Front Page Titles (by Subject) 11.: THE SLAVS IN THE PELOPONNESUS — ( P. 323-4 ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 9
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11.: THE SLAVS IN THE PELOPONNESUS — ( P. 323-4 ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 9 
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. 9.
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THE SLAVS IN THE PELOPONNESUS — (P. 323-4)
All unprejudiced investigators now admit the cogency of the evidence which shows that by the middle of the eighth century there was a very large Slavonic element in the population of the Peloponnesus1 The Slavonic settlements began in the latter half of the sixth century, and in the middle of the eighth century the depopulation caused by the great plague invited the intrusion of large masses. The general complexion of the peninsula was so Slavonic that it was called Sclavonia. The only question to be determined is, how were these strangers distributed, and what parts of the Peloponnesus were Slavised? For answering these questions, the names of places are our chief evidence. Here, as in the Slavonic districts which became part of Germany, the Slavs ultimately gave up their own language and exerted hardly any sensible influence on the language which they adopted; but they introduced new local names which survived. It was just the reverse, as has been well remarked by Philippson, in the case of the Albanese settlers, who in the fourteenth century brought a new ethnical element into the Peloponnesus. The Albanians preserved their own language, but the old local names were not altered.
Now we find Slavonic names scattered about in all parts of the Peloponnesus; but they are comparatively few on the Eastern side, in Argolis and Eastern Laconia. They are numerous in Arcadia and Achaia, in Elis, Messenia and Western Laconia. But the existence of Slavonic settlements does not prove that the old Hellenic inhabitants were abolished in these districts. In fact we can only say that a large part of Elis, the slopes of Taygetus, and a district in the south of Laconia, were exclusively given over to the Slavs. Between Megalopolis and Sparta there was an important town, which has completely disappeared, called Veligosti; and this region was probably a centre of Slavonic settlers.
See the impartial investigation of Dr. A. Philippson, Zur Ethnographie des Peloponnes in Petermann’s Mittheilungen, vol. 36, p. 1 sqq. and 33 sqq., 1890.
The conversion and Hellenisation of the Slavs went on together from the ninth century, and, with the exception of the settlements in Taygetus and the Arcadian mountains, were completed by the twelfth century. At the time of the conquest of the Peloponnesus by Villehardouin, four ethnical elements are distinguished by Philippson: (1) Remains of the old Hellenes, mixed with Slavs, in Maina and Tzakonia, (2) Byzantine Greeks (i.e., Byzantinised Hellenes, and settlers from other parts of the Empire) in the towns. (3) Greek-speaking Slavo-Greeks (sprung from unions of Slavs and Greeks). (4) Almost pure Slavs in Arcadia and Taygetus. The 2nd and 3rd classes tend to coalesce and ultimately become indistinguishable (except in physiognomy).
The old Greek element lived on purest perhaps in the district between Mt. Parnon and the Sea — Eastern Laconia. The inhabitants came to be called Tzakones and the district Tzakonia; and they developed a remarkable dialect of their own. They were long supposed to be Slavs. See A. Thumb, Die ethnographische Stellung der Zakonen (Indogerm. Forschungen, iv. 195 sqq., 1894).
Fallmerayer, in harmony with his Slavonic theory, proposed to derive the name Morea from the Slavonic more, sea. This etymology defied the linguistic laws of Slavonic word-formation. Other unacceptable derivations have been suggested, but we have at last got back to the old mulberry, but in a new sense. ὁ Μορέας is formed from μορέα, “mulberry tree,” with the meaning “plantation or region of mulberry trees” (= μορεών). We find the name first applied to Elis, whence it spread to the whole Peloponnesus; and it is a memorial of the extensive cultivation of mulberries for the manufacture of silk. This explanation is due to the learned and scientific Greek philologist, M. G. N. Hatzidakês (Byz. Zeitsch. vol. 2, p. 283 sqq., and vol. 5, p. 341, sqq.).
[1 ]The thesis of Fallmerayer, who denied that there were any descendants of the ancient Hellenes in Greece, was refuted by Hopf (and Hertzberg and others); but all Hopf’s arguments are not convincing. Fallmerayer’s brilliant book stimulated the investigation of the subject (Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea im Mittelalter, 2 vols., 1830-6).