Slike stranica

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.1


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 stratêgos. 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 stratêgoi 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

1 The description of the coronation is given by Simeon (Cont. Georg. 832-833). This text (cp. also ed. Muralt, 744) is in error when it is said that Photius "took the crown from the Emperor's head and placed it on Basil's"; the writer meant to say, 66 gave it to the Emperor," and T Baotλely is obviously an error for τῷ βασιλεῖ. The same mistake is found in the vers. Slav. 108, but Leo Gr. 246 éπédWKEV AŮTÒ T Baoiλeî, and Theod. Mel. 172 ἀπέδωκεν αὐτῷ βασιλεῖ are closer here to the original text. The ceremony is described in Constantine, Cer. 194 πρῶτον μὲν στέφει ὁ πατρ. τὸν μέγαν βασιλέα, εἶτα ἐπιδίδωσι τῷ μεγ. βασιλεῖ τὸ στέμμα καὶ στέφει ὁ βασιλεὺς τὸν νεοχειροτόνητον βασιλέα. The senior Emperor always crowned the colleague whom he created, unless he were unable to be present; then he assigned the office to the Patriarch. See Bury,

the great general Belisarius Constitution of the later Roman Empire, p. 16. To the official description in Cer. the text of Simeon adds the fact that the σKπтра were lowered just before the act of crowning (ok. πeobyτων, ὡς ἔθος). The skêptra, skeuê, and banda were arrayed on both sides of the ambo, and the demes did obeisance to them (Cer. ib.). The coronation of Eudocia Ingerina as Augusta must have soon followed that of Basil, as a matter of course.

2 Simeon, ib. 833, Cont. Th. 238, 240. Hirsch (238) observes an apparent contradiction between these sources: Cont. Th. assigns the Thrak. Theme to Symbatios, the Opsikian to Pêganês, "whereas according to the other account Symbatios receives the latter province." But κἀκεῖνος κόμης τοῦ ̓Οψ. in Simeon refers to Pêganês more naturally than to Symbatios.

ended his days as a beggar. had fled across Asia Minor, was caught in an inn in Keltzênê.1 His right hand was cut off and he was blinded of one eye,2 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.

A month later Symbatios, who

The joint reign of Michael and Basil lasted for less than

a year and a half. Michael continued to pursue his amuse


ments, 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 on his admirable driving. Michael, delighted by his flattery, ordered him to stand up, to take the


1 Simeon, ib. 834. Keltzênê is the classical Akilisênê, called Ekelesênê by Procopius (B.P. i. 17); 'Ekeλev Čivη, Mansi, xi. 613; Keλтšnvń, Nova Tactica, ed. Gelzer, 78. It lies on the left bank of the Euphrates, north of Sophene, east of Dardanalis; its chief town was Erez, now Erzinjan, northeast of Ani (Theodosiopolis). For a geographical description see Adonts, Armeniia v epokhu Iustiniana, 48, 52 sqq. According to Cont. Th. 240, Symbatios occupied the fort Tŷs πλατείας πέτρας; we do not know where this was. Simeon, ib., states that when Symbatios arrived in the capital, Pêganês was brought to meet him, holding a clay censer in his hand with sulphur to fumigate him,mysterious performance.


2 According to Cont. Th. 241, of both eyes, and according to this source the nose of Pêganês was slit.

3 In late writers, the Emperor is designated as Michael the Drunkard (μelvoτýs), e.g. Glycas, ed. Bonn, 541, 546. Cp. Gen. 113 οινοφλυγίας, and Cont. Th. 251-252.

4 Our only useful source here is Simeon. Gen. and Cont. Th. slur over the murder of Michael, and exonerate Basil. According to Gen. 113, Basil's friends advised him to slay Michael, but he declined, and they did the deed themselves.

5 In Cont. Th. 250, he is called Basilikinos, where we learn that he was a brother of Constantine Kapnogenes who was afterwards Prefect of the City, and that he was one of Michael's fellows in his religious mummeries. According to this source (Constantine Porph.), Michael arrayed him in full Imperial dress and introduced him to the Senate with some doggrel verses.


red boots from his own feet and put them on. 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.1 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

1 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 Proto vestiarios. 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 aкTа 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 (τὰ ̓Ανθεμίου) means perhaps not a "palace," but (as Pargoire thinks, Boradion, 474) the monastery founded by her son-inlaw 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.1 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 3 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

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κρατήσας Βασίλειος δύο τῶν μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ ὄντων καὶ λακτίσας κατέαξε τὴν πλάκα καὶ εἰσῆλθον μέχρι τῆς πύλης τοῦ 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 Artavasdos.

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.1 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 suppress him. 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.

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