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Nikephoros Melissenos (pretender: late 1080–early 1081)

Accession Number:

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 86.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 100. Similar specimen: Zacos–Veglery, no. 99.


31 mm
Double struck. Cracked along channel.


Nikephoros Melissenos (pretender: late 1080–early 1081)

Christ seated on a square-backed throne wearing a chiton and himation, raising his right hand in blessing and holding a book in his left. He has a nimbus cruciger; each arm contains a decoration consisting of one pellet. Sigla visible at left: ΙΣ̅ : Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς [Χ(ριστό)ς]. Border of dots.


Nikephoros Melissenos (pretender: late 1080–early 1081)

Nikephoros Melissenos standing, wearing a loros, an end of which is draped over his left wrist and decorated with five dots. He holds in his right hand a labarum (poorly imprinted) and in his left a globus cruciger. Remains of a circular inscription visible at right. Border of dots.

. . . ποτ,ρμαινομελισηνο,

[Νικηφόρος δεσ]πότ(ης) Ῥωμαίων ὁ Μελισηνό(ς).


Νικηφόρος δεσπότης Ῥωμαίων ὁ Μελισηνός.

Nikephoros Melissenos, despotes of the Romans.



Nikephoros revolted against the rule of Nikephoros III Botaneiates, and at Nicaea in late 1080 he assumed the title of emperor. His revolt ended when he reached agreement with Alexios Komnenos on 4 April 1081, that he would abandon his claim to the throne in exchange for the title of caesar and for the receipt of certain revenues. He died in November of 1104. For the sources and a brief discussion of Nikephoros’s revolt see Cheynet, Pouvoir, no. 111. Surviving seals for Melissenos include the titles, in addition to despotes, of autokrator and caesar; the latter belongs to the period after he signed the truce with Alexios Komnenos (BZS1958.106.649).

Zacos and Veglery have read the inscription identifying Nikephoros Melissenos as K,AT,RWMAIWNOMELICHNO,. Here they may be influenced by the reading on their seal no. 99. In any event the second letter at the beginning of the present inscription seems to be round, rather than vertical. On Zacos–Veglery, no. 99, one can clearly discern the title autocrator of the Romans. It is also clear on their seal that Nikephoros is wearing a crown with pendilia. On our seal Nikephoros appears, as the result of a double strike, to be holding a globus cruciger in both hands. There are also distinct traces on the first, hesitant strike of a crown with pendilia.


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