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Theodore Gabras (1050-1098)

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Saint Theodore Gabras of Antran
St.gavras2l
Birth: 1050 Atra, Koloneia, Byzantine Empire
Death: 2 October 1098 Erzerum, Turkey
Spouse/partner: Unknown
Spouse/partner (2): Mariam of Alania
Sex: Male Icon
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Saint Theodore Gabras of Antran was born 1050 in Atra, Koloneia, Byzantine Empire and died 2 October 1098 in Erzerum, Turkey of Martyr.


Sources and notes

Theodore Gabras or Theodore Gavras (Greek: Θεόδωρος Γαβρᾶς) was a Byzantine governor in the Pontus. He was involved in a minor unsuccessful rebellion against the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos around the year 1091. He later fought against the Turks and was captured. He was killed because he refused to give up his Christian faith. The Orthodox Church canonized him as Saint Theodore Gavras of Antran in Chaldia of Pontus.

Early life

Theodore originally hailed from the Theme of Chaldia, and he had spent most of his adult life serving in the Byzantine army. A violent and energetic man, he had gained considerable fame as a gifted soldier, both courageous and cunning, with an outstanding record of success. It was reported that he rarely failed in any military task, and invariably got the better of his enemies. Already by 1067, when he commissioned a gospel preserved in St Petersburg, he had risen to the ranks of patrikios, topoteretes and hypatos.[1]

In 1075 a Byzantine army under the command of Theodore Gavras, which had been despatched to Trebizond to drive the Turcomans out of Trabzon and the surrounding area recaptured the territories that had been lost. Theodore Gavras, who returned to Istanbul after his victory, was appointed governor of the Chaldia Thema, which included Trebizond and the surrounding area and of which Trebizond was the centre, by the Byzantine Emperor, Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118).

In Trebizond Theodore Gavras acted quite independently of the Emperor and defended Niksar and Şebinkarahisar against the forces of Emir Danişment, extending the borders of Trebizond as far as the Bayburt region, at the same time defending Trabzon from Georgian raids. In the region which stretched from Samsun to Gümüşhane he had a number of castles built to form a defence system to keep the mountain passes leading to the coast under control, thus dominating the coast from Samsun to a point to the east of Trabzon.

His crowning glory was the recapture of Trebizond from the Seljuk Turks during the 1080s, which he ruled for a time as if it were his own personal fiefdom.

By the late 1080s, Theodore was once again residing at Constantinople, where Alexios I was keeping a concerned eye on him. In order to avoid any unnecessary temptations, he formally appointed Theodore Dux of Trebizond and ordered him to take up his post. Leaving his eldest son Gregory at the court with the Sebastokrator Isaac Komnenos, to whose daughter Gregory was engaged, he returned to Trebizond.

Soon afterwards his first wife died, so Theodore married, apparently in 1091, a "most noble" lady from "Alania", and the first cousin of Isaac Komnenos's wife. According to Professor Cyril Toumanoff, the lady was the Georgian Bagratid princess Mariam, daughter of the Georgian king Bagrat IV and sister of the Byzantine princess Maria.[2] When this became known the engagement between Gregory and the Komnenos daughter was broken off, as they were now considered close relatives and their marriage was prohibited by civil and ecclesiastic law. Alexios however was worried about Theodore’s reaction, so he kept Gregory at the court as a hostage in order to ensure Theodore’s continued good behavior.

Defiance against Alexios I

By 1091, Theodore had returned to the capital and was demanding the return of his son. Alexios refused, claiming he was contemplating marrying the boy to one of his own daughters. Disbelieving the emperor, Theodore hatched a plot to rescue his son and get him to safety at Trebizond in secret. He initially agreed to hand over his son; then on the eve of his departure he had dinner with the Sebastokrator, with whom he was now related through his second marriage. He begged to be allowed a further twenty-four hours with his son, which Isaac agreed to. The next day, he asked if Gregory could accompany him on the first stage of his journey to Sosthenium, where he intended to pitch his camp. His minders agreed, but when Theodore then proposed that Gregory accompany him further, they initially said no before Theodore managed to convince them. They made it to the port of Pharus when Theodore secretly boarded a merchant ship along with Gregory and fled onto the Euxine.

This act of rebellion stirred Alexios into action, and he sent a squadron of ships to overtake Theodore with orders to bring Gregory back to the capital no matter what. They overtook the ship near the town of Aeginus and advised Theodore that were he to refuse to hand over his son, he would be arrested as a rebel. Theodore, still distant from his seat of power and outnumbered, backed down and allowed Alexios’ emissaries to take Gregory back with them, while he continued on his way back to Trebizond. Gregory then formed another plot to escape but it too was discovered and he was imprisoned at Philippopolis for his troubles.

Career after 1091

A man of Theodore’s military talents was too good to waste, and by 1097 he was once again at the front line, this time fighting the Turks as part of the initial alliance with the Crusaders. While the Franks were engaged at the Siege of Antioch, Theodore was marching with Alexios and helping him recapture towns in western Asia Minor. He was prominent in the capture of Palpert, which was subsequently besieged by the Turks who hoped to reclaim it. Turning around, Theodore contemplated a night attack against the enemy, but changed his mind. It is assumed that he was successful in the subsequent battle.

After Theodore Gavras, who was defeated in a battle against the army of Ismail, son of Danişmend Gazi (?-1104), on the bank of the Çoruh River near Bayburt in 1098. In the battle of Bayburt in Armenia Theodore Gavras was taken as a prisoner and few month later in Erzerum he met the death as a Martyr because he refused to be convered into Mohammedan religion.

Martyrdom

However he was later captured under Divine Economy by one of Emir Achmet Melik's generals called Amyrali. Surpassing all others in physical cruelty, Amyrali compelled Saint Theodore to deny Christ the Savior and to embrace the faith of the impious Hagarenes, promising to bestow upon the saint riches and glory fit for a king if he submitted otherwise he would not only be punished by various and severe forms of torture, but that he will also be killed if refused to embrace their unfaith.

Instead of appeasing the tyrant and illuminating his heart with these salvific words of Martyr Theodore, Amyrali became even more hardhearted to the point of submitting St. Theodore to the most severe tortures. First Amyrali had the saint spread face down in the snow and vigorously whipped his back, thinking that this would weaken the saint and make him renounce Our Holy and Pure Faith. Amyrali was whipping Blessed Theodore in vain. St. Theodore not only remained steadfast, "Like Mount Zion" (Psalm 125: 1) on the pious rock of Our Faith, but continued to exclaim the following to the heights of Heaven, "Thank you, Most High King, Son and Word of God, that you have found me, unworthy that I am, to be brought before the stadium of struggle. Empower me, Lord, to become a worthy sacrifice before You, Master, as your grace of salvation to mankind, with Your outstretched Hands on the Cross. Deign; Holy King, to see me become a participant in your Heavenly Kingdom."

When the tyrant witnessed and heard the words and prayers of the saint, he burst into a frenzy, ordering his men to sever the Martyr's members beginning with his God-bearing tongue and then he proceeded to cruelly pluck out the saint's eyes and then to scalp him and skin his feet, hands and finally to deprive him of the rest of his members which were then thrown into a fire. Even though his God-proclaiming tongue was cut out of his mouth, the Blessed and Saintly Theodore miraculously continued to preach and praise the Savior. St. Theodore offered his tongue as a most beautiful gift with which to honor the Savior.

When the saint's eyes were mercilessly deprived from him, Blessed Theodore exclaimed, " I offer my eyes as a sacrifice to the True Divine Light which gave us our sight."

When they were removing the skin from his head, St. Theodore was heard saying, " Whatever the Creator heaped up in my head, I am indebted to honor, observe and keep as a refuge of my faith."

When they were severing the saint's hands, feet and the rest of his members, he thanked the Lord, praying, " Like a sweet grapevine, am I cut down and offered to God."

In the end, the remnants of St. Theodore were thrown into the fire. Just as the Three Holy Children were thrown into the fiery furnace and were not harmed, yet continued to glorify and praise God, so it was with St. Theodore Gavras, who, being thrown into a furnace was seen to be seated in a chariot in the philanthropy of the Most High One, calling all around him to chant and sing hymns to Our Savior. Then he gave up his blessed soul into the Hands of the Living God, finishing the race of piety with great struggle and astonishing all around him with his supernatural perseverance and valiance.


St. Theodore Gavras, the most glorious Great Martyr of Christ was martyred in the year of Our Lord's salvation 1098 on the second day of October and was given by the Hand of the Lord a crown for the wondrous and amazing martyrical struggle and death, fighting his intelligent and sensible enemies. The honorable skull of St. Theodore was received by the tyrant Amyrali who fashioned it into a drinking cup and covered it in a layer of gold in honor of the Martyr and to remind himself of the saint's supernatural bravery which continued to amaze him. This all honorable relic performed many miracles and cured many people in Theodosiople (Erzerum), the city where the saint underwent his martyrdom. Afterwards, St. Theodore's skull was translated* to Trebizond, the city of Protosebastor* Constantine Gavras, nephew of the Great Martyr, who was now ruler of the city. Protosebastor Constantine concerned himself with translating the skull to Trebizond which he did with a great celebration and torchlight procession and with great pomp and ceremony. The procession ended when the holy relic was placed in the Holy Monastery built by his nephew Constantine Gavras and dedicated to St. Theodore Gavras where all could honor and venerate his relics.

There are no further details about Theodore after this encounter. His younger son Constantine Gabras succeeded him as Dux of Chaldia. his son Gregori Gavras (Taronites) was appointed governor of Trabzon (Duke of Chaldia) in 1103.

References

  1. ^ Kazhdan (1991), p. 812
  2. ^ Lynda Garland & Stephen Rapp. Mary 'of Alania': Woman and Empress Between Two Worlds, pp. 94-5. In: Lynda Garland (ed., 2006), Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience, 800-1200. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 075465737X.

Sources

Первые Гаврасы. (X – XI века)

1. Константин (I) Гаврас – анатолийский повстанец, убит в 979 году. Участник восстания Варды Склира, которое охватило малоизатские провинции Византии, в частности Джаник и Мелитену. Погиб в битве с имперскими войсками. (Брайер, 174, Бартикян, 395).

2. N. Гаврас - архонт и патрикий, Участник антивизантийского выступления болгар в Фессалониках в 1018 году. По мнению Бартикяна этот Гаврас был сподвижником Самуила Комитопула, армянского полководца на службе Византии, который в 970 году, будучи во главе двух гвардейских полков, выступил против империи на стороне болгар, а в 997-1014 был царем Болгарии. После смерти Самуила N. Гаврас вместе с неким Элинагом Франци продолжил борьбу против византийского господства в Болгарии. Бал арестован в Фессалониках и ослеплен (1018-1019). (Бартикян 396-399, Брайер 2, 38-39).

3.Михаил (I) Гаврас – вместе с другими «архонтами тагм» и военачальниками участник заговора против императора Михаила IV(1034-41 гг) душой которого был Григорий Таронит. Арестован и ослеплен в 1040 году. (Брайер, 174. Каждан, 89).

4. Лев Гаврас, имераторский спафарокандидат и плоиарх, печать, датированная около 1050 года. На аверсе печати изображение Святого Николая. ("Leon 20249" in PBW (2006.2), citing Seal 2815).


Дуки фемы Халдия 1067-1140

5. Святой Феодор (I) Гаврас, патрикий и топоторит, впоследствии дука и севаст, великомученик (около 1050 Атра – 2 октября 1098 Феодосиополь (Карин)). Согласно «Житию», он происходил из знатной и богатой семьи, действовавшей в фемах Халдия и Колония. Анна Комнина называет его успешным полководцем, но отмечает его «дерзкий» и «энергичный» характер. В 1075 году император Алексей Комнин удалил Феодора из Константинополя и назначил дукой Трапезунда. Феодору удалось освободить от турок-сельджуков Трапезунд (который они захватили у византийцев после 1071 года), а затем полностью очистить от них фемы Халдия и Колония. Он проявил себя как храбрый воин и правил фемой Халдией практически самостоятельно. Имперские власти терпели сепаратизм Феодора Гавраса, предпочитая власть в Трапезунде местного феодала захвату этого важного города сельджуками.

gavrasgen1

Будучи дукой Халдии, он делал богатые приношения понтийским монастырям Вазелон, Панагия Сумела, жертвовал деньги на строительство женского монастыря Святой Троицы. С большой долей вероятности его (или кого-то из его преемников: №6 или №7) можно считать основателем монастыря Святого Георгия в Хериане, о котором, называя только его фамилию Гаврас, сообщает Иоанн Лазаропул (Брайер, 181).

В 90-х годах вел войны с Данишмендидами из Севастии и царем Грузии Георгием. В 1098 году был захвачен в плен турками и казнен в Феодосиополе за отказ принять ислам. Герой понтийской греческой и турецкой поэзии, Православной церковью был причислен к лику Святых.

В Публичной библиотеке им. М.Е. Салтыкова-Щедрина сохранилось изображение «патрикия и топотирита» Феодора Гавраса на миниатюре из Синайского Евангелия (1067), с ним также изображена его жена, вероятно Ирина из армянского рода Таронитов. Ирина умерла до 1091, после чего Феодор женился второй раз на аланской принцессе, двоюродной сестре жены севастократора Исаака Комнина. Также сохранилась печать Феодора Гавраса с изображением Святого Феодора воина. (Брайер, 175, Каждан, 89-90).

6. Григорий (I) Гаврас, сын Феодора и Ирины Таронитиссы. Во время правления Феодора Гавраса в Халдии оставался заложником в Константинополе. В конце 80- годов XI века состоялась его помолвка с дочерью севастократора Исаака Комнина. Однако она была расторгнута в связи с тем, что в 1091 году Феодор Гаврас женился на аланской принцессе, приходившейся двоюродной сестре супруге севасторктора. По инициативе императора Алексея Комнина женился на Марии Порфирогините Конминой, которой тогда было шесть лет. Позже брак был аннулирован, и Мария вышла замуж за Никифора Евфорвина (до 1120).

Есть версия об идентичности Григория Гавраса и известного по письменным источникам того же времени дуки Халдии Григория Таронита. Около 1103 года Григорий Таронит был назначен дукой Халдии вместо Даватина, преемника №5, который оказался неэффективным на своей должности. Вел переговоры о выкупе Боэмунда Антихийского, который был заключен турками в Неокесарии. Вскоре Таронит выступил против центральной власти, заключил союз с Данишмендом и укрепился в замке Колония (1106). Был захвачен полководцем Иоанном Комнином, с позором проведен по улицам Константинополя и заключен в башне Анема. Впоследствии Таронит был выпущен на свободу, восстановлен в званиях и отпущен на родину (до 118) (Брайер, 176. Каждан, 91).

7. Константин (II) Гаврас, протоновелисим (?), протосеваст (По «Житию Святого Феодора Гавраса»), дука Халдии около 1118 - 1140. Племянник №5.

Вероятно, тождественен упоминаемому Анной Комниной Константину Гаврасу, полководцу на службе императора Алексея Комнина. Он сражался в составе императорской армии в битве при Диррахиуме (1108) против норманнских крестоносцев. Анна Комнина называет его «храбрым воином и злейшим врагом норманнов». В 1111 Константин Гаврас победил эмира Малик-шаха, старшего сына иконийского султана Килидж Арслана. В 1112-1113 он был правителем Филадельфии, в 1115 году командовал левым крылом императорской армии в битве при Филомелиуме.

Около 1118 назначен дукой Трапезунда. В 1119 году потерпел поражение от эмира Мелитены Балака и гази Гюмуштекина. Был взят в плен и выкуплен за 30.000 динаров. После этого неудачи Неокесария, видимо, окончательно перешла в руки сельджуков. В 1126 году поднял мятеж против имперской власти в Трапезунде и правил в Халдии как независимый правитель. В 1130 году к Гаврасу бежал севастократор Исаак Комнин, интриговавший против своего брата императора Иоанна II. В 1140 году император Иоанн II Комнин вновь присоединил Халдию к империи, Константин Гаврас был отправлен в изгнание. Мнение о том, что поход византийцев 1139-1140 гг. в Халдию был успешным, и привел к ликвидации власти Гаврасов в этом регионе иногда подвергается сомнению.

Во время своего правления учредил культ Святого Феодора Гавраса, перевез его останки в Трапезунд и построил церковь на месте их погребения.

В монастыре на горе Папикон (Фракия) была обнаружена печать с изображением Святого Георгия и надписью «Боже, помоги протоновелисиму Константину Гаврасу», которая возможно принадлежит этому представителю семьи.

gavrasgen2

В монастыре Святого Феодора Гавраса в Трапезунде еще в начале XX столетия сохранялось изображение знамени Константина Гавраса. Оно представляло собой триколор (коричневый, белый и лазурный) с короной в центре, одноглавым орлом в левом нижнем углу и портретом Святого Евгения Трапезундского в полный рост в нижнем правом углу.



Children


Offspring of Saint Theodore Gabras of Antran and Nomen nescio
Name Birth Death Joined with
Constantin Gabras
Gregory Gabras
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Sources and notes

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