Citizenship in Medieval Ioannina
By Brendan Osswald
Citizenship in Historical Perspective, edited by Steven G. Ellis, Guðmundur Hálfdanarson and Ann Katherine Isaacs (Pisa University Press, 2006)
Introduction: Ioannina was a small Byzantine city until the Fourth Crusade, which provoked the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, replaced by a Latin Empire in Constantinople and three Greek rival empires in Nicaea, Trebizond and Epirus. A large number of refugees fleeing from the Latin invaders came to Epirus. Arta was then the official capital of Epirus, but Ioannina, which was a really small and insignificant city until 1204, quickly became as important as Arta and then, after the Turkish conquest, officially became the capital of Epirus – a status it still has today.
We chose Ioannina as the topic of this case study regarding citizenship for two main reasons. First, foreigners played a particularly strong role in the city during the late Middle Ages. Second, the history of the city is relatively well-known, especially when compared to Arta, the other main city of Epirus, thanks to two Greek Chronicles written in Ioannina, which give us a rich and vivid account of the historical events of these times, even if they unfortunately do not provide answers to all of our questions. These are the Chronicle of Ioannina, useful for the events between 1341 and 1400, and the Chronicle of the Tocco, useful for the events between 1375 and 1422. We will make this study along two lines, looking first at the differences between local people and newcomers and, second, at differences between the classes of citizens.