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These are the dates with which we have to work. It is clear, of course, that the three years of the war correspond to 821, 822, and 823. The rebellion against Michael began with his accession and lasted till the end of 823.
The first year was occupied with the movements in Asia Minor, the visit to Syria, and the crossing to Thrace. In December 821 (3) the tyrant appeared at Constantinople and made the first grand assault. Then he retired until March or April-till spring was well advanced (4)-and made the second grand assault. Then came the revolt of Gregory Pterôtos, and later the arrival of the ships from Greece. During the later part of the year nothing striking seems to have occurred.
From reading the Letter of Michael, or putting (2) and (3) together, it would be natural to conclude that the siege was raised in December 822. In that case we must suppose that the negotiations with the Bulgarians belong to the end of 822, and that the battle of Keduktos was fought either in December 822 or January 823; for it is clear from the story that it followed hard upon the departure of Thomas from the city.
The vague date of Genesios does not help us here. Assuming that the treaty of Leo with the Bulgarians was concluded as early as the middle of 815, the first decade had not elapsed until the middle of 825. If, then, the date of Genesios refers to December 822, the first decade had still two and a half years to run. xedor must be taken in a wide sense.
But such an early date as January 823 for the battle of Kêduktos involves us in some difficulties. Our next positive date is that of the death of Thomas in the middle of October 823. His death followed immediately on the surrender of Arcadiopolis. Therefore the siege of Arcadiopolis, which lasted five months (7), probably began in the first half of the month of May. The battle of Diabasis immediately preceded the siege-the interval cannot have been longer than a few days-and therefore took place in the first days of May or at the very end of April.
The question then is how long an interval may we assume between the battle of Kêduktos and the battle of Diabasis. If the first battle was fought in the first half of January and the second in the latter half of April, Thomas was allowed to ravage the neighbourhood of Constantinople for more than three months. This seems improbable, and is not suggested by the accounts of Genesios and the Continuer. We cannot believe that Michael would have been so impolitic as to leave a foe, who had been profligatus by the Bulgarians, to gather new strength in such close proximity to the city during such a long space of time. Promptitude was certainly Michael's policy in the circumstances.
I therefore believe that the battle of Keduktos was fought in
April or at earliest in the last days of March. I hold that we should count the year of the siege from the spring of 822, and not from December 821. For it was in spring 822 that the continuous blockade really began. During the months which intervened between December 821 and spring 822 the city was not formally besieged. It is true that the Letter of Michael does not convey this impression; but, on the other hand, it does not really contradict my interpretation. Michael is only giving a rough outline of the events, and omits the details of the siege. It is quite intelligible that he should have formally mentioned the date of the first appearance of the tyrant before the walls; that he should have omitted to mention his second appearance and the beginning of the regular siege; and that then he should have stated the length of the siege as a year, without explaining that he counted from a later date than December.
This postponement of the Bulgarian episode lightens, though but slightly, the burden that has to be laid on ʊxedór in Genesios (see above, Chap. XI. p. 360).
THE FAMILY OF THEOPHILUS
THERE is considerable difficulty in reconciling the evidence of coins with the statements of the chronicles as to the children of Theophilus and Theodora. There were two sons and five daughters. The elder son, Constantine, is ignored by the chroniclers, but is mentioned in the enumeration of the tombs in the Church of the Apostles, in Const. Porph. Cer. 645, and his head appears on coins. The younger, Michael III. (who was the youngest child of the marriage), was born c. 839, for at the time of his father's death, Jan. 842, he was тpírov čros diarówr (Cont. Th. 148). The five daughters were Thecla, Anna, Anastasia, Pulcheria, Maria, named in this order in Cont. Th. 90 (though the story here rather suggests that Pulcheria was the youngest). Maria is elsewhere described as "the youngest of all" (rv éoɣátyv távtov) and her father's favourite, in Cont. Th. 107, but Simeon does not designate her as the youngest (Cont. Georg. 794). She married Alexios Musele and died in her father's lifetime (locc. citt.). Simeon (ib. 823) mentions the four surviving daughters in the order Thecla, Anastasia, Anna, Pulcheria, and adds that Pulcheria was her mother's favourite.
The evidence of the coins is thus classified by Wroth (Imp. Byz. Coins, i. xlii-xliii):
1. Coins of Theophilus, Theodora, Thecla, Anna, and Anastasia. 2. Coins of Theophilus, Michael (bearded), and Constantine (beardless).
3. Coins of Theophilus and Constantine (beardless).
4. Coins of Theophilus and Michael (beardless).
Class 4 evidently belong to A.D. 839-842, the infancy of Michael, and prove that Constantine had died before Michael's birth. As to class 2 the difficulty which these coins present has been satisfactorily cleared up by Wroth's solution, which is undoubtedly right, that the bearded Michael is a memorial effigy of Michael II.; such a commemoration occurs in coins of the Isaurian Emperors, e.g. coins of Constantine V. retain the head of Leo III. Thus
classes 2 and 3 were issued not earlier than the end of 829, not later than the beginning of 839.
Class 1 obviously belong to some time during the period of ten years in which neither Constantine nor Michael existed. Wroth dates them to the first years of the reign of Theophilus. He suggests that Constantine was born some years after his father's accession (say A.D. 832).
But the difficulty connected with the marriage of Maria (which Wroth has not taken into account) bears on the interpretation of the numismatic data. It has been discussed by E. W. Brooks (B.Z. x. 544) and Melioranski (Viz. Vrem. viii. 1-37).
As Theophilus married in spring 821, the earliest date for the birth of his eldest child would be about Jan. 822. If Maria was the fifth daughter, her birth could hardly be carlier than 826, or, if we take into account the possibility of twins, 825. She would not have reached the earliest possible age for marriage till after the birth of her brother in 839. But such a date is incompatible with the narrative and the probabilities. Her marriage was evidently prior to the birth of Michael and intended to provide for what seemed the probable eventuality of the Emperor's death without a son to succeed him.
This argument forces us to reject the statement of Cont. Th. that Maria was the youngest daughter. For we cannot entertain the suggestion that Maria was not married, but only betrothed to Alexios; the evidence that she was his wife (Cont. Th. 107, 108) is quite clear. Nor can we admit, except as the last resort of despair, the hypothesis that Theodora was the second wife of Theophilus, and that some or all of his daughters were the progeny of a first wife, of whose existence there is no evidence.
Melioranski, who contemplated the notion that Maria might be the daughter of a former marriage, put forward the alternative suggestion that she was his youngest sister (thus accepting the
yár, but rejecting the Onyarépa of Cont. Th.). There is nothing to be said for this hypothesis in itself; and as it was unquestionably the purpose of Theophilus to provide for the succession to the throne, it is impossible to suppose that he would have chosen a sister when he had daughters.
That Maria was the eldest daughter of Theophilus (so Brooks, op. cit.) is the only reasonable solution (and it renders unnecessary the hypothesis of a first marriage). Born, say, in January or February 822, she would have been fourteen in 836, and we could assign her marriage to that year. But she was probably betrothed to Alexios as early as A.D. 831; for in that year he is already Caesar, as appears from the description of the triumph of Theophilus in Constantine Porph. Hepì rag. 505,
This result compels us to modify Wroth's chronology for the
coins. If class 1 belonged to the beginning of the reign of Theophilus, the eldest daughter, Maria, would have appeared on these coins. We are led to the conclusion that Constantine was born just before or just after the accession of Theophilus, that he died before the betrothal of his eldest sister, that she died before the birth of Michael (839), and that class 1, representing Thecla, Anna, and Anastasia, belong to the short interval between her death and their brother Michael's birth. Thus we get the chronology:
A.D. 829-830. Constantine born.
Issues of coins classes 2 and 3.
. Marriage of Maria with Alexios Musele.
A.D. 837-838. Death of Maria.
A.D. 838-839. Issue of coins class 1.
Against this interpretation of the evidence can only be set the statement in Cont. Th. that Maria was the youngest daughter. But this statement is admitted by modern critics to be incompatible with the facts, except on the hypothesis that all the daughters were the issue of a former marriage. Such a hypothesis, however, saves the authority of Cont. Th. in this one point, only to destroy it in another and graver matter. For Cont. Th. unmistakably regards the five daughters as the children of Theodora and the grandchildren of Theoktisto (90). We can, moreover, conceive how the mistake Maria had died in her father's lifetime; the other four long survived him, and Thecla (who appeared on coins with her mother and brother) was always known as the eldest; so that we can understand how a chronicler, wanting to place Maria in the series, and finding in his source only the statement that she was her father's favourite, and taking it for granted that Thecla was the eldest, for the insufficient reason that she was the eldest in the following reign, tacked Maria on at the end.
The accounts in Simeon, Add. Georg. 794, and Cont. Th. 108, of the sending of Alexios Muscle to the west, are inconsistent. According to the former, he was sent to Sicily on account of the Emperor's suspicions of his ambitious designs; Maria died during his absence; and Alexios, induced to return by promises of immunity, was punished. According to the latter, the suspicions of his disloyalty were subsequent to his command in the west (Longobardia, i.e. South Italy), where he accomplished what he had to do to the Emperor's satisfaction. It is impossible to draw any certain.
As the coins of Theophilus have come under consideration,