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7-08-2015, 23:45

Churches and monasteries in calabria and apulia, and byzantine administration

The conflict between the two empires in the 960s had a further aspect, however, and one which was of very considerable significance for southern Italy. In 966, while taking refuge with Prince Pandulf from the hostile nobility of Rome, Otto’s client Pope John XIII (965–972) raised the see of Capua to be a metropolitan archbishopric. Three years later, at the height of the military conflict in Apulia, he did the same for that of Benevento. The creation of the archbishopric of Capua should almost certainly be seen as a recognition of Capua’s status as Pandulf’s de facto capital and as an attempt to boost princely authority over the rest of the principality; the first archbishop was Pandulf’s younger brother John.However, the creation of the new ecclesiastical province of Benevento was overtly anti-Byzantine and the authority granted to the archbishop stretched deep into Byzantine territory. Among the new suffragan sees to be subject to it were Ascoli and Bovino, the two key border fortresses under siege from Otto’s and Pandulf’s forces. Since the bulk of the population of Byzantine Apulia were Latins, the loyalties of their churchmen were clearly of crucial importance to the Byzantine government; the creation of the new archbishopric of Benevento, which was intended to destabilise northern Apulia, was to have wide-ranging repercussions. The Byzantines’ reaction was to reorganise the church in Apulia, to create new archiepiscopal sees rivalling Benevento, and to ensure that the Apulian church remained loyal to Constantinople. In the 980s, when Otto II tried once again to invade Byzantine territory, the creation of the archbishopric of Salerno by Pope Benedict VII (974–83) was a further anti-Byzantine ecclesiastical measure. The sees of Cosenza and Bisignano in Calabria, previously suffragans of the Greek archbishop of Reggio and in areas clearly under Byzantine jurisdiction, were subordinated to Salerno; but unlike most of Calabria, they almost certainly contained a substantial Latin population.12 Here too, the Byzantine authorities reacted with ecclesiastical changes of their own, including the creation of an archbishopric at Cosenza in defiance of papal authority. The ecclesiastical changes after 970 were one aspect of a more general overhaul of the administrative structure of Byzantine Italy. In part a reaction to the renewed threat to its borders, this overhaul also reflected changes in the distribution of the region’s population, although quite how extensive these were has been a matter of debate among historians.13 But it seems clear that Arab raids on Calabria – by no means continuous, but alarming and destructive – encouraged the population both to retreat from coastal settlements to more defensible hill sites inland and, in some cases, to move northwards towards the borderlands with the principality of Salerno. Some Greeks living in Sicily under Arab rule may also have crossed the straits of Messina and moved north, although the evidence for this is almost entirely derived from contemporary saints’ Lives, and we cannot be certain that the movement of these holy men was accompanied by any substantial numbers of laymen. Christian monks may well have been more obviously at risk in periods of disorder in Sicily, as in the 940s, than the laity who were less of a provocation to the Muslim devout.14 In any case, nearly all the saints’ Lives from tenth-century Calabria show their protagonists settling around the northern frontiers of the province, in the regions of Mercourion and, further north still, Latinianon; in the ninth century Latinianon had been a gastaldate of the principality of Salerno. The saints’ Lives imply that their heroes were not the only Greeks present in these regions. Luke of Armento, for example, spent some seven years in the Val di Sinni in Latinianon before fleeing to escape a crowd of would-be disciples.15 SomeGreeks, both monks and laymen, crossed into Lombard territory. The most famous example was Nilus of Rossano, who towards the end of the century spent some fifteen years at Valleluce, near Monte Cassino (see above, p. 552). But his was not the only case. In the eleventh century there were at least four Greek monasteries in the vicinity of Salerno, and one as far away as Pontecorvo, near the northern border of the principality of Capua.16 The expansion of the Greek population of Calabria into the heel of Italy led to administrative changes both lay and ecclesiastical. From the 880s onwards there had been two separate and apparently independent provinces of Byzantine Italy: Langobardia (that is Apulia) and Calabria (up to the 940s still officially and anachronistically known as the theme of Sicily, although the Byzantines only retained a few isolated strongholds in the north-east of the island). In the reign of Nikephoros II Phokas there came a change. The theme of Langobardia, strategically the more significant of the two since through its ports the mouth of the Adriatic was in Byzantine hands and easy access was possible to the European mainland of the empire, was placed under an official known as the katepan¯o, who was of more senior rank and status than previous governors. It is probable that the new katepan¯o was placed in overall authority over Byzantine Italy, and it is also likely that a new province of Lucania was created at this time, although the dating is far from certain. Lucania incorporated Latinianon, Lagonegro and Mercourion, regions to the north of Calabria into which there had recently been an influx of Greeks, and a new diocese, Tursi, was set up as the bishopric for Lucania.17 Tursi was made part of a new metropolitan province, subject to the previously autocephalous archbishopric ofOtranto. Both these sees had Greek clergy, but four Latin sees in southern Apulia – Tricarico, Acerenza,Matera and Gravina – were also subjected to the archbishop of Otranto. In the next few years two further Apulian sees were raised to the status of archbishoprics: Taranto in 978, and Trani in 987. The process was continued in the early eleventh century when archbishoprics were created at Lucera, Brindisi and Siponto. The intention here was to bind the Latin clergy of these sees firmly to the Byzantine government, and to combat the claims of the archbishop of Benevento. The policy was not anti-Latin. Given that the majority of the population in all but the extreme south of Apulia was Latin, it could not be, and Liudprand of Cremona’s claim that Nikephoros Phokas and Patriarch Polyeuct (956– 70) wanted to forbid the Latin rite in southern Italy is clearly ludicrous.18 Sees with Latin bishops and clergy remained Latin, even in towns like Taranto where most of the population were Greek. But these ecclesiastical changes were clearly political, designed to exclude the influence both of the papacy – which was under Ottonian control – and of the archbishopric of Benevento. The latter was an instrument of Pandulf Ironhead’s ambitions and possibly those of his successors, in so far as they had any power. The policy seems to have worked. In 983 the katepan¯o granted a privilege to the bishop of Trani in reward for his support during the recent siege of the town.19 But no chances were taken. Latin churches in Apulia remained under very tight supervision. Sees were often merged and then split up once again. Officials of the government acted as the advocates (i.e. legal representatives) of churches. Occasional exemptions from taxation given to Latin clergy were specific and highly restricted,20 although this was part of a more general desire by the Byzantine authorities to preserve the fiscal base of the state. Despite the continued hazard of Muslim raids on Calabria – a problem which, after a pause, became serious again from the mid-970s – the Byzantine provinces retained their cohesion and even flourished in a modest way. Not only did Greek influence increase and push the border northwards in Lucania – the creation of the theme was a recognition of this; in the last years of the century, after Ottonian policy in southern Italy had collapsed and Pandulf Ironhead’s dominions divided, the Apulian frontier also shifted northwards from the River Ofanto to the River Fortore. The area of northern Apulia thus incorporated into the theme of Langobardia became known, significantly, as the Capitanata, i.e. the land of the katepan¯o (or ‘captain’) – reflecting its incorporation under Byzantine rule after this new title for the governor had been introduced. At the end of the century the Byzantine administration can be seen in full operation as far inland as Tricarico on the Apulia–Lucania border, redefining boundaries and setting up new ch¯oria (taxable units).21 Monasteries were often the focus for the clearance of land and new settlement, particularly in the hitherto underexploited Lucanian region, and the villages which developed around them were then officially incorporated as ch¯oria. The population, it would seem, was expanding, although in Lucania migration can explain new settlement (see above, p. 567). In a few cases population transfers may have been deliberate, although the evidence for this relates mainly to the reign of Leo VI (886–912), who is known to have sent settlers from the Peloponnese to southern Italy. By the end of the tenth century agriculture was apparently flourishing in at least some parts of Calabria, with extensive vineyards and the beginnings of silk production which had, by the mid-eleventh century, reached a considerable scale. Evidence for the Byzantine provinces’ external trade is extremely scanty, but it would appear that in the tenth century Otranto and Brindisi were probably the most important ports, with Bari becoming more important in the eleventh. While Calabria and Lucania, with a largely, if not exclusively, Greek population, might seem very much like other Byzantine provinces, Apulia was different. The presence of a substantially Latin populace meant that the Byzantine government had to concede a degree of local autonomy, or at least variation, which was inconceivable in entirely Greek parts of the empire. While the provincial governors and some of their more senior officials were Greeks sent out from Constantinople – in the case of the strat ¯ egoi and katepanoi generally holding office for fairly brief periods, about three years on average – many of the more junior officials were Latins. At Bari in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries eight out of eleven recorded turmarchs were Latins, and only three Greeks; in Taranto, by contrast, all but one of the known turmarchs were Greeks.22 Such use of locally born Latin officers was probably even more prevalent in inland Apulia, where on occasion they might use titles derived from the Lombard principalities, such as gastald, and in one case at least, from Lucera at the end of the century, model their documents on Beneventan princely charters.23 Most significant was the widespread sanction given to the use of Lombard law. The growth of a fairly prosperous class of small-scale landed proprietors in Apulia, judged by their own law and with their own Latin churches, approved of but closely supervised by the provincial government, was probably the best guarantee for the stability of Byzantine government in Apulia. But it was by no means infallible. Revolts in the coastal towns occurred a number of times in the tenth century,24 and intensified after 1000, although contributory factors such as the abnormally harsh winter of 1007–8 should not be underestimated. Nor should the burden of taxation, which in Italy as in the rest of the Byzantine empire probably increased with the ambitious military policy of the late tenth-century emperors. While the Latin chroniclers tend to ascribe instances of disaffection in the Byzantine provinces to the cruelty or demands of particular governors, one might well conclude that it was rather the reaction of the populace to a governmental system which was far more efficient – and thus more oppressive in locals’ eyes – than that in the Lombard principalities.

 

 

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