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The Alexiad: Book XIII

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The Conpiracy of Aston : The Final Defeat of Bohemond : The Treaty of Devol. (1107-8)


I We were, one and all, astounded at the Emperor's dignified attitude. But although outwardly he pretended for the sake of those present to receive that message with disdain, yet inwardly he was deeply perturbed by it. Then he decided that he must leave Byzantium again and this although he knew that things at home were not going on well for him; yet he arranged matters in the palace and the Queen of Cities and appointed as guardians the eunuch Eustathius Cymineanus, the Great Drungaire of the Fleet, and Nicephorus, called the son of Decanus. Afterwards he left Byzantium with a few companions-and those his relations-on the first day of November in the first Indiction and occupied the imperial purple tent at Geranium outside the city. But he was anxious because at his departure the Mother of God had not displayed the usual miracle in Blachernae. For this reason after spending four days in the same place, he took the return journey with his wife at sunset and secretly entered the church of the Mother of God with a few attendants. After singing the correct hymns and making more than usually lengthy prayers, the customary miracle was shewn and consequently he left the church with high hopes. On the following day he commenced the journey to Thessalonica, and when he reached Chcerobacchi he appointed John Taronites governor of it. This man was of noble birth, had been adopted by the Emperor as a child and served him a long time as under-secretary; he was of a very energetic disposition and an expert in Roman law, and extolled the Emperor's decrees provided the orders he gave were consonant with His Majesty. For he had a free tongue and though he never expressed himself impudently when he found fault, yet he was such as the Stagirite commands a dialectician to be. After leaving Choerobacchi the Emperor continually sent letters to Isaac, the Duke of the Fleet, and [324] his fellow-officers, I mean Ducas Exazenus and Hyaleas, to keep a perpetual look-out and prevent boats sailing over to Bohemund from Lombardy. When he reached Mestus, the Empress wished to return to the palace, but the Emperor compelled her to go further; and after they both had crossed the river called Eurus, they pitched their tents at Psyllus. There the man who had just escaped one assassin would have been like to fall under the hands of another, had not the Divine hand held back the murderers from the deed. For a certain man who traced his descent on one side, although he was illegitimate, from the famous Aronii [*=The descendants of Aaron or Araon, a prince of Bulgaria] urged on the disaffected party to murder, and revealed this secret plot to his own brother Theodore. Whether others of the disaffected were also aware of this plan, I do not wish to say. Anyhow, they had suborned a Scythian slave, Demetrius by name, to perpetrate the murderous deed (this slave's master was none but Aaron himself). They fixed the Empress's departure as the moment for its accomplishment and told the Scythian to seize an opportunity then and drive his sword into the Emperor's side either when he met him in a comer or if he could catch him sleeping. And Demetrius with murder in his heart whetted his sword and got his bloody right hand ready. But justice then staged something new. For, as the Empress did not leave the Emperor soon but kept on accompanying him as he enticed her further day after day, those murderers grew wearied when they saw that the Emperor's sleepless guardian, I mean the Empress, still lingered near, so they wrote some libellous stuff (famosa) and threw it into the Emperor's tent. (The men who threw it were not seen; and the word 'famosa' denotes scurrilous writing.) The writing advised the Emperor to proceed with his journey and the Empress to return to Byzantium. Now the law punishes such libels very severely; for it bums them in the fire and subjects their authors to the most excruciating punishments. But as they had missed their aim, they descended to the foolery of libelling. After the Emperor had lunched and the majority of his attendants had retired and only Romanus the Manichaean and the eunuch Basilius Psyllus and Theodore, Aaron's brother, were present, a libel was again found thrown under the Emperor's couch ; it contained a fierce invective against the Empress because she accompanied the Emperor and had not gone back to the capital sooner. For their design was to secure complete [325] freedom of action. But the Emperor knew who had thrown it, and said very angrily with a nod to the Empress, " Either you or I or one of these here present threw this." At the bottom of the paper was written "I, a monk, write this; at present, Emperor, you do not know me but you shall see me in your dreams." Now one Constantine, a eunuch, who had been the table-servant of the Emperor's father and now waited on the Empress, was standing outside the tent one night about the third watch and singing the appointed hymns when he heard someone shout, " If I do not go in and tell him all you have planned and also all about the silly libellous writing you threw in, then let no one any longer count me a man! " Constantine at once ordered his own servant to go and catch the man who was talking. He went, recognized Aaron's servant, Strategius, bound him and led him to the Prefect of the table. Directly he was brought in, he disclosed all he knew; and Constantine took him and conducted him to the Emperor. But at that moment their Majesties were asleep. However, he met the eunuch Basilius and compelled him to go and report all he had told him about Aaron's man Strategius. So Basilius went in at once and took Strategius with him. Directly the latter was questioned, he disclosed with great clearness the whole drama of the foolish libels, also named 1he man who had arranged the murder and even the very fellow hired to assassinate the Emperor, " My master Aaron," he said, "conjointly with others, of whom thy Majesty is not quite ignorant, have plotted against thy life, O Emperor. And as thy murderer they suborned Demetrius, my fellow-slave, a Scythian by origin, with a very murderous disposition and strong arms, ready to dare anything, and of a very bestial and cruel mind. To this man thev have handed a double-edged sword and given him this Aurnan order that he is to come up close and with unflinching boldness drive the sword into thy Majesty's entrails." But the Emperor (who was never ready to believe such tales) said, " Is it not perhaps because you hate your masters and your fellow-servant that you have woven this accusation? Come now, tell me as much as you know of the truth. For in case you should be found to be lying, your accusation will not be to your advantage." But the fellow asserted that he was telling the truth, so was handed over to Basillus in order that he might give the latter the libellous writings. Basilius took him away and led him into Aaron's tent where everybody was asleep, and there [326] the man picked up a military wallet full of such writings and handed it to Basilius. By this time the day had broken, the Emperor glanced through the writings and recognized that his assassination had been arranged, and sent orders to the governors of the city that Aaron's mother should be banished to Choerobacchi, Aaron to . . . and his brother, Theodore, to Anchialus. This matter retarded the Emperor's onward journey for five days.

II Whilst on his way to Thessalonica, where the contingents from all the various districts were assembled, he thought it would not be amiss to hold a review of the troops drawn up in battle array. In a short time the legions were drawn up in companies with their captains in front and the rear-guard and those who held the middle of the line followed in order, all in gleaming armour (and the array was an awesome sight), and fitted close to each other like the wall of a city. You would have fancied you were looking at bronze statues and metal soldiers as they all stood absolutely still on the plain with only their spears quivering as if longing to taste flesh. The Emperor arranged them in this order and moved them about and made them man oeuvre how they would advance to the spear-side or to the shield-side. Then he separated the newly-recruited corps from the whole army and appointed as commanders over these soldiers the men whom he himself had especially brought up and trained in military exercises. These were three hundred in all, every one of them young and tall, in full physical vigour, with beards scarcely grown and very adroit in the use of the bow and very steady in throwing the spear. They had been chosen from various races and formed a kind of select army within the general Roman army directly under the command of the Emperor as General, for he was to them not only their Emperor but General and teacher as well. From these he further picked out the cleverest and appointed them leaders of their companies and sent them into the valleys through which the barbarian army was expected to pass. But he himself was wintering in Thessalonica. Now, as we have said, the tyrant Bohemund crossed with an enormous fleet from the other side into our country and then poured his whole Frankish army over our plains. From there he marched on Epidamnus in battle-order thinking he might perhaps be able to take it without a blow; but, if not, he would capture the city by means of siege-engines and stone-throwing machines. This at least was his intention. He bivouacked opposite the [327] gate that opens to the East on which there stands an equestrian statue in bronze, and after reconnoitring he began the siege. For the whole of that winter he made plans and examined every comer to see at which point Dyrrachium could be taken. But when spring began to smile, since he had made his troops cross once for all, he set fire to his ships of burden, his cavalry-transports and, as I might say, his military ships. This was partly a strategic movement to prevent his soldiers from looking towards the sea, partly too it was due to the compulsion of the Roman fleet; and then he gave his whole attention to the siege. To begin with he surrounded the city completely with his barbarian army and indulged in skirmishing. (In reply to this the archers of the Roman army shot at them, sometimes from the towers of Dyrrachium and sometimes from a distance.) He would also send out divisions of the Frankish army who would engage us in battle or be engaged by us. He took Petroula and the fort called Mylus, which lies on the other side of the river Diabolis, and other such towns in the neighbourhood of Dyrrachium he received as his portion by the law of war. These things he did by military force; but at the same time he was constructing machines of war, building movable sheds (or 'tortoises') with towers and battering rams, and other sheds- to protect the diggers and the sappers, he worked all the winter and summer, and by his threats and deeds terrified the men who were already terrified. But even so he could not shake the Roman power in the slightest. And the question of commissariat was becoming very difficult for him. For all the food-stuffs he had originally brought in as plunder from the country round Dyrrachium had been used up already, and the sources from which he had hoped to get further supplies were blocked by the Roman soldiery who occupied the valleys and passes and even the sea-board itself. Consequently a severe famine overtook them, consuming both horses and men alike, as the horses had no fodder and the men no food. In addition to this the barbarian army was seized with a disorder of the stomach, apparently due to some unsuitable cereal, that is millet; but in reality the wrath of God swooped down upon this innumerable and irresistible army and caused continuous deaths.

III However, this misfortune seemed light to the man of tyrannical mind who threatened to destroy the whole world. In spite of it he still went on contriving, and gathered [328] himself together like a wounded beast, and, as we have said, his whole mind was concentrated on the siege. First he completed a tortoise with a battering-ram,[*=or belfry] an indescribable object, and rolled it up to the eastern side of the city. And merely to look at it was a fearsome sight, for it was built in the following manner. They made a small shed, fashioning it in the shape of a parallelogram, put wheels under it, and covered its sides, both above and laterally, with ox-hides sewn together, and thus, as Homer would say, they made the roof and the walls of tile machine 'of seven bull's-hides,' and then hung the battering-rams inside. When the machine was ready, he drove it up to the wall by means of a large number of men pushing it along from inside with poles and bringing it close to the walls of Dyrrachium. When it seemed near enough and at an appropriate distance, they took off the wheels, and fixed the machine firmly on all sides with wooden pegs, so that the roof might not be shaken to pieces by the blows. Afterwards some very strong men on either side of the ram pushed it violently against the wall with regular co-ordinated movement. The men would push forward the ram violently with a single movement and the ram thus brought up against the wall shattered it, then it rebounded, and returning made a second shattering. And this it did several times as it was swung several times in either direction, and did not cease making holes in the wall. The engineers of old who invented this thing near Gadira [*=Cadiz] probably named it a 'ram ' by taking the metaphor from our rams who exercise themselves by butting at each other. But the inhabitants laughed at this futile battering of the wall by the barbarians and at the men working the ram, and at their ineffective siege, and they threw the gates open and bade them come in, for they utterly despised the blows made by the ram. "For," said they, "the ram will never make such a large opening by its battering, as the one this gate presents." Consequently this work was shown to be futile owing to the bravery of the inhabitants and the confidence of the governor Alexius, the Emperor's nephew; and the enemy themselves relaxed and abandoned the siege as far as this part was concerned. For the bravery of the inhabitants and their opening the gates to the barbarians and shewing them a bold face had made cowards of them and they abandoned that machine. So the work round the battering-ram stood still. None the less, fire was thrown down from above on to this engine which [329] now stood idle and immovable for the aforesaid reasons, and converted it into ashes. Desisting from this, the Frankish crowd turned its thoughts to another more terrible machine which was placed against the north wall opposite the ducal residence, called the Proetorium. The configuration of this locality was as follows. The Praetorium stood on a hill, not a hill of rock but of earth, and the wall of the city ran over it. Opposite this hill Bohemund's men now bc-an to dig 'in a definite direction. For the besiegers had devised this new mischief against the city and invented a new knavish siege-engine to apply to the town. For as they dug, they went along under the ground like moles boring holes in the soil and in places protecting themselves by sheds with high roofs against the stones and arrows which were thrown from above, and in others propping up the eat th above them with poles, and thus they went on in a straight line. So they made a very broad and long tunnel and always carried away the earth from their diggings in wagons. When they had bored through sufficiently far, they rejoiced as if they had accomplished a great task. But the men in the city were not negligent for at some distance from the other they dug out the earth and made a good-sized tunnel and then posted themselves along its whole strength to watch for the spot where the besieging party would break through frorri their tunnel to ours. And soon they found it, for they heard them knocking and digging and undermining the base of the walls and, above all, their . . . Then they opened up a little hole opposite and when they saw the quantity of workers by means of this peep-hole, they burnt their faces to ashes with fire. Now this fire is prepared from the following ingredients. The readily combustible rosin is collected from the pine and other similar evergreen trees and mixed with sulphur. Then it is introduced into reed-pipes and blown by the man using it with a strong continuous breath and at the other end fire is applied to it and it bursts into flame and falls like a streak of lightning on the faces of the men opposite. This fire the men of Dyrrachium used directly they were face to face with the enemy, and burnt their beards and faces. And the enemy could be seen, like a swarm of bees which has been smoked out, rushing oat in disorder from the place they had entered in good order. Since this labour had also been expended in vain and this idea of the barbarian-- had not resulted in any good, they devised a third expedient. This was a wooden tower, and report says that the building [330] of this siege-apparatus was not commenced after the failure of the devices already tried, but a whole year before. Evidently this was the real work, and the other devices aforementioned were only accessories. Before proceeding I must describe in a few words the appearance of the city of Dyrrachium. The walls were flanked by towers standing up above it all around and rising as high as eleven feet, which were ascended by a spiral stair and strengthened by battlements. Such was the appearance and the defence of the city. The thickness of the walls was remarkable, in fact so great was its width that more than four horsemen could ride abreast on it quite safely. These few cursory words about the wall had to be said so that what I am going to relate now may be clear. The construction of this towering edifice, which Bohemund's barbarians built like the tower of a shed, is difficult to describe and was fearful to look at, as men who saw it told me, not to speak of those whom the horrible monster approached. It was fashioned in this wise. A wooden tower was built on a square base and carried to such a height that it overtopped the towers of the city by five or six cubits. The wooden tower had to be constructed in the wav described in order that by letting down the hanging drawbridge. the soldiers could run down easily to the tower-level of the city wall. And then they thought the natives would be continually pushed backwards, and unable to stand up against their violent onrush. And it really seems that the barbarians besieging Dyrrachium had a very good knowledge of the science of optics, for without that science they could not have measured the height of the walls; anyhow if they did not know optics, they understood the use of optical instruments. The tower was certainly terrible to look at, and when moving seemed still more terrible. For its base was raised on a number of wheels, and, as it was levered along with crowbars by the soldiers inside, it caused amazement, as the source of its motion was invisible and it seemed to be moving of its own accord like some towering giant. It was completely covered in from top to base and divided into several floors, and all around were openings in the shape of loopholes through which arrows were shot. On the top floor stood high-spirited men, fully armed, with swords in their hands ready to stand on defence. When this terrific object drew near the wall, the men under Alexius, the military governor of the city of Dyrrachium, lost no time, but whilst Bohemund was building this machine outside the walls, to be an infallible [331] captor of the city, they built a counter one inside. For seeing to what a height that self-moving tower reached and where they had planted it after taking off the wheels, they fixed opposite the tower four very long beams which stood up like a scaffold from a square base. Then they introduced some flooring between these upright beams and thus made an erection which exceeded the wooden tower outside by one cubit. And the structure was left open all round for it did not require any protection except at the top where it was roofed over. Next Alexius' soldiers carried up the liquid fire to the top story of the open structure with intent to shoot it against the wooden tower opposite. But this idea and its execution did not seem sufficient for the complete destruction of the machine. For the fire when directed against it would only catch the extreme top of the tower. So what did they devise? they filled the space between the wooden tower and the city-tower with all kinds of inflammable material and poured streams of oil upon it. To this they applied fire, namely torches and fire-brands, which smouldered for a short time, then flared up a little and finally burst into tall flames. As the fiery streaks of the liquid fire also contributed their share, that whole terrific construction all made of wood cauglit fire, and made an immense noise and was a terrible sight for the eyes. And that enormous fire was seen for thirteen stades round. The tumult and the confusion of the barbarians inside was tremendous and hopeless, for some were caught by the fire and burnt to ashes, and others threw themselves to the ground from the top. And there was also much shouting and wild confusion among the barbarians outside who re-echoed their cries.

IV This is enough about the gigantic tower and the siege of the barbarians ; and the story must now revert to the Emperor.

When spring set in the Empress returned from Thessalonica to the capital and the Emperor continued his onward journey and by way of Pelagonia he reached Diabolis which lies at the foot of those impracticable passes of which we have spoken before. As he had thought out a new plan of campaign against the barbarians, he judged it absolutely necessary to avoid a general battle. For the same reason he did not wish for any close fighting but left the impassable valleys and roads which had no outlet as border-land between the two armies, and then posted all the most loyal officers along the hill-tops with sufficient forces and thus initiated his new [332] plan of campaign, which was that neither his men should be able to reach Bohemund easily nor letters pass or messages be conveyed from Bohemund's camp to our men, for these are generally the means by which conciliation is effected. For the Stagirite [* Aristotle] says that many friendships are dissolved through neglecting friendly greetings. He knew Bohemund to be a man of consummate guile and energy and, although he was quite willing to accept open battle with him, as I have said, yet he never ceased working against him by every other possible means and device. For the aforesaid reasons, although he was longing for a fight (for the Emperor, my father, was fond of, and long accustomed to, danger, yet ever let reason be his guide in all matters), he was anxious to overcome Bohemund by other methods. For I hold that a general ought not always to try to gain victory for himself by drawing the sword, but that, when opportunity and circumstances permit, he should occasionally have recourse to wiliness and thus ensure complete victory for himself. For, as far as we know, it is the prerogative of generals not only to deal with swords and fighting but also with treaties. And besides when opportunity offers, it is as well to rout the enemy by playing the rogue with him, and this is what the Emperor seems to have been busy about at that time. For in his desire to sow discord between the Counts and Bohemund and to weaken, or entirely break, their alliance with each other '. he staged the following drama. First he sent for Marinus Sebastus from Naples (he belonged to a family of Maëstromilii [*=Magistri militum]; and although he did not always preserve his oath to the Emperor intact, through being beguiled by false words and promises, yet in as far as Bohemund was concerned the Emperor felt confident he could disclose his secret plan to him). At the same time he summoned Roger (a noble Frank) and Peter Aliphas, a man renowned in war who kept his loyalty to the Emperor unbroken throughout. In council with them he sought a plan by which he could so dispose matters with regard to Bohemund as utterly to rout him, and he also asked them who were Bohemund's most loyal followers and most in sympathy with him. When they had told him, he said he must by some means or other win these men over. " And if this is done ' then with their help discord can be introduced and that will split up the body of the Frankish army." This plan he communicated to the men just mentioned, and begged each of the three to lend him [333] one of their trusted servants who knew how to hold his tongue ; and they willingly agreed to give him their best servants. When the men came, he invented the following scheme. He composed letters which were apparently answers to some of Bohemund's most intimate friends and were conceived on the assumption that the others had already written to him, wooing his friendship and revealing the tyrant's secret intentions. So he sent them these letters in which he pretended to offer them most grateful thanks and to be ready to accept their kind feelings toward him. These men were Guido, Bohemund's own brother, and another called Copnsianus, one of the most renowned men, the third was Richard, the fourth Principatus, a brave man who held the highest rank in Bohemund's army, and several others. To these he addressed the false letters. For the Emperor had not received any letter of the kind from the other side, either from Richard or anybody else, with suggestions of good-will and trust; but he alone out of his own brain conceived this species of letter. The object of this dramatic business was that, if the treachery of these men of such high-standing should come to Bohemund's ears, and he believe that they had become disaffected towards him and gone over to the Emperor's side, he would in his perturbation revert to his natural barbarity, treat those men ill and compel them to break with him and then in consequence of Alexius' trick they would do what had never entered their heads, namely, secede to the latter. For methinks the General knew that every opponent is strong, provided the whole tribe is welded and bound together, but when at odds and split into several parties it becomes feebler and in consequence falls an easy prey to those warring against it. Such was the deep conception and hidden guile of those letters. Alexius carried out the affair as follows. He sent each letter to those men by a different messenger with orders to deliver it personally. Those letters did not merely convey his thanks but spoke of gifts and royal presents and extravagant promises, and coaxed them to bear and show good-will to him in the future and not conceal any secret from him. On their heels he sent one of his most trusty servants to follow the messengers without being seen and told him that when he saw they were close to the camp he was to slip past and outrun them and find Bohemund. To him he was to pretend that he was a deserter and had come over to him because he hated being with the Emperor, and while professing friendship [334] and a certain goodwill to the tyrant, he was to accuse those men openly to whom the letters were addressed. Saying that such and such a one, enumerating them all by name, had broken their pledge of loyalty to him and had become the Emperor's friends and well-wishers and studied his interests, and that Bohemund should be on his guard lest they should suddenly commit some violence, long since planned against him. Moreover the Emperor told him that the plan had been devised in order that Bohemund should do no harm to the letter-carriers. For the Emperor was concerned to keep the men he had suborned safe and, still more, to upset Bohemund's affairs thoroughly. And he did not merely say and counsel this without actual effect, but the man mentioned approached Bohemund and, after ensuring the letter-carriers' security on oath, he disclosed everything to him according to the Emperor's promptings. When questioned where he thought they would be now, he said they must have passed Petroula. So Bohemund sent and detained those letter-carriers and after opening the letters turned quite faint and nearly fell, for he believed they were true. Then he arranged that those men should be closely guarded and he himself remained in his tent, without coming forth for six days, debating with himself what he ought to do. He revolved many plans in his head; ought he to call for the constables and openly tell his brother Guido the suggestion made against him? and ought they to be brought to him after examination or without examination? and-another question--whom was he to appoint constables in their place ? For he reflected that, if these men who were pre-eminent for valour, were removed, his cause would suffer great injury, so he settled the matter in the only permissible way (and I fancy he suspected the hidden meaning of the letters), for he met them cheerfully and with full confidence allowed them to retain their positions.

V After the Emperor had posted a considerable number of troops under picked leaders on all the mountain-passes, he further blocked all the paths against the Franks with large piles of timber, called 'xyloclasiae.' He speedily appointed Michael Cecaumenos to be the tireless guardian over Valona, HiericoandCanina. Petroula received as governor Alexander Cabasilas with a mixed body of infantry-he was a man of intrepid spirit who had routed many Turks in Asia. Devra was held by Leo Nicerites with an adequate garrison, and to Eustathius Camytzes had fallen the duty of guarding the [335] passes near Arbanum. From the very starting-line, as the saying is, Bohemund had sent his brother Guido and a Count called Saracenus and Contopaganus against Cabasilas. When some small towns bordering on Arbanum fell into Bohemund's hands, their inhabitants, who were intimately acquainted with all the roads round Arbanum, came to him and explained the exact position of Devra and showed him the hidden paths. Guido thereupon divided his army into two parts; he himself opened battle with Camytzes in front, and ordered Contopaganus and the Count Saracenus to take the Devriots as guides and fall upon him from the rear. They both approved this scheme and while Guido was fighting in front, the other Counts attacked Camytzes' army from the rear and wrought terrible carnage upon it. He could not possibly fight against them all, so when he saw his men put to flight, he too followed their example. Many of the Romans fell in this battle, among them Caras who even from childhood had been received and enrolled among the Emperor's nobility; and also the Turk Scaliarius, formerly one of the most brilliant chieftains in the East, who had afterwards deserted to the Emperor and received Holy Baptism. That then is what befell Camytzes. Alyates, who with other picked men was guarding Glabinitza, went down to the plain, whether to fight or to examine the lie of the land, God alone knows. All of a sudden there accidentally met him some Franks on mailclad horses, valiant fellows, fifty in number; they formed themselves into two parties, one attacked him from the front with a tremendous dash at full gallop, while the others followed him noiselessly at the 'rear: for the spot was marshy. Now Alyates did not notice the soldiers coming behind him but was struggling with might and main against the enemy in front and was quite unaware of the danger into which he had fallen. For now the men in his rear attacked him and fought fiercely with him. A Count called Contopaganus met him and thrust at him with his spear in such wise that he straightway fell down dead. A number of his companions were killed too. On receiving this news the Emperor sent for Cantacuzenus, knowing that he was very skilful in military enterprises. He had just reached the Emperor for, as I said, he had been recalled from Laodicea. As proceedings against Bohemund admitted of no delay, he gave him a large army and accompanied him, when he marched out of the camp, as if spurring him on to fight. When they reached the pass, locally called Petra, he stayed there awhile, supplied [336] him with much advice and strategic plans, gave him useful counsel and then sent Cantacuzenus forth with high hopes to Glabinitza, while he himself returned to Diabolis. On his way Cantacuzenus came to a small fortress, called Mylus' fort, and immediately set up siege-engines and besieged it. And the Romans approached the walls unconcernedly, some threw fire on the gates and burnt them down, while others climbed up the wall and reached the battlements. Directly the Franks encamped on the other side of the river Buses noticed this, they ran towards Mylus' fort. Cantacuzenus' scouts (who were barbarians as I have explained) saw them, ran back to him in disorder and did not inform him privately of what they had seen but began shouting it out from afar and telling of the Franks' advance. When the soldiers heard of the Franks' approach-although they had scaled the walls and burnt down the gates, and were on the point of capturing the fort-they were panic-stricken and each ran off to find his horse, but such was their terror and confusion of mind that they jumped on to each other's horses. Cantacuzenus certainly made strenuous efforts and kept riding up to the terrified men and shouting, "Be men! " or quoting the poet's words "Remember 'impetuous valour.'" But as he could not persuade them, he cleverly stilled their excitement by saying, " We must not leave our siege-engines for the enemy to use against us, but rather set fire to them and then retreat in good order." At once then the soldiers did as he ordered with a very good will, and burnt not only the siege-engines but also their boats on the river Buses to prevent the Franks finding easy means of crossing it. Then he retired a little and coming upon a plain bounded on the right by the river called Charzanes, and on the left by marshy, swampy country, ht used both these as defences and fixed his palisades there. The Franks we mentioned came down to the river's bank and saw the burnt boats, and being disappointed in their expectations went back. When Bohemund's brother, Guido, learnt from them what had happened, he changed his route, and picking out the bravest of his soldiers, sent them forward to Hierico and Canina. They reached the valleys which the Emperor had appointed Michael Cecaumenus to guard, and availing themselves of the nature of the ground, attacked the Romans boldly and routed them completely. For if the Frank meets his enemy in a confined space, he becomes invincible, just as on the plains be is easily captured.

VI Then emboldened by this victory, they ran back [337] again with the idea of attacking Cantacuzenus. But when they realized that the ground where, as told, Cantacuzenus had already pitched his stakes would not be advantageous to them, they grew faint-hearted and postponed the battle. But he had noticed their approach and throughout the night he was busy and transferred the whole army to the other side of the river. And before the sun had risen above the horizon he himself was fully accoutred and had armed the whole army too -, he placed himself in front of the centre of the line of battle with the Turks on his left; while Rosmices Alanus commanded the right wing with his fellow-countrymen under him. He sent the Scythians ahead with orders to draw on the Franks by shooting at them from a distance, and at one minute to shoot continuously, at the next to flee backwards and then run forward again. They set off readily bur accomplished nothing, as the Frank-, were drawn up in close order and did not break their line at all but marched on slowly in set order. When the two armies bad approached to the right distance for battle, the Scythians were unable to shoot their arrows any longer as the Franks rode down upon them at full speed, so they immediately turned their backs to the Franks. In their desire to help them the Turks next attacked, but the Franks did not think them of much account either and fought the more fiercely. As Cantacuzenus saw the Turks were completely overcome, he ordered the Exousiocrator Rosmices who held the right wing with his men to join battle with the Franks (they were Alani and very warlike men). But he, too, after he attacked, seemed to be drawing back, although raging terribly against them like a lion. When Cantacuzenus saw him also being worsted, he took courage as if from some stimulant and dashed into the front of the Frankish line and after breaking up the army into several bits he routed the Franks and pursued them hard as far as Mylus' fort. After killing many of the second rank and also of the higher, and taking a f ew of the illustrious Counts alive, such as Ubus and his brother Richard and Contopaganus, he returned victoriously. In order to present this victory in a vivid way to the Emperor, he fixed several of the Franks' heads on spears, and sent them to him at once, as well as the more important captives, namely Ubus and the man called Contopaganus.

I had got as far as this and was toiling with my pen about the time of lamp-lighting, when I noticed that I was dozing a bit over my writing, as the subject was losing [338] its interest. For when it is absolutely necessary to make use of the barbarian names and to narrate various successive events, the body of my history and the continuity of my writing is like to be cut up into paragraphs; but my kind readers will bear me no grudge for this.

The warrior Bohemund now saw that his affairs were in a sorry way as he was being attacked both from the sea and the land and also that he was in utter want through the complete lack of necessaries; accordingly he detached a fair-sized army and dispatched it to plunder all the towns situated near Valona, Hierico and Canina. However Cantacuzenus was on the watch nor did 'sweet sleep overtake the man,' as the poet says, but with great alacrity he sent Beroltes with a large army to oppose the Franks. He met them and defeated them and on his way back set fire to Bohemund's ships as a sequel. But the fierce tyrant was not at all depressed when he heard that the men he had sent had been defeated but was just as if he had not lost a single soldier. On the contrary he seemed even more courageous and again detached horse and foot soldiers who were very keen fighters numbering six thousand, and dispatched them against Cantacuzenus, thinking that at the very first shout they would capture Cantacuzenus himself together with the Roman army. But the latter always had scouts keeping a watch on the Frankish hosts and directly they told him of their approach he armed himself and the army fully during the night as he was lusting to attack them at dawn. So when the Franks arrived. tired out, at the banks of the river Buses and lay down for a little rest, he surprised them there almost before the first smile of the morning, attacked them immediately, took many alive and killed more. The rest were caught in the eddies of the river and drowned, for trying to escape a wolf, they fell in with a lion. He sent all the Counts to the Emperor and afterwards returned to Timorus, a marshy and inaccessible spot. Here he waited for six days and sent out a number of spies in different directions to observe Bohemund's movements and forward information to himself, so that by knowing Bohemund's doings he might form a more accurate judgment. These spies accidentally came upon a hundred Franks building some rafts on which they intended to cross the river and capture the small town situated on the opposite side. They fell upon them suddenly, took nearly all of them alive, one of them being Bohemund's cousin, a man standing ten foot tall and as broad as a second Heracles. Indeed it was a [339] strange sight to see that great giant, who was really prodigious, held captive by a little dwarf of a Scythian. When sending away the captured, Cantacuzenus ordered that the Scythian pigmy should lead in that monster bound in chains to the Emperor, thinking perhaps to amuse the Emperor. As soon as the Emperor heard of their arrival, he seated himself on the imperial throne and ordered the prisoners to be brought in ; amongst them came the Scythian scarcely reaching to the waist of the gigantic Frank he dragged in chains. Immediately all present burst into a roar of laughter. The other Counts were consigned to prison. . . .

VII The Emperor had barely time to light up with a smile at Cantacuzenus' success before a second, most calamitous message arrived, announcing an incredible slaughter of the Roman divisions under Carnytzes and Cabasilas. The Emperor's spirit did not fail at all though he was smitten to the heart and worried, often sighing over the men that had fallen and occasionally even weeping for some individual. But he summoned Constantine Gabras, a true follower of Ares, a fire-breather against his enemies, and ordered him to go to the place called Petroula to find out by what road the Franks had entered the valleys and wrought such carnage, and to bar this passage against them for the future. But Gabras was discontented and, so to say, worried by the job (for he was a self-conceited person and longed to take a hand in great enterprises). Consequently he sent Marianus, Mavrocatacalon, the husband of my Caesar's sister, a man of very war-like spirit who had shewn it in many valiant deeds and was dearly beloved by the Emperor, and with him a thousand very brave men He also selected to accompany them a number of the servants of the Porphyrogeniti and my Caesar who were longing to fight. However this man too was rather afraid of the task, but yet he went to his own tent to think about it. About the middle watch of the night letters arrived from Landulph, who was at that time with Isaac Contostephanus the Thalassocrator; in these he inveighed against the Contostepbani, namely Isaac, and his brothers Stephen and Euphorbenus, for neglect in guarding the strait-, of Lombardy, and for frequently going off to the mainland for a rest. Part of the letter ran, "Even if you, O Emperor, try to prevent the raiding parties and excursions of the Franks with all your might and main, yet, if these men fail and go to sleep over their duty of guarding the straits of Lombardy, it naturally follows that the ships sailing across [340] to Bohemund and conveying the necessaries of life can do so at their leisure. A little while ago the men who sailed across from Lombardy to Bohemund waited for a favourable wind to blow (for a strong south wind is most useful for crossing from Lombardy to Illyria, whereas the north wind is unfavourable). Then they winged their ships with their sails and boldly sailed over to Illyria. But as the south wind was blowing very strongly it prevented their landing at Dyrrachium, and compelled them to sail past the coast of Dyrrachium. and run into Valona. There they brought their huge merchant-ships to land and thence conveyed to Bohemund the large supplies of horse and foot-soldiers they had carried over, and all the wants of life. And from these they set up a number of stalls where the Franks could buy in abundance everything for their maintenance." The Emperor was very enraged and censured Isaac severely and by threatening him in case he did not do better he succeeded in making him keep an untiring watch. But Contostephanus did not accomplish anything as he intended (for though he endeavoured more than once to intercept the ships sailing to Illyria he failed in his object; for he held the middle of the straits and when he saw the Franks sailing along under a favourable wind with all their sails set and going at a great pace he was quite unable to fight against the Franks and the wind at the same time, as the breeze was contrary and not even Heracles could fight against two, they say; and thus he was driven backwards by the violence of the wind). At this news the Emperor was cut to the heart, for he recognized that Contostephanus did not station his fleet in the right spot and consequently the south winds which favoured the Franks' crossing hindered him. He therefore made a map of the coast of Lombardy and of Illyria, putting in the harbours on either side, and sent it to Contostephanus, and explained to him by letter where he ought to post his ships and from which place he could start with a favouring wind against the Franks who were crossing. He again encouraged Contostephanus and urged him to tackle the work. So Isaac took heart and went and anchored his ships where the Emperor had advised him to. Then he waited for his opportunity and one day when the men from Lombardy were sailing across to Illyria with a quantity of stores, and the right wind was blowing, he caught them in the middle of the strait and set fire to some of the freight-ships, while sending the greater number to the bottom, crews and all. Before he [341] heard of this but had his mind full of what Landulph and even the Duke of Dyrrachium had written, the Emperor changed his mind and sent for Marianus Mavrocatacalon (who was mentioned above) and appointed him Duke of the Fleet and entrusted the Petroula business to another man. So Marianus went off and by sheer good luck at once ran into pirate- and freight-swps sailing from Lombardy to Bohemund and captured fhem and they were all full of provisions. And for the future he was a sleepless guardian of the straits between Lombardy and Illyria, and did not allow any Franks at all to sail across to Dyrrachium.

VIII The Emperor meanwhile was encamped near Diabolis at the foot of the passes, and for one thing he kept in check the men who longed to desert to Bohemund and for another he sent messengers as thick as snow-flakes to the officers keeping the passes and directed them as to the number of soldiers they were to send down to the plain of Dyrrachium. to fight against Bohemund, and the order of battle in which they were to arrange their men for the fight. Most of them were to make an attack on horseback and then ride back again, and to do this repeatedly and use their bows and arrows; the soldiers carrying spears were to advance at slow march behind them, so that if by chance the archers were forced back too far, these soldiers could receive them and also strike at any Franks that came to blows with them. He furnished them abundantly with arrows and exhorted them not to use them sparingly, but to shoot at the horses rather than at the Franks. For he knew that the Franks were difficult to wound, or rather, practically invulnerable, thanks to their breastplates and coats of mail. Therefore he considered shooting at them useless and quite senseless. For the Frankish weapon of defence is this coat of mail, ring plaited into ring, and the iron fabric is such excellent iron that it repels arrows and keeps the wearer's skin unhurt. An additional weapon of defence is a shield which is not round, but a long shield, very broad at the top and running out to a point, hollowed out slightly inside, but externally smooth and gleaming with a brilliant boss of molten brass. Consequently any arrow, be it Scythian or Persian, or even discharged by the arms of a giant, would glint off such a shield and hark back to the sender. For this reason, as he was cognizant both of Frankish armour and our archery, the Emperor advised our men to attack the horses chiefly and 'wing' them with their arrows so that when the Franks had dismounted, they [342] could easily be captured. For a Frank on horseback is invincible, and would even make a hole in the walls of Babylon, but directly he gets off his horse, anyone who likes can make sport of him. Knowing the perverse nature of his followers the Emperor did not wish to cross the passes, although, as he often told us in former days, he was dearly longing to engage Bohemund in a general battle. For with regaid to battles he was sharper than any sword, fearless of spirit and absolutely undaunted; however late events which grievously oppressed his soul deterred him from such an attempt.

And now Bohemund was sorely pressed both by land and sea. (For the Emperor sat like a spectator watching the events in the Illyrian plain, yet with his whole heart and soul he stood by the side of his soldiers and shared an their exertions and labours-or even underwent more, one might say. He spurred on the chiefs he had posted at the heads of the passes to fresh combats and battles, and suggested to them the manner in which they should attack the Franks. And Marianus was watching the pathways of the straits between Lombardy and Illyria, and entirely prevented men crossing from Italy to Illyria, for he did not allow a three-masted boat or a large merchant-vessel or even a light two-oared pirate-boat to cross to Bohemund.) Now that the provisions which used to be brought by sea failed Bohemund and he was hard pressed on land, for he saw the war was being waged with great skill (for whenever any soldiers left the palisades to forage or fetch in other things or drive out the horses to water the Romans at once attacked them and killed the majority, so that his army was gradually wasting away), he sent envoys to Alexius, Duke of Dyrrachium, and began to treat for peace. Moreover one of Bohemund's high-bred Counts, Gelielmus Clareles, observing that the Frankish army was perishing from starvation and disease (for a terrible disease had swooped down upon it from above) consulted his own safety and deserted to the Emperor with fifty horse. The Emperor welcomed such a guest, enquired about Bohemund's affairs and on being assured that famine was breaking up the army and that the Franks' position was really desperate, he conferred the rank of Nobilissimus on him on the spot and repaid him with many gifts and attentions. He next heard by letter from Alexius that Bohemund had sent an embassy to sue for peace. As he was aware that the men about his person were always plotting some evil against him and reflected how frequently they had rebelled, and that [343] he was really more exposed to foes at home. than to enemies abroad, he decided to leave off fighting against both parties with both hands. Accordingly he made a virtue of necessity, as the saying is, and judged it wise to accept peace with the Franks and not reject Bohemund's offers, for he was afraid of advancing further for the reason which this history has already stated. So he remained where he was, resisting both parties, and bade the Duke of Dyrrachium by letter answer Bohemund as follows. "You know very well how often I have been deceived when trusting to your oaths and promises. And did not the divine law of the gospel command Christians to forgive each other all offences, I should not have opened my ears to your proposals yet it is better to be deceived than to offend God and to transgress divine laws. For this reason only I do not reject your request. If you yourself too really desire peace and detest the foolish and impracticable task you have undertaken and no longer wish to find pleasure in shedding the blood of Christians, not for the sake of your own country or on behalf of Christians, but simply and solely for your own gratification, then, as the distance between us is but short, come here yourself with as many soldiers as you please. And whether our respective wishes coincide, as the result of an agreement, or whether they do not, in either case, as I have said, you shall return to your own camp unharmed."

IX On receiving this letter Bohemund asked that hostages from among the noblemen should be given to him, on the condition that they should be free but guarded by his Counts in his camp until he himself returned; for otherwise he would not dare to come to the Emperor. Thereupon the Emperor summoned the Neapolitan Marianus and Roger Francus, renowned for his bravery, prudent men with long experience of Latin customs, and Constantine Euphorbenus (he had both physical and moral courage and had never failed in any of the tasks assigned him by the Emperor) and a certain Adralestus who knew the Frankish language. These men, as has been said, he sent to Bohemund with the admonition to try in every possible way to persuade him to go to the Emperor of his own free will in order to acquaint him with what he wished and asked of him. And if his demands were pleasing to the Emperor, he would naturally obtain them; but if not, then he would return to his own camp unharmed. After giving them these instructions the Emperor sent them off, and they took the road leading to [344] Bohemund. When he heard of their approach he was afraid they might notice the collapse of his army and speak about it to the Emperor, so he rode out and met them at some distance from the camp. They rendered the Emperor's message to him as follows: "The Emperor says that he has not at all forgotten the oaths and promises which were made not only by you yourself, but by all the Counts who passed through his kingdom at that time. And now you can see clearly that your transgression of these oaths has not resulted in any good to yourself." To this Bohemund replied, "Enough of this talk. If you have brought me any other message from the Emperor, let me hear it." And the ambassadors said, "The Emperor who desires your safety and that of the army under you sends you this intimation by us. You are aware that after much labour you have neither succeeded in subduing the town of Dyrrachium nor have you gained any advantage for yourself or the men under you. Therefore if you do not wish to bring about your own and your people's destruction, come to our Majesty without fear and explain what it is you wish and listen on the other hand to our wishes. Then if our opinions should happily coincide, thanks be to God; but if not, I will restore you to your own camp unharmed. Moreover all those of your people who desire to go and worship at the Holy Sepulchre, shall be safely conveyed by me; whereas those who choose to return to their country, shall be gratified by liberal presents from me and be free to depart to their home." Then he replied to them, " Now I really feel that the Emperor has sent me men fit to give and render reason. I beg therefore to be fully assured by you that I shall be received with due honours by the Emperor. The nearest of his blood-relations must come to meet me six stadesfrom the town, and when I approach the imperial tent, directly I enter the door, he must rise from his seat and receive me honourably. He must also not make any reference to our former treaties nor put me on my trial but I must have full liberty to say as much as I like and what I like. In addition to this the Emperor must take my hand and seat me at the head of his couch; I must make my entry with two soldiers and not bend my knee or my neck in the slightest as sign of obeisance to the Emperor." When they heard this proposal the above-named ambassadors would not accept the idea of the Emperor rising from his throne, but dismissed the request as superfluous; not only did they reject that but also Bohemund's saying that he [345] could not bend his knee or neck in obeisance to the Emperor. The other requests they did not reject; for instance that some of the Emperor's less close relations should go a decent distance and receive him on his coming to visit the Emperor for the sake of paying him respect and attention; as also that he should enter with two soldiers; and further that the Emperor should touch his hand and set him at the upper end of the Emperor's couch. After this conversation the ambassadors departed to go to the place where their rest-quarters had been prepared; they were guarded by a hundred sergeants so that they might not go out by night and spy out the state of the army and as a result bear themselves more disdainfully towards him. On the following day he arrived with three hundred horsemen and all the Counts at the place where he had conferred with the aforementioned ambassadors the day before, there he picked out six noblemen and took them with him and went off to the ambassadors; the rest he left there to await his return. The former day's discussions were resumed and as Bohemund was persistent, one of the highest-born Counts, Ubus by name, said to Bohemund, "Not one of us who came with you to wage war against the Emperor, has ever yet struck a blow at any one with his spear. So leave all this talking-you must exchange peace for war."Many words were bandied to and fro, and Bohemund considered it a great slight that all he had asked for from the ambassadors should not be granted. They consented to some things, but refused others, finally Bohemund gave way, making a virtue of necessity, as they say; next he asked them to give their oath that he would be received honourably and that, if the Emperor did not agree to his terms, he should be sent back to his own camp unharmed. So the Holy Gospels were placed on the table and he asked that hostages should be handed over to his brother Guido and retained by him until such time as he himself returned. The ambassadors agreed to this and then they mutually exchanged oaths to ensure the safety of the hostages. Bohemund assented to this, and after oaths had been taken and given he handed over the hostages, the Sebastus Marianus, the man called Adralestus, and Roger Francus, to his brother Guido, on the understanding that, whether he came to terms of peace with the Emperor or not, he should comply with the oaths and send them back to the Emperor safe and sound.

X When they were on the point of starting on their journey to the Emperor in company with Euphorbenus [346] Constantine Catacalon, Bohemund said that he wanted to move his army because, owing to its having remained for a long time in the same place, there was a frightful stench in it, but he would not like to do even this without their advice. For the Frankish race is unstable like that, and turns to one extreme or the other in the twinkling of an eye; at one moment you can hear one and the same man boasting that he will upset the whole world, and at the next he is desperate and bowed down to the very dust, especially if he comes into contact with firmer characters. The ambassadors would not allow him to move the army more than twelve stades and "If you like " they said to Bohemund, "we will come with you and examine the site." Bohemund agreed to f his, so they at once notified the keepers of the passes by letter that they must not make sorties and inflict hurt on them. And Constantine Euphorbenus Catacalon begged Bohemund for permission to enter Dyrrachium and on its being granted, quickly made his way there; then sought out the governor of the city, the Sebastocrator Isaac's son, Alexius, and reported to him the messages which the Emperor had entrusted to him and the other military chiefs who had accompanied him.

For they were not able to lean forward over the top of the wall because of the contrivance the Emperor had ordered to be placed on the battlements. This contrivance was planks specially prepared without nails for this purpose and skilfully fitted into the battlements of the fort so that if by chance some of the Latins tried to clamber up by ladders, they would not stand firmly when they got on to the battlements, but would slip down, planks and all, and fall inside, as I said above. So Euphorbenus talked to the men of Dyrrachium, and gave them the Emperor's message, and inspired them with confidence; then he enquired about the condition of the fort and found that things had been arranged in the best possible manner and that in consequence they still had abundant supplies of necessaries and took no account of Bohemund's machines. After this he returned to Bohemund who had transferred his camp to the place he had chosen, and joining him, started on his way to the Emperor. In accordance with the previous arrangements the rest of the ambassadors remained behind with Guido, and Catacalon sent Manuel Modenus, his most loyal and trusty servant ahead, to announce to the Emperor that Bohemund was on the way to him. When the latter drew near to the imperial tent, all the details of his reception were carried out, as the [347] ambassadors had agreed upon with him. Directly he entered, the Emperor stretched out his hand and grasped his, gave him the customary greeting for kings, and placed him near the imperial throne. Now the man was such as, to put it briefly, had never before been seen in the land of the Romans, be he either of the barbarians or of the Greeks (for he was a marvel for the eyes to behold, and his reputation was terrifying). Let me describe the barbarian's appearance more particularly -he was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit, narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms. And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned and, one might say, built in conformity with the canon of Polycleitus. He had powerful hands and stood firmly on his feet, and his neck and back were well compacted. An accurate observer would notice that he stooped slightly, but this was not from any weakness of the vertebrae of his spine but he had probably had this posture slightly from birth. His skin all over his body was very white, and in his face the white was tempered with red. His hair was yellowish, but did not hang down to his waist like that of the other barbarians; for the man was not inordinately vain of his hair, but had it cut short to the ears. Whether his beard was reddish, or any other colour I cannot say, for the razor had passed over it very closely and left a surface smoother than chalk, most likely it too was reddish. His blue eyes indicated both a high spirit and dignity; and his nose and nostrils breathed in the air freely; his chest corresponded to his nostrils and by his nostrils . . . the breadth of his chest. For by his nostrils nature had given free passage for the high spirit which bubbled up from his heart. A certain charm hung about this man but was partly marred by a general air of the horrible. For in the whole of his body the entire man shewed implacable and savage both in his size and glance, methinks, and even his laughter sounded to others like snorting. He was so made in mind and body that both courage and passion reared their crests within him and both inclined to war. His wit was manifold and crafty and able to find a way of escape (lit. " handle ") in every emergency. In conversation he was well informed, and the answers he gave were quite irrefutable. This man who was of such a size and such a character was inferior to the Emperor alone in fortune and eloquence and in other gifts of nature.


XI The Emperor only reminded him of past events by a cursory and veiled remark and at once turned the conversation into other channels. But Bohemund, whose conscience pricked him, carefully avoided making any objection to his words, and merely remarked, "I have not come to be examined about the past, for in that case I also should have had a good deal to say. But as God has brought me hither, I leave everything for the future to your Majesty." To which the Emperor replied, "We must leave the past now. If you really wish to make peace with me, you must first become one of my subjects, and then order your nephew Tancred to do the same, and to deliver up Antioch to the men I shall send according to the former agreement made between us. Further you must promise to keep both now and for the future all the agreements formerly made between us." After the Emperor had said, and listened to, a great deal more than this, Bohemund, who was still the same as ever and unchanged, said, " It is quite impossible for me to make any such promise." And to other demands made by the Emperor he only replied by requesting to be allowed to return to his own army according to the agreement made with the ambassadors. Then the Emperor said to him, " I have no one better than myself to re-conduct you in safety." And as he spoke he openly gave orders to the leaders of the army to get their horses ready to ride with him to Dyrrachium. On hearing this Bohemund went out to go to the tent assigned to him and asked to see my Caesar, Nicephorus Bryennius, who had lately been honoured with the rank of Panhypersebastos. Nicephorus came and used every persuasive argument (for he was unrivalled in public oratory as well as in private conversations) and finally persuaded Bohemund to give his assent to most of the Emperor's claims. Then he took him by the hand and led him back to the Emperor. The following day Bohemund took the oath from his own choice and in his own way and completed the agreement, which was couched in the following terms.

XII " The former agreement which I made with thy divinely crowned Majesty at the time when, with a very numerous army of Franks, I stayed in the Royal City on my way from Europe to Asia for the liberation of Jerusalem, has become invalid owing to various vicissitudes, therefore it must be annulled and not be held effective since it is condemned as invalid because of the change of circumstances. And thy Majesty must not have any rights against me because [349] of it nor contend with me about the points agreed upon and written down in the same. For since I declared war against thy divinely appointed Empire and broke the agreement, thereby the charges held by thy Majesty against me were cancelled as well. But now as if moved by remorse and like a stricken fisherman I have recovered my sanity and, I might almost say, been rendered more discreet by thy spear, remembering too the defeat and the wars of former years, I come to make this, the second agreement with thy Majesty by which I will become the liegeman of thy sceptre, or to express it more clearly and plainly, thy menial and subject, as thou too hast determined to drag me under thy right hand and art willing to make me thy hegeman. Therefore from now on according to this second agreement, which I intend to observe for ever and so swear by God and all His saints, since with them as witnesses these presents are being written and said, I shall be the faithful liegeman of thy Majesty and of thy dearly loved son and sovereign lord, John Porphyrogenitus. And I will arm my right hand against any who oppose thy power, be he who lifts his hands against thee of the Christian race or a stranger to our court, one of those whom we call 'pagans.' So that a clause which was contained m the aforementioned pact and pleased both parties, your Majesties and myself, that clause alone of all the others which have been annulled, I wish to transfer here and I insist and cling fast to it, namely that I shall be the slave and liegeman of both your Majesties, thus renewing as it were what had been abolished. And, no matter what may happen, never will I disregard this clause; nor shall there be any clause or any means, open or secret, by which I shall be proved to have transgressed this treaty and this present agreement. But since I am to receive a region, expressly to be named herein, in some district of the East by a Golden Bull from thy Majesty, signed by thy Majesty with thy signature in red ink, and a copy of this same Golden Bull will also be given to me, I receive the countries given to me as a gift from your Majesties: and my right to this gift derives force from this Golden Bull, and in return for these certain countries and towns I pledge my faith to your Majesties, that is to say, to thee, the great Emperor and Lord, Alexius Conmenus, and to thy thrice-longed-for son, the Emperor and Lord John Porphyrogenitus, and this faith I promise to maintain, like a firm anchor, unshaken and unmoved. And, to repeat my promise more clearly and to [350] guard the individuality of those who make this agreement in writing, behold, 1, Bohemund, the son of Robert Guiscard, make an agreement with your Empire, and I wish to keep this pact inviolate with your Majesties, that is with thee, the Emperor of the Romans, the Lord Alexius and the Emperor, thy son the Porphyrogenitus, to be thy true and genuine liege as long as I breathe and am counted among the living. And I will take arms against the enemies that may arise in the future against you and your Majesties of the ever-venerable august Emperors of the Roman hegemony. And wherever I shall be ordered by you to go, I shall unhesitatingly serve you with the whole army under me according to your instant need. And all such as may be inimical to your Empire, provided only they be not like the immortal angels and invulnerable by our spears or endowed with adamantine bodies, against all such I shall make war on behalf of your Majesties. And as long as I am in good bodily health and not occupied with any barbarian or Turkish war, I myself in person with the army that follows me will undertake any war on your behalf. But if I am hindered by any severe illness, many of which befall us mortals, or an imminent war requires my presence, then of a surety I promise to send as large reinforcements as I possibly can from the brave men around me so that they may make up for my absence. For my genuine pledge which I give to-day to your Majesties is that either by my own arm or by that of others, as just said, I will preserve the terms of this pact unmutilated. And I swear I will keep this genuine pledge both generally and in particular on behalf of your Empire and your life, I mean your life here below on this earth. For on behalf of this temporal life of yours I shall stand under arms like a statue of iron, wrought by the hammer. But I also extend my oath to the protection of your honour and your imperial limbs and if any guilty enemy plots mischief against them, I will do my best to destroy them and check them in their evil design. But I will also fight on behalf of every country of yours, or town, small or great, and of the islands themselves or, in general, of every land and sea that is under your sway, namely, from this Adriatic sea to the farthest East and throughout the length of great Asia, wherever the Roman boundaries are. And I further agree, and to this God will listen and be my witness that I will never at any time take and hold any country which either now or formerly has been brought under thy sway, nor hold and take any [351] town or island, and, in general, not to take any possession of all those which formerly comprised or are now held by the Empire of Constantinople, be they in the East or the West, except only such as are expressly given to me by your divinely appointed Majesties and which shall be stated by name in this present writing. But whenever I shall be able to subdue a country which once belonged to this Empire by driving out the present occupiers of that country, I am bound to refer the administration of that country to your decision. And if indeed you wish to make me the administrator of the re-conquered country as your liege and faithful slave, so be it, but if not, then I would surrender it without any delay to whatever man your Majesties should appoint. And if anyone else should offer me a country, town or small town which was at some time or other within the jurisdiction of the Empire, to appertain to me, I will not accept it. But all that were taken by a siege or without a siege, as they were yours, shall be yours again, and I shall not advance any plea whatsoever for them. And I will not even ask for an oath from any Christian nor take one with anybody else or make any agreement whatever which would tend to your harm or to the detriment of yourself or your Empire. Nor shall I become the 'man ' of anyone else or of any other government, be it greater or smaller, without your authority. But the one lordship which I promise to serve is thy Majesty and that of thy dearly-loved son. And if any man of thy Empire come to me saying that they have risen in revolt against thy Empire and wish to serve me, I will hate them and send them away, or rather take arms against them. And as for the other barbarians ... if they still wish to come under my sword, I will accept them but not on my own rights, but I will make them swear an oath to you and your much-beloved son and I will take over the countries from them by the right of your Majesties and whatsoever you prescribe for them all, I promise to do unhesitatingly. This then is all that concerns the towns and countries which happen to be under the sceptre of the Romans. With regard to those that have never yet been subject to the Roman Empire, I hereby take my oath that the countries which fall to me without war or by war and fighting I will consider as given to me by your Majesties, be they Turkish or Armenian or as one would say who understood our language, Pagan or Christian, and the men of those nations who join me and wish to serve me, I will accept on the condition that they too will agree to become thy Majesty's [352] men, and my agreement with thy Majesty and the oaths that have been ratified should extend to them too. And if of these your Majesties wish some to be subject to me, let them be so subjected; and those whom you wish to be sent to your Empire, I will send, if they are willing, but if they are not willing and refuse allegiance to you, I will not receive them either. Moreover on Tancred, my nephew, I will make implacable war unless he is willing to abandon his hostility towards your Majesties and free from his power the cities that belong to your Empire. And when, with his consent or without it, the towns have been freed, I myself by your permission will be lord over the towns given to me by the Golden Bull, which shall be expressly enumerated, but the other towns together with Laodicea in Syria all these, except those given to me, shall be attached to your sceptre. Again I will never receive any fugitives from your Empire, but will compel them to retrace their steps and return to your Empire. Further, in addition to what has been said above, I also promise this to make the agreement more sure. That is I agree to give guarantors for these agreements so that they may remain unbroken and unshaken in perpetuity, namely, those liegemen of mine who are going to hold in my right the country given me by thy Majesty and the cities and towns which shall be set forth by name. For I shall arrange for these men to take the most fearful oaths in order that they too will keep their faith unswerving to your Empire and to all the land over which the Roman law extends and acquiesce very strictly in all the things contained in this present agreement. And I shall make them swear by the heavenly powers and the insufferable wrath of God that, if I should ever conspire against your Majesties, which God forbid! O Saviour, and O justice of God, forbid it! they would first endeavour by every possible means throughout a period of forty days to bring me back from my self-exaltation to the fidelity due to your Majesties. This would happen, if indeed it were allowed to happen, when downright madness and frenzy had seized me, or if I had clearly taken leave of my senses. And if I am insensible and unmoved by their advice and madness rushes violently upon my mind, then at last they shall renounce me and utterly reject me and shall be transferred to your Empire and hand and judgment, and the countries which they hold by my right, they shall snatch away from my power and surrender them to you and your portion. And they will be compelled to do this by their oaths [353] and they will keep the same faith and allegiance and goodwill to you as I have agreed to keep; and on behalf of your life and earthly honour they will take arms, as well as also on behalf of your imperial person so that they may not be hurt by any enemy, and they will not cease from desire of fighting for at least as long as they have knowledge of any conspirators or dangerous persons. These things I swear and I call God and men and the highest angels to witness that I will truly compel these men by binding them with fearful oaths to do and work as far as in them lies. Likewise, on behalf of your forts and towns and countries, in a word, all the portions of the countries under your rule, that the West contains or the East comprises, they shall agree under oath to all the points on which I too have made an agreement with you; these things they shall do, be I alive or be I dead, and your Empire shall have these men as your subjects and shall ordain to them all that you would to trusty servants. And those of my followers who happen to be staying here with me now, shall give their pledges on security of oath and their pacts now at once, to your august Majesties, the Lord Alexius, Emperor of the Romans, and the Porphyrogenitus Emperor, thy son. With regard to those of my horsemen and heavy-armed soldiers, whom we generally call 'chevaliers', who are absent, let thy Majesty send a man to the city of Antioch and there those others shall take the same oaths and the man sent by thy Majesty shall tender them, whilst I, I swear this, will see to it that the men swear and agree to keep the same agreement without any change. Further, I agree and I swear, that as often as your Majesty desires me to raise my hands and to organize a war against the holders of towns and countries, which were once subject to the Empire of Constantinople, this I will do and arm myself against them. Bat those against whom it is Dot in thy mind to send an army, then neither will we ourselves march against them. For in all things we wish to serve thy Empire and to let every deed and every wish depend upon thy will. As for any of the Saracens or Ishmaelites who come over into thy kingdom of their own free will and surrender their cities, I will not hinder them nor make any efforts to win them over to myself unless indeed their territory after being subdued by my sword and reduced to extreme straits, should look to thy Empire in the moment of danger and wish to ensure their own safety by submitting to you. But all such and all others who through fear of the Frankish sword and in dread [354] of imminent death call for help upon your august Majesties . . . not for this reason will you lay claim to our captives, but clearly only to those who without any toils or pains of ours, shall enter into subjection to you of their own free will. In addition to the foregoing, I also agree to this; that all soldiers who wish to cross the Adriatic from Lombardy with me, shall themselves also swear and agree to subjection to thy Majesty and shall all give their oaths hereto to the man of your Empire whom you yourselves will send for this same purpose to the other side of the Adriatic. But if they do not take the oath, I will not allow them to cross at all as they refuse to be like-minded with us. And it is necessary that the countries and towns bestowed on me in the Golden Bull by your divinely-appointed Empire should be set out in this writing. They are these:-the city of Antioch in Coele-Syria with its fortifications and its dependency together with Suetium situated on the sea-coast; Dux with all its dependencies, together with the place called Cavcas; the place called Lulu; and the Mons Admirabilis and Phersia with all the country belonging to it; the military district St. Elias with all the small towns belonging to it; the military district of Borze and the small towns belonging to it; all the country round the military district of Sezer, which the Greeks call Larissa; likewise the military districts of Artach and Teluch with their respective fortifications; also Germanicia with its small towns; the Maurus Mons and all the castles dependent on it, and all the plain that lies at its foot except only the territories of the Rupenii, Leo and Theodore the Armenians, who have become subjects of your Empire. Besides those already written down, the military districts of Pagras and that of Palatzas, the province of Zoum and all its dependent castles and small towns and the country pertaining to each. For all these places are also contained in your Majesties' Golden Bull as being given to me by the divine power until the end of my life and after my removal hence, they are bound to revert to the Empire of the New Rome and the Queen of Cities, Constantinople, on condition that I keep unsullied faith and sincere goodwill through you the ever-revered august Majesties to its Empire and that I am the servant and subject liege of itE throne and imperial sceptre. And I agree and I swear by the God that is worshipped in the church of Antioch, that there shall never be a patriarch of Antioch of our race but he shall be one whom your Majesties shall appoint from among the disciples of the [355] great church of Constantinople. This man shall sit on the throne in Antioch and perform all arch-hieratical offices in the elections and the other ecclesiastical functions according to the privileges pertaining to this throne. But there were also parts cut off from the ducal province of Antioch by your Majesties who wished to incorporate these in the Empire; these are, the province of Podandum . . . and further, the military district of the city of Tarsus, and the city of Adana and Mopsuestiae, and Anabarza and, to put it concisely, all that part of Cilicia which is bounded by the Cydnus and the Hermon; likewise too the military district Laodicea in Syria and further that military district of Gabala, which we speaking like barbarians call Zebel, and the military district of Balaneus and Maraceus and Antaradus together with Antarto ; both these are military districts. These are the places which your Majesty cut off from the whole ducal province of Antioch and took them away and joined them to the orb of your Empire. And I am content with what has been given me and likewise with what has been taken away. And I will hold fast to the rights and privileges I have received from you, nor will I lay claim to those I have not received. Nor will I transgress my boundaries, but will remain within those given to me and enjoy them, as long as my life shall last, as has been already explained. After my death, this too has already been written down, they shall return to your own rule by whom they were given for my possession. For I shall give injunctions to my stewards and men in the last expressions of my will to give back all the said countries to the sceptre of the Roman rule without making any trouble about giving them back or entering into any controversies about them. This too I swear and I strongly ratify this agreement that they shall carry out my orders without delay and without ambiguity. Let this too be added to the agreements that whereas with regard to the districts that have been taken away by your Empire from the rule of Antioch and the duchy of the city I made intercession to your throne to grant some compensation and the Peregrini also made intercessions to your Majesty, your Empire had consented to give me in compensation certain provinces and lands and towns situated in the East. These too must be mentioned here by name so that neither your Majesties should be in doubt on any point, nor I have reason to strive for more. They were these; the province of the whole land of Casiotis, whose capital is Berroea, called Chalep in the barbarian tongue; [356] the province of Lapara and all the small towns belonging to it, namely Plasta, the castle of Chonium, Romaïna, the castle Aramisus, the small town of Ameras, the castle of Sarbanus, the fort of Telchampson; with these also the three Tilia, Sthlabotilin, and the two others, the fort Sgenin and the castle Caltzierin; as well as also these towns, Commermceri and the other called Cathismatin, and Sarsapin and the small town, Necran. These are all situated in Hither-Syria. The other provinces are in Mespotamia, situated somewhere near the town of Edessa, namely, the province of Limnii and the province of Etus with all their respective fortifications. These points about Edessa must not be left unmentioned, nor the yearly talent assigned to me by your divinely guarded Empire. I mean the two hundred pounds of the coinage of the Emperor Michael. In addition to all these there has been given to me by the sacrosanct Golden Bull of your Majesties the duchy of . . .[*=perhaps "of Edessa"] in its entirety with all the forts and lands pertaining thereto, and this ducal dignity is not confined to my person alone; for permission is given me by the same sacrosanct Golden Bull to bequeath it to whomsoever I myself may desire, that is, if he also is willing to bow to your Majesties' commands and wishes as being the liegeman of the same Empire and the same kingdom and being of the same will and agreement with you, as I was.

And from henceforth, when once I have become your man' and belong to the circle of your Empire, it is my right to receive as yearly gift from the imperial treasury two hundred talents of money of the right quality and bearing the impress of the former Emperor, the Lord Michael, and they shall be sent to me by an envoy of mine from Syria who will also bear letters to you to the Queen of Cities in order that he may receive these monies for our person. And you on your side, you the ever-revered Majesties, the Sebasti and Augusti of the Roman Empire will observe, I presume, all that is written in this Golden Bull of your pious Maj esties and keep its promises. I on my side by this my oath do ratify all the agreements made by me with you. For I swear by the passion of Christ, our passionless Saviour, and by His unconquerable Cross, which He endured for the salvation of all men, and on these all-holy Gospels, which lie before me, which have brought the whole world into their net; holding them in my hand, and in my spirit, I include with them the most precious cross of Christ and His crown of thorns and the [357] nails and the lance which pierced His divine and life-giving side, I swear to thee, our most powerful and holy Emperor, the Lord Alexius Comnenus, and to thy fellow-Emperor, the much-desired Lord John Porphyrogenitus that I will observe all the conditions to which I have agreed and spoken by my mouth and will keep them inviolate for all time and the things that are for the good of your Empire I care for now and will for ever care for and I will never harbour even the slightest thought of hatred or treachery towards you, but will abide by the agreements here made by me and not in any way whatsoever will I be false in my oaths to you or try to annul my promises nor will I think upon anything that tends to war, neither I myself nor any of those who are with me and under my jurisdiction and form the body of my soldiers. But on behalf of . . . and against thine enemies we will don our corselets and take arms and spears and to thy friends we will give our right hands; and everything that is for the benefit and honour of the Roman rule that I will both think of and execute. Thus may I enjoy the help of God, and of the Cross and of the holy Gospels.

These things were written and the oaths were completed in the presence of the witnesses whose names are signed below in the month of September in the second Indiction of the year then drawing to its close, six thousand six hundred and seventeen. [*=6617 of the Byzantine Era - 1109 A.D.]

But the witnesses who were present and have signed below, before whom these things were done, are as follows; the bishops most dear to God, the bishop Mavros of Amalfi and Renardus of Tarentum and the clerics with him; the most reverend abbot of the holy monastery of St. Andrew in Lombardy which stands on the island of Brindisi; and two monks of the same; the chief men of the Peregrini who made their marks below with their own hands, and whose names were written against their marks by the hand of the bishop of Amalfi most dear to God, who had come to the Emperor as ambassador from the Pope.[*=then Pascal II] Those of the imperial court were: the Sebastus Marianus, Roger the son of Tacupertus [*=Dagobertus], Peter Aliphas, Gelielmus Ganze, Richard Printzitas, Iosphre Male [*=probably Geoffroi de Mailli], Hubert the son of Raoul, Paul the Roman, the envoys who had come from Dacia from the Cral [*= the Prince of Bulgaria], the Queen's relation, Zupanus Peres and Simon and the envoys of Riscardus [358] Siniscardus, the Nobilissimus Basilius, a eunuch, and the notary Constantine."

This oath, then, put down in writing the Emperor received from Bohemund, and in return he gave him the above-mentioned Golden Bull signed in red ink, as was the custom, by the imperial right hand.

Complete Text | Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6 |
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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

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Paul Halsall, February 2001
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