It is now clear, contrary to interpretations that prevailed through most of thetwentieth century, that the economy of the Byzantine empire expanded rapidly between 950 and 1200.1 It is also clear that in this same period an aristocracy emerged which was integral to the state system, but whose power did not rest exclusively on access to offices of state. While public office remained prestigious and potentially lucrative throughout the period under consideration, to paraphrase Michael Psellos, the great polymath of the eleventh century, many preferred to “belch forth their family’s great name.”2 These belchers included the Phokades, Doukai and Komnenoi, each in turn an imperial family, but whose members were committed in the first instance to the promotion of the family and its interests at the expense of the state. The emergence of a self-aware aristocracy can be traced in histories, chronicles and saints’ lives, where, by 1200, 80 per cent of individuals bear a second name, in contrast to 20 per cent in c. 800.3 The emergence of aristocratic self-consciousness is even more marked on the lead seals which were used to secure and guarantee official correspondence. There has survived from before 900 not a single seal which bears a family name, but dozens from the last quarter of the tenth century and hundreds (perhaps thousands) from the eleventh century bear surnames. The typical seal bears a forename followed by the title and rank held by the individual in the state hierarchy, and ends with the surname.4 These individuals, representatives both of the state and of their families, may have felt conflicted loyalties, but a wealth of evidence suggests that few felt any compunction to place the interests of the state above those of kin.