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Adralestos Diogenes, imperial protospatharios and strategos of Morava (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.3001
Diameter 25 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 36a.1.

Obverse

Bust of St. Demetrios holding spear and round shield decorated with pellets. Vertical inscription: ΡΙΟ: ἅγιος Δημήτριος. Border of dots.

Reverse

Inscription of eight lines. Border of dots.

κε,θ,
τσ.
αδραλε.τ
,ασπαθ.ρ
στρατη.
μοραα.
διογε.
ν

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλ Ἀδραλέστ βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ στρατηγῷ Μοράβα τ Διογέν

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἀδραλέστῳ βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ στρατηγῷ Μοράβα τῷ Διογένῃ.

Lord, help your servant Adralestos Diogenes, imperial protospatharios and strategos of Morava.

Commentary

Although the reading of the name causes no problem, we have to stress that the letter following ΜΟΡΑ on line 6 is not absolutely certain; but we think that we see the left outline of an Α, like the one in line 3, with its discreet serif at the bottom. Thus we read Μοράβα, and not Μοράβου or Μωράβου, forms known from other Greek sources; the spelling Morawa is attested in a Latin sources. Additionally, the final letter may be an Η not a Ν, though a Ν seems more likely from the remains. Both would give the same the family name.

Adralestos Diogenes was a known military leader, a follower of Bardas Phokas, who deserted him in 970 to join Emperor John Tzimiskes (Skylitzes, 292). His mandate as strategos of Morava would have been possible only after the campaign of John Tzimiskes in Bulgaria (971) -- in fact some years later, since the strategos of Morava is not mentioned in the Escorial Taktikon, written between 971 and 975. We assume that this administrative position resulted from the advance westwards of Tzimiskes' generals after the emperor's return to Constantinople, and the creation of the post of a katepano of Ras (DO Seals 1, no. 33.1), who could have been the administrative superior of the strategos of Morava. Both positions were overrun by local insurgents and the Kometopouloi, certaintly before 986. The Byzantines did not return to the region before the eleventh century (1004: Vidin; 1019: Sirmium).

The bishopric Μοράβων, near the confluence of the Morava River and the Danube, is first attested in 879 (the Photian Council: Izvori za Bŭlgarskata Istorija VIII, 117); it is not impossible that it was related to the ἄρχων τῆς Μωραβίας mentioned in the Book of Ceremonies (Ferjančić, Vizantiski Izvori za istoriju naroda Jugoslavije II, 78, in spite of the remarks of R. Dostalova, Μεγάλῃ Μοραβία, 344-349); this seal shows that at some point in the late tenth century (after 971) the city became the seat of a Byzantine strategos, but this administration certainly disappeared before 986; before 1020, the bishop moved to neighboring Braničevo, while the town of Moroviskos (Moravisk) remained under his jurisdiction (Izvori XI, 43; cf. Darrouzès, Notitiae, no. 13, line 845). In the eleventh century, the city of Μωράβου or Morawa was still considered an important fortress on the frontier between Bulgaria and Hungary (Skylitzes, 409; Alberti Aquensis, Historia Hierosolymitana, 144). In the twelfth, the important administrative center of the region was the city of Braničevo, on which, see, Popović and Ivanišević, "Grad Braničevo u srednjem veku," 125-179.