The Revolt of the Comneni part 10

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 awakened and guessing what had happened, went after them, torch in hand, and caught them up shortly before they reached the precincts of The 40 Saints [# The Church of the Forty Martyrs].

Precincts of Bishop Nicholas

On catching sight of him, Dalassena, the mother of those two noble sons, said to him,” Somebody has denounced us to the emperor, I hear. I will therefore make a round of the churches, and use their help as much as I can; and at dawn of day I shall go from them to the palace. So do you go there now and directly the porters open the gates, apprise them of our coming.” And he straightway went off to do as he was bid. Then the women arrived at the precincts of Bishop Nicholas (which has retained its name of “The Sanctuary” to this day), this stands near the large church and was founded long ago for the protection of those being taken for crimes, as being a part of the large precinct, and was purposely constructed by our ancestors so that if anyone who had been convicted of a crime managed to take refuge there, he was released from the penalty of the law.

For the old Emperors and Caesars shewed great consideration for their subjects. But the watchman of this church did not unbolt the doors for the women quickly, but asked, ” Who they were and whence they came,” whereupon one of the women’s attendants said, ” They are women from the East, who have spent all their means, and are hastening to pay their acts of devotion so as to be free to return home.”

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