Slike stranica

her son. The administration was conducted in their joint names; but she possessed no sovran authority in her own right or independently of him. Her actual authority was formally limited (unlike Irene's) by the two guardians or co-regents whom Theophilus had appointed. To find two men who would work in harmony and could be trusted not to seek power for themselves to the detriment of his son was difficult, and Theophilus seems to have made a judicious choice. But it was almost inevitable that one of the two should win the effective control of affairs and the chief place in the Empress's confidence. It may well be that superior talent and greater political experience rendered Theoktistos a more capable adviser than Manuel, her uncle, who had probably more knowledge of warfare than of administration. Theoktistos presently became the virtual prime minister,1 and Manuel found it convenient to withdraw from his rooms in the Palace and live in his house near the Cistern of Aspar, though he did not formally retire from his duties and regularly attended in the Palace for the transaction of business.2

Her uncle's practical abdication of his right to a voice in the management of the Empire corresponds to the policy which Theodora pursued, under the influence of the Logothete, towards the other members of her own family. Her brother Petronas, who was a competent general and had done useful work for her husband, seems to have been entrusted with no important post and allowed no opportunity of winning distinction under her government; he proved his military capacity after her fall from power. Her more famous and brilliant brother Bardas was forced to be contented with an inactive life in his suburban house. Theodora had also three sisters, of whom one, Sophia, had married Constantine Babutzikos. Another, Calomaria, was the wife of Arsaber,

1 παραδυναστεύων, Simeon (Cont. Georg.), 815.

2 Gen. 86, where it is explained that Theoktistos schemed to get rid of Manuel by a charge of treason, but Manuel anticipated the trouble by a voluntary semi-retirement. Simeon, ib. 816, mentions that Theoktistos built himself a house with baths and

garden, within the Palace. Manuel converted his house into a monastery, the church of which is now the Kefelé mosque, a little to the west of the Chukur Bostan or Cistern of Aspar. See Paspates, Bus. μeλ. 304; Millingen, Walls, 23; Strzygovski, Die byz. Wasserbehälter von Kpel (1893),


a patrician, who was elevated to the higher rank of magister.1 On his death Calomaria lived in the Palace with her sister, and is said to have worn mean raiment and performed the charitable duty of paying monthly visits to the prisons and distributing blessings and alms to the prisoners.


Michael was in his seventeenth year when his mother decided to marry him. The customary bride-show was announced throughout the provinces by a proclamation inviting beautiful candidates for the throne to assemble on a certain day in the Imperial Palace. The choice of the Empress fell on Eudocia, the daughter of Dekapolites (A.D. 855). We know nothing of this lady or her family; she seems to have been a cipher, and her nullity may have recommended her to Theodora. But in any case the haste of the Empress and Theoktistos to provide Michael with a consort at such an early age was prompted by their desire to prevent his union with another lady. For Michael already had a love affair with Eudocia Ingerina, whom Theodora and her minister regarded as an unsuitable spouse.

1 The text of the passage in Cont. Th. 175 seems perfectly right as it stands, but has been misunderstood both by the later historian Skylitzes (see Cedrenus, ii. 161) and by modern critics. The text is ἡ δὲ Καλομαρία ̓Αρσαβὴρ τῷ . . μαγίστρῳ, τῷ Εἰρήνης τῆς μητρὸς τοῦ μετὰ ταῦτα τὸν πατριαρχικὸν θρόνον ἀντιλαβομένου Φωτίου adelp. The translation is: "Calomaria married Arsaber, the brother of Irene, who was the mother of Photius, afterwards Patriarch." There is no

A chronicler tells us that

difficulty about this. But because Theodora had three sisters, it was assumed that all three were married, and that the husbands of all three are mentioned. Irene was the name of the third sister, and Skylitzes says that she (Eiphvn dè) married Sergius, the brother of Photius. Hirsch criticizes the passage on the same assumption (215). The relationship of Photius to Theodora and the text of Cont. Th. will be made clear by a diagram.

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they disliked her intensely " on account of her impudence which means that she was a woman of some spirit, and they feared her as a rival influence. The young sovran was obliged to yield and marry the wife who was not of his own choice, but if he was separated from the woman he loved, it was only for a short time. Eudocia Ingerina did not disdain to be his mistress, and his attachment to her seems to have lasted till his death.

But the power of Theodora and her favourite minister was doomed, and the blow was struck by a member of her own family (A.D. 856, January to March).2 Michael had reached an age when he began to chafe under the authority of his mother, whose discipline had probably been strict; and his uncle Bardas, who was ambitious and conscious of his own talents for government, divined that it would now be possible to undermine her position and win his nephew's confidence. The most difficult part of his enterprise was to remove Theoktistos, but he had friends among the ministers who were in close attendance on the Emperor. The Parakoemômenos or chief chamberlain, Damianos (a man of Slavonic race), persuaded Michael to summon his uncle to the Palace, and their wily tongues convinced the boy that his mother intended to depose him, with the assistance of Theoktistos, or at all events—and this was no more than the truth-that he would have no power so long as Theodora and Theoktistos co-operated.3 Michael was brought to acquiesce in the view that it was necessary to suppress the too powerful minister, and violence was the only method. Theophanes, the chief of the private wardrobe, joined the conspiracy, and Bardas also won over his sister Calomaria.a Some generals, who had from the official description in Constantine, Cer. 213.

1 Simeon (Cont. Georg.), 816, the source for Michael's marriage. The probable date, A.D. 855, is inferred from the fact that the marriage preceded the death of Theoktistos, combined with Michael's age. The bridal ceremony of an Emperor was performed in the church of St. Stephen in the Palace of Daphne. The chronicler (ib.) notes that the bridal chamber (Tò TασTÓν) was in the palace of Magnaura, and the marriage feast, at which the senators were present, was held in the hall of the Nineteen Couches. This was the regular habit, as we learn

2 For date see Appendix VII.

3 So Simeon (Cont. Georg.), 821. According to Gen. 87, Bardas suggested to Michael that Theodora intended to marry herself, or to find a husband for one of her daughters, and depose Michael, with the aid of Theoktistos.

4 The part played by Calonaria is recorded by Genesios, whose information was doubtless derived from his ancestor Constantine the Armenian, who was an eye-witness of the murder. For Theophanes of Farghana see p. 238.

been deposed from their commands and owed a grudge to Theoktistos,1 were engaged to lend active assistance. It was arranged that Bardas should station himself in the Lausiakos, and there attack the Logothete, whose duties frequently obliged. him to pass through that hall in order to reach the apartments of the Empress.2 Calomaria concealed herself in an upper room, where, through a hole, perhaps constructed on purpose, she commanded a view of the Lausiakos, and could, by signalling from a window, inform the Emperor as soon as Bardas sprang upon his victim.



Theoktistos had obtained at the secretarial office 1 the reports which he had to submit to the Empress, and as he passed through the Lausiakos he observed with displeasure Bardas seated at his ease, as if he had a full right to be there. Muttering that he would persuade Theodora to expel him from the Palace, he proceeded on his way, but in the Horologion, at the entrance of the Chrysotriklinos, he was stopped by the Emperor and Damianos. Michael, asserting his authority perhaps for the first time, angrily ordered him to read the reports to himself and not to his mother. As the Logothete was retracing his steps in a downcast mood, Bardas sprang forward and smote him. The ex-generals hastened to assist, and Theoktistos drew his sword.5 The Emperor, on receiving a signal from his aunt, hurried to the scene, and by his orders

1 A grudge: this is a fair inference from the fact that they were selected for the purpose.

2 The apartments of Theodora seem to have been in the Chrysotriklinos. The eastern door of the Lausiakos faced the Horologion which was the portal of the Chrysotriklinos.

3 Gen. 87 ἐξ ὑπερτέρου τετρημένου οἰκίσκου διόπτειραν καταστήσαντες. We may imagine this room to have been in the Eidikon, to which stairs led up from the Lausiakos. The Eidikon, which was over the Thermastra, adjoined the Lausiakos on the north side.

4 τὰ ἀσηκρητεία, Simeon, ib. 821. The accounts of the murder in this chronicle and in Genesios are independent and supplement each other. Simeon gives more details before the assault of Bardas, Genesios a fuller description of the murder and the part played by his own grandfather.


5 Gen. 88, Bardas threw Theoktistos down (καταπρηνίξας), καὶ εὐθέως ἐπιδίδοται σὺν κουλεῷ σπάθη ἐπώμιος, ἣν πρὸς ἀποτροπὴν ἐναντίων ἐγύμνωσεν. Simeon, ib. 822, says that Bardas began to strike him on the cheek and pull his hair; and Maniakes, the Drungary of the Watch, cried, "Do not strike the Logothete." Maniakes was therefore the surname of Constantine the Armenian.

6 Gen. 88 κατασημαίνεται βασιλεὺς πρὸς ἐξέλευσιν τὴν διὰ χαλκηλάτων πυλῶν Τιβερίου τοῦ ἄνακτος, καὶ στὰς ÉKELσE KTX. This gate, not mentioned elsewhere so far as I know, was probably a door of the Chrysotriklinos palace, which, we know, Tiberius II. improved. If Calomaria was, as I suppose, in the Eidikon building, she could have signalled from a window on its eastern side to the Chrysotriklinos.

Theoktistos was seized and dragged to the Skyla.1 It would seem that Bardas did not contemplate murder, but intended to remove the Logothete to a place of banishment.2 But the Emperor, advised by others, probably by Damianos, that nothing short of his death would serve, called upon the foreign Guards (the Hetairoi) to slay Theoktistos. Meanwhile the Empress had heard from the Papias of the Palace that the Logothete's life was in danger, and she instantly rushed to the scene to save her friend. But she was scared back to her apartments by one of the conspirators, a member of the family of Melissenos, who cried in a voice of thunder, "Go back, for this is the day of strikers." 3 8 The Guards, who were stationed in the adjoining Hall of Justinian, rushed in; one of them dragged the victim from the chair under which he had crawled and stabbed him in the belly (A.D. 856).



Of the two offices which Theoktistos had held, the less onerous, that of Chartulary of the Kanikleion," was conferred on Bardas, while his son-in-law Symbatios-whose name shows his Armenian lineage-was appointed Logothete of the Course. The reign of Theodora was now over. She had held the reins of power for fourteen years, and she was unwilling to surrender them. She was not an unscrupulous woman like Irene, she did not aspire to be Autocrat in her own right or set aside her son; but well knowing her son's incapacity she had doubtless looked forward to keeping him in perpetual tutelage and retaining all the serious business of government in her own

1 Cont. Th. 170, whose narrative varies in particulars, represents Theoktistos as making an attempt to flee to the Hippodrome through the Asêkrêteia, "for at the time the office of the Asêkrêtai was there." The secretarial offices were probably in the same building as the Eidikon (cp. Ebersolt, Le Grand Palais, 124), and were reached through a door on the north side of the Lausiakos. Theoktistos was doubtless returning thither.

2 Gen. 89.

3 This is told by Gen. 88, and probably comes from his grandfather. The identification of the ex-general who scared the Empress as a Melissenos is in favour of the incident. Simeon does not mention this, but states that the Papias informed Theodora (Cont. Georg. 822). For the Melissenos

family see above, p. 25, n. 3.

4 Gen. (ib.) states that Constantine, the Drungary of the Watch, tried to save Theoktistos by holding the doors between the Skyla and the Triklinos of Justinian, hoping that he would be condemned to banishment before the guards appeared. But Michael called them, and Constantine was obliged unwillingly to give way. It is clear from the narrative that Theoktistos was not taken through the Triklinos of Justinian; therefore he must have been dragged through a door on the north side of the Lausiakos, into the Thermastra, and thence to the Skyla by way of the Hippodrome.

5 Cont. Th. 171.

6 This seems probable, though Symbatios is not mentioned till some years later.

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