Last summer when I was in Greece, my friend Giannis Michalakakos gave me a copy of Book of Lakonia Studies which contain excerpts of letters and documents from the Venetian conquest of the Peloponnese in the late 1600’s. Specifically, there are transcripts of letters of Francesco Morosini, Doge of Venice 1688-1694, pertaining to Mystras and its surrounding region. The book is in Greek, of course, and my language skills are elementary at best. But, with the help of my teacher, Theodore Papaloizos, Google Translation tools and a Greek-English dictionary, I have begun to read this fascinating history.
I will write posts as I go through this book so others can learn and join me on this journey into the past. Please understand that my translations may not be accurate.
Because this is a transcript of original documents, I am immersed in the first-hand accounts of Morosini, admiral of the Venetian fleet, as he writes to his superiors regarding the state of affairs in the Peloponnese.
The goal of the Venetians and the Turks is to conquer Mani. Both want control of Mystras. The Turks are losing control, and the Venetians don’t want Muslims in Mystras. An agreement is made between the Turks and the Venetians to subdue the Maniates.
12 July 1687. Fleet Admiral Morosini is on board a ship in the sea of Patras. He writes to the Doge of Venice about a new attack made against Mystras. The Venetians and Turks were fighting for Mystras, and the Venetians needed help from the Maniates. Mystras was being guarded by 600 men from Mani and the town of Koroni, in addition to 100 soldiers of the guard. When the Greeks heard the name of the Turk, they threw their axes, swords and their stolen spoils on the ground and fled from the mountain in desperate escape. They were shamed into retreat by 70-80 Turks. Morosini closes his letter by writing that this is a sad report.
20 August 1687. Morosini writes to the Doge from the Gulf of Lepanto.
The Maniotes, Captain Bollani and others went to Mystras with a raised white flag and a plan for the mutual exchange of hostages. The Maniates were greedy about the spoils they obtained by looting and stealing, and negotiations had to be done with utmost care. Morosini cautions against not exercising the utmost possibly leniency to the Mystriotes until the Venetians occupied the entire province. He recommends that robust men could be useful as slaves as rowers on boats, and the women, children and the elderly over 50 years could go back to their villages.
Morosini writes a letter to Pasha stating his terms which are dictated by his desire for the common good and to emphasize the decision taken by the Council: Turks are to pay a ransom; a deposit of 200,000 rialia in gold and silver. This money will increase the treasury and operations of the armies. If they do not accept the terms, they will receive notice of a general slaughter.
With other successes, the war will end gloriously. However, the Venetians must not abandon any attempt to ensure the fall of Monemvasia. Efforts will be made in this region as in others, so as not to leave even one Muslim in Mystra.
(Link about the Venetian conquest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morean_War)