Eunuchs

   Castrated males. In Byzantium (q.v.), from the reign of Constantius II (q.v.), they traditionally held high positions in the state civil and military administration and within the church. In theory, they were without family and totally dependent on the emperor, which explains the great confidence and authority placed in them. The staff (called koubikoularioi [q.v.]) of the imperial apartments were eunuchs who prepared the emperor's bed and clothing, served his meals, and planned his personal schedule. Famous highranking eunuchs include Eutropios, Samonas, Joseph Bringas, and John the Orphanotrophos (qq.v.). In the court of Alexios I Komnenos (q.v.) alone, for example, there were 12 high-ranking eunuchs, a host of eunuch servants, in addition to the patriarch (q.v.) Eustratios Garidas. Other eunuch patriarchs include Germanos I in the eighth century, and Methodios I and Ignatios (qq.v.) in the ninth century. The most famous eunuch general was Narses (q.v.), who served Justinian I (q.v.). Not all eunuchs were as reliable as Narses. Many plotted and intrigued, such as John the Orphanotrophos who engineered his brother's accession to the throne as Michael IV (q.v.). Nikephoritzes (q.v.), who administered state affairs for Michael VII (q.v.), achieved great power but also great condemnation.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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