History and functions
The title is first attested in 412, as the comes sacrae vestis, an official in charge of the Byzantine emperor's "sacred wardrobe" (Latin: sacra vestis), coming under the praepositus sacri cubiculi. In Greek, the term used was oikeiakon vestiarion (Greek: οἰκειακόν βεστιάριον, "private wardrobe"), and by this name it remained known from the 7th century onward. As such, the office was distinct from the public or imperial wardrobe, the basilikon vestiarion, which was entrusted to a state official, the chartoularios tou vestiariou. The private wardrobe also included part of the Byzantine emperor's private treasury, and controlled an extensive staff.
Consequently, the holders of this office came second only to the parakoimomenos in court hierarchy, functioning as the latter's aides. In the 9th–11th centuries, protovestiarioi were appointed as generals and ambassadors. In the 11th century, the title rose further in importance, eclipsing the kouropalates; transformed into an honorary title, it also began being given to non-eunuchs, including members of the imperial family. As such, the title survived until the late Palaiologan period, its holders including high-ranking ministers and future Byzantine emperors.
The female equivalent was the protovestiaria (Greek: πρωτοβεστιαρία), the head of the Byzantine empress' servants. Protovestiarioi are also attested for private citizens, in which case again the title refers to their head servant and treasurer.
- Constantine Leichoudes, later patriarch as Constantine III
- Andronikos Doukas
- Alexios Raoul, under John III Vatatzes
- George Mouzalon, chief minister of Theodore II Laskaris and short-lived regent
- Alexios V Doukas
- John III Vatatzes
- Michael Tarchaneiotes, nephew of Michael VIII Palaiologos
- Vestararius, papal office derivative of the protovestiarios
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