The legal dossiers of Chomatenos and Apokaukos have been called some of the best sources for the Byzantine family. Yet, despite being produced in a slave-holding society where unfree families continued to exist and unfree members of the household were commonplace, slaves and freedmen are scarcely visible in the cases attested in either corpus.

This article seeks to demonstrate that the impressive dossiers of Demetrios Chomatenos and John Apokaukos, when read alongside near-contemporary evidence from other ecclesiastical sources, can in fact shed light on aspects of kinship and family life among enslaved or formerly enslaved individuals and may thus serve as a useful source for the study of Byzantine slavery in the first half of the thirteenth century. Understanding the terminology they employ, which may mask the precise legal status of people, nevertheless reveals aspects of the lived realities of (formerly) enslaved people as members of families, in varying capacities, and the ways in which their lives intersected with the rest of Byzantine society. Likewise, the coincidence of terminology in cases like pallake/concubine further reveals cultural attitudes and expectations of those subsumed under those categories, including current or former slaves.