The Catalan Company or the Great Catalan Company (Catalan: Gran Companyia Catalana, Latin: Exercitus francorum, Societatis exercitus catalanorum, Societatis cathalanorum, Magna Societas Catalanorum) was a company of mercenaries led by Roger de Flor in the early 14th century and hired by the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos to combat the increasing power of the Turks. It was formed by almogavar veterans of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, who had remained unemployed after the signing in 1302 of the Peace of Caltabellotta between the Crown of Aragon and the French dynasty of the Angevins.
Effectively leaderless for most of their early history, during that period the Catalan Company still faced and defeated armies made up of Turkish, Caucasian, Genoese, Thracian, Macedonian, Athenian, Byzantine, Burgundian, and French soldiers. In doing so they captured large amounts of land, dominating and ruling most of Greece throughout much of the 14th century.
|Companyia Catalana d'Orient|
Manuscript of the Crònica of Ramon Muntaner
|Type||Free company of mercenaries|
The Great Catalan Company departed from Messina with 36 ships (including 18 galleys) transporting about 8,000 men (1,500 cavalry, 4,000 almogavar foot soldiers and an indeterminate number of servants and auxiliary personnel). The exact figures are a matter of dispute, for although the numbers provided by Ramon Muntaner are trusted by later historians Francisco de Moncada and George Paquimeres, the contemporary Byzantine historian Nicephorus Gregoras gives a total number of only 1,000 men.
After a brief stop at Monemvasia, the company arrived at Constantinople in January 1303, where it was received by the Emperor and housed in the district of Blachernae. The Emperor arranged the wedding of Roger de Flor to his niece, the 15 year old princess Maria Asanina, daughter of the Tsar of Bulgaria Ivan Asen III and Irene Palaiologina. De Flor was named Megas Doux (Great Dux, i.e. Commander of the Imperial forces).
The arrival of this new mercenary contingent upset the balance of power that supported the Byzantine Empire. It especially irritated the Genoese, who saw the arrival of the Catalan Company as an intrusion by the House of Aragon into the area of influence of the Republic of Genoa i.e. the Eastern Mediterranean and the Byzantine Empire. Armed conflict was not long in breaking out, with 3,000 Genoese killed (including their leader Rosso del Finar) in what was called the Genoese massacre in September 1303.
Following these incidents and the recent defeat of the Byzantines in the Battle of Bafeus, the emperor ordered Roger de Flor to move his almogavars as soon as possible to the battle front in Anatolia in modern-day Turkey. Transported there in the fleet commanded by the Catalan Admiral Ferran d'Aunés, Roger de Flor's troops disembarked at Cape Artake, near the ruins of ancient Cizicus. They soon achieved a great victory against the Karasid Turks in the so-called Battle of the Cyzicus in October 1303. Rather than a battle, it was a massacre: the almogavars made a surprise attack on the Oghuz Turkish camp located at Cape Artake, killing about 3,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry and capturing many women and children.
After this victory, Roger de Flor decided to postpone a planned march to the besieged town of Philadelphia and spent the winter on Cape Artake, a position that provided good defenses and an easy means of supply. During this period Ferran Jiménez de Arenós temporarily left the company after a disagreement with Roger de Flor, putting himself in the service of the Duke of Athens. Roger de Flor, on the other hand, took advantage of the lull to travel with his wife to Constantinople with four galleys, claim payment from the Emperor and discuss with him the next campaign. Andronikos II happily paid Roger de Flor and entrusted him with the liberation of Philadelphia.
On his return to Cizicus, Roger de Flor found that his undisciplined troops had already spent twice or triple their pay and had been out plundering. Greek historians say that the region of Cizicus was devastated by the looting of the almogavars, to the point that the sister of the Emperor Andronikos had to go to the city to exhort Roger to immediately move his troops to Philadelphia.
The 1304 campaign began with a month's delay due to continuous disputes between the almogavars and their Alan allies, which caused 300 deaths in the forces of the latter. Finally, in early May, Roger de Flor began the campaign to raise the siege of Philadelphia with 6,000 almogavars and 1,000 Alans. Philadelphia at that time was suffering from a siege by Yakup bin Ali Şir, governor of the Germiyanids from the powerful emirate of Germiyan-oğhlu. After a few days, the almogavars arrived at the Byzantine city of Achyraus and descended by the valley of the River Kaikos until they arrived at the city of Germe (now known as Soma), a Byzantine fortification that had previously fallen to the Turks. The Turks who were there tried to flee as fast as possible, but their rearguard was massacred by the troops of Roger de Flor in what came to be called the Battle of Germe.
After the victory in Germe, the Company resumed its march, passing through Chliara and Thyatira and entered the valley of the Hermos River. On their way, they stopped in various places, abusing the Byzantine governors for their lack of courage. Roger de Flor even planned to hang some of them; naming the Bulgarian captain Sausi Crisanislao, who finally obtained a pardon.
Upon learning of the imminent arrival of the Great Company, Bey Yakup bin Ali Şir, head of the coalition of the Turkish troops from the emirates of Germiyan-oğhlu and Aydın-oğhlu, decided to lift the siege of Philadelphia and face the Company in a suitable location (Aulax) with his 8,000 cavalry and 12,000 infantry.
Roger de Flor took command of the Company cavalry, dividing it into three contingents (Alans, Catalans and Romans), while Corbarán of Alet did the same with the infantry. The Catalans achieved a great victory over the Turks in what would come to be known as the Battle of Aulax, with only 500 Turkish infantry and 1,000 cavalrymen managing to escape alive. After this battle de Flor made a triumphant entrance into Philadelphia, being received by its magistrates and the bishop Teolepto.
Having already accomplished the principal mission entrusted to him by the emperor, Roger de Flor decided to consolidate the defence of Philadelphia by conquering the nearby fortresses which had fallen into the hands of the Turks. Thus, the almogavars marched north towards the fortress of Kula, forcing the Turks who were there to flee. The Greek garrison of Kula received de Flor as a liberator, but he, not appreciating how a seemingly impregnable fortress could be allowed to fall into the hands of the Turks without a battle, beheaded the governor and condemned the commander to the gallows. The same harshness was applied when, days later, the almogavars took the fortification of Furnes, located further north. After that, de Flor returned with his troops to Philadelphia to claim payment for his successful campaign.
The captains of the Company then resolved to attack the maritime provinces of the Ottomans. From Philadelphia the Company retreated through the valley of the river Hermos and entered the prefecture of the city of Magnesia (modern Manisa), the only territory of Anatolia that remained under the control of the Byzantines. Magnesia had solid walls and was a few miles from the island of Chios, where the Catalan Company fleet was anchored under the command of Ferran d'Aunés. In the circumstances, Roger de Flor decided to occupy the city and establish his headquarters there, and to transfer there his spoils of war and to garrison it with his troops. From the viewpoint of the Greeks, Roger de Flor began to act not so much as a mercenary or military leader, but as the governor of all Anatolia, thus winning the enmity of the prefect Nostongos Ducas and the governor of the city of Magnesia, Demetrios Ataliota. Nostongo Ducas traveled to Constantinople to report the situation to the emperor, causing consternation in the capital.
After leaving his spoils and a small garrison of almogavars in Magnesia, the troops of Roger de Flor arrived at the city of Nif (Nymphaion), where he received a request for aid from two inhabitants of Tire. It appeared that the surviving Ottoman troops of the battle of Aulax had united with those of the Emirate of Menteşe-oğhlu and begun a joint attack on Tire. Roger de Flor divided his force into two and ordered one half to return to Magnesia. The remaining troops under de Flor made a forced march to arrive at the walls of Tire in the dead of night, entering the city without being spotted by the besieging Turks. The Battle of Tire began the following morning, when the Turks assembled on a plain near the city to prepare the assault, expecting to find in Tire only a small garrison of Greek soldiers.
Inside Tire, Roger de Flor ordered his seneschal Corberán of Alet to prepare a detachment of 200 men on horseback and 2,000 almogavars. When the Turks approached the walls, the troops led by Corberán of Alet rushed out of the city and attacked the Ottomans, who in a short time suffered the loss of 700 men on horseback and even more infantrymen. In panic, the rest of the Turkish cavalry fled to the mountains chased by the almogávar cavalry. Corberán of Alet decided to continue the attack on the retreating Turks as they began to climb the mountains, ordering his cavalrymen to dismount and climb after them. In response, the Turks harassed the almogavars by throwing stones and firing arrows, one of which killed Corberán of Alet, striking his head at a moment when his helmet had been removed. The almogavar troops, shocked by the death of the seneschal of the Company, interrupted their pursuit and retreated to Tire carrying the corpse of Corberán of Alet, thus allowing the surviving Turks to escape.
When the troops returned to Tire and informed de Flor of the death of his seneschal, he ordered that Corberán of Alet be buried with all honors in the Church of San George, located two leagues from the city, and that his tomb be beautifully decorated. The Company remained stationed in Tire for eight more days.
In the course of the battle of Tire, Bernat de Rocafort arrived at Constantinople from the Kingdom of Sicily. Bernat had not joined the Company the previous year after refusing to accept the terms of the Peace of Caltabellota that forced him to return two castles he had conquered in the Kingdom of Naples. Finally, in July 1304, he decided to join the Company and weighed anchor for Constantinople with 200 cavalrymen, 1,000 almogavars and 2 galleys. There he was received by Andronikos II, who informed him that the Company was on the island of Chios. Bernat then made for Chios, where he met the fleet captained by Ferran d'Aunés, and together they sailed to Ania. Once in Ania they were received by Ramon Muntaner, who led Bernat to Ephesus, where he met Roger de Flor. De Flor named Bernat the new seneschal of the Company (replacing the late Corberán of Alet), and gave him his daughter (who had been previously engaged to Corberan) in marriage and provided him with 100 horses and money for his men.
Roger de Flor and Bernat de Rocafort then marched to Ania, but not without first asking for further war contributions in Ephesus, again accompanied by numerous abuses and looting by the almogavars. After his departure Roger de Flor entrusted the safety of Tire to the Aragonese Diego de Orós with 30 cavalry men and 100 infantrymen.
For their part, the surviving troops of the Emirate of Aydin managed to regroup around Ania, frightening its population. In the face of this provocation, the almogavars decided to charge immediately against them, in complete disorder and without receiving orders from any of their captains. In spite of the disorder they were victorious, killing 1,000 cavalrymen and 2,000 Turkish infantry.
After this new victory the captains decided to return to the eastern provinces, seeking a great confrontation with the Turks in the interior of Anatolia, since the limited number of soldiers of the Company did not allow a war of occupation.>
In July 1304 the Company began to march through the regions of Caria and Lycaonia, linking up with the road which the Crusaders had followed two centuries earlier on their way to the Holy Land. Finally, the Company reached the Cilician Gates at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, which separated the region of Cilicia from the Christian kingdom of Little Armenia.
As the cavalry advanced to reconnoitre the land, they discovered in a valley a large contingent of Ottoman troops (20,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry). They were remnants of previous defeats, regrouped and ready to ambush the Company. Once discovered, the Turks descended to the plain and both armies prepared for a great battle in the open field at Kibistra. (August 15, 1304).
In spite of the numerical disparity between the forces Roger de Flor did not avoid the combat, but put himself at the head of the cavalry. Bernat de Rocafort and Marulli did the same with the almogavars, who showed great spirit, celebrating the victory before even engaging in combat and uttering their famous war cry "Awake iron, awake!" whilst they hit the ground with the end of their spears.
At last the troops of the Great Company rushed to meet the Turkish troops and the battle begun. At first the Turks asserted their numerical advantage, but even as the battle seemed to be swinging in favor of the Ottomans, the almogavars charged again and managed to breach and destroy their line. The battle continued until twilight before the remains of the Ottoman army fled away, chased by the almogavar cavalry until almost dawn. The almogavars spent the night with their weapons in hand, waiting for a Turkish counter-attack which never occurred.
The following morning Roger de Flor proceeded to survey the battlefield, surprised by the magnitude of his victory. No less than 6,000 cavalry and 12,000 Turkish infantrymen had been killed in the battle. The almogavars then began to shout out their wish to continue the march through the Taurus mountains to Little Armenia and to quickly recover what the Byzantine Empire had lost over many centuries, but their captains judged the idea reckless.
Following the important victory of Kibistra, the Company decided to return to Ania and spend the winter there, as a lack of knowledge of the terrain made an advance very dangerous. During this retreat, crossing country previously conquered by the Turks, Greek historians report numerous examples of looting, abuses and cruelty by the almogavar soldiers, worse according to them than was suffered under the Ottoman yoke.
Arriving at Magnesia, however, the Company was informed of a terrible event. The local population, with its captain Ataliote at the head and with the support of the Alans, had beheaded the garrison and stolen its treasure. Informed of this, Roger de Flor immediately laid siege to the city.
But the siege had to be lifted shortly afterwards by order of the Emperor Andronikos, who requested the help of the Company to defend the prince of Bulgaria (Roger's brother-in-law) from an uprising led by his own uncle. The historian Nicephorus Gregoras, however, claimed that the Emperor's request was a pretext to disguise the impossibility of the Company breaking the resistance of Magnesia. At that time the 500 Alans who still remained on the side of the Company deserted.
After two years of victorious campaigns against the Turks the indiscipline and the character of a foreign army in the heart of the Empire were seen as a growing danger, and on April 30 1305 the emperor's son (Michael IX Palaiologos) ordered mercenary Alans to murder Roger de Flor and exterminate the Company in Adrianópolis (modern Edirne) while they attended a banquet organised by the Emperor. About 100 cavalry men and 1,000 infantrymen perished.
After the murder of de Flor the local Byzantine population rose up against the Catalans in Constantinople and killed many of them, including at the main barracks. Prince Michael ensured that as many as possible were killed before news reached the main force in Gallipoli. Some however escaped and carried the news of the massacre to Gallipoli after which the Catalans went on a killing spree of their own, killing all the local Byzantines. The memory of this devastation would last in the memory of the towns of the area for centuries, just as the monks of Mount Athos would prohibit the entrance of Catalan citizens until the year 2000.
Byzantine troops, consisting of 14,000 cavalry men and 30,000 infantry, made up of Greeks, Alans and Turcopolos, surrounded Gallipoli. Berenguer de Entenza, the new leader of the Company, being besieged, sent ambassadors to Sicily to ask for help.
De Entenza planned a raid against Constantinople, first taking and looting the island of Propóntide and then departing for Recrea with 5 galleys, leaving in Gallipoli a garrison formed by 206 horsemen and 1,256 infantry, commanded by Ramon Muntaner (as captain of Gallipoli) and Bernat de Rocafort (as Seneschal). On the way back to Gallipoli de Entanza's fleet ran into a larger fleet of 18 Genoese ships. De Entanza was welcomed aboard but then treacherously captured and taken to a Genoese stronghold in the area. He would later be released.
The small force left in Gallipoli nevertheless agreed to defend the site and their honour to the death and bored holes in the remaining ships to ensure there was no escape. On June 21 1305 they sallied forth to meet the Byzantine army and fought with such ferocity that they totally overwhelmed them, killing many thousands of the enemy for the loss of only a few men.
The Catalan Company then marched to Thrace, leaving a few families behind in Gallipoli. After three days marching they came across, near Apros, the Byzantine army of 6,000 cavalry and even more infantry under the Emperor's son Prince Michael.
The Catalan forces lined up in front of the Byzantine army, which included a large contingent of Alans as well as many Turcopoles. Despite the Imperial Army's numerical superiority, the Alans withdrew after the first charge, whereupon the Turcopoles deserted en bloc to the Catalans. The Catalans inflicted heavy losses and even Prince Michael was injured and had to leave the field, followed by his army. The Catalans had won the day but slept with weapons in hand in case of a Byzantine counter-attack.
When 60 Catalan prisoners in Adrianópolis heard of the victory they resolved to break out but could only climb on the roof of a tower. The local population were eventually driven to set fire to the tower in which most of the Catalans perished. Those that jumped were set upon by the crowd.
The Catalans proceeded to ravage Thrace for two years, assisted by the return of Ferran Jiménez de Arenós, with whose help they captured several towns.
The Company decided to have a showdown with a tribal group known as the Magasetas, who were based in the vicinity of Mount Haemus and had been involved in the murder of Roger de Flor. They withdrew troops in preparation from the various towns of Thrace such as Pacia, Modico and Rodesto which they had been occupying. Leaving a garrison in Gallipoli to look after the women and their possessions the main bulk of the Catalans set off in search of the Magasetas. After several days they located them and counted 3,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry plus their baggage train.
The battle took place next day on a plain at the foot of the Mount Haemus where the Magasetas made a defensive wall of their wagons. Once again the superior Catalan cavalry and infantry overwhelmed the enemy, killing their general Gregorio. Of the 9,000 fighting men of the Magasetas only 300 survived. The women and children tried in vain to escape on tired horses.
Subsequently, the Catalan Company suffered a period of internal confrontation provoked by the disputes and interests of foreign powers eager to control it. Thus Frederic III of Sicily assigned the crown Prince Ferran de Mallorca to Gallipoli as captain of the Company. This move was contested by Bernat de Rocafort, while others such as Berenguer de Entenza and Ferran Ximenis d'Arenós accepted the appointment. The fight ended with the departure of Ferran and the Prince and the death of Entenza, leaving Bernat de Rocafort as head of the Company. The administrator Ramon Muntaner also would leave the Company, later writing a chronicle about its history.
After this period of internal struggle, Bernat de Rocafort offered the services of the Company to Charles of Valois to strengthen his aspirations to the Byzantine Empire. In 1309, Thibault de Chepoy, the representative of Charles of Valois, ordered the arrest of Bernat de Rocafort and sent him to Naples, where he would starve to death the same year.
By 1308 the resources of the Gallipoli peninsula were exhausted and the company headed west towards Greece, reestablishing themselves on the peninsula of Kassandra near present-day Halkidiki. From there they attacked and pillaged the locality, including Mount Athos monastery. Unable to capture Thessalonika they moved further west and south, by 1309 reaching the region of Thessaly, in what is now central Greece.
In 1310, the new leader of the Company Roger Deslaur offered his services to Walter V of Brienne, Duke of Athens, and cleared the duchy of all his enemies in less than a year. The Duke, however, did not pay the amount agreed upon for their services, which unleashed the wrath of the Company. The Company decided to declare war on the duke and met him at the Battle of Halmyros on March 15, 1311. The battle itself was a decisive last victory for the Catalans, despite being outnumbered by the Frankish forces of Athens, which included 700 knights. Walter V and most of his knights were killed, leaving Athens at the mercy of the Company.
In a short space of time, the Company assumed not only the control of the Duchy of Athens but extended its dominions to the city of Thebes and the region of Thessaly, converting the latter into the Duchy of Neopatras, where they established themselves as feudal lords. In 1312 they accepted the overlordship of the Aragonese crown of Sicily and adopted a new seal bearing the head of St George. As a consequence of their taking possession of the duchies in the name of the Crown of Aragon and refusing to return them to their legitimate heirs, the Pope demanded the Company return the territory, excommunicating its members in 1318 when they declined.
Both duchies remained in the hands of the Great Company as vassals of the Crown of Aragon until 1388–1390, when they were defeated by the Navarrese Company commanded by Pedro de San Superano, Juan de Urtubia and the Florentine troops of Nerio I Acciaioli of Corinth. The descendants of the latter then controlled the duchies until 1456, when they were conquered by the Ottoman Empire. By that time, the Great Catalan Company had ceased to exist.
The Battle of Apros occurred between the forces of the Byzantine Empire, under co-emperor Michael IX Palaiologos, and the forces of the Catalan Company, at Apros on July 1305.The Catalan Company had been hired by the Byzantines as mercenaries against the Turks, but despite the Catalans' successes against the Turks, the two allies distrusted each other, and their relationship was strained by the Catalans' financial demands. Eventually, Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and his son and co-ruler Michael IX had the Catalan leader, Roger de Flor, assassinated with his entourage in April 1305.
In July, the Byzantine army, comprising a large contingent of Alans as well as many Turcopoles, confronted the Catalans and their own Turkish allies near Apros in Thrace. Despite the Imperial Army's numerical superiority, the Alans withdrew after the first charge, whereupon the Turcopoles deserted en block to the Catalans. Prince Michael was injured and left the field and the Catalans won the day.
The Catalans proceeded to ravage Thrace for two years, before moving west and south through Greece, to conquer the Latin Duchy of Athens in 1311.Battle of Halmyros
The Battle of Halmyros, known by earlier scholars as the Battle of the Cephissus or Battle of Orchomenos, was fought on 15 March 1311, between the forces of the Frankish Duchy of Athens and its vassals under Walter of Brienne against the mercenaries of the Catalan Company, resulting in a decisive victory for the Catalans.
Engaged in conflict with their original employers, the Byzantine Empire, the Catalan Company had traversed the southern Balkans and arrived in southern Greece in 1309. The new Duke of Athens, Walter of Brienne, hired them to attack the Greek ruler of neighbouring Thessaly. Although the Catalans conquered much of the region for him, Walter refused to pay them and prepared to forcibly expel them from their gains. The two armies met at Halmyros in southern Thessaly (or at the Boeotic Cephissus, near Orchomenos, according to an earlier interpretation). The Catalans were considerably outnumbered and weakened by the reluctance of their Turkish auxiliaries to fight. The Company did have the advantage of selecting the battleground, positioning themselves behind marshy terrain, which they further inundated. On the Athenian side, many of the most important lords of Frankish Greece were present and Walter, a prideful man and confident in the prowess of his heavy cavalry, proceeded to charge headlong against the Catalan line. The marsh impeded the Frankish attack and the Catalan infantry stood firm. The Turks re-joined the Company and the Frankish army was routed; Walter and almost the entire knighthood of his realm fell in the field. As a result of the battle, the Catalans took over the leaderless Duchy of Athens; they ruled that part of Greece until the 1380s.Battle of Manolada
The Battle of Manolada was fought on July 5, 1316 at Manolada, on the plains of Elis in the Peloponnese. The two leaders were Louis of Burgundy and the infante Ferdinand of Majorca, both of whom claimed the Principality of Achaea in right of their wives. The defeat and death of Ferdinand ensured the continued Angevin supremacy over Achaea and checked the further movement of his allies, the Catalan Company then occupying the Duchy of Athens.Battle of the Cyzicus
The Battle of the Cyzicus (Catalan: Batalla del riu Cízic) was fought in October 1303 between the Catalan Company of the East under Roger de Flor, acting as mercenaries on behalf of the Byzantine Empire, and the Karasid Turks under Karesi Bey. It was the first of several engagements between the two sides during the Catalan Company's Anatolian Campaign.
The result was a crushing Catalan victory. The almogavars of the Catalan Company made a surprise attack on the Oghuz Turkish camp located at the Cape Artake, killing about 3000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry and capturing many women and children.Bernat de Rocafort
Bernat de Rocafort was the third leader of the Catalan Company, from 1307 until 1309.
Bernat was of humble birth, and probably a Valencian. Prior to 1303, he had been in command of a band of mercenaries garrisoning two castles in Calabria on behalf of King Robert of Naples. In 1303, after Robert had failed to pay him and his men, he led 200 cavalry and 1000 almogàvers to join the Catalan Company. He was soon made its seneschal (manescal de la host), replacing the late Corberán de Alet of Navarre. In August 1303, Bernat commanded the almogàvers at the Battle of Ania, while Roger de Flor commanded the cavalry.Following the murder of Roger de Flor at the order of the Byzantine emperor Michael IX Palaiologos, the Catalans elected Berenguer d'Entença as their leader, and took over the fortress of Gallipoli as their own. Entença was soon after captured by a Genoese fleet, and Rocafort was chosen as his successor, with a council of twelve to assist him. Under Rocafort's leadership, the Catalans inflicted defeats on the Byzantines, and raided much of Thrace, plundering its cities. They were strengthened by the arrival of 3,800 Turkish auxiliaries, many of whom converts to Christianity.However, Rocafort's position was threatened when Entença secured his release from captivity. Upon his return, Entença was murdered by Rocafort's relatives. Rocafort also persuaded the Company to reject the overtures of King Frederick III of Sicily, who endeavoured to place the Company under his control by sending his cousin, Infante Ferdinand of Majorca, to take over their leadership. The Infante arrived in Greece, but the Catalans refused to accept him, whereupon he was forced to return to Sicily, via the Duchy of Athens; he was accompanied by the main chronicler of the Catalan Company's deeds, Ramon Muntaner. After devastating Thrace, in June 1307 the Company was forced to move west to find new sustenance. After moving through Thrace and Macedonia, the Catalans established themselves at the abandoned ancient city of Kassandreia in the Chalcidice peninsula in August. From there they continued their raids, plundering the monasteries of Mount Athos in summer 1308.Having effectively burned his bridges with the Crown of Aragon, and in order to strengthen his authority, Rocafort took an oath of fealty to Thibaut de Cepoy, a representative of Charles of Valois. Effective power however remained in his hands, and he soon began to envisage himself as an independent monarch, aiming at capturing Thessalonica and restoring the defunct Crusader kingdom there. He even had a royal seal made, showing Saint Demetrios, the city's patron saint, and a royal crown, and aimed to extend his dominion over the Duchy of Athens. To that end, he entered into negotiations with the childless duke, Guy II de la Roche, for a marriage with his sister, Jeannette de Brienne. Guy II sent envoys to Kassandreia, and toyed with the idea of using the Catalans to pursue his wife's claims on the neighbouring Principality of Achaea. These plans were opposed by Venice, however, who saw the Catalans as a threat to her own colonies in Greece; and the negotiations had not borne fruit when Rocafort himself was deposed by the Company, who had tired of his increasingly despotic rule.After his dismissal, Rocafort was arrested and handed over to the ward of Cepoy. The latter, wary of staying with the Catalans any longer, absconded in the middle of night with his prisoner, and took ship to Naples. There King Robert of Naples threw Rocafort in the dungeons of Aversa, where he was left to die of hunger. In the meantime, the Catalans, enraged at the sudden departure of their leader, had a sudden change of heart, and killed the fourteen captains who had led the revolt against Rocafort. No new leader was elected in his place, partly owing to the lack of figures prominent enough to occupy such a position; instead, they elected a four-man committee, chosen equally from among the cavalry and the infantry, to lead them along the council of twelve already established.Catalan campaign in Asia Minor
In 1303, the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus hired 6,500 Catalan mercenaries under Roger de Flor to campaign against the Turks in the spring and summer of the same year. Their costly service came with success, driving back the Turks in parts of Asia Minor. At Philadelphia, 18,000 Turkish soldiers (possibly those of Aydinids) were left dead, the work of the Catalans.However, the Byzantines got more than what they bargained for; the mercenaries were difficult to restrain and consequently much of the reconquered territory was laid to waste. When their leader Roger de Flor was assassinated in Gallipoli on 3 April 1305 by Michael IX Palaeologus followed by a massacre of 1,300 Catalans, the mercenaries began a two-year pillage in revenge and crossed over to Thrace and Macedonia under the command of their new leader, Berenguer d'Entença, where further raiding occurred. As a result of this brutality, the Company got excommunicated by Pope Clement V. Eventually the Catalan mercenaries claimed the Duchy of Athens for themselves in 1311 and would remain there until 1379, leaving behind a devastated Byzantium. After this, the Turks found much support amongst those who suffered and reoccupied land that had been lost.
Thus, the Catalans' campaign was a short-term Byzantine victory, but benefited the Turks in the long term.Ferdinand of Majorca
Ferdinand of Majorca (Catalan: Ferran de Mallorca; 1278, Perpignan – 5 July 1316, Glarentza) was an infante of the Kingdom of Majorca as the third son of King James II. He was Viscount of Aumelas and Lord of Frontignan from 1311 and claimed the title of Prince of Achaea from 1315.
He was sent by Frederick III of Sicily to take command of the Catalan Company in Frederick's name, but was rebuffed by Bernat de Rocafort, one of their leaders. On his return with the chronicler Ramón Muntaner, he was captured by the Venetians at Negroponte. He had been released by 1310, when he distinguished himself at the siege of Almería by killing the son of the King of Guadix.
In 1313, he returned to Sicily to take part in the war then in hand with the Angevins and was created Lord of Catania. Margaret of Villehardouin was then in Sicily, seeking to advance her claim to the Principality of Achaea. She gave her daughter Isabella of Sabran to Ferdinand in marriage and resigned Akova and her claim on Achaea to the couple, who were married in Messina. Margaret died in March 1315 in captivity in Chlemoutsi, and her daughter on 7 May 1315 in Catania, shortly after bearing a son, James III of Majorca.
Shortly after her death, Ferdinand set out with a small company for the Morea to uphold the claim now held by his son. He seized Clarenza in June 1315 and briefly took control of the Morea. In the autumn of 1315 he took a second wife, Isabella of Ibelin, daughter of the Seneschal of Cyprus. However, his rival claimant Matilda of Hainaut, and her husband Louis of Burgundy returned to the Morea in the spring of 1316 with Venetian aid. Ferdinand's expected aid from Majorca and Sicily was tardy, as was that of the Catalan Company from Athens. Facing superior numbers, he was killed at the Battle of Manolada on July 5, 1316. He was succeeded as heir presumptive of Majorca by his elder son, the future King James III, and as Viscount of Aumelas by his posthumous son, Ferdinand.Ferran d'Aunés
Ferran d'Aunés or Fernando d'Ahonés (Greek: Φαρεντζανέζας, Pharentzanezas) was a Catalan mercenary of the Catalan Company who entered Byzantine service.
Ferran arrived in Constantinople with the mercenary Catalan Company, in September 1303. The Company's commander, Roger de Flor, was named megas doux, head of the entire Byzantine fleet. Roger in turn secured Ferran's appointment by the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos as an admiral—with the borrowed title amirales, used for the first time in official Byzantine titulature—in charge of the Catalan fleet of some 12 ships. At the same time, Ferran married into the Byzantine nobility. He kept this post until May 1305, when he was discovered while trying to smuggle over fifty Catalans out of Constantinople aboard his galley and imprisoned. In the subsequent pogrom against the Catalans, the house of his father-in-law, Pachys Raoul, was torched by the mob. Nevertheless Ferran was released and named Domestic of the Schools by Emperor Andronikos. He remained in the post until 1305/6, when he took part in the failed conspiracy of John Drimys. Nothing further is known of him. His brother, whose first name is unknown, defected with fifty of his men to the Byzantines in 1306/7 and was honoured by the Emperor.Free company
A free company (sometimes called a great company or grande companie) was an army of mercenaries between the 12th and 14th centuries recruited by private employers during wars. They acted independently of any government, and were thus "free". They regularly made a living by plunder when they were not employed; in France they were the routiers and écorcheurs who operated outside the highly structured law of arms. The term "free company" is most applied to those companies of soldiers which formed after the Peace of Brétigny during the Hundred Years' War and were active mainly in France, but it has been applied to other companies, such as the Catalan Company and companies that operated elsewhere, such as in Italy and the Holy Roman Empire.
The free companies, or companies of adventure, have been cited as a factor as strong as plague or famine in the reduction of Siena from a glorious rival of Florence to a second-rate power during the later fourteenth century; Siena spent 291,379 florins between 1342 and 1399 buying off the free companies. The White Company of John Hawkwood, probably the most famous free company, was active in Italy in the latter half of the fourteenth century.John II Doukas of Thessaly
John II Doukas, also Angelos Doukas (Latinized as Angelus Ducas) (Greek: Ἰωάννης Ἄγγελος Δούκας, translit. Iōannēs Angelos Doukas), was ruler of Thessaly from 1303 to his death in 1318.
John II Angelos Doukas was the son of Constantine Doukas of Thessaly by his wife Anna Euagionissa. He succeeded to his father's lands as a child in 1303. The Thessalian magnates chose his father's cousin Duke Guy II de la Roche of Athens as regent, and the duke promptly established his protectorate over Thessaly, with Anthony le Flamenc as his deputy (bailli). Guy was the son of Duke William I de la Roche by Helena Komnene, the daughter of John I Doukas of Thessaly.
The selection of the duke of Athens as regent proved both timely and fortuitous. Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, the regent of Epirus had invaded Thessaly, but was now forced to retreat by Guy's forces. Guy proved less successful, however, in restraining the Catalan Company, which burst into Thessaly in 1306 and proceeded to ravage the region for some three years. By the time Guy died in 1308 John had just come of age and resented the attempt of the new duke of Athens, Walter of Brienne, to maintain Athenian protectorate over Thessaly. To overcome John's resistance, Walter hired the Catalan Company himself, and charged it with asserting his authority over Thessaly. The Catalans conquered many fortresses, but insisted on garrisoning them by themselves. Frightened by their disobedience, Walter now turned against them, but the Catalans invaded his duchy in 1310. When the two forces clashed, Walter was defeated and killed in the Battle of Halmyros or Kephissos in 1311.
With the Catalans moving into Boeotia, Attica, and the Gulf of Corinth coast, John II was able to exert more control over Thessaly. Here he encountered the opposition of the local magnates, who had probably become accustomed to central authority that had been even more ineffectual than usually. John attempted to strengthen his position by drawing closer to the Byzantine Empire and marrying Irene Palaiologina, the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1315. Perhaps at this time John was conferred the title of sebastokratōr. He was already relying on some Byzantine assistance against the Catalans within his domains, but died in 1318 without heirs.
On John II's death in 1318 much of northwestern Thessaly came under the control of the powerful magnate Stephen Gabrielopoulos, but the southernmost areas around Neopatras were seized by the Catalans, who set up their own principality there (the Duchy of Neopatras).Manfred, Duke of Athens
Manfred (1306 – 9 November 1317), infante of Sicily, was the second son of Frederick III of Sicily and Eleanor of Anjou.
He was appointed Duke of Athens and Neopatria in 1312 by his father at the request of the knights of the Catalan Company then in control of Athens. Manfred was only five when he was named Duke. His father sent Berenguer Estañol as his regent.
In 1316, Alfonso Fadrique, Manfred's elder (but illegitimate) brother, was appointed vicar general of Athens. The young Duke never set foot in his realm, however, for he died in a fall from his horse before his twelfth birthday. He died in Trapani and was buried in the Dominican church located there. His younger brother William succeeded him as Duke.Marquisate of Bodonitsa
The margraviate or marquisate of Bodonitsa (also Vodonitsa or Boudonitza; Greek: Μαρκιωνία/Μαρκιζᾶτον τῆς Βοδονίτσας), today Mendenitsa, Phthiotis (180 km northwest of Athens), was a Frankish state in Greece following the conquests of the Fourth Crusade. It was originally granted as a margravial holding of Guy Pallavicini by Boniface, first king of Thessalonica, in 1204. Its original purpose was to guard the pass of Thermopylae.
The marquisate survived the fall of Thessalonica after the death of Boniface, but it was made subservient to the Principality of Achaea in 1248. The marquisate further survived the coming of the Catalan Company in 1311, but it fell to two Venetian families in quick succession: Cornaro (till 1335) and the Zorzi. Among the eighteen Catalan vassals of the area in 1380-1 the Margrave of Bodonitsa ranks third below Count Demitre and the Count of Salona. The Zorzi ruled the marquisate until the Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1414. Nicholas II continued to use the margravial title after that date, but the territory was never recovered.Megas doux
The megas doux (Greek: μέγας δούξ, pronounced [ˈmeɣaz ˈðuks], "grand duke") was one of the highest positions in the hierarchy of the later Byzantine Empire, denoting the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine navy. It is sometimes also given in English by the half-Latinizations megaduke or megadux. The Greek word δούξ is the Hellenized form of the Latin term dux, meaning leader or commander.Nogebus
Nogebus is a Spanish-based coachbuilder. The company builds bus and coach bodies on various possible chassis. Their products are sold throughout all of Western Europe.
The company, originally named Noge, collapsed in January 2013. However, later that year it was acquired by another Catalan company, Sartruck, and resumed its activities.Noge was, after Indcar, Ayats and Beulas, the fourth coachbuilding company to be founded in the village of Arbúcies, in the province of Girona, Catalonia. It was established in 1964 by a former Ayats worker, Miquel Genabat Puig (whose son presides the company today) and by Josep Noguera, who dissociated himself from the company in 1978. Noge began its activities building city buses but soon expanded to intercity and luxury coaches as well. In its heyday, the company had over 250 employees and produced an average of 600 vehicles a year. The workforce had been reduced to 93 by the time the factory temporarily closed its doors in early 2013. 22 of these workers were rehired by the new company Nogebus. By the time activities restarted in July 2013, the company had 32 employees, and an objective of building 60-70 coaches per year, initially only for Spanish operators and later for other European markets.Peace of Caltabellotta
The Peace of Caltabellotta, signed on 31 August 1302, was the last of a series of treaties, including those of Tarascon and Anagni, designed to end the conflict between the Houses of Anjou and Barcelona for ascendancy in the Mediterranean and especially Sicily and the Mezzogiorno.
The peace divided the old Kingdom of Sicily into an island portion and a peninsular portion. The island, called the Kingdom of Trinacria, went to Frederick III, who had been ruling it; the Mezzogiorno, called the Kingdom of Sicily contemporaneously, but called the Kingdom of Naples by modern scholarship, went to Charles II, who had been ruling it. Thus, the peace was formal recognition of an uneasy status quo.
The treaty also stipulated that Trinacria would pass to the Angevins on Frederick's death, but until then, Charles paid a tribute of 100,000 ounces of gold in exchange to Frederick. Immediately, in exchange, Frederick handed over all his possessions in Calabria and elsewhere on the mainland and released Charles' son Philip, Prince of Taranto, from his prison in Cefalù. As well, the marriage of Charles' daughter Eleanor to Frederick was arranged.
The consequences of this treaty meant that Roger de Flor and his Almogavars of the Catalan Company had to seek pay elsewhere. They took up service with the [[Byzantine emperor] Andronicus II Palaeologus. One Bernat de Rocafort, an Almogàvar, did not want to return to Charles his two castles in Calabria until he was compensated with pay. He was captured and left to eventually die in an oubliette of Robert the Wise, Charles' successor, in 1309.Ramon Muntaner
Ramon Muntaner (Catalan pronunciation: [rəˈmom muntəˈne]) (1265 – 1336 ) was a Catalan mercenary and writer who wrote the Crònica, a chronicle of his life, including his adventures as a commander in the Catalan Company. He was born at Perelada.Roger Deslaur
Roger Deslaur or Desllor, an almogàver from Roussillon in the service of Walter V of Brienne, Duke of Athens, was one of the few knights to survive the bloody Battle of Halmyros on 15 March 1311. Captured by the Catalan Company, he accepted the post of rector and marshal of the Company (rector et marescalcus universitatis) after Boniface of Verona declined it.
Deslaur was the agent through which Walter had first hired the Catalan Company for six months in 1310. Deslaur remained with Walter even after he tried to expel the Catalans. Following Halmyros, the Catalans granted Deslaur the fief of Salona (called "La Sola" by Ramon Muntaner) and the hand in marriage of the widow of the lord of Salona, Thomas III of Autremencourt. Deslaur, however, proved ineffective as a defender of the Catalan conquests. Menaced by the Venetian colony of Negroponte and the Frankish Morea, he negotiated the handover of suzerainty to Frederick II of Sicily, who appointed his young son Manfred duke (1312). Frederick sent Berenguer Estañol to act as Manfred's vicar general and Deslaur stepped down from his post as leader of the Company and duke of Athens, retiring to his castle at Salona, which he either escheated, or he was forced to relinquish, to Alfonso Fadrique around 1318.Roger de Flor
Roger de Flor (1267 – 30 April 1305), also known as Ruggero/Ruggiero da Fiore or Rutger von Blum or Ruggero Flores, was an Italian military adventurer and condottiere active in Aragonese Sicily, Italy, and the Byzantine Empire. He was the commander of the Great Catalan Company and held the title Count of Malta.Walter V, Count of Brienne
Walter V of Brienne (French: Gautier V de Brienne; c. 1275 – 15 March 1311) was Duke of Athens from 1308 until his death. Being the only son of Hugh of Brienne and Isabella de la Roche, Walter was the sole heir to large estates in France, the Kingdom of Naples and the Peloponnese. He was held in custody in the Sicilian castle of Augusta between 1287 and 1296 or 1297 to secure the payment of his father's ransom to the Aragonese admiral, Roger of Lauria. When his father died fighting against Lauria in 1296, Walter inherited the County of Brienne in France, and the Counties of Lecce and Conversano in southern Italy. He was released, but he was captured during a Neapolitan invasion of Sicily in 1299. His second captivity lasted until the Treaty of Caltabellotta in 1302.
Walter settled in France and married Joanna of Châtillon. After his cousin, Guy II, Duke of Athens, died childless in 1308, Walter laid claim to his inheritance. Their cousin, Eschiva of Ibelin, also claimed the duchy, but the High Court of Achaea passed a judgement in Walter's favor. Walter came to Athens in 1309. John II Doukas, the Greek Lord of Thessaly, made an alliance against him with the Byzantine Empire and the Despotate of Epirus. Walter hired the Catalan Company, a group of mercenaries, to invade Thessaly. The Catalans defeated John II, but Walter refused to pay their wages. After the Catalans rose up in open rebellion, Walter assembled a large army from Frankish Greece, but the Catalans inflicted a crushing defeat on the Franks in the Battle of Halmyros. Walter died in the battlefiled and the Catalans occupied the Duchy of Athens.