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"Foreigners" or Non-Greeks owning Byzantine seals

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Joe Sermarini:
Another interesting history lesson coming from seals! Thanks!

Very interesting thread indeed!

I have also been surprised  and amazed to see  how many Armenian names are depicted on byzantine seals. And some of them belong to mighty commanders and even Emperors and Patriarchs! Brachamios, Apnelgaripes, Pakourianos, Chetames, Senacherim, Kakikios, Tzimiskes and Kourkouas just being a few of them!


Yes, there are many Armenians accounted for on seals, and you could easily make a seperate thread about them. They appear from very early on.

Strategos A:
What a great thread.  Congrats on that awesome Mounsour seal.  Such a nice conversation piece.

[taken from a recent auction by Leu Numismatik, sale 18, lot 4026]

This seal belongs to a westerner that is known in the sources, Roussel de Bailleul. His seal identifies him with his Graecized name Kourselios and he bears as an epithet the name "o Phrangos", the Frank. Below the description of the seal and a short account of his career.

Roussel de Bailleul (Kourselios Phrangos), vestes, 1070-1072. Seal (Lead, 29 mm, 17.65 g, 12 h). MHP ΘV Nimbate Mother of God “Episkepsis”, raising both hands in prayer, medallion of Christ in front. Rev. ΘKЄ R,Θ, / TⲰ CⲰ Δ૪, / K૪PCЄΛI / RECT, TⲰ / ΦPAΓO ("Mother of God, help your servant Kourselios the Frank") in five lines. Cheynet, Collection Khoury, 20. G. Schlumberger: Deux chefs normands des armées byzantines au XIe siècle - Sceaux de Hervé et de Roussel de Bailleul, in: Revue historique, 16 (1881), pp. 289-303. A seal of great historical interest. Minor flatness and breakage on the channel mouth, otherwise, very fine.

This seal belongs to one of the most colorful figures in Byzantine history, the Norman adventurer Roussel de Bailleul. Having served in Sicily under Norman nobleman Roger de Hauteville (later the Count of Sicily), he travelled to Byzantium to offer his skills as a soldier and commander to the Byzantines. There, he possibly served as second in command to Robert Crispin, a fellow Norman mercenary in the entourage of the famous general Isaac Komnenos. This is proposed by Cheynet on the basis of the elevated court dignity of vestes that appears on his seal. Roussel was present in Manzikert in 1071, but he did not participate in the disastrous battle, having been sent out on a raid. In the aftermath of the battle, the now accomplished commander remained in Byzantine service, taking the opportunity to set himself up as prince of an autonomous region in Galatia with the aid of a force of Franco-Norman cavalry. The enterprise was ended by emperor Michael VII (1071-1078), who persuaded the Seljuk warlord, Tutush I, to move against Roussel and Johannes Doukas the "Kaisar", who had become the Norman's ally. They were defeated by the Turks, and Roussel was ransomed by his wife, but he eventually ended up in captivity in Constantinople. The final chapter of his life took place during the revolt of Nikephoros Botaneiates in 1077/8, in the course of which Roussel was released from captivity to lead a batallion of soldiers to fight the rebel. However, the Norman adventurer switched sides after a victorious battle, joining the usurper. Roussel finally ran out of luck when the Seljuks were dispatched against him. He was captured and handed over to the Byzantines to be executed.


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