You are here:Home/Resources/ Byzantine Seals/ Search the Catalogue/ Nike(phoros?) imperial spatharokandidatos and tourmarches of Bizye (ninth/tenth century)

Nike(phoros?) imperial spatharokandidatos and tourmarches of Bizye (ninth/tenth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.5563
Diameter 24 mm
Condition Heavily chipped along channel on obverse. Struck off-center on previously used seal.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 74.1.
Nesbitt, "Overstruck seals," 82-83.


Cross (patriarchal?) on steps; fleurons rising to transverse bar. Between two borders of dots, circular inscription.


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.


Νικηφόρῳ βασιλικῷ σπαθαροκανδιδάτῳ καὶ τουρμάρχ Βυζήης


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Νικηφόρῳ βασιλικῷ σπαθαροκανδιδάτῳ καὶ τουρμάρχῃ Βυζήης.

Lord, help your servant Nikephoros imperial spatharokandidatos and tourmarches of Bizye.


Of the understrike, only a part of the circular invocation is visible on the reverse: ΣΔ.

From the Life of St. Maria the Younger (d. 902), we learn of her husband, the droungarios Nikephoros, who was appointed tourmarches of Bizye probably following the battle Boulgarophygon (896) and who remained in this position until ca. 923, when he died defending the city against Symeon of Bulgaria. At that time, the city fell to the Bulgars, then was returned to the Byzantines (927), who appointed a certain Theodore as Nikephoros' successor (ActaSS Nov. IV [1925] 693-705). Taking into consideration the date of our seal, and the fact that the tourmarchai kept their positions practically for life, we tend to think that our specimen may have belonged to the husband of St. Maria the Younger. But this is by no means certain, since the alternate reading "Niketas" is also possible.

Bizye (modern Vize in Turkish Thrace) is northeast of Arkadioupolis. The city, a fortress [φρούριον] as described in Skylitzes, 39, line 37, has a long and distinguished history. In the ninth-tenth centuries, Bizye was the residence of a tourmarches, as attested by seals (DO Seals 1, no. 74.1 and Sig., 159 = Konstantopoulos, no. 31) and by the Life of St. Maria the Younger (d. 902): Zakythinos, Mélétai 22 (1952) 169-70. From the ecclesiastical point of view, Bizye was first a suffragan bishopric of Herakleia (5th century) and later, in the seventh century, an autocephalous archbishopric until it was elevated to a metropolis in the fourteenth century. The city, and its see, probably took on increased importance in 679/80, after the loss of Tomis and Odessa and the foundation of the Bulgarian state. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 635 and Asdracha, Thrace orientale, 230-31, 277-79.