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of the City presided in the Emperor's absence ;? but hitherto it had been only in the case of appeals, or in those trials of high functionaries which were reserved for his Court, that the sovran intervened in the administration of justice. Nicephorus instituted a new court which sat in the Palace of Magnaura. Here he used to preside himself and judge cases which ordinarily came before the Prefect of the City or the Quaestor. It was his purpose, he alleged, to enable the poor to obtain justice speedily and easily. It is instructive to observe how this innovation was construed and censured by his enemies. It was said that his motive was to insult and oppress the official classes, or that the encouragement of lawsuits was designed to divert the attention of his subjects from Imperial “impieties." The malevolence of these insinuations is manifest. Nicephorus was solicitous to protect his subjects against official oppression, and all Emperors who took an active personal part in the administration of justice were highly respected and praised by the public.
Not long after Nicephorus ascended the throne he was menaced by a serious insurrection.” He had appointed an able general, Bardanes Turcus, to an exceptionally extensive command, embracing the Anatolic, the Armeniac, and the three other Asiatic Themes. The appointment was evidently made with the object of prosecuting vigorously the war against the Saracens, in which Bardanes had distinguished himself, and won popularity with the soldiers by his scrupulously fair division of booty, in which he showed himself no respecter of persons. He was, as his name shows, an Armenian by
1 Cp. Zachariä, Gr.-röm. Recht, 357. Probably he had held this post at 2 Theoph. 479, 489.
first, and the Emperor afterwards
extended his command. We meet 3 The sources are Theoph. 479; Gen.
again the commission of this large 8 sqq.; Cont. Th. 6 sqq. The narra- military sphere to one general in A.D. tives in the two latter works are told
819, when we .find tà TÉVTE Oépara à propos of the history of Leo the
under one stratégos. Theod. Stud. Armenian, and though they are cog- Epp. ii. 63 (Migne, 1284) TOÙS Tîs nate (and must be derived ultimately εξαρχίας λόγους (επί γάρ των ε' θεμάτων from the same source), Cont. Th. is
τεθείται), where εξαρχία suggests those here independent of Genesios (cp. large administrations which had been Hirsch, Byz. Stud. 189).
introduced in the sixth century (Italy, 4 Cont. Th. 6 uovootpárnyov Tv Africa). The other three Themes were πέντε θεμάτων των κατά την ανατολήν. the Opsikian, Thrakesian, and BukelTheoph. and Gen. designate Bardanes larian. See below, Chap. VII. & 2. as stratégos of the Anatolic Theme. 5 Cont. Th. 8-9.
descent, but we are not told whence he derived the surname of “ Turk.” The large powers which were entrusted to him stirred his ambitions to seize the crown, and the fiscal rigour of the new Emperor excited sufficient discontent to secure followers for a usurper. The Armeniac troops refused to support him, but the regiments of the other four Themes which were under his command proclaimed him Emperor on Wednesday, July 19, A.D. 803.1
This revolt of Bardanes has a dramatic interest beyond the immediate circumstances. It was the first act in a long and curious drama which was worked out in the course of twenty years. We shall see the various stages of its development in due order. The contemporaries of the actors grasped the dramatic aspect, and the interest was heightened by the belief that the events had been prophetically foreshadowed from the beginning. In the staff of Bardanes were three young men who enjoyed his conspicuous favour. Leo was of Armenian origin, like the general himself, but had been reared at a small place called Pidra ' in the Anatolic Theme. Bardanes had selected him for his fierce look and brave temper to be a “spear-bearer and attendant,” or, as we should say, an aide-de-camp. Michael, who was known as Traulos, on account of his lisp, was a native of Amorion. The third, Thomas, probably came of a Slavonic family settled in Pontus near Gaziura. All three were of humble origin, but Bardanes detected that they were marked out by nature for great things and advanced them at the very beginning of their careers. When he determined to raise the standard of rebellion against Nicephorus, he took these three chosen ones into his confidence, and they accompanied him when he rode one day to Philomelion for the purpose of consulting a hermit said to be endowed with the faculty of foreseeing things to come. Leaving his horse to the care of his squires, Bardanes entered 1 Theoph. and Cont. Th.
agree. But Genesios makes Thomas 2 The story is told by Genesios (p. 8). out to be an Armenian (though in The account in Cont. Th. 7 is taken another place he says σκυθίζων τω from Genesios ; see Hirsch, 184 sqq. yével, 32), while in Cont. Th. 50 his
3 Cf. Ramsay, Asia Minor, 246 n. parents are called Σκλαβογενών των 4 The town of Gaziura (Ibora) is on πολλάκις έγκισσευθέντων κατά την the river Iris, south-east of Amasea, ’Avatolúv. The stories about his early on the road to Tokat. It corresponds life will find a more fitting place to the modern Turkhal. Cp. Ramsay, when we come to his rebellion in the ib. 326 sqq. On the birth of Thomas reign of Michael II. in this region, Genesios and Cont. Th. 5 In Pisidia, not far east of Antioch. 1 This prediction post eventum was probably manufactured soon after the death of Thomas, in A.D. 824.
the prophet's cell, where he received a discouraging oracle. He was bidden to abandon his designs, which would surely lead to the loss of his property and of his eyes. He left the hermit's dwelling moody and despondent, and he was mounting his horse when the holy man, who had followed to the door and espied his three companions, summoned him to return. Eagerly expecting a further communication Bardanes complied, and he heard a strange prophecy: “The first and the second of these men will possess the Empire, but thou shalt not. As for the third, he will be merely proclaimed, but will not prosper and will have a bad end." The disappointed aspirant to the throne rushed from the hut, uttering maledictions against the prophet who refused to flatter his hopes, and jeeringly communicated to Leo, Michael, and Thomas the things which were said to be in store for them. Thus, according to the story, the destinies of the two Emperors Leo V. and Michael II. and of the great tyrant Thomas were shadowed forth at Philomelion long before it could be guessed how such things were to come to pass.
The destiny of their patron Bardanes was to be decided far sooner.
The insurgent army advanced along the road to Nicomedia, but it was soon discovered that the Emperor was prepared for the emergency and had forces at his disposition which rendered the cause of the tyrant hopeless. Thomas, the Slavonian, stood by his master; but Leo, the Armenian, and Michael, of Amorion, deserted to Nicephorus, who duly rewarded them. Michael was appointed a Count of the tent,
2. Apparently coming from Nicaea (Cont. Th. 9).
3. There is a difficulty, which historians have not noticed, as to the meaning of this appointment. There was, so far as we know, no official entitled kóuns tîs kóptns par excellence, while in every Theme there was an officer so named. It may be held that in the reign of Nicephorus there was a Count of the Imperial tent, who had duties when the Emperor took part in a campaign, and that the office was abolished soon afterwards. It appears, however, possible that Michael was appointed κόμης της κόρτης of the
Anatolic Theme. In support of this
Leo to be Count of the Federates, and each of them received the gift of a house in Constantinople. When Bardanes found it impracticable to establish on the Asiatic shore ? a basis of operations against the capital, of which the inhabitants showed no inclination to welcome him, he concluded that his wisest course would be to sue for grace while there was yet time, and he retired to Malagina. The Emperor readily sent him a written assurance of his personal safety,4 which was signed by the Patriarch Tarasius and all the patricians; and the promise was confirmed by the pledge of a little gold cross which the Emperor was in the habit of wearing The tyranny had lasted about seven weeks, when Bardanes secretly left the camp at midnight (September 8) and travelling doubtless by the road which passes Nicaea and skirts the southern shores of Lake Ascanias, escaped to the monastery of Heraclius at Kios, the modern town of Geumlek.5 There he was tonsured and arrayed in the lowly garment of a monk. The Emperor's bark, which was in waiting at the shore, carried him to the island of Prôtê, where he had built a private monastery, which he was now permitted to select as his retreat. Under the name of Sabbas, he devoted himself to ascetic exercises. But Nicephorus, it would seem, did not yet feel assured that the ex-tyrant was innocuous; for we can hardly doubt the assertion of our sources that it was with the Emperor's knowledge that a band of Lycaonians? landed on the island by night and deprived the exiled monk of his eyesight. Nicephorus, however, professed to be sorely distressed at the occurrence; he shed the tears which were
1 The details are recorded in Gen., more fully in Cont. Th. The house of Karianos was assigned to Michael, the palace of Zeno and a house called Dagistheus (Tov Aaylonéa) to Leo.
2 He waited at Chrysopolis for eight days (Theoph. 479).
3 The great cavalry depot, about twenty miles east of Nicaea on the road to Dorylaion. See Ramsay, Asia Minor, 204-205.
4 lb. Comt. Th. (cp. Gen. 10) mentions the gold cross ; it was probably an enkolpion (worn on the breast). A cross was regularly used as a pledge of Imperial faith in such cases. Com
pare the story of Theophilus and
5 Theoph. ib.
7 Theoph. 480 Λυκάονάς τινας 分 λυκανθρώπους, ομογνώμονας και ομόφρονας αποστείλας κτλ.
I would not, with some historians, quote this expression of Theophanes as a proof of the character of the Lycaonians. Theophanes is a partisan of Bardanes, and neither he nor any of his contemporaries could resist the temptation of playing on proper names. Besides Lycaonia was infected with the Paulician heresy.
always at his disposal, and did not leave the Imperial bedchamber for seven days. He even threatened to put to death some Lycaonian nobles; and the Senate and the Patriarch could hardly venture to doubt the sincerity of his indignation. As for the rebellious army, it was punished by receiving no pay; several officers and landed owners were banished; the property of the chief insurgent was confiscated.
Such was the fate of Bardanes Turcus and his revolt.
In February 808 a plot was formed to dethrone Nicephorus by a large number of discontented senators and ecclesiastical dignitaries. It is significant that the man who was designated by the conspirators to be the new Emperor was on this occasion also an Armenian.
The patrician Arsaber held the office of Quaestor; and the chronicler, who regarded with favour any antagonist of Nicephorus, describes him as pious. The plot was detected; Arsaber was punished by stripes, made a monk and banished to Bithynia; the accomplices, not excepting the bishops, were beaten and exiled.
Nicephorus had two children, a daughter and a son. . Procopia had married Michael Rangabé, who was created Curopalates ; and one of their sons, Nicetas (destined hereafter to occupy the Patriarchal throne), was appointed, as a child, to be the Domestic or commander of the Hikanatoi, a new corps of guards which his grandfather had instituted. Stauracius was doubtless younger than Procopia, and was crowned Augustus in December 803, a year after his father's succession.” Theophanes, perhaps malevolently, describes him as “physically and intellectually unfit for the position.”
1 Among the conspirators were the have taken place much later than 794. Synkellos, and the sakellarios and Assuming her to have been married chartophylax of St. Sophia (Theoph. early, she might have been born in 778; 483). Finlay justly remarks that the and assuming that her father married conspiracies formed against Nicephorus early, he might have been born in 758. are no evidence of his unpopularity, Thus Nicephorus must have been 45 for the best Byzantine monarchs at least when he ascended the throne, were as often disturbed by secret plots and was probably older. Stauracius as the worst” (ii. p. 99).
was childless. 2 From Nicetas, Vita Ignatii (Mansi, 3 During his sole reign the coinage xvi. 210 sqq.), we learn that Michael and of Nicephorus reverted to the old Procopia had five children-(1) Gorgo, fashion of exhibiting a cross on the (2) Theophylactus, (3) Stauracius, (4)
After the association of his Nicetas, (5) Theophano. Nicetas son he adopted the device (introduced (whose monastic name was Ignatius) by Constantine V.) of representing was 14 years old in 813, and therefore the head of his colleague. See Wroth, was born in 799. From this we may Imp. Byz. Coins, I. xi. infer that Procopia's marriage cannot