Mr Robin Shields

Supervised by

Research interests

Tocco Lordships in the 15th Century Adriatic and Balkans:


My research focuses on the Tocco, a Neapolitan family based on the Ionian islands, during the late 14th and early 15th centuries.  Under the stewardship of Carlo I Tocco they were able to acquire large swathes of territory in the Morea and captured the major settlements in Epiros, notably Ioannina and Arta.  They were able to achieve this at a time of great instability within the Balkans and had to comprehend with the revival of the Byzantines in the Despotate of Morea and the rise of the Ottoman Turks.


My thesis looks at Carlo I's successor, his nephew, Carlo II Tocco who ruled as Despot of Arta between 1429 and 1448.  Carlo II's reign began with the 'Tocco Civil War' when the illegitimate sons of Carlo I rebelled against their cousin in an attempt to gain control over the Tocco domains.  Though this ultimately failed it led to the fall of Ioannina in October 1430 to the Ottomans, which gave them their first foothold in Epiros.  Despite the turbulence of its early years the lordship of Carlo II based around the city of Arta, the former capital of the Komnenos-Doukas Despotate, was stable and prosperous.  Carlo II held a Byzantine title, he was an Ottoman Vassal and a citizen and member of the Venetian Maggior Consiglio.  His lordship benefited from close trading links with the city of Ragusa, selling millet in exchange for bombards and galleots.  Carlo died on 30 September 1448 and was suceeded by his son Leonardo III Tocco.  Though the city of Arta was lost to the Ottomans within a year the Tocco would retain possesions on the mainland until they were finally expelled from the Balkans in 1479.


Visting Tutor

2016/2017 - HS1116 - Rome to Renaissance

2017-2018 - HS1105 - Gods, Men and Power

Educational background

Lancaster University, BA History, 2010-2013

Royal Holloway, MA Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, 2013-2014

Other work

Co-Chair of the Royal Holloway History Postgraduate Seminar, January 2016-August 2018

ID: 23806726