The title of protosebastos (Greek: πρωτοσέβαστος, prōtosébastos, "first sebastos") was a high Byzantine court title created by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.


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. 1081–1118).[1] It was first conferred to his brother Adrianos,[2] while another early holder, his brother-in-law Michael Taronites, was soon after 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 holdersEdit


  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.


  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
  • Magdalino, Paul (2002) [1993]. The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143–1180. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52653-1.
  • Stiernon, Lucien (1965). "Notes de titulature et de prosopographie byzantines: Sébaste et gambros". Revue des études byzantines. 23: 222–243. doi:10.3406/rebyz.1965.1349.
  • Verpeaux, Jean, ed. (1966). Pseudo-Kodinos, Traité des Offices (in French). Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
  • von Falkenhausen, Vera (2007). "The South Italian Sources". Proceedings of the British Academy. 132.