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Gazarenos of Kolonea held Saniana, an important fortress on the Halys.1 Michael sent a golden bull2 to these chiefs, announcing the death of Thomas and offering to give them a free pardon and to confer on them the rank of Magister, if they submitted. But they were wild folk, and they preferred the rewards of brigandage to honours at the Imperial Court. The messenger of Michael, however, accomplished by guile what he failed to accomplish openly. He seduced some of the garrisons of both towns, and persuaded them to close the gates upon their captains while they were abroad on their lawless raids. The work of tampering with the men of Choereas and Gazarenos demanded subtlety and caution, but the imperial messenger was equal to the emergency. The manner in which he won the ear of an oekonomos or steward of a church or monastery in Saniana, without arousing suspicion, is recorded. He found a peasant, by name Gyberion, who had a talent for music and used to spend his leisure hours in practising rustic songs. The envoy from the Court cultivated the friendship of this man and composed a song for him, which ran thus:
Hearken, Sir Steward, to Gyberis!
When these lines had been repeatedly sung by the man within the hearing of the oekonomos or of his friends, the meaning of the words was grasped and the hint taken. Shut out of their "cloud-capped towns " 4 the two rebels, Choereas and Gazarenos took the road for Syria, hoping to find a refuge there, like their dead leader Thomas. But before they could reach the frontier they were captured and hanged.
1 Saniana has been identified by Ramsay (Asia Minor, 218 sqq.) with Cheshnir Keupreu, on the east side of the Halys, south-east of Ancyra, a point at which the military road from Dorylaeum forked, one branch going eastward, the other south-eastward. If he is right, its military importance (implied, I think, in Cont. Them. 28) is clear.
2 Xpvooẞoúλov, Cont. Th. 72. 3 Krumbacher has restored verses as follows, G.B.L. 793 ib.:
ἄκουσε, κῦρι οἰκονόμε,
If this is right, the lines are eightsyllabled trochaics with accent on the penultima. For Neocaesarea in Pontus
Niksar, cp. Anderson, Studia Pontica, i. 56 sqq.
4 1b. 73 ὑπερνεφῶν τούτων πολιχ
The drama is now over; all the prophecies of the soothsayer of Philomelion have come true. The star of the Armenian and the star of the Slavonian have paled and vanished before the more puissant star of the man of Amorion; both Leo and Thomas have been done to death by Michael. He now wears the Imperial crown, without a rival; he has no more to fear or hope from unfulfilled soothsay.
We may now turn from the personal interest in the story to the more general aspects of this great civil war, which caused abundant misery and mischief. The historians describe how "it filled the world with all manner of evils, and diminished the population; fathers armed themselves against their sons, brothers against the sons of their mothers, friends against their dearest friends." 1 It was as if the cataracts of the Nile had burst, deluging the land not with water but with blood.2 The immediate author of these calamities was Thomas, and there is no doubt that his motive was simply personal ambition. The old man with the lame leg was not fighting for a principle, he was fighting for a diadem. But nevertheless he could not have done what he did if there had not been at work motives of a larger and more public scope, urging men to take up arms. It must not be forgotten that he originally revolted against Leo, and that his war with Michael was merely a continuation of that revolt. Now there were two classes of subjects in the Empire, who had good cause to be discontented with the policy of Leo, the image-worshippers and the Paulicians. The policy of Thomas, which he skilfully pursued, was to unite these discordant elements, orthodoxy and heresy, under a common standard. His pretence to be Constantine VI may have won the confidence of some imageworshippers, but he was possibly more successful in conciliating Paulicians and other heretics.
It is more important to observe that the rebellion probably initiated or promoted considerable social changes in the
1 Cont. Th. 49.
2 lb. 53.
3 He seems to have professed imageworship himself (Michael, Vit. Theod. Stud. 320 ἐλέγετο ἱερὰς εἰκόνας ἀποδέχεσθαί τε καὶ προσκυνεῖν) and the precautions of Michael, lest Theodore Stud. and his party should embrace his cause, bear this out. But Thomas
won no sympathy from the imageworshippers of Constantinople, and his memory was execrated by such a bigoted iconolater as George Mon. (793). Cp. below, p. 116. Ignatius the deacon (biographer of the Patriarch Nicephorus) wrote iambic verses on Thomas (rà катà Оwμâν), Suidas s.v. Ιγνάτιος.
Asiatic provinces. The system of immense estates owned by rich proprietors and cultivated by peasants in a condition of serfdom, which had prevailed in the age of Justinian, had been largely superseded by the opposite system of small holdings, which the policy of the Isaurian Emperors seems to have encouraged. But by the tenth century, vast properties and peasant serfs have reappeared, and the process by which this second transformation was accomplished must be attributed to the ninth. The civil war could not fail to ruin numberless small farmers who in prosperous times could barely pay their way, and the fiscal burdens rendered it impossible for them to recuperate their fortunes, unless they were aided by the State. But it was easier and more conducive to the immediate profit of the treasury to allow these insolvent lands to pass into the possession of rich neighbours, who in some cases might be monastic communities. It is probable that many farms and homesteads were abandoned by their masters. A modern historian, who had a quick eye for economic changes, judged that the rebellion of Thomas "was no inconsiderable cause of the accumulation of property in immense estates, which began to depopulate the country and prepare it for the reception of a new race of inhabitants." 1 If the government of Michael II. had been wise, it would have intervened, at all costs, to save the small proprietors. Future Emperors might thus have been spared a baffling economic problem and a grave political danger.
§ 3. The Ecclesiastical Policy of Michael
It was probably during or just after the war with Thomas that Thecla, the mother of Theophilus, died. At all events we find Michael soon after the end of the war making preparations for a second marriage, notwithstanding the deep grief which he had displayed at the death of his first wife. A second marriage of any kind was deprecated by the strictly orthodox, and some thought that at this juncture, when the Empire was involved in so many misfortunes, the Emperor showed little concern to appease an offended Deity. But the Senators were urgent with him that he should marry. 'It is 1 Finlay, ii. 133.
not possible," they said, "that an Emperor should live without a wife, and that our wives should lack a Lady and Empress." The writer who records this wishes to make his readers believe that the pressure of the Senate was exerted at the express desire of Michael himself.1 However this may be, it is interesting to observe the opinion that an Augusta was needed in the interests of Court society.
But those who carped at the idea of a second marriage were still more indignant when they heard who she was that the Emperor had selected to be Empress over them. It was not unfitting that the conqueror of the false Constantine should choose the daughter of the true Constantine for his wife. But Euphrosyne, daughter of Constantine VI., and grand-daughter of Irene, had long been a nun in a monastery on the island of Prinkipo, where she lived with her mother Maria. Here, indeed, was a scandal; here was an occasion for righteous indignation.2 Later historians at least made much of the crime of wedding a nun, but at the time perhaps it was more a pretext for spiteful gossip than a cause of genuine dissatisfaction.3 The Patriarch did not hesitate to dissolve Euphrosyne from her vows, that she might fill the high station for which her birth had fitted her. The new Amorian house might claim by this marriage to be linked with the old Isaurian dynasty.
The ecclesiastical leanings of Michael II. were not different from those of his predecessor, but he adopted a different
1 Cont. Th. 78. Our Greek authorities do not tell us directly that Thecla was alive when Michael acceded to the throne. But Michael Syr. 72 states that she died "when he had reigned four years"; and the language of Cont. Th. 78, in noticing his second marriage, seems decidedly to imply that she had died very recently. Michael Syr. adds a dark and incredible scandal that Euphrosyne bore a male child, and reflecting that it was of Jewish race and would " corrupt the Imperial stock" caused it to be killed.
2 Theodore of Studion denounced the Emperor for this unlawful (¿kvóμws) act in a catêchêsis, Parva Cat. 74, p. 258, and he wrote a letter to Maria,
exhorting her not to go and live with her daughter in the Palace (Epp. ii. 181; cp. Ep. 148 Cozza L.).
3 Compare Finlay ii. 142. He gives no reason for this view, but I find one in the silence of the contemporary George, who does not mention Euphrosyne. In the chronicle of Simeon (Add. Georg.783,789), she is mentioned, but the author does not know who she was and takes her for the mother of Theophilus.
4 It is a mistake to suppose (as Schwarzlose does, p. 73) that Michael was neutral. Grossu (Prep. Theodor. 151) properly calls him "a convinced iconoclast, though not a fanatic." Finlay (ii. 129) speaks of his "indifference to the ecclesiastical disputes
policy. He decided to maintain the iconoclastic reform of Leo, which harmonized with his own personal convictions; but at the same time to desist from any further persecution of the image-worshippers. We can easily understand that the circumstances of his accession dictated a policy which should, so far as possible, disarm the opposition of a large and influential section of his subjects. Accordingly, he delivered from prison and allowed to return from exile, all those who had been punished by Leo for their defiance of his authority.1 The most eminent of the sufferers, Theodore of Studion, left his prison cell in Smyrna, hoping that the change of government would mean the restoration of icons and the reinstallation of Nicephorus as Patriarch. He wrote a grateful and congratulatory letter to the Emperor, exhorting him to bestow peace and unity on the Church by reconciliation with the see of Rome.2 At the same time, he attempted to bring Court influence to bear on Michael, and we possess his letters to several prominent ministers, whom he exhorts to work in the cause of image-worship, while he malignantly exults over the fate of Leo the Armenian.3 Theodore had been joined by many members of his party on his journey to the neighbourhood of Constantinople, and when he reached Chalcedon, he hastened to visit the ex-Patriarch who was living in his own monastery of St. Theodore, on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus. Here and in the monastery of Crescentius, where
proceeding to Prusa and Chalcedon (Michael, Vit. Theod. c. 58). On leaving Smyrna, Theodore proceeded to Pteleae, by way of Xerolopha and Aάккоν μтάтα, unknown places (ib. c. 48). The position of Pteleae, on the river Onopniktes (ib. c. 51), is unknown, but it is probably the same as Pteleae on the Hellespont (for which see Ramsay, Asia Minor, 163). In that case, Theodore must have followed the coast road from Smyrna.
4 Grossu (145) is wrong in saying that Theodore crossed the Bosphorus and visited Nicephorus in the monastery of Agathos. This monastery may have been on the European side of the Bosphorus, but Nicephorus was in the monastery of St. Theodore (Ignatius, Vit. Niceph. 201), which was on the Asiatic side (Pargoire, Boradion, 476-477).