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grant of fiscal exemptions on the part of the Byzantine emperors.33 Included in the Proskynetarion of the monastery of Docheiariou is a miracle story, which probably goes back to the eleventh century.34 It reveals the lengths to which the monks would go in order to present trade as an occupation blessed by God. According to the story, a boat of Docheiariou loaded with cereals produced on their estates was on a return journey to Mount Athos when violent winds drove it to Carthage in north Africa, which was suffering a devastating famine. The monks sold off some of their freight and exchanged the remainder for spices. On the way back contrary winds brought them to Constantinople, where they sold the spices and bought bread, which another miracle ensured was still warm when it reached the monastery. Under the Ottomans it was no longer necessary to invent stories of this kind, because the monasteries were quite open about the trade carried on in their ships, for which they received partial exemption from the payment of customs duties.35

The maritime and commercial activities of the Athonite monasteries had been important since the Byzantine period. Possession of commercial vessels presented their owners with practical problems, such as the need for safe harbours to take on water or to shelter from storms. Already in the tenth century the Great Lavra had taken the precaution of obtaining the grant of two strategically located islands from the Byzantine emperors of the day: St Eustratios near Lemnos and Gymnopelagesion or Kaloyeros near Euboea.

Under the Ottomans the monasteries of Athos seem to have become more interested in river traffic, which is perhaps a reflection of the development of their Balkan interests. As early as the middle ofthe fourteenth century, at a time when the Turks were devastating Macedonia with their raids, the Great Lavra had boats plying the River Strymon.36 This must be yet another indication of friendly relations with the Ottomans, because without their compliance trade along the Strymon would not have been possible.

Radic, the Serbian benefactor of the monastery of Kastamonitou, endowed it with a boat, which worked the River Morava in Serbia. It was the

33 G. Pitsakis, 'Un cas particulier d'activité commerciale dans la Méditerranée byzantine: les monastères armateurs', Méditerranées 32 (2002), 63-87; M. Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, 'Les couvents de l'espace égéen et leur activite maritime (Xe-XIIIe s.)', Zvp.p.siKTa 15 (2002), 109-30; C. Smyrlis, 'The management of the monastic estates: the evidence of the typika', DOP56 (2002), 254.

34 N. Oikonomides, Actes de Docheiariou [AA13] (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1984), 14.

35 The monastery of St John the Theologian on the island of Patmos is the monastery with the best-documented maritime activity under the Ottomans: E. A. Zachariadou, 'Monks and sailors under the Ottoman sultans', Oriente Moderno 20 (2001), 143-7.

36 G. Makris, Studien zur spatbyzantinischen Schiffart (Genoa: Istituto di Medievistica, 1988),

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