Slike stranica

the constitutional formalities of election preliminary to the coronation were complied with (Oct. 2, A.D. 811). Michael Rangabé was proclaimed "Emperor of the Romans" by the Senate and the residential troops that remnant of them which had escaped from the field of blood beyond the Haemus. Meanwhile the Emperor, who had been less lucky on that fatal day, escaping only to die after some months of pain, was sleeping or tossing in the Imperial bedchamber, unconscious of the scene which was being enacted not many yards away. But the message was soon conveyed to his ears, and he hastened to assume the visible signs of abdication by which deposed Emperors were wont to disarm the fears or jealousy of their successors. A monk, named Simeon, and a kinsman of his own, tonsured him and arrayed him in monastic garb, and he prepared to spend the few days of life left to him in a lowlier place and a lowlier station. But before his removal from the Palace his sister Procopia, in company with her Imperial husband and the Patriarch Nicephorus, visited him. They endeavoured to console him and to justify the step which had been taken; they repudiated the charge of a conspiracy, and explained their act as solely necessitated by his hopeless condition. Stauracius, notwithstanding their plausible arguments, felt bitter; he thought that the Patriarch had dealt doubly with him. "You will not find," he said to Nicephorus, a better friend than me." 2

Nicephorus took the precaution of requiring from Michael, before he performed the ceremony of coronation, a written assurance of his orthodoxy and an undertaking to do no violence to ecclesiastics, secular or regular.3 The usual procession was formed; the Imperial train proceeded from the Palace to the Cathedral; and the act of coronation was duly accomplished in the presence of the people. The rejoicings, we are told, were universal, and we may believe that there was a widespread feeling of relief, that an Emperor sound in

1 The Tagmata (Theoph. ib.). 2 Theoph. 493 φίλον αὐτοῦ κρείττονα οὐχ εὑρήσεις. Anastasius seems right in rendering avтoû by me. Perhaps éμoû should be inserted, or perhaps we should read εὑρήσειν. I suspect, however, that the last pages of his chronography were insufficiently re

vised by the author.

3 The importance of this undertaking, in its constitutional aspect, will be considered below in Section 5.

4 The proclamation in the Hippodrome was at the first hour (6 o'clock), the coronation at the fourth. Theoph. ib.

limb was again at the head of the state. The bounty of Michael gave cause, too, for satisfaction on the first day of his reign. He bestowed on the Patriarch, who had done so much. in helping him to the throne, the sum of 50 lbs. of gold (£2160), and to the clergy of St. Sophia he gave half that amount.1


The unfortunate Stauracius 2 lived on for more than three months, but towards the end of that time the corruption of his wound became so horrible that no one could approach him for the stench. On the 11th of January 812 he died, and was buried in the new monastery of Braka. This was a handsome building, given to Theophano by the generosity of Procopia when she resolved, like her husband, to retire to a cloister. 3

4. Reign and Policy of Michael I.

It is worth while to note how old traditions or prejudices, surviving from the past history of the Roman Empire, gradually disappeared. We might illustrate the change that had come over the "Romans" since the age of Justinian, by the fact that in the second year of the ninth century a man of Semitic stock ascends the throne, and is only prevented by chance from founding a dynasty, descended from the Ghassanids. He bears a name, too, which, though Greek and common at the time, was borne by no Emperor before him. His son's name is Greek too, but unique on the Imperial list. A hundred years before men who had names which sounded strange in collocation with Basileus and Augustus (such as Artemius and Apsimar) adopted new names which had an

1 At the end of the ninth century the custom was for the Emperor, on his accession, to give 100 lbs. of gold to the Great Church (St. Sophia) (Philotheos, ed. Bury, 135). This would include the present to the Patriarch.

2 Michael Syr. (70) has recorded a serious charge against Procopia, which he found in the chronicle of Dionysios of Tell-Mahre. An intelligent and well-informed inhabitant of Constantinople told Dionysios that Procopia administered a deadly poison to her brother.

3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἐπίσημον οἶκον εἰς μονα

στήριον τὰ ̔Εβραϊκὰ λεγόμενον αὐτῇ παρέσχεν [Μιχαὴλ] ἔνθα Σταυράκιος ἐτάφη (ib. 494). The locality is not known. It is called Tà Врaкâ in George Mon. 776. Is the name really derived from Stauracius : Σταυρακίου being taken for σrà Вpakiov? Pargoire (Les Mon. de Saint Ign. 72) says: τὰ Σταυρακίου dont le peuple fit plus tard τὰ βρακά et les demi-savants Tà 'Eßpaïká." This is a seductive idea; my difficulty is that the form Eẞpaïká occurs in Theophanes, who wrote only a couple of years later, and must have known the true name, if that name had been only then given to the monastery.

It was

Imperial ring (such as Anastasius and Tiberius). instinctively felt then that a Bardanes was no fit person to occupy the throne of the Caesars, and therefore he became Philippicus. But this instinct was becoming weak in a city where strange names, strange faces, and strange tongues were growing every year more familiar. The time had come when men of Armenian, Slavonic, or even Semitic origin might aspire to the highest positions in Church and State, to the Patriarchate and the Empire. The time had come at last when it was no longer deemed strange that a successor of Constantine should be a Michael.

The first Michael belonged to the Rangabé family, of which we now hear for the first time.1 He was in the prime of manhood when he came to the throne; his hair was black and curling,2 he wore a black beard, and his face was round. He seems to have been a mild and good-humoured man, but totally unfit for the position to which chance had raised him. As a general he was incapable; as an administrator he was injudicious; as a financier he was extravagant. Throughout

his short reign he was subject to the will of a woman and the guidance of a priest. It may have been the ambition of Procopia that led him to undertake the duties of a sovran; and she shared largely in the administration.3 Ten days after her lord's coronation, Procopia-daughter and sister, now wife, of an Emperor-was crowned Augusta in the throne-room of Augusteus, in the Palace of Daphne, and she courted the favour of the Senators by bestowing on them many gifts. She distributed, moreover, five pounds of gold

1 Cont. Th. 12 ἐκ γενεᾶς δὲ καταγομένου τοῦ ̔Ραγγαβέ. Before his elevation he dwelled near the Mangana. His father's name was Theophylactus: Nicetas, Vit. Ignatii (Mansi, xvi. 210). Family surnames begin to become frequent in the ninth century. They are constantly indicated by the idiom ò κará (as well as ÉK). For instance, a man of the family of the Melissenoi might be called Μ. ὁ Μελισσηνός or M. ὁ κατὰ τὸν Μελισσηνόν or M. ὁ κατὰ τοὺς Μελισσηνούς or Μ. ὁ ἐκ τῶν Μελ. (κατάγων Tò Yévos). For Byzantine surnames see H. Moritz, Die Zunamen bei den byz. Historikern und Chronisten, Teil i. 1896-97, Teil ii. 1897-98 (Landshut).

2 Scr. Incert. 341 mioyoupov (= σyvρáv, curly), the right reading, as de Boor has shown (B.Z. ii. 297). It may be noted here that the Byzantines regularly wore beards. There was a strong prejudice against beardless men (σavoi), who were popularly regarded as dangerous; cp. the modern Greek proverb, ἀπὸ σπανὸν ἄνθρωπον μακρυὰ τὰ ῥουχά σου : see for this, and for further illustration, Krumbacher, G.B.L. 809. Michael, of course, appears bearded on his coins, but the face is only conventional.

3 Scr. Incert. 335 auтn ràp ĥv διατιθοῦσα πάντα τὰ τῆς βασιλείας.

(£216) among the widows of the soldiers who had fallen with her father in Bulgaria. Nor did she forget her sister-in-law, who, if things had fallen out otherwise, might have been her sovran lady. Theophano had decided to end her life as a nun. Her triumphant rival enriched her, and, as has been already mentioned, gave her a noble house, which was converted into a cloister. Nor were the poor kinsfolk of Theophano neglected by the new Augusta. It was said at least that in the days of Nicephorus they had lived in pitiable penury, as that parsimonious Emperor would not allow his daughter-in-law to expend money in assisting them; but this may be only an ill-natured invention.

The following Christmas day was the occasion of another coronation and distribution of presents.1 Theophylactus, the eldest son of Michael, was crowned in the ambo of the Great Church. On this auspicious day the Emperor placed in the Sanctuary of St. Sophia a rich offering of golden vessels, inlaid with gems, and antique curtains for the ciborium, woven of gold and purple and embroidered with pictures of sacred subjects. It was a day of great rejoicing in the city, and people surely thought that the new sovran was beginning his reign well; he had made up his mind to ask for his son the hand of a daughter of the great Charles, the rival Emperor.3


The note of Michael's policy was reaction, both against the ecclesiastical policy of Nicephorus, as we shall see, and also against the parsimony and careful book-keeping which had rendered that monarch highly unpopular. Procopia and Michael hastened to diminish the sums which Nicephorus had

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hoarded, and much money was scattered abroad in alms.1 Churches and monasteries were enriched and endowed; hermits who spent useless lives in desert places were sought out to receive of the august bounty; religious hostelries and houses for the poor were not forgotten. The orphan and the widow had their wants supplied; and the fortunes of decayed gentle people were partially resuscitated. All this liberality made the new lord and lady highly popular; complimentary songs were composed by the demes and sung in public in their honour.2 The stinginess and avarice of Nicephorus were now blotted out, and amid the general jubilation few apprehended that the unpopular father-in-law was a far abler ruler than his bountiful successor.

It was naturally part of the reactionary policy to recall those whom Nicephorus had banished and reinstate those whom he had degraded. The most eminent of those who returned was Leo the Armenian, son of Bardas. We have met this man before. We saw how he took part in the revolt of Bardanes against Nicephorus, and then, along with his companion in arms, Michael the Amorian, left his rebellious commander in the lurch. We saw how Nicephorus rewarded him by making him Count of the Federates.* He subsequently received a command in the Anatolic Theme, but for gross carelessness and neglect of his duties he was degraded from his post, whipped, and banished in disgrace. He was recalled by Michael, who appointed him General of the Anatolic Theme, with the dignity of Patrician-little guessing that he was arming one who would dethrone himself and deal ruthlessly with his children. Afterwards when the General of the Anatolics had become Emperor of the Romans,

1 See Theoph. 494, and Scr. Incert. 335, 336.

2 Scr. Incert. ib.

3 Ib.

4 See above, p. 13. According to Genesios (10) he was ὑποστράτηγος τῶν ̓Ανατολικῶν subsequently to his tenure of the captaincy of the Federates, and then Michael advanced him to the dignity of Patrician. It is probable that Leo was a turmarch of the Anatolics when he was disgraced; but observe that Genesios (1) knows


nothing of his disgrace, which we learn from the Fragment of the Scriptor Incertus and Cont. Th., and (2) omits to mention in this passage that Michael made him στρατηγὸς τῶν ̓Ανατολικῶν.

5 He gave himself up to luxury and idleness ἐν πολίχνῃ Εὐχαιτῶν (Cont. Th. 11). Euchaita, in the Armeniac Theme, lay west of Amasea, on the road to Gangra; see the discussion in Anderson, Studia Pontica, i. 7 sqq. He equates it with the

modern Elwan Chelebi.

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