MOKHOV А.S., KAPSALYKOVA К.R. “Then So Did the General’s Lady with Great Magnificence”: the Role of Noble Women in Byzantine Provincial Military Family

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2017.5.27

Anton S. Mokhov

Doctor of Sciences (History), Professor,

Department of Ancient and Medieval History, Ural Federal University,

Mira St., 19, 620002 Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

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http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9803-6949

Karina R. Kapsalykova

Postgraduate Student,

Department of Ancient and Medieval History, Ural Federal University,

Mira St., 19, 620002 Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

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http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4163-5099 


Abstract. The article is devoted to the role of women in the families of the Byzantine provincial military nobility, in the middle of 9th – middle of 11th century. This issue remains poorly understood in historiography, and it is surely very urgent in light of the intensification of research of the daily life of the Byzantine society. The most important data on the topic of the article is contained in the Byzantine heroic poetry (first of all, in the poem Digenis Akritis). One of the key images of these literary works was the figure of the general’s lady ( στρατήγισσα, “wife of the strategos”). In the absence of her husband, who served in the imperial army, she was engaged in housekeeping, corresponded with relatives and neighbors, arranged weddings for her children, resolved family conflicts. In the case of an enemy raid, general’s lady took care of the ransom of prisoners. According to the authors, the responsibility entrusted to the general’s lady gave it considerable freedom; strategissa had a special social status in the world of the Byzantine borderlands. To confirm their argument, the authors used sphragistic data. The article analyzes a group of 14 seals of the middle of 10th – middle of 11th century, which belonged to the wives of Byzantine military leaders. The most important of these are the seals of strategissa Helene (no. 1.2) and strategissa Ekaterina Melisina (no. 2.2), as well as Konstantina Pekoulena, topoteretissa of the Kibyrraioton. The authors’ assumption that in the second half of the 10th century, wives of strategoi used boulloterion of their husbands for sealing private correspondence is discussable. This issue requires further study.

Key words: Byzantium, Byzantine army, provincial military aristocracy, noble women in Byzantium, Byzantine heroic poetry, poem Digenis Akritis, sphragistics.

Citation. Mokhov А.S., Kapsalykova К.R. “Then So Did the General’s Lady with Great Magnificence”: the Role of Noble Women in Byzantine Provincial Military Family. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2017, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 300-310. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2017.5.27

Лицензия Creative Commons

“Then So Did the General’s Lady with Great Magnificence”: the Role of Noble Women in Byzantine Provincial Military Family by Mokhov А.S., Kapsalykova К.R. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

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