How many men can the despotate of Morea muster in the 1450s?

Nov 2014
410
ph
#1
How large was the permanent standing force in the despotate in the 1450s? How many could be temporarily drafted by Thomas and Demetrios together on an emergency basis? Is an assumption of a permanent standing force of 4000 or so and an emergency levy of around 15000 too large for something like the Morea to provide, considering that it is quite large and the land is reasonably arable? What was its economy like in the mid 15th century? What sort of feudal army could it support?
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,807
Western Eurasia
#2
I can't give you much input, lets wait for other people who are more familiar with it, but IMO Morea could have a population of around 200,000* that time. I'm not good at military history, on average how many people were needed to support 1 soldier in the area? I just go with a rough guess of approx. 1% of the total population could be full time soldier (around 2,000 in this case), but maybe your estimate of 4,000 is also within the reasonable range?

*I very roughly estimate it based on the 1489 the Ottoman jizya tax register which recorded 27 460 Christian households in Morea. If I multiple each household with 5 people (=137,300) + apply an around 20% adjustment for people left out for one reason or another, that would give 164,760. I assumed a population decline due to the wars in this period so putting the population closer to 200,000 in the 1450s. However I also have to add that Morea's population is estimated to be around 280,000 30 years later in 1521, 9% of them Muslims but the number of Christian households also almost doubled between 1489-1521. There were 50,176 Christian households registered in 1521. Still, I feel a 200,000 population of Morea in the 1450s is a reasonable guess.
 
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#3
Don't know anything about Morea very roughly 'standing army' and 'feudal army' are sort of conflicting opposites. Standing armies have to be paid for. Also they get bored and, unless you have absolute confidence in the commanders, having large bodies of troops around is very dangerous for rulers.

In Castilla and other christian states for example loyal nobles were required to provide troops at their own expense to the royal call (amid lots of dissensions and civil wars). The king tended to keep his own 'mesnada just enough to contain any single potential trouble-maker in his realm (very generally speaking)

By contrast the Caliphate of Cordoba increasingly dispensed with the use of local forces and employed large standing army of berbers (from North Africa not Spain) and slavs - all having only loyalty to the Caliph/Almanzor. But these had to be paid for by the 50+ successful army raids north under Almanzor. No raids, no loot, no army!
 
Jul 2007
1,674
Australia
#4
You might want to try:

Castles of the Morea by Kevin Andrews
The Latins in the Levant by William Miller
The Chronicle of Morea: Historiography in Crusader Greece by Clare Teresa M. Shawcross


try and find something by Donald M Nicol - aside from Sir Steven Runciman - he also wrote extensively about the region during the medieval period
 

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