The Revolt of the Comneni part 3

II The Emperor was now too old to have expectations of a son and as he dreaded the inevitable stroke of death, he began to consider the question of his successor. At that time there was at court a certain Synadenus of Eastern origin and illustrious descent, fair of face, of profound intellect, courageous in battle, verging on young manhood, and above all akin to the emperor by race. In preference to all others the Emperor thought of leaving him as successor to the Empire, giving him the kingdom as his ancestral portion, so to speak, and in this he was ill-advised. For he would have ensured perfect safety and also regarded justice by bequeathing the imperial power to the Queen’s son, Constantine; as the portion rightly accruing to him, as it were, through his grandfather and father, and this would have increased the Queen’s confidence in him and gained her goodwill.

However, the old man failed to see that he was arranging matters in a way which was not only unju

The Revolt of the Comneni part 2

Isaac could do this the more easily as the Queen some time before had chosen him to marry her own cousin; he was a perfect gentleman both in word and deed and most like my own father. But since his own affairs had prospered so well, he took much thought for his brother Alexius, and as the latter had formerly helped him with all his power in arranging his marriage, so he in his turn now desired to see Alexius stand high in the Queen’s favour. It is said that the friends Orestes and Pylades had such a deep love for each other that in time of battle either would be quite indifferent to his own foes but would ward off those who attacked his friend, and either would offer his own breast to receive the darts thrown at the other.

Exactly the same phenomenon could be witnessed in the case of these two. For either brother tried to anticipate the other’s dangers; and whatever prizes and honours one gained, in short the good fortune of the one, the other considered his ow

The Revolt of the Comneni part 1

I We must refer the reader who wishes to know the place and lineage from which Alexius sprang, to my Caesar’s history, and thence he can also extract information about the Emperor Nicephorus Botaniates.

Isaac and Alexius

Now Manuel was the elder brother of Isaac and Alexius and in fact, the first-begotten of all the children descended through John Comnenus from my paternal grandfather. He was general in sole command over the whole of Asia to which the former emperor, Romanus Diogenes, had appointed him, whereas the principality of Antioch had elected Isaac by lot as their Duke; these two had fought in many wars and battles, and many trophies too they had erected over their opponents. And after these my father Alexius was promoted to be General-in-Chief, and dispatched against Ursel by Michael Ducas, the reigning emperor.

Later on the Emperor Nicephorus also observed his expertness in warfare and heard how, while serving under his brother Isaac i