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Karbeas

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Karbeas

Karbeas (Greek: Καρβέας) was a Paulician leader, founder and ruler of the Paulician principality of Tephrike from circa 843 until his death in 863.

Biography

Karbeas was initially a protomandator (senior staff officer) at the service of Theodotos Melissenos, the Byzantine strategos of the Anatolic theme.[1][2]


During the first decades of the 9th century, the Paulicians were established as a numerous and warlike community but seen as heretics by the Byzantine state and consequently suffered on-and-off persecution. Under the leadership of their spiritual and military head, Sergius-Tychicus, they staged a number of revolts against Byzantium from their various strongholds throughout Anatolia, collaborating with the Arabs on occasion.[3] As a result, the Byzantine empress-regent Theodora launched an empire-wide pogrom against the Paulicians in 843, where allegedly up to 100,000 Paulicians perished. With some 5,000 followers, Karbeas fled to the Arab emirate of Melitene.[1][4] It is however possible that Karbeas and his co-religionists had already fled to Arab territory already during the reign of Theodora's husband Theophilos (r. 829–842).[5]

With the aid of the emir of Melitene Umar al-Aqta, Karbeas established an independent Paulician state centered around Tephrike on the Upper Euphrates, which also included the newly founded cities of Amara and Argaous. From there, he participated regularly in the raids (razzias) by the Arab border emirates into Byzantine Anatolia.[4][6][7] According to the Patriarch Photius, Karbeas was only the military leader of the Paulician community, and no successor to Sergius as the spiritual head was appointed.[8] He died in 863, either of natural causes or at the hands of the Byzantines in the Battle of Lalakaon,[1][9] and was succeeded by his nephew, Chrysocheir.[10]

Karbeas has been suggested as the inspiration behind Karoes (Καρώης), the Muslim uncle of the father of Digenes Akritas, the eponymous hero of the most famous of the Acritic songs. In a similar manner, Chrysocheir is found in the figure of Digenes's grandfather, Chrysocheres.[11][12] According to the 10th-century account of al-Mas'udi (The Meadows of Gold, VIII, 74–75) he was among the illustrious Muslims whose portraits were displayed in Byzantine churches in recognition of their valour.[11]

References

Sources

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