BUTRUS (Melchite bishop of Misr)

A thirteenth-century Melchite bishop of Misr. Butrus is mentioned twice in an anonymous work relating the life of al-Mansur Qalawun, king of Egypt (A.D. 1279-1290), entitled Kitab Tashrif al-Ayyam wa-al-‘Usur ( of Arabic Literature). In both cases, the considers of armistice between the Genoans and al-Mansur, following naval battles.

Both texts are written by the bishop, who signs himself Butrus usquf Misr al-Malki (Peter, Melchite bishop of Misr). The Genoan emissary was Alberto Spinola, accompanied by consuls and traders. On the Egyptian side, the are four Melchites: Bishop Arsaniyus, the abbot of the Melchite monastery of al-Qusayr near Cairo, the deacon Matta, and Mkha’il, monk of Sinai. The agreement was concluded on 14 Ayyar anno mundi 6798/14 May 1290. The Genoans swore on the Gospel and the cross, “standing, with their heads uncovered.”

The Arabic text was published by Habib Zayyat in 1953 on the basis of a manuscript written in at the end of the thirteenth century (National Library, Paris, Arabe 1704 [not 174 as said by the editor]), the first witnessing in fols. 338a-40b, and the second in fols. 341a-52b.

The official chosen on the Egyptian side are Melchites and not Copts, probably because the treaty was being concluded with the Genoans who, according to categories, were “Melchites.”


  • Habib Zayyat. Al-Rum al-Malkiyyun fi al-Islam, Vol. 1. Harisa, 1953.