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Michael spatharokandidatos, imperial notarios and archon of Nicaea (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.2634
Diameter 24 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 59.1.


Bust of St. Michael holding a scepter with trefoil and a globus with a trefoil. Vertical inscription: Μ|ΙΧ|Α: Μιχα(ήλ). Border of dots.


Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.


[Μ]ι[χ(αὴλ)] σπαθ(α)ρ(ο)κα(ν)δ(ι)δ(ά)τ(ῳ), βα(σιλικῷ) νοταρ(ίῳ) (καὶ) ἄρχο(ν)τ(ι) Νικέας


Μιχαὴλ σπαθαροκανδιδάτῳ, βασιλικῷ νοταρίῳ καὶ ἄρχοντι Νικέας.

Michael spatharokandidatos, imperial notarios, and archon of Nicaea.


A tenth-century archon of Nicaea, Theophylaktos Kalkatanes, is known from a letter of Alexander, the metropolitan of Nicaea, who was then in exile (Darrouzès, Épistoliers, 85). He took part with other metropolitans in an inquiry against Alexander, which would show that he had judicial responsibilies. On our seal, the term archon is combined with imperial notarios showing that we have here an official closely related to the civil administration. We therefore agree with the editors of the Seyrig specimen (no. 187) that this archon could not be a maritime official, as Ahrweiler had surmised.

Nicaea (modern Iznik), located to the east of Lake Askania in BIthynia, was an important fortified city and a center for trade with a xenodocheion (cf. BZS.1947.2.115). It seems to have been the capital of the theme of Opsikion (De Them., 129), and for a time it was administered by an eparch, like Constantinople or Thessalonica (Zacos-Veglery, no. 3156). This official will be later replaced by an archon (e.g. this seal). The local administration must have been quite intricate because we learn from our seals about the existence of pious associations and of an asylum for elderly people (Zacos, Seals II, no. 263), and also of military governors (paraphylax) and of a protokentarchos (BZS.1958.106.1575). Nicaea is listed as a metropolis in eighth position in all notitiae from the seventh to the fifteenth century. It became famous for having hosted two oecumenical councils (325, 787) and for becoming, after 1204, the first capital of the so-called empire of Nicaea. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 282; Janin, Grands centres, 105ff; Brandes, Städte, 124-26; ODB II, 1463-64. Concerning the creation of new suffragans in the ninth century, see J. Darrouzès, "Remarques sur la création d'évêchés," REB 47 (1989) 221-26.