The Chronicle of the Morea (Greek: Τὸ χρονικὸν τοῦ Μορέως) is a long 14th-century history text, of which four versions are extant: in French, Greek (in verse), Italian and Aragonese. More than 9,000 lines long, the Chronicle narrates events of the Franks‘ establishment of feudalism in mainland Greece. West European Crusaders settled in the Peloponnese (called Morea at the time) following the Fourth Crusade. The period covered in the Chronicle was 1204 to 1292 (or later, depending on the version). It gives significant details on the civic organization of the Principality of Achaia.
The Greek text is the only text written in verse. The French, Italian and Aragonese texts are written in prose.
The verses of the Greek text are written in a 15-syllable political verse. The verses are accented but not rhymed. It is written in the spoken Greek of the time, with the inclusion of several French words.
There are two parallel Greek texts, as well as three copies:
- Ms Havniensis 57 (14th–15th century, in Copenhagen) 9219 verses
- Ms Taurinensis B.II.I, library of Turin, closely related to the Copenhagen text
- Ms Parisinus graecus 2898 (15th–16th century, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris) 8191 verses
- Ms Parisinus graecus 2753 and
- Ms Bern 509 grec, both copies of the Paris version.
The oldest text is that held in Copenhagen, the language of which is more archaic. The Parisian, more recent, text is simpler in language and has fewer foreign words. The transcriber omitted several anti-Hellenic references, so the overall text expressed less contempt of Greeks.
The difference of about one century between the Copenhagen and Parisian version shows a considerable number of linguistic differences due to the rapid evolution of the Greek language. The text of the Copenhagen version describes events until 1292.
- Royal Library of Belgium No 15702
This text is known under the title: “The Book of the Conquest of Constantinople and the Empire of Roumania and the country of the Principality of Morea”, since in the incipit, it is indicated “C’est le livre de la conqueste de Constantinople et de l’empire de Romanie, et dou pays de la princée de la Morée”
Information in this text reaches until the year 1304.
- Cronaca di Morea, is a summary that was compiled later than the previous texts and contains several mistakes. Its source is the text found in the Greek manuscript held in Turin.
- Libro de los fechos et conquistas del principado de la Morea, was compiled at the end of the 14th century, in 1393, from the Greek version and other later sources, at the request of the Grand Master Jean Fernandez de Heredia of the Knights of St. John. It covers events to 1393.
It appears that the original text of the Chronicle of the Morea has been lost. Although the Aragonese and Italian texts have been clearly identified as later texts, there is no widely accepted consensus on the priority of the Greek or French text.