Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae

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Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae
The actual partition of the Byzantine Empire
after the Fourth Crusade
Context Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade
Signed 1204 (1204)
Location Constantinople, Latin Empire
(now Istanbul, Turkey)

The Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae (Latin for "partition of the lands of the empire of Romania[1] [Byzantine Empire]) was a treaty signed after the sack of the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It established the Latin Empire and arranged the partition of the Byzantine territory among the participants of the Crusade, with the Republic of Venice being the greatest beneficiary.


The treaty, which was promulgated either in late September / early October 1204 or (according to Nikolaos Oikonomides) immediately after the sack in April–May 1204, was drafted by a 24-man committee consisting of 12 Venetians and 12 representatives of the other Crusader leaders. It gave the Latin Emperor direct control of one fourth of the Byzantine territory, to Venice three eighths – including three eighths of the city of Constantinople, with Hagia Sophia – and the remaining three eighths were apportioned among the other Crusader chiefs. Through this division, Venice became the chief power in Latin Romania, and the effective power behind the Latin Empire, a fact clearly illustrated by the lofty title its Doge acquired: Dominator quartae et dimidiae partis totius Romaniae ("Lord of a quarter and a half quarter of all of Romania").


The Partitio Romaniae initiated the period of the history of Greece known as Frankokratia or Latinokratia ("Frankish/Latin rule"), where Catholic West European nobles, mostly from France and Italy, established states on former Byzantine territory and ruled over the mostly Orthodox native Byzantine Greeks. The provisions of the Partitio Romaniae were not fully carried out, partly due to resistance by Byzantine Greek nobles, who established the states of Epirus, Nicaea and Trebizond, as well as due to squabbles among the Crusaders themselves. The Latin Empire itself was also drawn into a disastrous conflict with the powerful Second Bulgarian Empire.

Importance as a historical source[edit]

As the division was based on now lost documents and tax registers from the Byzantine imperial chancery, the Partitio Romaniae is a valuable document for the administrative divisions (episkepseis) and estates of the various Byzantine magnate families ca. 1203, as well as the areas still controlled by the Byzantine central government at the time.



  1. ^ On the meaning of Romania, an ambiguous term, see R.L. Wolff, "Romania: The Latin Empire of Constantinople". In: Speculum, 23 (1948), pp. 1-34.