Konstantinos Angelos Doukas, before 1193. Seal (Lead, 45 mm, 39.43 g, 12 h). X/A/I/PЄ - KAI/XA/PI/T/ω/MЄ/NH - O / KC / MЄ/TA / C૪ ('Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.') The Annunciation: the Virgin standing facing on the right, nimbate and raising her right hand with the palm turned outwards; on the left, the angel Gabriel, nimbate, advancing towards the Virgin, raising his right hand and holding wand in his left. Rev. +ΠOP/ΦVPOΦVOVC / ЄKΓONON KωN/CTANTINON: ΠPω/TЄΞAΔЄΛΦOV AΓΓЄΛON RACIΛЄωC / KVPωMA ΓPAΦωN / H CΦPAΓIC ΔI/AΓPAΦЄI ('The seal, as affirmation of his writings, names Konstantinos Angelos, grandson of one who was born in the Porphyra and first cousin of the emperor.') in nine lines. Wassiliou-Seibt, Corpus 1812. Zacos/Veglery 2743a-c. A magnificent Byzantine seal, very sharp and undoubtedly the finest known. Breaks in patina on the edge, otherwise, good extremely fine.
The obverse of this splendid seal depicts Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to the Virgin, a familiar scene, but very rarely found on Byzantine seals. The episode was known to the Byzantines as the 'Chairetismos', but interestingly, the seal legend quotes the words of Gabriel from the Gospel of Luke (1, 28). From the intricate family ties mentioned in the reverse legend, which is composed of three twelve-syllable verses, we can deduce that the owner of our seal was Konstantinos Angelos Doukas, first cousin of Isaac II Angelos (1185-1195 and 1203-1204) and grandson of Theodora Komnene. His grandmother was born in the Porphyra, the 'Purple chamber', a free-standing pavilion of the imperial palace, implying that she was born to an emperor (Alexios I) - a great honor that was evidently deemed worthy enough to be proudly mentioned by her grandson even a century later. Isaac II Komnenos appointed his cousin Konstantinos, born in circa 1173, as commander of the Byzantine fleet and governor of Philippopolis in the war against the Bulgarian Uprising of Asen and Peter (1185-1204). The young general succeeded in winning some battles against Tsar Theodor-Peter (1186-1190 and 1196-1197), but when he declared himself emperor in 1193 against the advice of his entourage, he was betrayed by his own followers and handed over to his imperial cousin, who had him blinded.