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hands. The murder of Theoktistos cut her to the heart, and though the Emperor endeavoured to pacify and conciliate her, she remained unrelenting in her bitterness.1
The Senate was convoked, and that body applauded the announcement that Michael would henceforward govern alone in his own name.2 Bardas was elevated to the rank of magister and was appointed Domestic of the Schools. It would appear that for nearly two years Theodora resided in the Palace, powerless but unforgiving, and perhaps waiting for a favourable opportunity to compass the downfall of her brother. It is said that her son plagued her, trying perhaps to drive her into voluntary retirement. At last, whether his mother's proximity became intolerable, or she involved herself in intrigues against Bardas, it was decided that she should not only be expelled from the Palace but consigned to a nunnery. The Patriarch Ignatius, who owed his appointment to her, was commanded to tonsure her along with her daughters, but he absolutely declined on the sufficient ground that they were unwilling to take the monastic vow. The hair of their heads was shorn by other hands, and they were all immured in the monastery of Karianos (autumn A.D. 858).
It was probably soon afterwards that the Empress, thirsting
1 Simeon (Cont. Georg.), 822-823. Cont. Th. 171 describes her lamentation and anger as that of a tragedy queen.
2 Simeon (ιδ.) μόνος αὐτοκρατορεῖ (the technical phrase).
3 For the chronology see Appendix VII. The sources here cause difficulty; I have followed Nicetas (Vit. Ign. 225), who says: τὴν μητέρα καὶ τὰς ἀδελφὰς καταγαγὼν ἐν τοῖς Καριανοῦ λεγομένοις ἀπενεχθῆναι κελεύει καὶ καρῆναι. Aecording to Simeon (ib.) the three eldest sisters were expelled from the palace and placed εἰς τὰ Καριανοῦ. Pulcheria, as her mother's favourite, was sent to the convent of Gastria; Theodora remained in the palace, but was afterwards also sent to Gastria. Gen. 90 says simply that they were all expelled to Gastria. Cont. Th. 174 states that they were tonsured by Petronas and sent "to the palace of Karianos," but after Theodora's death the daughters were confined in Gastria and their mother's corpse was taken thither. This last account is not
inconsistent with Nicetas, only the author has confused the monastery with the palace of Karianos (and has been followed in this by Finlay, ii. 173, and Hergenrother, i. 348). The palace of Karianos was within the precincts of the Great Palace (see above, p. 132), and as Theophilus built it for his daughters, it is very probable that they lived there before they were expelled. But they could not be "driven from the Palace to the palace of Karianos.' τὰ Καριανοῦ in Nicetas and Simeon is obviously the Convent of Karianos, which we can, I think, approximately locate from the data in the πάτρια Κπλ. 241. Here buildings along the Golden Horn, from east to west, are described, thus: (1) Churches of SS. Isaiah and Laurentios, south of the Gate Jubali Kapussi; (2) house of Dexiokrates, evidently near the gate of Dexiokrates = Aya Kapu ; (3) τὰ Καριανοῦ ; (4) Church of Blachernae. It follows that the Karianos was in the region between Aya Kapu and Blachernae. For this region cp. van Millingen, Walls, c. xiv.
for revenge if she did not hope to regain power, entered into a plot against her brother's life. The Imperial Protostrator was the chief of the conspirators, who planned to kill Bardas as he was returning to the Palace from his suburban house on the Golden Horn. But the design was discovered, and the conspirators were beheaded in the Hippodrome.1
§ 2. Bardas and Basil the Macedonian.
Bardas was soon raised to the high dignity of Curopalates,2 which was only occasionally conferred on a near relative of the Emperor and gave its recipient, in case the sovran died childless, a certain claim to the succession. His position was at the same time strengthened by the appointments of his two sons to important military posts. The Domesticate of the Schools, which he vacated, was given to Antigonus who was only a boy,3 while an elder son was invested with the command of several western Themes which were exceptionally united. But for Bardas the office of Curopalates was only a step to the higher dignity of Caesar, which designated him more clearly as the future colleague or successor of his nephew, whose marriage had been fruitless. He was created Caesar on the Sunday after Easter in April A.D. 862.5
The government of the Empire was in the hands of Bardas for ten years, and the reluctant admissions of hostile chroniclers show that he was eminently fitted to occupy the throne. A
1 The source is Simeon, ib., and we can hardly hesitate to accept his statement as to the implication of Theodora, to whom he was well disposed. He speaks of her part in an apologetic tone, as if she were not responsible for her acts: ἀθυμίᾳ μετεωρισθεῖσα τὸν νοῦν καὶ ὑπὸ ἐκπλήξεως ἀφαιρεθεῖσα καὶ τὸ φρονεῖν, ἀνάξια ἑαυτῆς κατασκευάζει βουλὴν κατὰ Βάρδα βουλευομένη.
2 It appears from Cont. Th. 176, that he was already Curopalates when he took part in the expedition against Samosata, the date of which we otherwise know to be 859 (see below, p. 279).
3 Simeon (Cont. Georg.) 828. According to Cont. Th. 180, Petronas succeeded him in 863 as Domestic ; but if this is true, he was restored to
the command almost immediately, as Petronas died shortly after. Vogt (Basile Ier) is wrong in supposing that Petronas succeeded Bardas in this post.
4 Simeon, ib. The wife of this son was her father-in-law's mistress. For other examples of such extended commands see pp. 10, 222.
5 The year is given by Gen. 97, the day by Simeon, ib., 824. No known facts are incompatible with this date (which Hirsch accepts), and we must decisively reject the hypotheses of Aristarchos (A.D. 860), Vogt (A.D. 865 or 866), and others.
6 The concession of Nicetas (Vit. Ign. 224) is, among others, especially significant: σπουδαῖον καὶ δραστήριον περὶ τὴν τῶν πολιτικῶν πραγμάτων μεταχείρισιν.
brilliant success won (A.D. 863) against the Saracens, and the conversion of Bulgaria, enhanced the prestige of the Empire abroad; he committed the care of the Church to the most brilliant Patriarch who ever occupied the ecclesiastical throne of Constantinople; he followed the example of Theophilus in his personal attention to the administration of justice;1 and he devoted himself especially to the improvement of education and the advancement of learning. The military and diplomatic transactions of this fortunate decade, its importance for the ecclesiastical independence of the Eastern Empire, and its significance in the history of culture, are dealt with in other chapters.
Michael himself was content to leave the management of the state in his uncle's capable hands. He occasionally took part in military expeditions, more for the sake of occupation, we may suspect, than from a sense of duty. He was a man of pleasure, he only cared for amusement, he had neither the brains nor the taste for administration. His passion for horseraces reminds us of Nero and Commodus; he used himself to drive a chariot in the private hippodrome of the Palace of St. Mamas.2 His frivolity and extravagance, his impiety and scurrility, are held up to derision and execration by an imperial writer who was probably his own grandson but was bitterly hostile to his memory.
Little confidence can be placed in the anecdotes related by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos and his literary satellites, but there is no doubt that they exhibit, in however exaggerated a shape, the character and reputation of Michael. We may not be prepared, for instance, to believe that the firesignals of Asia Minor were discontinued, because on one occasion he was interrupted in the hippodrome by an inopportune message; but the motive of the story reflects his genuine impatience of public business. The most famous or infamous performance of Michael was his travesty of the mysteries and ministers of the Church. One of his coarse boon-companions, a buffoon known as the "Pig," was arrayed
1 Cp. Cont. Th. 193.
2 Gen. 112, Cont. Th. 197. It does not appear that he ever drove in the Great Hippodrome himself. At St. Mamas the spectacle would be private
-confined to invited members of the Court. High officials took part in these amateur performances (Cont. Th. 198).
3 Cont. Th. 197.
as Patriarch, while the Emperor and eleven others dressed themselves in episcopal garments, as twelve prominent bishops. With citherns, which they hid in the folds of their robes and secretly sounded, they intoned the liturgy. They enacted the solemn offices of consecrating and deposing bishops, and it was even rumoured that they were not ashamed to profane the Eucharist, using mustard and vinegar instead of the holy elements.1 A story was current that one day the mock Patriarch riding on an ass, with his execrable cortège, came face to face with the true Patriarch Ignatius, who was conducting a religious procession to a suburban church. The profane satyrs raised their hoods, loudly struck their instruments, and with lewd songs disturbed the solemn hymns of the pious procession. But this was only a sensational anecdote, for we have reason to believe that Michael did not begin to practise these mummeries till after the deposition of Ignatius.2 Mocking at the ecclesiastical schism, he is said to have jested "Theophilus (the Pig) is my Patriarch, Photius is the Patriarch of the Caesar, Ignatius of the Christians." 8 How far mummeries of this kind shocked public opinion in Constantinople it is difficult to conjecture.
1 These mummeries are described by Constantine Porph. (Cont. Th. 244 sqq.). They are not referred to by Simeon, but are mentioned in general terms by Nicetas (Vit. Ignatii, 246, where the proper name of Gryllos= the Pig is given as Theophilus), and are attested by the 16th Canon of the Council of 869-870, which describes and condemns them (Mansi, xvi. 169). In this canon Michael himself is not said to have participated in the parodies, which are attributed to "laymen of senatorial rank under the late Emperor.' These men, arranging their hair so as to imitate the tonsure, and arrayed in sacerdotal robes, with episcopal cloaks, used to travesty the ceremonies of electing, consecrating, and deposing bishops; one of them used to play the Patriarch. The canon obviously insinuates that Photius had not done his duty in allowing such profanities to go on. But it does not speak of the profanation of the Eucharist, nor is this mentioned in Vit. Ign. I therefore think this must be regarded as an invention-an almost inevitable addition to the scandal. In
this connexion, I may refer to the curious (thirteenth or fourteenth century) composition called the Mass of the Spanos (i.e. Beardless), a parody of the rites of the Church, and doubtless connected with Satanic worship. See Krumbacher, G.B.L. 809 sqq.; A. Heisenberg, in B.Z. xii. 361.
2 The anecdote is told in Cont. Th. 244 (Vita Bas.), but not in Vit. Ign. where (loc. cit.) the profanities are recorded as happening after the fall of Ignatius, and Photius is blamed for not protesting and putting a stop to them. The author also reports (p. 247) that Simeon, a Cretan bishop (who had left the island on account of the Saracen invasion), remonstrated with Michael, and begged him to discontinue his sacrilegious conduct. The Emperor knocked his teeth out and had him severely beaten for his temerity. In the Madrid Skylitzes there is a representation of the Patriarch and the Synkellos standing in the portico of a church, outside which are Gryllos and the mummers with musical instruments (Beylié, op. cit. 91). 3 Vit. Ign. 246.
The Imperial pleasures were costly, and Michael's criminal generosity to his worthless companions dissipated large treasures. He made it a practice to stand sponsor at the baptisms of children of his jockeys, and on such occasions he would bestow upon the father a present varying from £1296 to £2160, occasionally even as much as £4320-sums which then represented a considerably higher value than to-day.1 Not only was no saving effected during the eleven years in which he was master of the Empire, but he wasted the funds which had been saved by his father and by his mother, and towards the end of his reign he was in such straits for ready money that he laid hands upon some of the famous works of art with which Theophilus had adorned the Palace. The golden planetree, in which the mechanical birds twittered, the two golden lions, the two griffins hammered out of solid gold, and the organ of solid gold, all weighing not less than 200 pounds, were melted down; but before they were minted, Michael perished.2 It seems probable that it was in the last year or two of his reign that his extravagance became excessive and ruinous. For there is no sign that the Empire was in financial difficulties during the government of Bardas, who seems to have been able to restrain his nephew within certain bounds.
The weak point of the position of the Caesar lay in the circumstance that he had to share his influence over the Emperor with boon companions; for there was always the danger that a wily schemer, concealing ambition under the mask of frivolity, might successfully use the opportunities of intimate intercourse to discredit him and undermine his power. The fact that he retained for ten years the unshaken, almost childish confidence of his nephew is a striking proof of his
1 The sums mentioned are 30, 40, 50, 100 litrai, Cont. Th. 172. further, Chapter VII. p. 220.
2 There is an inconsistency here between the Vita Basilii and the Vita Michaelis in Cont. Th., but it is not so serious as Hirsch thinks (244). According to the former source (257) Michael melted down the plane-tree, lions, etc., and the gold on the Imperial and senatorial state-robes; according to the latter (173) the plane-tree, etc., were melted, but the robes were found still untouched on Michael's death
(ταύτας refers to στολάς). Hirsch did not observe this distinction, and thought that the contradiction was complete. Basil rescued the robes, but coined the melted gold, and called the nomisma of this coinage a senzáton. The name, I suppose, was given because the lions, plane-tree, etc., were EV TW σÉVτŠŲ (Constantine, Cer. 569). The Vita Bas. was a source of the Vita Mich.; here the author of the latter seems to correct an inaccuracy of Constantine VII., the author of the former.