The Catalan Company ( Catalan Companyia Catalana ) or Large Company was a mercenary army founded by Roger de Flor in 1302 after the Peace of Caltabellotta in Sicily and southern Italy left behind released soldiers who came from Catalonia and Aragon and who had previously been against the French Dynasty of the Anjou .
The beginnings of the company
After the end of the war, Sicily, which was exhausted after 20 years of war, no longer needed mercenaries, so Frederick II of Sicily wanted to dismiss them from his service. They were not allowed to return to Spain because they had fought for Frederick II against his brother, Jacob II of Aragon . Roger, also in the service of Frederick II, offered the Angevinen Karl von Valois , husband of the titular empress Katharina von Courtenay, these mercenaries for a campaign against the Byzantine Empire. When no contract was concluded, he made his offer to the other side, the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II and his son Michael . The Byzantine Empire was on the defensive in the fight against the Turkish-Seljuk principalities and suffered from their constant raids , which advanced further into Byzantine Asia Minor . In addition, the empire was threatened by the remaining special rulers of the Latin Empire ( Morea , Athens ), in the north by the Bulgarian and the growing Serbian Empire. From the sea it was besieged by Venice. Andronikos therefore agreed to the offer. Roger de Flor then formed the Catalan Company. In 1303 she arrived at Monemvasia on 36 ships with 1,500 Catalan riders, 4,000 Almogàvers , and another 1,000 foot soldiers from Catalonia and Aragón , and reached Constantinople in September. They also plundered the Angevin possession of Corfu on their voyage .
According to the contract concluded between the two sides, Roger de Flor married Maria Asania , a niece of the Byzantine emperor and daughter of Todor Swetoslaw , Tsar of Bulgaria, in Constantinople . He received the dignity of Megas Dux (commander in chief of the fleet ) and later that of a Caesar . He led his company to Anatolia, where, after several victories against the Turks, he advanced as far as Philadelphia. The mercenaries devastated Byzantine and Turkish areas alike. This aroused the distrust of the emperor and his son. After a failed attack on the Byzantine city of Magnesia , Andronikos II called the company back to Europe, where it was refreshed on the Gallipoli peninsula with new troops, under the command of Berenguer de Entenza, about 300 horsemen and 1000 other Almogavers.
On April 4, 1305, Roger and a group of his Catalan horsemen were killed in Adrianople (now Edirne ) by Alans who were also mercenaries in the service of the emperor. Roger de Flor and his companions were murdered while they were one of Michael IX. expected a donated banquet in their honor. Berenguer de Entenza then commanded the company and had them entrenched near Gallipoli. A short time later he was captured by the Genoese, ransomed and later rejoined the company with supplies from Aragón. The company, now under the command of Bernat de Rocafort, was led by Michael IX. attacked, but failed. During this time, 3800 Turkish renegades also joined the company.
In July 1305 Michael's troops were defeated again and this time devastatingly at Apros . The remaining company marched through Thrace for the next two years, before moving to Macedonia in 1307 due to supply problems. Frederick II of Sicily sent the Infante Ferdinand of Mallorca , son of Jacob II of Mallorca , to Gallipoli, who fought with Berenguer de Entenza, Ferran Ximenis d'Arenós against Bernat de Rocafort for supremacy. This battle ended with the departure of the Infante, who moved to Halmyros , the property of the Duke of Athens, and devastated the surrounding area. The administrator Ramón Muntaner later wrote down the events. Bernat de Rocafort now offered the services of the company Charles II of Naples with his claims against the Byzantine Empire. He was the son of Charles I , whom the Catalans had expelled from Sicily before the company was founded. Between 1307 and 1309, the company comprised no less than 8,000 mercenaries, including 5,000 Catalans and 3,000 Turks, some of whom left the company on the border with Thessaly. The company itself wintered in Kassandreia in 1307/1308 and then undertook, partly unsuccessful, attacks on Thessalonike and Athos and moved on to Thessaly, where they wintered in the area of Mount Olympus. In 1309, the Council of the Catalan Company, by its own resolution, deposed Rocafort. He had made himself unpopular within the company through cruelty. Rocafort was handed over to Tibault de Chepoy, Charles' representative. Tibault took this off to Naples, where Rocafort starved to death in dungeon. The circumstances of Rocafort's removal caused such an uproar within the company that 14 of its captains, who were involved in the overthrow of Rocafort, were murdered. In 1310, after receiving ransom from the local Thessalians and making peace with them, the company moved in the spring over the Phourka Pass to Boötien and Attica. Walter V of Brienne , the new Duke of Athens , hired her. The Catalan Company took possession of some important cities and fortresses for this. However, Walter subsequently refused to pay the pay for four months and only wanted to continue to employ part of the company, which resulted in an open break. The company defeated Walter's troops on March 15, 1311 at the Battle of Halmyros on the Kephissos River in Boeotia , where Walter was killed. The Council of the Catalan Company then took control of the Duchy of Athens. Thebes and Athens were devastated and looted after the troops' victory. Roger Deslaur , a former member of the company, a temporary ally of Walter and finally a prisoner of the company, was temporarily made Duke (until 1312). He also received the rule of Salona , which he ruled until his death.
In 1312 the Catalan Company again submitted to Frederick II of Sicily , who also appointed a regent ("vicar"), Berengar Estanjol , for his underage son Manfred of Sicily . The still independent duchy of Neopatra was annexed a short time later. Under Sicilian suzerainty , a local administration and institutions based on the Aragonese model were established. At their head stood the duke, under him a marshal and a vicar general. Catalan became the official language. In the following period the Catalans expanded to Thessaly . These possessions were later lost to the Serbs. The descendants of the company were able to maintain control of Attika and Boötien until 1388. First the Navarre Company under Jakob von Baux , then the Florentine Nerio I. Acciaiuoli with their mercenary armies finally conquered the Duchy of Athens completely between 1387 and 1389 . In 1390 Neopatria was also sold to him.
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante. 1908, p. 213
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 214
- K.-P. Todt: Catalan compa (g) never. In Lexikon des Mittelalters , 10 volumes (Stuttgart: Metzler,  -1999), Volume V, columns 1054-1055, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias - Lexikon des Mittelalters Online ), accessed on January 29, 2015
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 215
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 216
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 222
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 218
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 219
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 223
- W. Miller: Latins in the Levante . 1908, p. 239
- The Catalan Expedition to the East: from the Chronicle of Ramon Muntaner . Transl. by RD Hughes. Barcelona – Woodbridge 2006 (English translation).
- David Jacoby: The Catalan Company in the East: the Evolution of an Itinerant Army (1303-1311) , in: Gregory I. Halfond (ed.): The Medieval Way of War. Studies in Medieval Military History in Honor of Bernard S. Bachrach , Routledge, 2014, pp. 153–182.
- Paul Douglas Humphries: "Of Arms and Men": Siege and Battle Tactics in the Catalan Grand Chronicles (1208-1387) . In: Military Affairs 49 (1985), pp. 173-178.
- Angeliki E. Laiou: Constantinople and the Latins. The Foreign Policy of Andronicus II (1282-1328) . Cambridge (Mass.) 1972.
- Kenneth M. Setton: Catalan Domination of Athens, 1311-1388 . London 1975.
- The great Catalan company - The happy army of the Franks , on kriegsreisen.de