Slike stranica

4. Intervention of the Bulgarians, Spring, A.D. 823.—It was from the kingdom beyond Mount Haemus that Michael received an opportune aid which proved the turning point in the civil war. The Bulgarians had been at peace with the Empire, since Leo and king Omurtag, not long after the death of Krum, had concluded a treaty for thirty years. Communications now passed between Constantinople and Pliska, but it is uncertain who took the first step, and what was the nature of the negotiations. The simplest and earliest chronicle of the siege represents Michael as requesting Omurtag to take the field against Thomas, and Omurtag readily responding to the request. But an entirely different version is adopted in records which are otherwise unfavourable to Michael.3 According to this account, the proposal of alliance came from the Bulgarian king, and the Emperor declined the offer because he was reluctant to permit Christian blood to be shed by the swords of the heathen. He tendered his sincere thanks to Omurtag, but alleged that the presence of a Bulgarian army in Thrace, even though acting in his own cause, would be a virtual violation of the Thirty Years' Peace. Omurtag, however, took the matter into his own hands, and, unable to resist the opportunity of plunder and pillage, assisted Michael in Michael's own despite. obviously to the interest of the Emperor that this version should obtain credit, as it relieved him from the odium of inviting pagans to destroy Christians and exposing Roman territory to the devastation of barbarians. We must leave it undecided whether it was Michael who requested, or Omurtag who offered help, but we cannot seriously doubt that the help was accorded with the full knowledge and at the desire of the besieged Emperor. It may well be that he declined to conclude any formal alliance with the Bulgarians, but merely gave them assurances that, if they marched against Thomas and paid themselves by booty, he would hold them innocent of violating the peace. The negotiations must have been 1 See below p. 360.

4 See Gen. ib. απολογείται μη χρήναι τους

επί τοσούτον George Mon. p. 796 mabwv ús Ó

χρόνον βασιλεύς Μιχαήλ τους Βουλγάρους εις

ώμολογηκότας Χριστιανικών αιμάτων συμμαχίαν κατ' αυτού προσεκαλέσατο.

αφέξεσθαι επί τω των στασιωτών πολέμω This is accepted by Hirsch, 134.

τα καλώς δόξαντα καταλύειν.

5 Gen. 41 διαπρεσβεύεται προς βασιλέα 3 Gen. 41-42 ; Cont. Th. 65.

και συμμαχείν αιτείται αυτό.


It was




conducted with great secrecy, and the account which represented Michael as unreservedly rejecting the proffered succour gained wide credence, though his enemies assigned to his refusal a less honourable motive than the desire of sparing Christian blood, and suggested that his avarice withheld him from paying the Bulgarians the money which they demanded for their services.

Omurtag then descended from Mount Haemus and marched by the great high road, by Hadrianople and Arcadiopolis, to deliver Constantinople from the Roman leaguer, even as another Bulgarian monarch had come down, more than a hundred years before, in the days of Leo III., to deliver it from the Saracens. When Thomas learned that the weight of Bulgaria was thrown into the balance and that a formidable host was advancing against him, he decided to abandon the siege and confront the new foe.? joyful day for the siege-worn citizens and soldiers, when they saw the camp of the besiegers broken up and the great army marching away from their gates. Only the remnant of the rebel navy still lay in the Golden Horn, as Thomas did not require it for his immediate work. The Bulgarians had already passed Arcadiopolis and reached the plain of Kêduktos, near the coast between Heraclea and Selymbria. Here they awaited the approach of Thomas, and in the battle which ensued defeated him utterly. The victors soon retired, laden with booty; having thus worked much profit both to themselves

It was



1 We must suppose that Michael deliberately circulated it. It is characteristic that he does not mention or even hint at the Bulgarian episode in his letter to the Emperor Lewis. He wished the Franks to suppose that the subjugation of Thomas was due to his unaided efforts, and it would have been humiliating to confess to the rival Emperor that the Bulgarians had invaded the Empire even in his own cause.

? Cont. Th. 652.
3 Tervel (A.D. 717).

4 Michael Syr. (37) says that Michael employed Saracen captives who were in the city to fight for him, promising them freedom (a promise which he did not keep), and with their help routed Thomas. It is quite possible

that he did enlist them in his forces during the siege.

5 Gen. 42. κατα τον Κηδούκτου καλούμενον χώρον. (For the date of the battle of Kêduktos see Appendix V.). For the location of Kêduktos (A-quaeductus),

the important passage is Nicephorus Bryenn. 135 (ed. Bonn) =Anna Comnena I. 18-19 (ed. Reifferscheid) describing the battle between Alexius Comnenus and Bryennios év τοίς κατά του Κηδούκτου πεδίοις, near the fort of Kalavrye and the river Halmyros. The Halmyros seems to be the stream to the west of Erekli (Heraclea), and the name of Kalavrye (Talaßpla in Attaleiates, 289 ed. Bonn) is preserved in Gelivrê near Selymbria (Tomaschek, Zur Kunde der H.-h. 331). Cp. Jireček, Heerstrasse, 101.


and to their ally, for whom the way was now smoothed to the goal of final victory. They had destroyed the greater part of the rebel army on the field of Kêduktos, and Michael was equal to dealing with the remnant himself.

5. Siege of Arcadiopolis and end of the Civil War, 823 A.D.—When the Bulgarians retreated, Thomas, still hopeful, collected the scattered troops who had been routed on the day of Kêduktos, and marching north-eastward pitched his camp in the marshy plain of Diabasis, watered by the streams of the Melas and Athyras which discharge into the lagoon of Buyak Chekmejé, about twenty miles west of Constantinople. This district was well provided with pasturage for horses, and well situated for obtaining supplies; moreover, it was within such distance from the capital that Thomas could harry the neighbouring villages. The month of May, if it had not already begun, was near at hand, when Michael went forth to decide the issue of the long struggle. He was accompanied by his faithful generals Katakylas and Olbianos, each at the head of troops of his own Theme. It is not recorded whether the younger Emperor marched with his father or was left behind to guard the city. But the city might justly feel secure now; for the marines whom Thomas had left in the Golden Horn espoused the cause of Michael, as soon as they learned the news of Keduktos.

Thomas, who felt confident of success, decided to entrap his foes by the stratagem of a feigned flight.

But his followers did not share his spirit. They were cast down by the recent defeat; they were thoroughly weary of an enterprise which had lasted so much longer than they had dreamt



1 Gen. (42) indicates the character of the place. Its distance from Constantinople is vaguely suggested in Cout. Τh. 66 σταδίους απέχον της πόλεως ικανούς, and κακείθεν τάς προνομής ποιών πάντα μεν προ της πόλεως έκειρε κόσμον, but Thomas did not come within sight of the city. Diabasis has been identified by Jireček (ib. 53, 102) with the plains of Choirobakchoi, described by Kinnamos (7374 ed. Bonn) and Nicetas (85-86 ed. Bonn). The Melas (Kara-su) and Athyras flow from the hill of Kushkaya near the Anastasian Wall; and near here Tomaschek (op. cit. 304)

would place the fortress Abyyol, which commanded the plain (according to Kinnamos), identifying it with Cantacuzene's Ý Abyovs, i. 297 ed. Bonn. (I - lôghus in Idrisi's geography). North of the lagoon there is an extensive marsh, through which there is a solid stone dyke of Roman work ; this was doubtless called the Crossing, Diabasis.

2 That the naval armament joined Michael after the Bulgarian victory is stated in Cont. Th. Genesios is less precise.

3 The spirit of the army is described in Cont. ī'h. 67.

when they lightly enlisted under the flag of the pretender; their ardour for the cause of an ambitious leader had cooled; they were sick of shedding Christian blood; they longed to return to their wives and children. This spirit in the army of the rebels decided the battle of Diabasis. They advanced against their enemies as they were commanded; when the word was given they simulated flight; but, when they saw that the troops of the Emperor did not pursue in disorder, as Thomas had expected, but advanced in close array, they lost all heart for the work, and surrendered themselves to Michael's clemency.

The cause of Thomas was lost on the field of Diabasis. The throne of the Amorian Emperor was no longer in jeopardy. But there was still more work to be done and the civil war was not completely over until the end of the year. The tyrant himself was not yet captured, nor his adopted son, Anastasius. Thomas, with a few followers, fled to Arcadiopolis and closed the gates against his conqueror. The parts of the tyrant and the Emperor were now changed. It was now Michael's turn to besiege Thomas in the city of Arcadius, as Thomas had besieged Michael in the city of Constantine. But the second siege was of briefer duration. Arcadiopolis was not as Constantinople; and the garrison of Thomas was not as the garrison of Michael. Yet it lasted much longer than might have been expected; for it began in the middle of May, and the place held out till the middle of October.?

Arcadiopolis was not the only Thracian town that sheltered followers of Thomas. The younger tyrant, Anastasius, had

, found refuge not far off, in Bizye. Another band of rebels seized Panion, and Heraclea on the Propontis remained devoted to the cause of the Pretender. These four towns, Heraclea, Panion, Arcadiopolis and Bizye formed a sort of





i The united authority of the contemporary George Mon. (797) and Genesios (43) would be decisive for the city of Arcadius, as against Cont. Th. in which the city of Hadrian is mentioned. Adplavoúnow there (68) is probably a slip; in any case it is an error. All doubt on the matter is removed by Michael's own statement (Ep. ad Lud. 418) from which we learn the duration of the siege. Arcadiopolis,

the ancient Bergyle, corresponds to the modern Lüle Burgas, and was a station on the main road from Hadrianople to Constantinople. Cf. Jireček, Heerstrasse, 49.

2 See Appendix V.

3 Bizye lay nearly due east of Hadrianople, and N.E. of Arcadiopolis.

4 On the Propontis coast, not far from Heraclea (Suidas, s. v.).

line, cutting off Constantinople from Western Thrace. But the subjugation of the last refuges of the lost cause was merely a matter of months. It would not have been more than a matter of days, if certain considerations had not hindered the Emperor from using engines of siege against the towns which still defied him. But two lines of policy concurred in deciding him to choose the slower method of blockade.

In the first place he wished to spare, so far as possible, the lives of Christians, and, if the towns were taken by violence, bloodshed would be unavoidable. That this consideration really influenced Michael is owned by historians who were not well disposed towards him, but who in this respect bear out a statement which he made himself in his letter to Lewis the Pious. He informed that monarch that he retreated after the victory of Diabasis,“ in order to spare Christian blood." ” Such a motive does not imply that he was personally a humane man; other acts show that he could be stark and ruthless. His humanity in this case rather illustrates the general feeling that prevailed against the horrors of civil war. It was Michael's policy to affect a tender regard for the lives of his Christian subjects, and to contrast his own conduct with that of his rival, who had brought so many

miseries on the Christian Empire. We have already seen how important this consideration was for the purpose of conciliating public opinion, in the pains which were taken to represent the Bulgarian intervention as a spontaneous act of Omurtag, undesired and deprecated by Michael.

But there was likewise another reason which conspired to decide Michael that it was wiser not to storm a city of Thrace. It was the interest and policy of a Roman Emperor to cherish in the minds of neighbouring peoples, especially of Bulgarians and Slavs, the wholesome idea that fortified Roman cities were impregnable.? The failure of Krum's attack on Constantinople, the more recent failure of the vast force of Thomas, were calculated to do much to confirm such a belief. And Michael had no mind to weaken this impression by showing the barbarians that Roman cities might yield to the force of skilfully directed engines. In



άμα μεν τον εμφύλιον αποδιδράσκων πόλεμον, Cont. Τh. 68. ad Lud. 418.

2 Cont. Th. 68.

Michael, Ep.

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