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that Basil, the High Chamberlain, since he is faithful to me and protects my sovranty and delivered me from my enemy and has much affection for me, should be the guardian and manager of my Empire and should be proclaimed by all as Emperor.” Then Michael gave his crown to the Patriarch, who placed it on the holy table and recited a prayer over it. Basil was arrayed by the eunuchs in the Imperial dress (the divêtêsion and the red boots), and knelt before the Emperor. The Patriarch then crowned Michael, and Michael crowned Basil."
On the following day (Whitmonday) Symbatios, the Logothete of the Course, deeply incensed at the trick that Basil had played on him and disappointed in his hopes of promotion to the rank of Caesar, requested Michael to confer upon him the post of a stratégos. He was made Stratêgos of the Thrakesian Theme, and his friend George Pêganês was appointed Count of the Opsikian Theme.? These two conspired and marched through the provinces, ravaging the crops, declaring their allegiance to Michael and disowning Basil. The Emperors ordered the other stratégoi to suppress them, and Nicephorus Maleinos, by distributing a flysheet, induced their soldiers to abandon them. When Pêganês was caught, his eyes were put out and he was placed at the Milestone in the Augusteon, with a plate in his hand, into which the passers-by might fling alms-a form of public degradation which gave rise to the fable that the great general Belisarius
1 The description of the coronation is Constitution of the later Roman Empire, given by Simeon (Cont. Georg. 832-833).
To the official description in This text (cp. also ed. Muralt, 744) Cer. the text of Simeon adds the fact is in error when it is said that Photius that the okaatpa were lowered just “took the crown from the Emperor's before the act of crowning (ok. Treobvhead and placed it on Basil's”; the Twv, ùs toos). The skeptra, skeuê, writer meant to say, “gave it to the and banda were arrayed on both sides Emperor,"and TỚ Baoilelw is obviously of the ambo, and the demes did obeian error for τώ βασιλεί. The same sance to them (Cer. ib.). The coronamistake is found in the vers. Slav. tion of Eudocia Ingerina as Augusta 108, but Leo Gr. 246 émédWkEv aútd must have soon followed that of Basil, Tŷ Baoilei, and Theod. Mel. 172 as a matter of course. απέδωκεν αυτώ βασιλεϊ are closer here 2 Simeon, ib. 833, Cont. Th. 238, to the original text.
240. Hirsch (238) observes an apis described in Constantine, Cer. 194 parent contradiction between these πρώτον μεν στέφει ο πατρ. τον μέγαν sources : Cont. Th. assigns the Thrak. βασιλέα, είτα επιδίδωσι τω μεγ. βασιλεί Theme to Symbatios, the Opsikian το στέμμα και στέφει ο βασιλεύς τον to Pêganês, whereas according to νεοχειροτόνητον βασιλέα. The senior the other account Symbatios receives Emperor always crowned the colleague the latter province. But κάκείνος whom he created, unless he were un- κόμης του Οψ. in Simeon refers to able to be present; then he assigned Pêganês more naturally than to the office to the Patriarch. See Bury, Symbatios.
ended his days as a beggar. A month later Symbatios, who had fled across Asia Minor, was caught in an inn in Keltzênê. His right hand was cut off and he was blinded of one eye,” and placed outside the palace of Lausos in Middle Street, to beg like his comrade. At the end of three days, the two offenders were restored to their abodes, where they were kept under arrest.
The joint reign of Michael and Basil lasted for less than a year and a half.
Michael continued to pursue his amusements, but we may suspect that in this latest period of his life his frivolous character underwent a change. He became more reckless in his extravagance, more immoderate in his cups, and cruel in his acts. The horror of his uncle's murder may have cast its shadow, and Basil, for whom he had not the same respect, was unable to exert the same kind of ascendency as Bardas. We cannot suppose that all the essential facts of the situation are disclosed to us in the meagre reports of our chronicles. The following incident can only have marked the beginning of the final stage of intensely strained relations.
Michael held a horse-race in the Palace of St Mamas. He drove himself as a Blue charioteer, Constantine the Armenian drove as a White, other courtiers as Green and Red. The Emperor won the race, and in the evening he dined with Basil and Eudocia Ingerina, and was complimented by the patrician Basiliskianos 6 on his admirable driving. Michael,
, delighted by his flattery, ordered him to stand up, to take the
i Simeon, ib. 834. Keltzênê is the 3 In late writers, the Emperor is classical Akilisênê, called Ekelesênê designated as Michael the Drunkard by Procopius (B.P. i. 17); 'Ekelevšívn, (ueduotńs), e.g. Glycas, ed. Bonn, 541, Mansi, xi. 613; Keltsnuń, Nova 546. Cp. Gen. 113 oivopluylas, and Tactica, ed. Gelzer, 78. It lies on the Cont. Th. 251-252. left bank of the Euphrates, north of 4 Our only useful source here is Sophene, east of Dardanalis ; its chief Simeon. Gen. and Cont. Th. slur town was Erez, now Erzinjan, north- over the murder of Michael, and east of Ani (Theodosiopolis). For a exonerate Basil. According to Gen. geographical description see Adonts, 113, Basil's friends advised him to Armeniia v epokhu Iustiniana, 48, slay Michael, but he declined, and 52 sqq. According to Cont. Th. 240, they did the deed themselves. Symbatios occupied the fort Tńs 5 In Cont. Th. 250, he is called πλατείας πέτρας ; we do not know Basilikinos, where we learn that he where this was. Simeon, ib., states was a brother of Constantine Kapthat when Symbatios arrived in the nogenes who was afterwards Prefect capital, Pêganês was brought to meet of the City, and that he was one of him, holding a clay censer in his hand Michael's fellows in his religious mumwith sulphur to fumigate him,- meries. According this source mysterious performance.
(Constantine Porph.), Michael arrayed ? According to Cont. Th. 241, of him in full Imperial dress and introboth eyes, and according to this duced him to the Senate with some source the nose of Pêganês was slit. doggrel verses.
red boots from his own feet and put them on. Basiliskianos hesitated and looked at Basil, who signed to him not to obey. The Emperor furiously commanded him to do as he was bidden, and turning on Basil cried with an oath, “The boots become him better than you. I made you Emperor, and have I not the power to create another Emperor if I will ?” Eudocia in tears, remonstrated : “ The Imperial dignity is great, and we, unworthy as we are, have been honoured with it. It is not right that it should be brought into contempt.” Michael replied, “Do not fear; I am perfectly serious; I am ready to make Basiliskianos Emperor.” This incident seriously alarmed Basil. Some time later when Michael was hunting, a monk met him and gave him a paper which purposed to reveal a plot of Basil against his life. He then began to harbour designs against his colleague. He had small chance against such an antagonist.
Basil struck the blow on Sept. 24, A.D. 867.2 Michael had bidden him and Eudocia to dinner in the Palace of St. Mamas. When Michael had drunk deeply, Basil made an excuse to leave the room, and entering the Imperial bedchamber tampered with the bolts of the door so that it could not be locked. He then returned to the table, and when the Emperor became drunk as usual, he conducted him to his bed and kissing his hand went out. The Keeper of the Private Wardrobe, who was accustomed to sleep in the Emperor's room, was absent on a commission, and Basiliskianos had been commanded to take his place. Michael sank on his bed in
i Cont. Th. 249 (cp. 209) asserts an actual attempt on Basil's life in the hunting-field.
2 Ib. 210.
3 The Empress Theodora (who was now at liberty, see above, p. 169) had invited her son to dinner in the house of Anthemios, and Michael had ordered Rentakios, Keeper of the Wardrobe, to kill some game to send to his mother. Hirsch (66) has misapprehended this, for he says, "Theodora giebt ja im Palaste des Anthemios jenes Gastmahl, nach welchem Michael ermordet wird.” It is clear that Theodora's dinner was to be held on a subsequent day; it is mentioned by Simeon only to account for the absence
of the Protovestiarios. Michael was murdered in the Palace of St. Mamas. That Theodora had been restored to liberty, though not to power, by A.D. 866, is illustrated by the letter which Pope Nicolas addressed to her (Nov. 866). But we can fix the resumption of her honours as Augusta to an earlier date, A.D. 863, for in triumphal årta in Constantine, Cer. 332, which belong as I have shown to that year, “the honourable Augustae” celebrated ; see below, p. 284, n. 4. The house of Anthemios (τα 'Ανθεμίου) means perhaps not a “palace," but (as Pargoire thinks, Boradion, 474) the monastery founded by her son-in-. law Alexios in the suburban quarter of Anthemios (see above, p. 127).
the deep sleep of intoxication, and the chamberlain on duty, discovering that the door could not be bolted, divined the danger, but could not waken the Emperor.
Basil had engaged the help of eight friends, some of whom had taken part in his first crime, the murder of Bardas. Accompanied by these, Basil opened the door of the bed-chamber, and was confronted by the chamberlain, who opposed his entrance. One of the conspirators diving under Basil's arm rushed to the bed, but the chamberlain sprang after him and gripped him. Another then wounded Basiliskianos and hurled him on the floor, while a third, John Chaldos (who had been prominent among the slayers of Bardas), hewed at the sleeping Emperor with his sword, and cut off both his hands. Basil seems to have stood at the door, while the other accomplices kept guard outside. John Chaldos thought that he had done enough; he left the room, and the conspirators consulted whether their victim should be despatched outright. One of them ? took it upon himself to return to the bed where Michael was moaning out piteous imprecations against Basil, and ripped up his body.
Through the darkness of a stormy night the assassins rowed across the Golden Horn, landing near the house of a Persian named Eulogios, who joined them. By breaking through an enclosure : they reached a gate of the Great Palace. Eulogios called out to his fellow-countryman Artavasdos, the Hetaeriarch, in the Persian tongue,"Open to the Emperor, for Michael has perished by the sword.” Artavasdos rushed to the Papias, took the keys from him by force, and opened the gate.
In the morning, Eudocia Ingerina was conducted in state from St. Mamas to the Great Palace, to take, as reigning
i Those who shared in both crimes were John Chaldos, Peter the Bulgarian, Asylaion, Maurianos, Constantine Toxaras, Symbatios, cousin of Asylaion. The other two were Bardas (father of Symbatios) and Jakovitzes, a Persian. Several of them probably belonged to the Hetaireia or foreign guard, the captain of which, Artavasdos, may have been initiated in the plot. 2 Asylaion.
3 From the house of Eulogios they reached the palace of Marina. Tláš δε ήν, περιφράσσουσα το τείχος και
κρατήσας Βασίλειος δύο των μετ' αυτού όντων και λακτίσας κατέαξε την πλάκα και εισήλθον μέχρι της πύλης του παλατίου (Simeon, ib. 838). TO teixos seems to be the wall of the Palace, round which at this point there was a brick enclosure. The palace of Marina was on the sea side of the Great Palace (since it was in the First Region, cp. Ducange, Const. Chr. ii. p. 113), but we do not know whether it was north of the Bucoleon, and therefore we have no means of conjecturing at what gate Basil found Arta vasdos.
Augusta, the place of the other Eudocia, who was restored to her parents. A chamberlain was sent to provide for the burial of the late Emperor. He found the corpse rolled up in a horsecloth, and the Empress Theodora, with her daughters, weeping over her son. He was buried in a monastery at Chrysopolis, on the Asiatic shore.
Such is the recorded story of the final act which raised Basil the Macedonian to supreme power.
It is probably correct in its main details, but it not only leaves out some of the subordinate elements in the situation, such as the attitude of Eudocia was she in the secret ?- but fails to make it clear whether Basil was driven to the assassination of his benefactor by what he conceived to be a political necessity, or was prompted merely by the vulgar motive of ambition. No plea could be set up for the murder of Bardas on the ground of the public good, but the murder of Michael is a different case. The actual government had devolved on Basil, who was equal to the task; but if the follies and caprices of Michael, who was the autocrat, thwarted his subordinate colleague, the situation might have become well-nigh impossible. If we could trust the partial narrative of Basil's Imperial grandson, who is concerned not only to exonerate his ancestor, but to make out a case to justify the revolution, Michael had become an intolerable tyrant. In his fits of drunkenness he issued atrocious orders for the execution and torture of innocent men, -orders which he had forgotten the next day. In order to raise money, he began to make depredations on churches and religious houses, and to confiscate the property of rich people. There was nothing for it but to kill him like a noxious snake. “ Therefore the most reputable of the ministers and the wise section of the Senate took counsel together, and caused him to be slain by the Palace guard." Allowing for some exaggeration and bias in this picture of the situation, we may be right in believing that Michael had become unmanageable and mischievous, and that it was to the general advantage to sup
The vigorous reign of Basil proves that he was deeply interested in the efficiency of the government. It is not our business either to justify or to condemn the murder of Michael III. ; we are only concerned to understand it.
1 Cont. Th. 251-252, 254.