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THE FAMILY OF THEOPHILUS
THERE is considerable difficulty in reconciling the evidence of coins with the statements of the chronicles as to the children of Theophilus and Theodora. There were two sons and five daughters. The elder son, Constantine, is ignored by the chroniclers, but is mentioned in the enumeration of the tombs in the Church of the Apostles, in Const. Porph. Cer. 645, and his head appears on coins. The younger, Michael III. (who was the youngest child of the marriage), was born c. 839, for at the time of his father's death, Jan. 842, he was тpírov eros Siavior (Cont. Th. 148). The five daughters were Thecla, Anna, Anastasia, Pulcheria, Maria, named in this order in Cont. Th. 90 (though the story here rather suggests that Pulcheria was the youngest). Maria is elsewhere described as "the youngest of all" (rv oxáτyv távtor) and her father's favourite, in Cont. Th. 107, but Simeon does not designate her as the youngest (Cont. Georg. 794). She married Alexios Musele and died in her father's lifetime (locc. citt.). Simeon (ib. 823) mentions the four surviving daughters in the order Thecla, Anastasia, Anna, Pulcheria, and adds that Pulcheria was her mother's favourite.
The evidence of the coins is thus classified by Wroth (Imp. Byz. Coins, i. xlii-xliii):
1. Coins of Theophilus, Theodora, Thecla, Anna, and Anastasia. 2. Coins of Theophilus, Michael (bearded), and Constantine (beardless).
3. Coins of Theophilus and Constantine (beardless).
4. Coins of Theophilus and Michael (beardless).
Class 4 evidently belong to A.D. 839-842, the infancy of Michael, and prove that Constantine had died before Michael's birth.' As to class 2 the difficulty which these coins present has been satisfactorily cleared up by Wroth's solution, which is undoubtedly right, that the bearded Michael is a memorial effigy of Michael II.; such a commemoration occurs in coins of the Isaurian Emperors, e.g. coins of Constantine V. retain the head of Leo III. Thus 2 11
classes 2 and 3 were issued not earlier than the end of 829, not later than the beginning of 839.
Class 1 obviously belong to some time during the period of ten years in which neither Constantine nor Michael existed. Wroth dates them to the first years of the reign of Theophilus. He suggests that Constantine was born some years after his father's accession (say A.D. 832).
But the difficulty connected with the marriage of Maria (which Wroth has not taken into account) bears on the interpretation of the numismatic data. It has been discussed by E. W. Brooks (B.Z. x. 544) and Melioranski (Viz. Vrem. viii. 1-37).
As Theophilus married in spring 821, the earliest date for the birth of his eldest child would be about Jan. 822. If Maria was the fifth daughter, her birth could hardly be earlier than 826, or, if we take into account the possibility of twins, 825. She would not have reached the earliest possible age for marriage till after the birth of her brother in 839. But such a date is incompatible with the narrative and the probabilities. Her marriage was evidently prior to the birth of Michael and intended to provide for what seemed the probable eventuality of the Emperor's death without a son to succeed him.
This argument forces us to reject the statement of Cont. Th. that Maria was the youngest daughter. For we cannot entertain the suggestion that Maria was not married, but only betrothed to Alexios; the evidence that she was his wife (Cont. Th. 107, 108) is quite clear. Nor can we admit, except as the last resort of despair, the hypothesis that Theodora was the second wife of Theophilus, and that some or all of his daughters were the progeny of a first wife, of whose existence there is no evidence.
Melioranski, who contemplated the notion that Maria might be the daughter of a former marriage, put forward the alternative suggestion that she was his youngest sister (thus accepting the
xáry, but rejecting the Oryarépa of Cont. Th.). There is nothing to be said for this hypothesis in itself; and as it was unquestionably the purpose of Theophilus to provide for the succession to the throne, it is impossible to suppose that he would have chosen a sister when he had daughters.
That Maria was the eldest daughter of Theophilus (so Brooks, op. cit.) is the only reasonable solution (and it renders unnecessary the hypothesis of a first marriage). Born, say, in January or February 822, she would have been fourteen in 836, and we could assign her marriage to that year. But she was probably betrothed to Alexios as early as A.D. 831; for in that year he is already Caesar, as appears from the description of the triumph of Theophilus in Constantine Porph. IIepì raέ. 505,
This result compels us to modify Wroth's chronology for the
coins. If class 1 belonged to the beginning of the reign of Theophilus, the eldest daughter, Maria, would have appeared on these coins. We are led to the conclusion that Constantine was born just before or just after the accession of Theophilus, that he died before the betrothal of his eldest sister, that she died before the birth of Michael (839), and that class 1, representing Thecla, Anna, and Anastasia, belong to the short interval between her death and their brother Michael's birth. Thus we get the
. Issues of coins classes 2 and 3.
A.D. 829-830. Constantine born.
Against this interpretation of the evidence can only be set the statement in Cont. Th. that Maria was the youngest daughter. But this statement is admitted by modern critics to be incompatible with the facts, except on the hypothesis that all the daughters were the issue of a former marriage. Such a hypothesis, however, saves the authority of Cont. Th. in this one point, only to destroy it in another and graver matter. For Cont. Th. unmistakably regards the five daughters as the children of Theodora and the grandchildren of Theoktiste (90). We can, moreover, conceive how the mistake arose. Maria had died in her father's lifetime; the other four long survived him, and Thecla (who appeared on coins with her mother and brother) v was always known as the eldest; so that we can understand how a chronicler, wanting to place Maria in the series, and finding in his source only the statement that she was her father's favourite, and taking it for granted that Thecla was the eldest, for the insuflicient reason that she was the eldest in the following reign, tacked Maria on at the end.
The accounts in Simeon, Add. Georg. 794, and Cont. Th. 108, of the sending of Alexios Musele to the west, are inconsistent. According to the former, he was sent to Sicily on account of the Emperor's suspicions of his ambitious designs; Maria died during his absence; and Alexios, induced to return by promises of immunity, was punished. According to the latter, the suspicions of his disloyalty were subsequent to his command in the west (Longobardia, i.c. South Italy), where he accomplished what he had to do to the Emperor's satisfaction. It is impossible to draw any certain.
As the coins of Theophilus have come under consideration,
some changes which he made in the types may be mentioned here. They are thus described by Wroth (xliii.): "He restored the cross (now the patriarchal cross) on some specimens, and on the folles an inscription-in this case OEOFILE AVTOVSTE SV NICAS-takes the place of the familiar mark of value M. He also introduces on coins the legend Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ 80 familiar on Byzantine seals and other monuments. On some of his coins Theophilus describes himself and his son Constantine ast the odor of Christ: Justinian II., on his solidi, had called himself Servus Christi,"
1‡, not the cross potent † which appeared on the older coinage,
THE FALL OF THEODORA (chronology)
MICHAEL III. came to the throne January 21, 842, and died September 23, 867, so that his whole reign lasted twenty-five years, eight months. For the last year and four months, Basil was his colleague (from May 26, 866), so that the rest of his reign, including both the period of his minority and his sole reign after Theodora's fall, lasted twenty-four years, four months. Now, according to the contemporary chronicler George the Monk (801), he reigned fourteen years with Theodora, ten years and three months by himself. There is an error of a month, but here we are helped by the Anonymi Chron. Synt., ed. Bauer, p. 68 (cp. also an addition to the Chronography of Nicephorus, ed. de Boor, p. 101), where the joint reign is given as fourteen years, one month, twenty-two days. These figures are probably correct, and so we can fix the meeting of the Senate which signalised the formal deposition of Theodora to March 15, 856. In any case, these data seem to be independent, and they show that the deposition fell, not in 857 as Schlosser and Finlay supposed, but early in 856. This is the conclusion rightly supported by Hirsch (61). It bears out the narrative of the chroniclers (Simeon and Gen.) who connect Theodora's fall from power immediately with the murder of Theoktistos, who was still alive at the time of Michael's marriage, to which we cannot assign an earlier date than 855. The two events must thus have been in chronological proximity.
But a serious difficulty has arisen through the connexion of the deposition of Ignatius from the Patriarchate and the expulsion of Theodora from the Palace. This connexion rests on good authority, the Libellus of Ignatius (composed by Theognostos) addressed to
The other figures given by this source here are incorrect: Michael is said to have reigned alone eleven years, one month, nine days. Thus the total reign would be twenty-five years, three months, instead of twenty-five years, eight months. In the Cod. Matritensis
μnva a here is omitted. The error may have arisen in the additions to the Chron. of Nicephorus from a repetition of μva a' in the preceding notice. The list stops with Basil I., so that the compiler must have written soon after A.D. 886.