Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2.: THE ACCIAJOLI — ( P. 92 ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 11
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2.: THE ACCIAJOLI — ( P. 92 ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 11 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 11.
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THE ACCIAJOLI — (P. 92)
If Gibbon had been more fully acquainted with the history of the family of the Acciajoli, he would have probably devoted some pages to the rise of their fortunes. They rose to such power and influence in Greece in the 14th century that the subjoined account, taken from Finlay (vol. iv. p. 157 sqq.) — with a few additions in square brackets — will not be out of place.
“Several members of the family of Acciajoli, which formed a distinguished commercial company at Florence in the thirteenth century, settled in the Peloponnesus about the middle of the fourteenth, under the protection of Robert, king of Naples. Nicholas Acciajoli was invested, in the year 334, with the administration of the lands which the company had acquired in payment or in security of the loans it had made to the royal House of Anjou; and he acquired additional possessions in the principality of Achaia, both by purchase and grant, from Catherine of Valois, titular empress of Romania and regent of Achaia for her son prince Robert. [It is disputed whether he was her lover.] The encroachments of the mercantile spirit on the feudal system are displayed in the concessions obtained by Nicholas Acciajoli in the grants he received from Catherine of Valois. He was invested with the power of mortgaging, exchanging, and selling his fiefs, without any previous authorisation from his suzerain. Nicholas acted as principal minister of Catherine during a residence of three years in the Morea; and he made use of his position, like a prudent banker, to obtain considerable grants of territory. He returned to Italy in 1341 and never again visited Greece; but his estates in Achaia were administered by his relations and other members of the banking house at Florence, many of whom obtained considerable fiefs for themselves through his influence.
“Nicholas Acciajoli was appointed hereditary grand seneschal of the kingdom of Naples by Queen Jeanne, whom he accompanied in her flight to Provence when she was driven from her kingdom by Louis of Hungary. On her return he received the rich country of Amalfi, as a reward for his fidelity, and subsequently Malta was added to his possessions. He was an able statesman and a keen political intriguer; and he was almost the first example of the superior position the purse of the moneyed citizen was destined to assume over the sword of the feudal baron and the learning of the politic churchman. Nicholas Acciajoli was the first of that banking aristocracy which has since held an important position in European history. He was the type of a class destined at times to decide the fate of kingdoms and at times to arrest the progress of armies. He certainly deserved to have his life written by a man of genius, but his superciliousness and assumption of princely state, even in his intercourse with the friends of his youth, disgusted Boccaccio, who alone of Florentine contemporaries could have left a vivid sketch of the career which raised him from the partner of a banking-house to the rank of a great feudal baron and to live in the companionship of kings. Boccaccio, offended by his insolence, seems not to have appreciated his true importance as the type of a coming age and a new state of society; and the indignant and satirical record he has left of the pride and presumption of the mercantile noble is by no means a correct portrait of the Neapolitan minister. Yet even Boccaccio records in his usual truthful manner that Nicholas had dispersed powerful armies, though he unjustly depreciates the merit of the success, because the victory was gained by combinations effected by gold, and not by the headlong charge of a line of lances. [Boccaccio dedicated his Donne illustri to Niccolo’s sister Andrea, the countess of Monte Oderisio.]
“Nicholas Acciajoli obtained a grant of the barony and hereditary governorship of the fortress of Corinth in the year 1358. He was already in possession of the castles of Vulcano [at Ithome], Piadha near Epidauros, and large estates in other parts of the Peloponnesus. He died in 1365;1 and his sons Angelo and Robert succeeded in turn to the barony and government of Corinth. Angelo mortgaged Corinth to his relative [second cousin], Nerio Acciajoli, who already possessed fiefs in Acbaia, and who took up his residence at Corinth on account of the political and military importance of the fortress as well as to enable him to administer the revenues of the barony in the most profitable manner.
“Nerio Acciajoli, though he held the governorship of Corinth only as the deputy of his relation, and the barony only in security of a debt, was nevertheless, from his ability, enterprising character, great wealth, and extensive connections, one of the most influential barons of Achaia; and, from the disorderly state of the principality he was enabled to act as an independent prince.”
“The Catalans were the constant rivals of the Franks of Achaia, and Nerio Acciajoli, as governor of Corinth, was the guardian of the principality against their hostile projects. The marriage of the young countess of Salona [whose father Count Lewis died 1382] involved the two parties in war. The mother of the bride was a Greek lady; she betrothed her daughter to Simeon [Stephen Ducas], son of the prince of Vallachian Thessaly; and the Catalans, with the two Laurias at their head, supported this arrangement. But the barons of Achaia, headed by Nerio Acciajoli, pretended that the Prince of Achaia as feudal suzerain of Athens was entitled to dispose of the hand of the countess. Nerio was determined to bestow the young countess, with all her immense possessions, on a relative of the Acciajoli family, named Peter Sarrasin.2 The war concerning the countess of Salona and her heritage appears to have commenced about the year 1386 . The Catalans were defeated; and Nerio gained possession of Athens, Thebes, and Livadea.”
“About the commencement of the year 1394 Ladislas, king of Naples, conferred on him by patent the title of Duke of Athens — Athens forming, as the king pretended, part of the principality of Achaia.”
Nerio died in 1394. His illegitimate son Antonio inherited Thebes and Livadia, and wrested to himself the government of Athens, which Nerio’s will had placed under the protection of Venice on behalf of his daughter (the wife of Count Tocco of Cephalonia). Under Antonio “Athens enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity for forty years. The republic of Florence deemed it an object worthy of its especial attention to obtain a commercial treaty with the duchy, for the purpose of securing to the citizens of the republic all the privileges enjoyed by the Venetians, Catalans, and Genoese.” The conclusion of this treaty is almost the only event recorded concerning the external relations of Athens during the long reign of Antonio. The Athenians appear to have lived happily under his government; and he himself seems to have spent his time in a joyous manner, inviting his Florentine relations to Greece, and entertaining them with festivals and hunting parties. Yet he was neither a spendthrift nor a tyrant; for Chalcocondylas, whose father lived at his court, records that, while he accumulated great wealth with prudent economy, he at the same time adorned the city of Athens with many new buildings. He died in 1435, and was succeeded by Nerio II., grandson of Donato, the brother of Nerio I.
[Buchon, Nouvelles Recherches, vols. i. and ii.; L. Tanfani, Niccolo Acciajoli, 1863; Hopf, Hist. Duc. Att. Fontes; Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter, vol. ii.]