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Now when Borilus learnt of the entry of the Comneni and of the army’s dispersal throughout the city, occupied with plundering and wholly intent on collecting booty, he determined to attack them, thinking they could easily be defeated owing to their scattered state (for the chiefs had been left alone with their kinsmen by blood or marriage and a few foreign soldiers). So he collected all the men who brandished their axes on their shoulders and those who hailed from Coma, and marching from the Forum of Constantine to the so-called Milestone, he drew them up there in ranks with utmost precision; so there they stood, in close order, ready for battle and keeping quiet for the time being.

Divine gift of prophecy

The Patriarch at that time [# Cosmas] was a truly holy man and poor, and had practised every species of asceticism such as the fathers of old who lived in the deserts and on the mountains used; he was also endowed with the divine gift of prophecy and ha

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So they hastened to the house of Iberitzes where Nicephorus Palaeologus overtook them and said, ” The Emperor sends you this message: ‘ I am already an old man and a lonely one, and possess neither son nor brother nor any blood-relation, and if you are willing’ (here Nicephorus addressed his speech to the newly-made Emperor Alexius), ‘do you become my adopted son. And I will not prevent your giving whatsoever you have already promised to your fellow-soldiers, nor will I even share your royal power in any way; I merely ask to retain the name of Emperor, public acclamations and the red buskins, and further the permission to live quietly in the palace.

The administration of the affairs of the Empire shall be handed over entirely to you.’” I response the Comneni said a few words, suggestive of agreement, which were repeated to the Caesar who thereupon made haste to get to them to urge them with threats to hurry to the palace. The Comneni. who were

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Next he sailed away from there with the fleet and reached the Acropolis where he led fresh shouts of acclamation. There he commanded the rowers to cease rowing and to stand by quietly and thus prevent the landing of any who were trying to cross from the East. Within a short time he saw a vessel putting in to the palace, and by bidding the rowers of his own boat row their hardest, he outstripped it. And when he saw his own father in it, he stood up and at once gave him the salutation due to parents. But his father did not look at him pleasantly, nor did he call him the ” dear light of his eyes,” as Odysseus of Ithaca once did on beholding Telemachus.

Emperor will follow the advice

On that occasion there was a banquet, suitors, a contest of strength, bows and arrows and the prudent Penelope set as prize for the victor, and Telemachus was not an enemy, but a son assisting his father; but on this there was fighting and war and the father and son were op

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Recognizing the latter from afar as one of his former acquaintances, he sailed alongside the vessel, hailed him and asked the usual questions, “Whence he came and whither going” and then begged him to take him up into his ship. But the guardsman, seeing him with a shield and sword, was frightened and replied, “I would gladly have taken you, had I not noticed that you are fully armed.” Hereupon Palaeologus at once consented to lay aside his helmet, shield and short sword, provided only the other would pick him up. Directly the guardsman saw him taking off his weapons, he allowed him to board his own ship, and took him in his arms and embraced him effusively.

Great Domestic

But Palaeologus, a man of energy, did not delay even for a moment before embarking on his task. Running up to the prow he began asking the rowers, ” What are you doing? and where are you going, taking part in a business which will bring dire misfortune to yourselv

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During the rest of the night, however, after posting the light-armed, they pushed on at a marching pace – the Comneni held the centre of the line with picked cavalry and the flower of the troops – and just at daybreak they stood outside the walls with the whole of their army. All the soldiers were fully armed as if for battle so that they might strike terror into the hearts of the citizens. But when Palaeologus gave them the signal from above and opened the gates, they rushed in pell-mell, no longer with military discipline, but just as each could, carrying their shields, bows and spears.

Manners for the worse

Now the day was Good Friday (the day on which we offer and feed upon our Mystical Passover) of the fourth “Indiction” in the month of April in the year 6589. [*i.e., of the Byzantine era = April 1, 1081 AD] And as the whole army (which was composed of foreign and native troops and had come together from home and neighbouring countr

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Thus Manganes postponed the writing of the Golden Bull in order to keep Melissenus in suspense, for he feared that if the Bull, which bestowed upon him the rank of Caesar, were dispatched more hastily than was wise, Melissenus would scorn that honour and cling at all costs to gaining the empire, as he had informed the Comneni, and venture on a very bold stroke. Such then was the art and wiliness of Manganes in postponing the writing of the Golden Bull for the Caesar.

While these things were being arranged and time was pressing for entering into the city, the ambassadors became suspicious of some trick, and were still more insistent in their demands for the Golden Bull. But the Comneni said to them, “Since we practically have the city in our hands, we are going now to take possession of it with the help of God, so do you depart and take this news to your lord and master.”

George Palaeologus to Gilpractus

And they added further, “If ev

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He therefore found out which soldiers were on duty in the various towers. He learnt that in one place the “Immortals” were on guard (this is the most select regiment of the Roman army) and in another the Varangians from Thule [*By some interpreted as the British Isles, by others as part of Scandinavia, particularly Thyland in Jutland.] (by these I mean the axe-bearing barbarians) and in yet another the Nemitzi [*Germans] (these too are a barbaric tribe who have been subjects of the Roman Empire from of old); and he thereupon advised Alexius not to make an offer to the Varangians or the Immortals. For the latter, being indigenous, naturally cherished a great affection for the Emperor and would sooner lose their lives than be persuaded to adopt any treachery against him.

The Varangians, too, who carried their axes on their shoulders, regarded their loyalty to the Emperors and their protection of the imperial persons as a pledge and ancestral tradition, handed dow

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IX Now when Botaniates, saw the size of the army of the Comneni and its composition of men of all races, and that it was already approaching the gates of the city, and that Melissenus Nicephorus had reached Damalis with no less a force than theirs and was likewise a claimant for the throne, he knew not what to do, and was quite unfit to contend against two foes. For old age had chilled his spirit and made him over-fearful, though in youth he had been very brave, and now he only breathed freely as long as he was encircled by the walls, and he had already ideas of abdicating.

The city would be difficult

Hence the citizens were naturally seized with alarm and unrest and thought the whole place could easily be captured from any side. The Comneni on their side thought the taking of the city would be difficult (for their forces were composed of various nationalities besides natives, and wherever there is a mixed crowd, their temper also is wont to be mixed), so Alexi

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In spite of this business they did not by any means neglect the siege, but as often as possible made skirmishing attacks upon the walls. On the following day they called the ambassadors and announced their decision to them. This was that Melissenus should be elevated to the rank of ‘ Caesar,’ should he adjudged the fillet and salutes and all other privileges which belong to this rank, and also that the largest town in Thessaly should be given to him. (In this town there is the magnificent church named after the great martyr Demetrius, where the myrrh which ever trickles from his venerable coffin works marvellous cures for those who approach it in faith.)

This Alexius the new emperor

The ambassadors were displeased with the terms but, since those they proposed were not accepted, and they observed also the rebel’s great preparations against the city and the enormous army under him, and as they were pressed for time, they began to fear that if th

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After this act the Ducases led the acclamations for they favoured this man for many reasons and especially because their relation, Iresn, my mother had been legally married to my father, And simultaneously all those akin to them by blood did likewise with a will, and the rest of the army took up the shout and sent their voices almost to the heavens. And then was witnessed a curious phenomenon – for those who before had held opposite opinions and preferred death to failure in their desire, became in one moment of the same opinion, and that too, so decidedly, that nobody could have even suspected there had been a variance of opinion between them.

VIII While these events were taking place, a rumour spread that Melissenus had already reached the promontory of Damalis with a fair-sized army, had assumed the purple and was being acclaimed as emperor. For some time the Comneni would not believe this report, but Melissenus on learning of their doings, at once dispatched amba

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For, as the whole army was veering to his side and advocating his claims while it did not favour Isaac even in the slightest, Alexius saw that strength and power and the realization of his hopes would come from that quarter, and so he supported his brother in his intrigues for the throne, knowing that nothing untoward to himself would result from so doing, provided he for his part were raised up by force, as it were, by the whole army to the pinnacle of earthly honours and he flattered his brother in words only and made a pretence forsooth of yielding the power to him.

Reminded Alexius of the prophecy

After some time had been spent in this manner, the whole soldiery were assembled near the General’s tent in a great state of excitement and each anxious for the accomplishment of his wish. Then Isaac rose and taking the red buskin tried to put it on to his brother’s foot; but the latter refused several times until Isaac cried, “Let me do it, for

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VII The whole world, agog with excitement, was eagerly looking forward to what would happen and each longed to see the man who was expected to be proclaimed Emperor. The majority certainly wished Alexius to gain that honour, but neither were Isaac’s partisans idle, but as far as possible, they solicited everybody. And thus matters were apparently at a deadlock, for half the population desired to see the elder, and the other half desired to see the younger, brother raised to be pilot of the imperial dignity. Amongst the men present at that time were several of Alexius’ kinsmen, for instance, the above-mentioned Emowor-John Ducas, a man clever in council and swift in action (whom I also saw once for a short time) and Michael and John, his grandsons, as well as the husband of their sister, George Palaeologus.

Possible expedient for getting Alexius proclaimed

These helped each other and worked hard to convert all people’s opinions to their own, an

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The Emperor seeing this called: “Stop and travel with us,” but the other not knowing where he was going and being moreover quite in the dark about the reason which made him the object of so much solicitude, became vexed and suspicious again of the Emperor and his friendly ways. But the Emperor insisted and began pulling at him, and as the other still did not yield, he changed his manner and spoke more roughly and threatened him if he would not do as he was ordered. As the other still did not obey he ordered all the stranger’s possessions to be packed with his own on his beasts and started on his journey, giving the other permission to go where he liked.

Then the man abandoned his intention of going to the Palace from fear of being imprisoned if the Treasury-officials saw him come with empty hands; again he was not anxious to return home because of the unsettled and confused state of the country resultant upon the rebellion of the Comneni which had emerged

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Then thinking it right to send news of their doings to John Ducas, the ex-emperor, who was at that time living on his own property in the country of Morobundus, they dispatched a messenger to inform him of their rebellion. The man carrying the message happened to arrive at early dawn and was standing outside the gates of the farm asking for the Emperor. And his grandchild John, still quite a child, not even a boy yet, and consequently always with the Emperor, saw the man and at once ran in, woke up his grandfather who was still asleep, and told him of the rebellion. But the latter astounded by the words, gave the child a box on the ears, and advising him not to talk nonsense, sent him off.

In a little while, however, he came back again, bringing the same news, and in addition the message addressed to his grandfather by the Comneni. Now this message had an excellent touch of wit in it which hinted at Alexius’ doings for it said; “We on our side have prepared a r

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They took their leave of this woman when they were ready to ride away and they persuaded George Palaeologus to take sides with them and compelled him to depart with them. For before this they had not divulged their plans to him because of a natural suspicion; for the father of this George was extremely devoted to the Emperor, and therefore revealing their project of rebellion to him would have been rather dangerous. And at first indeed, Palaeologus did not show himself at all amenable, but opposed many objections and reproved them for their breach of faith to the emperor and for the fact that, as the proverb has it, they became turncoats.

Palaeologus suggested the sanctuary

But when the Mistress of the Wardrobe, Palaeologus mother-in-law, insisted firmly on his joining them under threat of dire punishment, he began to yield and his next concern was for the safety of the women, namely his wife Anna and his mother-in-law Maria, for the latter was descended from o

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And next her daughter-in-law, the wife of Isaac (who had managed to slip into the church at the time of the opening of the gates for the early hymn) drew aside the veil covering her face and said to them, “Well, she for her part may go, if she likes; but we will not leave this church without assurances, even though death lay before us.” Then the man seeing the stubbornness of the women and realizing that they were growing bolder towards them than at first, and fearing some tumult might arise, went away and told the whole tale to the emperor. And he, being kindly by nature and touched by the woman’s words, sent her the cross she asked for and gave her full immunity.

And when she had come out of the church he ordered her with her daughters and daughters-in-law to be confined in the convent of the Petrii which is situated close to the Sidera. [* ie., the Gate Sidera] The emperor also had her marriage-relation, the wife of the emperor John (who held the rank

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Then the man immediately unbolted the doors and gave them admission. At the morrow’s assembly of the Senate, the Emperor, who had learnt of the brothers’ doings, spoke as was to be expected and inveighed severely against the Domestic. And afterwards he sent two men, Straboromanus and Euphemianus by name, to fetch the women to the palace. But Dalassena said to them: “Give the Emperor this message; ‘ My sons are the faithful servants of your imperial Majesty and have willingly served you at all times, sparing neither their lives nor their bodies, and have always been the first to risk everything for your empire.

But the jealousy felt by others who could not endure your Majesty’s kindness and solicitude for them, caused them to stand in great and hourly peril; and when finally their enemies decided to blind them, they got wind of it, and as they could not endure such undeserved peril they left the city, not as rebels but as your trusty servants,

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Botaniates’ grandson and his tutor were asleep meanwhile, for a separate house had been appointed to them. About the first watch the Comneni who were now quite ready to arm themselves and ride away from the imperial city, locked the gates and gave their mother the keys, and they also noiselessly closed the gates of the house in which her niece’s betrothed, Botaniates, was sleeping, though they did not bring the two leaves quite close together and fasten them perfectly for fear they should creak and this noise wake the boy. In these doings the greater part of the night had passed.

Before the first cock-crow they opened the gates, and taking their mothers, sisters, wives and children with them, they all walked together to the Forum of Constantine; on arrival there the Comneni took leave of the women and hastened off very quickly to the palace of Blachernae, whilst the latter ran to the Church of the Divine Wisdom. In the meantime Botaniates’ tutor had awake

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For he was not of those who plunder and open their mouths wide for riches. True liberality is not as a rule judged by the quantity of money supplied, but is weighed by the spirit of the giver. In some cases a man of few possessions who pays in proportion to his income, may justly be termed “liberal,” whereas another who has much wealth and hides it in a hole in the earth, or does not give to the needy in proportion to his wealth, would rightly be styled “a second Croesus,” or ” a Midas mad for gold,” or “niggardly and penurious ” or a “cummin-splitter”! That Alexius was graced with all the virtues, the men I have mentioned had known for a long time already, and for these reasons they eagerly desired his elevation to the throne. After exchanging oaths with this officer too, Alexius set off home at a run and told his people everything.

It was the night of Quinquagesima Sunday (or the “Cheese-eating” Sund

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Alexius took him into his mother and brother; and after giving ear to his abominable news, they judged it necessary to execute the plan they had kept secret so long, and with God’s help to compass their own safety. When, after the morrow, the Domestic had heard that the army had occupied Tzouroulus (this is a little town lying Thrace-wards) he went in the first watch of the night to Pacurianus and related everything to him – this man was “small indeed in stature, but a mighty warrior,” [Iliad 5:801] as the poet says, and descended from a noble Armenian family.

To him Alexius related the slaves’ anger and envy, and their long manoeuvres against them and their immediate intention of blinding them. “But,” he continued, “we cannot suffer these things as if we were captives, but we will die, if need be, after fighting bravely; for this is the prerogative of high-souled men.” Pacurianus listened to it all and seeing that such

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In the meantime somebody at the suggestion of that fellow, Borilus, one of the slaves, asked the Emperor whether it was by his wish that the Great Domestic was introducing all the forces into the city. The Emperor at once sent for Alexius and asked him whether this report was true; to which Alexius immediately answered that part of the army was coming in by his, the Emperor’s, orders, and as for the whole of it being assembled there from all parts he parried the question plausibly. “The army you see,” he said, ” has been scattered in all directions, and now the various regiments which have received the signal are coming up from their different stations.

And those who see them streaming in from various quarters of the Roman dominions, think the whole army is being assembled as if by agreement and are misled by mere appearance.” Although Borilus had many objections to make to this speech, yet even so Alexius prevailed and was acquitted by the vo

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Then indeed the Emperor was delighted with them and dismissing them from the feast, spent the rest of the day free from care. Henceforward the Comneni made it their business to visit the palace and pay court to the men about the emperor even more assiduously; for they did not wish to give their adversaries the slightest handle, nor to afford them any pretext whatever for hatred, but on the contrary to win all over to liking them and being on their side both in thought and speech.

They also exerted themselves to win over the Empress Maria more completely and to convince her that they only lived and breathed for her. Isaac for his part with the excuse of his marriage to her cousin, used his freedom of access to the utmost, whilst Alexius, my father, alleging his nearness of kin but still more his adoption, as a brilliant reason, visited the Queen, without arousing anybody’s suspicion and threw a veil over the envy of his ill-wishers.

But he was well aware of

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III About this time the city of Cyzicus was taken by the Turks; directly the Emperor learnt of the capture of the city, he sent for Alexius Comnenus. Now it chanced that on that day Isaac had come, and when he saw his brother entering the palace contrary to their agreement, he went up to him and asked the reason for his coming. Alexius immediately told him the reason, saying: “Because the Emperor has sent for me.” So they went in together and made the customary obeisance, and as it was nearly the hour for lunch the Emperor told them to stay for a little and then commanded them to sit down at table with him. And they were separated, for one sat on the right side of the table, and the other on the left, opposite each other. In a few minutes they looked intently at the attendants standing about and saw they were whispering with gloomy countenances.

Then they feared lest the two slaves were meditating a sudden attack on them and that danger was nigh at hand, so the

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The next day they came again to talk to her, and seeing that she looked at them more cheerfully than the day before, they both went close up to her and said: “You are our mistress and we are your most devoted slaves, ready to die, if need be, for our Queen. And do not let any consideration unnerve you and lead you to indecision.” Upon these words they gave the Queen an oath and after freeing themselves from all suspicion they easily guessed her secret, for they were sharp-witted, shrewd, and expert in divining from a few words a man’s deeply hidden and hitherto unexpressed opinion.

Straightway they associated themselves still more closely with the Queen and making their goodwill clear to her by many proofs they promised they would bravely assist her in any undertaking to which she summoned them. “Rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep,” [Rom 12:15] that is indeed the apostolic injunction, and this they willingly observed.