Slike stranica

grew worse and he saw that his days were numbered, he wavered between two alternative plans for the future of the Empire. One of these was to devolve the succession on his wife Theophano.

The other alternative conceived by Stauracius is so strange that we hardly know what to make of it. The idea comes to us as a surprise in the pages of a ninth-century chronicle. It appears that this Emperor, as he felt death approaching, formed the conception of changing the Imperial constitution into a democracy.1 It was the wild vision of a morbid brain, but we cannot help wondering how Stauracius would have proceeded in attempting to carry out such a scheme. Abstractly, indeed, so far as the constitutional aspect was concerned, it would have been simple enough. The Imperial constitution might be abolished and a democratic republic established, in theory, by a single measure. All that he had to do was to repeal a forgotten law, which had regulated the authority of the early Caesars, and thereby restore to the Roman people the powers which it had delegated to the Imperator more than seven hundred years before. Of the Lex de imperio Stauracius had probably never heard, nor is it likely that he had much knowledge of the early constitutional history of Rome. Perhaps it was from ancient Athens that he derived the political idea which, in the circumstances of his age, was a chimera; and to his wife, thirsty for power, he might have said, “ Athens, your own city, has taught the world that democracy is the best and noblest form of government.”

The intervention of the Patriarch Nicephorus at this juncture helped to determine and secure the progress of events. He was doubtless relieved at the death of his stark namesake, however much he may have been distressed at the calamity which brought it about; and we are told that, when Stauracius arrived at Constantinople, the Patriarch hastened to give him ghostly advice and exhort him to console those who had been pecuniarily wronged by his father, by making

σασαν αὐτῷ ταῖς Θεοφανοῦς τῆς αὐγούστης ὑποβολαῖς. The meaning of this would be that Theophano suborned Procopia. to plot against Stauracius. It is clear that we should punctuate after aur and connect ταῖς ὑποβολαῖς with

ἀποστρεφόμενοs. The insinuations of his wife caused the aversion of Stauracius to his sister.

1 Ib. ἢ δημοκρατίαν ἐγεῖραι Χριστιανοῖς ἐπὶ τοῖς προλαβοῦσι κακοῖς (“ to crown their misfortunes").

restitution. But like his sire, according to the partial chronicler, Stauracius was avaricious, and was unwilling to sacrifice more than three talents1 in this cause, although that sum was but a small fraction of the monies wrongfully appropriated by the late Emperor. The Patriarch failed in his errand at the bedside of the doomed monarch, but he hoped that a new Emperor, of no doubtful voice in matters of orthodoxy, would soon sit upon the throne. And it appeared that it would be necessary to take instant measures for securing the succession to this legitimate and desirable candidate. The strange designs of Stauracius and the ambition of Theophano alarmed Nicephorus, and he determined to prevent all danger of a democracy or a sovran Augusta by anticipating the death of the Emperor and placing Michael on the throne. At the end of September he associated himself, for this purpose, with Stephanos and Theoktistos. The Emperor was already contemplating the cruelty of depriving his brother-in-law of eyesight, and on the first day of October he summoned the Domestic of the Schools to his presence and proposed to blind Michael that very night. It is clear that at this time Stauracius placed his entire trust in Stephanos, the man who had proclaimed him at Hadrianople, and he knew not that this officer had since then veered round to the view of Theoktistos. Stephanos pointed out that it was too late, and took care to encourage his master in a feeling of security. The next day had been fixed by the conspirators for the elevation of the Curopalates, and throughout the night troops were filing into the Hippodrome to shout for the new Emperor.2 In the early morning the senators arrived; and

1 It is to be presumed that three talents means three litrai (£129: 12s.). The mere fact that Stauracius could offer such a sum shows that the Patriarch's demand must have referred to some small and particular cases of injustice suffered by individuals.

2 Theoph. 493 ἐν τῷ σκεπαστῷ ἱπποopóμw. Labarte (131-2) supposed that this covered hippodrome was inside the Palace (Paspates actually assumed two hippodromes, one roofed, the other unroofed, within the Palace: Tà Bus. ἀν. 249 sqq.). In περὶ ταξ. 507 ὁ κάτω σκεπαστὸς ἱππ. and ὁ ἀσκέπαστος ἱππ. are mentioned together. Bieliaev supposed that they are only different

parts of the Great Hippodrome, the northern part being roofed over, the southern uncovered. But this view is untenable, and Bieliaev is also wrong in placing the Kathisma-the building in which the Emperor sat when he witnessed the races-between

these two portions. The Kathisma was at the north end of the Hippodrome. Ebersolt (Le Grand Palais, 157-8) holds that the northern part was uncovered, the southern covered. This view is equally improbable. I hope to show elsewhere that "the roofed Hippodrome was contiguous to the great "unroofed" Hippodrome, though not part of the Palace.


the constitutional formalities of election preliminary to the coronation were complied with (Oct. 2, A.D. 811). Michael Rangabé was proclaimed "Emperor of the Romans" by the Senate and the residential troops 1. -that remnant of them which had escaped from the field of blood beyond the Haemus. Meanwhile the Emperor, who had been less lucky on that fatal day, escaping only to die after some months of pain, was sleeping or tossing in the Imperial bedchamber, unconscious of the scene which was being enacted not many yards away. But the message was soon conveyed to his ears, and he hastened to assume the visible signs of abdication by which deposed Emperors were wont to disarm the fears or jealousy of their successors. A monk, named Simeon, and a kinsman of his own, tonsured him and arrayed him in monastic garb, and he prepared to spend the few days of life left to him in a lowlier place and a lowlier station. But before his removal from the Palace his sister Procopia, in company with her Imperial husband and the Patriarch Nicephorus, visited him. They endeavoured to console him and to justify the step which had been taken; they repudiated the charge of a conspiracy, and explained their act as solely necessitated by his hopeless condition. Stauracius, notwithstanding their plausible arguments, felt bitter; he thought that the Patriarch had dealt doubly with him. "You will not find," he said to Nicephorus,


"a better friend than me.'


Nicephorus took the precaution of requiring from Michael, before he performed the ceremony of coronation, a written assurance of his orthodoxy and an undertaking to do no violence to ecclesiastics, secular or regular. The usual procession was formed; the Imperial train proceeded from the Palace to the Cathedral; and the act of coronation was duly accomplished in the presence of the people. The rejoicings, we are told, were universal, and we may believe that there was a widespread feeling of relief, that an Emperor sound in

1 The Tagmata (Theoph. ib.).

2 Theoph. 493 φίλον αὐτοῦ κρείττονα οὐχ εὑρήσεις. Anastasius seems right in rendering avтoû by me. Perhaps éμoû should be inserted, or perhaps we should read εὑρήσειν. I suspect, however, that the last pages of his chronography were insufficiently re


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limb was again at the head of the state. The bounty of Michael gave cause, too, for satisfaction on the first day of his reign. He bestowed on the Patriarch, who had done so much in helping him to the throne, the sum of 50 lbs. of gold (£2160), and to the clergy of St. Sophia he gave half that amount.1


The unfortunate Stauracius 2 lived on for more than three months, but towards the end of that time the corruption of his wound became so horrible that no one could approach him for the stench. On the 11th of January 812 he died, and was buried in the new monastery of Braka. This was a handsome building, given to Theophano by the generosity of Procopia when she resolved, like her husband, to retire to a cloister.3

§ 4. Reign and Policy of Michael I.

It is worth while to note how old traditions or prejudices, surviving from the past history of the Roman Empire, gradually disappeared. We might illustrate the change that had come over the "Romans" since the age of Justinian, by the fact that in the second year of the ninth century a man of Semitic stock ascends the throne, and is only prevented by chance from founding a dynasty, descended from the Ghassanids. He bears a name, too, which, though Greek and common at the time, was borne by no Emperor before him. His son's name is Greek too, but unique on the Imperial list. A hundred years before men who had names which sounded strange in collocation with Basileus and Augustus (such as Artemius and Apsimar) adopted new names which had an

1 At the end of the ninth century the custom was for the Emperor, on his accession, to give 100 lbs. of gold to the Great Church (St. Sophia) (Philotheos, ed. Bury, 135). This would include the present to the Patriarch.

2 Michael Syr. (70) has recorded a serious charge against Procopia, which he found in the chronicle of Dionysios of Tell-Mahre. An intelligent and well-informed inhabitant of Constantinople told Dionysios that Procopia administered a deadly poison to her


3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἐπίσημον οἶκον εἰς μονα

στήριον τὰ ̔Εβραϊκὰ λεγόμενον αὐτῇ παρέσχεν [Μιχαὴλ] ἔνθα Σταυράκιος ἐτάφη (ib. 494). The locality is not known. It is called Tà Врakâ in George Mon. 776. Is the name really derived from Stauracius: Σταυρακίου being taken for σrà Вpaklov? Pargoire (Les Mon. de Saint Ign. 72) says: ̓ τὰ Σταυρακίου dont le peuple fit plus tard rà Враκâ et les demi-savants тà 'Eßpaïká." This is a seductive idea; my difficulty is that the form ̔Εβραϊκά occurs in Theophanes, who wrote only a couple of years later, and must have known the true name, if that name had been only then given to the monastery.

It was

Imperial ring (such as Anastasius and Tiberius). instinctively felt then that a Bardanes was no fit person to occupy the throne of the Caesars, and therefore he became Philippicus. But this instinct was becoming weak in a city where strange names, strange faces, and strange tongues were growing every year more familiar. The time had come when men of Armenian, Slavonic, or even Semitic origin might aspire to the highest positions in Church and State, to the Patriarchate and the Empire. The time had come at last when it was no longer deemed strange that a successor of Constantine should be a Michael.

The first Michael belonged to the Rangabé family, of which we now hear for the first time.1 He was in the prime of manhood when he came to the throne; his hair was black and curling, he wore a black beard, and his face was round. He seems to have been a mild and good-humoured man, but totally unfit for the position to which chance had raised him. As a general he was incapable; as an administrator he was injudicious; as a financier he was extravagant. Throughout his short reign he was subject to the will of a woman and the guidance of a priest. It may have been the ambition of Procopia that led him to undertake the duties of a sovran; and she shared largely in the administration.3 Ten days after her lord's coronation, Procopia-daughter and sister, now wife, of an Emperor-was crowned Augusta in the throne-room of Augusteus, in the Palace of Daphne, and she courted the favour of the Senators by bestowing on them many gifts. She distributed, moreover, five pounds of gold

1 Cont. Th. 12 EK Yeveâs dè KαTαγομένου τοῦ ̔Ραγγαβέ. Before his elevation he dwelled near the Man

gana. His father's name was Theophylactus: Nicetas, Vit. Ignatii (Mansi, xvi. 210). Family surnames begin to become frequent in the ninth century. They are constantly indicated by the idiom ỏ κará (as well as ék). For instance, a man of the family of the Melissenoi might be called M. ὁ Μελισσηνός or M. ὁ κατὰ τὸν Μελισσηνόν οι Μ. ὁ κατὰ τοὺς Μελισσηνούς οι Μ. ὁ ἐκ τῶν Μελ. (κατάγων Tò yévos). For Byzantine surnames see H. Moritz, Die Zunamen bei den byz. Historikern und Chronisten, Teil i. 1896-97, Teil ii. 1897-98 (Landshut).

2 Scr. Incert. 341 mioyoupov (= oyuρáv, curly), the right reading, as de Boor has shown (B.Z. ii. 297). It may be noted here that the Byzantines regularly wore beards. There was a strong prejudice against beardless men (oavol), who were popularly regarded as dangerous; cp. the modern Greek proverb, ἀπὸ σπανὸν ἄνθρωπον μακρυὰ τὰ ῥουχά σου: see for this, and for further illustration, Krumbacher, G. B. L. 809. Michael, of course, appears bearded on his coins, but the face is only conventional.

3 Scr. Incert. 335 aurn yàp ĥv διατιθοῦσα πάντα τὰ τῆς βασιλείας.

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