Alexios Gidos

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Alexios Gidos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Γίδος; fl. ca. 1185–1194) was a senior Byzantine general of the late 12th century. He is the first attested member of the Gidos family, which rose to some prominence in the Byzantine Empire at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries.[1]

Alexios Gidos is first mentioned on the occasion of the Norman sack of Thessalonica in 1185, when he held the post of "Grand Domestic of the East", i.e. commander-in-chief of the Byzantine army's forces in Anatolia.[2][3] He apparently retained his high post after the downfall of Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, and re-appears in 1194, when Andronikos' successor Isaac II Angelos sent him against the Bulgarians. This time Gidos was "Grand Domestic of the West", but still commanding the eastern troops, while Basil Vatatzes commanded the western forces. The two generals were heavily defeated at the Battle of Arcadiopolis: most of the Byzantine army, along with Vatatzes, fell, while Gidos managed to escape only with great difficulty. Nothing further is known of him.[4]

In 1898/99, the Greek scholar S. Papadimitriou theorized that the family name and therefore the ancestry of the family was originally Latin, he believed the family surname to be the hellenized form of the Italian name Guido. This in turn led to speculation that there may have been a direct connection with the Gidos family and Guy/Guido, a son of the Norman conqueror of southern Italy, Robert Guiscard, who defected to the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos (ruled 1081–1118) centuries earlier, entered his service and possibly married into the imperial family.[5] On the other hand, in his Die byzantinische Aussenpolitik zur Zeit der letzten Komnenenkaiser (1967), W. Hecht cast doubt on their Latin origin, and argued that at any rate, by the time Alexios Gidos appears, the family had been thoroughly Byzantinized and shed their Latin identity.[1] It is however impossible to prove any connection with the son of Robert Guiscard or a Latin origin,[6] Byzantine sources do not treat the family as having a foreign origin.[6]

Similarly, another view considers the etymology of the family surname to be of Greek origin, a derivation from the Greek word for "goat" ('Gida' γίδα f., γίδι)[7]


  1. ^ a b Kazhdan 1991, p. 850.
  2. ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 851.
  3. ^ Guilland 1967, pp. 408–409.
  4. ^ Guilland 1967, p. 408.
  5. ^ Kazhdan 1991, pp. 850–851.
  6. ^ a b Roy P. Mottahedeh, Angeliki E. Laiou (2001). The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World. Dumbarton Oaks. p. 97. ISBN 9780884022770. The lineage of Gidoi comes to the fore after Manuel's death:... 151 No text treats the Gidoi as foreigners; their name, however, resembles that of Guido, but it is not possible to demonstrate that they were descendants of the son of Robert Guiscard. W. Hecht even questions the Western origin of the Gidoi. 
  7. ^ Winter, C. (1950). Beiträge zur Namenforschung, Volumes 1-3. the University of California. p. 170. OCLC 636671800. The name Γίδος, of Andronicos I Gidos Comnenos of Trapezous (around 1200) and of Alexios Gidos (the father of the first) is traced by N. Bees* back to mod. Gr. γίδα f., γίδι n. goat. Be it noted here that from mod. Gr. Γίδα a name form Γίδας ought to be expected, cf. Κατσίκας from κατσίκα, and from mod. Gr. γίδι the personal name Γίδης as κριάρι – Κριάρης; περιστέρι – Περιστέρης etc. ;