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Local families, local allegiances: sigillography and autonomy in the eleventh-twelfth century Black Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2018

Alex M. Feldman*
Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies University of


Many studies of the medieval Black Sea address the importance of Byzantine imperial agency in facilitating economic and political exchange. However, few studies examine the limits of Byzantine statehood regarding trans-Black Sea local dynasts. This study, primarily utilizing sigillography, focuses on the eleventh-twelfth century notable families of Cherson and Trebizond in case studies, particularly the well-known Tzouloi and Gavrades: two cities and families famed for their respective local autonomies. How can seals uncover an otherwise hidden dimension of Byzantine sovereignty, or its contestation, which manifested itself across the Black Sea even before the emergence of the empire of Trebizond after 1204?

Copyright © Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham, 2018 

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1 Bryer, A. A. M., ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades: c. 979-c. 1653’, The University of Birmingham Historical Journal 12 (1970) 164Google Scholar. As for the use of the phrase ‘personal fiefdoms,’ while it may strike some readers as somewhat anachronistic and/or misplaced in the Byzantine context (when transferred from its technical definition in the Latin context), I would argue that as a shorthand for a semi-autonomous region ruled by a local warlord, it is an acceptable term. Given a schematic understanding of local rulership as assigned to, or carved out by a local lord, the term ‘fiefdom’ need not be consigned solely to the Latin West, but rather, the term may refer to an endemic, diachronic and global phenomenon, applicable to many areas and at many times. It may also help to think about the way in which the emperors, for example Basil II (976-1025 CE) and others, dealt with local elites and borderlands by devolving local power to them in return for their allegiance. For an excellent overview of the case of Basil II, see Holmes, C., Basil II and the Governance of Empire (976-1025) (Oxford 2005) 300391CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Bryer, A. A. M., Fassoulakis, S., and Nicol, D. M., ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades (an additional note)’, Byzantinoslavica 36 (1975) 39Google Scholar.

3 Vasiliev, A. A., The Goths in the Crimea (Cambridge, MA 1936) 157Google Scholar.

4 Bryer, ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades: c. 979-c. 1653’, 167.

5 Skylitzes, Ioannes, Ioannis Skylitzae Synopsis Historiarum, ed. Thurn, H. (Berlin 1973) 321, 364, 412Google Scholar; trans. Wortley, J., John Skylitzes, A synopsis of Byzantine history: 811-1057 (Cambridge 2010) 305 (16:6), 344 (16:43), 387 (19:26)Google Scholar.

6 See, for example, Feldman, A. M., The historiographical and archaeological evidence of autonomy and rebellion in Cherson: a defense of the revisionist analysis of Vladimir's baptism (987-989), (Birmingham 2013, unpublished Masters’ thesis) 40 note 108Google Scholar.

7 Skylitzes, ed. Thurn, 364: ὡς δὴ τὸ Βουλγαρικὸν ἀναδεξαμένων καὶ αὖθις κράτος, ὁ μὲν Γαβρᾶς ἤδη ἀποδρὰς εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν χώραν καὶ ἁλοὺς πηροῦται τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς.

8 Cheynet, J-C., Gökyıldırım, V. and Bulgurlu, T., Les sceaux byzantins du Musée Archéologique d'Istanbul (Istanbul 2012) cat. no. 2.206 (p. 216-217)Google Scholar.

9 Bryer, et al., ‘(an additional note)’, 39.

10 Skylitzes, ed. Thurn, 412: Ἐγένετο κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν καιρὸν μελέτη τυραννίδος κατὰ τοῦ βασιλέως, ἔξαρχον ἔχουσα Μιχαὴλ τὸν λεγόμενον Κηρουλάριον καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Μακρεμβολίτην καὶ ἄλλους οὐκ ὀλίγους τῶν πολιτῶν, οἳ καὶ δημευθέντες ἐξωρίσθησαν. καὶ ἑτέρα δέ τις ἐπισύστασις γέγονε κατὰ Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ μεγάλου δομεστίκου ἐν Μεσανάκτοις. ἧς μηνυθείσης αὐτῷ Μιχαὴλ μὲν ὁ Γαβρᾶς καὶ Θεοδόσιος ὁ Μεσανύκτης καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοὶ τῶν ταγματικῶν ἀρχόντων ἐκπηροῦνται τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, Γρηγόριον δὲ πατρίκιον τὸν Ταρωνίτην ἔξαρχον, ὡς ἐλέγετο, καὶ πρωτουργὸν τῆς συστάσεως ὄντα ὠμῇ βύρσῃ βοὸς διὰ παντὸς τοῦ σώματος καλύψας ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος, καὶ μόνης τῆς ἀναπνοῆς ἔξοδον ἀφεὶς καὶ τῆς ὄψεως, πρὸς τὸν ὀρφανοτρόφον ἀπέστειλε.

11 Komnene, Anna, Annae Comnenae Alexias, eds. Reinsch, D. R. and Kambylis, A. (Berlin 2001) VIII.9.1Google Scholar; trans. E. A. S. Dawes (London 1928) 210-213: the rise of Theodore, the appointed duke of Trebizond and his son Gregory, imprisoned in Philippopolis); p. 284: mention of Theodore's successful siege of Paipert [modern Bayburt], in the metropolitan thema of Chaldia [see the Notitiae Episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, ed. J. Darrouzès (Paris 1981) 560]); p. 339: mention of Constantine Gavras’ [acc. to The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, trans. E. R. A. Sewter (Harmondsworth 1969) 413 note 27, Constantine was son of Theodore and brother of Gregory] refusal to obey emperor Alexios I Komnenos’ order to monitor crusaders); p. 370: mention of Constantine Gavras’ military command of Philadelphia and defeat of the Seljuks at Kelvianos); p. 377: mention of Constantine Gavras’ serving under emperor Alexios I Komnenos at the battle of Akrokos); p. 401: mention of an unnamed Gavras serving under emperor Alexios I Komnenos at the battle of Amorion).

12 Anna Komnene, VIII.9.1.

οὐ μέχρι δὲ τούτου τὰ κατὰ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα ἔστη. ἀλλ’ ἐπεὶ Θεόδωρος ὁ Γαβρᾶς ἐνδημήσας ἦν ἐν τῇ βασιλευούσῃ, γινώσκων τὸ τούτου ὀμβριμοεργὸν καὶ περὶ τὰς πράξεις ὀξύ, βουλόμενος τοῦτον ἀπελάσαι τῆς πόλεως, δοῦκα Τραπεζοῦντος προὐβάλλετο πάλαι ταύτην ἀπὸ τῶν Τούρκων ἀφελόμενον. ὥρμητο μὲν γὰρ οὗτος ἐκ Χαλδίας καὶ τῶν (5) ἀνωτέρω μερῶν, στρατιώτης δὲ περιφανὴς γενόμενος ἐπί τε φρονήσει καὶ ἀνδρείᾳ ὑπερέχων ἁπάντων μικροῦ καὶ μηδέποτε ἔργου ἁψάμενος καὶ ἀτυχήσας, ἀλλὰ πάντων ἀεὶ τῶν πολεμίων κρατῶν. καὶ αὐτὴν δὴ τὴν Τραπεζοῦντα ἑλὼν καὶ ὡς ἴδιον λάχος ἑαυτῷ ἀποκληρωσάμενος ἄμαχος ἦν.

Theodore Gavras is also mentioned in Zonaras’ Epitome Historiarum as a sebastos, a title generally ‘reserved for those connected by blood or marriage to the dynasty of the Komnenoi’ (see Bryer, A. A. M., Dunn, A. W. and Nesbitt, J., ‘Theodore Gabras, Duke of Chaldia [†1098] and the Gabrades: portraits, sites and seals’, in Avramea, A., Laiou, A. and Chrysos, E. [eds.], Βυζάντιο Κράτος καί Κοινωνία: Μνημή Νίκου Οικονομίδη [Athens 2003] 64)Google Scholar. See Zonaras, Ioannes, Epitome Historiarum, ed. Büttner-Wobst, T. (Bonn 1897) III, 726, 739Google Scholar. See also Skoulatos, V., Les personnages byzantins de l'Alexiade (Louvain 1980) 295298; and note 24 belowGoogle Scholar.

13 For example, see B. Krsmanović, ‘Γαβράδες’, Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor (2003):; Bryer et al., ‘Theodore Gabras’, 51-70; Bryer, A. A. M. and Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos (Washington D. C. 1985) 237Google Scholar; Bryer, ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades: c. 979-c. 1653’, 174-187; Bryer et al., ‘(an additional note)’, 38-45; Bartikian, H., ‘Les Gaurades à travers les sources arméniennes’, in Ahrweiler, H. (ed.), L'Arménie et Byzance: histoire et culture (Paris 1996) 1930CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jordanov, I., Corpus of Byzantine seals with family names (Sofia 2006) cat. no. 129 (Zacharias Gavras)Google Scholar; Cheynet et al., Les Sceaux Byzantins, cat. no. 2.206 (p. 216 – Constantine Gavras, Gregory Gavras), 7.44 (p. 659 – Zacharias Gavras); and Schlumberger, G. L. (ed.), Sigillographie de l'Empire Byzantin (Paris 1884) 665 (first publication of a seal of Theodore Gavras)Google Scholar.

14 Leidholm, N., Political Families in Byzantium: the Social and Cultural Significance of the Genos as Kin Group, c. 900-1150, (Chicago 2016 unpublished PhD dissertation) 21-70Google Scholar.

15 Koltsida-Makri, I., Βυζαντινά Μολυβδόβουλλα: Συλλογής Ορφανίδη - Νικολαΐδη Νομισματικού Μουσείου Αθηνών (Athens 1996) cat. no. 290Google Scholar.

16 Laurent, V., Le corpus des sceaux de l'empire byzantin, vol. II: L'administration centrale (Paris 1981) cat. no. 989Google Scholar. Laurent read this seal as belonging to a spatharokandidatos and a ship captain: “Λέων βασιλικὸς σπαθαροκανδιδᾶτος καὶ πλοίαρχος ὁ Γαβρᾶς,” while Nesbitt, (in Bryer et al., ‘Theodore Gabras’ 63) instead replaces the [π]λοίαρχος with χ[ι]λοίαρχος. The seal may be found online via the Dumbarton Oaks online catalogue, accession number BZS.1958.106.2158: As for the dispute it as [π]λοίαρχος or χ[ι]λοίαρχος, I personally find it difficult to decipher a ‘χ’ in the third line of text.

It is also worth mentioning that Nesbitt (in Bryer et al., ‘Theodore Gabras’ 61), dates a seal which he reads as: Ἰω(άννης) ὁ [Γ]α[β]ρᾶς to some time in the eleventh century, although its identification with the Gavrades may be uncertain on close inspection of the poorly preserved seal.

17 Bryer et al., ‘Theodore Gabras’ 63. Nesbitt reads this seal as: Νικηφόρου σφράγισμα Γαβρᾶ τυγχάνω. See also the Dumbarton Oaks catalogue, accession number BZS.1947.2.1156:

18 Jordanov, Corpus of Byzantine Seals, cat. no. 129 (Zacharias Gavras, [dated late-eleventh century], asked for St. Theodore's protection specifically in honour of his father, Theodore Gavras – according to Cheynet et al., Les Sceaux Byzantins, cat. no. 7.44 [p. 659].

19 Bendall, S., ‘The mint of Trebizond under Alexius I and the Gabrades’, The Numismatic Chronicle 17 (1977) 126136 (esp. p. 135)Google Scholar; and Bendall, S., ‘Trebizond under the Gabrades again’, The Numismatic Chronicle 149 (1989) 197198Google Scholar. However, it should be noted that Bendall reads the coins’ legend, ‘ΑΛΒΡ’ as: Αλέξιos Βασιλεύs Ρωμαίων.

20 Rosenqvist, J. O., ‘Local worshippers, imperial patrons: pilgrimage to St. Eugenios of Trebizond’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 56 (2002) 193212CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 102, on the annual Trapezuntine trade fair, the panegyris of St. Eugenios; and Bryer, ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades’, 170.

21 Bryer, Dunn and Nesbitt, ‘Theodore Gabras’, 65; and Bryer, et al., ‘Theodore Gabras’, 65.

22 See for example Sotnikova, M. P., ‘A seal of Jaroslav the Wise (Kyiv, 1019-1054)’, in Ivakin, G., Khrapunov, N. and Seibt, W. (eds.), Byzantine and Rus’ Seals: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Rus’-Byzantine Sigillography, Kyiv, Ukraine, 13-16 September 2013 (Kiev 2015) 221230Google Scholar.

23 Schlumberger (ed.), Sigillographie de l'Empire Byzantin, 665; and Bendall, ‘The mint of Trebizond’, 135. In fact, according to Hendy, M., Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection: 1081-1261 (Washington D. C. 1999) 427434Google Scholar, type X of the Trapezuntine follis coinage of the period ca. 1080-1110 CE, of which there are five examples, and also type XI, of which there are two examples, both purport to show images of St. Theodore in military attire, very similar to the display of the same saint on Theodore Gavras’ seals, and without any mention whatsoever of the concurrent reigning emperor, Alexios I Komnenos. In the two images of St. Theodore's attire, in both the seal and coin, he is documented as nimbate, wearing a tunic, breastplate and sagion, with a shield in his left hand and a lance in his right hand. See Hendy, Catalogue, 431 (type X); and also Dunn, A. W., A Handlist of the Byzantine Lead Seals and Tokens (and of Western and Islamic Seals) in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts (Birmingham 1983) 4 (cat. no. 6)Google Scholar.

24 Bryer, Dunn and Nesbitt, ‘Theodore Gabras’, 63. Nesbitt, whose item of study resides in the Dumbarton Oaks collection in Washington D. C., reads this seal as: [Κ(ύρι)ε βοήθ]ει τῷ σῷ [δ]ούλο Θεο[δ]ώ(ρῳ) δουκὶ τῷ Γαβρᾶ. Another seal of Theodore Gavras’, held at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, at the University of Birmingham, is known to have been definitively found in Trebizond and dated to the late-eleventh century. It would be important to note here that this seal type of Theodore's is the only one which records his possession of the title sevastos, along with doux, confirming Zonaras’ description of Theodore Gavras as not only a doux, but also a sevastos. It also includes Theodore's militaristic namesake on the obverse, St. Theodore, (ὁ στρατηλάτηs) ‘the stratelates,’ according to Dunn, 64-65. As for the title of sevastos, although it has been brought to my attention that ‘foreign’ rulers received the title sevastos along with ‘domestic’ rulers, I would question the concept of foreignness and domesticity, especially since in the Byzantine imperial context, all Christian rulers were theoretically subject to the Christian emperor and were therefore within the oikoumene, i.e., ‘domestic.’ This would equally apply to the comparison with the seals and coins of Jaroslav referred to in n.13 above. Finally, Dunn's English translation should read as follows: (to St. Theodore, ‘the stratelates’), ‘Your namesake the sevastos, oh thrice-blessed one, the doux Gavras, oh holy one, protect.’

For the mention in Zonaras, see Zonaras, III, 726, 739. See also note 12 above. The poor preservation of the seal has not allowed me to make any alternative readings of this particular seal. Nevertheless, it would be worthwhile to make a final observation that the elaborate nature of the language used on the six-line metrical inscription on the reverse may suggest, if not attest to Theodore's high position in an otherwise hypostatic court hierarchy, that he felt secure enough to represent himself as a sevastos as well as doux of Trebizond and to evoke his namesake, St. Theodore, as the tris-makar (thrice-blessed one) on his seal. Such an evocation of one's namesake with the term tris-makar is little known elsewhere in provincial Byzantine sigillography. For other examples of the term ‘τρισμάκαρ’ appearing on Byzantine metrical seals, see the Dumbarton Oaks online catalogue accession numbers BZS.1958.106.2674 (; and BZS.1955.1.3862 (

25 Skylitzes, ed. Thurn, 354 [16:39]; trans. Wortley, 336.

Ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἀπελθὼν ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει, κατὰ τὸν Ἰαννουάριον μῆνα τοῦ ἑξακισχιλιοστοῦ πεντακοσιοστοῦ εἰκοστοῦ τετάρτου ἔτους, στόλον εἰς Χαζαρίαν ἐκπέμπει, ἔξαρχον ἔχοντα τὸν Μογγόν, υἱὸν Ἀνδρονίκου δουκὸς τοῦ Λυδοῦ· καὶ τῇ συνεργίᾳ Σφέγγου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ Βλαδιμηροῦ, τοῦ γαμβροῦ τοῦ βασιλέως, ὑπέταξε τὴν χώραν, τοῦ ἄρχοντος αὐτῆς Γεωργίου τοῦ Τζούλη ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ προσβολῇ συλληφθέντος.

We may also note that Wortley translates the word ἄρχον as ‘governor’ and the word χώραν as ‘region,’ even though alternatively it could typically be ‘land,’ ‘country,’ or in the context of contemporary reference to Crimea, as ‘climata,’ per the common usage in Latin. For example, the sixth-century Synekdemos of Ierokles, ed. G. F. C. Parthey (Berlin 1866) 140-141, lists all concurrent areas subject to the Constantinopolitan patriarch, the Latin translation of such areas, including Crimea and even Khazaria, in fact, references ‘climata’, as opposed to the usage of words such as ἀρχοντεία or ἐπαρχία. In this regard, it would be important to note that Skylitzes’ use of the word χώραν is not technical, which, according to Archie Dunn (personal communication, 24 January, 2017), indicates the perception that this ‘region’ was not a formal province of the empire, as distinct from contemporary Cherson, even though the two are associated by other sources discussed below.

26 Sharp, R., The outside image: a comparative study of external architectural display on middle Byzantine structures on the Black Sea Littoral, (University of Birmingham 2011Google Scholar, unpublished PhD thesis) 114.

27 Anokhin, V. A., The Coinage of Chersonesus: IV Century B.C. - XII Century A.D., trans. H. B. Wells (London 1980) 120Google Scholar.

28 Anokhin, The Coinage of Chersonesus, 114-115. Anokhin asserts that this was due to the appearance of coins issued with the letters κΒω, which he assigns to the final years of the reigns of Basil II and Constantine VIII (1016-1025 CE). In the latest publication regarding these coins, Sidorenko does not address the appearance of the ω either, although he attributes their mintage to the local church in Cherson. See, for example Sidorenko, V. A., Церковное и муниципальное производства литых херсоно-византийских монет IX- начала XIII вв.’, in Ajbabin, A., Stepanenko, V. P. and Alekseenko, N. (eds.), ΧΕΡΣΩΝΟΣ ΘΕΜΑΤΑ №01. Империя и Полис: Сборник научных трудов (Sevastopol’ 2013) 267–92Google Scholar.

29 See for example, Sokolova, I. V., ‘Печати Георгия Цулы и события 1016 г. в Херсонесе’, Палестинский Сборник 23/86 (1971) 6874Google Scholar; Sokolova, I. V., Монеты и Печати Византийского Херсона (St. Petersburg 1983)Google Scholar; Sokolova, I. V., ‘Les sceaux byzantins de Cherson’, in Oikonomides, N. (ed.), Studies in Byzantine Sigillography 3 (Washington, D.C. 1993) 99111Google Scholar; Khrapunov, N., ‘Continuity in the administration of Byzantine Cherson according to seals and other sources’, in Ivakin, G., Khrapunov, N. and Seibt, W. (eds.), Byzantine and Rus’ Seals: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Rus’-Byzantine Sigillography, Kyiv, Ukraine, 13-16 September 2013, (Kiev 2015) 179192Google Scholar; Alekseienko, N., ‘The particulars of the Byzantine administration in Taurica: seals of the Stratores of Cherson’, in Ivakin, G., Khrapunov, N. and Seibt, W. (eds.), Byzantine and Rus’ Seals: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Rus’-Byzantine Sigillography, Kyiv, Ukraine, 13-16 September 2013 (Kiev 2015) 5560Google Scholar; Alekseienko, N., ‘Новые сфрагистические данные по истории византийского Херсона VII-IX вв.’, Античная древность и средние века 43 (2015) 192207CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Alekseienko, N., L'administration byzantine de cherson: catalogue des sceaux (Paris 2012) 231238Google Scholar; Alekseienko, N., ‘Les relations entre Cherson et l'empire, d'après le témoignage des sceaux des archives de Cherson’, in Cheynet, J-C. and Sode, C. (eds.), Studies in Byzantine Sigillography 8 (Munich 2003) 7583Google Scholar; Alekseienko, N., ‘Les sceaux des prôteuontés de Kherson au Xe siècle’, in Seibt, W. (ed.), Studies in Byzantine Sigillography 7 (Washington, D. C. 2002) 7986Google Scholar; Alekseienko, N., ‘Херсонская родовая знат X-XI вв. в памятниках сфрагистики’, Материалы по Археологии, Истории и Этнографии Таврики 7 (2000) 256266Google Scholar; and N. Alekseienko, ‘Новые находки моливдовулов рода Цулы из Херсонеса’, Древности-1995 (1995) 81-87. The author would like to thank professor Alekseienko especially for his contributions to guiding this research.

30 Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, passim.

31 Bryer, ‘A Byzantine family: the Gabrades’, 172; and Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, 153-158.

32 Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 69-71. The unique formulae of these seals, which primarily refer to imperial spatharioi, protospatharioi, spatharokandidatoi, as well as notarioi and strategoi, of Cherson, frequently refer to the local protevontes of Cherson as well, which alludes to irregular conditions indeed. Imperial ranks and functionaries were supposed to be appointed from Constantinople, but in reality, as demonstrated by these seals, were often the same men as the local Chersonite protevontes, thereby allowing local families such as the Tzouloi, to claim authority in the name of the emperor, but were not necessarily controlled by the emperor himself. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, Cheynet does not comment on this specifically, although Sokolova and Alekseienko have discussed it. See note 29 above and for specific examples, see notes 33-34 and notes 41-45 below.

33 Alekseienko, L'administration byzantine de Cherson, cat. no. 152 (p. 231-232). He reads the seals as: + Ἅγιε Νικόλαε βοήθ(ει) Τζούλᾳ β(ασιλικῷ) σπαθ(α)ρίῳ Χερσόνος.

34 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 151 (p. 231). He reads the seal as: + Κ(ύρι)ε βο[ή]θει τῷ σῷ δούλ(ῳ) Τζούλᾳ β(ασιλικῳ) σπαθαρήῳ Χρεσῶνο(ς); [sic]. Although regarding its invocation of St. Nicholas, it would perhaps be sensible to compare this seal to that of Michael Tzoulas (Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 153, n38).

35 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 155 (p. 234). He reads the seal as: + Κ(ύρι)ε βο(ή)θ(ει) τῷ σῷ δού(λῳ) Ἰω(άννη) β(ασιλικῷ) νοταρίῳ τộ Τζού[λ(ᾳ)]. The seal invokes on the obverse St. John the Prodromos, which is, incidentally the same namesake to whom the surviving eighth-century church in the modern Crimean city of Kerch is dedicated.

36 As for the significance of the family name appearing alone on seals as an indicator of special status, we may take into contextual consideration the example of Ioannes Kourkouas, whose eleventh-century metrical seal, found in Trebizond, refers solely to his first and family names, the context of which, according to Archie Dunn (personal communication, 6 September, 2017), indicates the special status his well-known family name held in the eastern Anatolian highlands. See for example the seal catalogued under the Dumbarton Oaks accession number BZS.1955.1.4039:

37 Alekseienko, L'administration byzantine de Cherson, cat. no. 157 (p. 236). He reads the seal as: + Ἰγνατήῳ τοῦ Τζουλα; [sic]. See also Alekseienko, ‘Новые находки моливдовулов рода Цулы из Херсонеса’, 81-87.

38 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 158 (p. 237). He reads the seal as: + [Θεο]φυλάκ[τ]ῳ [τ]οῦ Τζούλα.

39 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 160 (p. 238). He reads the seal as: + Κ(ύρι)ε β(οή)θ(ει) τῷ σῷ δ(ούλῳ) Μοσηκõ (τῷ) Τζούλ(ᾳ). This seal is known in two examples.

40 See for example Sokolova, ‘Печати Георгия Цулы и события 1016 г. в Херсонесе’, Палестинский Сборник 23/86, 68-74; Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 70 note 236; and above note 26.

41 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 159 (p. 237). He reads the seal as: + Γεω[ρ]γ(ίος) (πρωτο)σπα[θ(αρίος)] ὁ Τζ(ο)ύ[λ]α τοῦ Ποσφόρ(ου). The seal also evokes St. George on the reverse, presumably as a namesake. See also Kazhdan, ‘Rev. Печати Георгия Цулы и События 1016 г. в Херсоне’, Byzantinoslavica 33/1 (1972) 298.

42 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 156 (p. 234-235). He reads these seals as: + Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Γεοργίῳ β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) στρατ(ηγῷ) τῷ Τζούλ(ᾳ). It would be significant to note here that no saint is evoked on any of these six examples of his seal, as both obverse and reverse fields are filled with epigraphy, with the inscription, + Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ, appearing on the legend of one side, while the other half, + Γεοργίῳ β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) στρατ(ηγῷ) τῷ Τζούλ(ᾳ), appears filling the legend of the opposite side.

43 See Alekseienko, ‘Новые сфрагистические данные по истории византийского Херсона VII-IX вв.’, Античная древность и средние века 43, 201.

44 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 153 (p. 232). He reads the seal as: + [Ἅγιε] Νικόλα[ε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ] Μιχαὴλ β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σ[π]αθαρηộ [τῷ Τ]ζούλ[ᾳ Χ]ε[ρσ(ῶνος) (?)]. For this particular seal, it ought to be noted that the reconstruction of the word Cherson is predicated on little evidence.

45 Alekseienko, Cherson, cat. no. 154 (p. 233). He reads these two seals as: + Κ(ύρι)ε βοήθ(ει) τῷ σῷ δούλ(ῳ) Φοτίῳ (ou Φοτ(ε)ίνῳ) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ) τῷ Τζούλ(ᾳ). It should also be noted for these two seals that they do not explicitly reference the city of Cherson, other than the fact that it is included in Alekseienko's collection of seals from Cherson, and struck by a member with strong links to the city.

46 Kazhdan, A. P. et al. (eds.), ‘protospatharios’, The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 vols. (Oxford 1991) III, 1748Google Scholar.

47 Alekseienko, ‘Les sceaux des prôteuontés’, 79-86; and Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 69 note 235.

48 Moravcsik, Gy. and Jenkins, R. J. H. (eds. and trans.), De Administrando Imperio (Washington, D. C. 1967) 42:25-54 (p. 184-185)Google Scholar.

49 See for example Khrapunov, ‘Continuity in the administration’, 179-192; and Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 70 note 236.

50 Neville, L., Authority in Byzantine Provincial Society, 950-1100 (Cambridge 2004) 24Google Scholar. In the case of Cherson, Neville cites the emperor Constantine VII's de Ceremoniis: Reiske, J. J. (ed.), Constantini Porphyrogeniti imperatoris de cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae (Bonn 1829) 697Google Scholar. In this context, Cherson is regarded as a thema of the West.

51 Dunn, A., ‘The kommerkiarios, the apotheke, the dromos, and the west’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 17.1 (1993) 38CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Krsmanović, B., The Byzantine Province in Change: on the Threshold between the 10th and 11th Centuries (Athens 2008) 126 note 247Google Scholar; and Feldman, The historiographical and archaeological evidence, 103.

52 Alekseienko, ‘Les relations entre Cherson et l'empire’, 82.

53 Sokolova, ‘Les sceaux byzantins de Cherson’, 104. With regard to Sokolova's words regarding the usage of ‘prôteuôn’ as a patronym on a seal, it is worth noting that Alekseienko, (Cherson, cat. nos. 52, 81, 82), mentions no fewer than three seals, otherwise belonging to imperial strategoi, whose surnames, or perhaps epithets, appear as proteuon on their seals.

54 Shepard, J., ‘Close encounters with the Byzantine world: the Rus at the straits of Kerch’, in Reyerson, K. L., Stavrou, Th. G. and Tracy, J. D. (eds.), Pre-Modern Russia and Its World: Essays in Honor of Thomas S. Noonan (Wiesbaden 2006) 2830Google Scholar.

55 G. Prinzing, personal communication, 13 December 2016. Other scholars have increasingly begun to question the paradigm of Byzantine ‘statehood’ as well, such as A. Eastmond, ‘Constantinople: global or local?’ and J. Haldon, ‘A “global” empire: the structures of East Roman longevity’ both presented at Global Byzantium, the 50th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 25-27 March 2017.

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