Megas logothetes

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The megas logothetēs (Greek: μέγας λογοθέτης, "Grand Logothete") was an official who served as effective foreign minister, and frequently as the head of the civil administration during the last centuries of the Byzantine Empire.

History and functions[edit]

The post originated as the logothetēs tōn sekretōn, established by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118) in an attempt to improve the coordination of the various fiscal departments (sekreta).[1][2] In the late 12th century, the logothetēs tōn sekretōn had risen to a pre-eminent position among the civil administrators, and was increasingly called the megas logothetēs.[3] The all-powerful logothetēs tōn sekretōn Theodore Kastamonites, maternal uncle and de facto regent of the Empire during the early reign of Isaac II Angelos (r. 1185–1195, 1203–1204), was the first to be officially called megas logothetēs in a chrysobull of 1192.[4]

The logothetēs tōn sekretōn disappeared after 1204, and in its place, the megas logothetēs appears in the Empire of Nicaea and under the revived Palaiologan-era Byzantine Empire.[5] The functions of the megas logothetēs were completely different from his antecedent, however. In the 13th–14th centuries, the megas logothetēs assumed the conduct of foreign affairs, previously the purview of the logothetēs tou dromou. The holders of the post frequently functioned as the chief minister of the Empire, a role designated in the sources as mesazōn.[6] In the early 14th century, the megas logothetēs also exercised the functions of the former Eparch of Constantinople, until Andronikos III Palaiologos (r. 1328–1341), seeking to secure his throne after winning the civil war of 1321–1328, assigned them to the prōtostratōr.[7]

The megas logothetēs was unique among the logothetes in retaining both its exalted position and a function; by the time pseudo-Kodinos compiled his Book of Offices, shortly after the middle of the 14th century, if not already far earlier, the logothetēs tou genikou, logothetēs tou dromou, logothetēs toū stratiōtikou, and logothetēs tōn agelōn had lost any real function and had devolved to purely honorific titles.[7]

Today, the leading offikion among the archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople still bears the title of "Grand Logothete".[8]


  1. ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 1247.
  2. ^ Guilland 1971, pp. 75–76.
  3. ^ Guilland 1971, p. 78.
  4. ^ Guilland 1971, pp. 83–84.
  5. ^ Guilland 1971, pp. 78–79.
  6. ^ Guilland 1971, pp. 101–102.
  7. ^ a b Guilland 1971, p. 102.
  8. ^ "Offikion - Archon Titles". Order of St. Andrew the Apostle: Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Order of Saint Andrew. 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011.