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discovering that a great merchant vessel, which he descried with admiration sailing into the harbour of Bucoleon, was the property of Theodora, who had secretly engaged in mercantile speculation. "What!" he exclaimed, "my wife has made me, the Emperor, a merchant!" He commanded the ship and all its valuable cargo to be consigned to the flames.1
These tales, whatever measure of truth may underlie them, redounded to the credit of Theophilus in the opinion of those who repeated them; they show that he was a popular figure in Constantinople, and that his memory, as of a just ruler, was revered by the next generation. We can accept without hesitation the tradition of his accessibility to his subjects in his weekly progresses to Blachernae, and it is said that he lingered on his way in the bazaars, systematically examining the wares, especially the food, and inquiring the prices.2 He was doubtless assiduous also in presiding at the Imperial court of appeal, which met in the Palace of Magnaura, here following the examples of Nicephorus and Leo the Armenian.
The desirability of such minute personal supervision of the administration may have been forced on Theophilus by his own observations during his father's reign, and he evidently attempted to cross, so far as seemed politic, those barriers which hedged the monarch from direct contact with the life of the people. As a rule, the Emperor was only visible to the ordinary mass of his subjects when he rode in solemn pomp through the city to the Holy Apostles or some other church, or when he appeared to watch the public games from his throne in the Hippodrome. The regular, unceremonial ride of Theophilus to Blachernae was an innovation, and if it did not afford him the opportunities of overhearing the gossip of the town which Harun al-Rashid is said by the story-tellers to have obtained by nocturnal expeditions in disguise, it may have helped a discerning eye to some useful information.
The political activity of Theophilus seems to have been directed to the efficient administration of the existing laws and the improvement of administrative details; his govern
1 Gen. 75; told differently and with more elaboration in Cont. Th. 88. 2 Cont. Th. 87.
Cp. ib. 88 ἐν κριτηρίοις.
4 For the new Themes which he instituted, see below, Chap. VII. § 2.
ment was not distinguished by novel legislation or any radical reform. His laws have disappeared and left no visible traces-like almost all the Imperial legislation between the reigns of Leo III. and Basil I.1 Of one important enactment we are informed. The law did not allow marriage except between orthodox Christians.2 But there was a large influx, during his reign, of orientals who were in rebellion against the Caliph, and Theophilus, to encourage the movement, passed a law permitting alliance between Mohammadan Persians and Romans.4 This measure accorded with his reputation for being a friend of foreigners."
One of the first measures of the reign was an act of policy, performed in the name of justice. According to one account the people had gathered in the Hippodrome to witness horseraces, and at the end of the performance the Emperor assembled the Senate in the Kathisma, from which he witnessed the games, and ordered Leo Chamaidrakon, the Keeper of the Private Wardrobe, to produce the chandelier which had been broken when Leo V. was cut down by his murderers in the chapel of the Palace. Pointing to this, Theophilus asked, "What is the desert of him who enters the temple of the Lord and slays the Lord's anointed?" The Senate replied, "Death," and the Emperor immediately commanded the Prefect of the City to seize the men who had slain Leo and decapitate them in the Hippodrome before the assembled people. The astonished
1 A law concerning the fashion of wearing the hair is attributed to him in Cont. Th. 107. His own hair was thin, and he decreed (ééσTLOEV and νόμον ἐξέθετο) that no Roman should allow his hair to fall below the neck, alleging the virtuous fashion of the ancient Romans. Such an edict is grossly improbable. We may suspect that he introduced a regulation of the kind in regard to soldiers ; and some light is thrown on the matter by an anecdote (recorded about A.D. 845-847) in Acta 42 Mart. Amor. 24-25. Kallistos, a count of the Schools (i.e., captain of a company in the Scholarian Guards), presented himself to the Emperor with long untidy hair and beard (αὐχμηρᾷ τινι κόμῃ καὶ ἀφιλοκάλῳ γενειάδι). Theophilus very naturally administered a severe rebuke to the officer, and ordered him to be
victims of such belated justice naturally exclaimed, “ If we had not assisted your father, O Emperor, you would not now be on the throne." There are other versions of the circumstances, and it is possible that the assassins were condemned at a formal silention in the Magnaura.1 It would be useless to judge this punishment by any ethical standard. Michael II. had not only a guilty knowledge of the conspiracy, but had urged the conspirators to hasten their work. The passion of a doctrinaire for justice will not explain his son's act in calling his father's accomplices to a tardy account; nor is there the least probability in the motive which some image-worshippers assigned, that respect for the memory of Leo as a great iconoclast inspired him to wreak vengeance on the murderers.2 The truth, no doubt, is that both Michael II. and Theophilus were acutely conscious that the deed which had raised them to power cast an ugly shadow over their throne; and it is noteworthy that in the letter which they addressed to the Emperor Lewis they stigmatize the conspirators as wicked men. Michael, we may be assured, showed them no favour, but he could not bring himself to punish the men whom he had himself encouraged to commit the crime. The conscience of Theophilus was clear, and he could definitely dissociate the Amorian house from the murder by a public act of retribution. It may well be that (as one tradition affirms 1) Michael, when death was approaching, urged his son to this step. In any case, it seems certain that the purpose of Theophilus was to remedy a weakness in his political position, and that he was taking account of public opinion.
The Augusta Euphrosyne, last Imperial descendant of the Isaurian house, retired to a monastery soon after her stepson's accession to the supreme power. Michael is related to have bound the Senate by a pledge that they would defend the rights of his second wife and her children after his death.5 If this is true, it meant that if she had a son his position should be secured as co-regent of his stepbrother. She had no children, and found perhaps little attraction in the prospect of
1 Gen. 51.
2 Add. Georg., ib.
3 Ep. ad Lud. 418, a quibusdam improbis.'
4 Gen. 51.
5 Cont. Th. 78. The statement in
Add. Georg. 789, that Theophilus reigned along with Euphrosyne is a corollary from the error that she was his mother, and brought about his marriage with Theodora after his father's death.
residing in the Palace and witnessing Court functions in which Theodora would now be the most important figure. There is no reason to suppose that she retired under compulsion.1
The first five children born to Theophilus during his father's lifetime were daughters, but just before or soon after his accession Theodora gave birth to a son, who was named Constantine and crowned as Augustus. Constantine, however, did not survive infancy, and the Emperor had to take thought for making some provision for the succession. He selected as a son-in-law Alexios Musele,3 who belonged to the family of the Krênitai, of Armenian descent, and betrothed him to his eldest daughter, Maria (c. A.D. 831). Alexios (who had been created a patrician and distinguished by the new title of anthypatos, and then elevated to the higher rank of magister) received the dignity of Caesar, which gave him a presumptive expectation of a still higher title. The marriage was celebrated about A.D. 836, but Maria died soon afterwards, and, against the Emperor's wishes, his son-in-law insisted on retiring to a monastery. There was a story that the suspicions of Theophilus had been aroused by jealous tongues against the loyalty of Alexios, who had been sent to fight with the Saracens in Sicily. It is impossible to say how much truth may underlie this report, nor can we be sure whether the Caesar withdrew from the world before or after the birth of a son to Theophilus (in A.D. 839), an event which would in any case have disappointed his hopes of the succession.5
1 On the retirement of Euphrosyne, see Melioranski, Viz. Vrem. 8, 32-33. The statements of Simeon (Add. Georg. 790) and Cont. Th. 86 contradict each other; according to the latter she was (laudably) expelled from the Palace by Theophilus (accepted as true by Hirsch, 205). I think Melioranski is right in following the former (Viz. Vrem. 8, 32-33), but his observations about the chronology do not hold. Cont. Th. is undoubtedly right in stating that Euphrosyne withdrew to the cloister in which she had formerly been a nun (in the island of Prinkipo; see above, p. 111); she had nothing to do with the monastery of Gastria, to which Simeon sends her (Add. Georg. 790; cp. Vit. Theodorae Aug. p. 6). Gastria belonged to Theoktiste, the mother-in-law of Theophilus. See
While he was devoted to the serious business of ruling, and often had little time for the ceremonies and formal processions which occupied many hours in the lives of less active Emperors, Theophilus loved the pageantry of royal magnificence. On two occasions he celebrated a triumph over the Saracens, and we are so fortunate as to possess an official account of the triumphal ceremonies.2 When Theophilus (in A.D. 831) reached the Palace of Hieria, near Chalcedon, he was awaited by the Empress, the three ministers -the Praepositus, the chief Magister, and the urban Prefectwho were responsible for the safety of the city during his absence, and by all the resident members of the Senate. a little distance from the Palace gates, the senators met him and did obeisance; Theodora stood within the rails of the hall which opened on the court, and when her lord dismounted she also did obeisance and kissed him. The train of captives had not yet arrived, and ten days elapsed before the triumphal entry could be held. Seven were spent at Hieria, the senators remaining in ceremonial attendance upon the Emperor, and their wives, who were summoned from the city, upon the Empress. On the seventh day the Court moved to the Palace of St. Mamas, and remained there for three days. On the tenth, Theophilus sailed up the Golden Horn, disembarked at Blachernae, and proceeded on horseback outside the walls to a pavilion which had been pitched in a meadow near the Golden Gate. Here he met the captives who had been conveyed across the Propontis from Chrysopolis.
Meanwhile, under the direction of the Prefect, the city had been set in festive array, decorated "like a bridal chamber,"
he came on a site which pleased him in the suburb of Anthemios, somewhere near the modern AnadoliHissar. The ground belonged to the Imperial arsenal (mangana), but, through the influence of Theodora, Alexios was permitted to buy it. His tomb and that of his brother existed here in the following century (Cont. Th. 109). Pargoire (Boradion, 456 sqq., 473-475) has shown that the suburban quarter of Anthemios was near AnadoliHissar-north of Brochthoi, which was near Kandili, and south of Boradion, which was near Phrixu-limen = Kanlija (for these districts see Hammer, Con