Saturday, January 31, 2009

Imagination: Principality of Morea

I have decided to make the plunge into the Imagination craze among 17th and 18th century war gamers. It rings a chord for the old DM and history lover in me. So here it is, a complete History of the Principality of Morea from 1450 to 1739. It is based on the historical Despotate of Morea ( , but with an alternative history, that while fanciful, hopefully can be believable to a point. This is a very long post.

The Second and Third, Morean Chronicles: a summary
By Konstantinos Travlos, Scribe of his Majesty the King of Romans, Basil I
A short history of the Principality of Morea 1450-1738
Reference Table of Rulers
Rulers of Morea
Birth Date
Reign (age)

Despot Ioannis I
1405-1449 (57)
1422 Fall of Constantinople
Despot Constantine I
1428-1475 (70)
1428-1449 as co-regent
Despot Manuel III
1475-1500 (60)
1460-1475 co-regent
Despot Michael I

Despot Ioannis II
1546-1571 (51)

Despot Constantine II
1571 (46)
Overthrown, dies 1578
Despot Matthew II
1572-1610 (61)
DePaleolouge Dynasty
Despot Constantine III
1610-1619 (55)
First reign, overthrown. Condi di Cephalonia from 1619 to 1624
Despot Alexander I
1619-1623 (63)
Palaiologoi Dynasty
Prince Constantine III
1624-1650 (55)
Reinstated, Second reign
Prince Andronicus II
1650-1680 (51)

Princess Maria-Louisa
Wife of Andronicus II as regent from 1680 to 1685, Co-regent from 1685-1695
Prince Michael II
1685-1710 (53)

Princess Theofilia
1710-1760 (80)
The Long Reign.
Abdicates in 1760 for her grandson Basil I, King of Romans.
The Despotate Era 1450-1515

In 1422 Constantinople fell to the forces of Sultan Murad II. Manuel II died in the siege. Murad himself though is defeated after a brutal civil war by his brother Mustafa I, who becomes Sultan in 1435. Murad’s baby-son Mehmed is secretly brought to Mystra, capital of the Despotate of Morea, while John and Constantine become tributaries of a thankful, for their father’s support, Mustafa. The two brothers take advantage of Mustafa’s, generally incompetent reign to fortify Morea, complete the conquest of the Peloponnese, and organize their state. At the same time they oversee Mehmed’s education, who they disguise as an Egyptian prince. In 1449 Mustapha is assassinated due to his incompetent rule which had resulted in serious Ottoman losses in the Balkans. Civil war erupts in the Ottoman Empire, which coincides with Hungarian invasions of Bulgaria, which lead to a Hungarian siege of Istanbul in 1450. The city falls in 1451 due to factionalism. Janos Hunyadi claims the Eastern Roman Imperial title for Matthias. Constantine, Despot of Morea, assists Mehmed in stacking his claim as rightful Sultan. Mehmed, with Morean help succeeds in defeating his rivals and becomes Sultan in 1451. He then lunches a brilliant military campaign, defeating the Hungarians at Insatbul in 1453 and retaking the city, a Polish-Serbian-Vlachian crusader army at Nicopolis in 1455, and a German-Hungarian-Polish crusader army at Varna in 1457. As a result Vlachia is subjugated to the Ottomans. For his victories Mehmed takes the title Vanquisher. He rewards Constantine with control of Attica, and greater autonomy.
Under the rule of Constantine I (r1428-1475) and his, on Manuel III (r1475-1500) the Despotate prospers, although it does have to send troops to take part on Ottoman campaigns, and suffers raids from Anti-Ottoman gorces. As a result of the 2nd Veneto-Turkish War (1463-1475) the Despotate captures Cephalonia. Manuel is succeeded by his nephew Michael I (r1500-1544) who starts building a navy. But the costs of the navy are exorbitant and he faces a revolution which forces him to request assistance from Bayezid II. In return he has to give up Attica to the Sultan. Also the Venetians retake Cephalonia in the 3rd Veneto-Turkish War (1499-1503). He does complete his fleet which he uses to help Selim I in his campaign against the Mameluke Sultanate. Around that time, from Egyptian prisoners and refugees he creates the Morean Janissary Orta (probably 1518). Michael I then took part in the 4th Veneto-Ottoman War (1537-1540) and takes Lefkada, Cephalonia and Zande from the Venetians. Rumors circulate that he is a crypto-Muslim, and when he decides in 1545 to give Zande as a present to the Sultan, he is assassinated. A civil war erupts in Morea, during which Michael’s son Ioannis II, faces Constans DePaleolouge, grandson of Thomas who was the exiled brother of Constantine I and Ioannis I, and who had grown up in Italy and was supported by the Spanish and Venetians. Suleiman the Magnificent intervened on Ioannis II behalf, helping defeat Constans who escaped back to Spain in 1546. But as a result the Despotate becomes more subservient to the Sultan, having to give up Zande and Lefkada, as well as the fleet.
Ioannis II rules the Despotate from 1546 to 1571. During his reign the Despotate suffers from attacks by Venetian, Barbary and Matlese pirates who take advantage of the loss of the Despotate fleet. To bolster security Ioannis brings Hungarian refugees, something that leads to religious tension between the Catholic Hungarians, Moslem Egyptians, and Orthodox Greeks and Albanians. At that time the Hungarian Guard cavalry is made (1550). To regain some measure of independence he offers to furnish 5 galleys for Sultan Selim II. He dies in 1571 taking part in the Battle of Lepanto. His brother Constantine II(r1571) becomes despot in 1571 but is overthrown by a coup organized by dissatisfied Morean Greek and Albanian lords with Spanish and Venetian support. He flees to the Ottoman court. An Ottoman army sent to put him back on his thrown is defeated at the Battle of the Isthmus by a Spanish-Maltese-Morean army.

The DePaleolouge Dynasty
Ordinance Flag of the Despotate under the DePaleolouge Despots 1572-1650

The son of Constans, Matthew DePaleolouge is installed as Despot of Morea as Matthew II(r1572-1610). He sides with the Holy-League and fights on the Venetian side in the fifth Ottoman Venetian War (1570-1573). In return he receives Cephalonia. But Matthew feels slighted by these gains, as the Venetians retook all of the Ionian Islands and Attica, and also by the refusal of the Pope and the Venetians to give him a Princely title. As a result in 1580 he becomes a vassal of the Ottoman Empire and sent an army to take part in the Hungarian campaigns. His reign saw the first attempts at introducing western customs and government ideas in the Despotate. This in turn created a lot of discontent with the old aristocracy and the old army. In 1599 he created the first western style regiments of the army, the Vangarian Regiment, made up of German mercenaries, and the Latin Regiment made up of Italians. He died in 1610 at the age of 55. He was succeeded by his son Constantine III (r1610-1619, 1624-1650), who had lived for a while in France and had fought in the religious wars there. Constantine continued the westernization program of his father. In 1618 though, this finally led to a revolution.
Taking advantage of the overthrow of Mustapha I, the local Greek, Albanian and Egyptian gentry rebelled and attempted to install as Despot in the name of Osman II, Constantine’s II son Alexander Palaiologos. From 1618 to 1623 the Despotate, like the Ottoman Empire is in turmoil. Constantine III is forced to flee to Cephalonia from which he raises an army and raids Morea, where Alexander I (1619-1624) takes the Despotate throne. Constantine III then requests the vassalage of the King of Spain and receives it, becoming Prince of Morea. Constantine III is thus supported by Spain and Mustapha I, while Alexander I by Osman II, and the Venetians. Finally in 1624 Constantine III defeats Alexander I at the Battle of Tripolitsa. Alexander is assassinated, while Constantine regains his throne. Constantine then lunches a series of brutal reprisals of his foes, and restructures the army, dismantling most local forces. He supports Murad II throughout his reign, receiving recognition of his Princely title by Murad. This costs him the support of Spain though. Constantine spends the 1650s rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure of the Despotate as well as a fleet. In 1645 he joins in the 6th Ottoman-Venetian War and takes Attica and Zande from Venice. In 1648 he takes advantage of the unrest following the coup against Ibrahim I, to declare himself independent and changed sides. He dies in 1650, and is succeeded by his son Andronicus II (r 1650-1680) who renames the Despotate into the Principality of Morea.
Despot of Morea, Prince of Achaea
Despot of Morea, Prince of Achaea, Conde di Cephalonia
Despot of Morea, Count Palatine of Cephalonia and Zande, Chevalier du Bourbon
Prince of Morea and Achaea, Despot of Morea, Count Palatine of Cephalonia and Zande
Prince of Morea and Achaea, Despot of Morea, Duke of Apulia, Count Palatine of Cephalonia and Zande
The Principality Era (1650-1738)
Princely Color 1650-1710

Andronicus II supported Venice in the 6th Ottoman-Venetian War, assisting the resupply of Crete. He also attempted a siege of Halkida on Euvoia in 1652. The siege failed, and a big Ottoman army invaded Attica in 1653. Andronicus retreated behind the Isthmus fortifications and defeated all Ottoman attempts to breakthrough, while his fleet defeated a Ottoman fleet off Euvoia. Aware of the strategic situation, Andronicus singed the Long Peace with the Ottomans in 1654. Morea kept Attica, and agreed to pay a yearly tribute to the Sultan. In return the Morean fleet would prohibit Maltese pirates from entering the Aegean. As a result of this treaty, Morea found itself at war with the Maltese Knights from 1655 to 1670, a primarily naval war of small skirmishes and raids. Andronicus spend most of his reign organizing the Morean state, fortifying his possessions and lunching a far reaching and open immigration policy, which brought Italians, French Huguenots and even Irish settlers to the principality, as well as Turks, Albanians and Greeks , fleeing Ottoman mal-governess. The fall of Crete in 1669 led to a mass exodus of refugees, some of which chose to settle in the lands of the Prince.
Andronicus thus ruled a vibrant, diverse kingdom. The political system was a mix of feudalism and absolutism with areas like Mani, or the Albanian towns around Patra having autonomy, and cities like Monevasia, Nafplio, Tripoli and Patra had special privileges. Religious autonomy was widely practiced, although Andronicus was Orthodox. Morea became a stronghold of persecuted sects, like Bektashi Muslims or Protestants, and the mix of religions, roman, greek, western and eastern ideas led to a philosophical renaissance. He also used his marriage with the Hapsburg princess Maria-Louisa to build a wide range of political connections with Western and Central Europe. Many started comparing him with the enlightened Norman rulers of medieval Sicily. In the great Hapsburg-Bourbon antagonism, Andronicus tried to keep a balance. Not blind to the changing international situation of the 1680s, and the new dynamic Ottoman Vizier, Andronicus began a large reorganization of the army.
With the 1675 Ordinance Andronicus created 5 permanent territorial infantry regiments in western style, 1 Naval regiment, 2 regiments of dragoons, 2 of lancers which together with the Jannisary Orta, the Vanagarian and Latin foreign Regiments, and the Hungarian Calvary regiment provided him with a good permanent force. This force could be reinforced by Greek Manic and Albanian light infantry war-bands, and in 1679 an Irish Catholic regiment, Keltiko, was raised. An artillery arm was also created.
Andronicus died in 1680. His son Michael was too young. Thus his wife Princess Marie-Louisa ruled as regent. This wasn’t accepted by the Mani and Albanian clan lords, who in 1682 lunched a revolt with Ottoman support. Marie-Louisa used the new army and crushed the Albanians and Greek rebels and their Ottoman supporters in two battles, at Aigio (1683) and Sparta (1684). She then lunched the “Great March” through Mani which lasted to 1686, during which the power of Mani clans was broken. After that she declared war on the Ottoman Empire (1687) and joined the Holy League, demanding in return a Royal title for her son.
The Morean Army, reinforced with Venetian and Italian troops took part in two major campaigns. From 1687 to 1691 , the young Prince Michael III led a brilliant campaign to retake Euvoia from the Ottomans, defeating a major Ottoman armies at the Battle of Thebes (1690) and Battle of Thermopylae (1692) while another smaller Morean army assisted Venice in retaking Crete. At 1697, Michael now Prince, seeing no royal crown, made peace with the Ottomans, gaining Euvoia, and an end to the payment of tribute. He had decided that the only way to get a royal crown was to take it by force. After his mother’s death, Michael married a niece of King Louis XIV, Margarita- Henrietta, and promised to support him in case of a European war, in return for the Crown of either Sicily or Naples. Michael also created a Law Codex for his territories which among others, created a Senate (Siglito) that would consult the Prince, and also made the inheritance of the Principality passing to the first child whatever it’s gender.
In 1701 the War of Spanish Succession erupted. Michael joined the Bourbon Alliance and landed in Apulia in 1702, with a large French paid Morean-Itlaian army(15 battalions of infantry, 10 squadrons of Calvary, 10 field guns, 10 siege guns), claiming the Crown of Naples. Most of Apulia fell quickly to the Prince, and without a fight. In March 1703 he laid down to besiege Taranto. A Spanish Italian- Savoyard army tried to lift the siege in June, but was defeated and almost destroyed at the battle of Massafra. In early 1705 Taranto fell, and with it as a base, Michel marched towards Bari. He defeated another Spanish-Italian army at the Battle of Valenzano (1705) and Bari surrendered to the Prince. From 1705 to 1706 Michael established his control of Apulia up to the borders of the Papal States. In 1706 he began marching against Naples, while his fleet and a small force began operations in Calambria. In 1708 though a Savoyard-Hapsburg army arrived in Apulia and started taking towns and cities. Michael broke the siege of Salerno and marched to meet the enemy and forestall a loss of Apulia. On 22nd April 1709 Michael arrived at Bari which was besieged by the Savoyard-Hapsburg army. A battle was fought on the 23rd, which ended in a stalemate. During that battle though, Michael’s heir and son, Basil, died leading a cavalry charge. This broke Michael’s spirit, who retreated with his army to Taranto. Bari fell on June 1709. But the Savoyards-Hapsburg army could not continue on. Michael made peace in 1710. In return for the control of Apulia, up to Bari, and a ducal title, he recognized the rights of the Hapsburg line to the throne of Naples and became a vassal of the King of Naples. Broken by his son’s death, and the failure to secure a Royal title, Michael III died on 15th January 1710. His heir was a twenty year old girl, Theofilia I (1710-1770).
Prince Colors under Theofilia 1710-1739

Princess Theofilia of Morea and Achaea, Countess Palatine of Cephalonia and Zande, Duchess of Apulia.

Theofilia proved to be an ambitious, energetic but capricious monarch. She worked hard in incorporating the new Duchy of Apulia in the Principality, and further streamlined administration. She also decided to pursue a more balanced foreign policy with the goal of having the old royal title of King of Romans recognized by the Ottoman Empire and the European powers, for her successor. In her early reign (1710-1715) the Senate, under the leadership of Alexander Kaliitzis and Ioannis Amomferatos, acted as a regent. It was during that time that Theofilia entered into a liaison with the self-exiled King of Sweden Carl XII, who visited Mystra from 1711 to 1713. The liaison was so passionate that the great Greek Morean poet and play writer, Anastasios Kornatos, wrote his play “The Lion in the Spring (O Leontas stin Anoiki)” about it. Carl reformed the Morean army, but also earned the enmity of the Senate, that succeeded in the end in forcing Theofilia in asking the Sultan to call Carl back. She never forgave the Senate for that.
Morea remained neutral at the first part of the 8th Ottoman Venetian War (1714-1718), when Crete fell for a second time to the Ottomans. When Austria decided to join the war, Theofilia offered to enter it, in return for recognition of the King of Romans title. Austria refused. Theofilia angered then offered an alliance to the Sultan in return for recognition of the title. Ahmed III accepted, and Theofilia declared war on Venice and Austria on 1717, taking Kerkyra in 1718, which she kept with the Ottoman-Venetian treaty of 1718. Meanwhile in Italy Charles VI in retaliation invaded Apulia. The same year though, the War of the Quadruple Alliance erupted (1718-1720). Theofilia quickly moved and concluded an Alliance with Philippe V. In return for recognition of the Bourbon rights to Naples, and a military alliance, Phillip recognized the King of Romans title. Theofilia send 10 ships of her fleet to unite with the Spanish fleet at Sicily, while the main Morean Army, the largest to take the field until now campaigned against Naples, defeating an Austrian-Italian Army at the Battle of Palagianello.
The strategic plan was for Morean forces to secure Naples, while the Spanish secured Sicily and then the two armies would unite and wait to see the reaction of the allies. Due to the battle of Capo Passaro (1718), the two allies where cut off. On the Naples front an Anglo – Austrian- Savoyard Army arrived in Apulia on 1719. Theofilia’s army, under the command of the Swedish General Arvid Axel Mardefelt (a present from Carl), had taken Salerno and was marching on Naples. The army returned to Apulia and fought a bloody battle with the allies at the Second Battle of Bari. The Moreans were defeated, but both armies were too exhausted to continue. Theofilia joined Phillip V in singing the Treaty of The Hague in 1720. Under the Treaty, Theofilia lost Bari to the allies, and also paid an indemnity to Charles VI. Furthermore Phillip V was forced to take back his recognition of that title.
After the end of the war, the Senate under Ioannis Amomferatos, tried to force Theofilia to cede important power to its hands. Theofilia reacted by organizing a coup d’etat and disbanding the Senate. A rebellion in Cephalonia and Kerkyra was brutally put down in 1721. Theofilia convened a new senate, made up of people of her trust, which would be Senators for life, and essentially just rubber-stamped her decisions. From 1721 to 1750, Morea was essentially an absolutist state. Theofilia had decided on a Spanish alliance, as the only way to get what she wanted. So in 1723 she married Prince Louis deBourbon, a nephew of Phillip V.
From 1723 to 1738, Theofilia concentrated on making her court equal to other European courts, although she did not give up the mixed heritage of Morea. Philosophers, artists and others where invited to visit. Greek thinkers from Morea where sent to Spain and France, and also Ottoman philosophers would visit her court. She herself visited Turin, Madrid, Amsterdam and Paris in a grand tour in 1725-26 (creating rumors of illicit liaisons in every city). In 1731 she visited Istanbul to honor the accession of Mahmud I. Mystras and Nafplio where turned into beautiful exotic cities, mixing Western and Levantine styles.
When the War of Polish Succession erupted in 1733, Theofilia immediately joined the war on the side of the Bourbon powers. Her army fought in Naples and assisted in the Spanish victory there, while her navy launched raids on Austrian territories in Dalmatia. With the Treaty of Vienna (1738) Theofilia was finally granted the recognition of the royal title King of Romans for her grandson Basil I. The Despotate which had become a Principality was finally a Kingdom.
Lands of the Principality in 1739


Herzog Ignaz said...

Fascinating alternate history. Have you considered participating in the Emperor vs. Elector blog? There is currently a military confrontation in Dalmatia which might be of concern to the Morea.

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Yes I have added it to my links. What else do I need to do?

Herzog Ignaz said...

If you want to contribute to Emperor vs. Elector, leave a comment with your email address on Blue Bear Jeff's blog: ; he's the administrator of E vs. E.

abdul666 said...

A great work of alternate history and an extremely promising debut.
Welcome to the marvelously multifacetted world of Lace Wars Imagi-Nations - always glad to discover a new one, and yours is specially original.
Looking eagerly forward for enjoying the next steps.

aka Louys de Monte-Cristo
(will add a 'Fict:' link to Morea on my blog to-morrow)

Bluebear Jeff said...


To join the "Emperor vs Elector" group blog, just email me directly at: . . . and I'll see that you get an invitation.

I do need your email address in order to get Blogger to send you the invitation.

Byrhthelm said...

Marvellous stuff and great flags! Welcome to the world of Imagi-nations!

littlejohn said...

...wonderful complex debut, Imaginations are great obsessions that are hard to master but I can't think of any pursuit more noble than refined play!...welcome, welcome, welcome!


Prinz Geoffrey said...

Welcome, your alternative history is extensive and well written. Look forward to reading more.