Byzantium: its internal history and relations with the Muslim World

Speros Vryonis Jr.


Internal History



(In: Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XI (1957). Harvard University Press) 



BYZANTINE documents dealing with individual landowners begin to appear in appreciable numbers only in the eleventh century. The novels of the tenth century and the Peira in the eleventh still treat the landowners as a class, referring to individuals only rarely. The appearance of personal records in the latter half of the eleventh century presents the historian with a more detailed picture of this social class. A series of chrysobulls issued by Michael VII Ducas, Nicephorus III Botaniates, and Alexius Comnenus enumerate the various holdings of Leo Cephalas and Andronicus Ducas. The chroniclers and historians relate the extent of the possessions held by Constantine Leichudes and Nicephoritzes, while the letters of Michael Psellus give an ample list of the philosopher's holdings. The diataxis of Michael Attaliates’ poorhouse in Constantinople and Rhaidestus, along with the typicon of Gregory Pacurianus’ monastery at Bačkovo, complete the picture of these eleventh-century magnates.


To these documents one may add yet another, the will of the protospatharius Eustathius Boilas from the year 1059. This will, which is almost unique for the eleventh century, gives a detailed account of the estate of a large landowner in the eastern provinces. [1] It is to be found in an eleventh-century manuscript of the Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. Coislin 263, fols. 159-165v, where it follows the Spiritual Ladder of John Climacus. The manuscript, which also includes an abridged life of John Climacus by Daniel of Raithou, a letter of Daniel to John, and a letter containing Johns answer to Daniel, was written in 1059 by the monk Theodulus at the request of Boilas. [2] H. Omont first made the contents of the document known in 1890, and promised a more detailed report on the will in a future communication. [3] However, it was V. Beneshevich who published the text in the Journal of the Ministry of Public Education in 1907, and an incomplete commentary was published by P. Bezobrazov in 1911. [4]



*. I should like to express my appreciation for the suggestions which the faculty and fellows of Dumbarton Oaks, especially Professor Glanville Downey and Dr. Cyril Mango, offered in the translating of certain technical terms and obscure passages. I should also like to thank Mr. Marvin C. Ross, who was very helpful in this respect, and Mr. George Soulis of the Dumbarton Oaks staff, who first called my attention to the will of Eustathius Boilas.


1. See also the wills of Symbatius Pacurianus and his wife Gale Basilacaina, which date from the late eleventh century; Ioacheim Iberitou, “ Ἐκ τοῦ ἀρχείου τῆς ἐν Ἁγίῳ Ὄρει ἱερᾶς μονῆς τῶν Ἰβήρων, βυξαντιναὶ δίαθῆκαι,” Ὀρθοδοξία, V (1930), 613-8, and VI (1931), 364-71. Dölger has published an isocodicon of the properties mentioned in these wills; Aus den Schatzkammern des heiligen Berges (Munich, 1948), 180-4. In his commentary Dölger has confused Symbatius Pacurianus with Gregory Pacurianus, the founder of the monastery at Bačkovo. It seems highly probable that Gregory Pacurianus had married the daughter of Nicephorus Comnenus, whereas Symbatius had married the daughter of the curopalates Basilacius.


2. R. Devreesse, Catalogue des manuscrits grecs, II, Le Fonds Coislin (Paris, 1945), 241-2.


3. Scéance du 5 Février, Bulletin de la société nationale des antiquaires de France (1890), 100-1.


4. V. Beneshevich, “Zavieschanie vizantīĭskago boiarīna XI vieka,” Zhurnal mīnīsterstva narodnago prosvieshchenia (May, 1907), 219-31. P. Bezobrazov, “Zavieshchanīe Voily,” Vizantīĭskīĭ Vremennik, XVIII (1911), 107-15. The commentary of Bezobrazov is largely concerned with the icons and books, and does not identify the individuals who appear in the will, nor does it locate the estates of Boilas. The important chronological notice inserted between the Climax and the will itself in the manuscript has been noticed and commented on by a number of scholars. See

·       S. Lampros, “Ἐνθυμήσεων ἤτοι χρονικῶν σημειωμάτων συλλογὴ πρώτη,” Νέος Ἑλληνομνήμων, VII (1910), 130-1;

·       V. Zlatarski, “Edna datirana pripiska na grietski ot sriedata na XI viek,” Byzantinoslavica, I (1929), 22-34;

·       S. Kougeas, “ Ἐπι τοῦ βιβλιογραφικοῦ σημειώματος τοῦ ὑπ᾿ ἀριθμοῦ 263 Κοϊσλινιανοῦ κώδικος,” Ἑλληνικά, III (1930), 458-62;

Ν. Bănescu, Les duchés byzantins de Paristrion (Paradounavon) et de Bulgarie (Bucharest, 1946), passim.





The will includes among other things a detailed inventory of Boilas’ possessions, thus adding yet another itemized inventory to the small number of such lists that has survived from Byzantine times. [5] The translation of the will, which follows below, is based primarily on the text of Beneshevich with only a few minor changes. The text has been checked against a microfilm of the manuscript kindly furnished by the Bibliothèque Nationale.


“As the time has arrived, I wish to arrange my affairs tranquilly and completely, with a broad and open mind. [6] This, so that nothing will be carried around in shadowy memory, for this is the custom of the mind. I am not able to relate to what extent the unevenness of the times has brought me hardship. I was overwhelmed by difficulties and by the mounting violence of the waves to such an extent that I became an emigrant from the land which bore me, and I went a distance of one and one-half weeks from my fatherland. And I settled among alien nations with strange religion and tongue. I had come under the helping wings of Michael the most illustrious and famous dux, under whom I served the imperial orders in public service for fifteen years. And then I rested for eight years, and he ended his life here in seemly fashion. [7] His most glorious son, the most illustrious magistrus, having rewarded me with victories in every way and freedom in everything, showered [8] me with considerable favors. The burden that now weighs down my soul, instead of making me forget, (makes me) hasten toward repentance and (affords me) an occasion to review what remains of my life, (thus) casting everything to the all-seeing justice, and setting the Trinity at the beginning and end of my discourse.


“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I, Eustathius protospatharius of the chrysotriclinium and hypatus,



5. Inventories are included in the following documents:

- The diataxis of Michael Attaliates, 1077, in

·       C. Sathas, Μεσαιωνική Βιβλιοθήκη, I (Venice, 1872), 3-69;

·       L. Petit, Typikon de Grégoire Pacourianos pour le monastère de Petritzos ( Bačkovo ) en Bulgarie (St. Petersburg, 1904), forms supplement 1 to vol. XI of the Vizantīĭskīĭ Vremennik, XI (1904);

- a diploma from the monastery of Peter and Paul (1135) in

·       B. de Montfaucon, Palaeographia Graeca (Paris, 1708), 403-7;

- the inventory of the monastery of Xylourgou (1143) in

·       Akty russkago na Cviatom Afonie monastyria (Kiev, 1873), 50-67;

- the typicon of St. Nicholas of Casole (1174), see

·       H. Omont, “Le typicon de Saint Nicolas di Casole près d’Otrante,” Revue des études grecques, III (1890), 381-91.


There are two published inventories for the monastery of St. John at Patmos, one dated 1201, the other 1355; See

·       C. Diehl, “Le trésor et la bibliothèque de Patmos au commencement du 13e siècle,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, I (1892), 488-525;

·       Catalogus Librorum Monasterii Insulae Patmi Saeculo XIV, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, CXLIX (1865), 1047-52;


- the inventory of the monastery of St. Laurentius in Thessalonike (1406), in

·       P. Papageorgiou, “Περὶ χειρογράφου Εύαγγελίου Θεσσαλονίκης,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, VI (1897), 538-46;

- the inventory of the monastery of Eleousa at Strumpitza in Macedonia (1449), in

·       L. Petit, “Le monastère de Notre Dame de Pitié en Macédoine,” Izviestiia russkago arkheologicheskago instituta v Konstantinopolie, VI (1900), 114-52;

- the inventory of the cathedral at Mesembria (1494), in

M. Gedeon, “ Ἀνέκδοτος κώδηξ τῆς μητροπόλεως Μεσημβρίας,” Ἡμερολόγιον τῆς Ἀνατολῆς (Constantinople, 1886), 179—83.


6. ... τῇ γνώμῃ εὐρείᾳ καὶ ἀωρίᾳ . . It is difficult to understand what the obscure and ungrammatical Greek means. Perhaps the scribe used ἀωρίᾳ for ἀοριστίᾳ. The scribe, a Cappadocian monk, attempted to compose the will in the learned language and failed utterly. The text is full of grammatical errors and misspellings, particularly iotacisms.




8. περιέθλιφεν must be emended to περιέθαλφεν.





draw up the present written und signed secret will; and I do this with willing mind and by simple wish, nor do I do it from some necessity or force or mockery or deceit or wickedness or ignorance or enticement or pretension; but rather, with every willingness and with sincere purpose of life and mind, acting properly, being in good health and of sound mind, and in full possession of all my senses.


"I was from the beginning and through my ancestors of a free estate and sound nature, and in all ways Orthodox according to the precept and rule of the seven holy oecumenical councils. I have not up to this day fallen into public debt so as to be under any obligation, but have led a free and unencumbered life up to the present, (having benefited) only from merciful Providence, from the divine hand of the emperor, and (having received) from my previously-mentioned lord and master, the late dux countless goods and benefits, and all those which the most illustrious magistrus the lord Basil, his son and successor, displayed. [9] After I married, my lawful wife Anna, of blessed memory, (and) I left my home and settled in this land; (and I brought) with (me) whatever money and property remained to me and what I have now amassed by fair means, and the two daughters and son who had been vouchsafed me. [10] The son lived only through the third year of his life, and died in the sixth year of the indiction. In the beginning of the ninth year of the indiction his mother, my wife, shorn and in the monastic garb, followed her son by the providence of God, leaving me with my two daughters for the remainder of my life. And I have watched over them up to the present twelfth year of the indiction, accordingly as the unknown will of God provided. And in these circumstances the recollection of death continuously spurring me, and having the untimely and unexpected before my eyes, I desired to arrange my affairs. I was concerned first with cares of loftier and better things, that is of God, and of the soul, which bear resemblance to the archetype by divine inspiration, and which one is wont to call the church and the temple of God and of the mother of God; (this, so) that the body should turn away from the excitements of pleasure. [11] When I first arrived and settled here I received this land, and it was foul and unmanageable. It was inhabited by snakes, scorpions, and wild beasts, so that the Armenians who dwelled opposite here were not able to have even a little rest.



9. μετ᾿ αὐτὸν ὅσα ἐνδείξηται καὶ εἰσπράξηται. . . . The verb εἰσπράξηται does not fit the sense of the sentence at all.



The scribe's grammar seems quite awkward. The general meaning of the passage is that Boilas left his original home after his marriage to Anna, and that he brought with him whatever money he still had (along with that which he was able to raise) and his son and two daughters. But the word ὅσον in the clause . . . καὶ ὅσον νῦν ἐξ ἀγαθοῦ πόρου συνεστησάμην, has been incorrectly transcribed by Beneshevich, loc. cit., 223. In the manuscript it reads ὥσον, obviously a misspelling for ὅσων. The latter form seems to be correct, for the word is governed by μεθ᾿ and agrees with χρημάτων. Thus the text should read . . . μεθ᾿ ὅσων παρεφυλάχθησάν μοι χρημάτων καὶ ὅσων νῦν ἐξ ἀγαθοῦ πόρου συνεστησάμην. But the word νῦν presents a further difficulty, for it does not fit into the general meaning of the sentence, i.e., that Boilas brought with him whatever money was left to him and whatever he was able to raise. It is not absolutely clear whether the children were born before or after Boilas set out for his new home, but the inference is that they were grouped together with the money as items which he brought with him to the new land.



ἐκτρέφεται has been emended to ἐκτρέπεται.





If they (the Armenians) were constrained by the fact that the land was inaccessible to most men and unknown, I reduced it to ashes, with fire and axe, [11a] as the Psalm sayeth. And in this place I built my house and the holy temple from the foundations, and (I created) meadows, parks, vineyards, gardens, aqueducts, small farms, water mills, and (I brought) animals for use, both necessary and useful. In like manner my property of Bouzina, which happens to be a complete monidion, [12] I cultivated from its poor state; and also the village of Isaion which was deserted and poor, except for the monidion of Tzalema. [12a] Similarly the village of Ouzike, and Chouspacrati, and the village of Copteriou, and the village of Ophidobouni, and Cousneria, which were for a long time uninhabited and deserted, I contrived to improve through great expenditure of money. And the village of Ouzike I have given to those whom I have named as heirs, giving in addition the original bill of sale. The village of Copteriou and Chouspacrati I have given to the orphan brothers Christopher and George and to their cousin, as they are poor and orphans. The use of the village of Ophidobouni and Cousneria along with Calmouche, having been requested by the blessed dux, my lord, I gave them to him through a paper of assurance. I have given the proasteion of Barta, as I received it and without improving it, to the most illustrious magistrus Kyr Basil, being forced to sell; but I received no payment. Similarly, though holding written evidence of other debts incurred by the most illustrious magistrus, and the blessed dux and ducaina, my lords, amounting to twenty-five pounds, I have received none of this. Let the allseeing providence of God judge these things as it is wont to do. For God the knower of hearts is witness that up to the present I have not consciously been treacherous or deceitful against him or his children, my authentopouloi; or appeared wicked or contrived or written anything slanderous, but rather I have striven without deceit or artifice on their behalf up to the point of my death. And I have accomplished great and unexpected things by the grace of our all-powerful God, by the active operation of the invincible cross, and by the succor of my Theotocos, although I have been slandered by them and through them in many harsh and terrible respects, even having my life plotted against. But as I expected recompense from the unerring Eye, I did not lose my head over this.


“Of the remaining four properties and proasteia, I have given Tantzoute, that is Salem, with its hills as it delimits my lands, the watered from the unwatered, [13] in dowry to my first born and legitimate daughter Irene, and to her husband; that is, the whole of the rent of this proasteion of eighty nomismata and the ennomion, [14] without the four zeugotopia [15] which have been granted as the inheritance of my freedmen, and which they in fact possess. And she shall have the possession of the eighty nomismata, and the pasturage, and the ownership of all the land, so that this same, my daughter, shall have by way of her paternal inheritance and dowry thirty pounds. In addition to all this, she has already taken



11a. Psalms 74:5-7.


12. μονίδιον seems to designate a piece of land which differs from a χωρίον or a προάσταον. The word is also used to signify a small monastery.


12a. On the place names, see the commentary that follows the translation.


13. . . ὑπάδρου καὶ ἀνύδρου. ὑπάδρου should probably read ὑφύδρου.


14. This was the sum of money paid for the pasturage of livestock in the fields. See F. Dölger, Beiträge zur Geschichte der byzantinischen Finanzverwaltung besonders des 10 und 11 Jahrhunderts (Leipzig and Berlin, 1927), 534; Also Dölger, Aus den Schatzkammern des heiligen Berges (Munich, 1948), 158-9, 171.


15. Zeugotopion for tax purposes was the amount of land which a farmer could plow with a pair of oxen. See D. Xanalatos, Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsund Sozialgeschichte Makedoniens im Mittelalter, hauptsächlich auf Grund der Briefe des Erzbischofs Theophylaktos von Achrida (Munich, 1937), 40.





movable, self-movable, and semi-movable properties. [16] Some she took secretly, others overtly, i.e., slaves, cloth embroidered with silver, [17] and flocks. She shall have all these things with my blessing and desire and she shall dwell in my house, living in piety and in the Orthodox faith, being liable to the regular and imperial census as it is due. And I have given to her sister Maria, my legitimate daughter, as dowry, ten pounds (worth) in movables, self-movables, and semi-movables, that is slaves, cloth embroidered with silver, and flocks. And wishing to complete her dowry in a manner similar to the inheritance and dowry of thirty pounds of her sister, I have given her half of my property Bouzina. And she is to have all of these as dowry and paternal inheritance to the sum of thirty pounds. The remaining half of this same property I bequeath to my church of the Theotocos, which I built from the foundations, in complete and inalienable ownership for the maintenance of the clergy who serve in the church; and I give twenty-six nomismata as salary of the priests and deacons and twelve for the lighting of candles. And to the church of the holy martyr Barbara, which serves as the burial-place of my true mother, of my son Romanus, and of my wife, and shall also serve as the burial place for me, the miserable and unworthy, twelve <nomismata> for the liturgies and the commemoration services, to wit for the church and the funerals. I have given from my village of Parabounion two hundred modioi of grain and one thousand litrai of wine, and as much fruit as God's providence shall allow. [18] I have given the village of Isaion instead of five pounds to Michael my son-in-law.


“If by the grace of God and intercessions of the Theotocos, my two daughters and sons-in-law be of one mind and remain at peace and love, and dwell in my house in the eyes of the Theotocos, they shall also have all my property, movable, self-movable, and immovable.


“I have already allotted to my household servants their shares, and accordingly each is familiar with his portion and property in kind.


“And neither have I acquired or left any debt, even of one nomisma, since God the benefactor collects as he pays out.


“Nor have I left to anyone else even one nomisma or anything else, except for the sacred and holy objects which I dedicated long ago in the most sacred church which I built. That is to say: the holy cross inlaid with gold and having enamelled images <and also> six medallions; [19] another processional cross, silver-plated with reliefs; and a small silver cross. Sacred vessels: a chalice, [20] a strainer, an asterisk, two spoons, a paten, another deep one, an incenseholder, all silver-gilt. Hanging lamps; [21] three hundred nomismata having been expended on all of these things. Another chalice, wooden, with the equipment; that is, six purple silk towels and chalice veils; three cloths for the covering of the paten, and a green-white silk cloth for the chalice; [22] five garments and sacerdotal robes, two of them black, the



16. . . κινητὰ καὶ αὐτοκίνητα καὶ εὐκίνητα πράγματα. . . .


17. . . ἀσημίων βλατίων. . . .


18. The text is very obscure here. ... καὶ ὥσπερ εα καὶ ὕπόρας. . . . Beneshevich transcribed this phrase incorrectly as . . . καὶ ὥσπερ αξὐπόρας. . . . Perhaps ὕπόρας is a corrupt form of ὁπώρας.


19. βλεμία ἔξ. βλεμία is an incorrect form of λαιμία. See L. Petit, “Le monastère de Notre Dame de Pitié en Macédoine,” Izviestīia russkago arkheologicheskago instituta v Konstantinopolie, VI (1900) (hereafter Petit, “Notre Dame de Pitié”), 129-30.


20. δισκοποτήρην. According to the dictionary of Sophocles this refers to the chalice only. The paten (δίσκος) is listed separately here.


21. This item has been inserted into the manuscript by a later hand.


22. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 226. This cloth is described as σπονδηνήτξην. The word appears to be a form of σπονδή “libation.” Hence it possibly refers to the cloth covering the communion chalice. This explanation fits in with the fact that the preceding items are cloths for covering the paten.





other four white, [23] and a purple one which Nicholas hid; altogether seven robes with the stola and belts; two omophoria; [24] four large towels of pure silk; a purple caftan cloth having crosses with letters; [25] another cloth of silk and gold brocade, (and) violet and white (in color). [26] Other silver-gilt vessels: a silver candlestick and reliquaries full of holy relics. Eight gilt icons; that is, one of the Crucifixion on a diptych, [27] St. George scoutaren, [28] one of St. Theodore with St. George, a small one of the Theotocos, one of St. Basil, two large ones of the Theotocos, and one of the Crucifixion scoutaren; altogether eight. Twelve other icons of copper. [29] Thirty assorted icons painted in gold, [30] with the Lords feast days and those of the various saints. [31] Ten other small icons of different saints, eight of which are of the folding type, and two others. Two large candelabra of bronze and five iron ones; one small lamp; two lamps with



23. The scribe’s calculations are somewhat erroneous here.


24. The omophorion was a long strip of cloth worn over the shoulders by bishops. See F. Cabrol, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, XII, 2 (1936), 2089-90.


25. Possibly with the device


26. ἔτερον χάσδιον ἰαστὸν καὶ φουφούδην καὶ λευκόν. The word φουφούδων probably refers to cloth of gold brocade. See the dictionary of Du Cange under ῥἐνδα; ῥἐνδαν βαβυλονιτικὴν φουφουδοτὴν καλήν, ἥγουν χλαμύδα βασιλικὴν χρυσήν. It also occurs in the inventory of Xylourgou, Akty russkago na Cviatom Afonie monastyria (Kiev, 1873) (hereafter Xylourgou, Akty), 54, 63.


27. . . ἡ σταύρωσις ὁλοκάνονος δίθυρον. According to the dictionary of Sophocles the word ὁλοκάνονος refers to an object made completely of reed. But this does not seem to fit the text here.


28. σκουτάρην possibly refers to an icon painted on a shield, perhaps to an icon in the form of a shield. Petit, “Notre Dame de Pitié,” 133-4, believes that it refers to icons painted on shields, as the inventory of Xylourgou, Akty, 56, lists shields (σκουτάρια) and swords among the items in the treasury of the monastery. In this same document there is also mention of σκουτάρην icons.


29. These are described as σαρούτια. W. Nissen, Die Diataxis des Michael Attaliates von 1077 (Jena, 1894), 80, erroneously translates this word as signifying mosaic icons. See the dictionary of Du Cange under σαρούκτη.


30. ἡλιογραφίες χρυσὲς διάφορες τριάκοντα. The word ἡλιογραφίες of the text seems to be an incorrect form of ὑλογραφίες. The latter is the technical term used to denote the process of encaustic painting wherein wax is used as a base for the colors. The identification of the term ὑλογραφία with this type of painting can be made from two parallel passages in Nicephorus the Patriarch and Theophanes the Confessor. Both chroniclers are recording the destruction of certain icons in the secreton by the Patriarch Nicetas in the reign of Constantine V Copronymus (768-9).

            Nicephorus, Breviarium, ed. C. de Boor (Leipzig, 1880), 76. . . . καὶ τῶν ἀγίων οὔσας διὰ ψηφίδων χρυσῶν καὶ κηροχύτου ὕλης εἰκονογραφίας ἀπέξυσε.

             Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, I (Leipzig, 1883), 443. . . . Νικήτας . . . τὰς ἐν τῷ πατριαρχείῳ εἰκόνας τοῦ μικροῦ σεκρέτου διὰ μουσείου οὔσας ἔξεσεν, καὶ τοῦ μεγάλου σεκρέτου τῆς τροπικῆς ἐξ ὑλογραφίας οὔσας κατήνεγκεν, καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν εἰκόνων τὰ πρόσωπα ἔχρισεν.


The icons which Nicephorus describes as of κηροχύτου ὕλης, Theophanes describes as ἐξ ὑλογραφίας οὔσας. But this type of painting was apparently abandoned during the period of Iconoclasm. Hence, in the tenth century Constantine Porphyrogenitus refers to certain paintings of the church of St. Anastasia in Diadora, Dalmatia, as ... ἐξ ὑλογραφίας ἀρχαίας; De Administrando Imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik and tr. R. J. H. Jenkins (Budapest, 1949), 138-9.


Cedrenus, Historiarum Compendium, ed. I. Bekker, II (Bonn, 1839), 497, speaks of an icon painted in encaustic technique, which was discovered in the church of the Virgin of Blachernae during the reign of Romanus III Argyrus in 1031, and which dated back at least to the eighth century. . . . εὐρέθη εἰκὼν ὑλογραφική. . . . ἀμόλυντος διαμείνασα ἀπὸ τῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ Κοπρωνύμου ἕως τῆσδε τῆς ἡμέρας, ἐτῶν διελθόντων τριακοσίων. But in the text of the will ἡλιογραφίες χρυσές does not seem to refer to the old encaustic type icons. Rather it would seem to refer in this case to icons painted on gold leaf or painted in a color fabricated from gold dust. On the latter see Dionysius of Phuma, Ἑρμηνεία τῆς ζωγραφικῆς τέχνης, ed. A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus (St. Petersburg, 1909), 44. This type of icon abounds in the monastic inventories. Xylourgou, Akty, 54, lists ninety of them; L. Petit, Typikon de Grégoire Pacourianos pour le monastère de Petritzos ( Bačkovo ) en Bulgarie (St. Petersburg, 1904) (hereafter Petit, Baëkovo), 52, lists twenty-eight such icons. See also Sathas, op. cit., 47, and Petit, “Notre Dame de Pitié,” 118-19. The text, Beneshevich, loc. cit., 226, speaks of εἰκόνες διάχρυσες ἐγκαυστες. In this case ίγκαυστες means gilt. The word is used with this meaning elsewhere in the inventory of objects.


31. ἔχοντας δεσποτικὰς ἑορτὰς καὶ διαφόρων ἁγίων·





eight lights; six chandeliers with their chains; four incense receptacles, [32] and two censers.


“Various books: My highly prized, or rather my priceless treasure, the sacred and holy Gospel, written in gold letters throughout, containing golden pictures of the four evangelists, with enamel decorations, a purple binding and silver-gilt plaits. [33] It has a buckle, painted letters, and also a scene from the feast of the Nativity. It has eighty-nine small clasps inlaid with gold. [34] Similarly, another Gospel of parchment. A small and poor book of ivory, the Four Gospels. [35] Another, the interpretation of the four evangelists. A small book for the road, the Acts of the Apostles. And another one of large size with the Leimonarion. [36] The books of Genesis, Proverbs, and Prophets. And another . . . large book with the Pentateuch and two <books> of Kings. The Pandectes. [37] One heortologion. Three contacaria. A large book containing two sermons to Antipas, and his life. Another book, to wit, St. John Damascene, containing also the poems of <St. Gregory> the Theologian. [38] Another book, the Melissa. [39] The Panarion. [40] One psalter with its interpretation. One psalter and two stichologia. [41] Four books of translations. [42] Two synaxaria with various selections. An eclogidion and another book with various works. [43] Another book containing the Persica and other things. [44] Another one of the Archistrategus. [45] Three books of the Ethics of Chrysostom. [46] The Hexameron of St. Basil and pamphlets of the work of Chrysostom. The Antirrhetica of Basil the Great in sixteen pamphlets. [47] A book of explanations. The Synodicon of Chalcedon. Odegos. [48] A canonicon. Another canonicon containing an abridgement of the Old and New Testaments. The Nomos. The Alexander. [49] The Leucippe. [50] The Oneirocritus. [51] The Twelve Patriarchs. [52] Aesop.



32. καὶ χότα μὲ τὰ σμυρνίδια. This would seem to refer to metallic (χότα-χυτά?) receptacles in which incense was placed. In Petit, “Notre Dame de Pitié,” 149-50, they are referred to as κατξία.


33. ἰαστόρην ἔνδυμα ἐξ ἐπίπλεκτα ἀργυροχρούσωτα·


34. The number of clasps is extremely large.


35. τετραβάγγελον μικρὸν λεφανά[τον], πτωχὸν βιβλίον· The descriptions of the book as λεφανάτον and πτωχόν are contradictory. Perhaps the scribe meant two books, one λεφανάτον, the other πτωχόν.


36. This is a reference to the Spiritual Meadow written by John Moschus, the Palestinian monk of the late sixth and seventh centuries.


37. A work of the Palestinian monk Antiochus, ca. 620. Sathas, op. cit., 49.


38. ἕτερον ὁ Δαμασκηνὸς ἔχον καὶ τοῦ Θεολόγου τὰ ἔπη·


39. Written by the eleventh-century monk Antonius.


40. An obvious reference to the fourth-century work of Epiphanius of Cyprus.


41. Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 111, has emended Beneshevich’s reading of στιχηρόν to φαλτήριον on the basis of analogous passages in Sathas, op. cit., 49, and Diehl, loc. cit., 515.


42. Possibly from saints’ lives. See Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 111; Sathas, op. cit., 67; Diehl, loc. cit., 516.


43. Probably refers to excerpts from the menaia. See Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 111; Petit, Bačkovo, p. 53.


44. Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 112-3, implies that this is a reference to the Εἰς τὴν κατὰ Περσῶν ἐκστρατείαν Ἡρακλείου of George Pisides. However, Pisides is mentioned at a later point in the list of books, and the term Persica is broad enough to include other possibilities, e.g., the work of Agathias.


45. Possibly a reference to the service of St. Michael. See Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 111.


46. The Ethics seems to be a general title covering the various works of John Chrysostom on ethics and morality.


47. This refers primarily to Basil’s work against Eunomius.


48. Probably a work of the seventh-century Sinai monk Anastasius. Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 112.


49. At first this might appear to be a reference to the medieval romance of Alexander the Great. But similar references in Sathas, op. cit., 50, and Diehl, loc. cit., 516, imply that it is a religious book.


50. The romance of Achilles Tatius.


51. Probably one of the standard books on dream interpretation, such as those of Artemidorus and Achmet.


52. A reference to the apocryphal Hebrew work of the first century b.c., The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, which was translated into Greek.





Pisides. Maleinus. [53] Niphon. [54] Philon. [55] Two Climaces. [56] Two chronicles. Epanectirin. [57] Questions of Grammar. Another <book a> patericon. Two heirmologia. The Pentabiblos. [58] Five octaechoi. Two idiomela sticheraria. A triodion. Six menaia. Other works of Chrysostom., Another having questions and the letters of St. Isidore of Pelusium. A basin [59] and plate.


“And these are dedicated to the holy church, so that my two daughters may have the use and possession of them for chanting, reading, and learning. They may not be alienated by other persons; except by the will and consent of the clergy, these must be used as it is necessary, when it is necessary, and where it is necessary. Similarly, <they shall have> possession of my four properties, if they fulfill my commands faithfully, as has been said above (I have declared these things in greater detail at various other points ). My two daughters shall have possession of them, that is of Salem, Bouzina, Isaion, and Parabounion, if they five in friendship and peace. And they shall also observe the holidays and memorial services, and they shall provide for the complete care of the church, and of the clergy, and of my wretched and miserable soul. They shall observe the following feast days: The lying-in of the Virgin, [60] the Dormition, the Exaltation of the life-giving Cross, and the entrance of the Virgin into the temple; memorial services on the fifth of November for my parents, and on the twenty-sixth of September for my blessed wife; and furthermore <whatever else> God enables them. They shall observe strictly the three holy Quadragesima, i.e., the great one, that of the Holy Apostles, and that of Christmas. And <they shall observe> the holy Wednesdays and Fridays except for those of Easter and the Duodecameron, [61] according to the tradition of the seven oecumenical Councils. And as I wished these commemorations of my family to be eternal, and as I wished the services of the holy church to be undisturbed and untroubled, I provided for this out of my free property. If my children and heirs fulfill these things readily and soundly, they shall be lords and masters of all my property. But if my heirs are slack or careless about these things, they shall have possession of Salem, Isaion, and Parabounion. But my property of Bouzina shall go for the succor of the clergy and the lighting of candles of both churches as has been said above.


“I took care of my household servants, and also those born in my household, a few years ago, and I freed them all and provided for them an inheritance (some have already died, others still live), so that they would be completely free and Roman citizens according to the codicils [62] which concern them. They shall have the zeugotopia which are given them,



53. Probably the life of St. Michael Maleinus, the uncle and advisor of the emperor Nicephoras Phocas.


54. Life of the fourth-century saint.


55. Author of a commentary on the Song of Songs, and of an interpretation of Genesis. See Bezobrazov, loc. cit., 112; Diehl, loc. cit., 523; Suidas, Lexicon, ed. A. Adler, IV (Leipzig, 1935), 738. His dates are not known.


56. The manuscript containing Boilas’ will also contained a Climax, and was probably a part of Boilas’ library.


57. The title ἐπανηκτήρην seems to be unidentifiable.


58. This does not seem to refer to the Pentateuch.


59. χερνιβούξεστον is a reference to the basin in which the prelate washed his hands. See S. Salaville, An Introduction to the Study of Eastern Liturgies (London, 1939), 148.


60. The ἐπιλόχια were celebrated on December 26th. See M. Gedeon, Βυζαντινόν Ἑορτολόγιον V (Constantinople, 1899), 205.


61. The twelve-day period from Christmas to Epiphany.


62. Codicils, additions or supplements to wills, could be drawn up either before or after the will had been written, but in the former case they had to be acknowledged in the will itself. Thus Boilas confirms these codicils in his will. It seems to have been common practice to free slaves through codicils. See Basilica, XXXVI, i, 3-6.





completely free and for all time. In the first place <I mention> Cyriacus who grew up with me and who has toiled greatly on my behalf throughout my Me. I gave him as wife a free woman, the sister of the monk and presbyter Clement, and I fulfilled over him the rites of the marriage. And during my severe illness I willed to him fifteen <nomismata> and whatever articles of personal and bed clothing he might have acquired. And during the sixth year of the indiction ten more. And now at the end of my life, since I dedicated his son Constantine to the Theotocos, I give him ten. And having provided similarly for my servant Semne on two occasions, and having provided her son Basil with a wife and made him a priest, I give him a free zeugotopion and ten <nomismata>. And the sisters Sophia and Maritza and their husbands and children I freed and provided for on the two previous and aforementioned occasions. And I recently gave to Abasgus one zeugotopion; to Lascaris one boidotopion; [63] and the same for Nicetas, having provided for him the first time only, I now leave him one boidotopion and three <nomismata>. Since I dedicated George the son of Abasgus and Michael the son of Lascaris to the Theotocos, I leave George five <nomismata> and Michael three. I have arranged for the legal marriage of Marcianus, and <I wish that> he also shall be free and be provided for as the occasion demands it. [64] Having freed Sotericus and left him his share, I have given him his codicil. I free Gregory, and his wife Theodora, who <was formerly> the slave of my blessed wife Anna. I ordained him a cleric of the church of the Theotocos and he shall receive the salary and anona [65] of a deacon and whatever else accrues to him from his trade as a copyist; and as legacy three <nomismata>. All male children who are bom of my freed family servants and slaves, shall be brought up in the church of the Theotocos in the learning of the holy letters and shall be made clerics, being provided for by the church. But all the men and women who wish to work for my heirs, if there be any such, shall receive their salaries and anonae to the satisfaction of all, and no one of them shall be given away or sold in any manner. But I wish them to be respected and free in every fashion. And Selegnoun, whom I had freed before and married to my slave Abouspharius, I have given in service to my daughter Maria from the present twelfth year of the indiction to the first (year of the next) indiction. And I wish that he also be free and receive as legacy three nomismata; and the same for my slave Mouseses and his father Garipius, for the sake of the salvation and memory of my most beloved son Romanus.


"And even though I became an emigrant from my fatherland, the pious theme of Cappadocia, I do not wish to abandon the church built by my mother and called the Three Hierarchs. <Accordingly> I appointed Modestus as caretaker and master to care for it. [66] [a gap here of about five to seven words] . . . the grandchildren of my sister Irene the catechumen, and all the holy vessels in the said church, the silver crosses, the gilt icons, the books of the year, [67] and finally a priest's robe.


"So much then for the holy houses. I shall be grateful if, by the providence of God and the intervention of the Virgin, I shall have time to carry out the legacies mentioned above. But if the common fate overtakes me <before these things are carried out>, may they be fulfilled from the yearly income of my properties



63. Boidotopion for tax purposes was the amount of land which a farmer could plow with one ox. Xanalatos, op. cit., p. 40.


64. . . . καὶ ληγατευθῇ καθὼς ἀν τύχοι.


65. Their salaries were paid in cash and produce.


66. “Μόδεσ[τον ὡς ἐ?]πόπτ[ην καὶ δ]εσπότην τ[ὴν τούτ]ου πρόνοιαν κατε[θέμη]ν· This is the passage as reconstructed by Beneshevich.


67. . . . βιβλία τοῦ χρόνου.





(after the deduction of the imperial taxes). Whatever remains shall be distributed amongst my brothers and masters, that is the poor. [68] If any of my flocks and property (both movable and semi-movable) are found, they shall be distributed to my relatives and kin who are there. I cannot recall any good work I have done throughout the whole course of my life, but I labored in vain, a slave to my stomach and pleasures.


“I do not know how my slave Zoe, whom I bought for four hundred nomismata, has been overlooked. Even if in the codicil which grants her freedom it is stated that she shall become a slave again if she should break a vow to God, and although she gave herself away to a man without my approval, I wish that she remain free and be completely free with her children.


“And God who sees all [about twenty-eight letters missing here] ... or of [several lines missing here] . . . and I am laid down in the grave where my burial-place has been appointed. I entreat and pray that all, priests, monks, and my heirs, perform over my body the trisagion and yearly memorial services for the atonement of my sins. Above all I put under oath and hold responsible to God the Pantocrator, to the immaculate Virgin, and to all of the heavenly powers, not only my heirs and successors, but also all of the high officials — metropolitans, bishops, catepans, duces, and thematic judges — to preserve my commands unimpaired and uninjured. If any one of my relatives or heirs or freedmen goes astray, and slips from the Orthodox faith to a strange and heterodox one, if he is of the heirs, he shall lose his share; if he is of the freedmen, he shall fall under the yoke of slavery; if he is an outsider, he shall be chased far from my authority.


“And if one of my daughters or her husband should, by consent of both, desire to settle elsewhere, all the holy possessions of the church shall be divided, if they shall build a church similar to, or smaller than that of, the Theotocos. And this shall suffice for the allotted portion of each, and thus each shall benefit from the blessing of God and of the Theotocos; in addition [eight to ten words missing] . . . and [thirteen to fourteen words missing] . . . and he [five or six words missing] . . . and [sixteen letters missing] . . . death shall be his portion, and he shall be denounced by all as a parricide and a fratricide.


“In addition to all this, I leave as administrators of my humble will: First the Lord Pantocrator and Her who bore Him without seed; also the most illustrious magistrus Kyr Basil and his brother the perivleptos vestarch Kyr Pharesmanes; the bishop of the diocese, most beloved of God; as administrators and governors my two sons-in-law, the spatharocandidatus Kyr Gregory and the merarchus Michael; the ranking priest of my church. And I bequeathe to the illustrious brothers <Basil and Pharesmanes> two and even three pounds (of gold) for their acceptance; [69] to the holy bishop most beloved of God, six <nomismata> or a book; to the priest a similar sum. And if there should be found any of my clothes or bed apparel, they shall be distributed to any of the holy monks.


“The present document was written at my command by the hand of Theodulus, the monk and presbyter of the church of the Theotocos, who set it in order, and has been signed by the present witnesses in the twelfth year of the indiction, April, 6567, before the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I, Eustathius protospatharius hypatus Boilas have signed with my own hand.”



68. On the provision for the poor in wills see E. Brack, “Kirchenväter und Seelteile,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Romanistische Abteilung, LXXII (1955), 191-210.


69. . . ὁμολογίαν αὐτῶν. . .





The name of Boilas seems to have been a prominent one in Byzantium. [70] The first mention of the name occurs in the chronicle of Theophanes. In describing the Empress Irene's procession from the church of the Holy Apostles at Easter 798, Theophanes recounts that she was escorted by four patricians, one of whom was Constantine Boilas. [71] The name then disappears from the sources for over one hundred years. In 923 Bardas Boilas, the strategus of Chaldia, was arrested for conspiring to dethrone Romanus Lecapenus. [72] Two years later Constantine Boilas, an official in the imperial palace, was involved in the plot of the mysticus John to remove Romanus. [73] During the reign of Constantine VII the protospatharius Petronas Boilas served as catepan of Nicopolis in Asia Minor. [74] This is the last mention of the name in the sources during the tenth century.


The name occurs again in the middle of the eleventh century during the reign of Constantine IX Monomachus. It has been supposed that Romanus Boilas exercised the function of court jester during the reign of Monomachus. The basis for this assertion is the fact that Cedrenus, Psellus, and Zonaras depict Romanus as amusing the Emperor with his defective speech. [75] However, the Greek archivist Lampros showed that Boilas was a person of considerable importance and not just a court fool. He was an officer in the grand hetaireia, and he eventually attained the highest position in the senate. [76] He conspired with certain other senators to remove Constantine IX and to have himself proclaimed emperor. He and his associates were apprehended, and though the latter were severely punished, he himself was reinstated at the court after a temporary exile. The date of this conspiracy is fixed by a passage in Cedrenus. The chronicler records that in the fourth and fifth years of the indiction the Patzinaks invaded the Empire, and also that during this time there occurred the plot of Boilas. [77] The fourth and fifth years of this particular indiction are the years 1051-1052.


The next occurrence of the name is in the will of Eustathius Boilas, protospatharius epi tou chrysotricliniou and hypatus, in the twelfth year of the indiction, 1059. From his title it is obvious that Eustathius had been a man of elevated position. The title of protospatharius epi tou chrysotricliniou indicates that he was a high official at the court, while that of hypatus places him in the senatorial rank. [78] The contents of the will offer a certain amount of chronological evidence which is worthy of consideration in connection with the identification of Boilas, though it does not produce any conclusive results. The will records that Eustathius had three children, Irene, Maria, and Romanus. Romanus, the youngest, died in the sixth year of the indiction, having attained the age of three.



70. See G. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, II (Budapest, 1943), 91-2.


71. Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, I (Leipzig, 1883) (hereafter Theophanes), 474.


72. George Continuatus, Chronicon, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838) (hereafter George Continuatus), 896-7.


73. George Continuatus, 903.


74. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik and trans. R. H. J. Jenkins (Budapest, 1949) (hereafter De Administrando Imperio), 212.


75. S. Lampros, “Σύμμικτα,” Νέος Ἐλληνομνήμων, IX (1912), 301-4; Cedrenus, Historiarum Compendium, ed. I. Bekker, II (Bonn, 1839) (hereafter Cedrenus), 605; Psellus, Chronographia, ed. E. Renauld, II (Paris, 1928) (hereafter Psellus), 38-44; Zonaras, Annales, ed. T. Biittner-Wobst, III (Bonn, 1897) (hereafter Zonaras), 644.


76. Lampros, loc. cit., 301-4.


77. Cedrenus, II, 604-5.


78. See J. B. Bury, The Imperial Administrative System in the Ninth Century (London, 1911), 22-3. The designations of protospatharius and hypatus still denoted senatorial rank in the eleventh century. On this see A. Christophilopoulou, Ἡ σύγκλητος εἰς τὸ βυζαντινὸν κράτος (Athens, 1949), 36. Also, Synopsis Chronice, ed. C. Sathas, in Μεσαιωνικὴ Βιβλιοθήκη, VII (Paris, 1894), 171.





Boilas’ wife, Anna, died in the ninth year of the indiction. The will itself was drawn up in the twelfth year of the indiction. This twelfth year is the year 1059, as recorded at the end of the will. It is not specifically stated that the sixth year of the indiction (the year of Romanus’ death), or the ninth year of the indiction (the year of Anna’s death) occurred in the same indiction as did the twelfth year (the year of the will). But the narrative seems to imply that all three dates probably fall within the same indiction. However, of this one cannot be certain. Thus the death of Boilas’ wife probably occurred in 1056, and that of his son in 1053. As his son was three years of age at the time of his death in 1053, it follows that he was probably born in 1050.


Boilas states in the will that “. . . the mounting violence of the waves . . .” [79] of life had forced him to become an emigrant, and that he, Anna, and probably the three children had left their homes in Cappadocia for a land which was one and one-half weeks distant. But the wording of the text is rather vague as to whether the children actually accompanied their parents, or whether they were born after the arrival of Boilas and his wife in Taiq.

[80] Apparently Boilas os listing the items which he brought with him to Taiq. In this ‛inventory’ the money and children are seemingly grouped together. It is also stated that the son and mother, after their deaths, were buried in the new land to which they had come. Thus it is possible to suggest that this emigration might have occurred after 1050, the year of his son’s birth, and before 1053, the year of his son’s death, i.e., during the years 1051-2. This coincides exactly with the date of the conspiracy of Romanus Boilas. Both Romanus Boilas and Eustathius Boilas were members of the senate, both were present at the court, and it is stated that Romanus Boilas had certain senators as accomplices in his plot to seize the throne. Though the language of the will is vague, one might suggest that Eustathius Boilas was possibly a relative of Romanus Boilas, a member of the latter’s conspiracy, and exiled from the capital and from his home in Cappadocia as a result of his complicity.


Eustathius further mentions that he served under the dux Michael for fifteen years, and that during the following eight years (that is up to 1059) he was no longer in the service of the dux. The end of his service under Michael thus coincides with the period of the conspiracy against Constantine IX, 1051.


Boilas also mentions the names and ranks of Michael’s sons, i.e., the magistrus Basil and the vestarch Pharesmanes. They, as well as their father, can be identified from Greek and Armenian sources. The magistrus Basil is identical with the magistrus Basil Apocapes who served as archon of Paradounabon from 1059 to 1065. [81] Earlier he had repulsed the Seljuks under Toghrulbeg at Manzikert (1054). [82] After the defeat of Romanus Diogenes in 1071 he seems to have served under the Armenian Philaretus, who had established himself in Cilicia. As an officer of Philaretus, Basil Apocapes commanded the city of Edessa from 1077 until his death in 1083. [83]


The brother of Basil, the vestarch Pharesmanes, is identical with the vestarch Pharesmanes Apocapes to whom Romanus Diogenes entrusted the city of Hierapolis



79. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 222.


80. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 223.


81. Attaliates, Historia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1853) (hereafter Attaliates), 83. Bănescu, op. cut., 32—3.


82. Attaliates, 47. Matthew of Edessa, Chronique, tr. E. Dulaurier (Paris, 1858) (hereafter Matthew of Edessa), p. 99.


83. Matthew of Edessa, 180-1,186.





after its conquest in 1069. [84] Though the last name of the two brothers does not appear in the will of Boilas, their titles and first names are sufficient to establish their identity with the Apocapes brothers mentioned by the chroniclers.


Their father, the dux Michael of the will, is referred to in the chronicle of Matthew of Edessa. Here he appears simply as Apocapes, father of Basil. [85] He was an important officer in the Byzantine armies as early as the reign of Romanus III Argyrus. He also seems to have exercised authority in the city of Edessa as far back as 1038. [86] Thus Boilas’ lords were the Armeno-Georgian family of Apocapes from the district of Taiq.


The family name Boilas, on first sight, would seem to have Bulgarian affinities. Theophanes, writing in the ninth century, speaks of the Bulgar βοϊλάδων (nobles) who accompanied their king to an audience with Constantine V in 748. [87] In another passage he speaks of the Bulgarian βοϊλάδας who accompanied their king in war, and of a βοϊλᾶς sent to petition peace terms from Constantine V. [88] In the Book of Ceremonies Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentions that there were six great βολιάδeç at the Bulgarian court, and below them were the ἔσω καὶ ἔξω βολιάδες. [89] The word βοϊλᾶς which in Theophanes and Constantine Porphyrogenitus is used to denote the Bulgarian nobility, would seem to be identical with the family name of Boilas. Thus the family name of Boilas, which first appears in the Byzantine sources toward the end of the eighth century, originally would seem to have had some Bulgarian connection. But it does not follow that the family itself was of Bulgarian origin. Judging from the contents of the library of Eustathius Boilas, which contained many of the standard works of medieval Hellenism, the Boilas family, regardless of its origin, was thoroughly Byzantinized by the eleventh century.


As has been mentioned above, the will states that Boilas migrated from Cappadocia to a land one and one-half weeks distant, and settled amongst people who had a different language and religion. In another passage this "nation” is named, ". . . τοῖς ἀντίκρυς ἐνοικήσαντα Ἀρμενίοις. . . .” [90] Thus far the evidence indicates that the estates of Boilas were located somewhere in eastern Asia Minor. The will lists the names of eleven villages and properties; Isaion, Parabounion, Bouzina, Tantzoute (also called Salem and Tzalema), Barta, Calmouche, Cousneria, Ophidobouni, Copteriou, Chouspacrati, and Ouzike. Obviously most of these place names are not Greek. Of the eleven names which appear in the will, only that of Calmouche can be located with some certainty. A suggestion can be made concerning the location of Copteriou, but the other place names seem to be unidentifiable. Calmouche was located in northern Asia Minor, on the river Tsorokh in the district of Taiq. [91] Copteriou may be identical with Capetrou, the site of the important battle between the Seljuks and the Byzantines in 1049. Capetrou was located on the southeast confines of Taiq. But this identification cannot be demonstrated.


The location of Calmouche shows that the estates of Boilas were in the Armeno-Georgian district of Taiq, a district



84. Cedrenus, II, 675-6.


85. Matthew of Edessa, 51.


86. J. Laurent, Byzance et les Turcs seljoucides dans l’Asie occidentale jusqu’en 1081 (Paris, 1913), 40, 43, 70, 84.


87. Theophanes, 436.


88. Theophanes, 447.


89. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Ceremoniis Aulae Bizantinae, ed. J. Reiske and I. Bekker, I (Bonn, 1829), 681. In De Administrando Imperio, 154, there is mention of the twelve great βοϊλάδων.


90. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 223.


91. E. Honigmann, Die Ost grenze des byzantinischen Reiches von 363 bis 1071 (Brussels, 1935), 219-21.





annexed to the Empire by Basil II in 1000-01 upon the death of its ruler David the curopalates, and made into the theme of Iberia. This ties in with the fact that the Apocapes family, Boilas’ authentai, were from the district of Taiq, and that they took some of Boilas’ lands away from him by force.


Boilas’ will gives a graphic picture of the theme of Iberia just after the onset of the Seljuk invasions. These invasions had commenced prior to Boilas’ emigration to Iberia. The calling of the eastern armies to quell the rebellion of Leo Tomicius in 1047 had left the eastern provinces unprotected. As a result in 1047-9 the Seljuks ravaged the area without opposition. Again in 1050-1 the eastern troops were summoned to the west to fight the Patzinaks, and once more the Seljuks found the borders insufficiently protected. Cecaumenus asserts that the inhabitants of this theme had been alienated by the policies of Constantine IX Monomachus, who had replaced military service on the part of the inhabitants with new taxes, thus provoking them to desert to the Turks. [92]


Due to the oppression of the central government and the Seljuk ravages, Boilas found himself in a relatively deserted and uninhabited area when he arrived in Iberia in 1051-2. He found the land “. . . foul and unmanageable . . . inhabited by snakes, scorpions, and wild beasts.” [93] Of his eleven properties, he states that those of Ouzike, Chouspacrati, Copteriou, Ophidobouni, Cousneria, Bouzina, and Isaion were “. . . deserted and uninhabited. . . .” [94] Through great expenditures of money and effort he cleared and improved his properties. Vineyards and gardens were planted, meadows and parks were cleared, aqueducts and water mills built, and animals for use in the fields were brought. In a relatively short period of time Boilas' industry had turned the once desolate area into a productive estate. He built, in addition to his own house, two churches, one dedicated to the Virgin and the other to St. Barbara. These churches were adequately furnished with religious vessels and icons, and were provided with a library which would have done credit even to an urban establishment.


But adversity followed Boilas to the land of his exile, and soon after his arrival in Iberia he lost his only son. Romanus died at the age of three, and was buried in the family cemetery at the church of St. Barbara. Boilas’ wife took the monastic vows and retired from the world after her son’s death. Her death, probably in 1056 as suggested above, left Boilas alone to care for his two daughters Irene and Maria. The tragedies in his family life were accompanied by the oppression of the Apocapes family. Boilas states that, though he had always worked for the good of his lords, they had slandered him and even plotted against his life. In addition, they had forced Boilas to give them the use and possession of four of his properties. The dux had requested and obtained the use of the village properties of Ophidobouni, Cousneria, and Calmouche. His son, Basil, forced Boilas to sell the property of Barta, and then refused to pay him for it. In addition, Boilas complains that though he possessed receipts for money which Basil and his parents owed him, amounting to twenty-five pounds of gold, they never paid him. The Apocapes family used its position to extract the possession of the four properties from Boilas, who as a political exile was entirely dependent on these prominent lords in Iberia.


Thus after the death of Boilas less than half of the properties remained in the possession of his family. The four properties mentioned above went to the Apocapes family.



92. Cecaumenus, Strategicon, ed. B. Vasilievsky and V. Jernstedt (St. Petersburg, 1896), 18.


93. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 223.


94. Beneshevich, loc. cit., 223.





Boilas willed Copteriou und Chouspacrati to the brothers Christopher and George, and to their cousin. These three persons are not identified except for the fact that they were orphans and destitute. Ouzike was willed to persons whose names are not given in the document. Of Boilas’ eleven properties, seven passed from the hands of the family into the possession of outsiders.


Boilas’ older daughter Irene received as her share the property of Salem minus four zeugotopia which had been given to freed slaves. In addition she received slaves, cloth, and flocks; altogether, therefore, her share amounted to thirty pounds or 2,160 nomismata. Her sister Maria received one-half of the property of Bouzina, and the equivalent of ten pounds in slaves, cloth, and flocks; her share, therefore, also amounted to thirty pounds. The other half of the property of Bouzina was given to the church of the Theotocos. The church of St. Barbara was to receive two hundred modioi of wheat and one thousand measures of wine from Parabounion. Boilas’ son-in-law received the property of Isaion in place of five pounds. Thus the two daughters and their husbands obtained possession of all or part of the four properties of Salem, Bouzina, Isaion, and Parabounion, and of the two churches of St. Barbara and the Virgin. In these two churches were to be found numerous icons, religious vessels, and religious clothing, all of considerable value. The library, containing about ninety items, seems large for such a remote and uninhabited province when one considers that the library of Attaliates’ establishment at Rhaedestus and Constantinople, and that of Pacurianus’ monastery at Bačkovo each contained fewer than ninety books. [95]


The manumission of Boilas’ slaves and their portions occupy an important section of the will. The ex-slaves Cyriacus, Basil, and Abasgus each received a zeugotopion from the property of Salem, while Lascaris and Nicetas each received a boidotopion. Whatever remained from Boilas’ wealth and property was to be distributed amongst the poor.


The will of Boilas is a unique document for the eleventh century. It is the earliest detailed inventory of the possessions of a provincial magnate that has survived from Byzantine times. But it is more than a mere inventory, for in it one can catch glimpses of the political intrigues in which Boilas was presumably involved at the court in Constantinople, and of the vicissitudes which he suffered at the hands of the Apocapes family. The decline of the family is clearly traced in the will. Finally, the will is the most detailed Byzantine document yet known to us of conditions in the eastern provinces just after the Seljuk invasions had begun.



95. Sathas, op. cit., I, 49-50, 66-8; Petit, Bačkovo, 53.


[Previous] [Next]

[Back to Index]