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Theophylaktos archbishop of Bulgaria (eleventh/twelfth century)

Accession Number:

Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 29.9.
Cf. similar seal from the same boulloterion, in the Vienna collection, published by Laurent, Corpus V/2, no. 1493 (several earlier eds. listed). Another example is described by V. Šandrovskaja, Sfragistika, no. 865.


16 mm


Theophylaktos archbishop of Bulgaria (eleventh/twelfth century)

Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.


Κύριε βοήθι Θεοφυλάκτ


Theophylaktos archbishop of Bulgaria (eleventh/twelfth century)

Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.


ἀρχιεπισκόπ Βουλγαρίας


Κύριε βοήθι Θεοφυλάκτῳ ἀρχιεπισκόπῳ Βουλγαρίας.

Lord, help Theophylaktos, archbishop of Bulgaria.



As Laurent has suggested, the seal certainly belonged to the learned Theophylaktos Hephaistos of Bulgaria who, according to Gautier, was appointed to the see sometime between 1088 and 1092 (or 1091) and was still there in 1107/8 and perhaps until 1126 (REB 21 [1963] 159-70 and Theophylacti, Opera, 32-37).

A Byzantine administrative unit called Bulgaria appears in the sources after 1018. It was under the command of a doux or katepano, whose headquarters were at Skopia (see DO Seals 1, § 30). This was only part, but the kernel, of Samuel's empire. Farther north were the Byzantine commands of Serbia (DO Seals 1, § 34) and Paradounavon/Paristrion at Dristra (DO Seals 1, § 65, 67). On the other hand, we find seals whose owners claim authority over "all of Bulgaria" (πάσης Βουλγαρίας); in interpreting this phrase we tend to agree with Zlatarski, who thought that it designated the totality of the traditional Bulgarian territories (including the Paristrion). The vast administrative unit of Bulgaria was divided into many smaller ones before the end of the eleventh century. See Bǎnescu, Duchés, 118ff; Litavrin, Bolgarija, 250 ff; Oikonomides, Evolution, 149-50.

The archbishopric of Bulgaria, created in 870, was a national church strongly influenced by Byzantium. Its status changed several times, depending upon politics. It was transferred into a patriarchate, which Constantinople had to recognize in 945, and was probably downgraded to an archbishopric in 971. It became a patriarchate again during the reign of tzar Samuel but had to move to different cities, probably because of the wars (Dristra, Triaditza, Vodena, Moglaina; BZ 2 [1893] 44), and settled in Ohrid. With the Byzantine conquest of 1018, the autocephalous archbishopric of Bulgaria was created by Basil II, encompassing all of Samuel's territories (including Dristra on the Danube) in addition to other sees that were taken from the neighboring metropoleis of Thessalonica, Larissa, Naupaktos, and Dyrrachion, resulting in jurisdictional quarrels between them and the archbishopric of Ohrid. See Laurent, Corpus V/2, 317-318.


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