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Principality of Achaea
Achaea was founded in 1205 by William of Champlitte, a minor knight who had participated in the crusade. It became a vassal of the Kingdom of Thessalonica, along with the Duchy of Athens, until Thessalonica was captured by the Theodore, the despot of Epirus, in 1224. After this, Achaea became the dominant power in Greece.
Achaea was rather small, consisting of little more than the interior of the Peloponnese (which the crusaders called Morea) and a few ports such as Monemvasia. It was surrounded by Epirus as well as territory held by Venice in the Aegean Sea, but it was fairly wealthy, and helped the Latin Empire against the exiled Byzantine emperors of the Empire of Nicaea.
The capital of the principality was originally at Andravida. In the mid-13th century the court at Andravida was considered to be the best representation of chivalry by western Europeans. Prince William II Villehardouin was a poet and troubador, and his court had its own mint, literary culture, and form of spoken French. The Prinicipality produced the Chronicle of Morea, a valuable history of the Crusader States in Greece. Achaea's laws became the basis for the laws of the other Crusader States, combining aspects of Byzantine and French law, and nobles often used Byzantine titles such as logothetes and protovestarios, although these titles were adapted to fit the conceptions of Western feudalism. The Byzantine pronoia system was also adapted to fit Western feudalism; peasants (paroikoi) technically owned their land, but military duties and taxes that they had not been subject to under the pronoia system were imposed on them by their new French lords. Essentially, the early Principality was a little French colony.
William II moved the capital of Achaea to Mistra, near Sparta, in 1249. In 1255 he began a war against the Venetian territories in the Aegean, and in 1259 he allied with Michael II, despot of Epirus, against Michael VIII Palaeologus of Nicaea. However, Manuel then deserted to join Michael, and William was taken prisoner at the Battle of Pelagonia. After Michael recaptured Constantinople in 1261, William was released in 1262 in return for Mistra and the rest of Morea, which became a Byzantine despotate.
After William, the Principality passed to Charles I of Sicily. In 1267 Charles was given Achaea by Baldwin II of Constantinople, who hoped Charles could help him restore the Latin Empire. Charles and his descendants did not rule in Achaea personally, but they sent money and soldiers to help the principality defend against the Byzantines. In 1311 the Duchy of Athens was taken over by the Catalan Company, whose actions helped to destablize Achaean territory. Achaea came under the control of Italian nobles, who held on to the increasingly smaller territory for another century before it was conquered by Thomas Palaeologus, the Byzantine despot of Morea, in 1432. The Byzantines held it for less than 30 years, until the area was taken by the Ottoman Empire in 1460.
The feudal conflict of Morea (1307-1383)
Charles I of Sicily granted the fiedfom of Morea or Achaea to Princess Isabella of Villehardouin (from the Villehardouin dynasty), but she was deposed in 1307 and it was then granted to Philip I of Taranto, son of Charles, who in 1313 transferred it to Matilda (or Mafalda, or Maud) of Hainaut, who was married to Louis of Burgundy. But Margaret, daughter of William II Villehardouin, claimed her rights from 1307. In 1313 she claimed it again without success and then transferred her rights to her daughter Isabelle of Sabran , wife of Ferran of Majorca . The son of Ferran and Isabelle, known as Jaume III the Unfortunate , was proclaimed prince of Morea in 1315 under the regency of his father, who conquered the principality (1315 to 1316) but was defeated by Louis of Burgundy and Matilda (1316). In 1318 Louis of Burgundy died and Charles deposed Matilda, and give the principality to his son John. From 1331 the feudal lords began to recognize the rights of Jaume, and in 1333 the recognition was total. Then John transferred his rights to his sister-in-law, Catherine of Valois, wife of Robert of Taranto, who claimed her rights until 1346 when he died, and then the claim was issued by the son of Robert and Catherine, Philip II of Taranto. In 1349 Jaume was succeded by his son Jaume (IV of Aragon and II of Morea), also named James of Baux . In 1364 Catherine of Valois died. In 1373 Philip III transferred his rights to the princess Joan I of Naples, wife of Jaume II (James of Baux), who, when he died in 1375 left the principality as a legacy to his wife and princess Joan. In 1383 the Vicary government began, lasting until 1396.
List of the Princes of Achaea
|Reign||Name (Anglicized)||Contemporary Regnal Name||Notes|
|1205 to 1209||William I of Champlitte, Prince of the Morea||Guillaume|
|1205 to c1209||Geoffrey I of Villehardouin, Prince of Achaea||Geoffroi de Villehardouin||nephew of the historian Geoffrey of Villehardouin|
|c1228 to 1246||Geoffrey II Villehardouin||Geoffroi de Villehardouin|
|1246 to 1278||William II Villehardouin||Guillaume de Villehardouin||from 1267 a vassal of Carlo I, King of Naples|
|1278 to 1285||Charles I of Sicily||Charles||Carlo I, King of Naples|
|1285 to 1289||Charles II of Naples||Charles II||Carlo II, King of Naples|
|1289 to 1297||Isabella Villehardouin, Princess||Isabelle||co-ruler with her husband Florent of Hainaut|
|1289 to 1297||Florent of Hainaut||Florent||co-ruler with his wife Isabella Villehardouin|
|1301 to 1307||Isabella Villehardouin, Princess||Isabelle||co-ruler with her husband Philip of Savoy; deposed|
|1301 to 1307||Philip of Savoy||Philippe||co-ruler with his wife Isabella Villehardouin|
|1307 to 1313||Philip I of Taranto||Philippe|
|1313 to 1318||Matilda of Hainaut||Mathilde|
|1313 to 1316||Louis of Burgundy||Louis||co-ruler with his wife Mathilde ; Duke of Athens|
|1318 to 1322||Robert of Naples||Robert||Robert I, King of Naples|
|1322 to 1333||John of Gravina||Jean|
|1333 to 1346||Robert of Taranto||Robert||co-ruler with Catherine; Latin Emperor|
|1333 to 1364||Catherine of Valois||Catherine||Latin Empress|
|1364 to 1373||Philip II of Taranto||Philippe|
|1373 to 1381||Joan I of Naples, Princess||Jeanne|
|1381 to July 1383||James of Baux||Jacques||Latin Emperor|
|1383 to 1386||Charles II of Hungary||Charles||Charles III of Anjou|
|1383 to 1396||interregnum||principality sought by five pretenders, of whom none can be considered to have reigned|
|1396 to 1402||Peter of St. Superan, Self-proclaimed Prince of Achaea||Pedro Bordo de San Superano|
|1402 to 1404||Marie II Zaccharia, Princess of Constantinople||Marie II Zaccharia|
|1404 to 1432||Centurione Zaccharia, Self-proclaimed Prince of Achaea||Centurione Zaccharia||The principality passed to the Byzantine Empire upon his death|
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