Toparchēs (Greek : τοπάρχης, "place-ruler"), anglicized as toparch, is a Greek term for a governor or ruler of a district and was later applied to the territory where the toparch exercised his authority. In Byzantine times came to be applied to independent or semi-independent rulers in the periphery of the Byzantine world.
The term originates in Hellenistic times, when topos (τόπος, "place, locale") was established as an administrative unit, most notably in the Ptolemaic Kingdom, but also among the Seleucids and Attalids, although less well attested in comparison to Ptolemaic practice.The Ptolemaic topos comprised a number of villages (komai, sing. komē) under a toparchēs and was in turn a subdivision of the nomos (nome or province), which is governed by a strategos. In Ptolemaic Egypt, the toparches was usually an Egyptian, and was responsible for the collection of revenue and administration, much as the nomarchēs for the nomos and the komarchēs for each komē. In an account, the toparchies constituted the hyparchies such as Gaulanitis, Galilaia, Samaraia, Judaia, Peraia, and Idumaia during the New Testament times. The title remained in use under the Roman Empire in the Greek East, for the governor of a district. Such districts were then called "toparchies" (sing. toparchy, from Greek τοπαρχία, toparchia).
In the 6th century, in the Novellae Constitutiones of Emperor Justinian I, the term toparchēs was used to encompass all local magistrates, both civilian and military.
More often, however, Byzantine writers use the term to refer to local monarchs, especially during the 10th–13th centuries, when, according to the Byzantinist Paul Lemerle, "a toparchēs is the independent ruler of a foreign territory adjoining the Empire... He is in some manner under the influence of the Empire, as it is supposed that he may rebel against the Byzantines". This usage extended not only to actual breakaway or de facto autonomous Byzantine governors, who appear during the military crises and administrative disintegration of the 11th–12th centuries, but was also applied to independent rulers, usually on the periphery of the Byzantine Empire (e.g. the Emir of Crete, various Turkish lords in Anatolia, or the rulers of Bulgaria or Serbia), of territories which the Byzantines considered rightfully theirs.
In this context, the late 11th-century writer Kekaumenos dedicates a large part of his Strategikon to advising the toparchēs on his conduct and dealings with the emperor and the other Byzantine governors.
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, which was inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the hierarchy stood the emperor, yet "Byzantium was a republican absolute monarchy and not primarily a monarchy by divine right". There were no codified laws regarding imperial succession and the Roman Republic was never formally abolished, hence the Emperor was still to be elected, formally, by both Senate (Synkletos) and the Army. In reality, Senatorial power was severely curtailed over time and the Army practically had a monopoly regarding election. Also, while being a semi-republican entity, Emperors usually managed to secure succession for their children by indirect means, such as appointing them as co-Emperors, for example. The absence of codified succession laws and procedures, as well as the militarized state of the Empire, led to numerous coups and revolts, leading to several disastrous results, such as defeat at Manzikert.
The megas logothetēs was an official who served as effective foreign minister of the Byzantine Empire, in the period from c. 1250 to c. 1350, after which it continued as an honorific dignity. The office evolved from the Komnenian-era logothetēs tōn sekretōn, and was established during the Empire of Nicaea. Its holders were frequently distinguished scholars, who played a prominent role in the civil and military affairs of their time; three of its holders also served in tandem as the head of the civil administration and effective prime minister (mesazōn) of the Empire. The title was also used in the Empire of Trebizond. After the fall of Constantinople, it was adopted in the Danubian Principalities and as a honorific title for laymen in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
John the Oxite or John Oxeites was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch from c. 1089 until 1100, when he was exiled by Prince Bohemond I of Antioch. He fled to the Byzantine Empire and continued to govern those parts of the patriarchate that were under Byzantine rule. He was a prominent writer of religious texts, and reformer of religious and charitable foundations.
The logothetēs tou genikou, often called genikos logothetēs or simply ho genikos, and usually rendered in English as the General Logothete, was in charge of the "general financial ministry", the genikon logothesion of the middle Byzantine Empire.
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 was a Byzantine term for the territories controlled by the Lombards in the Italian Peninsula. In the ninth and tenth centuries, it was also the name of a Byzantine military-civilian province known as the Theme of Longobardia located in southeastern Italy.
Despot or despotes was a senior Byzantine court title that was bestowed on the sons or sons-in-law of reigning emperors, and initially denoted the heir-apparent of the Byzantine emperor.
Sebastos was an honorific used by the ancient Greeks to render the Roman imperial title of Augustus. The female form of the title was sebastē (σεβαστή). From the late 11th century on, during the Komnenian period, it and variants derived from it, like sebastokrator, protosebastos, panhypersebastos, and sebastohypertatos, formed the basis of a new system of court titles for the Byzantine Empire.
The title of protosebastos was a high Byzantine court title created by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.
The title of panhypersebastos was a Byzantine court title created by Alexios I Komnenos using the imperial root sebastos. It was always conferred to members of aristocratic families closely allied to the imperial family.
The mesazōn was a high dignitary and official during the last centuries of the Byzantine Empire, who acted as the chief minister and principal aide of the Byzantine emperor.
The logothetēs tou praitōriou was a senior official, one of the two principal aides of the Eparch of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Literary and sigillographic evidence attests to the existence of this office from the late 7th or early 8th century up to the 11th century. His exact role is unclear, but, since the praitōrion was one of the capital's chief prisons, his functions were probably judicial and police-related.
In the Byzantine Empire, a kleisoura was a term traditionally applied to a fortified mountain pass and the military district protecting it. 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. A kleisoura or kleisourarchia was an autonomous command, under a kleisourarches. Eventually, most kleisourai were raised to full themata, and the term fell out of use after the 10th century. Its Islamic counterpart in Cilicia and Mesopotamia was the al-thughūr.
The mystikos was an important Byzantine office of the imperial chancery from the 9th through to the 15th centuries. Its initial role is unclear; he was probably the Byzantine emperor's private secretary. In time, the office also exercised judicial duties. It became an important fiscal official in the Komnenian period, and remained one of the highest-ranking state offices into the Palaiologan period as well.
Choma was a Byzantine fortress in central Anatolia, which played an important role in the fight against the Seljuk Turks in the late 11th and 12th centuries.
The allagion was a Byzantine military term designating a military unit. It first appeared in the mid-to-late 10th century, and by the 13th century had become the most frequent term used for the Byzantine army's standing regiments, persisting until the late 14th century.
The sebastophoros was a high Byzantine court position and rank reserved for eunuchs in the 10th–12th centuries. Its functions are unclear.
Abydikos was a Byzantine official charged with overseeing maritime traffic.
Theodore Kastamonites was a Byzantine aristocrat and the all-powerful chief minister for most of the first reign of his nephew, Emperor Isaac II Angelos.
A prostagma or prostaxis (πρόσταξις), both meaning "order, command", were documents issued by the Byzantine imperial chancery bearing an imperial decision or command, usually on administrative matters.