Chronicle of Morea
The "Chronicle of Morea" ( _el. Το χρονικόν του Μορέως) is a long
14th centurytext, of which 4 versions are extant, a French, a Greek (in verse), an Italian and an Aragonese. The "Chronicle" is more than 9,000 lines long and it narrates events of the establishment of feudalismin mainland Greece, specifically in Peloponnese(called Moreaat the time) by the Franks (West European Crusaders) following the Fourth Crusade, covering a period from 1204to 1292(or later depending on the version), giving significant details on the organization of the Principality of Achaia.
The extant texts of the Chronicle of Morea
The Greek text is the only text written in verse. The French, Italian and Aragonian texts are written in prose.Jean-Claude Polet, Patrimoine littéraire européen, De Boeck Université, 1995, ISBN 2-8041-2077-5]
The verses of the Greek text are written in a 15 syllable metre called "versus politicus". The verses are accented but not rhymedWilliam Smith, page 579 in "A History of Greece", publisher R. B. Collins, 1855] . It is written in the spoken Greek of the time, with the inclusion of several French words.
There are two parallel Greek texts, as well as three copies:
*Ms Havniensis 57 (14th–15th century, in
Copenhagen) 9219 verses
**Ms Taurinensis B.II.I, library of
Turin, closely related to the Copenhagen text
*Ms Parisinus graecus 2898 (15th–16th century, at the
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris) 8191 verses
**Ms Parisinus graecus 2753 and
Bern509 grecboth of them copies of the Paris version.
The oldest text is that of Copenhagen, the language of which is more archaic. The Parisian, more recent, text is simpler in language, has less foreign words and is less contemptuous of Greeks, since the copier has omitted several antihellenic references. [P. Kolonaros, "Το Χρονικόν του Μορέως (The Chronicle of Moreas)", Athens 1940, page η']
The difference of about one century between the Copenhagen and Parisian version shows a considerable number of linguistic differences due to the rapid evolution of the Greek language. The text of the Copenhagen version describes events until 1292.
Royal Library of BelgiumNo 15702This text is known under the title: "The Book of the Conquest of Constantinople andthe Empire of Roumania and the country of the Principality of Morea", since in the incipit, it is indicated "C'est le livre de la conqueste de Constantinople et de l'empire de Romanie, et dou pays de la princée de la Morée"
There are also other copies of the French text:
Paris, No. 2753
**University Library of
Information in this text reaches until the year 1304.
*"Cronaca di Morea", is a summary which was compiled later than the previous texts and contains several mistakes. Its source is the text found in the manuscript in Greek of Turin.
*"Libro de los fechos et conquistas del principado de la Morea", was compiled at the end of the 14th century (around 1395), from the Greek version and other later sources, at the request of the Grand Master
Jean Fernandez de Herediaof the Knights of St. John [Encyclopedic Dictionary, entry on "Χρονικόν Μωρέως", Eleftheroudakis ed., 1931 ("in Greek")] . It contains information until 1393.
Which text is the original? Which version came out first?
It appears that the original text of the Chronicle of Morea has been lost. Even though the Aragonese and Italian texts have been clearly identified as later texts, there is no widely accepted answer on the priority of either Greek of French text [M. Jeffreys, The Chronicle of the Morea: Priority of the Greek version, BZ 68 (1975) 304-350] [A. Panagiotis, Study Medieval Greek, Museum Tusculanum Press, 1992, ISBN 87-7289-163-7] [Cyril A. Mango, The Oxford History of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-814098-3] .
The author of the original text of the chronicle seems to be a Franc or a "gasmoule" (a French-Greek, born from a mixed French-Greek marriage, the word seems to have an etymology from "garçon" (boy) and "mule"), since his attitude is of admiration for the Franks and contempt of the locals and everything that has to do with the Byzantine Empire.
The significance of the Chronicle
The "Chronicle" is famous in spite of certain historical inaccuracies because of its lively description of life in the feudal community and because of the character of the language which reflects the rapid transition from Medieval to Modern Greek.
Polet explains that since the author admires the Franks and has contempt for everything Byzantine, the Chronicle of Morea has lost a chance to be repeated in the popular culture, when the Franks eventually disappeared from Peloponnese.
A significant number of administrative laws and practices of the
Principality of Achaiais mentioned in the Chronicle, making it a significant source of the Frankish period in Greece. [P. Zepos, "Το δίκαιον εις το Χρονικόν του Μορέως (The Law in the Chronicle of Morea)", "Επετηρίς Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών (Annals of the Society for Byzantine Studies)" 18(1948), 202-220, "in Greek"]
Language of the Chronicle
Since the year of the Fall of Constantinople, 1453, marks the symbolic boundary between Medieval and
Modern Greek, the Chronicle of Morea is generally classified under Medieval Greek [R. Browning "Medieval and modern Greek"] [G. Horrocks "Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers", London & New York 1997, p. 276-81] H. Tonnet "Histoire du grec modèrne", chapter “la langue médievale” )] [Kriaras in the "Dictionary of Greek Medieval Vernacular Literature" includes the Chronicle in his sources [http://22.214.171.124/greekLang/medieval_greek/bibliographies/sources/contents.html] ] . However, the Chronicle of Moreas, along with Ptochoprodromic poemsand acritic songsare considered as the beginnings of modern Greek literatureand they are called both "byzantine / medieval vernacular" and "(early) modern Greek". [N. Andriotes - History of the Greek language]
The first editions in print
The first printed edition of the Chronicle was published in 1840 by J.A. Buchon and it contained the Greek text from Paris [J.A. Buchon, Chroniques etrangères relatives aux expéditions françaises pendant le xiii siécle, 1840] J.B. Bury, in page 386, Appendix of volume 9, Notes by the Editor, in the (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906) edition of "Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)", ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky.]
In this book, Buchon gave without authority to the Chronicle the title "Βιβλίον της κουγκέστας του Μωραίως" (Book of the conquest of Morea). This title was therefore given to the Chronicle by Buchon and it is not found in the text. The second printed edition of the Chronicle was that of the Greek text from Copenhagen, published again by Buchon in 1845. [J.A. Buchon, Recherches historiques sur la principauté française de Morée et ses hautes baronies (1845)] John Schmitt published in 1889 both texts of the Copenhagen and Paris manuscripts side by side. [John Schmitt, Die Chronik von Morea, Munich, 1889] [John Schmitt, The Chronicle of Morea, [To Chronikon Tou Moreōs] A history in political verse, relating the establishment of feudalism in Greece by the Franks in the thirteenth century, Methuen & Co., London, 1904]
:I will tell a tale to thee rehearse, a tale of import mighty:And if attention you do lend, I hope the tale will please you:T'is how the Frank by arms did gain the realm of fair Morea
* [http://www.phys.uoa.gr/~nektar/history/2romanity/to_xronikon_toy_morews.htm The original text of the Chronicle of Morea]
*"Crusaders as Conquerors: the Chronicle of Morea" translated from the Greek with notes and introduction by Harold E. Lurier, Columbia University, 1964.
*Peter Topping in a review of "Crusaders as Conquerors: the Chronicle of Morea" of H.E. Lurier, "Speculum", Vol. 40, No. 4 (Oct., 1965), pp. 737-742
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