Cephallenia (theme)

The theme of Cephalonia or Kefalonia (Greek θέμα Κεφαλληνίας / Κεφαλονίας, theme Kephallēnias / Kephalonias ) was a Byzantine theme in Western Greece, which included the Ionian Islands and existed from the 8th to the 12th century. It is named after the eponymous island


In the period of the Eastern Roman Empire ( Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Ithaca, Leucas and Kythera ) part of the Roman province of Achaea and Epirus were vetus. With the exception Kytheras these islands were later the subject of Cephalonia. The islands remained from the Settlement of the Slavs in the Balkans in the 7th century untouched and so established a bridgehead for the restoration of Byzantine power and (re- ) Hellenization of the Greek mainland.

The exact date of establishment of the theme of Cephalonia is unknown. Emperor Constantine VII (reigned 913-949 ), in his work De imperio administrando that Cephallenia originally the seat of a Turma ( Division ) of the topic Longobardia in southern Italy, the. Reign of Emperor Leo VI (reigned 886-912 ) to the position of a Strategis ( a " generals "), but no original topic was expanded. However, this is obviously wrong, because several Militägouverneure ( strategoi ) of Cephallenia are known to us from sources before the reign of Leo. So the Taktikon Uspensky of 842/843 speaks clearly of a strategos of Cephalonia and the Latin written chronicle Annales regni Francorum already reported 809 of those. Seal can be the origin of the Strategis of Cephallenia are probably already in the mid- 8th century.

The Constantine VII error in any case shows the strong link between the theme of Cephalonia with the Byzantine possessions in southern Italy: the Ionian islands served as liaison and military base of operations in southern Italy, they also guarded the access to the Ionian and Adriatic sea against Arab pirates. In several cases, the command of the issues of Cephalonia and was Longobardia ( alternatively Nicopolis in Epirus ) exercised by the same person.

The strategos of the theme probably sat on Cephalonia, but perhaps also in Corfu. In De imperio administrando is the subject of the seventh rank among the " Western" or European issues; Cephallenia was a nautical theme, which had its own fleet, in which some Mardaiten did as marines and rowers under a Tour Marches service. Other Tourmarchai stood in front of the garrisons of the topic. The historian W. Treadgold estimates the army of the topic in the 9th century to 2000 men. The topic has been often used as exile for political prisoners.

In the year 809 of the strategos Paulo defeated a Venetian fleet off the coast of Dalmatia. In the year 880 the admiral Nasar destroying an Arab fleet, which devastated the islands of the topic. Troops from Cephallenia took over again participated in campaigns in Italy. Mardaiten from Cephallenia took part in the failed expedition of 949 against the Emirate of Crete. The last mention of a strategos of Cephalonia takes place in 1011, as Kontoleon Tornikios was sent to Italy to suppress the Lombard revolt. After the collapse of Byzantine control in southern Italy in the mid-11th century, the importance of the topic took off and it was now a Krites ( "judge" ) managed.

From the late 11th century, the Ionian Islands became the battlefield of the Byzantine-Norman wars. The island of Corfu was occupied by the Normans in 1081-1085 and again in 1147-1149, the Venetians besieged it unsuccessfully 1122-1123. The island of Kefalonia was also unsuccessfully besieged in 1085, but was sacked by Pisans in 1099 and 1126 by the Venetians. Finally, Corfu and the other islands of the topic, with the exception of Leucas was conquered by the Normans under William II in 1185. Although Corfu was retaken by the Byzantines in 1191 remained lost the other islands of Byzantium; they formed a county palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos under the leadership of Admiral Wilhelm Greek Margaritos of Brindisi.