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been deposed from their commands and owed a grudge to Theoktistos,1 were engaged to lend active assistance. It was arranged that Bardas should station himself in the Lausiakos, and there attack the Logothete, whose duties frequently obliged him to pass through that hall in order to reach the apartments of the Empress.2 Calomaria concealed herself in an upper room, where, through a hole, perhaps constructed on purpose, she commanded a view of the Lausiakos, and could, by signalling from a window, inform the Emperor as soon as Bardas sprang upon his victim.
Theoktistos had obtained at the secretarial office the reports which he had to submit to the Empress, and as he passed through the Lausiakos he observed with displeasure Bardas seated at his ease, as if he had a full right to be there. Muttering that he would persuade Theodora to expel him from the Palace, he proceeded on his way, but in the Horologion, at the entrance of the Chrysotriklinos, he was stopped by the Emperor and Damianos. Michael, asserting his authority perhaps for the first time, angrily ordered him to read the reports to himself and not to his mother. As the Logothete was retracing his steps in a downcast mood, Bardas sprang forward and smote him. The ex-generals hastened to assist, and Theoktistos drew his sword.5 The Emperor, on receiving a signal from his aunt, hurried to the scene, and by his orders
1 A grudge: this is a fair inference from the fact that they were selected for the purpose.
2 The apartments of Theodora seem to have been in the Chrysotriklinos. The eastern door of the Lausiakos faced the Horologion which was the portal of the Chrysotriklinos.
3 Gen. 87 ἐξ ὑπερτέρου τετρημένου οἰκίσκου διόπτειραν καταστήσαντες. We may imagine this room to have been in the Eidikon, to which stairs led up from the Lausiakos. The Eidikon, which was over the Thermastra, adjoined the Lausiakos on the north side.
4 τὰ ἀσηκρητεῖα, Simeon, ib. 821. The accounts of the murder in this chronicle and in Genesios are independent and supplement each other. Simeon gives more details before the assault of Bardas, Genesios a fuller description of the murder and the part played by his own grandfather.
5 Gen. 88, Bardas threw Theoktistos down (καταπρηνίξας), καὶ εὐθέως ἐπιδίδοται σὺν κουλεῷ σπάθη ἐπώμιος, ἣν πρὸς ἀποτροπὴν ἐναντίων ἐγύμνωσεν. Simeon, ib. 822, says that Bardas began to strike him on the cheek and pull his hair; and Maniakes, the Drungary of the Watch, cried, "Do not strike the Logothete.' Maniakes was therefore the surname of Constantine the Armenian.
6 Gen. 88 κατασημαίνεται βασιλεὺς πρὸς ἐξέλευσιν τὴν διὰ χαλκηλάτων πυλῶν Τιβερίου τοῦ ἄνακτος, καὶ στὰς ἐκεῖσε κτλ. This gate, not mentioned elsewhere so far as I know, was probably a door of the Chrysotriklinos palace, which, we know, Tiberius II. improved. If Calomaria was, as I suppose, in the Eidikon building, she could have signalled from a window on its eastern side to the Chrysotriklinos.
Theoktistos was seized and dragged to the Skyla.1 It would seem that Bardas did not contemplate murder, but intended to remove the Logothete to a place of banishment.2 But the Emperor, advised by others, probably by Damianos, that nothing short of his death would serve, called upon the foreign Guards (the Hetairoi) to slay Theoktistos. Meanwhile the Empress had heard from the Papias of the Palace that the Logothete's life was in danger, and she instantly rushed to the scene to save her friend. But she was scared back to her apartments by one of the conspirators, a member of the family of Melissenos, who cried in a voice of thunder, "Go back, for this is the day of strikers." 3 The Guards, who were stationed in the adjoining Hall of Justinian, rushed in; one of them dragged the victim from the chair under which he had crawled and stabbed him in the belly (A.D. 856).
Of the two offices which Theoktistos had held, the less onerous, that of Chartulary of the Kanikleion,5 was conferred on Bardas, while his son-in-law Symbatios-whose name shows his Armenian lineage-was appointed Logothete of the Course. The reign of Theodora was now over. She had held the reins of power for fourteen years, and she was unwilling to surrender them. She was not an unscrupulous woman like Irene, she did not aspire to be Autocrat in her own right or set aside her son; but well knowing her son's incapacity she had doubtless looked forward to keeping him in perpetual tutelage and retaining all the serious business of government in her own
1 Cont. Th. 170, whose narrative varies in particulars, represents Theoktistos as making an attempt to flee to the Hippodrome through the Asêkrêteia, "for at the time the office of the Asêkrêtai was there." The secretarial offices were probably in the same building as the Eidikon (cp. Ebersolt, Le Grand Palais, 124), and were reached through a door on the north side of the Lausiakos. Theoktistos was doubtless returning thither.
2 Gen. 89.
3 This is told by Gen. 88, and probably comes from his grandfather. The identification of the ex-general who scared the Empress as a Melissenos is in favour of the incident. Simeon does not mention this, but states that the Papias informed Theodora (Cont. Georg. 822). For the Melissenos
family see above, p. 25, n. 3.
4 Gen. (ib.) states that Constantine, the Drungary of the Watch, tried to save Theoktistos by holding the doors between the Skyla and the Triklinos of Justinian, hoping that he would be condemned to banishment before the guards appeared. But Michael called them, and Constantine was obliged unwillingly to give way. It is clear from the narrative that Theoktistos was not taken through the Triklinos of Justinian; therefore he must have been dragged through a door on the north side of the Lausiakos, into the Thermastra, and thence to the Skyla by way of the Hippodrome.
5 Cont. Th. 171.
6 This seems probable, though Symbatios is not mentioned till some years later.
hands. The murder of Theoktistos cut her to the heart, and though the Emperor endeavoured to pacify and conciliate her, she remained unrelenting in her bitterness.1
The Senate was convoked, and that body applauded the announcement that Michael would henceforward govern alone in his own name.2 Bardas was elevated to the rank of magister and was appointed Domestic of the Schools. It would appear that for nearly two years Theodora resided in the Palace, powerless but unforgiving, and perhaps waiting for a favourable opportunity to compass the downfall of her brother. It is said that her son plagued her, trying perhaps to drive her into voluntary retirement. At last, whether his mother's proximity became intolerable, or she involved herself in intrigues against Bardas, it was decided that she should not only be expelled from the Palace but consigned to a nunnery. The Patriarch Ignatius, who owed his appointment to her, was commanded to tonsure her along with her daughters, but he absolutely declined on the sufficient ground that they were unwilling to take the monastic vow. The hair of their heads was shorn by other hands, and they were all immured in the monastery of Karianos (autumn A.D. 858).
It was probably soon afterwards that the Empress, thirsting
1 Simeon (Cont. Georg.), 822-823. Cont. Th. 171 describes her lamentation and anger as that of a tragedy queen.
2 Simeon (ib.) μόνος αὐτοκρατορεῖ (the technical phrase).
3 For the chronology see Appendix VII. The sources here cause difficulty; I have followed Nicetas (Vit. Ign. 225), who says: τὴν μητέρα καὶ τὰς ἀδελφὰς καταγαγὼν ἐν τοῖς Καριανοῦ λεγομένοις ἀπενεχθῆναι κελεύει καὶ καρῆναι. According to Simeon (ib.) the three eldest sisters were expelled from the palace and placed εἰς τὰ Καριανοῦ. Pulcheria, as her mother's favourite, was sent to the convent of Gastria; Theodora remained in the palace, but was afterwards also sent to Gastria. Gen. 90 says simply that they were all expelled to Gastria. Cont. Th. 174 states that they were tonsured by Petronas and sent "to the palace of Karianos," but after Theodora's death the daughters were confined in Gastria and their mother's corpse was taken thither. This last account is not
inconsistent with Nicetas, only the
for revenge if she did not hope to regain power, entered into a plot against her brother's life. The Imperial Protostrator was the chief of the conspirators, who planned to kill Bardas as he was returning to the Palace from his suburban house on the Golden Horn. But the design was discovered, and the conspirators were beheaded in the Hippodrome.1
§ 2. Bardas and Basil the Macedonian.
Bardas was soon raised to the high dignity of Curopalates,2 which was only occasionally conferred on a near relative of the Emperor and gave its recipient, in case the sovran died childless, a certain claim to the succession. His position was at the same time strengthened by the appointments of his two sons to important military posts. The Domesticate of the Schools, which he vacated, was given to Antigonus who was only a boy,3 while an elder son was invested with the command of several western Themes which were exceptionally united.* But for Bardas the office of Curopalates was only a step to the higher dignity of Caesar, which designated him more clearly as the future colleague or successor of his nephew, whose marriage had been fruitless. He was created Caesar on the Sunday after Easter in April A.D. 862.5
The government of the Empire was in the hands of Bardas for ten years, and the reluctant admissions of hostile chroniclers" show that he was eminently fitted to occupy the throne. A
1 The source is Simeon, ib., and we can hardly hesitate to accept his statement as to the implication of Theodora, to whom he was well disposed. He speaks of her part in an apologetic tone, as if she were not responsible for her acts: ἀθυμίᾳ μετεωρισθεῖσα τὸν νοῦν καὶ ὑπὸ ἐκπλήξεως ἀφαιρεθεῖσα καὶ τὸ φρονεῖν, ἀνάξια ἑαυτῆς κατασκευάζει βουλὴν κατὰ Βάρδα βουλευομένη.
2 It appears from Cont. Th. 176, that he was already Curopalates when he took part in the expedition against Samosata, the date of which we otherwise know to be 859 (see below, p. 279).
3 Simeon (Cont. Georg.) 828. According to Cont. Th. 180, Petronas succeeded him in 863 as Domestic ; but if this is true, he was restored to
the command almost immediately, as Petronas died shortly after. Vogt (Basile Ier) is wrong in supposing that Petronas succeeded Bardas in this post.
4 Simeon, ib. The wife of this son was her father-in-law's mistress. For other examples of such extended commands see pp. 10, 222.
5 The year is given by Gen. 97, the day by Simeon, ib., 824. No known facts are incompatible with this date (which Hirsch accepts), and we must decisively reject the hypotheses of Aristarchos (A.D. 860), Vogt (A.D. 865 or 866), and others.
6 The concession of Nicetas (Vit. Ign. 224) is, among others, especially significant: σπουδαῖον καὶ δραστήριον περὶ τὴν τῶν πολιτικῶν πραγμάτων μεταχείρισιν.
brilliant success won (A.D. 863) against the Saracens, and the conversion of Bulgaria, enhanced the prestige of the Empire abroad; he committed the care of the Church to the most brilliant Patriarch who ever occupied the ecclesiastical throne of Constantinople; he followed the example of Theophilus in his personal attention to the administration of justice;1 and he devoted himself especially to the improvement of education and the advancement of learning. The military and diplomatic transactions of this fortunate decade, its importance for the ecclesiastical independence of the Eastern Empire, and its significance in the history of culture, are dealt with in other chapters.
Michael himself was content to leave the management of the state in his uncle's capable hands. He occasionally took part in military expeditions, more for the sake of occupation, we may suspect, than from a sense of duty. He was a man of pleasure, he only cared for amusement, he had neither the brains nor the taste for administration. His passion for horseraces reminds us of Nero and Commodus; he used himself to drive a chariot in the private hippodrome of the Palace of St. Mamas.2 His frivolity and extravagance, his impiety and scurrility, are held up to derision and execration by an imperial writer who was probably his own grandson but was bitterly hostile to his memory.
Little confidence can be placed in the anecdotes related by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos and his literary satellites, but there is no doubt that they exhibit, in however exaggerated a shape, the character and reputation of Michael. We may not be prepared, for instance, to believe that the firesignals of Asia Minor were discontinued, because on one occasion he was interrupted in the hippodrome by an inopportune message; but the motive of the story reflects his genuine impatience of public business. The most famous or infamous performance of Michael was his travesty of the mysteries and ministers of the Church. boon-companions, a buffoon known as the "Pig,” was arrayed
One of his coarse
1 Cp. Cont. Th. 193.
2 Gen. 112, Cont. Th. 197. It does not appear that he ever drove in the Great Hippodrome himself. At St. Mamas the spectacle would be private
-confined to invited members of the Court. High officials took part in these amateur performances (Cont. Th. 198).
3 Cont. Th. 197.