Slike stranica

it was said that signs and predictions of the event were not wanting. Among the tales that were told was one of a little slave-girl of the Emperor, who was subject to visitations of "the spirit of Pytho."1 On one occasion when she was thus seized she went down from the Palace to the seashore below, near the harbour of Bucoleon,2 and cried with a loud voice, addressing the Emperor, "Come down, come down, resign what is not thine!" These words she repeated again and again. The attention of those in the Palace above was attracted; the Emperor heard the fatal cry, and attempted to discover what it meant. He bade his intimate friend Theodotos Kassiteras 3 to see that when the damsel was next seized she should be confined within doors, and to investigate the meaning of her words. To whom did the Palace belong, if not to its present lord? Theodotos was too curious himself to fail to carry out his master's order, and the girl made an interesting communication. She told him the name and mark of the true Lord of the Palace, and urged him to visit the acropolis at a certain time, where he would meet two men, one of them riding on a mule. This man, she said, was destined to sit on the Imperial throne. The cunning spatharocandidate took good care not to reveal his discovery to his master. Questioned by Michael, he pretended that he could make nothing of the ravings of the possessed girl. But he did not fail to watch in the prescribed place at the prescribed time for the man who was to come riding on a mule. It fell out as the damsel said; Leo the Armenian appeared on


1 This story is told by Genesios (10, 11), but I doubt whether he had the tale from popular hearsay, which he mentions as one of his sources (3) ἔκ τε φήμης δῆθεν δραμούσης KOUTLOμÉVOS. See Hirsch, 124. story of the possessed woman who brought forth a monster, in the Epist. Synod. Orient. ad Theoph. 367, is regarded by Hirsch as a variant; but it is quite different; this Pythoness was consulted by Leo.

2 Millingen (Walls, 269 sqq.) shows that Hammer was right in identifying the port of Bucoleon with Chatlady Kapu (a water-gate on the level ground below the Hippodrome), and that the port and palace of Hormisdas were the older names for the port and palace called by tenth-century writers

Bucoleon (from a marble group of a lion and bull). Genesios here (10) says that the girl stood ἐν χωρίῳ λιθίνῳ ὃ προσαγορεύεται Βουκολέων. Perhaps this was a paved place round the group. I think it may be inferred from this passage that in the time of the writer from whom Genesios derived the story Bucoleon had not yet been applied to the port and palace.

He belonged to the important family of Melissenos. His father, Michael, was stratêgos of the Anatolics under Constantine V., and married a sister of that Emperor's third wife Eudocia (oúyyaußpos, Scr. Incert. 360). He afterwards became Patriarch. For the family of the Melissenoi, see Ducange, Fam. Byz. 145.

a mule; and the faithless Theodotos hastened to tell him the secret and secure his favour. This story, noised abroad at the time and remembered long afterwards, is highly characteristic of the epoch, and the behaviour of Theodotos is thoroughly in the character of a Byzantine palace official.

In matters that touched the Church the pliant Emperor was obedient to the counsels of the Patriarch. In matters that touched the State he seems also to have been under the influence of a counsellor, and one perhaps whose views were not always in harmony with those of the head of the Church. No single man had done more to compass the elevation of Michael than the Magister Theoktistos. This minister had helped in the deposition of Irene, and he was probably influential, though he played no prominent part, in the reign of Nicephorus. Nicephorus was not one who stood in need of counsellors, except in warfare; but in Michael's reign Theoktistos stood near the helm and was held responsible by his contemporaries for the mistakes of the helmsman. The admirers of the orthodox Emperor were forced to admit that, notwithstanding his piety and his clemency, he was a bad pilot for a state, and they threw the blame of the false course on Theoktistos among others.1 It was Theoktistos, we may suspect, who induced Michael to abandon the policy, advocated by the Patriarch, of putting to death the Paulician heretics.2

But Michael's reign was destined to be brief. The struggle of the Empire with the powerful and ambitious Bulgarian kingdom was fatal to his throne, as it had been fatal to the throne of Nicephorus. In the spring, A.D. 813, Michael took the field at the head of a great army which included the Asiatic as well as the European troops. Michael was no general, but the overwhelming defeat which he experienced at Versinicia (June 22) was probably due to the treachery of the Anatolic regiments under the command of Leo the Armenian.3

Michael himself escaped. Whether he understood the import of what had happened or not, it is impossible to

1 Theoph. 500; also 497 raîs TŵV κακοσυμβούλων εἰσηγήσεσιν.

2 We can infer from some words of Theophanes that Theodore of Studion was an ally of Theoktistos: 498 oi δὲ κακοὶ σύμβουλοι (i.e. Theoktistos chiefly) σὺν Θεοδώρῳ were in favour of

war with Bulgaria. See also a letter addressed to him by Theodore in A.D. 808, Epp. i. 24, p. 981.

3 For the Bulgarian war in A.D. 812, 813, and the circumstances of the defeat, see below, Chap. XI. § 3.

" 1

decide; but one would think that he must have scented treachery. Certain it is that he committed the charge of the whole army to the man who had either played him false or been the unwitting cause of the false play. A contemporary author states that he chose Leo as a pious and most valiant man. A chronicler writing at the beginning of Leo's reign might put it thus. But two explanations are possible: Michael may have been really blind, and believed his general's specious representations; or he may have understood the situation perfectly and consigned the power to Leo in order to save his own life.2 Of the alternatives the latter perhaps is the more likely. In any case, the Emperor soon foresaw what the end must be, and if he did not see it for himself, there was one to point it out to him when he reached Constantinople two days after the battle. A certain man, named John Hexabulios, to whom the care of the city wall had been committed, met Michael on his arrival, and commiserating with him, inquired whom he had left in charge of the army. On hearing the name of Leo, Hexabulios exclaimed at the imprudence of his master: Why did he give such an opportunity to such a dangerous man? The Emperor feigned to be secure, but he secretly resolved to abdicate the throne. The Empress Procopia was not so ready to resign the position of the greatest lady in the Empire to "Barca," as she sneeringly called the wife of Leo, and the ministers of Michael were not all prepared for a change of master. Theoktistos and Stephanos consoled him and urged him not to abdicate.* Michael thought, or feigned to think, that the disaster was a divine punishment, and indeed this supposition was the only alternative to the theory of treachery. "The Christians

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Empresses (perhaps the same as the TνμπάνIOν, see Ducange, Gloss., s. v.), so called from its shape. Compare the hat worn by Theodora, wife of Michael VIII., shown in Ducange, Fam. Byz. 191 (from a MS. of Pachymeres). The bronze Tyche in the Forum of Constantine had something of this kind on her head (μετὰ μοδίου, Patria Cpl. p. 205).

4 Theoph. ib. Manuel the protostrator is specially mentioned in Cont. Th., ib., as opposed to Michael's resignation.


have suffered this," said the weeping Emperor in a council of his patricians, on account of my sins. God hates the Empire of my father-in-law and his race. For we were more than the enemy, and yet none had heart, but all fled."1 The advice of the Patriarch Nicephorus did not coincide with the counsels of the patricians. He was inclined to approve Michael's first intention; he saw that the present reign could not last, and thought that, if Michael himself proposed a successor, that successor might deal mercifully with him and his children.

Meanwhile the soldiers were pressing Leo to assume the Imperial title without delay. The general of the Anatolics at first resisted, and pretended to be loyal to the Emperor at such a dangerous crisis, when the enemy were in the land. But when he saw 2 that the Bulgarians intended to advance on Constantinople, he no longer hesitated to seize the prize which had been placed within his reach. He did not intend to enter the Imperial city in any other guise than as an Emperor accepted by the army; and the defence of Constantinople could not be left in the hands of Michael. It may be asked why Leo did not attempt to hinder Krum from advancing, by forcing him to fight another battle, in which there should be no feigned panic. The answer is that it was almost impossible to inveigle the Bulgarians into a pitched battle when they did not wish. Their prince could not fail to have perceived the true cause of his victory, and he was not likely to be willing to risk another combat.

July had already begun when Leo at length took the step of writing a letter to the Patriarch. In it he affirmed his own orthodoxy; he set forth his new hopes, and asked the blessing and consent of the head of the Church. Immediately after this he arrived at Hebdomon, and was proclaimed in the Tribunal legitimate

Emperor of the Romans by the

1 This is related by Scr. Incert. 339-340. It is stated in Cont. Th. that Michael secretly sent by a trusty servant the Imperial insignia (the diadem, the purple robe, and the red shoes) to Leo; hence the anger of Procopia, mentioned in the last note but one. Theophanes does not mention this. In the richly illustrated Madrid MS. of Skylitzes (14th

cent.)-in which older pictures are reproduced-Michael is represented as crowning Leo; both are standing on a raised shield. See Diehl, L'Art byzan

tin, 778. For another story of the resignation see Michael Syr. 70.

2 This moment in the situation is mentioned by Theophanes, ib.

3 ἐννομώτατος, ib. For the Palace of Hebdomon (which van Millingen

assembled army. On Monday, July 11, at mid-day, he entered by the Gate of Charisios and proceeded to the Palace; on Tuesday he was crowned in the ambo of St. Sophia by the Patriarch.


When the tidings came that Leo had been proclaimed, the fallen Emperor with his wife and children hastened to assume monastic garb and take refuge in the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos.2 Thus they might hope to avert the suspicions of him who was entering into their place; thus they might hope to secure at least their lives and an obscure retreat. The lives of all were spared; the father, the mother, and the daughters escaped without any bodily harm, but the sons were not so lucky. Leo anticipated the possibility of future conspiracies in favour of his predecessor's male children by mutilating them. In eunuchs he would have no rivals to fear. The mutilation which excluded from the most exalted position in the State did not debar, however, from the most exalted position in the Church; and Nicetas, who was just fourteen years old when he underwent the penalty of being an Emperor's son, will meet us again as the Patriarch Ignatius.1 Parents and children were not allowed to have the solace of living together; they were transported to different islands. Procopia was immured in the monastery dedicated to her namesake St. Procopia.5 Michael, under the name of

proved to be situated at Makri-Keui on the Marmora) and the Tribunal, see Bieliaev, iii. 57 sqq. The Tribunal was evidently a large paved place, close to the Palace, with a tribunal or tribunals. Theodosius II., Constantine V., and others had been proclaimed Emperors in the same place.

1 This gate (also called the Gate of Polyandrion) was on the north side of the river Lycus and identical with Edirne Kapu, as van Millingen has proved (83 sqq.). The street from this gate led directly to the Church of the Apostles, and Leo must have followed this route.

[blocks in formation]

Nikolaos Mesarites, Die Palastrevolution des Johannes Komnenos, 1907). See further Ebersolt, 104 sqq.

3 On the fate of Michael and his family, the most important records are Cont. Th. 19-20, and Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 212-213. Genesios is not so well informed as Cont. Th., and speaks as if Ignatius alone suffered mutilation.

4 The eldest son, Theophylactus, his father's colleague, was less distinguished. He also became a monk and changed his name, but Eustratios did not rival the fame of Ignatius. Of the third, Stauracius, called perhaps after his uncle, we only hear that he died before his father.

[blocks in formation]
« PrethodnaNastavi »