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The title of prōtosebastos (Greek: πρωτοσέβαστος, "first sebastos") was a high Byzantine court title created by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1181).


Although the title first appears in a document of 1049, where Domenico I Contarini, the Doge of Venice, uses it alongside the title of patrikios to refer to himself, it is commonly accepted that it was created by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1181).[1] It was first conferred to his brother Adrianos,[2] while another early holder, his brother-in-law Michael Taronites, was soon raised to the even higher title of panhypersebastos.[1] It was also conferred on Sergius VI of Naples and his son, John VI, at about the same time.[3]

Later, during the 12th century, it was given to close relatives of the Byzantine emperor, such as the eldest son of a sebastokratōr.[4] In the Palaiologan period it was conferred to leading aristocratic families, such as the Tarchaneiotai, the Raoul, etc.[1]

The Book on Offices by Pseudo-Kodinos, written shortly after the middle of the 14th century, places the prōtosebastos in the thirteenth place in the overall hierarchy after the emperor, between the megas logothetēs and the pinkernēs.[5] His ceremonial costume comprised a golden-green skiadion hat with silk embroideries, or a domed skaranikon in a reddish apricot colour decorated with gold-wire embroidery, with a painted glass depiction of the emperor standing in front, and enthroned in the rear. A rich silk kabbadion tunic was also worn.[6]

Notable holders[edit]


  1. ^ a b c ODB, "Protosebastos" (A. Kazhdan), pp. 1747–1748.
  2. ^ Magdalino 2002, p. 181.
  3. ^ von Falkenhausen 2007, p. 107.
  4. ^ Stiernon 1965, p. 224.
  5. ^ Verpeaux 1966, p. 137.
  6. ^ Verpeaux 1966, p. 155.