Thrace (theme)

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Theme of Thrace
θέμα Θρᾴκης, θέμα Θρᾳκῷον
Theme of the Byzantine Empire
c. 680–1204
1230s–14th century
Location of Thrace Asia Minor ca 780 AD.svg
Location of Thrace
The Byzantine themata of Asia Minor and the thema of Thrace in c. 780.
Capital Constantinople / Adrianople / Arcadiopolis
Historical era Middle Ages
   Latin conquest1204
   Nicaean recovery1230s
  Divided into smaller units.14th century
Today part ofFlag of Turkey.svg  Turkey

The Theme of Thrace (Greek : θέμα Θρᾴκης or θέμα Θρᾳκῷον) was a province (thema or theme) of the Byzantine Empire located in the south-eastern Balkans, comprising varying parts of the eponymous geographic region during its history.

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.

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. "Byzantine Empire" is a term 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".

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The BalkansBAWL-kənz, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in Southeast Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian–Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range, Bulgaria.



Traditionally, it has been held that the theme (at the time primarily a military command) was constituted in c. 680, as a response to the Bulgar threat. [1] [2] [3] This is based on the mention of a certain patrikios Theodore, Count of the Opsikion and hypostrategos of Thrace, in 680/681. However, it is unclear whether this implies the existence of Thrace as a separate command, with Theodore holding a dual post, or whether Thrace was administratively united to the Opsikion. In fact, separate strategoi of Thrace are not clearly attested in literary sources until 742, while seals of strategoi are also extant only from the eighth century on. [3] [4] Initially, Adrianople was probably the theme's capital.

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.

Under Empress Irene of Athens, in the late eighth century, the theme was divided, with the western part being constituted as the separate theme of Macedonia. From then on, the theme's capital was at Arcadiopolis, with subordinate tourmarchai at Bizye and Sozopolis. Another, called tourmarches tes Thrakes ("of Thrace") is also attested, possibly the strategos' deputy at Arcadiopolis. [2] The Arab geographers Ibn Khordadbeh (wrote ca. 847) and Ibn al-Faqih (wrote ca. 903) mention the theme as extending "from the long wall [the Anastasian Wall]" to the theme of Macedonia, and north up to the country of the Bulgars, counting 10 fortified places and 5,000 troops. [5] Indeed, the boundaries of the theme fluctuated along with the northern frontier of Byzantium during the Byzantine–Bulgarian Wars. Initially, the theme must have comprised most of the ancient Diocese of Thrace, except for the country along the Danube overrun by the Bulgars (Lower Moesia), but after the conquests of Krum (r. 803–814), Omurtag (r. 814–831), and Symeon (r. 893–927) the border moved by stages south of the Balkan mountains to roughly the line of the present Bulgarian frontier with Greece and Turkey. Thus, at around the start of the tenth century, the theme comprised essentially the eastern half of modern Eastern Thrace, although it extended north along the coast to include Anchialos. [6]

Irene of Athens Empress of Byzantine Empire

Irene of Athens, also known as Irene Sarantapechaina, was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, co-regent from 792 until 797, and finally sole ruler and first empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. A member of the politically prominent Sarantapechos family, she was selected as Leo IV's bride for unknown reasons in 768. Even though her husband was an iconoclast, she harbored iconophile sympathies. During her rule as regent, she called the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which condemned iconoclasm as heretical and brought an end to the first iconoclast period (730–787).

Macedonia (theme) Byzantine district (theme)

The Theme of Macedonia was a military-civilian province (theme) of the Byzantine Empire established between the late 8th century and the early 9th century. Byzantine Macedonia also incorporated the region of Thrace. Its capital was Adrianople.

Arabs are a ethnic group inhabiting the Arab world. They primarily live in the Arab states in Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and western Indian Ocean islands. They also form a significant diaspora, with Arab communities established around the world.

From the eleventh century, Thrace and Macedonia appear to have been usually combined, as attested by numerous strategoi and judges ( kritai ) holding jurisdiction over both themes. [2] [7] The name fell out of use as an administrative term in the Palaiologan period, but it is still encountered in some historians of the time as an antiquarian term. [7]

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  1. Haldon 1997 , p. 216.
  2. 1 2 3 Nesbitt & Oikonomides 1991 , p. 155.
  3. 1 2 Pertusi 1952 , p. 156.
  4. Kazhdan 1991 , pp. 2079–2080.
  5. Pertusi 1952 , p. 157.
  6. Pertusi 1952 , pp. 157–158.
  7. 1 2 Kazhdan 1991 , p. 2080.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Alexander Kazhdan Soviet historian and Byzantine Empire specialist

Alexander Petrovich Kazhdan was a Soviet-American Byzantinist.

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