when the Byzantine state was struggling for its very existence, the monasteries of Mount Athos prospered thanks to the modus vivendi established with the Ottomans. If anything, donations of property to the monasteries increased. They were often not so much acts of devotion, as a means of safeguarding property by placing it under the protection of a monastic foundation, which had a special relation with the prospective conqueror. This need was especially great after the battle of Maritsa in 1371, when the whole of Macedonia and the southern Balkans was continuously overrun by bands of Turkish warriors.17 Instructive is the family history of Radoslav Hlapen, the Serbian lord of Edessa (Vodena) and Berroia, who was related to Tsar Stefan Dusan (1331-55).18 His estates did not go directly to the monasteries of Athos, but his heirs ensured that the religious foundations situated within his territories passed under Athonite control, on the understanding that their properties would now be safe from Turkish raiding. In 1375, one of his daughters and her husband, Thomas Prealymbos, later to become despot of Ioaninna, gifted to the Great Lavra the church of the Virgin Gabaliotissa at Edessa, together with its villages, fields, gardens, shops and mills, and movable property in the shape of manuscripts, icons and church plate, in the hope that transfer to an Athonite monastery would prevent it from falling prey to the Turks. Having recognised Sultan Murad I's overlordship, another of Hlapen's sons-in-law, the Caesar Alexios Angelos, the ruler of Thessaly, granted the small Salonican monastery of St Photis in 1389 to Nea Moni, a much grander monastery of the same city. But Nea Moni together with St Photis soon became possessions of the Great Lavra,19 which neatly illustrates how property gravitated to the monasteries of Mount Athos under the conditions created by the Ottoman conquest.
Radoslav Hlapen and his family had another connection with Mount Athos. At some date between 1356 and 1366 a relative of theirs, Antonios Pagases, retreated to the Holy Mountain, where he bought and restored the monastery of St Paul, which was in ruins, eventually becoming its abbot after having been tonsured and having taken the monastic name of Arsenios. In 1385 his brother Nicholas Baldouin Pagases donated the monastery of Mesonesiotissa, situated
17 Cf.the case of the grand domestikos Demetrios Palaiologos and of his wife: A. Laiou, 'H 8ia|j6p$WCTr| Tfs Tijfs Tfs yfs ctto BuÇàvTio', in BuÇâvTio: KpaToç Kai Koivœvia. Mv-ir NiKouOiKovoiiSr, ed. A. Avramea, A. Laiou and A. Chrysos (Athens: Institute for Byzantine Research, 2003), 346-7.
18 On Hlapen, see H. Matanov, 'Radoslav Hlapen - souverain feodale en Macedoine méridional durant le troisième quart du XIVe siecle', Etudes Balkaniques 19 (1983), 68-87.
19 On these donations, cf. Elizabeth A. Zachariadou, 'Some remarks about dedications to monasteries in the late 14th century', in Mount Athos in the I4th-i6th centuries, 29-31.
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