From the invenstigation of Byzantine sources, we can conclude:
a) The two terms, Μακεδών (noun, Translation: ”a Macedonian”, plural Μακεδόνες ) and Μακεδονικός (adjective – “Macedonian”) do not always have the same significance: they coincide only to the extend that they refer to a geographical concept.
b) The term Μακεδoνικός is used exclusively to characterise forces or armies coming from the Byzantine Theme, that is, the administrative or military district, of Macedonia. Since the theme of
c) The term Μακεδών also was to a considerable extend used in its geographical sense, when it designated a Byzantine inhabitant of Macedonia. Since, however, it could at the same time have other, non-geographical, connotations (racial, family, etc.). it does not appear blindly to follow the successive administrate changes effected by the central authority.
It is characteristic that those who from time to time are designated as Μακεδόνες are always members of Byzantine society or the Byzantine army, speaking the same language and apparently following the same failh, and that they never appear to turn, as the head of a certain group, against ihe Byzantine state.
d) In this sense, the term Μακεδών could be applied lo a person who was not of Macedonian descent. The characteristic example here is that of the Emperor Basil I, who is clearly described as being descended “from the Armenian nation“: This however, did not stop the Byzantines from calling him a Macedonian.
e) This category does not appear to include the more recent immigrants to Macedonia, evidently because they retained their own ethnic particularity (language, religion, culture, etc.) and, more important still, their independence from the Byzantine rule. Thus, for example, in no case could any Bulgars, Slavs or Turks who were known to have settled in the region after a certain period (and who, indeed, became the permanent residents) ever be described as Μακεδόνες.
An interesting case of this refusal to use the term Μακεδών, as a descriptor for local, generally Slav, rulers, is that of Tsar Samuel. Samuel who came from the Western Macedonian district of Ochrid and who brought all Macedonia under his rule in the late 10th centure and early 11th century, was never called Μακεδών (=Macedonian), either by the Byzantines or by local Slavo-Bulgarian sources. This fact would be exceplionally illuminating if his Armenian descent could be proven which would make his case congruous with that of the Emperor Basil I, also of Armenian origin. This would make it absolutely clear that the one, was called, perfectly naturally, a Macedonian because he accepted without inhibition ot reaction the capacity of a Byzantine citizen and Byzantine subject, while the other was denied this honour by Byzantine writers and Byzantine public opinion because his distinction was based on rebellion against the Byzantine authorities. The fact that the city of Ochrid was not at that particular moment part of the Theme of Macedonia would of course, have been no obstacle to this, for two reasons: firstly, because Ochrid had been part of Macedonia n the past and most of Samuels dominions lay within the historical territory of Macedonia and secondly because the designation “Macedonian” did not always, as we have noted appear faithfully to echo the formal and practical administrative changes and divisions of the broader Balkan region effected by the Byzantine authorities. When, that is, the emperor Alexios (according to Choniates) calls Bryennius a Μακεδών, since he came from the “blessed” and “all-powerful” Macedonian city of Orestiada, it is difficult to imagine that any temporary administrative change could alter this. That Orestiada could, that is, cease to be a Macedonian city or its inhabitants be Μακεδόνες. Even less could the scion of a famous Macedonian family, such as the “Gomoste” mentioned by Georgios Monachos (who does not of course specify where they came from) cease to be called a Μακεδών, just because an administrative shift in the Theme of Macedonia might leave him outside its borders.
From the existing literature it is possible to conclude with certainty that the privilege of designating a region as Macedonia and its inhabitants as Macedonians always lay with the Byzantine side. For this reason, no foreign – and especially no Slavic source – has ever arbitrarily attributed the appellation “Macedonian” to any region or any person outside Byzantium.
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