Kleisoura (Byzantine district)

Last updated

In the Byzantine Empire, a kleisoura (Greek : κλεισούρα, "enclosure, defile") was a term traditionally applied to a fortified mountain pass and the military district protecting it. [1] By the late 7th century, it came to be applied to more extensive frontier districts, distinct from the larger themata , chiefly along the Empire's eastern border with the Caliphate along the line of the Taurus-Anti-Taurus mountains (in the West, only Strymon was in its early days termed a kleisoura). [1] A kleisoura or kleisourarchia was an autonomous command, under a kleisourarches (Greek: κλεισουράρχης). Eventually, most kleisourai were raised to full themata, and the term fell out of use after the 10th century (in late Byzantine times, droungos had a similar meaning). Its Islamic counterpart in Cilicia and Mesopotamia was the al-thughūr . [1]

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Mountain pass Route through a mountain range or over a ridge

A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge. Since many of the world's mountain ranges have presented formidable barriers to travel, passes have played a key role in trade, war, and both human and animal migration throughout Earth's history. At lower elevations it may be called a hill pass. The highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world appears to be Mana Pass, located in the Himalayas on the border between India and Tibet, China.


See also

Related Research Articles

Theme (Byzantine district) Byzantine district

The themes or themata were the main military/administrative divisions of the middle Byzantine Empire. They were established in the mid-7th century in the aftermath of the Slavic invasion of the Balkans and Muslim conquests of parts of Byzantine territory, and replaced the earlier provincial system established by Diocletian and Constantine the Great. In their origin, the first themes were created from the areas of encampment of the field armies of the East Roman army, and their names corresponded to the military units that had existed in those areas. The theme system reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries, as older themes were split up and the conquest of territory resulted in the creation of new ones. The original theme system underwent significant changes in the 11th and 12th centuries, but the term remained in use as a provincial and financial circumscription until the very end of the Empire.

<i>Tagma</i> (military) military unit

The tagma is a military unit of battalion or regiment size, especially the elite regiments formed by Byzantine emperor Constantine V and comprising the central army of the Byzantine Empire in the 8th–11th centuries.

The logothetēs toū stratiōtikou, rendered in English as the Logothete of the Military or Military Logothete, was a Byzantine imperial official in charge of the pay and provisioning of the Byzantine army. The office appears in the late 7th century and is mentioned until the 14th century.

Longobardia Byzantine district (theme)

Longobardia was a Byzantine term for the territories controlled by the Lombards in Italy. In the 9th-10th centuries, it was also the name of a Byzantine military-civilian province known as the Theme of Longobardia located in southeastern Italy.

Topotērētēs was a Byzantine technical term, meaning deputy or lieutenant. As such, it was used in different ways throughout the Empire's history. In the 9th-11th centuries, the topotērētēs was the deputy of senior military commanders of the themata, the tagmata and the Byzantine navy. The topotērētēs was usually placed in command of one half of the respective unit. In the early 12th century, topotērētai are found as commanders of small regions and fortresses, while in the late Palaiologan period, the term was used for representatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople in sees that now lay outside the Byzantine Empire's borders.


The katepánō was a senior Byzantine military rank and office. The word was Latinized as capetanus/catepan, and its meaning seems to have merged with that of the Italian "capitaneus". This hybridized term gave rise to the English language term captain and its equivalents in other languages

Optimatoi Byzantine administrative unit (theme)

The Optimatoi were initially formed as an elite Byzantine military unit. In the mid-8th century, however, they were downgraded to a supply and logistics corps and assigned a province (thema) in north-western Asia Minor, which was named after them. As an administrative unit, the Theme of the Optimatoi survived until the Ottoman conquest in the first decades of the 14th century.

In the late Byzantine Empire, the term kephale was used to denote local and provincial governors.

<i>De velitatione bellica</i>

De velitatione bellica is the conventional Latin title for the Byzantine military treatise on skirmishing and guerrilla-type border warfare, composed circa 970. Its original Greek title is Περὶ Παραδρομῆς. The original author is unknown but likely to have been a high-ranking army officer close to the Phokas family. The work describes tactics used previously against Muslim opponents but the author notes that due to recent Byzantine successes they might "not find application in the eastern regions at the present time" but might be useful for future campaigns. The author is critical of the bureaucracy of the Constantinople-based government.

Droungos or drungus is a late Roman and Byzantine term for a battalion-sized military unit, and later for a local command guarding mountain districts. Its commander was a "droungarios" or "drungarius" (δρουγγάριος), anglicized as "Drungary".

Opsikion Byzantine district (theme)

The Opsician Theme or simply Opsikion was a Byzantine theme located in northwestern Asia Minor. Created from the imperial retinue army, the Opsikion was the largest and most prestigious of the early themes, being located closest to Constantinople. Involved in several revolts in the 8th century, it was split in three after ca. 750, and lost its former pre-eminence. It survived as a middle-tier theme until after the Fourth Crusade.

Lykandos Byzantine district (theme)

Lykandos or Lycandus was the name of a Byzantine fortress and military-civilian province, known as the Theme of Lykandos, in the 10th–11th centuries.


The Melingoi or Milingoi were a Slavic tribe that settled in the Peloponnese in southern Greece during the Middle Ages. In the early decades of the 7th century, Slavic tribes (Sclaveni) settled throughout the Balkans following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire's defense of the Danube frontier with some groups reaching as far south as the Peloponnese. The Sclaveni often settled in small groups and their demographic impact in mainland Greece was both weak and diffuse. Of these, two groups are known by name from later sources, the Melingoi and the Ezeritai, of whom the Melingoi settled on the western slopes of Mount Taygetos. The origin and etymology of the name Melingoi is unknown.

Strymon (theme) Byzantine district (theme)

The Theme of Strymon was a Byzantine military-civilian province (theme) located in modern Greek Macedonia, with the city of Serres as its capital. Founded probably by the mid-to-late 9th century, its history as an administrative history was chequered, being variously split up and/or united with neighbouring themes.

Samos (theme) Byzantine district (theme)

The Theme of Samos was a Byzantine military-civilian province, located in the eastern Aegean Sea, established in the late 9th century. As one of the Byzantine Empire's three dedicated naval themes, it served chiefly to provide ships and troops for the Byzantine navy.

Aegean Sea (theme) Byzantine province in the northern Aegean Sea

The Theme of the Aegean Sea was a Byzantine province in the northern Aegean Sea, established in the mid-9th century. As one of the Byzantine Empire's three dedicated naval themes, it served chiefly to provide ships and troops for the Byzantine navy, but also served as a civil administrative circumscription.

Koloneia (theme) Byzantine district (theme)

The Theme of Koloneia was a small military-civilian province of the Byzantine Empire located in northern Cappadocia and the southern Pontus, in modern Turkey. It was founded sometime in the mid-9th century and survived until it was conquered by the Seljuk Turks soon after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

Seleucia (theme) theme of the Byzantine Empire

The Theme of Seleucia was a Byzantine theme in the southern coast of Asia Minor, headquartered at Seleucia.

Neokastra was a Byzantine province (theme) of the 12th–13th centuries in north-western Asia Minor.

Abydikos was a Byzantine official charged with overseeing maritime traffic.


  1. 1 2 3 Kazhdan 1991 , p. 1132; Glykatzi-Ahrweiler 1960 , pp. 1–111.


Helene Ahrweiler Greek Byzantinist

Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler is Greek academic Byzantinologist. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Greece. In the 2008 show Great Greeks, she was named in the 100 greatest Greeks of all time.

Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

In computing, a Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to identify objects uniquely, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.

Alexander Petrovich Kazhdan was a Soviet-American Byzantinist.