Gregory Pakourianos

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Gregory Pakourianos
Gregorios Pacourianos. A fresco from Bachkovo.jpg
Gregory Pakourianos. A fresco from Bachkovo.
Died 1086
Allegiance Byzantine Empire
Rank Strategos of Theme of Iberia
Wars Byzantine–Seljuq Wars in the East and Battle of Dyrrachium

Gregory Pakourianos (Latinized as Gregorius Pacurianus) (Georgian: გრიგოლ ბაკურიანის-ძე), Grigol Bakurianis-dze; Greek: Γρηγόριος Πακουριανός; Armenian: Գրիգոր Բակուրյան, Grigor Bakurian; Bulgarian: Григорий Бакуриани; (died 1086) was a Byzantine politician and military commander. He was the founder of the Monastery of the Mother of God Petritzonitissa in Bachkovo[1] and author of its typikon. The monks of this Orthodox monastery (today, the Bachkovo Monastery) in Bulgaria were Iberians.[2][3] Gregory himself proclaimed that he belonged to "the glorious people of the Iberians" and insisted his monks to know the Georgian language.[4]



The ossuary of the Bachkovo Monastery which houses the remains of Gregory Pakourianos.

Gregory's origins are a matter for scholarly dispute.[5][6] He is believed to have hailed from the region of Tao or Tayk, which had been annexed by the Byzantines to the theme of Iberia in 1001. According to the contemporary historian Anna Comnena, who knew Pakourianos personally, Gregory was "descended from a noble Armenian family,"[7] while the Armenian chronicler Matthew of Edessa, from the 12th century, saying Pakourianos was of Georgian (Vrats) origin had in mind Pakourianos' religious affiliation.[8] Gregory himself proclaimed that he belonged to "the glorious people of the Iberians" and insisted his monks to know the Georgian language.[9] In her study on Byzantine administration over the provinces of Armenia, Armenian historian Viada Arutjunova-Fidanjan believes that Pakourianos was born into a Chalcedonian Armenian family.[10]

Taking into account all the evidence available on Pakourianos, the scholar Nina G. Garsoïan proposed that "the most likely explanation is that [the Pakourian family] belonged to the mixed Armeno-Iberian Chalcedonian aristocracy, which dwelt in the border district of Tayk/Tao."[11]

According to Anna Comnena, Pakourianos was tiny of body but a mighty warrior.[12]

Byzantine service[edit]

A 19th-century fresco from Bachkovo depicting Gregory and his brother Apasius.

In 1064, Gregory Pakourianos participated in the unsuccessful defense of Ani against the Seljuk leader Alp Arslan[11] and his allies: the Caucasian Georgians headed by King Bagrat IV of Georgia and Albanians headed by King Goridzhan.[13] He served afterwards under Michael VII Doukas (1071–78) and Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078–81) in various responsible positions on both the eastern and the western frontiers of the empire. Since 1071 he was a governor of the Theme of Iberia. As the Seljuk advance forced the Byzantines to evacuate the eastern Anatolian fortresses and the Theme of Iberia, he ceded control over Kars to King George II of Georgia in 1072-1073 but this did not prevent the invaders from capturing the city.

Later Gregory was involved in a coup that removed Nikephoros III. The new Emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, appointed him "megas domestikos of All the West" and gave him many more properties in the Balkans. He possessed numerous estates in various parts of the Byzantine Empire and was afforded a variety of privileges by the emperor, including exemption from certain taxes. In 1081, he commanded the left flank against the Normans at the Battle of Dyrrachium. A year later he evicted the Normans from Moglena. He died in 1086 fighting the Pechenegs at the battle of Beliatoba, charging so vigorously he crashed into a tree.

Gregory was also known as a noted patron and promoter of Christian culture. He together with his brother Abas (Apasios) made, in 1074, a significant donation to the Eastern Orthodox Holy Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos and commissioned the regulations (typikon) for this foundation. He signed the Greek version of the Typikon in Armenian.[14][15][16] He also signed his name in Georgian and Armenian characters rather than Greek.[17] It is assumed that Pakourianos did not know Greek.[18]

Gregory Pakourianos and his brother Abas were buried in a bone-vault house near the Bachkovo Monastery. The portraits of the two brothers are painted on the north wall of the bone-vault house.


  1. ^ Typikon of Gregory Pakourianos for the Monastery of the Mother of God Petritzonitissa in Bachkovo [1].
  2. ^ Asdracha Catherine, La région des Rhodopes aux XIIIe et XIVe siècles: étude de géographie historique, Athen: Verlag der Byzantinisch-Neugriechischen Jahrbücher, 1976, pp. 74-75.
  3. ^ (in Russian) Arutjunova-Fidanjan, Viada. Типик Григория Пакуриана. Введение, перевод и комментарий (The Typikon of Gregorius Pacurianus). Yerevan, 1978, pp. 134-135, 249.
  4. ^ The Byzantine Empire By Robert Browning, p. 126, The Catholic University of America Press, 1992
  5. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander. "The Armenians in the Byzantine Ruling Class Predominantly in the Ninth through Twelfth Centuries" in Medieval Armenian Culture (University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies 6). Thomas Samuelian and Michael Stone (eds). Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983, pp. 443-444.
  6. ^ Garsoïan, Nina G. "The Problem of Armenian Integration into the Byzantine Empire" in Studies on the Internal Diaspora of the Byzantine Empire. Hélène Ahrweiler and Angeliki E. Laiou (eds.). Washington: Harvard University Press, 1998, pp. 88-89, notes 138-140.
  7. ^ Anna Comnena. The Alexiad. Translated by Elizabeth Dawes. London: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1928, p. 51.
  8. ^ On this, see Matthew of Edessa (1991). Մատթեոս Ուռհայեցի`Ժամանակնագրություն (The Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa) (in Armenian). Ed. Hrach Bartikyan. Yerevan: Yerevan State University Press. pp. 160, 500, note 226. 
  9. ^ The Byzantine Empire By Robert Browning, p. 126, The Catholic University of America Press, 1992
  10. ^ Arutjunova-Fidanjan, Viada. "Some Aspects of the Military-Administrative Districts and of Byzantine Administration in Armenia During the 11th Century." Revue des Études Arméniennes. N.S. 20, (1986-1987), p. 315.
  11. ^ a b Garsoïan, Nina G. "Pakourianos." Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, Vol. 3, p. 1553.
  12. ^ Anna Comnena, “The Alexiad”, translated by E.R.A. Sewter, London: Penguin Books, 1969, p. 81.
  13. ^ (in Russian) Abaza, Viktor. История Армении. Saint Petersburg, 1888, p. 83.
  14. ^ Typikon of Gregory Pakourianos for the Monastery of the Mother of God Petritzonitissa in Bachkovo. Page 54, paragraph 71.
  15. ^ Paul Lemerle. Le Monde Byzantin. Cinq études sur le XIe siècle Byzantin. Le Typikon de Grégoire Pakourianos (Décembre 1083). Édition CNRS. Paris, 1977, p. 157.
  16. ^ Arutjunova-Fidanjan, Типик Григория Пакуриана, p. 120.
  17. ^ Mango, Cyril Alexander. The Oxford History of Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 12. ISBN 0-19-814098-3.
  18. ^ Gautier, P., "Le typikon du sèbaste Grégoire Pacourianos." Revue des Etudes Byzantines 42, 1984, p. 158.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gregory_Pakourianos. "Typicon Pacuriani (Regula monasterii Petriconi)" (in Old Georgian, written in 1083)
  • Chanidze, A., "Au sujet du batisseur de monastere de Petritsoni Grigol Bakourianis-dze (en Bulgarie)," BK 38 (1980), 36; idem, "Le grand domestique de l'occident, Gregorii Bakurianis-dze, et le monastere georgien fonde par lui en Bulgarie," BK 28 (1971), 134
  • (in Russian) Arutiunova-Fidanian, V. A. Типик Григория Пакуриана. Введение, перевод и комментарий. Ереван, 1978, с. 249 (The Typikon of Gregorius Pacurianus, Yerevan, 1978, p. 249.
  • Comnena, Anna, “The Alexiad”, Translated by E.R.A. Sewter, Pengium Books Ltd., London, 1969, (reprinted in 2003), pp. 560.
  • Petit, L., Typikon de Grégoire Pacourianos pour le monastère de Pétritzos (Bachkovo) en Bulgarie, texte original, Viz. Vrem., XI, Suppl. no 1, SPB 1904, XXXII+63 p.
  • Gautier, P. Le typikon du sébaste Grégoire Pakourianos. - Revue des études byzantines, T. 42 (1984), pp. 5-145
  • (in Russian) Marr, Nicholas. Н. Я. Марр. Аркаун – монгольское название христиан в связи с вопросом об армянах-халкедонитах (Византийский временник”, т. XII, С. Петербург, 1905. Отдельный оттиск). ( Arkaun, the Mongolian name of Christians in connection with the question of the Armenians-Chalcedonian. Saint-Petersburg, 1905, pp. 17–31 ).
  • Obolensky, D., Nationalism in Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 22, (1972), pp. 1–16
  • Ostrogorsky, G., Observations on the Aristocracy in Byzantium: Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 25, (1971), pp. 1–32
  • Shanidze, A., "The Georgian Monastery in Bulgaria and its Typikon: the Georgian Edition of the Typikon" (in Georgian and Russian)," Works 9 (1986), Tbilisi: Metsniereba. pp. 29-36
  • Toumanoff, Cyril. "Caucasia and Byzantium." Traditio 27 (1971), pp. 111–152.

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