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Women under Venetian colonial rule in the early Renaissance: observations on their economic activities.

Whether the Venetian colony of Crete is interesting more for the reflection it casts on early Renaissance Italian society than for its own unique history is a question only recently coming into sharper focus. From the social arrangements imposed by Venice on the colony's ethnically mixed population, where a very small Latin minority dominated the far more numerous Greeks, to the everyday business of trade carried on by Latins, Greeks, and Jews, the history of Venetian Crete defines in a way few other fields can what was politically possible and culturally conceivable in the fourteenth-century European Mediterranean. Because the colony was a creature of Venice's devising, the society there can serve as a useful contrast to the kind of social relations current in Italian cities in the same period. Furthermore, the compact nature of the colony's archives, sufficiently intact to comprise one of the most valuable if underused sources in western Europe, lends itself to the investigation of questions that other archival sources, more forbidding in volume, discourage.

Beginning in 1211 and for the nearly four hundred and sixty years that Venice possessed the island of Crete, there exists a rich mine of diplomatic sources located in the State Archives of Venice, in the form of the Archives of the Duke of Candia (as Crete was called in the pre-modern period).(1) The contents of these archives, which were transferred to Venice after the Ottoman Turks took possession of the island in 1669, consist of deliberations of the island's advisory councils in the fourteenth century, court records beginning in the same century and extending to the end of Venetian rule, proclamations issued by the government, and a variety of other sources dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There is also an abundance of notarial records from Crete under Venetian rule, which have been incorporated into the larger notarial archives of the State Archives of Venice. The first century of Venetian occupation, the thirteenth century, is poorly represented in both the Archive of the Duke of Candia and the Cretan notarial records. A considerable amount of material has survived from the fourteenth century, but is still less than what remains from the subsequent two centuries.

The notarial records from Crete are of interest here. Perhaps because the island of Crete is located on the periphery of the late medieval and Renaissance world and thus stands in the same position with regard to the fields of late medieval and Renaissance history, relatively few scholars over the past twenty-five years have gone to the States Archives of Venice to consult the fourteenth-century notarial registers from Crete. Whatever the reason for the neglect, the rewards of deciphering the obscure Latin legal formulae, however, are great. In contrast to the larger metropolises of Venice and Florence, the so-called city of Candia was in fact a small town with a correspondingly simpler way of life. Yet the material presented here, taken together with a few other studies also derived from the notarial registers, reveals a Candia that is more lively than the one depicted in studies based on governmental and legal sources. If the government's records of its deliberations, proclamations, and court records provide a moving image of Candia, notarial records furnish the soundtrack of the city's bustle, thus bringing the scene closer to life than either set of sources would do on their own.

Even so, the picture is not complete, because the notarial registers that have survived appear to have belonged to notaries working within the city walls and not from the surrounding burg. The city of Candia included the area within the walls known as the city proper (civitas) and the area outside the walls, known as the burg. Latins and free Greeks of lesser status lived within the walls, while Greeks comprised the majority of residents in the burg, although more and more humble Latins in the fourteenth century were moving beyond the city walls. The majority of the island's Greeks, and some poor Latin descendants, lived out in the countryside in villages (casalia).

What I offer here are the results of a foray into the registers of notaries working in the fourteenth-century Venetian colony of Crete to find traces of the least visible (to us, at least) members of that early colonial society. Women under Venetian rule, especially those who lived outside the city in its colonies, have been largely invisible for reasons having more to do with their exclusion from the interests of historians of a previous generation than for any lack of documentary evidence. They were always present but unnoticed, because they were thought to be insignificant to the types of questions and themes that those earlier scholars pursued. Women appear frequently, however, in the notarial records from Crete, just as they do elsewhere in western Europe during the same period. An abundance of transactions testifies to their involvement in Candia, but it does not take much close investigation to see differences in social rank and ethnic group membership among the women in the registers. Aristocratic women, mostly Latin, seldom appear in ordinary commercial transactions; those who needed to make a living account for most of the women party to a contract. Because Latins always amounted to no more than a small percentage of the population in Crete, many of the non-aristocratic women in the documents were Greek.(2) Therefore, although my observations here will encompass Latin women where I find them, the island's indigenous women will be central to this study.

Greek women have been especially inconspicuous in the scholarly literature, yet they too can be found in the Cretan notarial records. Because Greek women throughout the territories who were governed by Venice or by Venetians in Venice's name represented the poorest and least juridically capable portion of the population, it is easy to understand why historians of an earlier generation had so little to say about them. Greek women were not present in the types of sources those scholars preferred to examine, namely in governmental records and ducal letters. When they did appear, it was on those few occasions as plaintiffs in court cases, or as transgressors of the law.(3)

All historians of the colony would agree that the two principal features working against Greek women in Venetian Crete were that they were Greek and they were women. In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, which brought down the capital of Byzantium, Venice acquired rights to the island through a series of territorial exchanges with crusade leaders. Byzantine imperial authority had largely retreated from Crete by the time the Venetians took possession of it, and so the resistence that they met in making real their claim to the island came less from Byzantine forces than it did from the Genoese - who were also interested in acquiring the island - and Crete's indigenous population.(4) As soon as the island was conquered and the first Latin settlers arrived, land that had belonged either to the imperial fisc or to the local Greek elite was confiscated. Either the colonial government kept territory under its direct control, or it divided it among the settlers in the form of feuda, units of property mostly comprising landed estates in the island's countryside. Those who held cavallerie, known as feudatories, were for the most part from Venetian patrician families, and were to serve as mounted men-at-arms in defense of Venice's possession of the island. Those who held the smaller sergeantries were obliged to provide the government with, or serve as, foot soldiers. The possession of both a cavalleria and one or two sergeantries by an individual has been taken as a sign that the number of Latin settlers did not reach the numbers sought by the Venetian state.(5) At the beginning of the thirteenth century, those Latins holding land from the state were in the majority; by the following century, however, with the influx of artisanal and humbler settlers from the Veneto and elsewhere in the Italian peninsula, the feudatories thereafter consisted a minority of the Latin population.

Although they enjoyed the most privileges of any other group in the colony, the feudatories exercised limited autonomy. Their participation in administering the colony was an obligation, not a right. The Great Council of Candia, the Senate, and the Council of Feudatories were advisory bodies that assisted Venice's chief administrators, the duke of Candia and his two counselors. Legislative and judiciary powers resided in offices filled by civil servants sent out from Venice for terms of two years. In effect, Venetian law held forth in the colony, but local custom may have been allowed to prevail in limited, though still not well understood, circumstances.(6) All criminal matters were treated in Venetian-administered courts, which were modeled on the legal system of the mother city. The participation of the feudatories in the councils and in the defense of the colony gave them influence without much concrete power. Their court of appeal, in matters where they differed from the duke and his assistants, was the Venetian Senate.

The Greek landowners whose estates had been confiscated by the new regime had no influence, much less political power. To gain any bargaining power with the Venetian regime, their only recourse was to arms. Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Greek nobles, or archontes, eventually gained back much of their lands but virtually none of their political rights.(7) Some of those families, notably branches of the Calergi family, became loyal subjects of the Comune; others remained impoverished or left the island.(8) Below the status of the archontes came the great mass of the Greek peasantry, whose status under the previous Byzantine administration was servile.(9) When Venice acquired possession of the island, it also acquired the lands and the servile population known in Latin as villeins.(10)

The policy of the new rulers was to draw a hard and fast line between the indigenous population and the Latin (primarily Venetian) settlers. The line was ethnic and embedded in local law and custom. As an example of its new colonial policy, Venice early in its rule tipped the balance almost entirely in the Latin population's favor by making Latin paternity a criterion for free status. Any male slave or villein (no cases involving women have survived) who could demonstrate that his father was of Latin descent automatically gained his freedom. No Latin person could be of servile status in the island, whereas any Greek could either be a villein or a slave, in spite of the canon law prohibition against enslaving Christians.

Although the vast majority of the island's Greek inhabitants in the period of the Venetians' first arrival was already of servile status, being Greek under Venetian rule was no guarantee of servile status. It is nevertheless a fairly reliable indicator of low social status.(11) How many Greeks were free is a matter open to speculation. It was a common practice (and very likely a legal prerequisite) in transactions in which a villein was one of the parties to denote his master's permission to draw up that contract. The substantial number of Greeks seemingly acting in their own right in notarial transactions suggests that either non-free Greeks were allowed greater legal freedom than their status would imply, or that there were in fact more free Greeks than has been previously assumed. The important point for the moment is that whatever their status, Greek people as a group were found among the humbler sections of the population.(12)

But which among the profusion of names in the notarial records introduces us to a Greek or Latin person? May we place our confidence in either the cognomens Mauro or Cornario to determine the ethnic background of the name's bearer? Unfortunately we may not, but the problem brings into relief one of the most interesting and valuable aspects of the colony's history. A simple answer to the question would be that because slaves, most of whom were Greek in fourteenth-century Crete, customarily adopted the cognomens of their masters after manumission (a fairly common occurrence at that time), a Venetian patrician family name cannot be taken at face value when it surfaces in any Cretan register without accounting for the context in which it appears. A more complicated answer would raise the question of how commonly Greeks and Latins intermarried, a subject still under discussion. There can be no doubt, however, that far more marriages between the two ethnic groups took place than once was thought to have occurred. Therefore, by the fourteenth century the ethnic derivation of a cognomen no longer serves as a reliable indicator of the ethnic background of its bearer, without additional contextual information. Having said that, qualifications are in order, especially because the remainder of this study depends on the ability to distinguish between Greek and Latin women.

The first qualification is that while intermarriage between Greeks and Latins occurred, the existence of two communities distinguishable to the people of that time persisted. Some Greek families became incorporated into the Venetian/Latin culture of the ruling circles, and some Latin families, mostly humble, were absorbed into the pervasive Greek culture of the island. The attributes of religion, language, and dress remained more or less distinguishing features of the communities, but because fundamentally they were elective markers of ethnic membership they serve only to highlight group membership and not the origins of someone's ancestors. Consequently, there existed residents of Cretan villages with Venetian patrician names who were clearly Greek in language, religion, and custom, and were possibly ex-slaves as well.(13) It was also possible, however, that they might have been distant and impoverished relatives of the island's Latin families.

Nevertheless a historian is able to distinguish Greeks from Latins in the sources. First of all, while Venetian/Latin names are not a reliable indicator of ethnic membership, most Greek names are. The evidence suggests that at all levels of society more Latin men married Greek women (who brought dowries into Latin hands) than Greek men married Latin women (who would have passed their dowries into Greek hands), in a pattern tolerated by the colonial government, which on the whole disapproved of and at times prohibited intermarriage between Greeks and Latins. As a result of that tendency - in addition to their numerical superiority - Greeks tended to marry within their community more than Latins did. Second, the context in which names appear very often reveals social status and, in the case of wills and marriage contracts, specific details relating to language or religion that reveal ethnic membership. Therefore, distinguishing between Greek and Latin women in the sources requires caution, but is by no means impossible to do.

Women of Crete, like women in Italian cities of that period, passed the majority of their lives as the daughters or wives of men who were their legal guardians.(14) In either role women's rights to enter into legal contracts, possess property, or witness public documents depended on the laws under which they lived; women consequently appear in notarial sources to the degree to which their property-possessing capacities were unrestricted. What is more, the extent to which they were excluded from many aspects of public life by the restrictions on their physical movements determined their ability to travel or move about on their own matters of business. As long as women were not permitted to engage personally in long-distance trade - where the trade of greatest value lay - their economic capacity was restricted. It is worth asking, however, whether propertied women's participation in trade depended more on wealth or social rank, for the Cretan sources offer far more evidence for humble women's participation than for feudatory women's. Greek women in particular stand out as among the busiest, which comes as something of a surprise.

In contrast to Greek men and Latins of both sexes, Greek women were ranked lowest in the social structure of the colony. Venice's intention to render Greek people socially, juridically, and economically inferior to the Latin population had its greatest impact on the indigenous women of the island. Because most Greek women were poor, it is reasonable to suppose that fewer of them would appear in the notarial sources, much less the governmental sources preferred by more traditional historians, than would women of higher social standing and greater wealth. Yet they are there in sufficient numbers to merit a look at their role in the island's economic life.

Neither Greek nor Latin women, however, appear in the notarial registers in a consistent and prevalent manner. Their names are scattered across the registers' folios, whose contents reflect the activities of Latin and Greek men far more coherently. It is difficult to generalize on the basis of the notarial documents about women's economic activities as opposed to the impression easily gained from Latin men, for instance, who possessed large amounts of land for which they were often in debt. Not only do the names of women appear sporadically in the contracts, but those contracts generally involve small sums and property of relatively little value, making it is easy to overlook the significance of a group of connected transactions spread across one or more registers.

Even if all the transactions in which women appear could be gathered, problems of interpretation confront the scholar. What in one transaction may be a woman making a purchase for her household, for instance, may be in another a woman buying wholesale with the intention of selling the merchandise at retail. The transactions make no distinction between the two kinds of purchases, unless the woman's name is accompanied by a stated profession such as mercatrix. To take another example, if we find five transactions randomly distributed throughout a group of sources in which one woman sells livestock, can we surmise that she engaged in this activity professionally? If a woman managed and disposed of property so regularly that we suspect that she did so as an occupation, what adjustments must we make in our understanding of the extent to which women as a whole took part in the economic life where they lived? When do the myriad of economic exchanges involving property of relatively little value found in the sources become evidence of the vitality of women's economic resources and cease being random small exchanges insignificant to larger economic trends?

By looking through the fourteenth-century notarial documents at women's activities in service, trade, industry, credit and investment and the wine trade, we will see that women were in fact a vital part of Cretan society.

The occupations and employment in which we find Cretan women engaged correspond to those that we know humble women pursued everywhere in the western Mediterranean in that period.(15) They worked primarily as servants and nurses - a testimony to their low social and economic status as a group.(16) Five servant contracts involving both Greek and Latin women reveal how slight the rewards of this kind of work could be. In 1337, a Greek woman, Eudhoquia, agreed to serve Stefano Papuca for two years at the modest annual salary of four perperi plus food and clothing.(17) Three other contracts, also involving Greek women, show that providing employees with food, clothing, and shelter instead of a salary was probably the norm.(18) The most generous of the employers was a Latin man, ser Betino de Arigonibus, who in 1345 employed a Latin woman, Margarita Mathei Furlano, as his servant for the salary of six perperi.(19)

When they worked outside of the household, women performed other kinds of service occupations such as tavernkeepers or retailers. Maria de Nigroponte, a resident of the Candia's burg, offered her services in a contract to Palmerio de Verona. In early 1320, she agreed to manage his wineshop (cantina) for one year, during which time she would sell his wine. Her salary for the year was fifteen perperi, a little more than double the salary of a servant, but Maria had other duties besides that of selling wine. She also agreed in the same contract to nurse for one year the child to whom Palmerio's wife was about to give birth. In exchange for this particular service, Palmerio agreed to provide food and shelter to Maria and her daughter for as long as she nursed Palmerio's baby.(20) In another contract, Maria Catena, possibly a Latin woman, obligated herself to Hemanuel Ialina, a prominent and wealthy Greek man in the colony, to work in his tavern selling his wine.(21) For her salary, he was to pay her twelve grossi a month, the equivilent of approximately twelve perperi a year.(22)

There were Greek and Latin women as well who were skilled workers. In one contract, Giorgos Calergi promises that his daughter, Fingenu, would work for two years as a shoemaker in Gregorio Ghisi's shop.(23) During that year, Gregorio's wife, Agnes, would teach Fingenu how to make shoes and pay her eleven perperi for her services. Although Agnes may not have been Greek, the shoemaker-in-training, Fingenu, certainly was, to judge by her cognomen and first name together. In another contract, a woman with a Latin name, Lucia Dono, and her mother, who was a Greek religious woman (calogrea) named Phymia Sapsudena, arrange for Lucia's daughter, Frangula, to learn the skill of shoemaker from Phylipa Serigo. Frangula would earn nothing in her first year of apprenticeship, but in her second year Phylipa was to give Lucia eight perperi over the course of two installments.(24)

Two less traditional occupations for women also appear in the documents. Maria Brixiano, a furrier (piliparia), agrees for one year to take into her service Michael and Stamatio, sons of Cali, the widow of Niccolo Dario. Maria is to pay Cali sixteen perperi for both her sons' work in her shop and at the end of the year is to give them one of her instruments worth one perpero. Cali and Maria further agree that Michael will not have to lift skins or fetch water as part of his responsibilities.(25) In another document, there is a reference to a female physician or surgeon, Agnes de Balneo, who is described in a court record from 1320 as "cirugica."(26)

Although I have gone through most of the registers from the fourteenth century, perhaps more examples of women possessing non-traditional skills (as Maria and Agnes did) will surface when the remaining notarial registers of that century and the next have been completely examined. The possibility of finding specifically Greek women in such roles, however, is unlikely. The registers that survive belonged to notaries working primarily in the city and the burg and therein lies the problem. To find more evidence of Greek women's activity we would have to examine the registers of notaries working where most Greek women lived, that is to say in the countryside. Unfortunately for us, no registers from outside the city of Candia have survived. But if we cannot go to the Greek women of the countryside, many had occasion to come to the city on business and employ the services of the notaries, in whose registers we fortunately find them.

To judge by the documents in the registers, a principal reason why village women went to Candia had to do with their role in textile production. Scholars have long been aware of the association of women with the process of clothmaking. No less than Latin women, Byzantine women carried fleece, spun thread, wove cloth, and otherwise prepared cloth for household use.(27) This association is indeed borne out by the wills, which offer evidence that clothmaking was a common activity for all women in the colony, be they Latin or Greek. Although numerous testators made bequests of clothing and cloth without any indication of who made the cloth, seven testators bequeathed thread to women. One Greek woman, Pliti, the widow of Leo Cavatorta, left to another woman a bequest of silk thread,(28) while a Latin woman, Giacomina, widow of Giovanni Longovardo, instructed her executors to sell all her cotton and linen thread.(29) A male testator, Giorgio della Rota, left to his slave her bed, coverlet, and all her thread and cloth - which she perhaps made herself, since the testator identifies them as "hers."(30) Four other women made similar bequests of thread in their wills.(31)

If spinning and weaving were skills that most women, even those among the elite, possessed, how great a demand would there have been for professional textile workers producing for the market? Because most references to women's clothmaking suggest that in was indeed an activity carried on at home, the answer would seem to be that there was little room for commercial producers.

One document shows how complexly a situation may be masked by incomplete archival records. A Latin woman of the elite, Maricoli, wife of Niccolo Pantaleo, states in one of her bequests: "I leave two grossi to each woman of the village Staurachi who works thread for me."(32) Evidently a group of village women produced thread for a woman residing in the city, who would presumably make cloth out of it herself or have someone else make cloth out of it. We do not know if Maricoli paid for the work that those women did; they may have been her or her husband's villeins. Even if we can be sure of little else, we can be confident that those village women producing thread for Maricoli were Greek.(33) But the idea of there having been textile production organized in so specialized a manner is intriguing.

Three apprenticeship contracts shed a little more light on the question of whether women produced cloth for commercial purposes. In 1321, Maria de Policandro, a resident of the village Pendamodhi, contracted with Herini Lastudhena, a Greek resident of Candia, for Maria's daughter Cherana to work for Herini "in the service of your trade" and provide other household services for ten years. During that time Herini was to teach Cherana the skill of clothmaking and provide her with food and clothing.(34) Two other contracts contain similar terms for girls to enter the home of clothmakers as apprentices, for two years in one case and three years in the other.(35) It is interesting that a woman came from a village to the city of Candia to learn clothmaking, a skill one would expect village women would have acquired in their villages. Apart from that, this document suggests that women's involvement in clothmaking extended beyond the boundaries of the household and into the market. Another set of documents goes a long way toward demonstrating that such was indeed the case.

Lest it be thought that women's association with clothmaking was limited to its production, an interesting set of transactions dating from 1399 reveals that they were also active in its distribution. On 30 September, the notary Andrea Cocco recorded nine separate sales of cloth to Andrea Geno, the son of a Venetian nobleman and a resident of Candia.(36) Twelve women promised Geno that they would provide him by a specified date with agreed-upon quantities of cloth (incidentally, two Greek nuns figure among the twelve promising to provide Geno with cloth). Eight of the twelve women in the nine contracts came from a section of the burg located outside the city walls, the parish of St. George Glifocaridi. The sums involved in the nine contracts ranged between six and nine perperi for 100 lengths (brachie) of a white cloth called rasia.

About one week late, Andrea Geno was back, looking to buy more cloth. This time, on 6 October, he had the notary enter in the same register thirteen contracts of sale between himself and eighteen women.(37) The sums and the quantities of cloth amounted to much the same as those in the contracts of the week before, although two of the contracts were for 200 brachie at twelve perperi and one was for 300 brachie at eighteen perperi. Four of these women came from St. George Glifocaridithe, same parish as the women in the first set of documents. The other women came from the suburb parishes of St. George Suriano, Cristo Tunarici, St. Marco, and Archerapanagia.

The vendors in these transactions were all Greek women. The transactions all involved the sale of doth. All the women in the transactions came from the burg of Candia and most of the women in the first group came from the same parish within the burg. What can we infer from these factors? One impression reinforces that given by the apprenticeship contracts and perhaps as well by the will of Maricoli, the wife of Niccolo Pantaleo, in which she left bequests to each woman of a village who worked thread for her. In the villages of Crete there lived a significant number of Greek women engaged in the production of cloth for their households as well as for sale in marketplace. But nothing in these transactions involving Geno suggests that the women who were selling the cloth were the same ones who made it.

Although the women with whom Geno dealt might also have been the producers of the cloth they agreed to provide, among the contracts with the village women appear clues that point to these women as distributors only, rather than producers of cloth. Twelve out of the thirty-one women in the contracts have mercatrix attached to their names. While this title does not preclude the possibility that those twelve women produced the cloth they sold, it does signal another relationship to the product and the buyer than do contracts involving vendors of wine, for instance, who were identified neither as producers nor merchants because they were both. These women merchants were involved in the distribution of cloth.

If at least the twelve women were cloth-merchants instead of cloth-makers, the contracts prompt another question. Did those merchants themselves travel to procure cloth from local village producers (also Greek women), and bring it back to Candia? Or was the cloth produced in the city's vicinity? Unfortunately we know too little about cloth production on the island to answer either question, and we are not likely to discover anything more about how the women in these particular contracts acquired the cloth they promised to provide Geno.

The marital status of the women contracting with Geno is also not clear, but of the thirty-one female principals in these documents only one woman identifies herself as a wife. Stamata, wife of Pietro Scorda, states as required by law that she entered into the contract "with the consent of my husband," who also serves as her guarantor.(38) No other woman gives any clear indication that she was married at the time she did business with Andrea Geno. Three women have their daughters as guarantors of the contract, showing that those women had at one time been married, even if they no longer were. One woman, Maria Gavrilopula, had as her guarantor her sister, Giacomina (a Latin name), whose Greek surname was also Gavrilopula. Still another woman, Cali Fradelena, named her mother, Staurachena Fradelena, as hers.

It does not pay to assume too quickly on basis of their names that either Maria Gaurilopula or Cali Fradelena were unmarried maidens at the time they entered into their contracts with Andrea Geno. The subject of women's names in the late medieval period is one that has not received the attention it deserves.(39) This is unfortunate, because in the Cretan documents there appear to be two ways that women's names are stated, the significance of which is obscure. A woman's identity is described either by her first name followed by her cognomen, as in "Maria Corner," or by her first name and her marital status, as in "Marchesina, wife of Marco Corner." The incidence of either of the two styles does not seem to be entirely haphazard. Because a woman was subject to her husband's legal authority, it is very unusual to find a contract involving a wife, without her husband's stated permission.(40) In the very few transactions in which the husband's permission is not expressed, the transactions are between wives and close members of the family into which the women were born.(41) To come at the evidence another way, the majority of the women in the examined documents identify themselves either by their first and last names, or as widows of named individuals. This suggests that women were identified by husbands in order to signal under whose potestas they were. When they were no longer under the authority of their husbands, the manner in which they were identified could vary slightly. Most of the women selling textiles to Andreas Geno were therefore likely to have been widows, exercising the economic freedom that historians have found typical of widows in control of their dowries and property.(42) The same holds true for Maria and Giacomina Gavrilopula, as Greek women often reverted to their birth names in widowhood.(43)

Undoubtedly, the production of cloth was an area in which Greek women participated and perhaps even dominated. Their role as distributors needs more investigation because the evidence takes us beyond what we have come to understand as typically possible for Greek women (and perhaps most women) to do. It appears that the portion of the population traditionally conceived as the most constricted economically exercised more options in society than has been thought.

Credit and investment are another area where we might not expect to find women, and particularly Greek women, active. And yet in spite of being the poorest group among the population, there is ample evidence that Greek women lent money to others. To be sure, on the whole they appear in the sources as borrowers more often than lenders, but it is surprising to find so many of them engaged in lending money and in taking pawns. On second consideration, however, it is not so unusual once the activities of the Greek women of Crete are compared with those of women in western Europe. Historians working in England, France, Spain, and Italy are only recently coming to see that both Christian and Jewish women in the middle ages lent and invested their money to a greater extent than had previously been understood.(44) The bulk of the evidence relating to women and moneylending points to the existence of an informal credit network established by women in their communities, rather than the formal presence of women in the profession of moneylending.(45)

Generally speaking, a loan was made in one of two ways: at interest or as an interest-free loan. Loans granted at interest could also be one of two kinds. A productive loan held the promise of a profit for both the borrower and the lender, because the borrower sought capital to invest in a commercial venture. An unproductive loan was one from which the borrower made no profit.(46) The cash nature of most dowries in the late medieval period made them particularly responsive to the credit needs of individuals. Most loans made by women were undoubtedly interest-free. Family members often applied to their female relatives for liquid capital to invest in their business dealings. Moreover, in religious communities moneylending became an act of charity on the part of those with property to those who were less fortunate.(47)

Scholars are now beginning to see, however, that women's property was also used to make productive loans - that is, to invest in risky ventures.(48) Two issues are at play here that must be seen as distinct from each other. To what use was women's property put, and to what extent were women involved in the investment of their own property? Previously, it was thought that women, or the guardians who controlled their property, showed a preference to invest dotal property in secure ventures. Now, as William Jordan points out in his book on women and credit, the current state of research reveals a marked connection between high-risk investment of dotal property and the development of late-medieval economies, particularly in Italy.(49) The greater appreciation of the economic role of dowries, however, still begs the question concerning the degree to which women managed the investment of their dowries while they were married because husbands had legal control of dowries. That dowries had hitherto played a little understood role in the economy of late medieval Italian cities cannot be taken at face value to mean that the initiative to invest them originated from their female owners. That remains to be seen in future work.

Consequently, we must make two more distinctions in the issues relating to the investment of women's property. How great a difference was there between the influence a wife exercised over the investment of the dotal goods in her husband's control and the control a widow gained over her dotal property? The influence that women exerted over their husbands' will is difficult to document, but a widow's right to control her own property had at least a legal basis. In most Italian cities, a widow took back into her control her dowry and exercised free use of it, although the degree of that freedom varied from city to city.(50)

All of the issues that I have just raised pertain to women of Crete as well. Greek women of Crete also lent and invested money. Bearing in mind that the sample presented here is small, most loans made by Greek women to others were ones for which no interest was ostensibly charged. Typically an interest-free loan was signaled in the notarial transactions as that sum lent to a person "causa amoris."(51) The sums of these loans amounted to no more than thirteen perperi, which we have seen could represent a servant's yearly salary.(52) The one example of a larger sum lent is the recording of a loan of 100 perperi made by Helena, widow of the Greek feudatory Iohannes Sachlichi, to two Latin men from the eastern end of the island.(53) Typically, family members were the recipients of interest-free loans in several of the transactions.(54) More interesting are the examples of servants and dependents, the humblest of free persons on the island, lending money to others. For example, Maria, a tavernkeeper and the former servant of Michael Pantaleo, a goldsmith, lent eleven and a half perperi to Pietro Pantaleo, another goldsmith and perhaps the son of her former employer.(55) Sophia, the nurse of ser Giovanni Mudazzo, lent at interest six perperi to Marco da Missina, resident of the village Triloti.(56)

Perhaps the biggest revelation for those used to thinking of moneylending as an activity at worst utterly condemned and at best tolerated by the Roman Church are the number of Greek female moneylenders who resided in religious houses. Like women moneylenders generally, the phenomenon of religious women lending money was not unique to Crete. Nuns in other parts of western Europe, particularly in Italy, were known to lend money free of interest to people less fortunate than themselves and to family members.(57) What is less clear in the literature is whether nuns lending at interest were equally tolerated. According to canon law, which condemned usury, every Christian by the middle of the thirteenth century was prohibited from charging interest, although theologians and canon lawyers made a distinction between lucrative "usury" and compensatory "interest."(58) Even with a shifting sense of what constituted usury, those in religious orders in western Europe would have been excluded from any consideration of its legitimacy.

This was not necessarily the case in the Byzantine Empire. In Justinian's empire more than in the west, usury was tolerated as a necessary evil in the economy. Most discussions by Byzantine theologians began with the premise that usury existed and would continue to exist. The Byzantines drew a line in theory, however, at clergy involving themselves in credit transactions.(59) Nevertheless the discussion among the theologians no doubt reflected the continued activity of the Greek clergy in commercial transactions.(60)

The difference between western European and Byzantine attitudes towards usury furnishes at least a partial explanation of what we find in the Cretan sources. The wills of three Greek women, each of whom describes herself as a monacha, contain clear evidence of their activity in the extension of credit. Calinichi Samea, a monacha in the city of Candia, lists in her will all outstanding debts owed her and the pawns she took in surety of those loans.(61) Apparently at least some of these loans were not made "causa amoris," because she instructs her executors to investigate the profit from the investments made by her debtors.(62) Praxia, another monacha and widow of Giorgios Prassino, also engaged in moneylending.(63) Her will consists almost entirely of a list of her debtors. The sums which she lent amounted only in one case to more than ten perperi, but it is not clear whether the larger sum was indeed a loan. She states that a man named Giovanni Mussele owed her forty-four perperi, without specifying the nature of the debt. In 1355, Herini Chefalopulissa, another monacha, lent thirty-eight perperi to Antonio Bonacursi, a meatseller, and his wife Herini Venerio, as an investment in his trade. He was to pay back the sum and half of the profits he had made at the end of one year.(64) Theoduli, also a monacha, lent the sum of five perperi to two Greek men, Giorgios Cacara and Costas Curtichi, in order that they might use it for six months in their trade. At the end of the six months, Theoduli was to receive two-thirds of the profit that the two men earned, if there was any.(65)

It would be difficult to build a case about religious women lending money at interest on the basis of these few examples. Yet the fact that public notaries drew up the three women's wills - which were legal documents whose contents had to stand up in a court of Venetian law - suggests that their moneylending practices were at least tolerated. How do we explain the tolerance of moneylending practices such as these in a colony under the jurisdiction of the Venetian state and the Roman church? We may have here an example of a Byzantine custom tolerated by the Venetian regime long after the departure of Byzantine administration. Greek religious women lending money at interest may indeed constitute an argument for the persistence of Byzantine law under Venetian colonial rule. Then again, since members of religious orders were not allowed by law to make wills, the terms monacha and calogera may not indicate formal membership in a convent or religious community. Perhaps these Greek women were moneylenders before they entered religious life and were allowed to continue in this role thereafter. For the moment, we can only speculate as to what the implications of these women's moneylending might be. No transaction revealing nuns of the Roman church lending money at interest has yet come to light - which would show that the regime's toleration extended beyond the Greek church - but it is unlikely that one will be found.(66)

Can we interpret the government's peculiar tolerance of Greek nuns investing their property in commercial ventures as a propitious sign that we will find more cases of Greek women in the lay world investing in long-distance trade, which is only slightly less peculiar than nuns lending money at interest? It is still difficult to say, but evidence of Greek laywomen investing on their own in sea-loans is not lacking. That Latin women were more likely to invest their property in this fashion is not unexpected, since as a group they had more property at their disposal. When Greek women are involved in such a venture it is cause for note, even if they themselves were unable to go on local trips around the island or out in the Mediterranean. For instance, two Greek women appear in a contract and a will as part owners of vessels. In her will, Pliti, the widow of Leo Cavatorta, states that she owned a half-share in a boat, the use of which she bequeathed to her consobrinus, with the qualification that she wished possession of the boat to pass eventually to her aunt.(67) In another contract, Heleni, the widow of Muscoleo Sirigo, formed a societas with Pietro Pavalo, stating in the transaction that she had bought a small vessel (griparea), appropriate for fishing or local trade, for 105 perperi. Pietro, she continued, would pay her fifty-two perperi, nine grossi, and be its patronus.(68)

It will be interesting to learn whether differences between the investment patterns of Greek and Latin women will emerge from a thorough analysis of their respective activities in the notarial registers. So far, there is less evidence of Latin Cretan women demonstrating the same propensity towards investment that we have found traces of among Greek women. Women of the elite, the overwhelming majority of whom were Latin, were more restricted in their economic actions than women of lower social rank, the majority of whom were Greek, although the degree to which they were restricted no doubt depended on their relations with their husbands and how tied up in investments their dowries were. When property of little value was at stake, freedom of movement may have come more easily. Thus Greek women, possessors of little property, occupied a more fluid position in society than did Latin women of the elite.

Viticulture was another area of economic activity where women could be found. Wine was an important Cretan product that over the fourteenth century slowly replaced grain as the island's chief export.(69) In fact women form a significant part of all sales of wine in the notarial registers examined. Most of the women involved in these transactions appear to have been humble women from villages outside of Candia. The documents do not make clear the extent to which women took part in the making of the wine, although one document reveals that at least one woman received a wage for work in its production. Cali Plasencena, a Greek woman, reached an agreement with Angelo Biaqua, a Latin man, whereby she would pay him ten perperi for wine and he would pay her the agreed salary for her work in the vineyard that produced the wine.(70)

Whether Greek women made wine or not, they were often found on both sides of the transaction in the contracts where wine was sold. Since women were commonly involved in the cultivation of vineyards, it is not surprising that some sold wine in large amounts. Buying wine in large quantities was another matter. Herini Vastarchena, who bought 116 mistati of wine for eleven and a half perperi from Sophya Fruliadhena, resident of the casale Staurachi, is only one among numerous examples.(71)

The name of one woman particularly catches the eye in the first sixty-six folios of a notarial register, and her case will serve to show the degree of involvement in the wine trade open to a Greek woman.(72) Call, the widow of Andrea Agapito, appears in fifty-four notarial transactions between 9 October 1345 and 29 August 1347, a period of nearly two years. The date of the last document in which she appears, 29 August, is also the day when she made her will, which was subsequently entered in the notary's register a few days later on 4 September 1347.(73) Since the recording of a will in a notary's register is a good indication that the testator had died, and since the few transactions in which her name appears after this date are carried out by the executors of her will, Call must have died at some point between 29 August and 4 September 1347. Cali also appears in four transactions in the register of another notary.(74) Hence, even though evidence of her business activities survives in the registers of only two notaries, Angelo Bocontolo and Giorgio Siligardo, we have a partial but valuable record of one Greek woman's commercial transactions in the last two years of her life.

To begin with the last document involving her directly, Cali's will offers details about her life that lend dimension to our understanding of the transactions related to her. Cali was a resident in the city of Candia in the first part of the fourteenth century. We know nothing at this time about her late husband, Andrea, except that he was a goldsmith and undoubtedly a man of some wealth, since his widow was in possession of a substantial amount of property when she made her will. There is no sign that her husband's family was one of the Greek noble families of the island.(75) The earliest date we have for Cali is from a transaction drawn up in 1339, in which she is called a widow.(76) Thus, by the time that she drew up the transactions with which we are mostly concerned, Cali had been a widow for at least six years.

If Andrea remains an enigma, the ethnic community to which he and his wife belonged is easier to discern, although not in a straightforward manner. Agapito is a Greek cognomen, but Andrea was a given name that could be found among both Latin and Greek families. On the other hand, the woman's name, Cali, was originally Greek, but by the period in which these transactions were drawn up the name had come into fashion among the island's inhabitants, Latin and Greek alike. The names of Andrea and Cali's children are less obviously Greek: a son, Matteo, and a daughter, Anica. Both names were characteristic primarily of families of Venetian origin and, secondarily, of Greek Cretan families with close ties to Latin culture. She appointed as her executors in the following order, her son-in-law, Giovanni Ystrigo (whose cognomen suggests that he was Latin), his wife and her daughter, Anica, and lastly Cali's son, Matteo. Among her testamentary dispositions, Cali mentioned her sister, Albani, who was married to a Greek priest, Stephanos Curtichi, and her aunt, Anica Bocontolo, whose name was entirely Venetian in origin, if not in fact. At first glance, then, Cali could have been either a Greek or Latin woman married to a Greek man.

The ambiguity displayed in the names of Cali's family was typical of families living in the colony of Crete during this period. As was discussed earlier, by the middle of the fourteenth century given names no longer served as reliable guides to membership in either the Latin or the Greek community.(77) Furthermore, it is worth recalling at this juncture that after the end of the thirteenth century a Greek cognomen indicates a Greek person more reliably than a Venetian cognomen indicates a person of Latin origin. Unless there is additional information connecting a person to one specific community, determining a person's ethnic background on the basis of their name alone is an uncertain business.

Therefore, other information is needed before we can proceed on the assumption that Call was as Greek as her cognomen suggests. Confirmation of this is provided in her will. She gives no clues to the family into which she was born, other than the fact that her sister, Albani, had married a Greek priest - a marriage that suggests that Cali's birth family was more humble than not.(78) However, her legacies to Greek priests, her request to be inscribed in the memorial lists of ten Greek churches in addition to bequests for other Greek rites, and the list of women with indisputably Greek names to whom she bequeathed small sums of money, are all convincing indications, when considered together with the family data, that Call was a Greek Cretan woman with female relatives married to both Latin and Greek men.

Regardless of how modest her origins might have been, by the time she made her will Call was a woman of considerable property. The total sum of her bequests to kin and non-kin amounts to 1,172 perperi, which was equal to, if not more than, most dowries of noblewomen on the island. Unlike many other female testators, Call makes no mention of her dowry in her will, and so it is likely that the property she held at the end of her life represented more than her dotal property alone. She states in her will that she had received 200 perperi, along with an additional fifty perperi, from her husband's estate. Perhaps the 200 perperi represented her dowry, despite not being identified as such. This sum, which she left to her son, Matteo, was characteristic of the dowry values of the moderately wealthy. The likelihood is that the 1,172 perperi that she disposed of in her will consisted of her dowry, what she inherited from her husband, and what she had earned herself.

Cali's bequests to her children are instructive. To Anica, her daughter and the wife of Giovanni Ystrigo, she left 500 perperi, which also might have represented her dowry. In addition to the 250 perperi that Call received from her husband's estate, she bequeathed another 250 perperi to Matteo, matching the legacy to her daughter. To each of her children she left a silver dish (apladhena). Matteo received the remainder of her household goods, including a slave, Maria, whom Call instructed should be freed after four more years of service to her son. Moreover, she was one of the nine women who left thread as a bequest, directing her executors to divide all of it equally between her children, Anica and Matteo.

The reference to the thread is the only indication in her will that Cali was engaged in any economic activity other than the possession of her dowry, which cannot be distinguished from her total estate. If her will was the only piece of evidence in existence that related something about her life, we would have no way of knowing that Cali was in fact a widow engaged in business. By good fortune, more information about Cali has survived than has information about the vast majority of both Greek and Latin women in the colony of Crete during the first two centuries of its existence. This piece of luck is partly a result of her preference for one notary in her business affairs. Her commercial dealings, which reveal little about her personally, are in the same register as her will, in which she reveals more about herself than in the notarial transactions.

The fifty-five transactions in which Cali appears during the last twenty-two months of her life are three kinds. Thirty-two transactions (fifty-eight percent) are those in which Cali bought wine. Eighteen (thirty-three percent) are loans which she made to merchants. The remaining five transactions (nine percent) are those in which she sold livestock or silk. The parties to each of the transactions consisted of herself and the person from whom she either bought wine, or to whom she loaned money or sold animals or silk.

Beginning with Cali's wine transactions, the significance of her business is not immediately obvious without placing her purchases in juxtaposition to other purchases of wine. Two hundred and eighty five transactions for the sale of wine, including those involving Cali, appear in Bocontolo's register, which covers the period of time from 1345 to 1350.(79) Cali's thirty-two purchases constitute eleven percent of the 285 wine purchases. Within the space of one year, from October of 1345 up to October of 1346, Cali bought 1,448 mistati of wine.(80) Between October of 1346 and the middle of May, 1347 - four months before she died - she bought 1,535 more mistati of wine.(81) Cali appears to have been involved in the purchase of wine for some time. The quantities of wine she bought, as seen in the two wine sales in Siligardo's notarial register drawn up in December of 1339 and January of 1340, are similar to those in the transactions in Bocontolo's.(82)

As a point of comparison, the difference between the quantity of wine bought by the four biggest purchasers after Cali in Bocontolo's register and the quantity she bought is striking. Vendramo Tadaudo, a tailor in the city of Candia, bought nearly 100 mistati in November of 1345, 100 mistati of Malmsey wine in October of 1346 and nearly 150 mistati in December of that year.(83) In total, he bought 350 mistati in a thirteen-month period. A woman named Cali Cancaruolo, resident of Candia, bought wine in larger quantities than Venderamo. In early 1346, this Call bought 900 mistati. A few months later in June, she bought 250 mistati of wine.(84) Within the space of a few days Hemanuel Perivolari made three purchases of wine amounting to nearly 1,200 misati.(85) Finally Michael Gavala bought over 150 mistati of wine in three purchases in January and February of 1346-47. None of these names appears again as purchasers of wine before the death of Cali, the widow of Andrea Agapito, although undoubtedly they also patronized other notaries.

There appear in other notaries' registers purchasers of wine who bought in one day more than the amount Cali accumulated in a year. For instance, in 1369 Niccolo Pascaligo of Venice, a resident of Candia, bought in one day 4,000 mistati of wine from two vendors.(86) No doubt he intended to export the wine from Crete.(87) It is tempting to think that Cali, too, was a wine exporter of modest significance. To strike a more cautious (if ultimately more interesting) note, she may have been a supplier to exporters of wine such as Pascaligo, who bought large quantities at one time in the port city. And to judge from the relatively common occurrence of women among purchasers of wine throughout the register, she may not have been alone.

This point takes us back for a moment to the group of documents drawn up on the occasions when Andrea Geno bought cloth from a group of Greek women. We have here an opportunity perhaps not only to see from two perspectives an area of activity in which women in Crete might have played an important role, but also to receive a salutary reminder about the limitations of archival sources. Call, widow of Andrea Agapito, and the cloth-merchants of the burg were all women in the business of buying significant amounts of commodities. We have a group of documents that shows Cali contracting to acquire her particular commodity. We have in addition a group of documents in which the cloth-merchants promised to provide buyers, perhaps exporters, with their particular commodity. What we lack is a group of documents showing women wine vendors, among whom Cali might figure, contracting to provide wine to merchants buying in larger volume for the purposes of export. We also lack documents for each of the women who sold cloth to Andrea Geno, showing them contracting with producers for the cloth, as Cali did with wine producers. Focusing solely on the women's activity rather than on the merchandise they were selling, the two groups of documents thus seem to be two sides of the same coin: women captured in documentary snapshots at different moments in one process. In general, however, women very possibly played a significant role in the local distribution of the island's products, serving as the intermediaries between the producers in the villages and the exporters in Candia.

One way to test the hypothesis that women intermediaries existed would be to find transactions in which they purchased a commodity at one price and sold it at a higher one. The incomplete character of the Cretan notarial archives makes this a tricky proposition, but I do not believe it would be a futile investigation. There are certainly enough women as parties to purchases to make the effort worthwhile.

Returning to Cali, we know that on five occasions she was the vender of other kinds of goods. Three of the documents involve the sale of two pigs and one ox.(88) On the two other occasions of charters of sale being recorded in Bocontolo's register, Cali sold a quantity of silk to someone in one contract and probably a kind of textile in another.(89) Cali, then, was not unaccustomed to the business of buying and selling, but the scale of these purchases pales in comparison to the amounts of wine she purchased.

Cali also invested money in the commercial ventures of others, though the sums involved were never very large in the years recording her activity. In 1339, she made two loans, one of five perperi to her brother-in-law, Stefano Curtichi, which he was to pay back at twelve percent interest within one year, and one of seven perperi on the same terms.(90) In 1346, she made two loans: an interest-free loan of twenty-five perperi to a married couple who also appear in her will; and a loan of twelve perperi to a merchant taking his goods by galley to sell elsewhere off the island. The following year, 1347, the year she died, was a year of greater investment. Cali appears as the investor in sixteen contracts for sea loans, eight of which were subsequently canceled after her death. Nevertheless the texts of the documents indicate that, notwithstanding the subsequent cancellation of the contract, Cali had given the money up front. In total, Cali invested approximately 408 perperi between January of 1345-46 and August of 1347. The smallest amount cited in the contracts was twelve perperi and the largest sixty-five perperi. All were loans to merchants taking goods off the island to sell them elsewhere.(91) Were they perhaps carrying some or all of the wine that Cali had bought in the previous year?

It is difficult to know how common it was for a woman, much less a Greek woman, to engage in business on her own. We have seen that there were examples of women who called themselves mercatrices, but it is impossible to know what precisely was meant by that term. There is no way of telling in the transactions whether a woman was engaged in informal occasional sales or whether she relied on trade as a principal means of support, because unlike the situation with men, we cannot assume that she even had the legal right to conduct business for herself. Numerous examples exist in the wills of women who sold objects or clothing, but those women neither give much evidence of selling on a regular basis, nor do we know the extent of their freedom of movement. It is in fact easy to come away from the notarial documents with the impression that women did a little bit of everything to make use of and build upon their property.

Cali stands out as an example because of her consistent use of one notary whose register has fortunately survived. How many other women were as evidently active as Cali in selling wine and other goods at retail? The two perspectives of women's participation in distribution provided by Cali's wine sales and the cloth-merchants' contracts raise the question of how many other similar groups of documents can be found. Were the economic possibilities in Crete for women such as Cali exceptional for that time and for the Italian peninsula? Then again, perhaps these women simply are more easily visible because of the particular sources that have survived and because the size of the Cretan notarial archive is less intimidating than the vast archives of Venice and Florence. To pose the question another way, to what extent has the economic activity of women in the late medieval and early Renaissance period been masked by incomplete documentary collections? To what extent are our assumptions about women's limited economic activity still shaped by negative evidence in the archives? Only in recent years are historians beginning to reconcile the impression taken from notarial registers, where women clearly played an as-yet ungauged and ill-defined role in the economy, and the impression given by statutory law and legal opinions, which describe a condition more restricted than the evidence supported by notarial registers.

Nevertheless, if a gap exists anywhere in the scholarly literature on the history of women and the economic history of Italian cities it is the discrepancy between what women were prevented legally from doing and what they actually did. There is no question that women participated in the economies of western medieval Europe in a wide variety of ways, with their roles ranging from servants, tradeswomen, and artisans to investors in merchant ventures. What is less clear is the extent of their involvement and investment, the effect of social rank on their mobility and activity, and the range of activities in which they can be found. The way toward a clearer understanding of women's practices is complicated on the one hand by the integrity, or the lack thereof, of the sources at the disposal of historians, and on the other by the assumptions underlying much of what has already been written concerning women's economic and legal capacities. None of the foregoing is intended to detract from the basic understanding that women experienced limited autonomy as wives or daughters. But the example of Greek women in the colony of Crete suggests that women everywhere took part in economic life to an unsuspected degree.


I am grateful to the Faculty Development Board of the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, which generously sponsored the research for this article, an earlier version of which was presented at the Twentieth Annual Byzantine studies Conference at Ann Arbor, Michigan, in October of 1994. I would also like to thank the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and Dumbarton Oaks for their generous support of the research for this study.

1 Tiepolo, 1973.

2 The most reliable estimate of the size of the Latin population in Crete is found in Jacoby, 1989, 197. He argues that the target number of 2,500 Latin settlers in Crete in the thirteenth century was never reached.

3 For examples of court cases, see Regestes.

4 Maltezou, 1991, 17.

5 Jacoby, 1989, 197. Other towns with Venetian settlements existed on the island with their own groups of feudatories and councils, but there was only one duke of Candia, Venice's senior civil servant and chief justiciary on the island.

6 Maltezou, 1991, 19-20. Although there are indications that cases involving Greeks came before Venetian judges in different courts (ad curiam petitionum et Grecorum) than those cases involving Latins, it is not clear that the judges applied to Greeks anything but Venetian law. Thiriet, 1959, 241, concludes that the judges, who came from Venice, would have had little familiarity with Byzantine law. However, if during the thirteenth century Venetians acquired a knowledge of the feudal law applied in the Morea but not in Crete before their arrival, there is no reason to think that the fourteenth-century Venetian regime would have remained ignorant of Byzantine law and custom as previously applied in Crete. See Jacoby, 1971, 296-97. The question of whether and to what extent the Venetian regime in Crete allowed Byzantine law to prevail in cases involving the indigenous population has been recently addressed by Maltezou, 1995.

7 Jacoby, 1989, 200-03; Borsari, 1963, 27-66.

8 The Calergi family enjoyed particular Venetian favor. In 1407, the sons and heirs of Mapheus Calergi were confirmed as members of the Great Council of Venice. Apofasis, 1: 63-64, n. 16.

9 For a history of Byzantine Crete, see Tsougarakis; for an overview, see Maltezou, 1991, 21-23.

10 Jacoby, 1989, 192.

11 For the status of the Greek peasantry, Jacoby, 1989; see also Santschi.

12 Two introductory overviews of the social history of the colony may be found in David Jacoby, 1989, and Maltezou, 1991, 17-47.

13 ASV, NDC, not. Giovanni Catacalo, Busta 24, fol. 7r, 5 June 1389: Phylippo Avonale, resident of the village Sichilu.

14 For an overview of the legal rights of women in Florence, as one example, see Kuehn, 197-211.

15 Maltezou, 1987.

16 For information on servants and nurses, see Maltezou, 1987; McKee, 53-65.

17 ASV, NDC, not. G. Granela, fol. 144r, 24 October 1337. For the Cretan perpero, see Lane and Mueller, 1: 296.

18 ASV, NDC: not. F. della Croce, Busta 22, fol. 26v, 21 December 1339; not. G. Gerardo, Busta 101, fol. 86r, 9 February 1356/57; not. G. Catacalo, Busta 24, fol. 2r, 17 May 1389.

19 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fol. 4v, 8 November 1345. Unlike the common cognomen Catellano, the name de Arigonibus was unusual enough at the time that it can be taken as a toponymic.

20 ASV, NDC, not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 20r, 4 January 1319-20.

21 ASV, NDC, not. G. Similante, Busta 244, fol. 17v, 8 December 1326.

22 The grosso was a Venetian silver coin and money of account. According to Lane and Mueller, twelve grossi were the equivilent of one perpero: Lane and Mueller, 1:296.

23 ASV, NDC, not. E. Valoso, Busta 13, fol. 54r, 14 October 1371.

24 ASV, NDC, not. G. Catacalo, Busta 24, fol. 28v, 14 September 1389.

25 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 303r, 22 October 1348: "Et predictus Michael non teneatur tibi ullo modo levare pellamen vel ire pro aqua opportuna tibi pro dicta tua arte. Tu Maria veto teneris dare nobis pro eorum solido predicti anni yperpera cretensia sexdecim, videlicet singulis sex mensibus /in principio/ medietatem eorum et in finem termini tenearis dare eis unum de feris dicte artis valens yperperum unum."

26 Archivio del Duca di Candia (henceforth, ADC), Memoriali, Busta 29, fol. 31r, 5 March 1320: "Agnes de Balneo, / cirugica /, dedit pro santo Iohannem Vasmulo Milendi, habitatorem in Palla, quam occulpatus fuit Thomasinus Triviasano percussit [...] ictu macie fuit per dominum ducha ad d[...]tem pro hoc sciendo."

27 Also interesting is the question of whether Byzantine women produced cloth for sale. See Laiou, 1981, 243-44.

28 Pliti, widow of Leo Cavatorta, 13 May 1327, ASV, NDC, not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 307r.

29 Iacomina, widow of Iohannes Longovardo, 5 August 1324, ASV, NDC, not. A. Maca, Busta 295, fol. 7r.

30 Georgius de la Rota, 14 September 1320, ASV, NDC, not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 53v.

31 All wills in ASV, NDC: Nicolota, widow of Bartholomeus Venerio, 29 December 1345, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, from Busta 295, fol. 20v-21r; Marchesina, date unknown, not. Pi P. Longo, Busta 295, fol. 3r; Frosenda, widow of Marcus Gradonico, 31 May 1366, not. M. Zusto, Busta 295, fol. 2r: Cali, widow of Andreas Agapito, 29 August 1347, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 66r.

32 Maricoli, wife of Nicolaus Pantaleo, date unknown, ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 101, fragment from Busta 295, fol. 41v: "Item dimitto cuilibet mulieri de casali Staurachi que mihi laboravit filum grossos duos."

33 Cf. the standard expected of Byzantine women who made doth for their households: Laiou, 1981, 245.

34 ASV, NDC, not. D. Fontanella, Busta 97, fasc. 1, fol. 4r, 2 August 1321: "Tu veto debes earn docere artem texarie."

35 ASV, NDC: not. G. Gerardo, Busta 101, fol. 58v, 17 July 1355, Maria Cornaru arranges for her daughter Anica to be apprenticed to Palma, wife of Iacobus Pasqualigo, for three years; not. G. Catacalo, Busta 24, fol. 13v, 8 July 1389, Caterina Poliocto arranges for her daughter Agnes to be apprenticed to Herini Zampani, wife of Andreas Zampani, textor for two years. The women in the first document may have been humble Latin women, but the spelling of "Cornaru" with the Greek feminine gentive ending renders the ethnic background of Maria ambiguous.

36 ASV, NDC, not. A. Cauco, Busta 23, fasc. 1, 30 September 1399: fol. 33r-33v: contracts between Andrea Geno and Stamata, wife of Petrus Scorda; Sofia Andrigena and Eudochia Sclavunena, mercatrices; Anica Clostomalena, mercatrix; Eugenia Gradenigena, calogrea, Cali Trivisadena and Marula Chericudena, mercatrix; Caterina Murtato, mercatrix; Potha Ghacarena, mercatrix; Maria Caurilopula, calogrea; Cali Fradelena; Herini Cutralena.

37 ASV, NDC, not. A. Cauco, Busta 23, fasc. 1, fols. 33v-34r, 6 October 1399, contracts between Andreas Geno and: Maria Turlopula; Heleni Musurachi and Herini Gligorena, mercatrices; Maria Vlachena and Cali Cortacena, mercatrices; Maria Pagomeni; Thomasina Dancona; Ergina Vonale, mercatrix; Call Scordilena; Erini Viturena; Maria Ricena; Maria Vlachena, calogrea, Sofia Calarina and Stamata Foscolo; Maria Sclavena and Anica Sugetena, mercatrix; Sofia da Mulina, calogrea; Marula Gisena.

38 ASV, NDC, not A. Cauco, Busta 23, fasc. 1, fol. 33r, 30 September 1399: "de velle dicti mei mariti."

39 See Klapisck-Zuber for her treatment of the transmission of women's given names.

40 The exception to this point are the wills. Very nearly all the wives in the fourteenth-century wills omit the statement of their husbands' permission. See McKee, 1997.

41 For example, "Plenam et irrevocabilem securitatem facio ego Agnes, uxor Iohannis Fradhelo, habitatrix Candide, cum meis successoribus vobis omnibus commissariis Gabrielis Venerio, quondam patris mei." ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 5v, 15 November 1329.

42 Chabot; Riemer, 57-97.

43 The names of Greek women sometimes reveal the marital status of its bearer because of the suffixes that are attached to their name. A woman's patronymic is formed by the addition of "-poula" to her father's cognomen. A married woman had "-ena", transliterated also as, "-aina," attached to her husband's name. Maltezou, 1991, 37.

44 For a synthesis of work that has been done on women and credit in the medieval period, see parts one and two of Jordan.

45 Ibid., 20.

46 Laiou, 1991.

47 See Jordan, 30-32, for a discussion of the charitable nature of such loans and their possible effects.

48 Ibid., 70-71; Riemer, 57-97.

49 Jordan, 30-32.

50 Cf. Riemer, 60-1 and 73-5.

51 For example, ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 48v, 4 March 1332: Maria, widow of Iohannes Charchiopulo lends five perperi to her son-in-law Andronicus Chandachyti "mutuo causa amoris."

52 Other examples: ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busts 10, fol. 8v, 1 January 1345-46, fol. 27v, 25 September 1346, fol. 39v, 4 December 1346; not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 22r, 18 January 1319-20; not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 27v, 10 July 1331.

53 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 98r, 17 March 1335.

54 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 4r, 8 October 1329: Eufresini, widow of Michael Armini, lends 13 perperi and 3 grossi to her brother-in-law, Nichitas Arminus.

55 ASV, NDC, not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 223v, probably 1329.

56 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fol. 3r, 20 October 1345.

57 Jordan, 30-32.

58 Shatzmiller, 43-47; Le Goff, 72-73.

59 Laiou, 1991, 267.

60 Ibid., 274.

61 Calinichi Samea, 6 August 1341, ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 13v: "Debeo recipere ab Helena, relicta Nascii de Militibus, iperpera duodecima, que ei mutuavi et teneo ab ipsa pro pignore et signo botonos auri quinque valoris circa iperperorum quatuor et supraparticum unum [cum] maxelaria chrusogava rica. Item dedi mutuo Agneti, uxori Marci Bicontulo, de velle eiusdem Marci, iperpera duo et habeo ab ipsa pro pignore et signo telam [...] Item debeo recipere a Bartholomeo Artimoniati iperpera viginti quinque per cartam. Item debeo recipere a Nicolota de casali Careonisi, sorore Musurachene, iperpera quatuor sine pignore, que ipsi mutuavi. Item debeo recipere a Cosiropula iperpera unum et soldos parvorum viginiti unum simili modo. Item debeo recipere a Iohanne Blacho, bordonario, grossos sex similiter. Item mutuavi Moscane, uxori Caneli, de consenu eius, hababitrici in casali Xida, iperpera quatuor, pro quibus dederat mihi in pignore et signo par unum sorcellorum auri quod postmodum petiit a me et dedi sibi sed denarios adhuc mihi non dedit."

62 Calinichi Samea: "Item debeo recipere a Gregorio Anafioti et Cali, uxore eius, iperpera novem et dimidium, que diversis vicibys eis mutuavi. Et si confitebuntur utilitatem qualiter dicta iperpera debeat mihi dare, dimitto eis iperpera quatuor de ipsis. Si autem negabit, volo quod integre ab eis exigantur."

63 Praxia, widow of Georgius Prassino, 22 May 1362, ADC, NDC, not. G. Dario, Busta 295, fol. 6r-v.

64 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 101, fol. 35r, 14 February 1354/55.

65 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 22r, 11 March 1330: "debemus dare et deliberare tibi totum tuum suprascriptum capitale vel eius reliquum cum duabus partibus tocius prode quod inde denarios dederit."

66 I have found, however, two transactions in which religious women (who in spite of their given names were probably Latin) made seemingly interest-free loans to Latin men. Anastasia, a monaca and the widow of Antonius Suriani, lent the small sum of fourteen perperi to Marcus Barocio and his wife: ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 30v, 1 August 1331. Cali Taliapetra, a monaca, lent interest-free the relatively large sum of 100 perperi to Jacobus Taliapetra, who was no doubt her kin. ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fol. 5v, 21 November 1345.

67 Pliti, widow of Leo Cavatorta, 13 May 1327, ASV, NDC, not. A. de Bello Amore, Busta 9, fol. 307v: "Item habeo medietatem unius barche et dimitto earn Georgio Melassino, consobrino meo, ut naviget cum ea. Nichilominus rolo quod sit et deveniat in amitam meam infrascriptam quando intromisserit illud quod sibi dimitto."

68 ASV, NDC, not. E. Valoso, Busta 13, fol. 48v, 17 September 1371. Thiriet describes in the index to Regestes, 1959, v. II: "griparia: navire marchand de petite capacite."

69 Gallina, 138.

70 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fol. 21r, 21 July 1346.

71 ASV, NDC, not. G. Gerardo, Busta 100, fol. 103v, 30 April 1335. According to Topping, the volume of a mistatum apparently could vary from nine liters to nearly twenty-seven liters. Even calculating conservatively at nine liters, Herini's purchase of 116 mistati would amount to one thousand and forty-four liters. See Topping, 519. In contrast, Gallina states that the mistatum was equivalent to approximately eleven liters: Gallina, 136, n. 162.

72 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10.

73 Cali, widow of Andrea Agapito, 29 August 1347, loc. cit.

74 ASV, NDC, not. G. Siligardo, Busta 244, fol. 157r, 24 July 1339; fol. 164r, 2 November 1339; fol. 165v, 21 December 1339.

75 There is no mention of the Agapito family in Gerland, 1903-4 and 1905-8.

76 ASV, NDC, not. G. Siligardo, Busta 244, fol. 157r, 24 July 1339.

77 Maltezou, 1991, 33-34.

78 The Greek clergy were by and large of humble standing and some were even villeins.

79 Gallina has already done the arithematic for the sales of wine in Bocontolo's register. Gallina, 131-32.

80 See note 72 for the mistatum.

81 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1: fol. 2r, 9 October 1345; fol. 2r, 9 October 1345; fol. 3r, 18 October 1345; fol. 3v, 23 October 1345; fol. 3v, 24 October 1345; fol. 3v, 24 October 1345; fol. 4r, 31 October 1345; fol. 4r-v, 31 October 1345; fol. 4v, 7 November 1345; fol. 4v, 11 November 1345; fol. 5r, 14 November 1345; fol. 5v, 21 November 1345; fol. 5v, 21 November 1345; fol. 6r, 27 November 1345; fol. 7r, 12 December 1346; fol. 11v, 16 January 1345-46; fol. 12r, 31 January 1345-46; fol. 13r, 27 February 1345-46; fol. 16r, 2 Apr 1346; fol. 31r, 9 October 1346; fol. 32v, 22 October 1346; fol. 33r, 22 October 1346; fol. 35v, 12 November 1346; fol. 36v, 19 November 1346; fol. 39r, 3 December 1346; fol. 39r, 3 December 1346; fol. 40r, 10 December 1346; fol. 41r, 15 December 1346; fol. 44r, 3 February 1346/7; fol. 45r, 9 February 1346-47; fol. 53r, 6 May 1347.

82 ASV, NDC, not. G. Siligardo, Busta 244, fol. 157r, 24 July 1339.

83 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 5r, 16 November 1345; fasc. 1, fol. 31r, 11 October 1346; fasc. 1, fol. 41v, 26 December 1346.

84 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 12r, 29 January 1345-46; fasc. 1, fol. 12v, 12 February 1345-46; fasc. 1, fol. 19v, 4 June 1346.

85 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 18r, 4 May 1346, 4 May 1346 and 14 May 1346.

86 Gallina, 133: ASV, NDC, Busta 1, fol. 4r, 29 August 1369.

87 Gallina, 133.

88 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 3v, 25 October 1345; fol. 58r, 4 July 1347; fol. 58v, 9 July 1347.

89 Ibid., fol. 55r, 23 May 1347: "Eodem die. Manifestum facimus nos Parnatissa, Iudea, filia Iaco Sapientis, Iudei, principale, et idem Iaco, Iudeus, Sapientis, eius pater et plecius, ambo habitatores Candide cum nostris successoribus et heredibus tibi Cali, relicte Andree Agapito, habitatrici Candide et tuis successoribus, quia pro precio et solutione librarum mille trecentarum et quinquaginta quatuor [bno] quod mihi suprascripte principali dedisti et vendidisti ad rationem yperperorum quinquagin-tasex pro milliario sumus contenti et debemus tibi dare et deliberare yperpera in Creta currentia septuaginta quinque et grossos novem hinc ad menses sex proxime venturos vel antea hic in Candida, salvum in terra omni occasione remota. Hec autem etc. suprascripta yperpera et grossos in toto et parte et pro pena inde constituta yperpera viginti pro centenario yperperorum in ratione anni. tt. Petrus de Portu, Angelus Caravello et Fillaretus Mussulo. complere et dare. dedi"; silk: fol. 64v, 19 August 1347.

90 ASV, NDC, not. G. Siligardo, Busta 244, fol. 157t, 24 July 1339; fol. 164r, 2 November 1339.

91 ASV, NDC, not. A. Bocontolo, Busta 10, fasc. 1, fol. 44r, 3 February 1346/7, Constantinople; fol. 45v, 20 February 1346/7, unspecified dest. (canceled); fol. 45v, 20 February 1346-47, Constantinople; fol. 47v, 6 March 1347, unspecified; fol. 47v, 8 March 1347, unspecified dest. (canceled); fol. 48v, 12 March 1347, unspecified dest. (canceled, 13 July 1347); fol. 49v, 13 March 1347, Venice (canceled, 7 August 1347); fol. 50r, 28 March 1347, unspecified; fol. 51r, 11 Apr 1347, unspecified; fol. 51r, 11 Apr 1347, unspecified; fol. 54v, 19 May 1347, unspecified dest. (canceled, 27 February 1347-48); fol. 56v, 8 June 1347, unspecified dest. (canceled, 17 September 1347); fol. 57v, 27 June 1347, Fogia (canceled, 10 August 1347); fol. 59r, 10 July 1347, Stadhia (canceled, 29 August 1347); fol. 65r, 29 August 1347, Constantinople.


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