It is possible that the name "Spata" is derived from the Latin and Greek spatha meaning "long sword", which is found in Albanian as shpatë meaning "sword".
In the first half of the 14th century, mercenaries, raiders and migrants known in Greek as Άλβανοί (Albanoi or "Albanians", a demonym that included Vlachs) flooded into Greece (specifically raiding Thessaly in 1325 and 1334). In 1358, Albanians and Vlachs overran the regions of Epirus, Acarnania and Aetolia and established two principalities under their leaders, John Spata and Peter Losha.Naupactus (Lepanto) was later taken in 1378. The Spata family frequently collaborated with Ottomans and saw them as protectors of the Spata family.
Although German historian Karl Hopf provided a genealogy of the Spata family, it is deemed by modern scholarship as "altogether inaccurate".
^Madgearu & Gordon 2008, p. 83: "The despots Gjin Buia Spata and Peter Liosha were recognized by Symeon Uroš in 1359–1360 as rulers in Epirus and Aetolia. Albanian historians consider Gjin (or Ghinu) Buia and Peter Liosha Albanian, but it is sure that at least the Buia family was of Aromanian origin..."