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Constantine Diogenes (patrikios?) and strategos of Serbia (ca. 1025)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.562
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Lead too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 34.1.
The legend has been edited (no illus.) by V. Laurent, "La thème byzantin de Serbie au XIe siècle," REB 15 (1957) 190.

Obverse

Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.

....
.θειτ
δλ
κνστ,
τιν,

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Κωνσταντίν

Reverse

Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.

...
τρατι.
σερηα.
τοδιογ.
νη

πατρικίῳ καὶ ? στρατιγ Σερβήας το Διογένῃ

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Κωνσταντίνῳ πατρικίῳ (?) καὶ στρατιγῷ Σερβήας το Διογένῃ.

Lord, help your servant Constantine Diogenes patrikios (?) and strategos of Serbia.

Commentary

The reconstruction of the first line of the reverse inscription is uncertain, but quite probably correct since we have textual evidence that Constantine Diogenes held the title of πατρίκιος. A distinguished lieutenant of Basil II, he married a niece of Romanos III and fathered Romanos IV Diogenes. From 1016 to 1031 he governed Thessalonica, Sirmium, Serbia, Bulgaria, and the Thrakesion (1031) before participating in two conspiracies; after the first he was given the monastic garb, and after the second committed suicide. His career is outlined by Guilland, Recherches I, 449, but other material, in the historians as well as in some other seals, must be taken into account for his biography (cf. EO 31 [1932] 331 note 5 and 37 [1934] 414-419).

The existence of the theme of Serbia in the eleventh century is proven by three seals: (1) the specimen published below; (2) one in the Zacos collection, see Zacos, Seals II, no. 628: Nicholas protospatharios and strategos of Serbia; and (3) one from the Lwow collection, published by I. Swiencickyj, "Byzantinische Bleisiegel in den Sammlungen von Lwow," Recueil P. Nikov = Izvestija Bulg. Hist. Soc. 16-18 (Sofia, 1940) 439-40: Constantine anthypatos, patrikios, and doux of Thessalonica, Bulgaria, and Serbia. In addition, there is a document of 1024 or, most probably, 1039 signed by Ljutovit strategos of Serbia and Zachlumia (Vera von Falkenhausen, "Eine byzantinische Beamtenurkunde aus Dubrovnik," BZ 63 [1970] 10-23; cf. T. Wasilewski, in Zbor. Rad. 13 [1971] 117-21). This documentation is sufficient to answer in the affirmative the question debated between V. Laurent (REB 15 [1957] 185-95 and BZ 58 [1965] 220), who supported the existence of a theme of Serbia in the eleventh century, and G. Ostrogorsky (History, 277 note 1), who denied it. But it is not clear where this administrative unite was situated. T. Wasilevski (Zbor. Rad. 8/2 [1964] 470) has suggested that it should be sought in the region of Sirmium because  Constantine Diogenes was appointed governor of this region after he killed the governor of Sirmium (Skylitzes, 366: ἄρχειν ἐτάχθη τῆς νεοκτήτου χώρας). Be that as it may, Serbia must have been an important command north of the theme of Bulgaria (capital at Skopia). Its government soon passed to the local aristocracy (cf. the name Ljutovit), who probably acted as autonomous or semi-autonomous lords. The theme of Serbia is not attested after the middle of the eleventh century.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.562
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Lead too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 34.1.
The legend has been edited (no illus.) by V. Laurent, "La thème byzantin de Serbie au XIe siècle," REB 15 (1957) 190.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.562
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Lead too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 34.1.
The legend has been edited (no illus.) by V. Laurent, "La thème byzantin de Serbie au XIe siècle," REB 15 (1957) 190.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.562
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Lead too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 34.1.
The legend has been edited (no illus.) by V. Laurent, "La thème byzantin de Serbie au XIe siècle," REB 15 (1957) 190.

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