Medieval History

Selected Sources Full Text Sources Saints' Lives Law Texts Maps Medieval Films Search Help

Selected Sources Sections Studying History End of Rome Byzantium Islam Roman Church Early Germans Anglo-Saxons Celtic World Carolingians 10 C Collapse Economic Life Crusades Empire & Papacy France England Celtic States Nordic Europe Iberia Italy Eastern Europe Intellectual Life Medieval Church Jewish Life Social History Sex & Gender States & Society Renaissance Reformation Exploration
IHSP Credits
Medieval Sourcebook:
Anna Comnena:
The Alexiad: Book II

Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
Book 7  | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 | Book 11 | Book 12 | Book 13 | Book 14 | Book 15





The Revolt of the Comneni


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.

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 in the East, he had taken part in many contests an¬ęd proved himself valiant beyond his years, and when he considered the manner in which Alexius had worsted Ursel, he made just as conspicuous a favourite of him as he did of Isaac. He took the two brothers to his heart and looked upon them with joy, sometimes even inviting them to share his table. This enkindled the envy of others against them and most especially that of the two aforementioned Slavonic barbarians, Borilus and Germanus. For seeing the Emperor's goodwill towards the brothers and that the latter remained unharmed by the darts that malice hurled at them, they were consumed with wrath. As the Emperor saw that Alexius although his beard was as yet scarce grown was held in high repute by all, he appointed him absolute General of the West and honoured him with the rank of Proedros. Of all the trophies which he set up throughout the West also and of the various rebels he conquered and brought as captives [45] to the Emperor sufficient has been said already. But these doings did not please those two slaves but rather fanned the flames of their envy; They went about growling and purposing evil against them in their hearts, and told the King many tales in confidence and others in public or suborned others to tell him, for their desire was, no matter by what means, to get these brothers out of the way. In this distressing situation the Comneni judged it prudent to cultivate the officers of the women's apartments and through them to win in still greater measure the Queen's affection. For the brothers were charming men and able with their varied wiles to soften even a heart of stone. 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 own, and vice versa, such close affection bound them to each other. By the help of heaven, Isaac's interests had been thus secured; and after no long interval the officials of the women's apartments lent a willing ear to Isaac's suggestion that the queen should adopt Alexius. The Queen listened to them; and the two brothers came to the palace on an appointed day, and then she adopted Alexius according to the ritual prescribed from of old for such cases. Thus for the future the Great Domestic of the Western armies was relieved of a great anxiety. Thenceforth they both visited the palace very often and after paying their respects to the Emperor and staying with him a little they went in to the Queen. All this still further inflamed the envy of others against them, as the Comneni were often assured, and consequently they lived in fear of being caught in their enemies' snares. As they had no protector, they cast about for a means by which, [46] with God's help, they might ensure safety for themselves. After revolving many plans with their mother and examining various schemes at various times they discovered one path which as far as man can judge, might lead to safety. This was to approach the Queen when some plausible reason offered, and tell her their secret. Yet they kept their plan under water and did not reveal their whole design to anyone, but like fishermen they were careful not to frighten away their prey. They intended, indeed, to run away but had been afraid to tell the Queen this, lest she might disclose their intentions to the emperor prematurely in her anxiety for the two parties, to wit, her husband and the brothers. After having settled on this plan, they turned their attention elsewhere for they were adepts in making full use of any opportunities that might occur.

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 unjust but also disastrous, and was begetting troubles for himself. The Queen heard whispers of this and was very sad as she foresaw danger to her son; but though she was despondent she did not openly voice her grief to anyone. This did not escape the notice of the Comneni and they determined, if they could find the opportunity they-sought to approach the Queen. Their mother furnished Isaac with a pretext for a conversation with the Queen, and his brother Alexius went with him. When they were admitted to the Queen Isaac said; "Lady, we do not behold you in the same health as heretofore, but you seem worried and obsessed by unbearable thoughts and without the courage to reveal your secret to anybody." However, she would not speak out for [47] some time, but sighing deeply replied: "It is not right to question those who live away from home, for that in itself is sufficient source of grief to them. But as for myself, alas! what sorrows have come upon me, one after the other, and how many more methinks are in store for me shortly." The brothers stood aloof and added no more words, but with eyes cast down and both hands covered, stood a minute plunged in thought and then made their usual obeisance and departed home in deep distress. 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. They asked the Queen to count them as her countrymen and intimates as they were sprung from the same stock as she was; and one thing more they urged - that she should not hesitate to divulge it to them immediately if either she, or the Emperor, got wind of a plot being formed against them by their rivals, and thus save them from unconsciously falling into their enemies' snares. This favour they asked and begged her be of good cheer, saying that with God's help they would gladly bring adequate help and as far as depended on them, her son Constantine should not be ousted from the empire. And they insisted too in ratifying their agreement by oaths, for there was no time to lose because of their jealous opponents. So the brothers were relieved of a great anxiety and recovered" their spirits and from now on showed a cheerful countenance" in their conversations with the Emperor. They were both, but Alexius more especially, practised in concealing a secret intention and a deeply laid plan by external pretences. But as the burning envy of others was now growing into a mighty fire, and nothing of what was said against them to the Emperor [48] was any longer concealed from them owing to the agreement (with the Queen), they recognized that those two all-influential slaves were scheming to get them out of the way; consequently they no longer went together to the palace as had been their custom, but singly, on alternate days. This was a wise and Palamedean precaution to prevent their both perhaps falling into the barbarians' snares at the same time, for if only one were caught by the intrigues of those all-powerful Scythians, the other could escape. Such then was their precaution. However, matters turned out for the brothers very differently from what they had feared, for they anticipated their rivals in the race for power, as my story, starting from this point, will show very clearly.

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 they looked stealthily at each other and knew not what to do. Long before this they had won over all those in attendance on the Emperor by soft words, and paying court to them with divers forms of greetings; and by shaking hands with him they had even coaxed the head-cook into looking at them with a friendly eye. To this head-cook there came now one of Isaac Comnenus' servants and said: " Tell my master of the fall of Cyzicus! for a letter has come from there with this news." Then the cook carried in the meat to the table and at the same time informed Isaac in a low voice of what he had heard from the servant. Isaac in turn by moving his lips slightly, notified the message to Alexius; and Alexius, who had very keen intuition and was quicker than fire, at once grasped what he had said, and they both recovered from the anxiety [49] which had held them. And pulling themselves together they considered how they might answer readily if anyone asked them about it and also give the right advice to the Emperor if he consulted them. While they were busy with these reflections the Emperor looked at them, taking for granted they did not know about Cyzicus, and told them of its capture. Then they roused the Emperor's depressed spirits (for they were ready to minister to his soul which was agitated by the sack of his cities) and heartened him up with fair hopes by assuring him that the city could be recovered easily. "The one thing needful," they said, "is that your Majesty should be safe; and as for the captors of the city they shall render sevenfold into your bosom that which they have taken." 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 the fierce resentment of those barbarian slaves and also of the Emperor's extreme lightheaded-ness. So they naturally took thought how not to fall from his good favour, as, in that case, they might become a prey to their enemies. For light-headed dispositions are ever unstable and like the Euripus, they drift, as it were, on ever-changing currents.

IV When thee slaves saw that matters were not progressing along the lines hey wished and that the destruction of such men was not an easy job as the Emperor's goodwill towards them augmented daily, they broached many plans and as often rejected them and finally settled on another course. And what was it? - it was to-send for them one night without the ruler's knowledge and to put them out of the way by trumping up some false charge and boring out [50] their eyes. The Comneni heard of this As they recognized that danger was very near they decided after much internal conflict that their only hope of safety lay in rebellion and that they were driven to by dire necessity. For what sense was there in waiting for the red-hot iron to be applied which would quench the light of their eyes for ever? Therefore they kept this decision deep down in their minds. Soon after this Alexius (who was at that time Domestic of the Western Empire) was ordered to call up to the city a certain division of the army to be prepared for marching against the Hagarenes who had sacked the city of Cyzicus. Seizing this reasonable opportunity, he summoned by letter those officers in the army who were well disposed to himself and their respective troops. These were all mobilized and hurried up to the metropolis. 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 votes of all. Germanus who was simpler-minded, did not run down Alexius much. As the Emperor's soul was not perturbed even by these allegations against the Domestic, the slaves seized the opportunity and set about preparing and ambush for the Comneni. Now slaves are anyhow by nature hostile to their masters, but when they cannot injure their masters, they turn their power against their fellow-servants, and become quite insupportable. Of this type of character and spirit Alexius had experience in the case of these slaves I am speaking of. For they did not bear resentment against the Comneni from love of the Emperor, but Borilus even aimed at the throne, some said, and as Germanus was his partner in the plot, he helped him prepare the ambush carefully. And they discussed their [51] plans together and imagined that the affair would turn out to their satisfaction; and now they began to speak openly of that which hitherto they had only mentioned below their breath. And thus a certain man overheard their talk, an Alanian by descent, "magister" in rank, who had long been attached to the emperor and counted among his intimates. Consequently the Magister stole out during the middle watch of the night and ran to the Comneni to report everything to the Great Domestic. Some have it that the Empress was not altogether ignorant of the Magister's visit to the Comneni. 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 circumstances admitted of no delay, but that some drastic step must be taken at once, said, " If when to-morrow's dawn breaks, you leave this city I will follow you and fight willingly on your side. But if you put it off to the next day, then be assured that without the slightest delay I shall go straight to the Emperor and denounce you and your followers." To which Alexius replied, "as I see that you really care for my safety, which is undoubtedly the work of God, I shall not reject your counsel, only let us mutually secure ourselves by oath." Thereupon they exchanged assurances with oaths to the effect that if Providence raised Alexius to the Imperial throne, he should raise Pacurianus to the rank of Domestic which he himself held in the meantime.

Taking leave of Pacurianus he hurried thence to another man, also "full of warlike frenzy," namely Hubertopoulus, told him of his own intentions and put before him the reason why he had decided to escape, and invited him to join him. Hubertopoulus immediately agreed, and added, "You will [52] always find me courageous, but more especially so when I am braving danger on your behalf." The reason above all others why these men were devoted to Alexius was that he outshone others in courage and intelligence; but they also loved him because he was exceptionally generous and very ready to give, although he had not a great abundance of money. 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" Sunday) when my father made these arrangements; and on the following day at early dawn he had already left the city with his partisans. Hence it was that the populace, who approved of Alexius' spirit and shrewdness, wove a little song to him about these occurrences, composed in their own popular dialect, and it very cleverly strikes up the prelude of the affair and accentuates his prescience of the plot against him and his consequent actions. In its original words the song ran thus;

"To sabbaton tes turines chareis Alexie enoeses to
kai ten deuteron to proi hupa kalos gerakin mou"

The meaning of that popular song is roughly this, "On the Saturday named after cheese, bravo to you for your shrewd-ness, Alexius! But on the Monday after the Sunday you flew away like a high-flying hawk, out of the nets of the barbarians."

V Anna Dalassena, the mother of the Comneni, had lately managed to affiance the grandson of Botaniates to the daughter of Manuel, her eldest son; and now through fear of his tutor hearing of the scheme and divulging it to the emperor she formed a very good plan. It was this, she ordered her whole household to assemble that evening for [53] the purpose, presumably, of making her devotions in the churches of God - for it was her habit to visit the sanctuaries frequently. This was done. All were present according to custom and they brought out the horses from the stables and pretended to be carefully spreading such saddle-cloths on them as befitted the women.

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]. 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 [54] 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." 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, firstly, in order to escape this imminent danger and secondly, to inform your Majesty of the plotting against them and to implore help from your Majesty.'" But the messengers urgently pressed her to come with them, until the woman grew indignant and said, " Allow me to enter God's church and pay my devotions to Him. For it is ridiculous to come as far as the entrance and not go in and implore the mediation of Our Immaculate Mistress, the Mother of God, both for the cause of God and the life of the Emperor." Then the ambassadors respecting her reasonable request, allowed her to enter. She advanced slowly as a woman worn out with age or grief would, or rather she simulated fatigue, and when she had almost reached the very entrance of the Sanctuary, she made two genuflexions and at the third collapsed on the ground, and clinging to the Royal Doors cried out: "Unless my hands are cut off, I shall not leave these holy precincts, until I receive the Emperor's cross as pledge of my safety." Hereupon Straboromanus pulled out the cross he carried in his bosom and gave it to her, but she replied, " I am not asking for assurance from you, but from the Emperor himself I demand the security I have mentioned. And I will certainly not accept a cross sent to me if it is of minute size, but it must be of respectable size." (This she required in order that the pledge given to her might be clearly seen; for if the promise were made over a small [55] cross, most of the onlookers would probably not have observed its ratification.) " It is that man's verdict and mercy I require. Begone, take him my message!" 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 of Protovestiaria), fetched from the sanctuary in Blachemae, which had been founded in honour of our mistress, the Mother of God, and consigned her as well to the convent of the Petrii, and gave orders that their stores of wine and corn and all their private possessions should be preserved intact. Every morning then, the two women went to the guards and enquired whether they had any news of their sons; and the soldiers dealt fairly frankly with them and told all they had heard. But the "Mistress of the Wardrobe," a woman generous in hand and mind, desired to conciliate their guards and so told them to take as much of their eatables as they liked for their own use, for the women were allowed to have all they required brought in without let or hindrance. From that time on the guards became more ready with their news and consequently not a detail of all the Comneni were doing was concealed from the women.

VI So much then for the women. Now the rebels on their part when they had reached the gate in the circular walls of Blachernae, burst its lock and thus had free access to the royal stables. And some of the horses there they left after first slitting their hind-legs from the thigh downwards with the sword, and of the rest they chose those which seemed to them in the best condition, and thence betook themselves with all speed to the monastery, somewhere near the city, called Cosmidium. And here, if I may insert something to [56] make my tale run more clearly, they found the aforementioned Mistress of the Wardrobe, before the Emperor sent to fetch her, as I have told. 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. 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 one of the first families of Bulgaria and was so attractive by reason of the beauty and grace of limbs and features that she was considered the most beautiful of all the women then living. Thus George and Alexius were not free from anxiety about her, and both felt that the women must be removed from that place, but while Alexius' party advised their being conveyed to some fortress, Palaeologus suggested the sanctuary of our Lady in Blachernae - and George's opinion prevailed. So they went off at once with these women and placed them under the care of the Holy Mother of the all-embracing Word. On their return to the place whence they started, they consulted on their best course of action, and Palaeologus and, "You two must get away from here; and I will soon overtake, you, and bring my property, with me?" For as it happened he had all his movable property stored there. Without further delay therefore the Comneni started on their journey; and, after loading his property on the monies' beasts of burden, Palaeologus rode after them. And he came up with them at Tzouroulus (a Thracian village) where by a lucky chance they all joined the army which had occupied it by command of the Domestic. 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 [57] 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 right good meal, not wanting in rich condiments, but if you on your side wish to share this banquet, you must come with all speed to partake of it." Then the Emperor sat up and propping himself on his right elbow bade them bring in the messenger, and when this man had finished his tale about the Comneni, he at once exclaimed; "Woe is me!" and clapped his hands over his eyes. And after grasping his beard for a time, as a man will when revolving matters of deep import in his mind, he settled on this one point, namely, that he too would yield to their wish. Therefore he immediately summoned his grooms and mounting his horse, rode off to join the Comneni. On the way he chanced upon a Byzantine who was carrying a heavy purse of gold and travelling to the capital, so in the words of Homer he asked him, "Who and whence art thou?" On learning that he had collected a large sum from certain taxes and was conveying it to the treasury, he urged him to halt for the night with him, promising that at daybreak he should go off where he liked. At the other's refusing and getting angry, the Emperor insisted all the more and finally persuaded him - for he was marvellously glib of speech and quick in thought, and persuasion sat on his tongue as if he were a second Aeschines or Demosthenes. So he took him with him and turned in at an inn, where he detained him by looking after him kindly in all ways, making him share his table and seeing that he could rest comfortably. But at dawn just when the sun was climbing up the eastern horizon, the Byzantine spread the cloths on the horses and was for hurrying off to ride at full speed to Byzantium. 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 [58] 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, and so against his will he followed the Emperor.

And next the following incident took place. As he was starting, the Emperor fell in with some Turks who had just crossed the river Eurus.[* R. Hebrus] So drawing reign, he enquired whence and whither they were going, and straightway promised them much money and all kinds of rewards if they would accompany him to the Comneni - and so they consented. Later he demanded an oath from their leaders as he wished to confirm their agreement by it, and this they immediately gave after their fashion and assured him that they would most readily fight on the side of the Comneni. After this he started taking the Turks with him as well to the Comneni. The latter saw him from afar and were overjoyed at his strange booty, and they both, but especially my father Alexius, could scarcely contain themselves for delight. Alexius went to meet him and embraced and kissed him. And what followed? At the Emperor's suggestion and suasion they set forth on the road leading to the capital. And all the men from the country-towns flocked to Alexius as volunteers and proclaimed him Emperor - the only exception were the men of Orestias who had an old grudge against him for having captured Bryennius, and therefore they adhered to the part of Botaniates. When they had reached the Athyras, they rested there for one day and then pushed on and reached Schiza (which is also a village in Thrace) and formed an entrenched camp there.

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 [59] 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. These helped each other and worked hard to convert all people's opinions to their own, and letting out every reef, as they say, skilfully used every possible expedient for getting Alexius proclaimed. Consequently they won people over to agree with them, with the result that the number of Isaac's partisans gradually diminished. For wherever the Emperor John was, not a single person was able to resist him, as he was unrivalled in the dignity of his principles, the size of his body, and his king-like appearance. What did the Ducases not do? What did they not say? What good thing did they not promise both to the leaders and the whole army, if Alexius were raised to the Imperial eminence? For example they would say, "He will requite you with very great gifts and the highest honours in accordance with each man's merit, not in a haphazard way, as the ignorant and inexperienced among leaders do, for he has borne the title of "Military Commander" for a long time now and "Great Domestic of the West"; he has shared your salt, in war he has fought nobly at your side, be it in ambush or in close combat, never did he grudge his body, limbs, or even his life to ensure your safety; he has often traversed mountains and plains with you, and learnt the hardships of warfare; finally, he knows you all both as a body and individually, and being himself dear to Ares, he above all longs for brave soldiers." In this manner spake the Ducases, but Alexius deemed Isaac worthy of much honour and in all things" preferred him, either owing to the charm of brotherhood, or rather, and this must be mentioned, for another reason. 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 [60] forsooth of yielding the power to him. 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 through you God wishes to restore the dignity of our family." He also reminded Alexius of the prophecy once addressed, to him by a man who- appeared, to them somewhere near Carpianum as they were returning home from the palace. For they had reached that spot when a man suddenly met them, perhaps belonging to a race higher than mortal, but in any case gifted with very clear insight into the future. From his appearance he seemed to be a priest, with his bare head, grey hair and shaggy beard; he took hold of Alexius' leg and being on foot himself, he dragged down Alexius, who was on horseback, by the ear and recited to him this line of David's psalm: "In thy majesty ride on prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness," and address him by the title Emperor Alexius! " With these words which sounded like a prophecy he vanished. And Alexius could not capture him though he looked round carefully in all directions in order, if possible, to catch sight of him, and then pursued him at full speed if perchance he might catch, him and ask more in detail who he was and whence he came. But what had been seen had completely vanished. On their return home Isaac was very inquisitive about this vision and asked Alexius to disclose the secret: and as he insisted strongly, Alexius at first made a feint of refusing but finally repeated what had been said to him in secret. Now in discussing this openly with his brother he treated the words and incident as a fraud and deception, but in his private meditations upon this man in priestly garb who had appeared to him, he likened him to the theologian, the Son of Thunder [*St. John the Theologian]. Therefore when Isaac saw what the old man had prophesied was being fulfilled in deed and expressed in words, he insisted more vehemently and by force put the red buskin on his brother's foot, especially because he saw the fervid longing of all the soldiers for Alexius. 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 [61] 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 ambassadors to them, who on arrival handed over his letters to the Comneni, which ran somewhat as follows: God has brought me safely as far as Damalis together with the army under my command. I have heard of your experiences, and the measures you have taken for your own safety after being delivered by the mercy of God from the malice of those slaves and their cruel plots against you. Now, as concerns relationship, I am already allied to you by ties of kin, thanks be to God! and as concerns purpose, I yield to none of your blood-relations in my unalterable affection for you (let God. the Judge of all, be my witness!). It is right that we should consult together and ensure for ourselves a firm and stable position so that we may not be upset by every wind that blows, but arrange the affairs of the empire well and thus stand on a sure foundation. This we shall certainly accomplish if, after you have captured the city by the help of God, you two administer the affairs of the West and allow the kingdom of Asia to be allotted to me. I too must wear the diadem and be clad in purple, and, as is the custom with royalties, my name must be joined in proclamations with the name of that one of you who is chosen Emperor, so that acclamations may be made for us conjointly. In this wise, even though the countries and the business have been divided, yet our mind would be one and the same, and while we so continue the Empire would be administered by us both in perfect peace." The ambassadors did not then and there receive a full answer to the letter they had presented; the next day the Comneni sent for them, and in lengthy speech pointed out to them the impracticability of Melissenus' proposals; they further promised to let them know their decision on the matter shortly through George, called Manganes, to whose care they had entrusted the ambassadors. In spite [62] 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.) 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.


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. 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 Alexius, the newly-shod Emperor, seeing the city would be difficult to capture, and suspecting the unstable character of his soldiers, adopted a new plan which was by flattery and promises to suborn some of the guards of the walls, and by thus stealing, so to say, their goodwill, to capture the city. After thinking out these things all night he went into the Caesar's tent at early morning and told him his intention and asked him to accompany him on a tour round the walls in order to investigate the defences and their guards (who were chosen from different regiments), and to determine how it would be possible to take the city. The Caesar, however, was annoyed at this order, for he had only adopted the monastic habit very lately and naturally shrank from going near the walls for he felt he would be laughed at by the men on the walls and battlements. And so it fell out. For when he followed Alexius under compulsion, directly the men spied him from the walls they jeeringly called him "Father" and added some insulting remark. However he knitted his brows and though inwardly insulted, disregarded them but gave his full attention to the purpose in hand. For men of firm disposition can fix their mind on the matter before them and overlook external disturbances. 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 [64] 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 down from father to son, which they keep inviolate and will certainly not listen to even the slightest word about treachery. But if Alexius approached the Nemitzi he would perhaps not be far from the mark, but be lucky enough to gain entrance into the city through the tower where they kept watch.

Alexius listened to these words of the Caesar as if they came from an oracle and at once acted upon them. He sent one of his men to sound the leader of the Nemitzi carefully from the foot of the wall; the leader looked down from above and after a brisk interchange of questions and answers, he soon agreed to betray the city. So the soldier returned bringing the message and as soon as Alexius and his companions heard this unexpected news, they were delighted and very eagerly prepared to mount their horses.

X At the same time the ambassadors from Melissenus were insistently demanding the Golden Bull which had been promised them, and Manganes was summoned to bring it. He said that he had indeed written the letter, but protested that the implements necessary for the royal signatures and sealing had been lost, pen and all! For he was a dissembler and clever at easily forecasting the future, at picking out what was advantageous from the past, and also accurately diagnosing the present and skilfully arranging matters to his own liking while he covered his doings as long as he wished. 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. [65] 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." And they added further, "If events do indeed turn out according to our hopes, he must come to us, and then all matters will easily be arranged in a manner agreeable both to ourselves and to him" - this was their answer to the ambassadors. Then they sent out George Palaeologus to Gilpractus, the leader of the Nemitzi, to find out the latter's intentions, and if he discovered that he was ready to admit the Comneni, as he had promised, he was to give the pre-concerted signal, and directly they saw it they would hasten their entrance, while Gilpractus himself would quickly ascend the tower and open the gates to them. Palaeologus undertook this errand very willingly, for he was a man eager for military exploits and the sacking of cities, and the term "stormer of cities" which Homer applies to Ares, would fit him exactly. Next the Comneni got ready and drew up all their heavy-armed troops in a very clever way, and then, marching slowly, they approached the city in troops. But in the evening George Palaeologus approached the wall and receiving the signal from Gilpractus, he went up into the tower with his companions. Alexius meanwhile and his men were only a short distance from the walls and after throwing up a palisade, they encamped comfortably and remained at rest there for a brief period of the night. 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.

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 [66] troops and had come together from home and neighbouring countries) knew that the city had for a long time been crammed with all kinds of riches which were continually imported from other lands and seas, they entered very quickly through the Charisian Gate and scattering in all directions along the main streets, the cross-roads and the by-lanes, they spared neither houses, churches nor even the innermost sanctuaries but amassed a large amount of booty and only desisted from killing, and in every way they acted throughout with the greatest recklessness and shamelessness. Indeed the worst feature was that not even the natives themselves abstained from these deeds but apparently forgot themselves, changed their manners for the worse and did themselves exactly the same things as the barbarians.

XI On being informed of these events, Nicephorus Botaniates realized that his own situation had become exceedingly difficult as the city was being besieged on the West, and Nicephorus Melissenus was encamped at the promontory of Damalis on the East; he did not know what to do but rather inclined to abdicate in favour of Melissenus. And when the city was already surrounded by the Comneni, he bade one of his most trusty attendants go and bring Melissenus through the fleet to the palace; and a certain very fierce guardsman was to accompany him. But before this project could be fulfilled, the city was taken. And Palaeologus, taking one of his servants with him, walked down to the sea, and finding a boat, got in at once and told the oarsman to row to the place where the fleet was usually anchored. When he was already drawing near to the other coast he saw the man sent by Botaniates to fetch Melissenus getting the fleet ready, and the guardsman was on one of the men-of-war. 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. But Palaeologus, a man of energy, did not delay even for a moment before embarking [67] 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 yourselves? the city, as you see, has been taken. He who was once the ' Great Domestic' has been proclaimed Emperor; you see his soldiers and you can hear the shouts; and there will be no room in the palace for anybody else. Botaniates for his part is a fine man, but then the Comneni on theirs are far finer. Large too is the army of Botaniates, but our army is many times larger. You ought not therefore to betray yourselves, your wives and children, but rather take a good look at the city, notice that the whole army is already inside it and the standards fixed, listen to the loud shouts of acclamation, and while the late Domestic draws near to the palace as Emperor and is even now girding on the royal insignia, put your ship astern and go and join him, and thus assure him complete victory! " The crew were immediately convinced by his words and came over to his opinion, whereupon the guardsman grew angry and that warrior George Palaeologus threatened to put him into chains there and then on the deck or to throw him into the sea. Then Palaeologus at once started the cheering and the rowers joined in, but as the guardsman was angry and refused to do so, he had him bound to the deck and left him. After sailing a little further, he again took up his sword and shield, and then brought his ship to the place where the fleet lay, and soon he had all the sailors joining in cheers for the new Emperor. He happened, also, upon the man dispatched by Botaniates to take over the fleet and bring Melissenus through, so he straightway apprehended him and ordered the sailors to loose the cables. 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. 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 [68] an enemy, but a son assisting his father; but on this there was fighting and war and the father and son were opposed in spirit. And each was well aware of the other's feelings, even though their opinions had not yet been manifested in action. So the father called his son a "fool" and asked him: " What have you come to do here?" and his son replied " As it is you who ask me, nothing!" To this the other answered, "Wait a little, and if the Emperor will follow my advice, I will let you know shortly." The aforesaid Nicephorus Palaeologus entered the palace where he found the soldiers dispersed in all directions intent on collecting booty, and judging that they could easily be overcome, he begged Botaniates to let him have the Varangians from the island of Thule, in order to drive the Comneni out of the city with their help. But Botaniates, having once for all despaired of his cause, pretended that he did not want civil war. " If perchance you will listen to me, Nicephorus, then I pray you go to the Comneni as soon as they are in the city and make overtures of peace to them." And so, though very unwillingly, he went.

XII The Comneni on entering the city had already gained confidence and halted near the square of the Great Martyr, George, called Syceotes, discussing whether they should first go and salute their mothers, according to custom, and then proceed to the palace; but the Caesar, being informed of this, sent one of his body-servants and upbraided them severely for their dilatoriness. 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 going out, met him who was on foot, [69] entering the courtyard from the right and he censured them severely. As he was entering he also caught sight of Nicephorus Palaeologus who was approaching the house again from the left and said to him, "What have you to do here? and for what purpose have you come, kinsman? " to which the other replied, " My coming will accomplish nothing, meseems, but I come to bring the same message from the Emperor as this morning. For the Emperor is resolute to keep to the terms he has offered to treat Alexius as his son; he proposes to invest him with full imperial power so that he may administer the affairs of the Empire according to his pleasure, provided he himself may merely retain the name of Emperor and the red buskins and his purple clothing and the right of living quietly in the palace, as he is an old man now and needs repose.") Hereupon the Caesar with a fierce glance and heavy scowl said, " Get away and tell the Emperor that those offers would have been more useful before the city was captured; for the future ambassadorial messages are uttered out of place. Tell him too, 'As you are already an old man, get off the throne and take thought for your own safety.' " That was the Caesar's answer. 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.

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 had at various times predicted various things in none of which he had been wrong; in a word, he was a model and type to posterity. This man was perfectly well aware of all that had befallen Botaniates, and now either by divine inspiration or at the suggestion of the Caesar (for this, too, was whispered, as the Caesar had long been his friend on account of his high standard of virtue) he counselled the Emperor to abdicate. [70] "Do not begin a civil war," he said, " nor resist God's decree. Do not allow the city to be defiled with the blood of Christians, but yield to the will of God, and depart from our midst." The Emperor followed the Patriarch's advice, and fearing the army's insolence, he girt his clothes around him and went down to the great church of God, hanging his head; and in his very disturbed state of mind, he did not notice that he was still wearing the robes of an Emperor. But Borilus turned to him and catching hold of the mantle attached to his arm by a pearl clasp, pulled it off his dress remarking with a sneer and a grin, " Such a pretty thing truly suits me better now!" And the Emperor entered into the great church of Divine Wisdom [# Hagia Sophia], and stayed there for a time. [# His abdication was on April 4, 1081]

Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
Book 7  | Book 8 | Book 9 | Book 10 | Book 11 | Book 12 | Book 13 | Book 14 | Book 15


Anna Comnena (Komnene). The Alexiad. Edited and translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. London: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1928.

Inquiries into the copyright on this text indicate that US copyright was not renewed, nor was any claim filed under the GATT. Barnes and Noble published the text in the US in 1967 with no claim of copyright, and thus under the laws at the time as a public domain work. Correspondence with Routledge (on file) indicated that they had no records whatsoever about the book, including the date of its first sale in the US (putting one copy on sale would constitute "publication" under GATT).


This etext slightly alters the organization and much of the typography of the printed edition.

Page numbers of the printed edition are indicated in the texts by numbers in brackets, e.g. [57].

Some short notes are placed in the text in brackets [*like this].

Longer notes are marked in the text with two asterisks **, and placed at the end of each chapter

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

Paul Halsall, February 2001
[email protected]

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.   Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 5 June 2023