Istòria de Jacob Xalabín is a 15th century historical romance written in Catalan (or translated into that language) that recounts the adventures in the period 1387-9 of Jacob, son and heir of Sultan Murat I, and his death at the hands of his bastard brother, Beseyt, during the Battle of Kosovo, in which Murat also perished. In chapter V of Arseni Pacheco’s 1964 edition, the author introduces some marital business involving the lords of Palàcia and Satalia (respectively Mileto and Adalia in Greek Asia Minor) who are both intermittently referred to as Hocman Bey. Pacheco wonders in a footnote if this is textual error or whether there were indeed two emirs with the same name. I suspect the truth is actually rather amusing.
Pacheco notes elsewhere that bey is used in three ways:
- As an honorary title bestowed on princes and nobles, distinguishing them from the populace at large.
- To indicate the ruler of a small tribe, as opposed to a ca, whose domain is more extensive.
- To designate a figure of authority.
Pacheco believes that bey is applied to Murat and Bajazet in the first sense, possibly to Hocman Bey in the second, and to two generals in the third. This makes me wonder whether Hocman isn’t related to Hochmann (“high man” in German), and whether the two Hocman Beys were in fact of (lanky) northern European stock and had accumulated titles in two languages. I know that a bunch of Frankish statelets survived in the region until the 15th century, but that’s all I know, and it’s lunchtime.
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