14th Century Names of Lay Proprietors in the Themes of Thessaloniki and Strymon

by Maridonna Benvenuti

©2001 Andrea Hicks

from Peasant Society in the Late Byzantine Empire by Angeliki E. Laiou-Thomadakis, Princeton University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-691-95252-2.

As the main source of wealth, the land was distributed by the Palaeologan Emperors to their followers and to civil and military officials in the form of pronoia. The original grants carried an obligation of service, military or other. Eventually the pronoia became hereditary and the holders did not necessarily fulfill their obligations. Furthermore, what had been primarily a grant of revenues often became a grant of territorial rights as well. Their revenues consisted of the taxes which the peasants had at first paid to the state, plus part of the surplus, paid as rent and collected in the form of part of the yield. The peasants became dependent peasants, as groups of families and villages were granted to the landlord. The Palaiologoi, the Kantakouzenoi and the Synadenoi among others, became The Great Magnates who had much larger properties that yielded immense revenues. The largest landlord, however, was the church.


by Maridonna Benvenuti

ã Andrea Hicks 2001

From Peasant Society in the Late Byzantine Empire by Angeliki E. Laiou-Thomadakis, Princeton University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-691-95252-2.

The Byzantine peasants of the 14th century were commonly identified by a given or baptismal name and some other form of identification: a occupational byname, patronym or matronym, a nickname , or toponymn.

Although the author’s data could define only a fragmentary pattern for peasant naming in the 14th century, baptismal names as might be expected fall into these categories: (1) those referring to God, Christ, and the Virgin; (2) saints; (3) those deriving from feasts, of which Christmas and Easter are the most important.

(4) “great” family names like Komene and Choniatissa; (5) names of obviously foreign origin. Children were habitually named after the paternal or maternal grandparents, after parents, or siblings as they are today.

In the 12th century records of Lavra, 87% of the heads of households were identified only by family relationships or rubric. In the 15th century villages of Gomatou, Pinsson and Drymosita, 7 % were identified by craft or profession; 12% were identified by a toponymn and 4% were mentioned by first name only. The other 77% was identified by nickname, or by a ‘proper’ name derived from a baptismal name or a stated relationship to someone else. I think the author means surname when saying ‘proper’ name. Her data has a couple of examples of inherited names which was just taking hold.

The heads of households were identified in a number of ways.

(1) They may have both a baptismal (given) and a second name (by-name).

Konstantinos the Pelekites

Demetrios the shoemaker from Voleron

Widow Anatolike, identifies a woman through a topomyn

(2) Identification may be made on the basis of relationship with others.

widow Kale, wife of Konstantinos the Pelekites

widow Theodora Pelekito

Ioannes, son of Chalkeus

Michael, brother of Nikolaos Chalkeus

Theodora, daughter of Kelliotes

(Argyre) “wife of Kelliotes”

Demetrios, son-in-law of Panagiotes:

Widows could also keep their father’s or grandfather’s names. In 1301 Zoe, daughter of Theodoros Tzykalas, was married to a man named Michael, but after his death she appears as ‘widow Zoe of Tzykalas’. Zoe’s daughter, Anna, who was also a widow retained her grandfather’s name and was known as Anna, widow of Tzykalas.

(3) It was possible to the have the head of the houseold identified by one name, the baptismal name. These men were extremely poor or had little property.

For the table with names check here:


Monastery of Iveron, villages Gomatou, Melintziani, Ierissos, Kato Volvos, and Xylorygion, in 1301, 1320, 1341. Dölger, “Sech Praktika,” Praktika, A, P, V.

Monastery of Lavra, villages Gomatou, Ierissos, Selas, Gradista, and Metalin in 1300. Gomatous, Selas, Gradista, Metalin, Gournai, Aghia Euphemia, Sarantarea, Pinsson, Karvaioi, Skelochorion, Panaghia, Neochorion, Kyra Pegadia, Paschali, Genna, Loroton in 1321. Unpublished praktika of 1300 and 1321, College de France, nos. II, 91 and 109.

Monastery of Xenophon, village Stomion in 1300, 1320, 1338; villages Psalidofourna-Neakitou and Ierissos in 1320 and 1338. L. Petit, Actes de Xénophon, Vizantiiskij Vremennik, 10 (1903), appendix 1, nos. 3, 7, 11.

Monastery of Zographou, villages of Ierissos and Symeon in 1300, 1320; villages Ano Volvos and Epano Antigonia in 1320. Regel-Kurtz-Korablev, Zographou, nos. XV,XVII. For the dates, cf. Ostrogorskij, Féodalité, 266-271.

Monastery of Chilandar, villages of Leipsochorion and Evnouchou in 1318. L. Petit, Actes de Chilabndar, I, Actes grecs, Vizantiiskij Vremennik, 17 (1911), appendix I, no.38; on the date cf. Ostrogorskij, Féodalité,273.

Bompaire, J. Actes de Xéropotamou, Paris, 1964.

Guillou, A. Les archives de Saint-Jean Prodrome sur le mont Ménécée. Paris, 1955.

Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, on-line, Vol. III.B, Oxford Univ. , http://www.lgpn.ox.ac.uk/names2.html

Lefort, J. Actes d’Esphiigménou. Paris, P. Lethielleux, 1973.

Lemerle, P. “un praktikon inédit des archives de Karakala (Janvier 1342) et la situation en Macédoine orientale au moment del’usurpation de Cantacuzène,” vol. 1, Athens, 1965, 278-298.

———- Actes de Kutlumus. Paris, P. Lethielleux, 1945.

Mošin, V. “Akti iz svetogorshkih arhiva,” Crpska kraljevska Akademija, Spomennik, 12 (Belgrade, 1939), 155-260.

Oikonomidès, N. Actes de Dionysiou. Paris, 1968.

Petit, L. Actes de Pantocrator, Vizantiiskj Vremennik, 10, 1903, appendix II.

Regel, W. , E. Kurtz, B. Korblev, Actes de Philothée, Vizantiiskij Vremennik, 20 (1913), appemdix 1.

Regel, W. Χρυσόβουλλα καì Γράματα της εν τω˛ Άγίω˛ όρει ίερâς καì σεβασμίς μεγίστης μονηˆς τουˆ Βατοπεδίον. St. Petersburg, 1898.

Unpublished Documents


College de France; Praktikons of possessions in the Themes of Thessaloniki and Strymon, nos. 338 & 334. 1300-01; 14th C.


College de France: Periorismos of the domains of Lavra in Macedonia, Theme of Thessaloniki, 1300 & 1321.

No. II, 91of the College de France: Praktikon of possessions in the Theme of Thessaloniki 1300.

No. II, 109 of the.College de France: Praktikon of possessions of Lavra near Thessaloniki 1321.

No. 215 of the College de France: Praktikon of possessions of Lavra in the Theme of Thessaloniki, 1409.

Nos. II, 35, 36 of the College de France: Praktikon of possessions in the Theme of Strymon, 1317.

No. 138 of the College de France: Praktikon of possessions in the Theme of Strymon, 1336

Nos. II, 103, 105 of the College de France: Praktika of possessions in the Theme of Strymon.


No. 43 of the College de France: Praktikon of possessions in the Theme of Strymon. Probable date, 1320.

Two unpublished praktika given to Michael Saventzes and Nikolaos Maroules, preserved in the archives of the monastery of Xenophon.