experiencing a turbulent period following the death in 1427 of Stefan Lazarevic, which brought succession problems and the intervention of the Hungarians. Radic became a monk in the monastery of Kastamonitou, which he found destroyed by fire and almost deserted. Thanks to his generous benefactions it was restored and reorganised. Among his other bequests was a share in the revenues of a Serbian silver-mine. He also made donations to the monasteries of Vatopedi and St Paul. His case reveals that a prominent monk could defend his worldly interests from the safety of Mount Athos, now that he had become one of the Ottoman sultan's non-Muslim subjects (dhimmis).
Apparently Radic was able to transfer his liquid assets to Mount Athos. Some idea of their size and composition emerges from the details of a lawsuit, which he brought against the brothers Yakub and Dimitri Yeremiaogullari. They had deposited with him the huge sum of35,000 silver coins and 6,000 golden coins, together with several objects of gold and silver. In due course, he restored these to the brothers, who allegedly extorted a further 1000 florins from him, which is why he went to the Ottoman courts. Radic was using the safety of Athos as a cover for his banking activities. The monastery of Kastamonitou was well defended and furthermore came under the protection of the Ottoman sultan.29 It made a good depository for very substantial sums of money.
Thanks to his retreat to Mount Athos Radic was able to preserve his large fortune. It was the ideal place from which to cultivate high-ranking acquaintances among the Ottomans, such as the military commander-in-chief (beglerbegi) of Rumelia Sihabeddin Pasa, whom he contacted to protect his interests at Novo Brdo, where he had a house and silver-mines. Sihabeddin Pa§a was the commander of the Ottoman armies which conquered Novo Brdo in 1441. Radic argued that, since he himself was by virtue of his residence on Mount Athos a non-Muslim subject of the sultan, neither his property nor his revenues from his silver-mines should be affected by the Ottoman conquest. The pasa gave him assurances about his revenues and promised to bring the case of his house property before the divan. The presence of individuals such as Radic helps to explain why idiorrhythmic monasticism, which permitted the monks to possess personal property, prospered at the expense of the cenobitic way of life on Mount Athos during the last centuries of Byzantium and under the Ottomans.
Another case sheds light on the banking activities of the Athonite monasteries. It concerns Maria-Helena, daughter of the last Serbian Despot Lazar Brankovic. She was the granddaughter of Thomas Palaiologos, despot of the
29 Oikonomides, 'Patronage in Palaiologan Mt Athos', 107. Cf.Laiou, 'Economic activities of Vatopedi in the fourteenth century', 61-5.
Was this article helpful?