The methodology of searching, processing and recording information for any entity of the database (as reflected in the database structure) is based on established scientific criteria that were nevertheless influenced by the particularity of our sources and by the historical context of the area we study.
The project “Prosopography of the Greek-Venetian world: The persons of the thirteenth century” concerns all persons who lived or acted in the first Venetian colonies, namely Crete, Methoni, Koroni and Kythira during the 13th century. The recording of all the persons of that century in the above Venetian possessions, and not just certain groups of people, was considered necessary, not only because of the rather manageable sources for that period, but also because this century represents the transition to a new era for these areas. In this way the characteristics of a new society, which encompasses the local Greek element and the newcomers Venetians, other Italians and Latins in general from Western Europe, as well as the local Romaniote Jews, are highlighted. Given that many persons who were born and/or acted until the end of the 13th century continued to live and act during the early decades of the 14th century, we considered it necessary to record also these years, in order the information about these persons will be as complete as possible. Therefore, we put a conventional time limit the year 1320, given that from that year onwards a person who acts and signs official documents might have been born in the first years of the 14th century. The Database is organized on the main entities of the Person and the Institution that acts as Person, while four other entities of the Source (that describes an Event), the Place, the Family Name and the Given Name complete the structure. Since we consider the Database as a tool for a contemporary researcher/user, for processing and recording our data, although we stay true mainly on the information offered by the sources, at the same time we take into account some aspects and certain fundamental questions of the contemporary historical research. In other words, some qualities of the persons derive either directly or indirectly from our sources. All our sources, usually documents but literary as well, are written in the medieval, bureaucratic or not, Latin language and to a lesser extent in the Venetian dialect. On the other hand, people in their daily life spoke the Italian or Greek language, or even better the Venetian or Cretan dialect. This particular condition automatically creates some methodological problems, as described below, regarding the recording of the information in the fields of database. The fact that the main content of the database is currently available only in Greek prompted us to use the Medieval Latin terms of our sources for certain fields. Thus, at least a part of the content of the Database becomes accessible to the non-Greek-speaking user, but at the same time any user comes in contact with the Latin terms of the period. For the meaning of terms and relations, either Latin or Greek, the user can consult the glossary of terms and relations. The user can also see the various fields, in which both Medieval Latin terminology and Greek terminology are used, in the database structure.
The record Person is formed by four sections: “identity”, “floruit”, “commentary” and “relationships”, each one of which contains various fields.
The identity of a person is a complex and precarious issue especially for pre-modern societies, and even more when the sources do not provide clear evidence. However, the identity of individuals is essential for a better understanding of any society in a certain period and geographical area. The fields of this section, despite serious methodological problems, are largely related to social criteria set by both Venice and society itself, and fed by content that sources directly or indirectly offer. For the identity of a person, nineteen fields have been created. The first nine of them concern the name of the person. Why nine different fields: All documents and chronicles are written in Medieval Latin language and just a small part of them in Venetian dialect. At the same time, these sources concern persons who in their ordinary life speak Greek, Italian or Jewish, or even better the Cretan and the Venetian dialect, or the Romaniote Jewish. Furthermore, a family or given name is written in several (in some cases more than ten) different ways. This particularity creates some methodological problems about the way that the information concerning the name of a person should be recorded. The first of those problems is the spelling of the family and the given name of each person of Greek, Italian, other West European, Jewish and other origin. It might be just as we find it in the text of the source or it might be according to the ethnicity or ancestry of the person, or furthermore according to how that person used to say its name. In order to highlight the different identities of those persons, we chose an analytical way to record the names creating three different fields for each name and taking into consideration the ancestry of each person. In the first field, we put the more common Italian name in Latin alphabet or the Greek or Jewish name in Greek alphabet (the Romaniote Jewish people in Crete used to speak the so called Judaeo-Greek, a Greek dialect that contained Hebrew along with some Aramaic words). In the second field, we put the Latin form of the name of each person as noted in the source. Finally, in the third field, we put all variations of each name either Greek, Italian or Latin. The last field, through which the user can search a person, is linked with the entities Family Name or Given Name, where one can see all variations of each name. Apart from the family and given name, there are also the fields about the paternal family name for married women, the father’s name for men or unmarried women, the husband’s name for married women, as well as the nickname of a person, if there is one. As a nickname is also used any quality of a person (e.g. profession, office, origin etc.), by which a person can be distinguished from another who bears the same name, surname or even patronymic. For persons who cannot be distinguished from any other element of their identity and live the same years in the same place, a serial number is placed to point out that they are different persons and not a false duplicate. The information provided by the sources is not sometimes sufficient for the definite identification of different persons living in the same period and with the same name and surname. In this case, the possibility that one person is identified with another bearing the same name is noted in the field "comments". Beyond the name, ten more fields contain information about the person’s identity. These are gender, ancestry, genus, geographical origin, personal status, social status, title, office, occupation and colony. Apart from the clear distinction between male and female “gender”, the “unknown” can be selected, when we have an anonymous person whose gender is not evidenced. Furthermore, there is also the option of “family”, as a conventional gender, when a family acts as person in our sources. The “genus” and the geographical “origin”, within or outside the Venetian colonies, are recorded, in its Latin form, where this is directly or indirectly but clearly stated in the source. The “personal status”, according to our historical context, includes four categories of persons: free, dependent, freedmen and unknown. Since the status of a dependent person (villein or slave), as well as that of the transitional status of the freedman (francus), were generally stated in the sources. The rest of the persons were free. In the case of persons who are in doubt for various reasons, the “unknown” personal status is chosen. Each person can fall into more than one category, as his personal status may change at different times in his life. In the fields “title”, “office” and “occupation” the direct information provided by the source is recorded in its Latin form. The field “colony” contains the Venetian colony where a person lives or acts and it could be more than one. The cloudy sometimes “ancestry” field includes six categories: Greek, Latin, Greek-Latin, Jewish, other and unknown. The term “ancestry” was chosen as the one that best reflects the most powerful characteristics of a person’s identity of that time and in that particular area. The two main identity characteristics are language and religion or doctrine. In our historical context, a “Greek” was the one who speaks Greek and is Orthodox and a “Latin” the one who speaks Italian or another Western European language of the time and is Catholic. However, over the years a native "Latin" used to speak Greek while he remains Catholic, just as a "Greek" continued to speak Greek, but may have been converted to the Catholic doctrine. However, this behavior did not easily negate the original characteristic of ancestry. In any case, during the 13th century, the two identities, namely the "Greek" and the "Latin", retained largely their characteristics, and therefore it is easier to identify them. The only clear designation of ancestry concerns Jews, since this is always noted in the source. Since the adjective “grecus” or “latinus” is very rarely referred in our sources, the distinction between Greek and Latin is based on both name and personal status. During the first century of Venetian rule, the name (mostly family name, but also a great number of given names) remains a strong indicator of identity, with few exceptions. Moreover, a villein or a slave could not be of Latin descent, since the Latins were always considered as free persons. Yet, with few exceptions, all feudatories, at that time, were of Latin descent. The category “other” includes all persons, for whom there is clear evidence that their origin was different from that of the other three and identifies with that of “genus”. Finally, in cases of strong doubt the "unknown" origin is preferred. Although Prosopography usually provides direct information from the sources, it was nevertheless necessary to group people by social criteria, where these are quite clear, in order to provide wider search possibilities for the user. This grouping is served by the field of “social status”, which includes small or large, specific or common, social groups, as these were formed directly by Venice or indirectly by the society of the time. These are groups in local medieval societies, which we recognize today (and for methodological reasons) in contemporary bibliography. These are, for examples, feudal lords and their subcategories, their dependent villeins and subcategories, slaves, government and church officials of all levels, professionals and entrepreneurs, priests and monks. Each person can be included into more than one category, as it happens during his lifetime.
This section contains three fields that offer information about the years of a person’s life: the first and the last year that we find a person alive and the first year we find it dead.
The comments are limited to just a few essential information about some persons that helps us to know and identify it better, and which cannot easily be incorporated into any of the existing fields.
The most complex and important section of information are the "relationships" that a person develops in his or her lifetime, which ultimately constitute his or her compressed "biography". These relationships are first classified into six general categories: For all persons 1. “role” in an event (source). 2. “kinship”, 3. “other relationship” with relatives or other persons, 4. “relationship with institution”, 5. “relationship with place”, and finally for unfree people, “personal dependence” on another person or institution. Each of these six categories of relationships encompasses the numerous more specific relationships that a person can develop. Although a relationship can be viewed in many different ways, it has always been attempted to highlight the most basic relationship in conjunction with the historical context and the aim of the project. These numerous and codified specific relationships, within the above-mentioned categories of relationships, are recorded in the glossary of relations that the user can find in our website.
For every relationship, a special record is created where certain fields clarify furthermore that relationship, with the necessary information. These fields have to do with the kind and the type of the relationship, the date of the source, the source and finally a very brief description of the relationship. For further information about the relationship, the user can study the text of the related source, which the Database offers for a great part of the sources.
The term "institution" is used here conventionally and in an extended sense, as it includes the public sector as a whole (state), ecclesiastical institutions, such as archdiocese, dioceses etc., as well as big or small monasteries and churches. These institutions are included in the database as an entity, because they often act as persons and develop similar relationships with persons and places. They are therefore considered, as far as it concerns their relationships, just as persons are. On the contrary, the fields for each institution are in fact different from that of a person The name of each institution is given both in Modern Greek and in Latin and/or Italian variants, as mentioned in our sources. The identity of each institution is defined by six other fields: 1. the colony, where the institution is found, 2. the exact location, if possible, 3. the category, namely administrative or ecclesiastical, 4. the type, which is defined by nine different categories (state, office, patriarchate, archdiocese, bishopric, church, monastery, monastic order, hospital and protopapas), 5. for the ecclesiastical institutions, the field doctrine defines if it is an Orthodox or a Catholic one, and finally 6. Some comments, if necessary, are recorded in order to clarify furthermore the identity of the institution. The relationships provided for the institution are limited to the “role” and any relation with a “place”, while any relation with a person is linked from the entity of the person.
The source is one of the main entities of the Database, since all the information about each person is based on it. The purpose of this entity is to enable the user to have direct (with the original text) or indirectly (with the summary and the archival or bibliographic reference) access to the source for documentation or more detailed information about the person. The information about a source is structured from a historical rather than an archival point of view and is grouped into five categories: "identity", "content", "reference", document mentioned” and “relations” with persons, places and institutions. Nine fields constitute the identity of the source. These are the codified name, year, month and day, place of issue and year of any copy of an original source or the year of its registration in a codex. Furthermore, there are also fields for the language of the source (Latin, Venetian dialect, Greek), its genre and category. The genre of the source includes four types: public document, public register, notarial act and ecclesiastical document. In the next phase of the project, two more types of source will be added: literary source and archaeological evidence. In the field “category” the classification is based mainly on the typology rather than the specific subject of a source (see the categories of sources in the glossary of terms). Thus, for example, a document is generally described as a sale or concession, without further specifying the sale of an animal or an object, or the concession of land or housing. A source can belong to more than one category. Further elaboration of this entity will give us in the future an additional field that will include the specific topic of each source (e.g. from the category "loan" we will move on to the topic "interest-bearing loan" or "interest-free loan", or from the category "sale" on the topic "sale of land", "sale of a house", "sale of an animal", etc.). For the documents there is always full archival reference either for published or unpublished documents. For the published documents (full text or summary) there is the bibliographical reference. For every document there is a short summary (in Greek) and for a great part of the documents the full text is available. Our goal is to add gradually the full text of all sources. Both fields (summary and text) are searchable. Every source is linked to the persons, institutions and places referenced in it, while a separate field includes any older document (usually lost) mentioned. The persons related to the event to which the source refers are highlighted in the "source" entity inversely, as each person is linked to the source through his "role" in the event.
The connection of each person with the places in which he lived permanently or temporarily and acted for a long or short period, made necessary the creation of the entity "place". "Places" include only those enclosed within each Venetian colony, with the exception of the colony itself as a whole. "Places" means locations of any type and size, starting with a building and reaching a large administrative unit. A church, for example, is understood both as a place, when for example it is just mentioned or it is used to define better the location of a house or a road, and as an institution if for example it owns land or houses, a priest ordains it or it acts as a person leasing land, etc. At this stage of the project, and as our Database is not purely topographic, the entity contains only basic information related mainly to the historical identity of each place, hoping that in the future this entity can be further developed and enriched with additional information. This information is grouped into two sections: "identity" and "historical identity". The "identity" is limited to two fields: “name” and “name variations”. The name of the place is first recorded in Modern Greek, as it is found today if it exists or as it can be spelled in Greek if there is no modern identification, without further information of its modern identity. In a different field are provided all the variations of the name in Latin or Italian according to the sources. If a place has been identified with a modern location, it is placed on the map. The second section of information, which concerns the "historical identity", includes more fields of information, which are drawn from the sources of the time. The first of these fields concerns the type of place based on a list of Latin terms used by the sources (see the glossary of terms). The next fields are related to the administrative organization of each colony during the 13th and 14th century and the integration of each place in a wider administrative unit or geographical region, if we know it. Thus, a church, for example, is part of a city or a village or an "area", which in turn are part of a "department" (territorium), a sexterium or a turma and so on. Finally, a separate "comments" field contains brief explanatory information, where it is necessary.
5-6. Family and Given Name
The lack of big Databases with family and given names in their historical dimension, to which we could link, as well as the historical context and the particularity of the sources, forced us to create two more entities: the family name and the given name. In each entity, we provide the necessary information in only two fields for the family name and three for the given name. In the field "family name" or "given name" are gathered the common name in Greek and Italian, and all their variants that we find in our Latin sources. Thus, the user can search for a family or given name in any form it knows. Especially for the Hebrew family and given names the first variant is always in Greek, because the local Jews spoke Greek in everyday life. In the field "type" is entered the characterization of the surname or first name according to the ethnic group that uses it: Greek, Latin, Hebrew and unknown, as long as the ethnicity of the person is not identified. Finally, in the entity "given name" and in the field "gender" it is indicated whether it is a male or female name. In the spelling of Greek and Hebrew surnames and names from Latin to Greek, except in the cases of well-known surnames and names, we relied, under certain conditions, on their spelling in Greek notarial acts of the 15th and 16th centuries from Crete.