the authorities to offer higher figures, and political stability. For example, in Nauplion auction values declined after the peace of 1699, as people feared that the reduction of the military presence in the city would lead to a fall in sales, and they consequently stayed away from the auctions. (100) The only dramatic decline in value evident in Table 2 is that for the pasture tax. The documents examined offer no explanation for such a change. In the province of Romania, fear of highwaymen was cited as a reason for the declining bids for this tax. (101) Given the security problems noted earlier, it is possible that this was also a factor in Navarino.

We have auction figures for tithe contracts for the years 1700-1705. (102) The farming out of the tithe was done by auction every year in the early summer. The initial value of each tithe farm was assessed after the fields were inspected by public officials to estimate the likely harvest. The contract went to the highest bidder and payment was usually arranged in two installments, due in February and May. Payment was normally made partly in kind and partly in cash, at a proportion of about 30% to 70%. The portion in kind had to be delivered to the public warehouse and the expense of this delivery was borne by the villagers. The value at which this portion was assessed in payment of the tithe-farmer’s debt was guaranteed in advance by the authorities. They were instructed to keep the value slightly higher than the market price to ensure that the public warehouses were filled before produce went onto the open market. Sometimes an inaccurate estimate of the harvest and market prices meant that the official rate was lower than the market value, in which case the authorities were forced to buy grain on the open market to fill the warehouses and provision the fleet and garrisons. The Peloponnese was a large grain producer, producing in excess of the needs for local consumption. However, the ban on export of wheat to Ottoman territories in effect until 1704 meant that sometimes the market was flooded, and tithe-farmers were unable to sell their produce and therefore unable to pay their debts to the authorities. (103)

The auctions of tithe for all the villages of Navarino and Modon mention wheat, barley, oats, millet, maize, vegetables, wine, oil, silk, and cotton. (104) Apart from the tithe on agricultural and garden produce, a tithe was collected on production of lime, stone, zanelle, and tiles. (105) For the years 1700, 1702, 1703, and 1705, the tithe for all the villages (106) of the territory of Navarino was auctioned in one unit, for 1,590, 2,900, 3,300, and 3,687.5 reali, respectively, while in 1701 and 1704 the tithe from each village was auctioned separately (Tables 3 and 4).

Why was it that in certain years the villages were auctioned separately, rather than as a unit? For one person or a group of people to make a successful bid to collect the tithe of the whole territory, it was necessary to convince the provveditore that they had considerable financial backing. We have two examples of such an offer. In 1705 an offer was made for the tithe of the whole territory by a group of five people, four of whom are described as “well-off ” individuals from Ligudista, and the last an inhabitant of New Navarino; they offered to pay 2,500 reali. Another offer that year was made by Stefano Giustinian of Modon for 3,625 reali. His offer specified that he would contribute a total of 40% in kind (30% wheat and 10% barley) and the rest in cash. He required two horsemen as an escort and the quarantine building at Navarino for storage; the villagers were only to measure grain in the half or quarter staro, wine was to be measured with a single measure throughout the territory, and the threshing was only to be done near the village or boaria (farm or estate). Both these offers must have been unsuccessful since, according to the tax register, the contract was finally awarded to Lion Mandail for 3,687.5 reali. (107)

We are able to draw a number of conclusions from the figures for the individual villages given for 1701 and 1704 (Table 3). First, they indicate which areas were under cultivation. When these figures are compared with the census figures, it is clear that most of the inhabited villages had cultivated land, the only exceptions being Cadir Aga and Arcadina di Lazaretto. A number of the villages appearing in the tithe register, however, are uninhabited villages (see Table 1). Their fields were presumably cultivated by neighboring villages. Eight of these deserted villages appear on a Venetian territorial map, where three are specifically described as abandoned. (108) Venetian documents do not give any clue as to the locations of the others, but these can be determined from Ottoman data discussed below, when the significance of their location is considered.

The figures in Table 3 also allow us to make some simple observations regarding the relative values of the villages. The two largest villages in terms of population, Cavallaria and Ligudista, also had by far the largest tithe values. Most of the figures are fairly stable between the two years, although there are a few dramatic increases (Curbei, Pisaschi Picolo) and one dramatic decrease (Carvunocori). It would be unwise to try and read too much into these fluctuations as they could have been influenced by a variety of factors, as mentioned above. One variable may have been the olive harvest. In 1698 the provveditore of Navarino commented that he could not improve the auction values for the tithe of Cavallaria and Ligudista because it was not a year for the olive harvest, which took place in alternate years and formed the main part of the revenue. (109) Since we cannot tell from Venetian documents exactly how much land was under cultivation, we are not in a position to speculate as to whether an increase in cultivated land may have caused some of the changes evident in the figures. We have seen that there was some population increase between 1689 and 1700. Another source for population after that date gives a figure of 2,068 for the territory of Navarino, indicating a continuing rise, which may be reflected in the tithe figures. (110)

Two changes in policy in 1704 may have affected the tithe figures of the territory over the six years for which we have data (Table 4). In that year the ban on export of wheat to Ottoman territory was lifted, which may have stimulated a rise in prices and therefore higher bids. Second, the Sindici Inquisitori, having abolished some impositions, increased the tithe from 10% to 12.5%. Both these factors may have led to the rise in auction figures evident here. A much lower figure is given for 1700 (1,590) than for 1701 (3,213); a similar pattern is found for the province of Romania, indicating that it was a widespread phenomenon, possibly connected with the peace of 1699. Paradoxically, perhaps, the peace appears to have caused a crisis of confidence in the markets. Interpretation of these figures is a complex matter and we have no evidence specific to the region to explain the differences from year to year. (111)

It is likely that the auction figures were often unrealistic. In 1705 Angelo Emo, then Provveditore Generale, wrote despairingly about the type of people who became farmers of the tithe: they bid for sums that they could not possibly hope to pay since they had no other means of earning a living; people who were more financially secure did not invite ruin by committing themselves beyond their means. (112)

Within the territory of Navarino 36 people took on tithe contracts in the period 1700-1705. The fact that the auctions for the tithe of Cavallaria, Ligudista, and other villages took place in Cavallaria, rather than New Navarino, indicates that the majority of interested parties were resident there.113 There is evidence of people residing in the larger villages or in the city farming the tithe of other villages. For example, the following individuals from Cavallaria are recorded: Gianni Anastopullo farmed Alli Cozza and Lesachi; Daniello Daniellopullo farmed Cassan Aga and Flocca; and Cristo Gianacopullo farmed Schilirachi, Mususta with Tristena, and Mischa Catto, which in 1704 he had notified the authorities was public land. Giorgo Stamatelopullo of Ligudista farmed the tithe of Schilirachi. (114)

We also have examples of residents in New Navarino farming the tithe in villages of the territory. Steffano Refeletti, for example, farmed the tithe in Suman Aga, Allafina, Delachmeti with Muscugli, Pispisa, and Cavallaria, in addition to holding the tithe on lime. Zuanne Refeletti, who was also a resident of New Navarino, farmed the tithe for Iclena and Toppici, and the whole territory in 1700. Of the immigrant population we have only one example of a tithe-farmer: Michiel Sanudo of Candia (Iraklion), a resident of Navarino, farmed the tithe of Rustan Aga and Cassan Aga. For most of the tithe-farmers we have no indication of their origins since they do not appear as tenants or beneficiaries of public property, where their places of residence are listed. As explained above, taking on a tithe contract did not necessarily indicate prosperity, but sometimes the opposite.

An analysis of property records (discussed further below) suggests that the tithe-farmers did not necessarily hold property in the villages where they farmed the tithe. From the group of people listed above, I have found two occasions when the tithe-farmer had formerly rented property in the village concerned. Michiel Sanudo and Cristo Gianacopullo had rented land or vines in Rustan Aga and Mususta, respectively, prior to 1695. (115) The fact that they later farmed the tithe in these villages seems to indicate a long-term interest there.

The tithe-farmers for Cavallaria, Ligudista, and even Filiatra in Arcadia were expected to take their tithe to Modon, a procedure that the provveditore of Arcadia complained was not justified. (116) It was presumably burdensome for the tax-farmer and deprived Arcadia of grain supplies. Some other villages in the territories of Arcadia and Fanari contributed their tithe to the munitions of New Navarino. (117)

Auctions of tithe contracts were always the focus of tension and problems. In June 1698 the provveditore of Arcadia complained about the impossibility of finalizing the tithe contracts on account of malicious and damaging collusion to keep the values down; he forbade threshing of grain and collecting of silk cocoons until the contracts had been settled. (118) The problem of delaying this process meant that villagers sometimes started the threshing before the contract had been finalized, as they claimed the grain would have spoiled if left any longer. This, in turn, had a detrimental effect on the offers that could be expected at auction, as the chances of hiding the real quantity of the harvest were greater after the threshing. (119) The tax-farmer always preferred to be present at the threshing floor to ensure that there were no opportunities for fraud on the part of the cultivators. (120)

A policy change in 1700 encouraged the comuni to sign their own contracts, rather than leaving collection of the tithe to private tax-farmers. The provveditore of Arcadia hoped in 1700 to get the villages to take responsibility for their own tithe, for payments were much easier to exact from a comune than an individual, given the enormous problem of unpaid debts:

Se mi nascera l’incontro d’appoggiarle a vecchiardi, et habitanti

delle ville sara maggiormente cautellata la cassa publica, mentre

piu esigibile sara il pagamento da un commune, che da un

particolare, essendo ben notta alla maturita di V.E. il numero

de debitori, che tiene la camera, parte esigibili e parte

inesigibili. (121)

If I get the opportunity to assign it to the elders and inhabitants

of the villages, the public purse will be much better secured, since

payment will be easier to exact from a comune than from an

individual, your excellency being well aware of the number of debts

to the treasury, some of which are recoverable and others not.

It was not always possible, however, to persuade the village elders to take on such debts. Antonio Nani (Provveditore Generale in Morea 1703-1705) wrote severely to the provveditore of Messenia concerning complaints he had had from people of Caritena about the tithe being imposed on them without their consent; he said it was extremely important that the population did not see themselves forcibly subjected to a burden that should only have been assumed voluntarily. (122) However rapacious the tax-farmers may have been, it appears that many villagers preferred to pay them than be directly responsible to the authorities for payment of their own and their fellow villagers’ tithe contributions, a system that would have required them to transport grain to the munitions. I do not have any evidence for villages signing their own contracts in the territory of Navarino. (123)

One of the main problems in exacting payments of tithe was the shortage of cash in the Moreot economy. Tithe-farmers were obliged to make 70% of their payments in cash. In 1704 the extra 25% added to the value of the tithe also had to be paid in cash. (124) The shortage of money was not remedied by Venetian commercial policies, which limited exports.

From the data on taxation we can conclude that the main revenues of the territory came from pastoralism, stock-raising, wine, fishing, and agricultural produce such as cereals, vegetables, and oil. The auction figures for the tithe indicate that even uninhabited areas were being cultivated in 1700. We cannot determine in any systematic way the composition of each village unit in terms of the types of agricultural or other income. As noted earlier, however, the provveditore commented that olive oil formed a significant part of the income of Cavallaria and Ligudista. (Examination of property records below will also give some clues in this regard.) The tithe value of these two villages is significantly higher than others and a number of tax-farmers resided there. It must be remembered that Venice customarily depended on taxes applicable in an urban setting and one of the motives for encouraging the population to move to the cities was to increase the revenue from these taxes. For most cities of the Peloponnese in this period, there was simply not enough population or trade to make this viable. Venetian commercial policies did little to improve this situation.


The limitation on exports before 1704 has already been mentioned. The provveditore of Navarino noted that all the olive oil produced in Messenia was sent to Venice. (125) Receipts for exports to Venice from Modon include wool, silk, oil, cereals, and kermes. (126) Exports from the city of Arcadia included wool, wax, silk, and kermes, destined for Venice via Zakynthos. (127) Other goods sent from Arcadia to Venice were meat, cheese, wool, wheat, honey, and valonia (acorns used in tanning), the last loaded from the coast at Gargagliani and Filiatra in Arcadia. (128)

In the charter of the comunita of New Navarino, it was stated that, as an incentive to encourage the building or buying of merchant vessels for the purpose of carrying goods to Venice, anyone who undertook such an enterprise within three years was granted immunity from public service, the right to enter the comunita, and exemption for four years on a tenth of exit dues; they also had preference over other vessels in loading, but were forbidden to sell their boats. (129) A shortage of vessels for local transport and the rarity of passing merchant vessels is commented on by the provveditori in connection with the transport of timber and tiles for building work. The poor conditions of the roads made them an unfeasible option, although on occasion cattle and buffalo were used to transport timber on sledges from inland woods to the coast. (130)

In 1699 the provveditore of New Navarino proclaimed that inhabitants of the province could sell freely grain produced on their own property. (131) One of the privileges granted to the comunita was the right to sell their wine wholesale, free of duties:

Provenendo il modo della sussistenza tutta di quasi il corpo

intiero de cittadini habitanti a Cavallaria e Ligudista dal

tratto de vini, che sono di loro special ragione non havendo ne

terreni da grano, ne ogli, ne mercatura, ne altra industria, si

supplica, com’e anco di costume nell’altre parti del Regno, che

non sia posta a niuni stessi alcuna servitu, ma habbiano i loro

padroni la liberta di venderli conforme al proprio interesse;

ben quelli che saranno condotti nel borgo, o piazza habbino a

dipender dalle stime de giustitieri. (132)

Since almost the entire body of citizens resident in Cavallaria

and Ligudista derive their means of subsistence from the sale of

wines, which are their private property, as they have neither land

for cereals, nor oil, nor business, nor any other industry, it

is requested that, as is the custom in other parts of the kingdom,

the wines should not be subject to any duty, but their owners

should be free to sell them according to their own interest;

although those which are conducted into the suburb or piazza

should be dependent on the valuation of the justices.

This claim by the villagers to have no property except vines is interesting, especially in light of the provveditore’s comment that oil was an important part of the villages’ revenue. The reason for their apparent lack of access to olive trees will become clear in the discussion of land distribution.


In this section I turn to the issue of land distribution and agricultural labor. Careful comparison of information derived from census, taxation, and property records allows us to create a detailed picture of the extent of cultivation and the settlement pattern in this period. While space does not allow a full analysis of the data, examples are given and the strengths and weaknesses of the sources discussed. The letters of Venetian administrators also allow us a glimpse into terms of labor and distribution of resources between immigrant settlers and the native population. Finally, a preliminary comparison with Ottoman data allows us to fill in some of the gaps in the Venetian sources and draw more concrete conclusions about the spatial distribution of cultivated areas.

Reports of the Venetian authorities suggest that, prior to their arrival, the Turks controlled the fertile land in the coastal plains, while Christians only held property in the mountains, yet there is some documentary evidence from the northern Peloponnese of Christian property-holding in the plains, suggesting that the reality was more complex. (133) The evidence presented here demonstrates how Venetian policies of land distribution perpetuated the preexisting pattern of estates on the plains cultivated by sharecroppers, while villages of independent households inland, with little access to arable land, derived their income primarily from vineyards under their control. The ability of local people to acquire property nearer the sea, through renting public land, was curtailed by the termination of tenancies in favor of concessions to immigrants from Chios. While there were a number of deserted villages around the Bay of Navarino, the land within their borders was still under cultivation by neighboring villages. There is evidence for abandonment of the vineyards in the plain, however, that may be related to the question of exemption from public services discussed above. Both Venetian and Ottoman sources indicate reduced cultivation in this period compared to levels during the preconquest era.

The distribution and cultivation of land were matters of the utmost importance to the Venetian authorities. If one of the attractions of the Morea was its potential for producing agricultural surplus, then it was imperative to ensure that this was maximized as early as possible. Working out exactly how much land they had at their disposal was a complex and time-consuming process for the Venetians. In the early stages of the occupation, short-term measures were taken without proper information, creating a tangled web of tenancies and concessions, which successive administrators had to unweave.

The Ottoman Landholding System One must begin with a brief explanation of the system of land tenure and rural infrastructure under the Ottomans. In the period of the first occupation (ca. 1500-1688), virtually all arable land was owned by the state (miri). The basic unit of production was the cift-hane, the family farm that incorporated sufficient land to sustain a family with the labor of a pair of oxen. This was held under a type of lease (tapu) from the state in return for keeping the land under cultivation and paying taxes; the peasant had the usufruct of the land and could pass it on to his children. State revenues from arable land held in this way could be assigned to members of the military as timars; the timar-holder acted as an agent of the central government in supervising the possession, transfer, and rental of lands within his territory and collecting tax revenue, in return for military service. A timar was not necessarily made up of contiguous property, but could consist of property scattered among different villages. Arable land not already cultivated under the tapu system was rented out by the state. Farmlands with no permanent settled population, often cultivated by neighboring villages as reserve land, were designated as mezra’a. Once registered for a certain amount of revenue, these could be assigned as timars. Another category of land was that in which the revenue was assigned to a religious foundation, or vakf. There was also some limited freehold arable land (mulk), mainly acquired through Sultanic grants. (134)

While these are the basic characteristics of the classic Ottoman landholding system, the reality, particularly in outlying provinces of the empire, could vary enormously, depending on the physical environment and the nature of the socioeconomic regime at the time of conquest. In the late 16th and 17th centuries, the timar system was in some areas increasingly replaced by the development of tax farms and the creation of private estates, or ciftliks, cultivated by sharecroppers.


The Venetians, as successors to the Ottoman empire in the Morea, inherited the revenues of all state land. Their primary concern was to ensure that cultivation was as extensive as possible and to find the means of collecting revenue from the land. As mentioned earlier, their reports state that the peninsula was underpopulated and vastly undercultivated. (135) While encouraging immigration, they first had to address the entitlements of the native population, both Greek Christians and recent Muslim converts to Christianity.


There was little private property under the Ottoman system. In the Venetian period the land claimed by the native population, on the grounds of long-term possession, presumably consisted of those plots of arable land that they had worked under the tapu system. (136) The peasantry were asked to show proof of their titles; since most of them lacked documentation, they were allowed to prove their entitlement (beneprobatum) on the evidence of two witnesses. The situation after the war naturally provided an opportunity for aggrandizement of plots and usurpation of neighboring land. The Sindici Catasticatori found it necessary to institute an “inquisition,” asking priests and village elders to verify claims. (137)

Another category of land was that assigned to religious foundations. The register of church property commissioned by Grimani in 1700 lists Orthodox monasteries and churches with the property they claimed as theirs. Legitimate claims were registered and a diploma issued. No Orthodox monasteries were recorded for the territory of Navarino. Ecclesiastical property in the territory totaled 15 churches (one in New Navarino, seven in Cavallaria, six in Ligudista, one in Scarmega), one and a half houses (or cells), 233 zappade of vines, 612 olive trees, one “piece” of land, and half a stremma of land. (138) A monastery dedicated to St. George in the village of Saprichi in the territory of Modon held property in the villages of Cavallaria, Ligudista, and Tristena. The property of the monastery, which included holdings in other villages of the territory of Modon, was held by diploma from the Sindici Inquisitori or as tenancies. (139)

Once the title to property of private individuals or the church was established, the Venetians needed to determine the extent of unclaimed land and commissioned a series of cadasters. The more detailed of these, only two of which were completed, provide a wealth of information on landholding, listing the property of each householder in a village. While cadastral surveys were undertaken for the territories of Navarino, Arcadia, and Modon, none appear to have survived. (140) In the early years of the Venetian occupation, the authorities–without access to cadastral documents–distributed land in an ad hoc manner and on variable terms. Since they had no records, they were reliant on local people to come forward and inform them of what land was available. Grants of property could include land, trees, vineyards, gardens, orchards, houses, oil presses, and mills.


The settlement and distribution of land to refugees from outside the Morea was of primary importance for the Venetians. (141) Immigrants to the Morea were awarded grants (concessioni) of public land on favorable terms, that is to say rent-free, with the only obligation being payment of the tithe on produce. The records usually give the origins of family groups, for example, Chiots, “Rumeliotti” (from central Greece), Athenians, or Cretans. Those who did not claim to belong to any distinct group were described as being “of no particular nation” (non esprime natione). For the purpose of determining the quality and quantity of the property grants, distinctions were made on the basis of three factors: first, the origins of the settlers, some being favored over others (e.g., in the north of the peninsula Athenians had priority, in the south Chiots, because they had deserted their respective homelands en masse after the end of Venetian occupation); second, their economic status in their country of origin (graded from one to four, with a standard size of award for each grade); and third, the time of their arrival and the size of the group.142 Some particularly deserving immigrants were given exceptionally large grants of land, which in some cases included rights over the resident peasantry; they could assume the title conte and the terms of their grants differed from ordinary concessions. (143)

Much of the land initially given out as concessions to immigrants was already cultivated, inasmuch as there was already a native labor force. In this case, a concession was effectively a fiscal grant, entitling the holder to collect revenue from land worked by others. This type of holding derives from the sharecropping systems employed on Ottoman ciftliks. In effect the immigrants took the place of the Turkish estate-holders. Given the Venetian intention to bring under cultivation the extensive tracts of abandoned land, this policy may at first sight seem puzzling. In fact, Grimani complained to the Venetian Senate that there should have been a decree to prevent cultivated land being given as concessions, since the state derived no revenue from them except the tithe. (144) He also recognized, however, that many of the immigrants were not inclined to cultivate the land themselves, and it seems likely that grants of uncultivated land would have been neglected through shortage of labor. The Athenians were good merchants, while the Chiots preferred to practice crafts. Of the latter he said:

… o perche non le conviene, o perche non sanno lavorar terre,

vivono con il Raccolto che ritrahe dalle stesse il sudore de

villici nativi di Morea. (145)

… either because it doesn’t suit them, or because they do not

know how to work the land, they live on the harvest extracted by

the sweat of the native villagers of the Morea.

He goes on to comment on the enviable position of the immigrants:

… veramente il donar ad un tempo beni, coloni et entrata, e un

gran piacere in chi li riceve.

… truly, the donation at the same time of property,

sharecroppers, and revenues, is a great pleasure to the one

who receives it.

The beneficiary of a concession, as noted, paid no rent, but had to contribute the tithe to the state. He received a portion of the harvest from the peasants, usually a third (terzo). (146) Some immigrants, presumably those of a lower grade and who received smaller plots, did cultivate their own land.

Any public land that was not conceded to immigrants could be rented by immigrants or local people at auction. A tenant of public land, like the beneficiary of a concession, collected a third of the harvest from the cultivators. Initially, the tenancies were for short terms such as five or ten years (affittanze) and, later, longer leases (livelli) were introduced in order to encourage continuity of cultivation. (147) For the same reason, in 1700 the Venetians proclaimed that concessions would become perpetual, i.e., not revert to the state after a certain time. They could be inherited and transferred through dowries, wills, and exchanges; they could not be sold, however, as the authorities feared an exodus of immigrants with cash from property sales. The eventual consequences of this decision were, in effect, to “privatize” most of the arable land, leading to the neglect of public land still available for rent. (148)

Given that there was no cadaster of the region, some public land escaped the notice of the authorities and was illegally usurped or simply left untenanted. Public surveyors had to measure land and vineyards for assignment to immigrants and were also assigned to check any surplus public property not yet disposed of (sopra piu). (149) Alternatively, an individual could notify the authorities of the existence of land that had not been assigned, and have priority in renting the land if his offer was highest at auction; he could also ask for a period rent-free. For example, in September 1698, Stathi Veluca of Arcadia notified the authorities of available land in the village of Cadir Aga:

… dichiarando pero voler il fruto dell’anno corrente per il

publico terreno di Cadir Aga cioe decima e terzo. (150)

… declaring, however, that he wanted the fruits of the current

harvest for the public property of Cadir Aga, that is to say,

tithe and third.

It is clear that the Venetian authorities were reliant on the local population to inform them of the existence of public land. The problem of distribution was marked by ignorance, confusion, and fraud. While Venetian rule may have provided unprecedented opportunities for acquisition of land, the period was one of uncertainty and instability for immigrants and local people. Detailed examples of allocations of property to individuals are given below.


As discussed above, the collection of the tithe by the state was farmed out through public auctions, for which we have records. The tithe farmer usually attempted to be present at the threshing floor to assess his share of the harvest, which was presumably taken before any further division between sharecropper and landholder was made.

The collection of the share of the harvest due to the tenants or beneficiaries of public land, on the other hand, was a private matter. Alexis Malliaris’s work on the distribution of land in Gastuni and Patras provides insight into the complexities of the rural situation. The collection of the third portion of the harvest (terzo) was often subcontracted to a third party, by means of a private contract drawn up by a notary. This meant in practice that the terzo might be collected by a village elder on behalf of an absentee landlord (whether beneficiary of a concession or tenant of public land) or by someone from outside the village. One person might play multiple roles in the agrarian complex. For example, an immigrant could act simultaneously as the beneficiary of a concession, a tenant of public land, and a terziario (collector of the terzo) on behalf of someone else. In addition, the collection of the terzo might be taken on by a partnership. There were also cases where the cultivators themselves rented the right to collect the terzo, presumably converting it into cash for payment to the landholder. (151)

Since these agreements were made between private parties, they were not officially recorded. Venetian administrators were, however, aware of problems that made it difficult to exact the terzo, such as usurpation of public land. This factor made people reluctant to rent the revenue from plots of land that they knew were already controlled unofficially by others; to collect their entitlement in these circumstances would be difficult. (152)

We have noted above the distinctions in status arising from the privileges granted to members of the comunita in the form of exemptions from public service. The granting of large concessions to immigrants also led to increased social differentiation among the Greek population. Grimani contrasted this with the situation in the Ottoman period, when, according to him, all the Greeks were considered of equal status. In his own time, he described the peasantry as blindly subject to the will of those who held a village either in concession or as a tenant:

Da quella disparita maggiormente avvilito il Paesano sta ciecamente

soggetto al loro volere, et ogn’uno ch’ebbe in concessione, o ad

affitto una villa era solito disponer intieramente dei villici

d’essa. (153)

Greatly abased by this disparity, the peasant remains blindly

subject to their will, and each person who had a village in

concession or as a tenant was accustomed to have the villagers

entirely at his disposition.

We have some confirmation of the miserable condition of the sharecroppers. A petition was sent to the provveditore of Modon in 1698 by coloni (sharecroppers) in casali (villages) given to Chiot immigrants for their maintenance. They complained that they were unable to contribute the wheat and barley demanded of them by the authorities, in what appears to have been some kind of extraordinary wartime levy:

per sostenar le nostre misere famiglie ci conviene ricever denaro

dall nostri padroni sopra il grano et altre biade e nel raccolto

levando primo essi la loro portione e pagati poi li nostri debiti

rimaniamo solamente con la sola semina e ben scarso si che quando

havessime hora da condur quello che v’e l’ordine, restarebbero le

campagne negre con discapito grandissime di noi miserabili de

nostri patroni, e non poco pregiuditio riceverebbe il publico

sopra le decime. (154)

to sustain our poor families it would help to receive money from

our landlords for the grain and other cereals; at the harvest,

once they have taken their share and we have paid our debts, we

are left only with the seed corn and little of that, so that when

we have to bring that which is ordered, the countryside will be

left bare, with great loss to us poor people, to our landlords,

and no little damage to the public revenues from the tithe.

The cultivators compared their lot unfavorably with that of other areas where all the public land was put up for rent at auction. They also complained of the shortage of grain in their territory, claiming that the Chiots had consumed the wheat themselves; in other areas, millet and maize would have been consumed and the wheat kept for sale to generate cash. Their comment about the situation being different in other territories may be related to the large number of immigrants who settled in Messenia.

In addition to the sharecropping system described above, Venetian sources refer to another practice. In his report to the Senate, Grimani defines the term paraspori as the practice under the Ottomans whereby the person in possession of the land gave the villagers a portion that they were obliged to sow and harvest on his behalf, but at their own expense:

Anche il Paraspori darebbe alla Serenissima Vostra un utile di

consideratione. Prima che il Regno cadesse sotto il suo glorioso

dominio costumavano i possessori de beni dar a villici qualche

portione di terreno, perche seminassero e raccogliessero formento

et orzo a proprie spese, ma a provecchio de Patroni, e questo si

chiamava il Paraspori. Se se ne contentavano per civanzo de

Particolari, tanto piu volentieri vi concorrerebbero per servitio

del Principe.

Also the paraspori could give your Serene Highness a worthwhile

profit. Before the kingdom fell under your glorious dominion, the

possessors of property were accustomed to give to the villagers

some portion of land so that they should sow and harvest wheat and

barley at their own expense, but for the profit of the landlords,

and this was called paraspori. If they were prepared to do it for

the profit of private individuals, so much more willingly would

they agree to do it in the service of the Doge.

He further suggests that this institution could serve as a means of supplying the cavalry and troops with wheat and barley at no expense and that it would be even better to give the villages uncultivated land for this purpose; as a precaution against fraud, he planned that the parties agree in advance about the amount of grain to be produced, and he later refers to the considerable profit that might be expected from this source. (155)

In terms of systems of agricultural exploitation, one can conclude that the Venetians preserved, to a large extent, the practices that had prevailed under the Ottomans, while replacing the Muslim landholding class with a Christian one. The Venetians had no interest in interfering dramatically with the status quo, but needed to maintain continuity of cultivation. For this reason they preserved the sharecropping system; an additional motive for this policy was that they did not have the means to become directly involved in the collection of rural revenues, but needed the support of an intermediary landholding class. (156) This kind of pragmatic approach is a marked characteristic of the overseas empire and, as also observed in terms of the taxation system, it explains the survival of customs that originated under previous regimes. (157)


The practical consequences of these policies in Navarino can, to some extent, be reconstructed through analysis of Venetian property records.


As noted above, immigrants from Chios settled mainly in the southern Peloponnese, particularly concentrated in Messenia. A dispatch of 1696 by Provveditore Marin Michiel (one of the Sindici Catasticatori), published by Philip Argenti, states that for the settlement of Chiots in Messenia he has taken as a model the system used for the Athenians in Romania. He remarks that the value of the land in the northern part of the peninsula is four times greater than that in Messenia, which he describes as poor and sparsely inhabited (“povero ed altrettanto scarso d’abitanti”). (158) In consultation with the leaders of the Chiot community, including the Archbishop, Michiel determined the grade to which each family or group belonged, according to the extent of property and revenue they had enjoyed in Chios.

No explicit criteria for belonging to each grade are known; clearly the decision was made by community leaders with knowledge of the past history of the applicant. (159) Michiel explained the procedure for awarding grants to the Chiot immigrants as follows:

… si e stabilito, distinti prima li gradi della loro conditione

e quelli delle rendite che possedevano, ed il numero dell’anime

che vivono in colleganza, d’assegnare ai primi terreno per lavoro

di para sei di bue e 50 zappade di vigna, 500 olivari ed un

giardino, diminuendo proporzionalmente colli secondi, terzi e

quarti, sempre con aggiustato equilibrio alli loro natali haveri

in patria, e peso di famiglia. (160)

… it was decided, after distinguishing the grades of their

condition and that of the income they possessed and the number of

people living together, to assign to the first grade land for the

work of six pairs of oxen and 50 zappade of vines, 500 olive

trees, and one garden, diminishing proportionately with the second,

third, and fourth, always adjusting the balance according to

their birth rights in their homeland and the size of the family.

One problem with the arrival of immigrants some years after the initial conquest was that some of the best land had already been rented out to local people. These tenants were sometimes turned off the land in order to accommodate the new arrivals. Michiel addressed in his dispatch the problem of the disquiet of the local people of Modon at seeing land that they would otherwise have rented, or had indeed already rented, given rent-free to newcomers. He intended to console them with concessions of uncultivated land that existed in the territory of Modon and also noted the advantages of directing their labor to the adjoining territory of Navarino, which “for shortage of population was already partly abandoned” (“che per deficenza di gente giace in parte abbandonato”). (161) Michiel recorded the arrival of 70 families, comprising 340 individuals. (162) In the province of Messenia, Chiots appeared to be the largest beneficiaries of public vineyards and olive trees, while the “Rumeliotti,” immigrants from central Greece, received more arable land (Table 5). The Chiot immigrants also received land in other territories, for example, Romania, Corinth, and Calamata. (163)

Property grants to individuals or groups are listed in the registers of terminazioni (decisions) of Venetian provveditori. The name of the person is given with the location of the property (usually the village name), sometimes the name of the former Turkish owner, the extent of land or number of trees or buildings, and the terms of the grant. For example, a house in the village of Cavallaria, at auction in 1700, is listed as follows:

Una casa nella villa Cavallaria del Turco Assumagni Aga con quattro

zappade di vigna in detta villa era concessa a Stamati Beno per

anni sei da 28 maggio 1698. (164)

A house in the village of Cavallaria of the Turk Assumagni Aga,

with four zappade of vineyard in the same village, was conceded to

Stamati Beno for six years from May 28, 1698.

An analysis of the concessions of land to immigrants of Chiot descent in the territory of Navarino shows that most of them were made in the year 1696. (165) There are records of about 60 individuals involved in concessions in 15 different villages: Agolotizza, Alli Cozza, Cadir Aga, Cassan Aga, Cavallaria, Curro, Flocca, Ligudista, Mellissi, Papuglia, Pella, Petrocori, Rustan Aga, Suman Aga, and Zaimogli. In addition we know that concessions were made in Mususta, Scarmega, Carvunocori, Allafina, and Cassi of property that had previously been rented out to local people. The largest group comprised 26 people headed by the Giustiniani brothers; this family, along with the Soffietti and Castelli, is described by Michiel as being the “primati della natione” (“leaders of the nation”) and they all were categorized as being of the first grade. (166) They were conceded property in the territories of Modon and Navarino. The concessions to the three brothers heading the family group of 26 people included land at Ligudista (six para di bo) and Petrocori (two para di bo and 305 zappade of vines), together with the whole village of Suman Aga:

Reali 400 che computiamo valere la villa Pisaschi grande … cioe

li terreni per para di bo 16, macine oglio 2, olivari 1,400, vigne

zappade 140, compresa quella a Ghassi. (167)

Four hundred reali, which we calculate to be the value of the

village of Pisaschi Grande [Suman Aga] … that is to say, the

land for 16 para di bo, 2 oil presses, 1,400 olive trees, 140

zappade of vineyard, including that at Ghassi [Cassi].

Another group of 18 Chiots and some anonymous individuals and small groups are also mentioned. With the exception of two houses in the village of Cavallaria that were leased, all other property was conceded rent-free in perpetuity, with the only obligation being payment of the tithe. The Chiots in Messenia were given land that was for the most part already cultivated, with sharecroppers resident on it. The Chiots were treated differently from the other immigrants inasmuch as their concessions were of a permanent nature, whereas those of other immigrants were initially granted for only five or six years. (168)

Concessions were also made to Italian officers or administrators. For example, all the public property existing in the village of Agolotizza was granted to Giovanni Dario Serra, from his name presumably an Italian officer, in January 1696, to enjoy for a period to be determined by the Senate in Venice:

Li beni tutti di publica raggione nella villa Agolonizza e suo

territorio. (169)

The entire public property of the village of Agolonizza

[Agolotizza] and its territory.

Concessions were made to Chiots or Italians in 20 villages of the territory. In terms of location these were distributed both in the higher villages and to the north and east of the Bay of Navarino (Fig. 2).


Local people residing in Navarino, Modon, or the larger villages of the territory, such as Cavallaria or Ligudista, held land as tenants or on leases. For example, property rented out by Pelegrin Pasqualigo, provveditore of Messenia in 1698, is described as follows:

Gianni Anastopullo da Cavallaria, la vigna novamente impiantata da

Stamatello Dimopullo nel terreno di Turco Cuzzoculogli a S.

Attanassi di publica raggione col obligo di dar in nota al spirar

del prossimo anno la quantita di zappade, reali venti per anno per

anni due. (170)

Gianni Anastopullo from Cavallaria: the vine newly planted by

Stamatello Dimopullo on the land of the Turk Cuzzoculogli at

S. Athanasius, which is public property, with the obligation to

notify at the end of the next year the quantity of zappade, 20

reali per year for two years.

It was mentioned earlier that some tenancies were later converted into concessions. In 1695 Sagredo (Provveditore Generale dell’Armi 1695-1697) gave as concessions land that had already been rented out to local people. This was the case for property in Agolotizza, Allafina, Alli Cozza, Cadir Aga, Carvunocori, Cassan Aga, Cassi, Cavallaria, Flocca, Ligudista, Mellissi, Mususta, Papuglia, Pella, Rustan Aga, Scarmega, and Zaimogli. (171) Examples of this practice in Agolotizza, Alli Cozza, and Scarmega are shown in Table 6. That the provveditore made a list of these properties suggests that there were problems arising from this situation, but we have no indication of how they were resolved.


As mentioned above, public property that was neither rented out nor part of a concession could be reported by individuals to the authorities. Giorgo Stamatelopullo of Ligudista, for example, called attention to such land in the following two passages: (172)

Un pezzo di terreno di tre bacilli a Ligudista con 20 piante

d’olivari e tre morari entro, et un pezzo di vigna di zappade

dodici nel loco Flochieus[?] di sopra i molini, lavorati, tutto

del Turco Mussa Andraita.

A piece of land of three bacilli at Ligudista with 20 olive plants

and three mulberry trees on it, and a piece of vineyard of 12

zappade in the place called Flochieus[?] above the mills,

cultivated, all belonged to the Turk Mussa Andraita.

Terreno per para di bo quattro delli Turchi Deli Meemeti e

Carasumagni che sono fra mezzo nelli confini delle ville Mususta et

Agorelizza, et il sopra piu di terreni, vigne et albori che non

sono affitati e concessi della villa sudetta Agorelizza.

Land for four para di bo of the Turks Deli Meemeti and

Carasumagni, which is in between the boundaries of the villages of

Mususta and Agorelizza [Agolotizza], and the sopra piu of land,

vines, and trees, which are neither rented out nor conceded in the

above village of Agorelizza [Agolotizza].

Table 6 shows the history of property transfers in Agolotizza. Here the principal part of the property of the settlement passed from the original tenant, Dimitri Ruffa, to an immigrant from Chios, Francesco Soffietti, then to an Italian, Giovanni Dario Serra, and finally as a tenancy to a local man, Gianni Anastassopulo. The water mill and the sopra piu were auctioned separately. Within 10 years no less than six people were entitled to property that had formerly belonged to one Turk. In the case of Curro, a concession made in 1696 was replaced by a tenancy, perhaps because the beneficiary had died. Such instability in property-holding cannot have been conducive to efficient agricultural production.

Does knowing that concessions usually consisted of land cultivated by sharecroppers allow us to conclude that all concessions were made in former ciftliks? We shall now consider what the Venetian sources can tell us about the status of the settlements in this region.


In Venetian records, settlements are usually referred to by the term villa, or village. We know, however, about the transition taking place in the Ottoman empire from villages of independent peasant households, whose tax revenues were assigned as timars, to ciftliks or private estates populated by sharecroppers. Is there any evidence of this distinction in the Venetian records? Several terms are used that may be interpreted as indicating that the property was a former ciftlik: boaria, mettochi, and seguolatio. The term seguolatio (zeugolateio) is often used in Venetian cadasters: the cadaster of the territory of Argos, for example, lists 28 inhabited villages, 6 uninhabited villages, and 10 inhabited seguolatii. (173) In lists of concessions for the territory of Navarino, Curro, Carvunocori, and Rustan Aga are all referred to as mettochi, while Delachmeti and Lesaga are described as seguolatii and Pella as a boaria. These terms appear to be interchangeable to the Venetians, since Curbei is referred to as both seguolatio and boaria. For Lesaga and Delachmeti it is clear that the ciftlik bears the name of the Turk who holds it. For example, property in the ciftlik of Delachmeti was described as “erano del Turco dell’istesso nome” (“it belonged to the Turk of the same name”). (174)

The manorial buildings that one would expect to find in a ciftlik, reflecting its nature as a private estate, are referred to in the cases of Curro, Rustan Aga, and Suman Aga: (175)

Una torre nel metochio Charo in questo territorio era del Turco

Mezier Saprichi con un piccolo orto d’albori fruttiferi inculto

d’esso Turco.

A tower in the estate of Curro in this territory formerly of

the Turk Mezier Saprichi with a small orchard of fruit trees,

uncultivated, belonging to that Turk.

Terreni inculti per il lavoro di sei para di bue essistenti nelle

due mettochi Carvunochori e Lefco con le fabriche dominicali che

erano del Turco Curt Aga distrutte e disabitate entro il metochio

di Rustan Aga con terminazione 30 giugno 1690 per anni sei.

Six para di bo of uncultivated land existing in the estates of

Carvunocori and Lefco, with the manorial buildings that belonged

to the Turk Curt Aga, now ruined and abandoned within the estate

of Rustan Aga, with a decision of June 30, 1690, for six years.

Le fabriche dominicali essistono tra li due recinti nel luoco

Baschi grande erano di Suman Aga con terminazione 21 ottobre 1691

per anni sei.

The manorial buildings situated between the two enclosure walls

in the place called Pisaschi Grande [Suman Aga], which belonged to

Suman Aga, with a decision of October 21, 1691, for six years.

The tower of Curro was conceded to Captain Paolo Monti, while the properties at Carvunocori, Lefco, Rustan Aga, and Suman Aga were conceded to Dr. Marco Corner; presumably both men were in Venetian employ. The quotation concerning the estate of Suman Aga is particularly interesting since the names Pisaschi Grande and Suman Aga appear in different Venetian sources (Table 1); the existence of both names may suggest that this was a single village in the process of being transformed into a ciftlik not long before the Venetian conquest, even though it is not described as a seguolatio in the Venetian documents. (176)

The registers of terminazioni contain hundreds of references to concessions and tenancies in the territory of Navarino. There is not room here to list them all, particularly for the larger villages. For the smaller villages, as I have shown in Table 6, it is possible to trace the history of a particular building or parcel of land. For the larger villages this is impossible since one cannot tell whether the trees or land described in one tenancy are the same as those referred to in another tenancy 10 years later. There is also no guarantee that one has collected all the relevant data, since references are scattered throughout thousands of pages and different files. In the absence of a full Venetian cadaster for this region, however, the registers can provide useful information about the process of renting out or conceding public property as well as tantalizing glimpses of the economy of settlements. The fact that concessions and tenancies exist for many of the villages of the territory of Navarino allows us to deduce that the Turkish elite held property in many settlements. On the rare occasion when the sources state that a property grant encompasses the whole settlement, as in the case of Suman Aga, given above, one can see the extent of arable land, olive trees, and vineyards. In general, however, it is difficult to reconstruct with any certainty the composition or size of each. While we can locate many of the villages, some are no longer in existence. Without knowing their locations, it is impossible to relate the settlement pattern and patterns of cultivation to the topography of the area. These deficiencies in the Venetian documentation are remedied by the Ottoman data from 1716.


The Ottoman tax register, or defter, drawn up after the conquest, is a full survey of all sources of revenue in the district. Each settlement, whether or not it is inhabited, is described with boundaries and indications of status (whether timar, ciftlik, or mezra’a). This makes it an invaluable source for the topography and history of the region, as well as providing rich data on household composition, crops, and all aspects of the local economy. The full publication of the section of the tax register for the kaza (Ottoman administrative division) of Anavarin is in press. (177) While deferring to the very full analysis of the authors, I present here four preliminary observations regarding the location and identification of settlements and indications of continuity or discontinuity during the Venetian period.

First, identification of Turkish toponyms with those in the Venetian documents (Table 1) permits us to locate all the toponyms found in the Venetian sources. We are thus able to locate all the uninhabited areas that appear in the tithe register and conclude that these were predominantly near the Bay of Navarino (Fig. 4). By comparing Figures 4 and 5, we can also state that the areas uninhabited in 1700 were for the most part still unsettled in 1716.


Second, the classification of settlements (Table 7) indicates that the only villages (karye) of independent households prior to the Venetian conquest were Cavallaria, Ligudista, Scarmega, Schilirachi, and Stelianu. Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr have pointed out the clustering of the population in the independent villages at the highest altitude and farthest from the city of New Navarino, the number of ciftliks at a lower elevation, and the existence of mezra’a closer to the city. (178) These indications of status presumably reflect the situation immediately prior to the Venetian conquest; sometimes a change in status from an earlier period is also noted. A large number (24) of the settlements were classified as ciftliks, a greater number than could be inferred by the frequency with which the terms seguolatio, boaria, and mettochi occur in the Venetian documents. Uninhabited villages, including those that appear in the Venetian tithe register, are designated either as mezra’a or ciftliks. (179)

Third, since the Ottoman register lists all the property of a settlement, whether inhabited or not, one can see the size and composition of each, which are very difficult to deduce from the Venetian records of property grants.

Finally, comparison of the data in Venetian and Ottoman records allows us to make deductions about the size of land measures (see below, Appendix 2).

In view of these observations, it is now possible to ask whether differences in settlement status prior to 1688 are reflected in the way in which property was distributed by the Venetians. The defter indicates that the Turkish property in the karye, which were in the uplands, consisted mainly of olive trees, fruit trees, vineyards, houses, and oil presses. In the Venetian period, there are numerous instances of vineyards, gardens, and houses in Cavallaria and Ligudista being rented out to local people or conceded to immigrants. In 1689 the elders of Cavallaria rented three oil presses, together with the right to collect the terzo on the olives. These oil presses, together with 3,569 olive trees, were later (1702) granted as a concession to an Italian, Giovanni-Felice Baroni, resident in New Navarino. (180) I noted above that, although the provveditore mentioned that oil formed a large part of the revenue of Cavallaria, the villagers claimed to have only vineyards. It is clear from comparing the Ottoman and Venetian sources that the olive trees had all been in Turkish hands and that in the Venetian period the priority given to Greek immigrants or Italians meant that the opportunities for the villagers to exploit these resources were limited. (181) A similar situation existed in the southern Argolid, where many of the olive trees were given to immigrants. (182)

It is usually difficult to trace particular parcels of property for the larger villages in the Venetian documents. In Scarmega, however, the defter lists a small amount of Turkish property. Since the figures match very closely those in the Venetian documents, we can be sure of the identification (Table 6).

The defter lists no Turkish property in Schilirachi and Stelianu and it is perhaps no coincidence therefore that I have found no records of concessions or tenancies for these villages. These villages seem to be an exception; as we have seen above, almost every other village in the territory, out of a total of 25, included some Ottoman property. In this context it is interesting to compare the data from Patras, where almost a third of the villages in the territory claimed to have no Turkish property. (183)

Most of the arable land was found in the ciftliks, which tended to be closer to the Bay of Navarino in the fertile plain. In addition to arable land, the property of the ciftlik included manorial buildings, oil presses, and other farm buildings, all of which were conceded or rented out by the Venetians, as shown by the examples cited above from Curro, Rustan Aga, and Suman Aga. (The sharecroppers each had their own portion of land–cift–that was inalienable.) Most of the property awarded to the Chiot immigrants was in ciftliks. The example of Curro (Table 6) shows how the Venetian documents only provide part of the picture; the arable land and vineyards appear to have been rented out separately from the olive trees. The entire property can only be reconstructed by reference to the defter.

Those areas designated by the defter as mezra’a or uninhabited ciftliks include Tristena, Giofiri, Carvunocori, Muscugli, Lesachi, Lefco, Cassi, Papuglia Cato, Lesaga, Gugli, Cramidi, Mellissi, Petrocori, Rudhia, Delachmeti, and Arcadina di Lazaretto (Table 7). (184) Evidence for Venetian concessions or tenancies in these areas is less common than in the ciftliks. Vines were rented out to local people at Cassi, which appears to have been an important area for vineyards (see below). Other examples include the request of the comunita of Navarino for land at Rudhia and Dursuni (Ottoman “Tursun,” see Fig. 5) to contribute revenue to support urban offices; at Dursuni they also asked for two water mills and a cloth mill, and said that although the property had been previously rented it was now ruined and therefore unlikely to attract tenants. (185) Mellissi was granted out as a concession to an individual who had land in Pella, with which it was later associated; similarly, land in Carvunocori went to an immigrant who also had property in Curro. (186) No grants appear to have been made in the other mezra’a. Could this reflect an understanding on the part of the Venetians that these lands represented essential reserve lands for villages? Alternatively, property rights in a village may have encompassed some rights to reserve land, although the concession of Mellissi would not support this theory. Certainly the presence of these uninhabited areas in the Venetian tax register signifies that they were still being exploited. (187) Clearly, the Venetians did not succeed in settling these coastal areas.


As discussed above, when the Venetians arrived in the Morea they found that nearly a third of the villages were deserted, and Michiel suggested that the territory of Navarino was partly abandoned. (188) Similarly, the Ottoman defter of 1716 records almost a third of the sites in Anavarin as mezra’a or unsettled properties (Figs. 4 and 5 show that the coast remained unsettled). (189) Was this pattern attributable to the wars of conquest, or could it have been a longer-term phenomenon? Locatelli reported that in the campaign of 1686 the Turkish commander ordered the burning of villages in the vicinity of Navarino and that many villagers fled. (190) One Venetian source lists 25 villages and four deserted villages in the territory of Navarino. (191) Dokos has suggested that in the region of Vostizza the Christian population of the ciftliks fled with the Turks in the 1680s, and that this accounted for the fact that the seguolatia along that coast were deserted when the Venetians arrived. (192)

Flight of the peasantry was without doubt a serious problem for at least the first 10 years of Venetian rule. In the north of the peninsula it was surely exacerbated by the short distance to Ottoman territory across the Corinthian Gulf and the encouragement by the Ottoman authorities to return. It seems probable that recent immigrants were the most likely to leave. A report of “Rumeliotti” leaving via Patras suggests that the causes were shortage of property and burdensome requirements for public service. There is also evidence for seasonal migration: peasants arrived in the Morea to harvest their land, and then returned to their Ottoman villages. (193) Grimani claimed that, however generous the authorities were with property grants, immigrants were never satisfied and still went home. He recommended offering 60 stremmata to each family and a hundred to the leaders of each group. (194) In Messenia there are also occasional references to flight of peasantry. Adriano Giustinian from Chios, who had benefited from substantial concessions, was reported in 1699 as “fuggito in Turchia.” (195)

Counterbalancing this exodus was the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. Corner (Provveditore Generale in Morea 1688-1690) gives a figure of 4,000 Muslim converts in the Morea in 1690. (196) In the territory of Navarino, several land grants describe the recipient as “turco fatto Christiano” (“Turk turned Christian”) or “turchi battezati” (“baptized Turks”). Several are women, for example, “Donna Panagiota,” a formerly Muslim woman, was granted land and a house that had belonged to her father (“erano di suo padre”). (197)

As noted above, the population increased considerably between 1689 and 1700 (Table 7). Chiot immigration can only account for a small proportion of that increase. It is possible that it may represent a return of local inhabitants who had fled temporarily during the war. It is noticeable, however, that a number of villages along the coast had no population in either census (Cassi, Delachmeti, Giofiri, Lefco, Mellissi, Muscugli, Rudhia, Toppici.) There are, on the other hand, dramatic increases in some of the inland villages (Cavallaria, Ligudista, Agolotizza, Cadir Aga.) There are also some odd absences, such as the villages of Schilirachi and Scarmega, which do not appear at all in the 1689 census. The possibility of evasion cannot be discounted. The population of the suburb of New Navarino remains remarkably stable. The inland villages were certainly preferred for settlement over the coast or the city.

Given that the coastal areas were still cultivated, what evidence is there for abandoned or uncultivated land to confirm Michiel’s statement? Requests for grants of land sometimes note that the land is “inculto” (“uncultivated”) or “grezzo” (“wild”). For example, land formerly belonging to the Turk Cadir Aga is described as “inculti, lavorati in parte dalli Albanesi.” (198) It is also noticeable that grants of mills sometimes state that the mill is ruined or destroyed. Of 13 mills for which we have records, four are described in this way. (199)

The original intention of the Venetians was to bring under cultivation land that had not previously been cultivated, but it appears that the land granted out had often only been uncultivated since the Venetian conquest. (200) Requests to rent vacant plots sometimes stated that the land had not been worked since the beginning of the Venetian occupation. An example of this is the following request of Diamantin Rodamopullo made to Grimani in Modon in December 1700:

Essistendo nel luogo Vergines e Pagliambella nel confine di

Gargaliano sotto Arcadia terreno per la capacita di stremmata due,

et altri tre strema sotto la vigna di Floca appresso la strada

commune nel confine medesimo grezzi, ne mai lavorati da che Il

Regno cade in potere del Prencipe, implora da Voi humilmente

Diamantin Rodamopullo l’investitura del medesimo per piantare vigna

offerendosi di corrispondere al Prencipe il livello di lire 3 per

stremma che fanno in tutto lire 15. (201)

In the place called Vergines and Pagliambella in the confines of

Gargagliani below Arcadia there is land with the capacity of 2

stremmata and another 3 stremmata below the vines of Flocca next

to the public road in the confines of the same village, which is

wild and has never been worked since the kingdom fell to the Doge.

I, Diamantin Rodamopullo, humbly implore the investiture of the

same to plant vines, offering to pay to the Doge the rent of 3

lire per stremma, which makes in all 15 lire.

The phrase “has never been worked since the kingdom fell to the Doge” is a standard one. It is of course possible that these statements are not useful evidence for lack of cultivation, since the supplicant knew that Grimani was determined only to rent out uncultivated land.

In 1705 the public tithe collector in Arcadia complained of the laborious and life-threatening nature of his job. He described the usurpation of public lands and refusal to allow inspection. Also, in apparent contradiction, he mentions the obstinacy and laziness of the villagers who refused to keep public lands and particularly vines cultivated, leaving them wild and useless:

Anco della pigritia de villici che non sicurano di render lavorati

li publici terreni e particolarmente le vigne hormai per la loro

punibille ostinatione rese insalvatiche et inutile, ne proviene

considerabile discapito. (202)

Also from the laziness of the villagers who do not guarantee to

keep the public land cultivated; in particular from the vines,

which are rendered wild and profitless from their stubbornness,

considerable loss is felt.

A similar example is found at Cassi. In August 1700 the provveditore of Navarino reported that the harvest of the vines was poor that year. He initiated an investigation to see if cultivation had been neglected in some way or if there was simply not enough land being used for vines. The resulting examination of the vines at Cassi showed that of 592 zappade, 486 were worked and the rest not. Some lacked finished terraces, or had been pruned but not further worked. (203) The source of the problem had been signaled in January when the tenants refused to continue tending the vines as their contracts had expired and they said many tenants had died. The provveditore ordered them to proceed with pollarding, as the season demanded, but they were determined to abandon them. (204) This may be an example of the reluctance to cultivate tenanted land as opposed to conceded land, a phenomenon linked both to the permanency of concessions and the exemption from public service for the laborers attached to them, as discussed earlier. (205)

Evidence of undercultivation during the Venetian period in comparison to the first Ottoman reign appears in the Ottoman documents dating from 1716. In these texts it is customary to note, after registering the extent of arable land for a village, ciftlik, or mezra’a, the number of yoke of oxen needed for plowing. In some cases the scribe records that fewer are needed than in former Ottoman times, since the land is not all cultivated. In the case of Cassan Aga, where the Venetians list three para di bo, the Ottoman register notes that while three yoke of oxen are sufficient now, in the past (i.e., before the Venetian conquest) six were used. (206) The Venetian censuses show that, from 1689 to 1700, the population of Cassan Aga fell from 37 to 7 (Table 7).

There is also evidence in Venetian documents that land was abandoned before the war of the 1680s. In 1689 the Sindici Catasticatori wrote from Coron that Greeks were claiming land as their own, which they said they had abandoned 10 or 15 years earlier because of Turkish extortion; now that peace was restored they wished to be invested with their property. (207) Some of the land requested by the urban community of Navarino was declared to have been uncultivated even in Ottoman times. (208)

The question of desertion or neglect of cultivation is not clear-cut. Undoubtedly some desertion of villages in the 1680s, together with the insecurity of the early occupation (from, e.g., pirate raids), may have led to the population abandoning the coastal plain. The censuses of 1689 and 1700 indicate an increase in the population of the inland villages that may reflect redistribution from the coast. On the other hand, mention of land uncultivated before the Venetian conquest suggests that some undercultivation was of a long-term nature. Reluctance to cultivate some tenanted land in the Venetian period may, as noted above, have been caused by policies of permanent concession to immigrants and preferential treatment of laborers on conceded land. On the whole, much of the coastal plain was still under cultivation, as attested by the tithe figures, and it seems unlikely that there was significant flight of the peasantry after the conquest. The possibility that some of the coastal littoral was used for pasture should also be considered. (209)


It is not within the scope of this study to do a detailed comparison of the evidence from the documentary sources with that of the PRAP survey data. However, a few comments based on the preliminary ceramic analysis are in order. The survey area was originally designed to center on the Palace of Nestor, located (in the context of the present study) southwest of Cavallaria and northeast of Rustan Aga (Fig. 2). For a number of reasons, the area for intensive survey was not a single block, and was eventually restricted to coastal areas north of the Bay of Navarino, the Englianos ridge, and several valleys to the northeast of Cavallaria, bordering Schilirachi and Scarmega. Much of the hinterland of modern Pylos and a large part of the Venetian territory of Navarino was therefore omitted. (210)

While a detailed analysis of the post-medieval pottery has yet to be undertaken, the preliminary reports highlight certain sites. (211) Scarmega, discussed here as one of the small inland villages of independent households, showed signs of occupation from the Archaic through the modern period, including a particular concentration of Byzantine sherds. The community appeared to be centered around the church of Agia Sottira and a spring. A construction that may have been a bath of Ottoman date was recorded there. Cavallaria revealed a number of tiles dating from the 13th to 15th centuries and also some Byzantine and Turkish or early modern (15th-19th century) pottery. Cassan Aga revealed pottery of 17th-19th century date and traces of enclosure walls reminiscent of a ciftlik structure.

Two of the villages with perhaps the longest occupation history (Scarmega and Cavallaria), according to the archaeological evidence, were villages of independent households in the First Ottoman period. This would suggest that the estates found in the lowlands were of more recent origin and that the preference for living at higher elevations was established before the first Ottoman occupation. This tendency was probably a longterm strategy to avoid the general insecurity of the coast. Even the higher villages are still below 200 m, however, and residence inland does not imply abandonment of the fertile coastal land, as demonstrated from the archival sources.


The documentary sources pertaining to the maintenance of state revenues and disposition of land in the territory of Navarino exhibit both the innovations and conservative tendencies that characterized the Venetian approach to their possessions. While the Venetians abolished the household taxes favored in the Ottoman system, they retained other features such as the fiscal grants of rural property and labor services, adapting the latter to suit their purposes. David Jacoby, writing of Venetian policy in former Byzantine territory, comments that the Venetians “maintained the Byzantine social and economic fabric as long as it furthered their interests [and] did not restrict their exercise of power and authority.” (212) This statement could also describe the Venetian approach to Ottoman institutions in the Morea. Most decisions were driven by the need to attract and maintain population, having inherited an apparently underpopulated land.

The combination of the Venetian and Ottoman sources has allowed us to reconstruct in considerable detail the landholding patterns prior to the Venetian conquest. The sources are complementary in identifying and locating toponyms, (213) still a painstaking task, but immensely valuable for any study of settlement patterns. Ottoman estates have been identified in the coastal plain, some of which may have taken over preexisting villages, such as Suman Aga, while others may represent exploitation of previously uncultivated land. Ottoman property was also scattered throughout the larger upland villages where the majority of the population was located. The fortified area of the city of New Navarino was restricted to Ottoman occupation while there were Christian residences in the suburb.

The Venetian attempt to change this settlement pattern by encouraging residence in the city, as part of a wider plan to create an urban Christian society in support of their administration, failed. I have demonstrated above how their policies on land distribution and labor services contributed to this failure. The former Ottoman property given rent-free to immigrants included not only plots in the inland villages consisting mainly of olive trees, but also the ciftliks nearer the Bay of Navarino with the best arable land. This policy deprived the native inhabitants of the ability to improve their economic position and gave them no incentive to move to the city; their economic interests still lay in the vineyards close to their villages. Any imports to the city, including their own wine for sale, were subject to payment of duties. That membership in the comunita did not require residence in the city meant that the local inhabitants could enjoy the privileges of membership without leaving their village homes.

In this refusal to comply with Venetian efforts to populate the city, one can detect a type of resistance, also evident in the usurpation of public land and the refusals to do guard duty. Perhaps it is in these signs of resistance, rather than in the development of formal communal institutions, that we should look for precursors to the independence movement a century later. The village comuni certainly appeared to exert a considerable role in local administration in imposing conditions regarding the quartering of dragoons, for example, and allocating labor service requirements.

Both the documentary sources and the archaeological data suggest that the clustering of the population in the higher villages was a long-term strategy. The development of estates in the lowlands would hardly seem to indicate 17th-century decline, as posited by Topping. Without further information enabling us to date the development of these ciftliks, however, we cannot discount the likelihood that the Venetian-Ottoman wars from the 1640s onward caused insecurity and neglect of coastal areas. We can state, nonetheless, that the basic Ottoman settlement pattern was not greatly affected by the Venetian occupation.

The policies of land distribution and the privileges granted to members of the comunita increased the social differentiation in the Greek population. There were marked distinctions in status between the immigrants, who were granted generous portions of revenue from arable land and olive trees; the native inhabitants, primarily dependent on vineyards, orchards, and perhaps pastoralism; and the sharecroppers, whose condition appears to have been an unhappy one. These differences in status need to be borne in mind when considering the apparent preference of the native inhabitants for residing inland. Since the arable land in the plain seems to have been dominated by Ottoman estates by the late 17th century, the opportunities for economic independence for the Greek population were limited to vineyards and pastoralism, making residence at a higher elevation more attractive. The political and economic status of the sharecroppers living nearer the coast must have been inferior to that of the inland villagers. Discussions of the location of the population under Venetian or Ottoman rule need to take into account such distinctions.

The documentary sources examined here have elucidated systems of land tenure and political and economic policies that affected patterns of land use and settlement. The information found in the texts is thus an essential complement to any future analysis of population distribution using ceramic evidence or the shape and size of settlements as they appear in the archaeological record.


Glossary OF TERMS

In the following glossary, all terms are Venetian unless indicated as

Ottoman (Ott.) or Byzantine (Byz.). (214) For further explanation of

measures, see Appendix 2.

affittanze tenancies of property

appalti monopolies on production and sale of goods

avariz (Ott.) extraordinary levies paid by the reaya

bacille capacity measure for seed, ca. 0.5 staro (215)

beneprobatum title to land proven by sworn testimony of two


boaria farm or estate

borgo suburb

casale hamlet or village

castelo castle

cift a pair of oxen or unit of land worked by them

cift-hane (Ott.) unit incorporating a household and land that

could be worked by a pair of oxen

ciftlik (Ott.) 1) private estate; 2) unit of land worked by a

pair of oxen

coloni sharecroppers

comune administrative unit based on village

comunita Venetian urban councils

concessioni rent-free grants of public land

conte title granted in return for service to the

Venetian Republic

dazi duties on consumption or customs

decima tithe on agricultural produce

defter (Ott.) register detailing tax obligations

donum (Ott.) land measure related to the stremma, currently

919.30 [m.sup.2]

fortezza fortress

gazzetta coin worth 2 soldi

harac (Ott.) tax levied on Christians possessing

agricultural land owned by the state

hassa ciftlik (Ott.) farm or vineyard assigned to the direct

control of the timar-holder

ispence (Ott.) poll tax paid by non-Muslims to timar-holders

kanun (Ott.) imperial law

karye (Ott.) village of independent households

kaza (Ott.) administrative division

lazaretto fever-hospital and quarantine station

lira currency worth 20 soldi

lira grossa weight of 476.99 g

lira sottile weight of 301.23 g

livelli leases of public arable land

meidani (Ott.) security guards

mettochi 1) seasonal or subsidiary settlement; 2)

monastic dependency

mezra’a (Ott.) farm with no permanent settlement, either a

deserted village or land reclaimed by a

nearby village

miri (Ott.) state property

mulk (Ott.) freehold property

para di bo land measure signifying the extent of land

that could be plowed in a season by one pair

of oxen, comparable to zeugarion and cift

paraspori portion of land sown and harvested on behalf

of the landowner

passo linear measure of 5 or 6 feet

piazza square or fortified area of city

provveditore governor with civil and military jurisdiction

reali silver coins issued for the Venetian Levant

reaya (Ott.) productive element of population subject to


relazione report submitted by officials at end of term

of office

rettore official responsible for economic matters

sechio liquid measure of 10.7 liters

seguolatio estate or private farm

Sindici Catasticatori magistrates sent to the Morea between 1688

and 1691 to assess revenues

Sindici Inquisitori magistrates sent on tour of inspection to the

Morea, 1701-1704

soldi copper coinage, 20 soldi = 1 lira

sopra piu public arable land not currently producing


staro dry measure of 82.996 kg

stremma (Byz.) land measure, currently 1,000 [m.sup.2]; the

square root of the stremma traditionally

represented the length of a furrow

tapu (Ott.) lease of state land to a peasant household in

return for cultivation and tax payments

terminazioni decisions of Venetian governors

terziario collector of the terzo

terzo third share of the harvest, which

sharecroppers paid to the person with title

to the land

timar (Ott.) fief, the revenues of which were held in

return for military service

vakf (Ott.) charitable endowment with tax-exempt status

villa village

zappa (pl. zappade) measure for vineyards signifying how much

could be hoed by one man in one day, often

given as a quarter of a stremma

zeugaria (Byz.) land measure signifying the amount of land

that could be plowed by a pair of oxen in a

day (ca. 2-2.5 stremmata)

zeugarion (Byz.) land measure equivalent to the Ottoman cift

or Venetian para di bo



Many issues remain unresolved about the measurement systems employed during the Venetian period (Table 8). The only certainty seems to be that the size of both the stremma and para di bo varied according to the terrain and therefore could not be fixed. The Venetians were, of course, forced to adopt some kind of standard.

The conquest of the Morea was the first time the Venetians had conquered Ottoman territory and consequently they had never before been faced with the need to translate the cift into their own terms. Although the concept of the zeugarion, as a Byzantine heritage, must have been present in other Venetian colonies, the Venetian Republic did not directly manage as much land in these areas as they did in the Peloponnese. (216) Another factor is the late date of this conquest, after Venetian policy on taxation had changed. By the late 17th century the Venetians wanted to introduce a system of taxation based on exact measurements of land. They discovered, however, that this was impossible to implement without years of preparation. The exact size of the cift was not an issue for the Ottoman administration since they did not tax the peasantry according to the exact extent of land they held, but rather according to the productive capacity of the unit that incorporated a household and two oxen, together with a tithe on produce. (217) This system (following the Byzantine system) was sensible for a large agrarian empire for which detailed cadastral surveys were impractical. (218) In the Venetian period we are faced with two basic problems: ascertaining the true size of the stremma and determining which measure the Venetians employed.

The stremma, donum, and para di bo were naturally variable measures, depending on the quality of soil. It is generally acknowledged that both the stremma and the donum derive from the Byzantine [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which had a range of values, principally 939.18 [m.sup.2] for arable land and good vineyards and 1,279.78 [m.sup.2] for inferior meadow and marginal land. It is clear that the standard size of the donum, regulated in the 19th century at 919.30 [m.sup.2], originated in the former figure, while the Ottoman-period stremma of 1,270 [m.sup.2] originated in the latter. (219)

The Venetians were confused by the variability of measures and needed to establish a standard. They naturally attempted to convert the Greek measures into Italian units with which they were familiar. Their calculations, based on experimentation on the ground, resulted in the following equation: 120 stremmata = 88 campi padovani. Using the accepted value for the campo padovano of 3,862.60 [m.sup.2] (Table 8) yields a stremma of 2,832.57 [m.sup.2]–too large a figure when compared with the usually accepted norm for the Peloponnese in this period (1,270 [m.sup.2]).

The Venetians, acting on local information, used a stremma of 25 x 25 passi. Forbes has recently suggested that they made a basic mistake (confusing linear and square measures) in using a square passo of ca. 4 [m.sup.2], rather than one of ca. 2 [m.sup.2]. (20) Using a square passo of 2.04 [m.sup.2] gives a figure for the stremma of 1,275 [m.sup.2], which is much nearer the generally accepted figure.

This is a complex issue, and not one that I can pretend to solve here. Nonetheless, I would like to make a few observations. I believe that Forbes is right in thinking that the passo must have been smaller, but my reasoning is different. The title page of the detailed cadaster of Romania, reproduced by Topping, states that a stremma is 625 Venetian square passi, using a square passo of 5 x 5 Venetian feet:

… un stremma di terreno di passi superficiali veneti, no. 625 che

due de quali formano un campo trivisano, che e passi superficiali

no. 1250 pero veneziani di cinque piedi. (221)

… a stremma of land of 625 Venetian square passi, two of which

make a campo trevisano, which is 1,250 square passi, Venetian

passi, however, of 5 feet.

A passo of 36 square feet is usually used for these calculations. (222) I suggest that the reason the Venetians used a passo of 5 feet rather than the usual 6 feet may have been that they were trying to approximate the Greek double pace, or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which was 1.56 m (5 Venetian feet = ca. 1.7 m).

Using a Venetian foot of 0.347735 m, a square passo of 5 x 5 feet would equal 3.0229907 [m.sup.2]. Multiplied by 625, this gives us a stremma of 1889.3691 [m.sup.2]. Returning to our original calculation using the Paduan campo, if we also use Venetian passi of 25 square feet there instead of Paduan, we arrive at a similar figure of ca. 1862.1621 [m.sup.2]. (223) I suggest that when the Venetians defined Greek measures with reference to Paduan or Trevisan ones, they were simply comparing them in terms of the number of tavole (square passi) conventionally used (840 in a Paduan campo, 1,250 in a Trevisan).

The problem with this argument is that a figure of ca. 1,850 [m.sup.2] still does not fit our figure of 1,270 [m.sup.2]. However, Venetian surveyors reported that the stremma used in the Peloponnese was not in fact 25 x 25 passi in size, but 18 x 18 passi. (224) A square passo of 3.0229907 [m.sup.2] multiplied by 324 (18 x 18) is 979.44898 [m.sup.2]–closer, at least, to the smaller Byzantine [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] of 939.18 [m.sup.2]. (225)

Another reason for believing that there was a stremma in use that corresponded to this smaller size is its closeness to the donum. The evidence from the Venetian and Ottoman documents suggests that the donum and stremma were of equivalent size (see the example of Scarmega in Table 6, where 240 donum are equal to 240 stremmata). (226)

This still leaves us with the problem of the larger stremma composed of 625 passi, almost double that of 324 passi. Here it seems to me possible that there was a further confusion between the stremma and the zeugaria, usually about two stremmata. This concept can also be seen in the Roman iugerum and perhaps in the “old” donum of 2,500 [m.sup.2]. In the Byzantine period there was also a large [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] with a value of 1,878.36 [m.sup.2] for good meadowland. (227) I can only conclude that, as in the Byzantine system, people were using different sizes of stremma according to the type of land.

In Venetian cadasters, such as the detailed one for Romania examined by Topping, the Venetians seem to have used a stremma of about 2,000 [m.sup.2]. (228) Dokos and Panagopoulos explain why the Venetians, in searching for a standard, finally settled on a stremma of 25 x 25 passi, (229) a decision closely connected with their calculations of the size of the para di bo. In the early years of the occupation, the governors had granted land in terms of the para di bo, without fully understanding what it was. In order to make the most of public revenues, they required an exact measure. The Venetians were initially confused by the varying reports they received on the size of the para di bo, of both 60 and 120 stremmata. This great range in size again reflected differing qualities of land, but the Venetians concluded that the village elders were misleading them, since the size could vary both between and within villages. (230)

Unable to reconcile the range of values for the stremma and for the para di bo, and lighting on the fact that 60 stremmata of 25 x 25 passi were equal to 120 stremmata of 18 x 18 passi, the Venetians finally decided to settle on 60 stremmata of 25 x 25 passi, which they recognized as including fallow.

In practice, Venetian surveyors found a range from 9 to 115 for the number of stremmata in the para di bo. The surveyor of the Vostizza cadaster calculates that 88 stremmata is the average size. (231) Returning to the example of Scarmega, three para di bo are also given as 240 stremmata, yielding a figure of 80 stremmata per para di bo. (232)

If my theory about the size of the stremma is correct, 120 stremmata (of 979.44898 [m.sup.2] each) would produce a figure for the para di bo of 117,533.87 [m.sup.2], while one of 60 stremmata would be 58,766.935 [m.sup.2]. Forbes has calculated ca. 25,000 [m.sup.2] as a realistic amount of land for a pair of oxen to plow in a season. (233) Given that the para di bo naturally includes fallow, a figure of ca. 60,000 [m.sup.2] would not seem unrealistic. (234)

A number of other sources exist for the size of the para di bo/cift/ zeugarion. Alexander quotes a 13th-century document that lists the minimum holding for a peasant with two oxen as 40 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], and suggests a “comfortable” average of 55-70 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. (235) Estimates from the later Byzantine period suggest 80-100 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] as the average holding (including fallow) of a peasant with a pair of oxen (zeugarion). (236) If we take 80 as an average size, the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] of 939.18 [m.sup.2] would give a total of 75,134.4 [m.sup.2] and the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] of 1279.78 [m.sup.2] a total of 102,382.4 [m.sup.2]. The Ottoman Kanunname, or law code, of 1716 states that “the cift of the kazas vary in their condition,” and gives a standard range of 80-150 donum depending on the quality of the land, with mountain areas as low as 20 donum. (237) Internal evidence from the Ottoman defter of 1716 suggests an average size for a yoke (cift) of ca. 40 donum. (238) Since this figure excludes fallow land, it seems a reasonable fit with a figure of 80 donum as an average holding. Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman sources all suggest, therefore, that the average number of units in a para di bo/cift/zeugarion is 80.

We can conclude that in good land a realistic average size for the para di bo was ca. 75,000 [m.sup.2]. To understand the actual measuring system employed by the Venetians, further analysis of both published and unpublished cadasters is necessary.



Archivio Grimani ai Servi

b.26/74 Filza di lettere scritte a Francesco Grimani, Provveditore Generale dell’armata in Morea (Messenia), 1698-1699

b.27/75 Filza di lettere scritte a Francesco Grimani, Provveditore Generale dell’armata in Morea (Messenia, Navarino, Modon, Coron, Arcadia), 1697-1700

b.28/76 Filza di lettere scritte a Francesco Grimani, Messenia

b.35 Lettere a Grimani, varie cariche

b.49/133 Terminazioni, decreti, patenti del Provveditore Generale, 1697-1699

b.49/135 Terminazioni, decreti, patenti del Provveditore Generale, 1700

b.50/136 Terminazioni, 1700

b.52/149 Concessioni di feudi, Messenia

b.52/152 Concessioni di feudi, Messenia, 1698

Provveditori di Terra e da Mar

b.860 Lettere dei commissari del Regno di Morea, Sindici Catasticatori (Gritti, Michiel, Renier), 1688-1691

b.869 Lettere dei Sindici Inquisitori in Morea (Grimani, Morosini, Minio), 1701-1704


b.3248/ix Breve descrittione del Regno di Morea (Codice Cicogna)


Archivio Nani (see Nanetti 1996 for full catalogue)

b.3917 Dispacci di Antonio Nani, Provveditore Generale nel Regno di Morea, 1703-1706

b.3918 Terminazioni di Antonio Nani, 1703-1705

b.3919 Disordini incontrati nelle camere delle quattro provincie…, 1700-1705

b.3922A Carte Antonio Nani sulle rendite del regno di Morea, 1700-1710

b.3924 Affittanze sopra l’incanto, 1696-1705

b.3925 Affittanze locate, 1699-1705

b.3926 Livelli, 1696-1705

b.3927 Concessioni di beni, 1700-1704

b.3928 Lettere di Antonio Nani, 1704-1705

b.3930 Lettere di Antonio Nani, 1703-1705

b.3938 Lettere ricevute da Antonio Nani (Messenia), 1703-1705

b.3939 Lettere ricevute da Antonio Nani (Messenia), 1704-1705

b.3940 Lettere ricevute da Antonio Nani (Messenia), 1703-1705

b.3956 Dispacci, Angelo Emo, Provveditore Generale della Morea, 1705-1708



Tax Register

Census (1700) Pacifico (1704) (1701/1704)

Agolotizza 21 Aurelista Agorelizza

Allafina 5 Lasina

Alli Cozza 6 Ali Cogliu Ali Coza

Arcadina di Lazaretto 3

Cadir Aga 12


Cassan Aga 2 Cassan Aga Cassan Aga


Cavallaria 62 Cavallaria Cavallaria

Condinu *

Cramidi 6 Cremidhi

Cumanicha *

Curbei 19 Curbei Curbei

Curcunara 6 Cucunaria Cuunara

Curro 12 Curo Curo


Flocca 18 Floca Floca



Iclena 15 Iclena Iclena




Ligudista 83 Ligudisca Ligodista


Mischa Catto *


Mususta 14 Mirsuta Mususta

Navarino (borgo) 30

Navarino (citta) 29 Navarin Novo

Navarin Vechio

Papuglia 8 Papaglia Papuglia due

Pella 7 Pilla Pilla

Petrocori 4 Petro Cori Petrocori

Pisaschi Picolo 9 Pisachi Pisaschi Picolo

Pispisa 12 Pirpissa Pississa

Plutano 7 Platano Platano


Rustan Aga 7 Russan Aga Rustamaga

Scarmega 10 Scarminga Scarminga

Schilirachi 3 Psili Rachi Magnachi

Stelianu 6 Stelianu

Suman Aga 17 Pisaschi Grande



Zaimogli 12 Raimogli Zaimogli

Census (1700) Ottoman (1716)

Agolotizza 21 Agurlice

Allafina 5 Alafine

Alli Cozza 6 Ali Hoca

Arcadina di Lazaretto 3 Arkadianu

Cadir Aga 12 (Abdul)kadir Aga


Cassan Aga 2 Hasan Aga


Cavallaria 62 Kavalari

Cramidi 6 Kirmiti

Curbei 19 Kurd Bey

Curcunara 6 Kukunare

Curro 12 Huri

Deli Ahmed

Flocca 18 Feyluke



Iclena 15 Iklina



Elyas Aga

Ligudista 83 Likudise


Usta Musli

Mususta 14 Muzuste

Navarino (borgo) 30

Navarino (citta) 29 Anavarin-i cedid

Anavarin-i atik

Papuglia 8 Papla

Pella 7 Pile

Petrocori 4 Petrehuri

Pisaschi Picolo 9 Kucuk Pisaski

Pispisa 12 Pispitsa

Plutano 7 Platne


Rustan Aga 7 Rustem Aga

Scarmega 10 Iskarminke

Schilirachi 3 Miniaki (Ibsili Rake)

Stelianu 6 Istilianu

Suman Aga 17 Osman Aga

(Buyuk Pisaski)



Zaimogli 12 Zaimzade

Census (1700) Modern Greek


Allafina 5

Alli Cozza 6

Arcadina di Lazaretto 3

Cadir Aga 12

Cassan Aga 2


Cramidi 6

Curbei 19

Curcunara 6

Curro 12

Flocca 18

Iclena 15



Navarino (borgo) 30



Papuglia 8

Pella 7

Petrocori 4

Pisaschi Picolo 9


Plutano 7

Rustan Aga 7


Schilirachi 3

Stelianu 6

Suman Aga 17



Census (1700): Panagiotopoulos 1985, pp. 250-252, 262, 265-266

(figures indicate the number of families per village); Pacifico:

a published source of 1704 listed in Sauerwein 1969; Tax Register:

Nani b.3925, f.100r-111v, 363r-367v, 384r-389r; Ottoman: Zarinebaf,

Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming; Modern Greek: modern Greek names

are given only where the modern name differs from the old one (see

Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 300). The orthography is given as it

appears in each source. All places can be found on the maps

(Figs. 2, 4, 5) except those with an asterisk, which have not been



OF NAVARINO, 1700-1706

Tax 1700 1701 1702 1703

Pasture 380 168 132 146

Beehives 55 56 58 58

Tanning 11 11 13 10

Wine, retail sale 315 292 240 275

Pigs 65 60 65 65

Soap, hostelries, playing cards,

candles, import of wine,

pig-butchering (in city) — 124 105 105

Fishery, Old Navarino — 400 400 400

Butchery and sale of meat

(outside the city) — — — —

Customs (Arcadia, Navarino,

and Fanari) 710 680 715 725

Spirits and tobacco

(Modon, New Navarino,

Old Navarino, Arcadia

and Fanari) 340 455 460 410

Total 1,876 2,246 2,188 2,194

Tax 1704 1705 1706

Pasture 162 180 —

Beehives 57 41 41

Tanning 9 9 —

Wine, retail sale 255 255 255

Pigs 65 65 65

Soap, hostelries, playing cards,

candles, import of wine,

pig-butchering (in city) 105 105 105

Fishery, Old Navarino 400 400 400

Butchery and sale of meat

(outside the city) 50 50 50

Customs (Arcadia, Navarino,

and Fanari) 725 725 —

Spirits and tobacco

(Modon, New Navarino,

Old Navarino, Arcadia

and Fanari) 320 320 320

Total 2,148 2,150 1,236

Source: Nani b.3925, f.371r-374r, 115r-116v, 393r-396r.

Values are in reali. A dash indicates that figures are

not available for that year.


1701 AND 1704

Village 1701 1704

Agolotizza — 137.50

Alli Cozza 38.00 28.25

Carvunocori 220.00 18.75

Cassan Aga 30.00 21.25

Cassi 127.00 100.00

Cavallaria 810.00 900.00

Cramidi 11.00 15.00

Curbei 53.00 92.50

Curcunara 22.00 22.25

Curro 46.00 56.25

Delachmeti with Muscugli 18.00 12.50

Flocca 55.00 35.00

Gugli 12.00 8.75

Iclena 91.00 113.75

Lefco with Giofiri 36.00 25.00

Lesachi 17.00 5.62

Lesaga 4.00 5.00

Ligudista 700.00 887.50

Mellissi with Rudhia 80.00 35.00

Mischa Catto — 12.50

Mususta with Tristena 65.00 81.25

Papuglia (upper and lower) 30.00 45.00

Pella 97.00 97.50

Petrocori with hinterland of Old Navarino 66.00 103.75

Pisaschi Picolo 54.00 106.25

Pispisa with Condinu 97.00 100.00

Plutano 16.00 21.25

Rustan Aga 70.00 68.75

Scarmega 40.00 35.00

Schilirachi 11.00 12.50

Stelianu 21.00 18.75

Suman Aga with Allafina 200.00 282.50

Toppici 6.00 6.25

Zaimogli 70.00 60.00

Total 3,213.00 3,571.12

Source: Nani b.3925, f.100r-111v, f.363r-367v, f.384r-389r.

Values are in reali. A dash signifies that no auction figure

is listed for that year.


1700 1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

1,590.00 3,213.00 2,900.00 3,300.00 3,571.12 3,687.50

Sources: For 1700, 1702, 1703, 1705: Nani b.3925, f.363r; for 1701

and 1704: Nani b.3925, f.100r-111v, f.363r-367v, f.384r-389r.

Values are in reali.



Chiots Cretans “Rumeliotti”

Arable land (stremmata) 400.50 10.00

Arable land (bacilli) 42.50 3.00

Arable land (para di bo) 288.00 93.00 730.00

Mills 1.00 3.00 8.50

Vines (zappade) 2,605.50 255.00 735.50

Olive trees 30,847.00 362.00 309.00

Olive presses 13.00 3.00

Gardens 11.00 4.00 3.00

Orchards 109.00 8.00

Houses 5.00 15.00 (city)

1.00 (village)

Shops 7.00 2.00 (city)

Fruit trees 7,444.00 1.00 992.00

“Beni” (“property”) 10.00 4.00

Source: Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.238v-239r, 303r-304r, 308r-317r. For

the measures used here, see Appendixes 1 and 2. All of the property

awarded to the “Rumeliotti” was in the territories of Caritena,

Leondari, Andrussa, and Calamata.


Roman Greek



0.29 0.31




1.48 m 1.56

(5 feet)



(24 passi)

MEASURES OF AREA ([m.sup.2])

passus —



1,259.00 939.18,


iugerum —


(2 acti)

— —

heredium —


(4 acti)


(average holding


75, 134.40, or


Roman Venetian Trevisan


pes piede piede

0.29 0.347735 0.4081054

— — —

passus passo passo

1.48 m 1.738675 2.040527

(5 feet) (5 feet)

actus —


(24 passi)

MEASURES OF AREA ([m.sup.2])

passus tavola tavola

2.18 3.0229907 4.1637504

actus stremma —

1,259.00 979.44898

(324 tavole),


(625 tavole)

iugerum — —


(2 acti)

— — —

heredium — campo

5,036.00 5,204.69

(4 acti) (1,250 tavole)

— para di bo —

(average 80



or 151,149.52

Roman Paduan Ottoman


pes piede —

0.29 0.357395

— — arsin (of mason)


passus passo —

1.48 m 2.14437

(6 feet)

actus — (40 arsin 30.32)


(24 passi)

MEASURES OF AREA ([m.sup.2])

passus tavola —

2.18 4.59832

actus — donum

1,259.00 919.3

(40 x 40 arsin)

iugerum — “old” donum

2,518.00 2,500.00

(2 acti)

— campo —


(840 tavole)

heredium — —


(4 acti)

— — cift

(80-150 donum)



Sources: Schilbach 1970; Berov 1975; Inalcik 1982;

Badekas 1988; Forbes 2000b.

1. Research for this article was supported by a grant to the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP) from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I thank the Istituto Ellenico di studi bizantini e post-bizantini di Venezia for hospitality while undertaking primary research. A post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati, financed by the Louise Taft Semple Fund, enabled me to prepare it for publication. I am particularly grateful to Jack Davis, John Bennet, and Alexis Malliaris for many useful discussions; to Fariba Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis for allowing me to cite their forthcoming volume; and to Rosemary Robertson for preparing the illustrations. In addition, I thank the anonymous Hesperia reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

The quotations from documents preserve the original spelling. All translations are my own. The following abbreviations for archival sources are used: Grimani = Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Archivio Grimani ai Servi; PTM = Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Senato, Provveditori di Terra e da Mar (PTM b.869 does not have folio numbers; if a date is included in the document, it is given; “m.v.” signifies “more veneziano,” i.e., the year beginning on March 1); Nani = National Library of Greece, Archivio Nani; b. = busta (file); fa. = filza (file); f. = folio; d. = dispaccio (dispatch). For foreign terms used in the text, see the glossary provided in Appendix 1.

(2.) Inalcik, in Inalcik and Quataert 1997, I, p. 175. See also p. 155, where he suggests that it was the ability of the state to maintain its land regime that determined the settlement and field pattern of an area.

(3.) See, e.g., Grove and Conterio 1995; Rackham and Grove 1996; Kiel 1997; Bintliff 1999; Given 2000; Vroom 2000; Grove and Rackham 2001.

(4.) For a discussion of this trend, see Cherry 1994 and, more recently, Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr 2000.

(5.) For the Argolid: Jameson, Runnels, and van Andel 1994; Sutton 2000; Methana: Mee and Forbes 1997; Corinth: http://eleftheria.stcloudstate. edu/eks; Asea Valley: class/AVAP.

(6.) See Davis et al. 1997; Zangger et al. 1997; Davis 1998; Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr 2000; Lee 2001; Stocker 2003; and Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.

(7.) For a general history of Veneto-Turkish relations in this period, see Setton 1991. Recent scholarship in the field of Venetian Greece is summarized in Balard 1998.

(8.) This summary is based on Davis et al. 1997, pp. 454-475; Davis 1998, pp. 192-273; and Topping 1972.

(9.) Topping 1972. I would like to record here my debt to the late Professor Topping for his encouragement when I first started to work in this field.

(10.) Frangakis and Wagstaff 1987. See also discussion of this argument in Forbes 2000c, where the author argues that insecurity has a complex effect on choice of settlement location.

(11.) Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr 2000.

(12.) Issues introduced in this section such as political organization and taxation are explained in more detail below. For accounts of the period, see Topping 1972, 1974, 1976; and, more recently, Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993.

(13.) These are Coron (Korone), Modon (Methone), Nauplion, Patras, Calavrita (Kalavryta), Mistra, Tripoli, Gastuni, Corinth, Argos, Arcadia (Arkadia) and Fanari, Calamata (Kalamata), Navarino (Pylos), Caritena (Karytaina) and Leondari, Monemvasia, and Vostizza (Aegion) (Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xiii).

(14.) For a more detailed map of these administrative divisions than is presented in Fig. 1, see Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 165, map 6.

(15.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xv. The question of the extent of the desertion is discussed in more detail below.

(16.) Setton 1991, p. 395.

(17.) A partial census had been taken in 1689 (Topping 1972).

(18.) See, e.g., Fisher 1935, II, p. 820. Venice converted the main mosques into Roman Catholic churches and attempted to disrupt links between the Orthodox Church in the Peloponnese and the Patriarchate in Constantinople; the presence of Roman Catholic missionaries may also have caused resentment.

(19.) Finlay 1856, p. 257. See also Miller 1921.

(20.) Liata 1975. On the community in Nauplion, see Liata 1998. See also Malliaris 2001 on the role of Athenian immigrants in urban life, and Davies 1996 on their role in tax-farming in the northern Peloponnese.

(21.) Davies 1996, p. 223.

(22.) See Cozzi 1985a, 1985b; Guida 1989; Viggiano 1996; Zannini 1996.

(23.) Finley 1976, pp. 176-177.

(24.) McKee 2000, pp. 5-18.

(25.) Osterhammel 1997, pp. 10-11.

(26.) Osterhammel 1997, pp. 64-66. The Venetians needed to create secular institutions since they were anxious not to accord too much influence to the Orthodox Church based in the Ottoman capital.

(27.) Lampros 1884, 1885, 1900.

(28.) Panagiotopoulos 1985; Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993.

(29.) Topping 1976 (the detailed cadaster of Nauplion is kept in the Medieval Archive of the Academy of Athens); Jameson, Runnels, and van Andel 1994, pp. 20, 410-411.

(30.) Liata 2002, 2003.

(31.) See n. 1, above, for abbreviations of the archival sources. The spelling of place-names in the documents varies greatly; for ease of reference I have standardized them. The main variants are found in Table 1, where Ottoman toponyms are also given.

(32.) PTM b.860, f.591r. Kermes, made from insects found on the Kermes oak, was a red dye akin to cochineal.

(33.) The illegible word here is probably a variant of “mendacia” (mendacity); this is a frequent complaint of the Venetians about their Greek subjects (see, e.g., Topping 1976, p. 95).

(34.) Panagiotopoulos 1985, pp. 226, 249. I have adjusted the total given in the 1689 census (1,413) to take into account the fact that the borders of the territory were slightly different in the 1700 census (see below, n. 83).

(35.) Dokos 1999-2000, pp. 243, 272.

(36.) Nani b.3940, f.99r.

(37.) Nani b.3917, f.63r.

(38.) PTM b.860, f.217r.

(39.) Andrews (1953, pp. 49-57) discusses the structure of the two forts in detail and publishes Venetian plans (pls. XI, XII). Their condition in 1716 is examined closely in Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.

(40.) In 1688 Girolamo Marcello was appointed Provveditore Estraordinario at New Navarino, a position also including the supervision of Old Navarino (PTM b.860, f.159r).

(41.) PTM b.860, f.217r, f.234v. “Public” property was everything that had previously been under Turkish ownership (see below for Ottoman concepts of property-holding). In 1697 the provveditore of Arcadia reported that the aqueduct that carried water 8 miles into the city of New Navarino had deteriorated and was largely “uncovered,” so that the city was often short of water; the four cisterns within the city did not suffice (Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.1103r). In 1699 someone was appointed to repair and maintain both aqueduct and cisterns (Grimani b.49, fa.133, f.144r). In appendix V of Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis (forthcoming), the authors discuss in detail the water supply of the city and the buildings within the fortress.

(42.) The other comunita of Messenia were instituted as follows: Coron 1686; Modon 1687; Calamata 1695; Arcadia and Caritena 1696 (Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xiii; Nani b.3922A, f.46r).

(43.) PTM b.869. The term “foreigners” is likely to signify Greek nonnatives of the Morea.

(44.) Grimani b.49, fa.133, f.158v. Piazza here is synonymous with fortezza.

(45.) Dokos 1999-2000, p. 247.

(46.) Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.357r.

(47.) Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.488r.

(48.) Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 262. In 1699 a public surveyor, Francesco Fabretti, was ordered to survey plots for lease in the borgo of Navarino; vacant plots were valued at 3 reali per passo, built plots at 4 (Grimani b.49, fa.133, f.145r). The reale was a silver coin minted in Venice for use in the Levant (Moschonas 1990, pp. 202-203). For the passo, see Appendixes 1 and 2.

(49.) Panagiotopoulos 1985, pp. 240-266.

(50.) When these properties are later rented out, the name of the Turkish owner is sometimes given. For example, the house rented to Zorzi Salamon in 1697 is described as “un casa in Navarino del Turco Mecmet Celepi Damasogli” (“a house in Navarino belonging to the Turk Mecmet Celepi Damasogli”); Nani b.3926, f.428r. Zorzi Salamon was an official entrusted with revenue collection in Messenia (Guida 1989, p. 128).

(51.) The report of Evliya Celebi in the 17th century and the evidence of the defter (Ottoman tax register) of 1716 both suggest that Christian habitations were confined to the suburbs (Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.) The principal mosques of Old Navarino and New Navarino were converted to churches and given to the Augustinian order; Franciscans are also mentioned in New Navarino (Grimani b.49, fa.133, f.189r). For a description of the main mosque in New Navarino, see Locatelli 1691, pp. 224-225. On the establishment of the Latin mendicant and preaching orders in Greece, see Panagopoulos 1979. Andrews’s (1953) publication of Venetian maps shows a Greek church, a Latin church, and a “convento del frate” (“convent of friars”) in Old Navarino (pl. X), and a Greek church (assuming that the legend “Tieza greca” should read “Chiesa greca”) outside the fortress, near the suburb of New Navarino (pl. XI). Dokos (1973, p. 139) lists a church in the borgo of Navarino in contemporary documents of church property.

(52.) Faroqhi 1997, pp. 576, 602-603.

(53.) Greene (2000, p. 96, n. 79, p. 157), describing the population of the city of Candia (Iraklion) on Crete in the 1690s and early 1700s, reports that the city was predominantly Muslim and the Christian population surprisingly low; she attributes this to flight of the Greeks during the wars.

(54.) It is true that comunita had existed in Nauplion and Monemvasia during the Venetian occupation of the 14th and 15th centuries (Dokos 1999-2000, pp. 243-244).

(55.) Dokos 1999-2000, p. 247.

(56.) Dokos 1999-2000.

(57.) On plans for the fortification of the isthmus and the cutting of a canal, see Maltezou 1976-1978 and Katsiardi-Hering 1993.

(58.) PTM b.869, d.21, April 8, 1704, Patras.

(59.) Grimani b.26, f.427r; Dokos 1999-2000, p. 246.

(60.) Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.677r-678r; request by elders of Arcadia, September 1698.

(61.) Grimani b.35, f.562r. The villages were divided into two groups as follows: 1) Cavallaria, Plutano, Pispisa, Ciana(?), Rustan Aga, Alli Cozza, Pisaschi Picolo, Suman Aga, Petrocori, Iclena, Papuglia, Zaimogli, Pella, Curbei; and 2) Ligudista, Flocca, Mususta, Agolotizza, Cassan Aga, Schilirachi, Scarmega, Stelianu, Cadir Aga, Cramidi, Curcunara, Arcadina di Lazaretto. If one takes the census figures from 1700, the two groups are virtually equal in terms of population, the first having 185 families, the second 184. According to the document the first group was responsible for 13 dragoons and the second group for four. (While 13 would seem to accord with the number of families represented, comparison with figures for other areas leads me to suspect that this was a scribal error and that three was intended.)

(62.) Nani b.3918, f.270v. Ligudista and Schilirachi were responsible for half a dragoon; Cavallaria and Lefco for one; Jannena(?) and Curbei for two; Cadir Aga, Stelianu, Littaga(?), and Arcadina di Lazaretto for half. This seems an odd selection of villages, for which I have no explanation.

(63.) Nani b.3938, f.70v-71r, 94r. After a tour of inspection the village of Solinaria in the territory of Modon was chosen as it was of a suitable size and situated at an equal distance from both New Navarino and Coron. It was necessary to build barracks and warehouses. The actual site chosen was the ruined village of Milioti, on a small hill, well supplied with fresh water from three springs, one mile northwest of the inhabited Solinaria and a mile east of Cabassi (these villages are outside the territory of Navarino, but can be located on the maps in Topping 1972). The buildings were designed to accommodate 60 dragoons with their horses and three officers. In terms of population Solinaria was the largest village in the area (40 families in the 1700 census) after Cavallaria, Ligudista, and Gargagliani, which were presumably too far north to be chosen (Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 265).

(64.) Grimani b.26, f.697r.

(65.) Grimani b.50, fa.136, f.323r.

(66.) Nani b.3930, f.135v-137r; Nani b.3940, f.150r. For his imminent arrival in Navarino in 1703, Antonio Nani (Provveditore Generale) required the presence of 210 baggage animals.

(67.) Grimani b.28, f.839r-841r.

(68.) For explanation of this system, see the discussion of land distribution below.

(69.) Dokos 1999-2000, pp. 272, 276-278.

(70.) Grimani b.35, f.54r.

(71.) Dokos 1999-2000, pp. 278-280.

(72.) PTM b.869, February 5, 1701 (m.v.).

(73.) Malliaris 2001, p. 254.

(74.) Dokos 1999-2000, p. 262.

(75.) This was also true in Vostizza, where Dokos (1999-2000, p. 249) notes that citizens resident in the villages asked for exemption from various services.

(76.) Grimani b.26, f.698r.

(77.) Grimani b.27, fa.75, f.139r.

(78.) Nani b.3938, f.84r.

(79.) On this system, and attempts to replace it with vigilante patrols controlled by the villagers, see Alexander 1985b, pp. 29-36.

(80.) Grimani b.28, f.839r.

(81.) Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.780r. Brumfield (2000, p. 50) describes a similar practice in Ottoman Crete in 1689.

(82.) The scoglietto could refer to either the islet in the middle of the bay now known as Chelonaki or the island at the entrance to the bay, Tsichlibaba (Baltas 1987, p. 17). A contemporary Venetian plan reproduced by Andrews (1953, pl. VII) shows the former as “scoglietto nel porto d(ett)o dei Sorzi” and the latter as “scoglietto alla bocca.”

(83.) Grimani b.26, f.866r-v. The figure of 280 families in 1698 is substantially lower than the population of 445 families recorded for 1700. Immigration could not account for this rate of increase. I suggest that the rettore was aware of the 1689 population figure of 1,413 individuals for the territory, and, assuming a family size of five, calculated ca. 280 families. In fact, four individuals per family were assumed in the 1700 census. If we apply the latter ratio to the 1689 figure, we arrive at 353 families, yielding a more credible rate of population increase over the 11 years (especially given that two villages were reallocated to Arcadia in the intervening period). See Panagiotopoulos 1985, pp. 226, 262. There should only have been 60 families enrolled in the comunita (see above), so the suggestion that most of the families in the territory were enrolled implies abuse of the system.

(84.) Grimani b.26, fa.74, f.746r-748r. Vromoneri is on the coast to the north of the Bay of Navarino.

85. Grimani b.26, f.445r. S. Nicolo has not been identified. “Tripio Lithari” may be identified with the place called “Trupeto” (on the assumption that “tripio” is a version of “trupeto”) on Tsichlibaba (Baltas 1987, p. 71).

(86.) Nani b.3938, f.55r.

(87.) Nani b.3938, f.85r.

(88.) Nani b.3940, f.164r.

(89.) Dokos 1999-2000, pp. 274-275.

(90.) For a detailed examination of the taxation system, see Davies 1996.

(91.) For these terms, see Appendix 1.

(92.) There is a case for considering taxes connected with livestock, such as those on pasturage and slaughtering, as direct taxes, but here I have categorized them as indirect.

(93.) Davies 1996, pp. 119-128. On salt production in the Peloponnese, see Panopoulou 1987-1988.

(94.) Andreades 1914.

(95.) Lampros 1900, pp. 500-501; for the evolution of Venetian taxation policy and the introduction of a property tax on the mainland in the 16th century, see Hocquet 1999.

(96.) For Messenia they are found in Nani b.3919, f.264r-290r.

(97.) For example, on pasturage: sheep and goats, 2 soldi per head; large animals (excluding draft animals and suckling pigs), 6 soldi per head. For beehives, 10 soldi each; pigs, 10 soldi per head; hides, 2 soldi (small), 6 soldi (large). For retail sale of wine, 4 soldi per sechio (10.7 1); import of wine, 16 soldi per barrel.

(98.) For example, the sale prices for sausage and pork products within the city were 8 soldi per lira grossa; meat sold outside the city: beef, 5 soldi per lira grossa; mutton, 6 soldi; goat, 5 soldi; and pork, 6 soldi (it was forbidden to make sausage outside the city); soap: local, 16 soldi per lira sottile; Venetian, 18 soldi per lira sottile; candles: white, 4 lire per lira sottile; yellow, 2 lire 8 soldi; tallow, 1 lira 4 soldi; salt, 2 soldi per pound; and playing cards: 15 gazzette (2 soldi) per pack. The tax on hostelries was effectively a monopoly on issuing licenses to serve food and wine and offer lodgings both inside and outside the city.

(99.) Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming. The Venetians reported that the revenue under the Ottomans had been equivalent to 800 reali per year (PTM b.860, f.231v).

(100.) Davies 1996, pp. 195-196.

(101.) Davies 1996, p. 130.

(102.) For methods of tithe collection in this period, see Davies 1994. The system of land tenure is explained below.

(103.) Davies 1996, p. 226; Guida 1989, p. 121.

(104.) Grimani b.28, f.1255r.

(105.) Grimani b.26, f.892r. The meaning of zanelle is unclear, but it is perhaps a corruption of the Greek word for “glass” (gualinow).

(106.) I have used the term “village” here to mean any settlement with a name, whether inhabited or not; see below for discussion on the difference between villages and estates.

(107.) Nani b.3925, f.363r; Nani b.3939, f.502r, 568r. The name Giustinian indicates that he was a Chiot immigrant. For the staro, see Appendix 1. The quarantine building, or “lazaretto,” is visible in Fig. 3. A small settlement there is mentioned in the census as “Arcadina di lazaretto” (Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 262). For the use of the term boaria, see below.

(108.) The villages on the map are Carvunocori, Gugli, Lesachi, Lesaga, Mellissi, Lefco, Toppici, and Tristena; the last three are listed as deserted. The map of the territory was made as a prelude to a cadastral survey. I was able to consult a copy of this map courtesy of John Bennet; the original is in the Austrian State War Archives (see Katsiardi-Hering 1993, p. 302).

(109.) Grimani b.28, f.1221r. The disparate figures for Carvunocori may also perhaps be attributable to scribal error.

(110.) Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 313. While Panagiotopoulos gives a date of 1711 for this source, based on what he considers a likely rate of population increase, Dokos (1994) has suggested that it dates to ca. 1702.

(111.) See below for discussion of the extent of cultivated versus uncultivated land.

(112.) Nani b.3956, f.9r.

(113.) Grimani b.28, f.265r.

(114.) For tithe farms, Nani b.3925, f.363r-367v. For identification and location of place-names, see Table 1 and Fig. 4, below. For detailed discussion on the identification and boundaries of each village, see Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.

(115.) Grimani b.28, f.819r-820v.

(116.) Grimani b.26, f.543r, 857r.

(117.) Nani b.3940, f.167r.

(118.) Grimani b.28, f.1161r.

(119.) Grimani b.28, f.234r.

(120.) Fieldwork on behalf of PRAP by Wayne Lee in the village of Maryeli, to the northeast of the territory of Navarino, found that threshing floors were often in close proximity to each other, suggesting that perhaps each farmer had his own. In the vicinity of the village he found traces of 14 threshing floors (Lee 2001, pp. 61-63). Note the offer of Stefano Giustinian, mentioned above, in which he specified that threshing was to be done near the village.

(121.) Grimani b.28, f.344r.

(122.) Nani b.3930, f.51v.

(123.) See also Davies 1994 for an example of a village signing a contract with a third party, in preference to dealing directly with the authorities themselves. Greek monasteries were subject to tithe contributions on their property, initially collected by private tithe-farmers. From 1704 onward, however, the Sindici Inquisitori encouraged them to be directly responsible for payments by allowing them the right to collect their own tithe, pasture and beehive taxes; PTM b.869, Patras, May 24, 1704. For church property, see the discussion of land distribution below.

(124.) Nani b.3928, f.231v; Davies 1996, pp. 82, 84.

(125.) Nani b.3938, f.1r.

(126.) Nani b.3939, f.358r-v.

(127.) Grimani b.26, f.324r.

(128.) Grimani b.26, f.529r-530r.

(129.) PTM b.869.

(130.) Grimani b.26, f.296r, 750r; Grimani b.35, f.32r, 76r; Nani b.3938, f.82r.

(131.) Grimani b.26, f.442r. On the nature of private property, see below.

(132.) Grimani b.28, f.839r.

(133.) Lampros 1900, p. 521; Malliaris 2001, pp. 95, 118-119. In writing this section the work of Alexis Malliaris on land distribution in Patras and Gastuni has been invaluable and I thank him for making his unpublished thesis available to me.

(134.) Inalcik and Quataert 1997, I, pp. 103-178; see pp. 139-140 for a summary of Ottoman land categories.

(135.) For example, the report of the deputies assigned to the economic affairs of the Morea, 1699, the text of which is given in Malliaris 2001, p. 295.

(136.) The phrase used was “un antico e lungo possesso de loro terreni” (“an ancient and long-term possession of their lands”). Malliaris notes the long-term effect of this recognition, which was maintained in the Second Ottoman period (Malliaris 2001, pp. 93-94, 123). In contrast to arable land, vineyards, orchards, and vegetable gardens were all considered freehold in the Ottoman system (Inalcik and Quataert 1997, I, p. 155). It is possible that these were also claimed as beneprobatum.

(137.) PTM b.860, f.210r. Public surveyors were sent out to measure plots and sometimes complained of the time-consuming nature of the work (Grimani b.28, f.370v).

(138.) PTM b.869, register of church property. For measures, see Appendixes 1 and 2.

(139.) Nani b.3939, f.460r; PTM b.869; Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.256v.

(140.) The dispatches of the Sindici Inquisitori in 1702 record that detailed surveys had been done of the city and fortress of Navarino, together with Modon and one third of Arcadia; however, there was still work to be done (PTM b.869, January 29, 1701, m.v.). These have not, to my knowledge, survived in Venetian archives. Grimani recorded the cadasters completed under his generalship in 1698-1701: summary ones for the territories of Fanari, Caritena, Tripoli, Romania, Argos, and Vostizza; and a detailed one for Vostizza and two-thirds of the territory of Tripoli. He had been asking for copies, but in the meantime had left the originals in the Morea for his successors to see (Lampros 1900, p. 501). For the cadasters in general, see Topping 1972, pp. 75-80. For the published cadaster of Vostizza, see Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, with a very useful introduction to the topic, pp. xxxix-lix. For the cadasters of Romania and Argos, see Liata 2002, 2003. Surviving cadasters, in addition to the above, include a summary one for the territory of Calamata and a detailed one for the territory of Romania. Archival notes by Spiros Lampros made in the early 20th century mention fragments of cadasters for Zaccogna (Tsakonia) and Corinth; these do not appear, however, in Dokos and Panagopoulos’s record of the contents of that particular file (Lampros 1927, p. 188; Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. lvii; see also Katsiardi-Hering 1993, pp. 288-290). For Venetian surveys of the Mani, see Komes 1998.

(141.) An example of the importance that the Venetians attached to the repopulation is Nani’s insistence on not overburdening the peasantry for fear of a detrimental effect on the “tant’ importante popolatione del Regno” (Nani b.3930, f.51v). The Bishop of Zaccogna (Tsakonia) was commended by the Sindici Catasticatori for helping people to immigrate (PTM b.860, f.367r). On immigration see also Topping 1976; Malliaris 2001, pp. 20-72; Dokos 1975.

(142.) On the loss of Chios see Argenti 1935; for Athens, Setton 1991.

(143.) On this phenomenon and the granting of land in return for military service or other obligations, such as bringing new land under cultivation, see Malliaris 2001, pp. 146-158.

(144.) In contrast to tenanted land, on which see below.

(145.) Lampros 1900, pp. 457, 458, 504.

(146.) The condition of the sharecroppers is discussed further below. The Sindici Inquisitori referred to the two-thirds retained by the peasant as the “portione colonica” (Malliaris 2001, p. 109). For systems of land tenure and sharecropping in other parts of early modern Greece, see Maltezou 1980, pp. 35-40; Slot 1982, p. 47 and n. 59; Kasdagli 1999, pp. 117-159; Asdrachas 1979, p. 25. On the surrender of a third of the harvest in the 19th-century Peloponnese, see McGrew 1985, p. 33; Gritsopoulos 1971, p. 456.

(147.) Concessions that had expired, or whose holders had died or left the country, were sometimes later disposed of at auction. The Sindici Inquisitori (1701-1704) annulled many former grants and reassigned them on new terms.

(148.) Malliaris 2001, pp. 101-113.

(149.) Grimani b.28, f.370v-371r. For the “livelli del sopra piU” in Santa Maura (Lefkada), see Andreades 1914, II, p. 227.

(150.) Grimani b.28, f.1077r. He appears to be asking here for the right to keep the tithe for himself, as well as the “third.” The reward for such a denunciation was usually half the produce for four years, although Malliaris (2001, p. 98) also gives an example of someone being awarded a third of the property in perpetuity, with the obligation to pay the tithe.

(151.) Malliaris 2001, pp. 124-127, 132-137. The practice of subcontracting collection of the terzo is surprising given the well-known shortage of money in the peninsula, although in the two rare examples of notarial contracts cited by Malliaris, payment was made in one case in cash and in the other partly in cash and partly in kind. For references to terziarii and compagni del terzo in Navarino, see Nani b.3939, f.261r; Grimani b.28, f.733r, f.896r.

(152.) Nani b.3939, f.604r.

(153.) Lampros 1900, p. 456. When Grimani talks of the equality of status of Ottoman Greek subjects, he clearly refers to the lack of any official distinction such as that conferred by Venetian citizenship; it is clear, however, from the way in which immigrants to the Morea were graded, that there was, at least in other regions, very marked socioeconomic differentiation among the Greek population.

(154.) Grimani b.26, f.593r.

(155.) Lampros 1900, pp. 510 (quotation), 526; “parasporo” appears to be a Byzantine term that survived in many parts of the former empire, but with a variety of different meanings. The term “parasporisti,” or “parasporicze,” is found in 14th-century Frankish documents concerning Messenia, although the significance was not recognized by the editors who simply note that it is a common place-name in Messenia (Longnon and Topping 1969, p. 61, n. 11; on public service, see also pp. 271-272). See also McGrew 1985, p. 33; Kasdagli 1999, pp. 150, 360, n. 98; and Asdrachas 1979, p. 39, n. 4, who notes the possible correlation between the paraspori and the method for exploiting the hassa ciftlik, a piece of land assigned to the direct control of a timar-holder.

(156.) In a recent article Forbes (2000a, p. 55) suggests that the reason the Venetians gave land in the Argolid to settlers from elsewhere rather than to the indigenous population was that the latter were thought to be tied to the land and therefore not entitled to own it. While this is in a sense true for sharecroppers, independent peasant farmers, although not entitled to concessions, were able to rent or lease public land.

(157.) For example, in Cyprus, the Venetians inherited many practices from the Lusignans and indeed some of these customs were later incorporated by the Ottomans (see Arbel and Veinstein 1986). In the 14th-century Morea, Byzantine and Frankish institutions survived Venetian rule (see Jacoby 1965 on interpreting Byzantine practice through Venetian documents from Messenia). For a similar approach by the Ottomans in the former Venetian colonies of Crete and the Cyclades, see Balta and Spiliotopoulou 1997, p. 120.

(158.) Argenti 1935, p. 165.

(159.) Miller (1921, p. 390) gives four categories of population for Athenians under Ottoman rule: archontes, householders, shepherds, and cultivators.

(160.) Argenti 1935, pp. 165-166. Analysis of the documents published by Argenti (pp. 169-186) shows that these sizes of award were not strictly followed in practice. A grant of property to Michiel Soffietti of Chios specifically stated that it had been assessed according to the revenue, rather than the extent of land, so that although he received more land than that allotted to others of a similar grade, the revenue was at a corresponding level: “dichiarando esserci da noi prese le misure, non sopra la quantita delli beni, ma sopra le rendite loro, cosi che, questi, benche in maggiore quantita corispondono nell’entrada nel quanto si e concesso a rimanenti di primo grado et prima rendita” (“stating that we made these measures not on the quantity of property, but according to their revenues, so that, although greater in quantity, they correspond in income to that which has been conceded to others of the first grade and first revenues”); Argenti 1935, p. 171.

(161.) Argenti 1935, pp. 165-166. In his report to the Senate, Michiel stated that the uncultivated land was only uncultivated since the departure of the Turks (Lampros 1884, pp. 217-218).

(162.) Argenti 1935, pp. 165-167.

(163.) Argenti 1935, pp. 169-187. On Chiot immigrants, see also Malliaris 2001, pp. 55-62, 204-210, 297.

(164.) Grimani b.28, f.86v. A “Stamati Beri,” presumably the same person, had originally been conceded this property in 1692; he is described as a baptized Turk (Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.288v).

(165.) Data were taken from the following sources: Grimani b.28; Grimani b.49, fa.133; Grimani b.52, fa.152; PTM b.860; Nani b.3924, b.3925, b.3926, b.3927, b.3939.

(166.) Argenti’s (1935, pp. 169-187) publication of the concessions to the Chiots is from the Archivio Morosini-Grimani, of the Museo Civico Correr in Venice; this list duplicates some of the information in the files cited above. Michiel’s quotation is from Argenti 1935, p. 167.

(167.) Grimani b.28, f.1282r. The financial value assigned here to the concession is presumably intended to represent the value of a third of the produce. Therefore, one can deduce that the full value of the property would be about 1,200 reali. If correct, this would lead us to expect a tithe value of ca. 120 reali. Although we do not have a tithe value for this village alone, the tithe value of Suman Aga and Allafina combined was 200 reali in 1701.

(168.) Malliaris 2001, pp. 103, 154.

(169.) Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.281v. See Table 6, and also below for further discussion of this village.

(170.) Grimani b.28, f.420r. It is not clear here why Anastopullo should rent a vine planted by Dimopullo unless the latter had failed to disclose the ground as public property.

(171.) Grimani b.28, f.819r-821r.

172. Grimani b.28, f.14v, 821r. Bacilli were a measure of capacity for seed used as a land measure (see Appendix 1). Flochieus has not been identified.

(173.) Liata 2003, p. 109.

(174.) Forbes (2000a, pp. 48-55) notes the interchangeable use of boaria, seguolatio, and mettochi in Venetian sources for the Argolid.

(175.) Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.254v; Grimani b.49, fa.135, f.84r.

(176.) See also Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr 2000, p. 374.

(177.) Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.

(178.) Bennet, Davis, and Zarinebaf-Shahr 2000, pp. 374-375.

(179.) See Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming, for discussion of the significance of differences in designation.

(180.) PTM b.860, f.280r; Nani b.3927, f.310v. McGrew (1985, p. 33) notes that in the case of olives the payment of the cultivator to the landlord was usually two-sevenths of the gross yield; he notes that sharecropping took place both on mulk and miri land.

(181.) I am indebted to Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis for access to as yet unpublished material for Cavallaria and Ligudista, which in 1716 were allocated to the jurisdiction of Arcadia, rather than Navarino.

(182.) Topping 1976.

(183.) Although, as Malliaris (2001, p. 118) points out, this may not have been true and could reflect the locals’ desire to keep any public property for themselves.

(184.) The question of how long these may have been deserted is considered below.

(185.) Grimani b.28, f.838v, 839r.

(186.) Grimani b.28, f.819r-820r; the reference to Carvunocori is taken from Argenti 1935, p. 172, where he has transcribed the name as Caracur Nocosi; although I have not seen the original, from its proximity to a reference to Curro, I think that Carvunocori is the most likely identification. This concession may have taken the place of a previous tenancy (Grimani b.28, f.820r). Carvunocori is also mentioned in another grant, where it is described as a mettochi (Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.254v).

(187.) While the Venetian sources do not explicitly tell us who was cultivating these lands, the Ottoman defter sometimes indicates by whom a mezra’a is being cultivated (Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming).

(188.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xv.

(189.) Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming. Eight of the villages listed in the defter do not appear at all in Venetian documents; for this reason I have excluded them from Tables 1 and 7, although their existence should be borne in mind.

(190.) Locatelli 1691, p. 216.

(191.) Panagiotopoulos 1985, p. 313.

(192.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, pp. lxxxiii-lxxxv.

(193.) PTM b.869, 1701; Nani b.3928, f.233r. On flights, see Malliaris 2001, pp. 262-275.

(194.) Lampros 1900, pp. 504-505. See Appendix 2 for sizes of plots of arable land.

(195.) Grimani b.49, fa.133, f.161r.

(196.) Lampros 1900, p. 297.

(197.) Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.288v, 290v, 294v.

(198.) Grimani b.28, f.1077r. Presumably the Albanians had not rented or otherwise formally acquired possession of this land.

(199.) Nani b.3925, f.377v; PTM b.860, f.280v.

(200.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xv.

(201.) Grimani b.50, fa.136, f.253v-254r.

(202.) Nani b.3939, f.603r.

(203.) Grimani b.28, f.134r, 196r.

(204.) Grimani b.28, f.457r.

(205.) Tenants of public land were inclined to pressure cultivators, already burdened by public service (Malliaris 2001, pp. 111-112).

(206.) Grimani b.52, fa.152, f.224v; Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.

(207.) PTM b.860, f.339r, November 25, 1689.

(208.) Grimani b.28, f.839r.

(209.) See the report of Domenico Gritti (Topping 1974, p. 316), in which he mentions that the shepherds were driven by the winter weather down to the coastal plain.

(210.) Davis et al. 1997, pp. 393, fig. 2, 398-400.

(211.) Davis et al. 1997, pp. 475-482; Davis 1998, pp. 262-266.

(212.) Jacoby 1989, p. 32.

(213.) An example is the identification of the toponym Rustan Aga with an early modern site found through intensive survey (Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming).

(214.) For Ottoman terms I have used as a source the glossary by H. Inalcik in Inalcik and Quataert 1997, II, pp. 986-993.

(215.) “Breve descrittione del Regno di Morea” (Biblioteca Correr, Venice, Codice Cicogna, b.3248, fa. ix).

(216.) A wide variety of land measures were used in Venetian Greece, e.g., the pinachi in the Ionian islands (for the Morea: Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, pp. xli-xliii; Ionian islands: Andreades 1914, II, p. 50). A document from 14th-century Crete describes land for rent in terms of “as much as can be sown by four pairs of oxen” (Thiriet 1968, p. 41).

(217.) Inalcik and Quataert 1997, I, p. 138.

(218.) On the assessment of revenue from land in areas taken by the Ottomans from the Venetians (such as Crete, Cyprus, and the Cycladic islands), see Balta and Spiliotopoulou 1997; Greene 1996.

(219.) Schilbach 1970, pp. 67, 74, 268.

(220.) Forbes 2000b, pp. 323-324.

(221.) Topping 1976, p. 104, fig. 1.

(222.) See Badekas, p. 44; Forbes 2000b, p. 322.

(223.) As noted in Table 8, a Paduan campo has 840 tavole (square passi).

(224.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. xlvii.

(225.) If one uses fewer decimal places, starting with a Venetian foot of 0.34 m, one reaches a figure of 936.36 [m.sup.2], which is extremely close to 939.18 [m.sup.2].

(226.) Before 19th-century regulation, however, the donum ranged in size from ca. 500 to 2,500 [m.sup.2] (Inalcik 1982, pp. 123-124; note that on p. 124 he gives 919.50 [m.sup.2] instead of 919.30 [m.sup.2] and on p. 121, table II, he gives Ottoman figures for the Morea dating from 1711, in error for 1716). See also Berov 1975.

(227.) Schilbach 1970, p. 269.

(228.) Topping 1976, p. 102, n. 7.

(229.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, pp. xxxix-xlvii.

(230.) Topping 1974, p. 326.

(231.) Dokos and Panagopoulos 1993, p. lxii, n. 164.

(232.) Nani b.3930, f.377v.

(233.) Forbes 2000a, pp. 63-64. For plowing and hoeing rates, see also Halstead 1995, p. 15, where he gives a maximum farm size for a family with a pair of oxen in early-20th-century northern Greece as ca. 100,000 [m.sup.2].

(234.) Although one should perhaps take into account the three-part rotation system apparently practiced in the Morea. See Topping 1974, pp. 326-327.

(235.) Alexander 1985a, p. 408.

(236.) Harvey 1989, p. 54, although he notes that estimates range as high as 150 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.].

(237.) Balta 1993, p. 50.

(238.) Zarinebaf, Bennet, and Davis, forthcoming.


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Siriol Davies




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