Carlo I Tocco

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Carlo I Tocco was the hereditary Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos from 1376, and ruled as the Despot of Epirus from 1411 until his death on July 4, 1429.


Carlo I was the son of Count Leonardo I Tocco of Cephalonia and Leukas by Maddalena de' Buondelmonti, sister of Esau de' Buondelmonti of Epirus. Leonardo I Tocco (who was count of Cephalonia 1357–1376 and duke of Leukas 1362–1376) was himself the son of Guglielmo II Tocco (governor of Cephalonia 1328–1335) and Margherita Orsini, sister of Nicholas Orsini and John II Orsini, rulers of Epirus and counts of Cephalonia. In this way, Carlo Tocco inherited a claim to Epirus from both the Orsini and the Buondelmonti.

Carlo I had succeeded his father Leonardo I as count of Cephalonia and duke of Leukas in 1376. He shared power with his brother Leonardo II, who was invested with the island of Zante as apanage in 1399. The inheritance from his father-in-law Nerio I Acciaioli, Duke of Athens gave Carlo a claim on Corinth and Megara in 1395, and he intermittently became involved with the affairs of the Peloponnese, holding parts of Elis from 1402 until ceded to the Byzantines in 1427 following the Battle of the Echinades.

From 1405[dubious ] Carlo controlled several fortresses on the mainland, including Argyrocastron. He was invited as the successor of his uncle Esau de' Buondelmonti in Ioannina after the rejection of the latter's widow and son in February 1411. Nevertheless, he had to overcome the determined opposition of the Albanian clans, and in particular of the ruler of Arta, Yaqub Spata.

In spite of a victory over Carlo in 1412, the Albanians failed to take Ioannina. On the contrary, not long after Maurice died, and Yaqub was killed in battle in 1416, Carlo advanced on Arta and obtained its surrender in 1416. Arta was entrusted to Carlo's younger brother Leonardo II, and now the Tocchi controlled all major towns in Epirus. In 1415 he was granted the title despotes by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos. Moreover, as part of the Byzantine tradition he adopted, he signed all his official letters and decrees in Greek.[1]

Apart from his conflict with the Byzantine rulers of Morea (the Peloponnese) over Elis, Carlo spent the remainder of his reign in relative peace.

Although he had several illegitimate children, he was succeeded by his nephew Carlo II Tocco, the son of Leonardo II. His niece Creusa Tocco (not Maddelena Tocco[2] as was previously thought) married Constantine XI.


Carlo I Tocco had no children from his marriage to Francesca Acciaioli, daughter of Nerio I Acciaioli, Duke of Athens . By a relationship with an unnamed mistress, Carlo had five illegitimate sons:

  • Memnone of Acarnania
  • Ercole
  • Turno
  • Antonio
  • Orlando of Reniassa

Chronicle of the Tocco

Significant information about Carlo I Tocco is found in Chronicle of the Tocco which was evidently written by one of his contemporaries, covering 1375-1425, including therefore the period of Carlo's rule.


  1. Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1997). "Late Byzantine Period (1204-1479)". Epirus, 4000 Years of Greek History and Civilization. Ekdotike Athenon: 198–237. Retrieved 11 March 2015. But he was proud also to adopt the more glorious title of despot of Romania and to signify to the world the Hellenism of his heritage by signing his decrees and documents in Greek letters inscribed in the red ink of a true Byzantine despot<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Genealogists' Magazine , Dec 2011


Preceded by
Leonardo I Tocco
Count palatine of Cephalonia
Succeeded by
Carlo II Tocco
Preceded by
Giorgio de' Buondelmonti
as ruler of Ioannina
Despot of Epirus
Preceded by
Yaqub Spata
as ruler of Arta