Seal of the 14th-century prōtokynēgos John Vatatzes

The prōtokynēgos (Greek: πρωτοκυνηγός, "first huntsman") was a Byzantine court office and honorific title in the 13th–15th centuries, who was the chief huntsman of the Byzantine emperors.

History and functions [ edit ]

The office first appears in the 13th-century Empire of Nicaea, although it clearly had earlier antecedents;[1] possibly the komēs tou kynēgiou (κόμης τοῡ κυνηγίου. "Count of the Hunt") attested in an undated seal.[2] In the Book of Offices written by pseudo-Kodinos in the middle of the 14th century, the post occupies the 41st place in the imperial hierarchy, between the megas logariastēs and the skouterios.[3] Rodolphe Guilland suggested that it was closely associated with the prōtoierakarios ("first falconer"), who was in the 48th place, and that holders of the latter office were promoted to the former.[4] Hunting was a particular passion of Byzantine emperors; in the 14th century, Andronikos III Palaiologos (r. 1328–1341) is said to have maintained over a thousand hunting dogs and over a thousand falcons.[5]

According to pseudo-Kodinos, his functions were to hold the stirrups for the emperor when he mounted his horse, and to lead the hunters (σκυλλόμαγγοι, skyllomangoi). He enjoyed a peculiar privilege: if during the hunt, one of the emperor's garments became smeared with blood, the prōtokynēgos received it as a gift.[4][6] His court uniform consisted of a gold-brocaded hat (skiadion), a plain silk kabbadion, and a skaranikon (domed hat) covered in golden and lemon-yellow silk and decorated with gold wire and images of the emperor in front and rear, respectively depicted enthroned and on horseback.[7]

The lowly rank and obscure charge of the position means that its holders are not often attested. However, the title was also given by the emperors as a mark of distinction to officials or military commanders. This gave the holders of the title a place in the court hierarchy, but was not an active charge.[2][8]

List of known prōtokynegoi [ edit ]

Name Tenure Appointed by Notes Refs
Theodore Mouzalon 1254–1258 Theodore II Laskaris Eldest brother of the emperor's favourite, George Mouzalon, according to George Akropolites and Nikephoros Gregoras he was raised to the rank as a sign of favour to him and his brothers, who had been companions of Theodore II as children. Pachymeres on the other hand reports that he was named prōtoierakarios, perhaps reflecting an earlier post. [9] [10]
[Leo] Bouzenos 13th or 14th century unknown Promoted from prōtoierakarios, known solely from his seal. [11] [12]
Raoul early 14th century Andronikos II Palaiologos (?) Unknown first name. Known solely through the works of the court poet Manuel Philes. [13]
Sarantenos Indanes c.  1300 Andronikos III Palaiologos Mentioned in an act preserved in the Great Lavra Monastery as holder of a pronoia in Chalcidice in 1300. [14]
Kontophre c.  1329 Andronikos III Palaiologos His name is a rendering of the name Godefroi. He was prōtokynēgos and governor of Mesothynia, and advised the emperor on how best to deal with the Ottoman Turks. He was still alive in 1346. [1] [15]
Sarantenos c.  1330 Andronikos III Palaiologos Mentioned only in an act preserved in the Zographou Monastery as the father of Sophrosyne Sarantene and Xene Indanina Sarantene. [1] [16]
John Vatatzes 1333–1343 Andronikos III Palaiologos Of lowly birth, Vatazes was originally a partisan of the anti-Kantakouzenos regency in the civil war. In 1341–1342 and again in 1343 he defected to John VI Kantakouzenos, who named him megas stratopedarchēs. He was killed by Turkish mercenaries at Garella in 1345. His son was married to the daughter of Patriarch John XIV Kalekas, and his two daughters were married to the son of the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, and to the emir of the Karasids, Suleyman. [17] [18]
Alyates before 1348 unknown Unknown first name. Known only through a legal case concerning the dowry of his first wife. [19] [20]
Rizas c. 1361 or earlier unknown Unknown first name. Prōtokynēgos and landowner on the island of Lemnos. [21]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ a b c Guilland 1967, p. 602.
  2. ^ a b ODB, "Protokynegos" (A. Kazhdan), pp. 1745–1746.
  3. ^ Verpeaux 1966, p. 138.
  4. ^ a b Guilland 1967, p. 601.
  5. ^ Guilland 1967, p. 600.
  6. ^ Verpeaux 1966, pp. 182–183.
  7. ^ Verpeaux 1966, p. 162.
  8. ^ Guilland 1967, pp. 601–602.
  9. ^ Guilland 1967, pp. 600, 602.
  10. ^ Macrides 2007, pp. 339, 342–343 (note 16).
  11. ^ Guilland 1967, pp. 601, 602.
  12. ^ PLP, 3016. Bουζηνός.
  13. ^ PLP, 24107. Ῥαούλ.
  14. ^ PLP, 24908.Σαραντηνὸς Ἰνδανης.
  15. ^ PLP, 13130. Kοντοφρέ.
  16. ^ PLP, 24881. Σαραντηνή, Ξένη Ἰνδανίνα; 24882. Σαραντηνὴ Σωφροσύνη.
  17. ^ Guilland 1967, pp. 602–603.
  18. ^ PLP, 2518. Βατάτζης Ἰωάννης.
  19. ^ Guilland 1967, p. 603.
  20. ^ PLP, 709. Ἀλυάτης.
  21. ^ PLP, 24265. Ῥιζᾶς.

Sources [ edit ]

  • Guilland, Rodolphe (1967). "Dignitaires des XIVe et XVe siècles". Recherches sur les institutions byzantines, Tome I (in French). Berlin: Akademie-Verlag. pp. 594–607. CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
  • Macrides, Ruth (2007). George Akropolites: The History – Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921067-1. CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Trapp, Erich; Beyer, Hans-Veit; Walther, Rainer; Sturm-Schnabl, Katja; Kislinger, Ewald; Leontiadis, Ioannis; Kaplaneres, Sokrates (1976–1996). Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit (in German). Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. ISBN 3-7001-3003-1.
  • Verpeaux, Jean, ed. (1966). Pseudo-Kodinos, Traité des Offices (in French). Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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