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But in the meantime it had been proved to the Emperor that the charges against his general were untrue,1 and he was desirous to procure the return of one whose military talent he could ill afford to lose. It is said that John the Grammarian undertook to obtain a secret interview with Manuel and convey to him the Emperor's assurance of pardon, safety, and honour, if he would return to Constantinople.2 The ambassador executed this delicate mission successfully; he carried an Imperial letter with the golden seal, and the cross which Theophilus wore on his breast; and Manuel, reassured by these pledges, promised, at the first opportunity, to return to his own country. He accompanied the Caliph's son to invade the Empire, and succeeded in escaping somewhere near the frontier. Theophilus immediately conferred on him the post of Domestic of the Schools, and raised him from the rank of a Patrician to that of a Magister."
The whole story has a basis in fact. There is no doubt that Manuel fled to the Saracens, and afterwards returned. And it is not improbable that John the Grammarian was instrumental in communicating to him the assurances which led to his return. But if we accept the story, as it is told by the Greek writers, we have to suppose that Manuel deserted from the Caliph in A.D. 830, and returned in A.D. 832, and therefore to date the embassy of John to the winter of A.D. 831-2. Such a conclusion involves us in several difficulties; and the most probable solution of the problem appears to be that Manuel fled from the Court not of Theophilus, but of his father, and returned to Constantinople
Manuel managed to separate himself and the Caliph's son (Abbas) in a hunting expedition from the rest of the party, kissed the prince, and took an affecting leave of him. According to Genesios, when the Saracens attacked a place called Geron, he went over to the Christians and escaped into the town; Ramsay places Geron between Germanicia and Mambij (Asia Minor, 301). In Cont. Th. 120, he is said to have arranged a plan of escape with the stratêgos of Cappadocia. From Yakubi we learn that in 830 Manuel was with Abbas at Resaina (cp. Appendix VIII.).
5 Gen. 68, Cont. Th. 120.
in A.D. 830.1 Both John's embassy and Manuel's adventures interested popular imagination, and in the versions which have come down to us the details have been variously embroidered by mythopoeic fancy. Even the incident of the rescue of Theophilus by Manuel may be said to be open to some suspicion, inasmuch as a similar anecdote is recorded of a battle thirty years later, in which Michael III. plays the part of his father.2
§ 6. The Campaigns of A.D. 837 and 838
During the first years of Mamun's brother and successor, Mutasim, there was a suspension of hostilities,3 for the forces of the new Caliph were needed to protect his throne against internal rebellions, and he was bent on finally quelling the still unconquered Babek. The desire of Theophilus for peace was manifest throughout the war with Mamun; it was probably due to the need of liberating all the strength of his resources for the task of driving the Saracens from Sicily. But at the end of four years he was induced to renew the war, and Babek again was the cause. Pressed hard, and seeing that his only chance of safety lay in diverting the Caliph's forces, the rebel leader opened communications with Theophilus and promised to become a Christian. The move-· ment of Babek was so useful to the Empire, as a constant
1 See Appendix VIII.
2 Gen. 93 (cp. Vasil'ev, 194). The chief difference is that the Persian auxiliaries_play no part on the later occasion. The presence of the Persians explains the situation in the earlier battle; and perhaps it is more probable that Manuel saved the life of Theophilus, and that the same story was applied to Michael, than that both anecdotes are fictitious. There is also the story of the rescue of the Emperor by Theophobos (Cont. Th. 122 sq.), which Vasil'ev rejects (Pril. ii. 136).
3 Interrupted only by a raid of Omar, the Emir of Melitene, recorded by Michael Syr. 85, in A.D. 835. Theophilus at first defeated him, but was afterwards routed. We shall meet Omar again, twenty-five years later.
4 Tabari, 29. We must evidently connect this notice of Tabari with the
statement of Michael Syr. 88, that (apparently in 835-836) "most of the companions of Babek, with the general Nasr, reduced to extremities by the war, went to find Theophilus and became Christians." Nasr, a supporter of Mamun's brother Emin and a violent anti-Persian, had been in rebellion against Mamun from A.D. 810 to 824-825, when he submitted. See Michael Syr. 22, 53, 55, who relates (36-37) that he wrote (apparently c. 821) to Manuel the Patrician proposing an alliance with the Empire. Michael II. sent envoys to him at Kasin, his headquarters; but Nasr's followers were indignant, and to pacify them he killed the envoys. There is a chronological inconsistency, for the chronicler says that this happened when Nasr heard that Mamun was coming to Baghdad; but Mamun came to Baghdad (ib. 45) in A.D. 818-819.
claim on the Caliph's forces, that it was obviously to the interest of Theophilus to make an effort to support it, when it seemed likely to be crushed. On grounds of policy, it must be admitted that he was justified in reopening hostilities in A.D. 837.1 In choosing the direction of his attack he was probably influenced by the hope of coming into touch with the insurgents of Armenia and Adarbiyan. He invaded the regions of the Upper Euphrates with a large army. He captured and burned the fortress of Zapetra, putting to death the male population and carrying off the women and children. He appeared before Melitene, threatening it with the fate of Zapetra if it did not surrender. The chief men of the place, however, induced him to spare it; they came forth, offered him gifts, and restored to liberty Roman prisoners who were in the town. He crossed the Euphrates, and besieged and burned Arsamosata.* But of all his achievements, the conquest of Zapetra was regarded by both the Moslems and the Christians as the principal result of the campaign.5
The expedition of Theophilus into western Armenia deserves particular notice, for, though the Greek writers
1 Michael Syr. 88 (Ann. Sel. 1148 =A.D. 836-837). Tabari and Yakubi erroneously place this expedition in the following year. A.D. 837 had already been adopted by Weil and Vasil'ev.
2 Michael, ib., says that he sent into Great Armenia, demanding tribute, and threatening to devastate it in case of refusal. The tribute was paid.
3 Tabari, 29, says, "100,000 according to some; while others say that the fighting men exceeded 70,000."
Michael, 89. (Yakubi and Baladhuri mention only Zapetra; Tabari mentions Melitene also.) Simeon (Add. Georg. 798, vers. Slav. 96) names тýv τε Ζάπετρον καὶ τὸ Σαμόσατον, confounding Arsamosata with Samosata. That Arsamosata is meant is shown by Michael's statement that the invaders entered Hanazit, i.e. Anzitene. The position of the town is discussed by Gelzer in Georgius Cyprius, 171-172. It lay on the road leading eastward from Melitene to Aklat on Lake Van; east of Kharput and near the left bank of the Murad - Chai (Arsanias). It
corresponds to the modern Shimshat. Melitene was attacked when the Emperor returned from the excursion into Armenia. Cont. Th. is here well informed; Zapetra is mentioned &λλas τε δύο πόλεις (124).
Having taken Arsamosata the Romans passed into Armenia and This ravaged there (Michael, ib.). probably means Little Sophene, north of Anzitene and the Murad-Chai; for the Armenian historians relate that he took the fort of Chozan (Stephen_of Taron, 108; Samuel of Ani, 707). For the district of Chozan, cp. Constantine, De adm. imp. 226; Gelzer, ib. 173; Adonts, Armeniia v epokhu Iustiniana (1908), 38, where the distinction between Little Sophene to the northwest, and Great Sophene to the southeast, of Anzitene, is clearly explained. Samuel (ib.) says that, having taken Zapetra, Theophilus went to Armenia and took Palin (a fort in Paline, which lies east of Chozan), Mezkert (in Sophene, on the Murad-Su), and Ankl (in Degik Digisene, which lay between Sophene and Sophanene).
betray no consciousness of this side of his policy, there is some evidence that the situation in the Armenian highlands and the Caucasian region constantly engaged his attention and that his endeavours to strengthen the Empire on its north-eastern frontier met with considerable success. In A.D. 830 he had sent an expedition under Theophobos and Bardas against Abasgia, which had proclaimed itself independent of the Empire, but this enterprise ended in failure.1 He was more fortunate elsewhere. We may surmise that it is to the campaign of A.D. 837 that an Armenian historian 2 refers who narrates that Theophilus went to Pontic Chaldea, captured many Armenian prisoners, took tribute from Theodosiopolis, and conferred the proconsular patriciate on Ashot, its ruler.3 It was probably in connexion with this expedition that the Emperor separated eastern Pontus from the Armeniac province, and constituted it an independent Theme, under a stratêgos who resided at Trapezus. The Theme of Chaldia reached southward to the Euphrates, included Keltzene and part of Little Sophene, while to the north-east, on the Boas (Chorok-Su), it embraced the district of Sper. It is at least evident that the Imperial conquests of A.D. 837 in Little Armenia would have furnished a motive for the creation of a new military province.
The triumph with which Theophilus celebrated the devastation which he had wrought within the borders of his foe was a repetition of the pageants and ceremonial
1 Cont. Th. 137.
2 Stephen of Taron, 107. Cp. Marquart, Streifzüge, 421, who connects this notice with the disastrous Abasgian expedition of 830. But Theophilus did not accompany that expedition.
3 Ashot the son of Shapuh," presumably the nephew of Ashot who founded Kamakh, as the historian Vardan records. See Marquart, ib. 404. Stephen's Theodosiopolis may be Kamakh (in Daranalis), not Erzerum. The dignity bestowed on Ashot is described as 66 the Consulate, i.e. the Patriciate apuhiupat" (άπò πάтшv): this may mean the title Hypatos (patriciate being a mistake of Stephen) or the proconsular patriciate, ἀνθύπατος καὶ πατρίκιος, for which
cp. above, p. 126. Stephen relates that in the same year Theophilus invaded Syria, took the town of Urpeli, and vanquished the Arabs at Almulat. Then turning eastward to Armenia he took several fortresses in the region of Gelam and made the "Fourth Armenia a waste deserted by men and beasts" (108).
4 For the evidence, see above, p. 223. 5 Constantine, Themes, 30. He describes the inland parts of Chaldia as Tрооíμa of Little Armenia, and mentions Keltzene (for which see above, p. 176), Zvipirns, which I suppose to mean Sper or Sber, and rò гošávov, which I take to be Chozan in Sophene. Note that Stephen of Taron, loc. cit., says that Theophilus left Ashot in the district of Sper.
which had attended his return, six years before, from the achievement of similar though less destructive victories. Troops of children with garlands of flowers went out to meet the Emperor as he entered the capital.1 In the Hippodrome he competed himself in the first race, driving a white chariot and in the costume of a Blue charioteer; and when he was crowned as winner, the spectators greeted him with the allusive cry, "Welcome, incomparable champion!" 2
In the autumn of the same year, Babek was at last captured and executed,3 and the Caliph Mutasim was free to prepare a scheme of revenge for the destruction of Zapetra and the barbarities which had been committed.5 He resolved to deal a crushing blow which would appear as a special insult and injury to the present wearer of the Imperial crown. Amorion was the original home of the family of Theophilus, and he resolved that it should be blotted out from the number of inhabited cities. But apart from this consideration, which may have stimulated his purpose, the choice of Amorion was natural on account of its importance. The Saracens considered its capture the great step to an advance on Constantinople. In the seventh century they took it, but only for a moment; in the eighth they attempted it three times in vain.7 In the year of his death, Mamun is said to have intended to besiege it. An Arabic chronicler describes it as the eye of
the same writer we learn that a certain Ibrahim declaimed a poem before the Caliph, exciting him to revenge.
6 Greek writers say that the region of Zapetra was the home of the ancestors of the reigning Caliph. This is stated in Gen. 64, Cont. Th. 124. Simeon (Add. Georg. 798) ascribes this honour to Σαμόσατον. A work composed soon after A.D. 845 (Acta 42 Mart. Amor. 40) leaves it open : περιφανεῖς πόλεις ἔνθα κτλ. There seems to be no foundation for this; the motive of the myth was to balance the destruction of the cradle of the Emperor by that of the cradle of the Caliph. Cp. Vasil'ev, 116. Nikitin (Acta citt. 191) attempts an explanation of the fable. Apart from its connexion with the reigning dynasty, the selection of Amorion can be explained by its importance.
7 Theoph. 351, 386, 452, 470.