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already been explained. After its surrender, Theophilus addressed a letter to the Caliph, which according to an Arabic historian, was couched in the following phrases :
Of a truth, it is more reasonable for two antagonists, striving each for his own welfare, to agree than to cause injury to each other. Assuredly, you will not consent to renounce your own welfare for the sake of another's. You are sufficiently intelligent to understand this without a lesson from me. I wrote to you to propose the conclusion of peace, as I earnestly desire complete peace, and relief from the burden of war. We will be comrades and allies ; our revenues will increase steadily, our trade will be facilitated, our captives liberated, our roads and uninhabited districts will be safe. If you refuse, then-for I will not dissimulate or flatter you with words—I will go forth against you, I will take your border lands from you, I will destroy your horsemen and your footmen. And if I do this, it will be after I have raised a flag of parleys between
To this epistle the Caliph disdainfully replied in terms like these :
I have received your letter in which you ask for peace, and in mingled tones of softness and severity try to bend me by referring to commercial advantages, steady augmentation of revenues, liberation of captives, and the termination of war. Were I not cautious and deliberate before deciding to act, I would have answered your letter by a squadron of valiant and seasoned horsemen, who would attempt to tear you from your household, and in the cause of God would count as nought the pain which your valour might cause them, And then I would have given them reinforcements and supplies of arms. And they would rush to drink the draughts of death with more zest than you would flee to find a refuge from their insults. For they are promised one of two supreme blessings——victory here or the glorious future of paradise. But I have deemed it right to invite you and yours to acknowledge the One. God and to adopt monotheism and Islam. If you refuse, then there shall be a truce for the exchange of captives; but if you also decline this proposition, you will have such personal acquaintance with our qualities as shall render further eloquence on my part needless. He is safe who follows the right path.
If these letters represent the tenor of the communications which actually passed it is clear that Mamun, encouraged by the successes of the three past years, had no wish to bring the war to a close. He looked forward, perhaps, to the entire subjugation of the Empire. But his days were numbered. In the following summer he crossed the frontier, took some fortresses, and returned to Podandos, where he was stricken down by a fatal fever. He died on August 7, A.D. 833, and was buried at Tarsus.
1 This is the embassy briefly re- (Date, A.D. 832.) They are not quite corded by Michael Syr. 75 (A. D. 832), consistent, however, with the account who says that Mamun uttered fierce of Michael, who says (ib.) that Mamun threats when Manuel left his service replied, “Acknowledge my sovranty and that these threats frightened over you, pay me a tribute, however Theophilus.
small, and I will agree to your re2 They are given by Tabari, 25, 26, quest” (cp. Bar-Hebr. 154). and accepted as genuine by Vasil'ev.
5. The Embassy of John the Grammarian and the Flight
It was probably in the first months of his reign that the Emperor sent to the Caliph an embassy which made such an impression on popular imagination that it has assumed a more or less legendary character. The fact seems to be, so far as can be made out from the perplexing evidence, that John the Synkellos, commonly known as the Grammarian, a savant who, it may well be, was acquainted with Arabic, was sent to Baghdad, to announce the accession of Theophilus. He carried costly presents for the Caliph, and large sums of money for the purpose of impressing the Saracens by ostentatious liberality. The imagination of the Greeks dwelt complacently on the picture of an Imperial ambassador astonishing the Eastern world by his luxury and magnificence, and all kinds of anecdotes concerning John's doings at Baghdad were invented. It was said that he scattered gold like the sand of the sea, and bestowed rich gifts on anyone who on any pretext visited him in his hostel.
An additional interest was attached to the embassy of John the grammarian by the link, whether actual or fictitious, which connected it with the adventures of a famous general of the time, and this connection led Greek tradition to misdate the embassy to a later period in the reign. Manuel, who under Leo V. had been stratêgos of the Armeniac Theme, was distinguished for his personal prowess, and under Michael II. i So Yakubi, 9, who says he pur
with new proposals of peace.
See posed to besiege Amorion, and settle Masudi, Prairies d'or, vii. 94-6, ed. the Arabs of the desert in the towns Barbier de Meynard (= Vasil'ev, 66). of the empire.
3 Cont. Th. 95 preserves the truth. 2 While he was at Podandos, before This was first pointed out by Brooks. he crossed the frontier, an envoy of See Appendix VIII. Theophilus is said to have arrived 4 Over £17,000, Cont. Th. 96.
he had apparently again acted as stratégos, perhaps of the same Theme. He was of Armenian descent, and the Empress Theodora was his brother's daughter. In the Saracen war his boldness and determination saved the Emperor's life. It was related that Theophilus, in a battle which he fought and lost (A.D. 830) against the forces of Mamun, was hard pressed and sought safety among the Persian troops ? who formed the intention of handing over his person to the enemy and making terms for themselves. Manuel, who knew their language, became aware of the contemplated treachery, rushed through their ranks, and seizing the bridle of Theophilus dragged him, angry and reluctant, from the danger which he did not suspect. The Emperor rewarded his saviour with such lavish marks of favour that the jealousy of Petronas, the brother of the Empress, was aroused. Theophilus was informed that Manuel was aspiring to the throne, and he believed the accusation, based perhaps on some unguarded words. Made aware of his danger, Manuel crossed over to Pylae, and making use of the Imperial post reached the Cilician frontier. He was joyfully welcoined by the Saracens, and the Caliph, who was wintering in Syria, gladly accepted the services of his enemy's ablest general. The countrymen of Manuel, who were vainer of his reputation for warlike prowess than they were indignant at his desertion to the Unbelievers, relate with complacency that he performed great services for the Caliph against the sectaries of Babek and the rebellious population of Khurasan.
1 For his career see Cont. Th. 110 3 Simeon's account of the circum(his Armenian descent is also noted stance (Add. Georg. 796) is superior in Gen. 52). For his relationship to
to Gen. and Cont. Th. The person Theodora, ib. 148, θείος από πατρός. who brought the charge against Vasil'ev (Index, 171), and others Manuel was Myron, Logothete of the distinguish two Manuels, but there Course, otherwise of no note in hiscan in my opinion be no question tory; but he was the father-in-law of that Manuel, the magister, who Petronas, and it might therefore be played an important part after the conjectured that Petronas was behind death of Theophilus, is the same as the attempt to ruin his uncle. The the Manuel whom Theophilus created fact that Petronas
Manuel's a magister. See Appendix VIII. nephew does not militate against
2 I have followed the briefer and this supposition. more intelligible version of Simeon 4 See Cont. Th. 118. I infer that (Add. Georg. 802=710 ed. Mur.): so this piece was based on a good source, Vasil'ev, 86. In Gen. 61 (followed from the mention of the Hurramites in Cont. Th. 116), the incident is im- (Κορμάτοι). This was not a familiar proved with details, and the danger name to the Greeks, and points to is heightened ; the Emperor is rescued special information. Cp. also Gen. not from the Persians, but from the 72. Saracens themselves.
But in the meantime it had been proved to the Emperor that the charges against his general were untrue, and he was desirous to procure the return of one whose military talent he could ill afford to lose. It is said that John the Grammarian undertook to obtain a secret interview with Manuel and convey to himn the Emperor's assurance of pardon, safety, and honour, if he would return to Constantinople. The ambassador executed this delicate mission successfully; he carried an Imperial letter with the golden seal, and the cross which Theophilus wore on his breast ;: and Manuel, reassured by these pledges, promised, at the first opportunity, to return to his own country.
He accompanied the Caliph's son to invade the Empire, and succeeded in escaping somewhere near the frontier. Theophilus immediately conferred on him the post of Domestic of the Schools, and raised him from the rank of a Patrician to that of a Magister."
The whole story has a basis in fact. . There is no doubt that Manuel fled to the Saracens, and afterwards returned. And it is not improbable that John the Grammarian was instrumental in communicating to him the assurances which led to his return. But if we accept the story, as it is told by the Greek writers, we have to suppose that Manuel deserted from the Caliph in A.D. 830, and returned in A.D. 832, and therefore to date the embassy of John to the winter of A.D. 831-2. Such a conclusion involves us in several difficulties; and the most probable solution of the problem appears to be that Manuel fled from the Court not of Theophilus, but of his father, and returned to Constantinople
falsehood was exposed by the eunuch Leo, protovestiarios (Šimeon, Add. Georg. 796).
2 Simeon (Add. Georg. 796-7), represents this mission as the primary purpose of John's journey to Syria.
3 τον ενυπόγραφον λόγον και το φυλακτών του βασιλέως, Simeon 16. (=το χρυσoβoύλλιον and το του β. εγκόλπιον in Cont. Th. 119 [cp. Gen. 63], where an anecdote is told of John's visiting Manuel in the guise of a ragged pilgrim).
4 The versions vary both as to the place and the circumstances. Simeon (Add. Georg. 798), says vaguely that it was near the Anatolic Theme;
Manuel managed to separate himself and the Caliph's son (Abbas) in a hunting expedition from the rest of the party, kissed the prince, and took an affecting leave of him. According to Genesios, when the Saracens attacked a place called Geron, he went over to the Christians and escaped into the town ; Ramsay places Geron between Germanicia and Mambij (Asia Minor, 301). In Cont. Th. 120, he is said to have arranged a plan of escape with the stratégos of Cappadocia. From Yakubi we learn that in 830 Manuel was with Abbas at Resaina (cp. Appendix VIII.).
5 Gen. 68, Cont. Th. 120.
in A.D. 830.1 Both John's embassy and Manuel's adventures interested popular imagination, and in the versions which have come down to us the details have been variously embroidered by mythopoeic fancy.
Even the incident of the rescue of Theophilus by Manuel may be said to be open to some suspicion, inasmuch as a similar anecdote is recorded of a battle thirty years later, in which Michael III. plays the part of his father.2
§ 6. The Campaigns of A.D. 837 and 838 During the first years of Mamun's brother and successor, Mutasim, there was a suspension of hostilities, for the forces of the new Caliph were needed to protect his throne against internal rebellions, and he was bent on finally quelling the still unconquered Babek. The desire of Theophilus for peace was manifest throughout the war with Mamun; it was probably due to the need of liberating all the strength of his resources for the task of driving the Saracens from Sicily. But at the end of four years he was induced to renew the war, and Babek again was the cause. Pressed hard, and seeing that his only chance of safety lay in diverting the Caliph's forces, the rebel leader opened communications with Theophilus and promised to become a Christian.
The movement of Babek was so useful to the Empire, as a constant See Appendix VIII.
statement of Michael Syr. 88, that 2 Gen. 93 (cp. Vasil'ev, 194). The (apparently in 835-836) - most of the chief difference is that the Persian companions of Babek, with the general auxiliaries play no part on the later Nasr, reduced to extremities by the occasion. The presence of the Persians war, went to find Theophilus and explains the situation in the earlier became Christians."
Nasr, a sup: battle ; and perhaps it is more prob- porter of Mamun's brother Emin and able that Manuel saved the life of a violent anti-Persian, had been in Theophilus, and that the same story rebellion against Mamun from A.D. was applied to Michael, than that 810 to 824-825, when he submitted. both anecdotes are fictitious. There See Michael Syr. 22, 53, 55, who relates is also the story of the rescue of the (36-37) that he wrote (apparently c. Emperor by Theophobos (Cont. Th. 821) to Manuel the Patrician proposing 122 sq.), which Vasil'ev rejects (Pril. an alliance with the Empire. Michael ii. 136).
II. sent envoys to him at Kasin, his 3 Interrupted only by a raid of headquarters; but Nasr's followers Omar, the Emir of Melitene, recorded were indignant, and to pacify them he by Michael Syr. 85, in A.D. 835. killed the envoys. There is a chronoTheophilus at first defeated him, but logical inconsistency, for the chronicler was afterwards routed. We shall meet says that this happened when Nasr Omar again, twenty-five years later. heard that Mamun was coming to
4 Tabari, 29. We must evidently Baghdad ; but Mamun came to Baghconnect this notice of Tabari with the dad (ib. 45) in A.D. 818-819.