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(£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 sovrap 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
1 To the Patriarch were given 25 lbs. of gold, to the clergy, 100 (Theoph. 494). According to Philotheos (136) the second or subordinate Emperor gave only 50 lbs. altogether to the Church. See above, p. 21, n. Theophanes says that Michael crowned his son ὑπὸ Νικηφόρου. Nicephorus assisted, but Michael, if present as he presumably was, placed the crown himself on the head of Theophylactus. Cp. Bury, Const. of Later R. Empire, 16 and 46, n. 11.
2 These curtains were called Teτράβηλα, and are often mentioned in the Liber pontificalis (cp. i. p. 375). Paul the Silentiary mentions them
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.
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.
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. The 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 δ 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 Taîs 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.
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,3 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
1 Theoph. 502.
2 This alternative did not occur to Hirsch. He regards the fact that Michael charged Leo with the command as a proof of Leo's innocence. The story of Hexabulios is told independently by Genesios and Cont. Th.
3 Theophanes, ib., mentions her unwillingness, but in Cont. Th. 18 her jealousy of "Barca" is mentioned. She was furious at the idea that Leo's wife should place the modiolon on her head. This was a head-dress worn by
Empresses (perhaps the same as the TUμTάVIOV, 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.