Duchy of the Archipelago

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The Venetian Duchy of the Archipelago (also called Egeon Pelagos) was a maritime state created in the Aegean Sea in the aftermath the Fourth Crusade.

Contents

Background and foundation

The Italian city states, especially Genoa, Pisa, and Venice, had been interested in the islands of the Aegean long before the Fourth Crusade. There were Italian trading colonies in Constantinople and Italian pirates frequently attacked settlements in the Aegean in the 12th century. After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, in which the Venetians played a major role, Venetian interests in the Aegean could be more thoroughly realized.

The Duchy of the Archipelago was created in 1207 by Marco Sanudo, a participant in the Crusade and a nephew of the former Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo, who had led the Venetian fleet to Constantinople. This was an independent venture, without the consent of the Latin emperor Henry of Flanders. Sanudo was accompanied by Marino Dandolo and Andrea and Geremia Ghisi, as well as Ravano dalle Carceri, lord of Euboea, and Philocalo Navigaioso, lord of Lemnos. He arranged for the loan of eight galleys from the Venetian Arsenal, and with his latter-day Argonauts cast anchor in the harbor of Potamidides, in the southwest of the island, and largely captured the island. The Orthodox Naxiotes did not give in easily: they holed up in the inland Greek fortress of Apalyros/Apalire, which fell to Sanudo after five or six weeks' siege, despite the succor rendered to the Greeks by the Genoese, who were none too happy to be excluded from Aegean trade by a nest of such officially-sanctioned Venetian pirates.

The Duchy and states in the , carved from the Byzantine Empire, as they were in 1265 (William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 1911)
Enlarge
The Duchy and states in the Morea, carved from the Byzantine Empire, as they were in 1265 (William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 1911)

With Naxos in hand in 1210, Sanudo and his brigand adventurers soon conquered Melos and the rest of the islands of the Cyclades, and he established himself as Duke of Naxia, or Duke of the Archipelago, with his headquarters at Naxos. Sanudo rebuilt a strong fortress and divided the island into 56 provinces, which he shared out as feudal fiefs among the leaders of his men, most of whom were working on spec and apparently paid their own expenses. His companions Carceri and Navigaoiso had been granted their islands by Henry of Flanders and were technically vassals of the Latin Empire. Sanudo too recognized Henry's authority rather than making the Duchy a vassal of Venice.

The conqueror himself ruled as Duke Marcos I for twenty years (1207-1227) surrounded in the Archipelago by Latin seigneurs in more than two dozen islands in the Aegean, for which some of them did homage to the Duke of Naxos, and some directly to the Latin Emperor at Constantinople. Sanudo also held in his personal possession Paros, Antiparos, Melos, Sifnos, Kithnos, Ios, Amorgos, Kimolos, Sikinos, Syros, and Pholegandros. Other islands included Andros (held by Dandolo), Tinos, Mykonos, Skyros, Skopelos, Serifos, Chios (held by the Ghisis), Thera (held by Jacopo Barozzi), Anaphe (held by Leonardo Foscolo), Kythera (held by Marco Venier), and Cerigotto (held by Jacopo Viaro).

Administration and economics

In the islands, as on the mainland, the substitution of a Latin feudalism caused little disruption to the Greek islanders, who were familiar with the rights of a land-owner class under the similar Byzantine system of the pronoia. In most cases the Greek inhabitants lived relatively peacefully with their new Venetian lords. The Venetians lived in the towns on the islands while the Greeks tended to live in the countryside. The Venetians brought the Catholic church with them but as there were so few of them, and as they were mostly absentee landlords, most Greeks remained Orthodox. The major concerns of the Venetians in the Duchy were the valuable trade routes with the larger islands off of Asia Minor, which they could now control, although those islands themselves remained part of the Latin Empire, and later the restored Byzantine Empire, until take by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. Aside from providing safe traveling routes to fellow Venetian ships, the Venetians also exported to Venice corundum and marble, which they mined on Naxos. Certain Latin feudal rights survived in the island of Naxos and elsewhere until they were abrogated in 1720 by the Ottomans.

Later history

The Annals of the Latin Archipelago are filled with the names of the Sanudo and Dandolo, Ghisi, Crispo and Sommaripa, Venier and Quirini, Barozzi and Gozzadini. Twenty-one dukes of the two dynasties ruled the Archipelago, successively as vassals of the Latin Emperors at Constantinople, of the Villehardouin dynasty of princes of Achaea, of the Angevins of Naples, and after 1418 of the Serenissima. In 1236 the Duchy was nominally granted to William of Villehardouin (later William II, Prince of Achaea), and many of the islands, except Naxos and Paros, were reconquered by the Byzantine Empire by the end of the 13th century. In 1317 the Catalan Grand Company raided the remnants of the Duchy; in 1383, the Crispo family led an armed insurrection and overthrew Sanudo's heirs as Dukes of Archipelago. Under the Crispo dukes, social order and agriculture decayed, and piracy flourished.

Collapse and Ottoman conquest

Before the last Latin Christian duke, Jacopo IV Crispo, was deposed in 1566 by Sultan Selim II, he was already paying the Sultan tribute. The Sultan's appointed representative, the last Duke of Archipelago (1566-79) was a Portuguese Marrano, Joseph Nasi. The Sultan's policy was based on the expectation that a foreign Jew would not be able to win support from the Orthodox Naxiotes to establish an independent rule. Joseph Nasi was married to his cousin, Dona Reyna, an intrepid heiress whose family had fled Spain with their fortune at the Expulsion. At Joseph's death in 1579, the Sultan expropriated much of his widow's wealth except for the 90,000 dinars stipulated in her ketubah (marriage contract). With this inheritance, Dona Reyna established a Hebrew press, first in her palatial residence in Belvedere, then in a suburb of Constantinople.

Even then Latin Christian rule was not entirely extinguished, for the Bolonese Gozzadini survived as lords of Siphnos other little islands in the Cyclades until 1617, and the island of Tenos remained Venetian until 1714. The last Venetian ports in Morea (the Peloponnese) were captured in 1718.

Other Venetian territories in the Aegean

The Venetians also controlled other islands as colonies, not as part of the Duchy or the Latin Empire. They bought Crete from Boniface of Montferrat, leader of the Fourth Crusade, in 1204, and from 1207 to 1211 the Venetians conquered it from the Maltese Enrico Pescatore who took it in 1206. Jacopo Tiepolo was installed as the first duke. Venice also controlled much of Euboea, where they had a trading colony in the town of Negroponte, and controlled various ports on mainland Greece.

Dukes of the Archipelago

Sanudo dynasty

Crispo dynasty

Pretenders of the Duchy of the Archipelago (Naxos Islands)

Line 1

  • Giovanni Crispo, 'Claimant of Naxos Is', Son of Giacomo IV. (1566-73)
  • Michele Crispo, Brother of Giovanni. (1573-81)
  • Lorenza Crispo, Daughter of Michele. (1581-1603)
  • Gio Cristosimo Crispo, (Moved to Malta), illegitimate son of Lorenza Crispo and Francesco I Tocco, Principi di Achaia. (1603-40)
  • Dr. Gio Andrea Crispo JUD, son of Gio Cristosimo. (1640-89)
  • Dr. Michele Angelo Crispo JUD, son of Gio Andrea. (1689-1726)
  • Dr. Gio Andrea Crispo JUD, son of Michele. (1726-88)
  • Dr Saverio Crispo JUD, son of Gio Andrea. (1788-1826).
  • Aloisea Crispo, Marchesa di San Giorgio, heiress of Saverio. (1826-33)
  • Francesco Crispo Barbaro, 3rd Marquis di San Giorgio. (1833-1847).
  • Count Gustavo Crispo Barbaro, 4th Marquis di San Giorgio. (1847-80).
  • Count George Crispo Barbaro, 5th Marquis di San Giorgio. (1880-1912)
  • Count Henry Crispo Barbaro, 6th Marquis di San Giorgio. (1912-1937)
  • Count Anthony Crispo Barbaro, 7th Marquis di San Giorgio. (1937-71)
  • Countess Beatrice Crispo Barbaro, 8th Marchioness di San Giorgio.(1971-2001).
  • Dr Anthony Cremona Barbaro, B.A. LL.D., Acknowledged by the COP as the 9th Marquis of San Giorgio. (2001-.

Line 2

  • Gio Mattea Crispo, Heir to Duchy, son of Francesco IV., (c. 1576)
  • Niccolo III Crispo, son of Gio Mattea, (c.1630)
  • Gio Mattea Crispo, son of Niccolo III
  • Francesco Crispo, son of Gio Mattea, (died 1714).
  • Giovanni Crispo, son of Francesco.
  • Geronimo Crispo, son of Giovanni.
  • Giovanni Crispo, son of Geronimo.
  • Jacopo Crispo, son of Giovanni., (died 1823).
  • Marachi Crispo, Last Crispo in the direct line., died unmarried., son of Jacopo.
  • Francesca Crispo, (died 1853), daughter of Jacopo Crispo., Married into the Coronelle family, who carry the rights from this line of the Ducal House.
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