Stratelates

Stratelates

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Stratēlatēs was a Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 term designating a general, which also became a honorary dignity
Byzantine aristocracy and bureaucracy
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, which was inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the pyramid stood the Emperor, sole ruler and divinely ordained, but beneath him a multitude of officials and court functionaries operated the administrative...

 in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In the former sense, it was often applied to military saints, such as Theodore Stratelates
Theodore Stratelates
Theodore Stratelates , also known as Theodore of Heraclea, is a martyr and Warrior Saint venerated with the title Great-martyr in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches....

.

In the late Roman/early Byzantine Empire, the title was used, along with the old-established stratēgos
Strategos
Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

, to translate into Greek the office of magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

("master of the soldiers"). In the 6th century, however, Novel 90 of Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 (r. 527–565) attests the existence of a middle-ranking honorific title of stratēlatēs, which ranked alongside the apo eparchōn ("former prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

"). A prōtostratēlatēs ("first stratēlatēs") Theopemptos is attested in a 7th-century seal, likely indicating the senior-most dignitary among the entire class of the stratēlatai. This stratēlasia was a purely honorary dignity, attached to no office, and declined measurably in prestige during the 7th and 8th centuries: sigillographic evidence shows that it came to be held by the lower rung of the imperial bureaucracy, such as kommerkiarioi (customs supervisors), kouratores (supervisors of imperial establishments) and notarioi (imperial secretaries). By the late 9th century, it ranked at the bottom of the hierarchy of imperial dignities (along with the apo eparchōn), as attested in the 899 Klētorologion
Kletorologion
The Klētorologion of Philotheos , is the longest and most important of the Byzantine lists of offices and court precedence . It was published in September of 899 during the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise by the otherwise unknown prōtospatharios and atriklinēs Philotheos...

of Philotheos. The Klētorologion also records that the dignity was conferred by the award of a codicil or diploma (Greek: χάρτης), retaining 6th-century practice. In the 10th-11th centuries, the term returned to its original military meaning, being used for senior generals, including the commanders-in-chief (the Domestics of the Schools
Domestic of the Schools
The Domestic of the Schools was a senior Byzantine military office, extant from the 8th century until at least the early 14th century. Originally simply the commander of the Scholai, the senior of the elite tagmata regiments, the Domestic quickly rose in prominence: by the mid-9th century, its...

) of East and West.

At the same time, however, the presence of a tagma
Tagma (military)
The tagma is a term for a military unit of battalion or regiment size. The best-known and most technical use of the term however refers to the elite regiments formed by Byzantine emperor Constantine V and comprising the central army of the Byzantine Empire in the 8th–11th centuries.-History and...

(professional standing regiment) called the Stratēlatai is attested in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 in the late 10th century, formed by Emperor John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes or Tzimisces, was Byzantine Emperor from December 11, 969 to January 10, 976. A brilliant and intuitive general, John's short reign saw the expansion of the empire's borders and the strengthening of Byzantium itself.- Background :...

(r. 969–976).