Part of my history, as I said, I derive from my own memory and part from the men who accompanied the Emperor on his expeditions and told me divers things about them, and who by means of ferrymen conveyed the news to us of what had happened in the wars; but most I gathered first-hand as I often heard the Emperor and George Palaeologus talking about them.
In this way I collected much of my material, but most during the reign of the third successor to the imperial throne after my father, when all flatteries and lies about his grandfather had expired together, for the whole world was flattering the present occupant of the throne and nobody shewed any sign of adulation for the departed, but related the naked facts, and spoke of things just as they had received them. But now I am bewailing my own misfortunes and lamenting the deaths of three Emperors, my Emperor and father, my Empress and mistress-mother, and alas! my own husband and Caesar; so I mostly keep in a comer and occupy myself with books and God.
The souls of the most blessed Emperors
And I shall not allow even the most insignificant of men to approach me unless they be men from whom I can learn of things which they happen to have heard of from others, or they be my father’s intimate friends. For during these last thirty years, I swear it by the souls of the most blessed Emperors, I have neither seen nor spoken to a friend of my father’s, this is due partly to many of them having died and partly to many being prevented by fear. For the powers that be have condemned us to this ridiculous position so that we should not be seen, but be a general object of abhorrence. And what I have added to my history, let God and His Mother my Mistress be my witnesses, I have collected from some absolutely unpretentious, simple commentaries, and from a few old men who were soldiers when my father seized the Roman sceptre but have fallen upon evil times and retired from the turmoil of the world to the calm life of monasteries.
For the commentaries which fell into my hands were simple in diction and incurious and strictly truthful and displayed no style and were free from all rhetorical pretensions. And the narrations of the old men were like the commentaries both in phrase and scope, and I judged the truth of my history from them by comparing and examining what I had written with what they told me, and what they told me with what I remembered from having often heard the accounts both from my father himself and from my paternal and maternal uncles. From all these sources I wove the whole fabric of my truthful history. And now let me return to the point in my history of which I was speaking above, namely Camytzes’ escape from the barbarians and his speech to the citizens.
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