Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 7 (1897).djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
39
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

lust, was his only vigorous passion; and in the embraces of the wives and virgins of the city the Turkish slave forgot the dishonour of the emperor of the Romans. Andronicus, his eldest son, had formed, at Hadrianople, an intimate and guilty friendship with Sauzes, the son of Amurath; and the two youths conspired against the authority and lives of their parents. The presence of Amurath in Europe soon discovered and dissipated their rash counsels; and, after depriving Sauzes of his sight,[1] the Ottoman threatened his vassal with the treatment of an accomplice and an enemy, unless he inflicted a similar punishment on his own son. Palæologus trembled and obeyed; and a cruel precaution involved in the same sentence the childhood and innocence of John, the son of the criminal. But the operation was so mildly, or so unskilfully, performed that the one retained the sight of an eye and the other was afflicted only with the infirmity of squinting. Discord of the Greeks Thus excluded from the succession, the two princes were confined in the tower of Anema; and the piety of Manuel, the second son of the reigning monarch, was rewarded with the gift of the Imperial crown. But at the end of two years the turbulence of the Latins and the levity of the Greeks produced a revolution; and the two emperors were buried in the tower from whence the two prisoners were exalted to the throne. Another period of two years afforded Palæologus and Manuel the means of escape. It was contrived by the magic or subtlety of a monk, who was alternately named the angel or the devil. They fled to Scutari; their adherents armed in their cause; and the two Byzantine factions displayed the ambition and animosity with which Caesar and Pompey had disputed the empire of the world. The Roman world was now contracted to a corner of Thrace, between the Propontis and the Black Sea, about fifty miles in length and thirty in breadth; a space of ground not more extensive than the lesser principalities of Germany or Italy, if the remains of Constantinople had not still represented the wealth and populousness of a kingdom. To restore the public peace, it was found necessary to divide this [A.D. 1381] fragment of the empire; and, while Palæologus and Manuel were left in possession of the capital, almost all that lay without the walls was ceded to the blind princes, who fixed their residence [Rhaedestus, Selymbria] at Rhodosto and Selybria.[2] In the tranquil slumber of royalty,

  1. [And beheading him. The prince's name, Saudshi, is given rightly by Chalcondyles: Saûzes, but Ducas and Phrantzes give wrong names.]
  2. [A confirmation of this treaty by the Patriarch Nilus (1380-8) is published in the Sitzungsberichte of the Vienna Academy 1851, p. 345.]