Tocco family

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Arms of the Tocco family

The family of Tocco (plural in Italian: Tocci, in Greek: Τόκκοι) was a noble house from Benevento of Longobard origins, which in the late 14th and 15th centuries came to prominence in western Greece as rulers of the Ionian Islands and the Despotate of Epirus.[1]


The first prominent member of the family is Ugolino Tocco, Grand Seneschal of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor in 1195.[2][3]

The first Tocco to settle in Greece was Guglielmo Tocco, appointed governor of Corfu in the 1330s under the Angevin ruler Philip I of Taranto.[1][4] His son Leonardo I Tocco was named Count palatine of the islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos by Robert of Taranto in 1357, and succeeded in expanding his rule over Ithaca and Lefkada, as well as the port of Vonitsa on the Greek mainland, until his death in ca. 1376.[1][2][5]

His two sons were Carlo I Tocco and Leonardo II Tocco, the central characters of the early 15th-century Chronicle of the Tocco, written in Greek, which extols their exploits.[6] Leonardo received Zakynthos as an appanage. His daughter, Maddalena Tocco, was the first wife of Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last Byzantine emperor. Carlo, through his marriage with the daughter of Nerio I Acciaioli, Duke of Athens, was able to seize Corinthia in 1395, and conquered Elis sometime after 1402, although the former quickly fell to the Despot of the Morea, Theodore Palaiologos, and the latter was lost to the Moreote Byzantines in 1427.[1][7] Carlo also took advantage of a civil war among the Albanian chieftains of Aetolia-Acarnania to seize Acarnania by 1408, and in 1411 he succeeded his uncle Esau de' Buondelmonti as ruler of Ioannina. By 1415 he gained control over Arta as well, unifying the core lands of the Despotate of Epirus for the last time.[1][8]

After Carlo II's death in 1429, his realm was disputed amongst his five illegitimate sons and his adopted heir, his nephew Carlo II Tocco (the son of Leonardo II). At the behest of the former, the Ottomans intervened in the conflict, seizing Ioannina in 1430, and most of the rest of Epirus in the next year. Carlo II continued to rule from Arta as an Ottoman vassal until his death in 1448.[1][9] In the next year, Arta fell to the Ottomans. Carlo's son Leonardo III Tocco moved to Angelokastron; when it too fell in 1460, he fled to his family's possessions in the Ionian Islands, which he ruled there until 1479, when they too were captured by the Ottomans.[1][9] Leonardo and his family then fled to the Kingdom of Naples. Starting from his son, Carlo III Tocco, his descendants continued to style themselves titular Despots of Arta until the 17th century.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kazhdan (1990), p. 2090
  2. ^ a b Miller (1908), p. 292
  3. ^ Cawley, Ugolino Tocco
  4. ^ Cawley, Guglielmo Tocco
  5. ^ Fine (1994), p. 354
  6. ^ Kazhdan (1990), pp. 446, 2090
  7. ^ Fine (1994), pp. 431, 434, 543
  8. ^ Fine (1994), pp. 356–357, 543
  9. ^ a b Fine (1994), pp. 544, 563