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unable to manage it, and Michael was in despair, when his relative Theophilitzes suggested that his own groom, Basil, might be able to master it. Basil knew how to charm horses, and when he held its bridle with one hand and placed the other on its ear, the animal instantly became amenable. The Emperor, delighted with this achievement and admiring his physical strength, took him into his own service and assigned him a post under the Hetaeriarch or captain of the foreign guards of the Palace. His rise was rapid. He was invested with the dignity of a strator, and soon afterwards he received the important office of Protostrator, whose duties involved frequent attendance upon the Emperor (A.D. 858-859 ?).

So far the wily Armenian adventurer, whose mental powers were little suspected, had owed his success to fortune and his physical prowess, but now he was in a position to observe the intrigues of the Court and to turn them to his own advantage. Damianos, the High Chamberlain, who had assisted Bardas in the palace revolution which had overthrown Theodora, becam! hostile to the Caesar, and attempted to discredit him with the Emperor. The crisis came when, as Bardas, arrayed in the Caesar's purple skaramangion and accompanied by the magnates of the Court, was passing in solemn procession through the Horologion, Damianos refrained from rising from his seat and paying the customary token of respect. Bardas, overwhelmed with wrath and chagrin at this insult, hurried into the Chrysotriklinos and complained to the Emperor, who immediately ordered Damianos to be arrested and tonsured.

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does not mention). According to this account, Antigonus, Domestic of the Schools, gave a banquet in the Palace in honour of his father the Caesar. Bardas brought with him senatorial magnates and some Bulgarian envoys who happened to be in the city. Theophilitzes was one of the guests. The Bulgarians bragged about a countryman who was in their suite and was an invincible wrestler. Theophi. litzes said to Bardas, “I have a man who will wrestle with that Bulgarian.” The match was made, and (Constantine the Armenian having sprinkled the bran-this detail is taken from Genesios) Basil threw the Bulgarian, squeezing him like a wisp of hay. From that day the fame of Basil

began to spread through the city.”
Though based doubtless on a true
incident (remembered by Constantine
the Armenian), the story in either
version breaks down chronologically.
For Basil was transferred to the
Emperor's service not later than 858,
and at that time Bardas was still
Domestic of the Schools and Antigonus
a small boy.

1 Cont. Th. 231.

2 This promotion was connected
with the conspiracy against Bardas in
which Theodora was concerned. The
protostrator, who was involved in it,
was executed, and Basil replaced him
(Cont. Georg. 823-824).
date, see above, pp. 160-1.

Simeon, ib. 827.

Hence my



Basil was


But the triumph of Bardas was to turn to his hurt. Basil was appointed to fill the confidential post of High Chamberlain? (with the rank of patrician), though it was usually confined to eunuchs, and Basil the Armenian was to prove a more formidable adversary than Damianos the Slav.2

The confidential intimacy which existed between Michael and his Chamberlain was shown by the curious matrimonial arrangement which the Emperor brought to pass. already married, but Michael caused him to divorce his wife, and married him to his own early love, Eudocia Ingerina. But this was only an official arrangement; Eudocia remained the Emperor's mistress. A mistress, however, was also provided for Basil, of distinguished rank though not of tender years.

It appears that Theodora and her daughters had been permitted to leave their monastery and return to secular life,4 and Thecla, who seems to have been ill-qualified for the vows of a nun, consented to become the paramour of er brother's favourite. Thus three ladies, Eudocia Ingerina, Eudocia the Augusta, and Thecla the Augusta, fulfilled between them the four posts of wives and mistresses to the Emperor and his Chamberlain. Before Michael's death, Eudocia Ingerina bore two sons, and though Basil was obliged to acknowledge them, it was suspected or taken for granted that Michael was their father. The second son afterwards succeeded Basil on the Imperial throne, as Leo VI.; and if Eudocia was faithful to Michael, the dynasty known as the Macedonian was really descended from the Amorians. The Macedonian Emperors took pains to conceal this blot or ambiguity in their origin; their 1 Parakoimômenos.

been then about 43 years old. 2 The date is not recorded, but it 5 Simeon (Cont. Georg. 835, and seems probable that it was not very 844) states that Michael was the long before the fall of Bardas.

father, as if it were a well-known fact, 3 Maria ; she was sent back to and without reserve. In the case of “ Macedonia” (i.e. probably. Thrace) such an arrangement à trois, it is, of well provided for.

course, impossible for us, knowing so 4 For the evidence, see Hirsch, 66, little as we do, to accept as proven and below, p. 177. Thecla became the such statements about paternity. mistress of John Neatokomêtês after Eudocia may have deceived her lover Basil's accession. When Basil learned with her husband ; and as Basil seems this, he ordered the latter to be beaten to have been fond of Constantine and and tonsured ; Thecla was also beaten, to have had little affection for Leo and her property confiscated. Simeon, (whom ho imprisoned shortly before ib. 842. She died bedridden (klivo- the end of his reign), we might be led Tretńs) in her house at Blachernae, to suspect that the eldest born of Cont. Th. 147. If she became Basil's Eudocia was his own son, and Leo mistress in 865-866, she might have Michael's.


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animosity to the Amorian sovrans whose blood was perhaps in their veins, and their excessive cult of the memory of Basil, were alike due to the suspicion of the sinister accident in their lineage.

Such proofs of affection could not fail to arouse the suspicion and jealousy of Bardas, if he had, till then, never considered Basil as a possible rival. But he probably under

a estimated the craft of the man who had mounted so high chiefly by his physical qualities. Basil attempted to persuade the Emperor that Bardas was planning to depose him from the throne. But such insinuations had no effect. Michael, notwithstanding his frivolity, was not without common sense. He knew that the Empire must be governed, and believed that no one could govern it so well as his uncle, in whom he reposed entire confidence. Basil was the companion of his pleasures, and he declined to listen to his suggestions touching matters of state. Basil then resorted to a cunning device. He cultivated a close friendship with Symbatios—an Armenian like himself—the Logothete of the Course and son-in-law of Bardas. He excited this ambitious minister's hope of becoming Caesar in place of his father-in-law, and they concocted the story of a plot? which Symbatios revealed to Michael. Such a disclosure coming from a minister, himself closely related to Bardas, was very different from the irresponsible gossip of the Chamberlain, and Michael, seriously alarmed, entered into a plan for destroying his uncle.

At this time it was the spring of A.D. 866 preparations were being made for an expedition against the Saracens of Crete, in which both the Emperor and the Caesar were to take part.? Bardas was wide-awake. He was warned


1 I follow mainly Simeon (ib. 828), Originally, it had been arranged withwhich is obviously the most impartial out any arrière pensée on either side ;

Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 255, then the conspirators decided to avail describes the plot as only a pretext. themselves of the opportunity which

2 The official account was that it might furnish. Bardas, warned Bardas prepared the expedition, in that a design was afoot against him, order to find an opportunity of killing and that Basil was the arch plotter, Michael (Simeon, ib. 832). Simeon drew back, and it was necessary to represents Michael and Basil planning reassure him.

The chroniclers tell the expedition for the purpose of stories of various prophecies and signs killing Bardas (as it would have been

him of his fate. His friend difficult to dispatch him in the city). Leo the Philosopher is said to have Genesios is evidently right in the tried to dissuade him from going. His simple statement (103) that Michael sister Theodora sent him a dress too and Bardas organized an expedition. short for him, with a partridge worked


by friends or perhaps by a change in the Emperor's manner, and he declined to accompany the expedition. He must have openly expressed his fears to his nephew, and declared his suspicion of Basil's intentions; for they took a solemn oath in order to reassure him. On Lady Day (March 25) the festival of the Annunciation was celebrated by a Court procession to the church of the Virgin in Chalkoprateia; after the ceremonies, the Emperor, the Patriarch, the Caesar, and the High Chamberlain entered the Katechumena of the church ; Photius held the blood of Jesus in his hands, and Michael and Basil subscribed with crosses, in this sacred ink, a declaration that the Caesar might accompany them without fear.

The expedition started after Easter, and troops from the various provinces assembled at a place called the Gardens (Kêpoi) in the Thrakesian Theme, on the banks of the Maeander. Here Basil and Symbatios, who had won others to their plot, determined to strike the blow. A plan was devised for drawing away Antigonus, the Domestic of the Schools, to witness a horse-race at a sufficient distance from the Imperial tent, so that he should not be at hand to come to his father's rescue.3 On the evening before the day which was fixed by the conspirators, John Neatokomêtês visited the Caesar's tent at sunset, and warned Procopius, the Keeper of his Wardrobe, “ Your lord, the Caesar, will be cut in pieces to - morrow.” Bardas pretended to laugh at the warning. “ Tell Neatokomêtês,” he said, “ that he is raving. He wants to be made a patrician—a rank for which he is much too young; that is why he goes about sowing these tares.”

But he did not sleep. In the morning twilight he told his friends what he had heard. His friend Philotheos, the General

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in gold on it. He was told, when he asked the meaning of this, that the shortness signified the curtailment of his life, and the guileful bird expressed the vengeful feelings which the sender entertained on account of the murder of Theoktistos (Gen. 104).

1 Easter fell on April 7.

2 Simeon (ib. 830) gives the names of five, of whom one John Chaldos Tziphinarites is also mentioned by Genesios (106). This writer thought that the plan was first conceived at Kêpoi, and that its immediate occasion

was the circumstance that Bardas pitched his tent on a higher eminence than that of the Emperor's.

3 Gen. (ib.). He also records (105) that Bardas had ordered Antigonus to lead his troops to Constantinople, and that Antigonus delayed to do so. He ascribes this order to the fear which the gift of Theodora (see above, p. 170) aroused in Bardas, and inconsistently states that the gift reached him at Kêpoi. It is obvious that Antigonus and his troops were a difficulty to the conspirators ; cp. Cont. Th. 236.

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Logothete, said, “Put on your gold peach-coloured cloak and appear to your foes, — they will flee before you." Bardas mounted his horse (April 21) and rode with a brilliant company to the Emperor's pavilion. Basil, in his capacity of High Chamberlain, came out, did obeisance to the Caesar, and led him by the hand to the Emperor's presence. Bardas, sitting down beside the Emperor, suggested that, as the troops were assembled and all was ready, they should immediately embark. Suddenly looking round, he saw Basil making threatening signs with his hand. Basil then lunged at him with his sword, and the other conspirators rushed in and hewed him in pieces. Their violent onrush frightened and endangered the Emperor, who mutely watched, but Constantine the Armenian protected him from injury."

The rôle of Constantine, who still held the post of Drungary of the Watch, is that of a preventer of mischief, when he appears on the stage at critical moments only to pass again into obscurity. He attempted to save Theoktistos from his murderers; and now after the second tragedy, it is through his efforts that the camp is not disordered by a sanguinary struggle between the partisans of Bardas and the homicides.

The Emperor immediately wrote a letter to the Patriarch Photius informing him that the Caesar had been convicted of high treason and done to death. We possess the Patriarch's reply. It is couched in the conventional style of adulation

. repulsive to our taste but then rigorously required by Court etiquette. Having congratulated the Emperor on his escape from the plots of the ambitious man who dared to raise his hand against his benefactor, Photius deplores that he

i This incident comes, of course, έθριάμβευον). Constantine Porphyrofrom Genesios. In the rest I have gennetos has yet another version, perfollowed the account of Simeon. haps devised by himself. He is more Genesios entirely suppresses the part subtle. Instead of cutting the knot, played by Basil (just hinting, 10711, like Genesios, he assigns a part in the that his interests were involved). murder to his grandfather, but so as According to him, when Bardas was to minimise his responsibility: ACsitting with Michael, Symbatios came cording to this account, Michael is in and read the reports (which the the organizer of the plot; he gives a Logothete regularly presented).

As sign to Symbatios to introduce the he went out he made the sign of the assassins ; they hesitate, and Michael, cross as a signal to the conspirators fearing for his own safety, orders Basil who were in hiding. Gen. adds that to instigate them (Vita Bas. c. 17). the corpse was barbarously mutilated 2 Gen. 107. (τά τούτου αιδοία κοντώ διαρτήσαντες Ep. 221.




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