Hellas (theme)

The theme of Hellas (Greek θέμα Ἑλλάδος ) was a Byzantine theme, which was located in the south-eastern Greece. The topic areas included in Central Greece, Thessaly, and until about 800, the Peloponnese. It was established in the late 7th century and lasted until the 12th century.


Hellas was to describe as a term already in use in the 6th century, southern Greece in administrative terms, eg it is needed in Synekdemos as an alternative name for the Roman province of Achaea. In the 7th century, the collapse of the Danube Limes allowed the Slavs, almost to plunder the entire Balkan peninsula and settle. In Greece, Slavic associations were able to settle undisturbed since the Byzantine Empire was engaged in the defense of the Islamic expansion in the East. A majority of the Greek population fled to fortified places of retreat or to Italy.

The emergence of the theme of Hellas is dated to the years 687-695, during the reign of the Emperor Justinian II (reigned 685-695 and 705-711 ). It is probably a result of his campaign against the Slavs 688/689. The first strategos of Hellas is 695 occupied: Leontius, former strategos of Anatolikon who had fallen after the battle of Sebastopolis the Emperor in disgrace. Although use contemporary sources before the 8th century the term strategia ( " Generals " ), and not "theme" for Hellas, it is very likely that Hellas was organized like all other areas of the empire to a topic that the area of ancient Roman province of Achaea consisted, as far as it was still in Byzantine violence. The original expansion of the topic is controversial, but is likely to have been limited to the Byzantine -held east coast of Central Greece and parts of Thessaly, possibly also the eastern Peloponnese, as well as some Aegean islands such as Skyros and Kea. It is unclear whether Athens or Thebes was the original capital of the topic; likely Thebes, which fulfilled this role with security in the 10th century appears. In the second half of the 10th century, the seat of the strategos was ' moved to Larissa.

Lacking the subject of a spacious hinterland, it was originally well- aligned maritime. Emperor Justinian II settled there on a few thousand Marada that sent some local garrisons. The number of land units probably remained low throughout the existence of the subject. The fleet of Hellas played an important role in the anti- iconoclastic revolt of 726 During the eighth century, the Byzantine Empire stretched back out gradually over the mainland. The local Slavs were Christianized and subjected to Byzantine control, but often retained their own Archontes. This process was interrupted while in the 740ern by another settlement wave of Slavs, but not stopped. The campaign of Staurakios in the year 783 presented the imperial supremacy in the Peloponnese and northern Greece restore. This meant that split off the Peloponnese and around the year 800 made ​​its own theme.

During the 9th and early 10th century Hellas suffered from Saracen pirates, especially after the conquest of Crete by the Arabs in the 820ern (see Emirate of Crete), and by repeated raids under Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I (reigned 893-927 ), which even reached the Peloponnese. Nevertheless, Hellas shows, like the rest of Greece, from the 9th century mark greater prosperity, such as the creation of new towns and the introduction of new lines of production ( best known here is the silk industry in Thebes). The Bulgarian Tsar Samuil under renewed threat, which occupied 987 Thessaly and several forays into central Greece and the Peloponnese in took until he was defeated at the Battle of Spercheios in 997. Then Hellas experienced a period longer peace, interrupted only by looting in the wake of the uprising of Peter Deylan (1040-1041) and the unsuccessful Norman attacks on Thessaly 1082-1083.

During the 10th and 11th centuries, Hellas and the Peloponnese were usually commanded by a single strategos, and the extent to which increased the importance of the civil administration, the same was true also in this area, so that a Protonotarios, Praetor and Krites for both subjects was appointed. Thessaly seems to have been added to the theme of Thessalonica between the early 11th and 12th centuries. Towards the end of the 11th century, the combined themes of Hellas Peloponnese came under the command of the Megas Doux, the Grand Admiral of the Byzantine fleet. Since this but not resided in the subject, remained the local administration in the Praetor. The territory of Hellas remained until 1204 under Byzantine control until it came as a result of the Fourth Crusade under the rule of the Latin kingdom of Thessalonica and Athens.