The Revolt of the Comneni part 19

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 they captured the city, the Comneni would not grant even that which they now promised, so they asked that the conditions should be put in a Golden Bull and signed in red letters. To this Alexius the new emperor, consented and immediately summoned George Manganes, who served him as secretary, and ordered him to draw up this Golden Bull. But the latter deferred it for three days, always stringing together various excuses, saying once that after getting over-tired during the day he could not finish the whole letter at night, and at another time that a spark had fallen on what he had written at night and burnt it up.

By making such and similar excuses and, true to his name, playing tricks, Manganes postponed writing by one means or the other. Pushing on further the Comneni quickly seized the place called Aretae. This is a district lying close to the city and overlooking the plain, and to persons standing below and looking up to it, it looks like a hill; on the one side it slopes down to the sea, on. the other, to Byzantium, but on the North and West sides it is exposed to all the winds; it has perennial supplies of clear, fresh water but is so utterly devoid of bushes and trees that you would have said the hill had been laid bare by woodcutters.

Because of its pleasant situation and climate the Emperor Romanus Diogenes erected some fine houses suitable for kings for short periods of rest. When the Comneni were established there, they made attempts on the wall not by means of siege-engines or machines or stone-throwing instruments, since there was not time enough for those, but with light-armed troops, far-shooters, spearmen and fully-armed soldiers.

Read More about Victory over the Turks part 28

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