The Alexiad/Book III

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The Alexiad
Anna Komnene
translated by Elizabeth A. S. Dawes

Book III

Chapter I[edit]

Directly the Comneni had taken possession of the palace they dispatched to the Emperor their niece's husband, Michael, who later became Logothete of the private treasure. With him went a certain Rhadinus who was then Prefect of the city, and by them the Emperor was conducted into a barque and taken a short distance to the famous Monastery of the Peribleptos where they both urged him to don the monastic habit. He, however, wished to defer this for a time, but they in their dread lest a rebellion should be manoeuvred by those two slaves and the soldiers from Coma during the prevailing disorder and confusion, urgently counselled him to be tonsured, and he yielded to their persuasions and forthwith assumed the "dress of angels." Such is Fortune's way! At one moment she exalts a man when she wishes to smile on him, and places a kingly diadem on his head, and purple shoes on his feet; at the next she frowns upon him, and in place of diadems and purple she clothes him in black rags. And this is what happened to the Emperor Botaniates. When asked once by an acquaintance if he easily bore the change, he replied, " Abstinence from meat is the only thing that bothers me, as for the rest I care very little."

In the meantime Queen Maria with her son, Constantine (whom she had by the ex-emperor Michael Ducas) still stayed on in the palace, for she was anxious about her fair-haired Menelaus, as the poet says; and her relationship gave her quite sufficient excuse for remaining, although there were some who, prompted by envy, suggested other reasons, and said she had anticipated matters by making one of the Comneni her son-in-law, and the other her adopted son. This consideration alone decided her to remain, and not a reason which is generally censured, nor the attractiveness and affability of the Comneni, on the contrary it was because she was in a foreign country, without kith or kin, or even a fellow countryman near her. She did not wish to quit the palace hurriedly for fear lest some evil should befall her son unless she first received a guarantee for his safety; for such accidents do occur during a change of dynasty. The child was very beautiful and quite young, being only in his seventh year and (I trust I may be allowed to praise my own relations when the nature of the circumstances demands it) in the opinion of those who saw him at that time he was unrivalled for his sweet disposition and his childish grace in all his movements and games, as those who were there with him afterwards said. He was fair-haired with a milk-white complexion, suffused in the right places with a delicate pink, like that of a rose just bursting its sheath ; his eyes were not light, but gleamed from under his eyebrows like those of a hawk's under a golden hood. As a result he affected all beholders pleasurably in one way or the other and seemed to be of celestial, rather than earthly, beauty - in short he exactly resembled a picture of Eros, as who beheld him might have remarked. This was the true reason of the Queen's remaining in the palace, Now I am by nature averse to fabricating tales and inventing slanders, though I know this is a common practice, especially if people are bitten by envy or malice, nor do I lend a ready ear to popular calumnies; moreover, in this matter I know from other sources the truth of the matter. For from childhood, from eight years upwards, I was brought up with the Queen, and as she conceived a warm affection for me she confided all her secrets to me. I have also heard many others discussing the course of events at this time, and they differed from each other, each one interpreting them according to his own state of mind or to the degree of good-will or hatred he bore the Queen, and thus I discovered that they were not all of the same opinion. Likewise I have heard her herself too narrating the occurrences, and the panic into which she fell about her son, when Nicephorus was deposed. Thus in my opinion and that of the real seekers after the truth, it was only anxiety for her son which detained the Queen in the palace for a short time then. I have said enough about Queen Maria. My father Alexius who had now grasped the sceptre came and dwelt in the palace, but left his wife, fifteen years' of age, with her sisters, mother and her imperial grandfather on her father's side in the ' Lower' palace as it was generally called from its site. And he himself with his brothers and mother and nearest male relations moved into the 'Upper' palace, which is also called 'Boucoleon' for the following reason. Not far from its walls a harbour had been constructed long ago of native stone and marbles, and there stood a sculptured lion seizing a bull-for he is clinging to the bull's horn, pulling his head back, and has fixed his teeth in the bull's throat. So from this statue the whole place, that is both the buildings there and the harbour itself, has been named Boucoleon.

Chapter II[edit]

And now, as I said above, many people were suspicious of the Queen's staying in the palace, and began to whisper that the present holder of the sceptre would take her in marriage. The family of Ducas, however, did not imagine any such thing (for they were not biased by current opinion), but as they had long recognized the undisguised hatred the mother of the Comneni bore them, they lived in constant dread and suspicion of her, as I have repeatedly heard them tell, Therefore when George Palaeologus arrived with the fleet and started the acclamations, those in attendance on the Comneni bent down to them from the walls, and told them to be silent, fearing they might join the name of Irene to that of Alexius and acclaim them together. At this George waxed angry and shouted up to them, "It is not for you that I undertook this heavy conflict, but just for her you mention, Irene." And straightway he bade the sailors shout for Irene as well as Alexius. These doings cast dire terror into the souls of the Ducas family and furnished the malicious with material for ribald jokes against Queen Maria. Meanwhile the Emperor Alexius, who had never had any such idea (for why should he?), having taken over the Roman Empire, and being a man of unvarying energy, at once undertook the whole management of the affairs, and began directing everything from the centre, so to say. For he took possession of the palace at sunrise and before even shaking off the dust of combat or allowing his body any rest, he was wholly plunged in thought about military matters. His brother Isaac, whom he reverenced as a father, he made his confidant on all matters, as he did his mother, and they both assisted him in the administration of the common weal; not but what his great and active mind would have sufficed not only for the administration of one kingdom, but several. Alexius first directed his attention to the most urgent question and spent the rest of that day and the whole of the night in anxiety about the crowd of soldiers dispersed throughout Byzantium. For these were indulging their animal passions to the full, and he was devising a means of checking their undue licence without causing a revolt, and of ensuring peace for the citizens in the future. In any case he feared the recklessness of the soldiers all the more because the army was composed of many different elements, and he wondered whether they might not even be hatching some plot against himself. And the Caesar, John Ducas, was anxious to get rid of Queen Maria, and - drive her out of the palace as quickly as possible, and thus allay people's unjust suspicions, so first he tried in divers ways to win over the Patriarch Cosmas, imploring him to be on their side and to turn a deaf ear to the suggestions of the Comneni's mother, and secondly he very sensibly advised the Queen to ask the Emperor for a letter to assure her own and her son's safety and then to leave the palace, and in this instance he used what is called the "Patroclus" excuse. [1] For once before he had succeeded in providing for her, namely, after Michael Ducas' deposition, when he had advised the latter's successor, Nicephorus Botaniates, to take her in marriage, because she came from another country and had not a crowd of kinsfolk to give the Emperor trouble, and he had told Botaniates a great deal about her family and personal beauty, and often praised her to him. And certainly she was as slender of stature as a cypress, her skin was white as snow, and though her face was not a perfect round, yet her complexion was exactly like a spring flower or a rose. And what mortal could describe the radiance of her eyes? Her eyebrows were well-marked and red-gold, while her eyes were blue. Full many a painter's hand has successfully imitated the colours of the various flowers the seasons bring, but this queen's beauty, the radiance of her grace and the charm and sweetness of her manners surpassed all description and all art. Never did Apelles or Pheidias or any of the sculptors produce a statue so beautiful. The Gorgon's head was said to turn those who looked upon it into stone, but anyone who saw the Queen walking or met her unexpectedly, would have gaped and remained rooted to the spot, speechless, as if apparently robbed of his mind and wits. There was such harmony of limbs and features, such perfect relation of the whole to the parts and of the parts to the whole, as was never before seen in a mortal body, she was a living statue, a joy to all true lovers of the beautiful. In a word, she was an incarnation of Love come down to this terrestrial globe.

By use of the above-mentioned arguments the Caesar soothed and appeased the Emperor's mind, although many advised him to marry Eudocia. Of her it was whispered that in her desire to become "Empress" for the second time, she wooed Botaniates with letters at the time that he occupied Damalis and was hoping to be raised to imperial power. Others say that she did not do this for herself, but for her daughter Zoe Porphyrogenita; and perhaps she would have attained her desire, had not one of the servants, the eunuch, Leo Cydoniates, checked her by giving her much cogent advice. What this was it would not be right for me to detail as I am by nature averse to slander, so I will leave it to those who like to chronicle such things. However the Caesar John who had approached Botaniates on this subject with every kind of art, finally settled the matter by persuading him to marry the Princess Maria as I have already plainly stated and from henceforth John was allowed much freedom of speech in her presence. It took some days to arrange matters, and the Comneni did not want to drive her from the palace at once, seeing that they had received so many kindnesses at her hands during the time she was Empress, and also because of the intimacy between them which bad grown up owing to their mutual connection. Consequently many rumours indicative of varying dispositions were set afloat, some interpreting the facts in one way, others in another, according to the degree of good- or ill-will each individual bore her, for people are wont to judge according –their prejudices rather than according to the real facts. During this time Alexius was crowned without his Queen by the right hand of the Patriarch Cosmas. The latter, a reverend man full of holiness, had been elected to succeed the saintly Patriarch John Xiphilinus, who had died on the 2nd August of the thirteenth Indiction in the fourth year of the reign of Michael Ducas, the son of Constantine . The fact that the imperial diadem had not yet been conferred on the Queen, still further alarmed the family of Ducas, who now insisted on Queen Irene's being crowned too. Now there was a certain monk Eustratius, surnamed Garidas, who was building a house near the large church of God, and from this it seems, had gained a reputation for sanctity. He had already in former times been a frequent visitor to the mother of the Comneni and had predicted her son's rise to the throne. She was in any case fond of monks, and in this instance being soothed by flattering words, she daily showed him increasing confidence and had begun to plan his elevation to the patriarchal seat of the metropolis. Alleging as excuse the simple and unpractical mind of the reigning patriarch she persuaded some friends to suggest to him the idea of resigning in the form of advice which they pretended to offer as most conducive to his welfare. But the holy man was not blind to these machinations, and finally he swore by his own name and said, "By Cosmas, unless Irene receives the crown from my hands, I shall not resign from the patriarchate." The men forthwith reported these words to the "Mistress," for thus she was generally called now by the wish of the Emperor who was devoted to his mother. And so seven days after Alexius was publically proclaimed Empero, his wife Irene was also crowned by the Patriarch Cosmas.

Chapter III[edit]

Now the appearance of this imperial couple, Alexius and Irene, was inconceivably beautiful and absolutely inimitable. No painter striving after the archetype of beauty, would have been been able to picture them nor would a sculptor be able so to compose the lifeless material. Even that well known canon of Polycleitus would have seemed to lack the first principles of art, if anyone looked first at these natural statues - I mean the newly-crowned couple - and then at Polycleitus' masterpieces. Alexius indeed was not especially tall but rather broad, and yet his breadth was well proportioned to his height. When standing he did not strike the onlookers with such admiration, but if when sitting on the imperial throne, he shot forth the fierce splendour of his eyes, he seemed to be a blaze of lightning, such irresistible radiance shone from his face, nay from his whole person. He had black arched eyebrows, from beneath which his eyes darted a glance at once terrible and tender, so that from the gleam of his eyes, the radiance of his face, the dignified curve of his cheeks and the ruddy colour that suffused them, both awe and confidence were awakened. His broad shoulders, muscular arms, mighty chest, in fact his generally heroic appearance, evoked in the multitude the greatest admiration and pleasure. From his whole person emanated beauty and grace and dignity, and an unapproachable majesty. And if he entered into conversation and let loose his tongue, you would have realized from his first words that fiery eloquence dwelt on his lips. For with a flood of argument he would carry the opinions of his hearers with him, for truly he could not be surpassed in discussion or action, being as ready with his tongue as with his hand, the one for hurling the spear, the other for casting fresh spells.

On the other hand, Irene, the Empress and my mother was only a girl at the time for she had not yet completed her fifteenth year. She was the little daughter of Andronicus, the eldest son of the Caesar, and of illustrious lineage, for she traced her descent from the famous houses of Andronicus and Constantine Ducas. She was just like some young, ever-blooming plant, all her limbs and features were perfectly symmetrical, each being broad or narrow in due proportion. She was so charming to look at as well as listen to that eyes and ears seemed unable to get their fill of seeing and hearing. Her face too shone with the soft glamour of the moon, it was not fashioned in a perfect circle like the faces of the Assyrian women, nor again was it very long like those of the Scythians, but it was just slightly modified from a perfect round. And the bloom of her cheeks was such that their rosy hue was visible even to those who stool afar off. Her eyes were blue, yet in spite of their gaiety, they were somewhat awe-inspiring, so that though by their gladness and beauty they attracted the eyes of all beholders, yet these felt constrained to close their eyes so that they knew neither how to resist looking at her nor how to look. Whether there ever existed such a person as the described by the poets and writers of old, I really cannot say, but the following tale I have often heard repeated, namely that, if in those olden days a man had said that this Empress was Athena in mortal guise or that she had glided down from heaven in heavenly brilliance and unapproachable splendour he would not have been far from the truth. The most surprising feature, seldom found in other women, was that she abashed the audacious, but by a single glance gave fresh courage to those abashed by fear. Her lips were generally closed, and thus silent she resembled a living statue of beauty, a breathing pillar of grace. She usually accompanied her words with appropriate gestures, displaying her forearm up to the elbow, and from the shape of her hands and fingers you would have thought they were wrought in ivory by some artificer. The pupils of her eyes resembled a calm sea shining with the intense blue of quiet deep water; the white surrounding the pupils was extraordinarily bright, thus giving the eyes an indescribable dazzling and exquisite beauty. This then was the appearance of Irene and Alexius. My Uncle Isaac, again, was like his brother in stature, and not very different from him in other respects, his complexion however was paler, and his beard less thick than his brother's especially round the jaws. Both the brothers often indulged in the chase if there was no great stress of business, but their chief pleasure they found in military, rather than in hunting, adventures. In an attack on an enemy, nobody ever outran Isaac, even when he was commanding a regiment, for no sooner did he see the enemy's lines than he forgot all else and hurled himself into their midst like a thunderbolt and quickly threw their men into disarray. For this reason he was captured more than once, when fighting against the Hagarenes in Asia. This characteristic of his, that in battle he would not be restrained, is the only one worthy of censure in my uncle.

Chapter IV[edit]

As it was necessary in accordance with his promise to bestow upon Melissenus Nicephorus the dignity of 'Caesar,' and it was only right that his eldest brother Isaac should be honoured with some higher title and there was no second degree except that of ' Caesar,' the Emperor Alexius invented a new name by compounding the names of 'Sebastos' [2] and 'Autocrator,' and bestowed upon his brother the title 'Sebastocrator,' making him, as it were, a second Emperor, and exalting him a step above the ' Caesar ' who was now counted third in the acclamations, including the acclamation to the Emperor. Further he ordered that on the public festivals both the Sebastocrator and the Caesar should wear crowns which were, however, very inferior in grandeur to the diadem he wore himself. The imperial diadem, or tiara, was like a semi-spherical close-fitting cap, and profusely adorned with pearls and jewels, some inserted and some pendent ; on either side at the temples two lappets of pearls and jewels hung down on the cheeks. This diadem is the essentially distinctive feature of the Imperial dress. But the coronets of the Sebastocrators and Caesars are but sparingly decorated with pearls and jewels, and have no globe.

Simultaneously, Taronites who had married the Emperor's sister, was created 'Protosebastos' and 'Protovestiaire,' and soon afterwards he was gazetted 'Panhypersebastos,' and then sat with the Caesar. Besides these his brother Adrian was dignified with the title of most illustrious Protosebastos, and his youngest brother Nicephorus, who had been promoted to be the 'great Drungaire' of the fleet, was now raised to the rank of the Sebasti. Now my father was the inventor of all these new honorary titles, some he made by compounding names, of which I gave an instance above, and the others by applying them to a new use. For names like 'Panhypersebastos ' and ' Sebastocrator ' and similar ones he compounded, but the dignity of ' Sebastos' he seems to me to have applied to a new use. For from olden times the epithet 'Sebastos'had been given only to the Emperors and the name 'Sebastos' was peculiar to them, and my father was the first to bestow it on several of lower rank. And if anyone were to reckon the art of ruling as a science and a kind of high philosophy, as if it were the art of all arts and the science of all sciences, then he would certainly admire my father as a skilful scientist and artist for having invented those new titles and functions in the Empire. Not but what the masters of the logical science have invented new names for the sake of clearness, but this man Alexius, the arch-scientist of Emperors, instituted them for the advantage of the Empire and often made innovations both in the apportioning of duties and in the bestowal of titles.

To return, however, to the revered Patriarch Cosmas, of whom we were speaking - a few days after he had solemnised the sacred rites in memory of the hierarch, John the Theologian, in the chapel in Hebdomon named after him, he resigned his high office, after gracing it for five years and nine months, and retired to the monastery of Callias. And after him the aforementioned eunuch, Eustratius Garidas, was put at the helm of the patriarchal government.

Now when his father Michael Ducas was ousted from the throne, Queen Maria's son, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, doffed the red buskins of his own accord and assumed ordinary black ones, but Nicephorus Botaniates who succeeded his father as Emperor, bade him take off the black buskins and wear silk shoes of varied colours, as he felt some reverence for the young man, and liked him for his beauty and his high descent, for he grudged him indeed the splendour of entirely red buskins, but allowed him to have a few spots of red shewing in his woven shoes. Then after Alexius Comnenus had been proclaimed Emperor, the Queen Maria, Constantine's mother, in obedience to the Caesar's suggestion, demanded from the Emperor a written pledge, which would be inviolable by being written in red and sealed with a gold seal, to the effect that not only she and her son should suffer no harm, but further that her son should be the Emperor's partner, allowed to wear red buskins and a crown, and be acclaimed as Emperor together with Alexius himself. Nor did she fail in her request, for she received a Golden Bull granting all she asked. Next they took from Constantine the woven silk shoes he used to wear, and gave him red ones, and in the future he put his signature in red after that of Alexius to an deeds of gift and to Golden Bulls, and in processions he followed him, wearing the imperial diadem. Some persons assert that the Queen had made an agreement with the Comneni before their revolt that these privileges should be granted to her son. Matters being thus settled, she left the palace with a decent suite, to reside in the house built by the late Emperor Constantine Monomachus close to the monastery of the great martyr George (still popularly called 'Mangana'),and Isaac the Sebastocrator accompanied her.

Chapter V[edit]

Such then were the arrangements made by the Comneni for the Queen Maria. The Emperor who from infancy had received a good education and always conformed to his mother's counsels, and was imbued with a deep-seated awe of God, was now tortured with remorse for the plundering of the city, which had taken place on his occupation of it, and brought suffering upon all the inhabitants. For indeed a smooth path occasionally drives a man to some act of madness if he has never in the smallest degree come into contact with rude shocks; but provided the man be one of the cautious and prudent-minded, when such a one has lapsed, his spirit is immediately smitten with fear of God, and overwhelmed and alarmed, and more especially so, if he has undertaken a great enterprise and risen to a proud station. For he is troubled by a dread that by acting ignorantly, audaciously and insolently he may call down the wrath of God upon himself, and be hurled from his throne and lose all he had hitherto possessed. For such was the stateof Saul long ago; when God, because of the King's presumptuousness, rent his kingdom in twain. Alexius was distraught with these reflections and vexed in soul, lest God should make him a scapegoat- for whatever crime had been committed anywhere in the city by any individual soldier- and the rabble which had surged through it at that time had been enormous-he counted as his own and reckoned that it was as if he himself had perpetrated the many deeds of shame. Thus he was wounded and sore stricken in mind; and his Empire and power, his purple robes and diadem encrusted with jewels, and his golden dress sewn with pearl she accounted, as was only right, as of no value compared with the indescribable calamity which had overtaken the Queen of Cities. For nobody, were he to attempt it, could adequately describe the evils which at that time had overwhelmed the city. Even the very churches and shrines and all property, both public and private, had been ruthlessly despoiled everywhere by everybody, one's ears were deafened by the cries and shouts raised on all sides-in fact, an onlooker would have said an earthquake was taking place. All these things Alexius revolved in his mind and was consequently vexed and harassed in spirit, and did not know how to stem the tide of his sorrow. For he was very quick in coming to the right appreciation of any evil deed. And although he knew that these occurrences under which the city had been so evilly entreated, were wrought by other men's hands and minds, yet he was also most keenly conscious that he himself had furnished the pretext for, and the beginning of, the calamity; although again the primary cause of Alexius' revolt had been the two slaves of whom I have spoken before. But even so he attributed the whole blame to himself, and was anxious and desirous to heal the wound. For he felt that only after the wound had been healed and the stain of guilt removed, could he set his hand to the affairs of state, and successfully direct and carry out his plans for the army and military operations. Accordingly he visited his mother, laid bare to her his creditable remorse and asked her how he could allay and gain relief from the anxieties which gnawed at his conscience. She embraced her son and listened to his words with gladness. And then with Alexius' consent she sent for Cosmas (who had not yet resigned his seat), and some of the leaders of the sacred synod and of the monastic body. Alexius placed himself before these men as a condemned criminal, as a humble suppliant, nay, more as a man arraigned before the magistrate and momentarily expecting the verdict which the judge will pronounce against him. He related everything, omitting no offence, or humiliation, or deed, or reason for his actions, but in fear and faithfulness he told everything and earnestly besought them to cure him of his sufferings and submitted himself to their punishments. Thereupon the priests subjected not only him but all his blood-relations, as well as the participators in the rebellion, to the same penances, prescribing fasting, sleeping on the ground, and the other accompanying rites for the propitiation of God. And they all accepted these penances and performed them zealously. Nor would their wives allow themselves to be exempted from these penances (for being very fond of their husbands why should they?) but of their own free will they put on the yoke of penitence. In those days you could have seen the palace full of weeping and mourning, mourning which was not reprehensible or indicative of weak minds, but commendable and a harbinger of that far greater joy which shall never cease. But the Emperor, such was his piety, went even further and wore sackcloth next to his skin underneath his imperial purple for forty days and nights. At night he lay on the ground with only his head raised on a stone and lamenting his faults as was right. After his penance was over, he resumed the management of state affairs with pure hands.

Chapter VI[edit]

He really longed that his mother rather than himself should take the helm of the state, but so far he had concealed this design from her, fearing that if she became cognizant of it, she might actually leave the palace, as he knew she aimed at the higher life. Therefore in all daily business he did nothing, not even a trifling thing, without her advice, but made her the recipient and coadjutor of his plans, and gradually he stole a march upon her and made her a partner in the administration of affairs, sometimes too he would say openly that without her brain and judgment the Empire would go to pieces.

By these means he kept and bound his mother more closely to himself, but hindered and thwarted her in her desires. She however looked towards her last abode and dreamt of a convent in which she might spend the remainder of her life in pious meditation. This was her intention, and she always prayed that her wish might be granted. Although she cherished this hope in her heart and steadfastly yearned towards a higher life, yet she was, an the other hand, perhaps more devoted to her son than most women. And so she wished to help her son to breast the stormy waters of government and to steer the ship as well as possible, whether she ran with a fair wind or were tossed hither and thither by the waves; and her desire to help was the stronger because her son had only just taken his seat in the stem and put his hand to the tiller, and had never before come in contact with a sea and waves and winds of such magnitude. By this metaphor I mean to indicate the very varied and disturbing troubles of Government. Thus her mother-love constrained her and she ruled conjointly with the Emperor, her son, and at times even took the reins alone and drove the chariot of Empire without harm or mishap. For besides being clever she had in very truth a kingly mind, capable of governing a kingdom. On the other hand, she was drawn in an opposite direction by her longing after God.

When in August of the same Indiction, Robert's crossing into Epirus forced Alexius to leave the capital he divulged his cherished plan, and gave effect to it, by entrusting his mother single-handed with the imperial government and by a Golden Bull he published his wishes to all the world. Since it is the duty of a historian not merely to catalogue roughly the deeds and decrees of good men, but wherever possible, to add details about the former and to expound the latter, I will adopt this course, and give the words of this Golden Bull, only omitting the scribe's embellishments. It ran thus: " Nothing is equivalent to a sympathetic and devoted mother nor is there any stronger bulwark, be it that danger is foreseen, or any other horror apprehended. For if she decides anything that decision will be a firm one; if she prays, her prayers will be a support and invincible guardians. Such a woman my saintly mother has proved herself actually to me, your sovereign, even from my immature years, and she has been mistress in everything to me, and nurse and upbringer. For though my mother herself was enrolled in the senate, yet her love for her son was her prime course and her confidence in that son was preserved intact. One soul in two bodies we were recognized to be, and by the grace of Christ that bond has been kept unbroken to this day. 'Mine' and 'thine,' those frigid words, were never spoken, and a matter of still greater import is that her prayers, of great frequency throughout her life, have reached & ears of the Lord and have raised me to my present position of sovereign. After I had taken the sceptre of empire, she could not bear to be dissociated from my work and from interesting herself in mine and the public weal, and now 1, your sovereign, am preparing, with the help of God, for a sortie against the enemies of Rome, and with great care am collecting and organizing an army, yet I deem the administration of financial and political affairs the matter of supreme importance. And certainly I have found what is an unassailable bulwark for good government, that is, that the whole administration should be entrusted to my saintly and most deeply honoured mother. I, your sovereign, therefore decree explicitly by means of this same Golden Bull that, in virtue of her ripe experience of worldly matters (though she utterly despises them), whatever decrees she gives in writing whether the matter be referred to her by the president of the Civil Courts, or by the judges under him, or by any of all those others who prepare registers or demands or verdicts concerning public remissions of fines, these decrees shall have abiding validity just as if they had been dispensed by my own serene Majesty or ordered by my own word of mouth. And whatever solutions or whatever orders, written or unwritten, reasonable or unreasonable, she shall give, provided they bear her seal-the Transfiguration and the Assumption-these shall be accounted as coming from my sovereign hand. And in the mouth of him who, for the time being, presides over the financial department, as also with regard to promotions and successions to the judgeships of the higher and lower tribunals, and with regard to dignities, magistracies and gifts of immovable property, my holy mother shall have sovereign power to do whatsoever shall seem good to her. And further if any be promoted to judgeships or succeed to minor posts, if any receive the highest, lower, or lowest orders of merit, these they shall retain for ever unchangeably. And again with regard to increase of salaries, supplements to gifts, remission of taxes, and retrenchments and curtailments, these my mother shall settle absolutely. And to put it comprehensively, nothing shall be accounted invalid, that she shall order either by letter or by word of mouth. For her words and her commands shall be considered as given by me, your sovereign, and not one of them shall be annulled, but shall remain valid and in force for the coming years. And neither immediately nor in the future shall she ever be called to give an account or to undergo an examination by anyone whatsoever, either of her ministers or by the Chancellor for the time being, whether her decrees appear reasonable or unreasonable. In fine, whatsoever shall be done under confirmation of this same Golden Bull of that no account shall ever be demanded in the future."

Chapter VII[edit]

Such were the words of the Golden Bull. Men may perhaps marvel that my father, the Emperor, should have shown so much honour to his mother in it, and handed over everything to her, whilst he himself, so to speak, took his hands off the reins of Government and whilst she metaphorically drove the chariot of state, he only ran alongside and merely shared with her the title of ruler. And this in spite of his having passed the years of boyhood and being of an age when characters like his are generally obsessed with the lust of power. He did certainly himself undertake the wars against the barbarians and all the labours and difficulties connected with those, but the whole administration of affairs, the choice of civil officers and the accounts of the income and expenditure of the Empire he entrusted to his mother. Very likely someone at this point would blame my father's management in transferring the administration of the Empire to the woman's apartments, but if he thoroughly understood this woman's high-mindedness and knew what virtue and intellect and remarkable energy she possessed, he would leave off blaming and turn his censure into wondering praise. For my grandmother was so clever in business and so skilful in guiding a State, and setting it in order, that she was capable of not only administering the Roman Empire, but any other of all the countries the sun shines upon. She was a woman of wide experience and knew the nature of many things, how each thing began and to what issue it would come, and which things were destructive of certain others, and which again would strengthen others; she was very keen in noting what should be done and clever in carrying it out to a sure end. And not only was she so remarkable intellectually, but her powers of speech too, corresponded to her intellect, for she was really a most convincing orator, not verbose or apt to drag out her speeches to a great length nor did the spirit of her subject quickly fail her, but she would start happily, and also end in the happiest way. For imperial authority had devolved upon her when she was of a ripe age, just when the powers of thought are at their height, and judgment has matured, and knowledge of affairs is correspondingly at its height, and from these management and administration gain their force. People of this age can naturally not only speak with more wisdom than the young, as the tragedian says, but they can also act more expediently. In earlier days too when she was still counted among the younger women, it was quite wonderful how she seemed to have " an old head on young shoulders." Anyone who had eyes to see could have gathered from her expression the fund of virtue and worth that lay in her. However, as I was saying, my father, when he had taken the sceptre, reserved for himself the contests and sweats of war at which his mother looked on, but her he established as mistress and like a slave he would do and say whatever she bade. The Emperor verily loved her exceedingly, and he hung on her counsels (so fond was he of his mother) and he made his right hand the servant of her wishes and his sense of hearing the listener to her words, and in every case the Emperor would agree or disagree according as she agreed or disagreed. To put it concisely, the situation was as follows, he indeed had the semblance of reigning but she really reigned-moreover she drew up laws, administered and directed everything ; all her orders, written or unwritten, he confirmed by his seal or by word-and thus it may be said, he was the instrument of Empire for her, but not the Emperor. He was satisfied with everything his mother arranged and decided and not only was he very obedient as a son to his mother, but he subjected his mind to her as to a master of the science of ruling. For he was convinced that she had reached perfection in all points and that in knowledge and comprehension of affairs she far surpassed all men of the time.

Chapter VIII[edit]

Such was the beginning of Alexius' reign, for to style him 'Emperor' at this time would be scarcely correct, as he had handed over the supervision of the Empire to his mother. Another person might yield here to the conventional manner of panegyric, and laud the birthplace of this wonderful mother, and trace her descent from the Dalassenian Hadrians and Charons, and then embark on the ocean of her ancestors' achievements-but as I am writing history, it is not correct to deduce her character from her descent and ancestors, but from her disposition and virtue, and from those incidents which rightly form the subject of history. To return once again to my grandmother, she was a very great honour, not only to women, but to men too, and was an ornament to the human race. The women's quarter of the palace had been thoroughly corrupt ever since Monomachus assumed the power of Emperor, and had been disgraced by licentious 'amours' right up to my father's accession. This my grandmother changed for the better, and restored a commendable state of morals. In her days you could have seen wonderful order reigning throughout the palace; for she had stated times for sacred hymns and fixed hours for breakfast and for attending to the election of magistrates, and she herself became a rule and measure for everybody else, and the palace had somewhat the appearance of a holy monastery. Such then was the character of this truly extraordinary and holy woman. In sobriety of conduct she as far outshone the celebrated women of old, as the sun outshines the stars. Again, what words could describe her compassion for the poor and her liberality to the needy? Her home was a refuge, open to any of her kinsfolk who were in want and equally open to strangers too. But above all she honoured priests and monks, and nobody ever saw her at table without some monks. Her character as outwardly manifested was such as to be revered by the angels, and dreaded by the very demons; even a single look from her was intolerable to incontinent men, mere wild pleasure-seekers, whereas to those of sober conduct she was both cheerful and gracious. For she understood the due measures of solemnity and severity, so that her solemnity did not in any way appear fierce and savage, nor on the other hand her tenderness slack arid unchaste. This, methinks, is the due bound of orderliness, viz.: when kindliness has been mingled with elevation of soul. She was naturally inclined to meditation and was constantly evolving new plans in her mind, which were not subversive of the public weal, as some murmured grumblingly, but were its salvation and destined to restore the State which was now corrupt to its former soundness, and revive, as far as possible, the almost bankrupt finances. Moreover, although she was very busy with public business, she never neglected the rules of conduct of the monastic life, but spent the greater part of the night in singing hymns, and became worn out with continual prayer and want of sleep ; yet at dawn, and sometimes even at the second cock-crow, she would apply herself to State business, deciding about the election of magistrates and the requests of petitioners, with Gregory Genesius acting as her secretary. If an orator had wished to take this theme as the subject for a panegyric, who is there of those of old times of either sex distinguished for virtue whom he would not have cast into the shade ' lauding to the skies the subject of his panegyric (as is the way of panegyrists), for her actions, ideas, and conduct, as compared with others? But such licence is not granted to writers of history. Wherefore if in speaking of this queen we have treated great themes somewhat too slightly, let no one impute this to us for blame, especially those who know her virtue, her majestic dignity, her quick wit on all occasions and her mental superiority. But now let us return to the point from which we deflected somewhat to speak about the Queen.

Whilst she was directing the Empire, as we said, she did not devote the whole day to worldly cares but attended the prescribed services in the chapel of the martyr Thecla, which the Emperor Isaac Comnenus, her brother-in-law, had built for a reason I will now relate. At the time when the chieftains of the Dacians decided no longer to observe their treaty with the Romans arid broke it treacherously, then, directly they heard of this, the Sauromatoe (anciently called Mysians) also decided not to remain quiet in their own territory. Formerly they dwelt on the land separated from the Roman Empire by the Ister, but now they rose in a body and migrated into our territory. The reason for this migration was the irreconcilable hatred of the Dacians for their neighbours, whom they harassed with constant raids. So the Sauromatae seized the opportunity of the Ister being frozen over and by walking over it as if it were dry land, they migrated from their country to ours, and their whole tribe was dumped down within our borders and mercilessly plundered the neighbouring towns and districts. On hearing this, the Emperor Isaac decided to go to Triaditza and as he had formerly succeeded in checking the enterprises of the eastern barbarians, so he effected this stroke too with very little trouble. He collected the whole army and started on the road thither intending to expel them from Roman territory. And when he had set his infantry in battle-array, he led an attack against them, but directly they saw him, the enemy broke up into dissentient parties. Isaac, however, thinking it unwise to trust them overmuch, attacked the strongest and bravest part of their army with a strong phalanx, and on his approaching with his men, they became panic-stricken. For they did not venture so much as to look straight at him, as if he were the Wielder of the Thunder, and when they saw the phalanx' unbroken array of shields they turned faint with fear. So they retreated a short distance and offered to meet him in battle on the third day from then, but that very same day they deserted their camps and fled. Isaac marched to the spot of their encampment and after destroying the tents and removing the booty found there, he returned in triumph. When he had got to the foot of Mount Lobitzus, a violent and most unseasonable snow-storm overtook him, for it was the 24th September, a day sacred to the memory of the martyr Thecla. The rivers at once became swollen and overflowed their banks, so that the whole plain on which the royal tent and those of the soldiers stood, looked like the sea. In a short time all their baggage had disappeared, swept away by the raging torrents, and men and beasts were numbed by the cold. Thunder rumbled in the heavens, lightning was continuous with scarcely any interval between the flashes which threatened to set all the country around on fire. The Emperor in this dilemma knew not what to do; but during a short cessation in the storm, as he had already had a great many men carried off by the wildly rushing streams, he with a few picked men left his tent and went and stood with them under an oak tree. But because he heaxd a great noise and rumbling which seemed to proceed from the tree itself and the wind was rising quickly, he was afraid that the tree might be blown down by it, and therefore moved far enough away from the tree to ensure his not being struck by it if it fell, and there he stood dumbfounded. And immediately as if at a given signal, the tree was torn up by the roots and was seen lying along the ground; whereupon the Emperor stood amazed at God's solicitude for him. Tidings of a revolt in the East were now brought to him, so he returned to the palace. In gratitude for his escape he had a very beautiful chapel built in honour of the proto-martyr Thecla, at no little cost, richly furnished and decorated with various works of art ; there he offered sacrifices of a kind befitting Christians for his safe delivery, and for ' the rest of his life he attended divine service in it. That was the origin of the building of the chapel of the martyr Thecla, in which as I have said, the empress-mother of the Emperor Alexius regularly paid her devotions. I myself knew this woman for a short time and admired her, and all who are willing to speak the truth without prejudice, know and would testify that my words about her are not empty boasting. Had I preferred writing a laudatory article instead of a history, I could have greatly lengthened my story by different tales about her as I made plain before; now however I must bring my story back to its right subject.

Chapter IX[edit]

Alexius saw that the Empire was nearly at its last gasp, for in the East the Turks were grievously harassing the frontiers whilst in the West things were very bad, as Robert was letting out every reef in his endeavour to foist that Pseudo-Michael, who had appealed to him, upon the throne. This was in my opinion only a pretext and it was rather the lust for power which inflamed him and allowed him no rest; consequently he used Michael as a Patroclus excuse and fanned the smouldering ashes of his ambition into a mighty flame and began arming himself with all his might against the Roman Empire. He prepared' dromones " [3] and biremes and triremes and ' sermones ' and various kinds of freight-ships, fitting them out from the maritime districts and collecting as large forces as possible from the continent to further his purpose. Consequently the young and brave Emperor was desperate, and did not know which way to turn first, as each of his enemies seemed to be trying to begin war before the other, and thus he grew sorely vexed and disturbed. For the Roman Empire possessed only a very insufficient army (not more than the 300 soldiers from Coma cowardly and inexperienced in war, besides just a few a ary barbarian troops, accustomed to carry their swords (?) on their right shoulder). And further there was no large reserve of money in the imperial treasury with which to hire allied troops from foreign countries. For the preceding Emperors had been very inefficient in all military and warlike matters and had thus driven the State of Rome into very dire straits. I myself have heard soldiers and other older men say that never within the memory of man had any State been reduced to such depths of misery. The Emperor's position was, as you can judge, very difficult and he was distracted by manifold anxieties. However, he was brave and fearless and had acquired great experience of war, so he determined to bring the Empire out of this heavy swell back to anchor by quiet shores, and with the help of God to beat these enemies who had arisen against him into empty foam, as waves are beaten when they break on rocks. He decided that first of all it was necessary to summon quickly all the local governors in the East who were holding forts and cities, and making a valiant resistance against the Turks. So he immediately drafted letters to them all; to Dabatenus, temporary governor of Heraclea in Pontus and of Paphlagonia; to Burtzes, governor of Cappadocia and Coma, and to the other leaders. He first set forth the occurrences which by God's providence had raised him to the imperial throne, and saved him miraculously from imminent danger, and secondly he bade them make provision for their respective districts to ensure their safety and leave sufficient soldiers for this purpose, and with the rest to present themselves at Constantinople and also bring up as many newly-recruited men in the prime of life as possible. Next he saw that he must take whatever steps were possible to guard himself against Robert and to try and deter the chieftains and counts who were flocking to the latter's standard. About this time the messenger returned, whom Alexius had dispatched before seizing the capital, to ask Monomachatus for help, and to beg him to forward some money. However the messenger only brought back letters detailing the reasons for which forsooth (this we have already related) Monomachatus could not help him as long as Botaniates still sat on the throne. After reading these letters Alexius was terrified lest on hearing of Botaniates' fall from the throne, Monomachatus should join Robert, and he became very despondent. He therefore sent for his brother-in-law, George Palaeologus, and dispatched him to Dyrrachium (a city in Illyria) praying him to use every possible device for driving Monomachatus out of the town without fighting, since his forces were too small to eject him against his will, and to lay what counter plots he could to Robert's plots. He also ordered him to have the bulwarks remade in a new way with most of the nails that held the beams together left out so that if the Latins scaled them with ladders, directly they set foot on the beams, the latter, together with the men on them, would give way and be dashed to the ground below. He also wrote to the chiefs of the maritime districts and even to the islanders urging them not to lose courage nor to be careless but to watch and be sober, take measures for their protection and be on the lookout for Robert. Otherwise he might by a sudden descent upon them, make himself master of all the maritime towns, and even of the islands, and after that cause embarrassment to the Roman Empire.

Chapter X[edit]

Such then were the precautions taken by the Emperor for Illyria; and he seemed to have firmly secured the towns which at that moment lay directly in front, or at the feet, of Robert ; nor was he unmindful of the districts which lay in his rear. Therefore he first sent a letter to Hermanus, Duke of Lombardy, next to the Pope of Rome, followed by one to Erbius,[4] the Archbishop of Capua. Nay, he went even further and wrote to the princes, and to the various chiefs of the Frankish provinces, and by offering them moderate presents and by promising great gifts and dignities he tried to incite them to war against Robert. Some of these had already abandoned their alliance with Robert and others promised to do so, if they received further inducements! But as he knew that the King of Alamania [5] was the most powerful of them all and could do whatever he liked against Robert, he wrote to him more than once, and tried to win him over by honeyed words and promises of all sorts. And when he noticed that the King listened to persuasion and seemed likely to yield to his wishes, he sent Choerosphactes to him with yet another letter couched in the following words: - " Most noble and most truly Christian brother, it is the fervent prayer of our Majesty that your Excellency should prosper and advance to greater power. For will it not be fitting that he, a pious sovereign, should wish you all that is good and profitable now that he has learnt the piety that dwells in you? For your brotherly inclination and affection towards our Empire, and the labours you have promised to undertake against that evil-minded person, in order to make him, the guilty miscreant, the enemy of God and all Christians, pay due retribution for wicked plots, proves the true right-mindedness of your soul, and fully confirms the report of your piety. Our Majesty, prosperous in other respects, is exceedingly disturbed and agitated by the news about Robert. But if we are to place any trust in God and His righteous judgments, then the downfall of this most iniquitous man will be swift. For surely God will never allow the scourge of sinners to fall upon His own inheritance to such an extent. The gifts our Majesty agreed to send to your mighty Highness, to wit the 144,000 'nummi' and one hundred pieces of purple silk, are even now being sent under the care of Constantine, our Supreme Magistrate and Overseer of dignities, according to the arrangement made with your most faithful and high-bom Count Bulchardus. The sum of money agreed upon and now sent consists of coins stamped with the head of Romanus and of ancient quality. And when your Highness has accomplished the oath, the remaining 216,000 'nummi' as well as the stipend of the twenty dignities conferred, shall be sent to your Highness by your trusty servant Bagelardus, when you come down into Lombardy. In what manner it behoves the oath to be fulfilled has been explained to your Highness already; but Constantine, our Supreme Magistrate and Overseer, will expound still more fully, in accordance with our commands, each of the points we require and which must be confirmed by you on oath. For when the conference took place between our Majesty and the ambassadors of your Highness, the points of greatest importance were discussed but, as the envoys of your Highness said they had no mandate, for this reason our Majesty suspended the oath. Wherefore we pray that your Highness will fulfil the oath as your faithful friend Albert assured me solemnly you would do, and as our Majesty begs of you as a necessary corollary. The return of your most faithful and high-born Count Bulchardus was delayed because our Majesty wished him to see our beloved nephew, the son of the most fortunate Sebastocrator, our Majesty's much beloved brother, so that on his return he might report to you the precocious intelligence of the boy who is still of tender years ; for our Majesty considers external and bodily graces as of secondary account, although of these too he has his full share. Your envoy will tell you this for as he was residing in the metropolis, he saw the boy, and as was right had a conversation with him. And since God has not yet blessed our Majesty with a child, this dearly beloved nephew is to us as a son, and, God willing, there is nothing to prevent our being united by ties of blood, and being kindly disposed towards each other, as becomes Christians, or even becoming each other's intimates like relations, and then in the future through mutual assistance we shall become formidable to our enemies and, with the help of God, invincible. As a token of friendship we are sending your Highness together with the other presents a gold pectoral cross inset with pearls and a gold pyx which contains relics of several saints, each of which can be recognized by the card attached to it ; a chalice of sardonyx, a crystal goblet, a radiated crown of gold [6] and some 'opobalsamum.' [7]. May God grant thee long life, enlarge the borders of thy power and make all those who rise against thee thy footstool. Peace be with thy Highness and may the sun of content shine upon all lands subject to thee, and may all thy enemies be brought to naught by the help of the Mighty Power above who will grant thee the victory over all, because thou dost worship His true name and art arming thy hand against His enemies."

Chapter XI[edit]

These were the measures he took for the Western part of the Empire and next he prepared himself against the immediate danger that threatened; he continued to reside in the capital, busily devising by what possible means he might resist the enemy who were almost at the very gates of the Empire. My history has already told how at this time the godless Turks were living round the Propontis [8] and Solyman, the ruler of the whole of the East, was encamped around Nicaea (where he had his 'sultanicium ' corresponding to our ' palace ') and incessantly sending out raiders to devastate all the country round Bithynia and Thynia, and they made incursions on horse and on foot even as far as the Bosporus (now called Damalis), and carried off much booty, and they all but attempted crossing the sea itself. The Byzantines saw them living fearlessly in all the little towns along the coasts and in the sacred precincts even, as nobody drove them out, for the inhabitants were absolutely panic-stricken and did not know what steps to take. When the Emperor saw this, he hesitated between different plans, and often changed his mind and finally chose the plan which he considered the best and executed it as far as was possible. He had recently recruited soldiers from among the Romans and from Coma, from these he chose 'decurions' and put them in command of boats with some light-armed troops who only carried their bows and a shield, and with others who according to their custom were fully armed with helmets, shields and spears. He instructed them to row along the coasts of the Propontis secretly during the night and to jump out and make an attack upon the infidels at any point where they noticed that the latter did not much outnumber themselves and then to run back quickly to their respective boats. As he knew that his men were quite inexpert in war, he told the rowers to row without making any noise, and also warned them to be on their watch against the infidels who would be in ambush in the clefts of the cliffs. After they had executed this maneuver for several days, the barbarians did indeed gradually retire inland from the seaside districts. On being informed of this, the Emperor directed the soldiers to occupy the villages and buildings recently held by the Turks and to pass the night in them; and at break of day when for foraging or any other reason the enemy generally came out into the country, to make a sudden massed attack upon them, and be satisfied if they gained an advantage over them, however slight it might be, and not to risk restoring confidence to the enemy by seeking for further success, but to retire at once to the shelter of their forts. In consequence the barbarians after but a brief space of time again retreated to an even greater distance. Hereupon the Emperor gained courage, had the foot-soldiers put on horses and given spears to brandish, and made many cavalry raids upon the enemy, and no longer secretly during the night but in the daylight too. And those who had hitherto been decurions were now created captains over fifty and the men who had fought the enemy on foot at night with great fear now attacked them in early morning or at noon, and with confidence entered upon brilliantly successful engagements. Thus fortune now deserted the infidels and the power of the Roman Empire which had been temporarily obscured shone forth. For Conmenus not only drove them far back from the Bosporus and the whole seaboard, but also routed them out of the whole of Bithynia, Thynia and the province of Nicomedia and reduced the sultan to making urgent overtures for peace. As Alexius was hearing from many quarters of the tremendous onset Robert was preparing and of the immense number of troops he had collected, and that he was hastening on his march to the coast of Lombardy, he gladly received the proposal of peace. For, if even the hero Heracles could not fight two men at the same time, as the proverb suggests, much less could this young ruler, who possessed neither forces nor money and had only just taken over a statealready corrupt which had for a long time been gradually diminishing and had sunk practically to the lowest depths ; and all its money had been squandered without any useful result. This was the reason he felt himself compelled to agree to terms of peace after, by various methods, chasing the Turks away from Damalis and its coasts, and further buying them off with bribes. He fixed the river called Dracon as their boundary, and compelled them to promise never to cross it or make incursions into Bithynian territory.

Chapter XII[edit]

In this way then affairs in the East were lulled to rest. On reaching Dyrrachium Palaeologus sent off a runner with the news about Monomachatus, which was that on hearing of Pal.Tologus' journey he had hurriedly betaken himself to Bodinus and Michaelas. For he was afraid because he had not obeyed Alexius' order but had sent back empty-handed the messenger whom the Emperor Alexius had sent with a letter asking for money before he commenced the rebellion he was meditating. In reality the Emperor did not intend to punish him further than by dismissing him from his position for the reason just given. When the Emperor learnt what Monomachatus had done, he sent him a Golden Bull granting him full immunity, and as soon as Monomachatus received it he returned to the palace.

Robert: meanwhile, had reached Hydruntum and after delegating the rule over that town and the whole of Lombardy to his son Roger, he sailed and occupied the port of Brindisi. When he heaxd of Palaeologus' arrival in Dyrrachium, he at once had turrets constructed on the larger vessels, built of wood and covered with hides. And he speedily had everything necessary for a siege packed on board the ships, and horses and fully-equipped cavalry he embarked on the cruisers, and with wonderful celerity he collected from an sides all the apparatus for war, for he was in a hurry to cross the sea. His plan was to surround Dyrrachium, when he reached it, with battering engines both on the land- and sea-side so as to strike dismay into the hearts of the inhabitants and also by thus hemming them in completely, to take the town by assault. Consequently when the Islanders and the dwellers along the coast by Dyrrachium heard of this plan, great confusion fell upon them. When Robert had everything completed to his liking, he loosed anchor; the freight-ships, the triremes and monoremes were drawn up in the battle array of nautical tradition, and thus in good order he started on his voyage. Meeting with a favourable wind he struck the opposite shore at Valona and coasting along it, came up to Buthrotum.[9] There he joined forces with Bohemund who had crossed earlier, and taken Valona by storm. He now divided the whole army into two parts, with the one he meant to sail to Dyrrachium, and commanded it himself, and Bohemund he put in command of the other half with which to march to Dyrrachium over land. After he had passed Corfu and was directing his course to Dyrrachium, he was suddenly caught in a most terrible storm off the promontory called Glossa. For a heavy fall of snow and the winds rushing down from the mountains churned up the sea violently. Then the waves rose and roared and the oars of the rowers were broken off as they dipped them; the winds tore the sails to shreds; the yard-arms were snapped off and fell on the deck, and the boats, crews and all, sank. And yet this was in summer when the sun had already crossed the tropic of Cancer and was hastening towards the Lion, just at the season which is called the Rising of the Dog Star. They were naturally all much disturbed and agitated and quite helpless to cope with such enemies. There was a frightful tumult, for men wailed and shrieked, called upon God to save them, and prayed to be allowed to see the dry land. The storm did not lessen meanwhile, it was as if God were pouring out his wrath upon Robert's insolent and overweening presumptuousness, and shewing him from the very start that the issue would not be successful. Some of the ships were lost, crews and all, others were dashed on the rocks and broken to pieces. 'Me hides covering the turrets became stretched by the rain, so that the nails fell out of their holes and the weight of the bides soon dragged down the wooden turrets which in their fall swamped the ships. However, the boat which carried Robert was saved with difficulty, though sadly battered; and some of the freight-ships with all on board were also miraculously saved. The sea threw up many of the men and quite a number of pouches and other oddments which the sailors had taken with them and scattered them over the shore. The survivors buried the dead with due rites, and consequently they became infected with the horrible stench, as it was not easy for them to bury so many quickly. Now all the provisions had been lost and probably the survivors would have died of starvation, had there not been a luxuriance of crops and fruits in the fields and gardens.

Now the moral of all this was plain to all right-minded persons, but none of these occurrences daunted Robert, for he was quite fearless and only prayed, I believe, that his life might be spared long enough to allow of his fighting against his chosen enemies. Therefore nothing of what had happened deterred Robert from the object he had set himself; and so with the remaining troops (for some by God's almighty power had escaped from the peril) he reached Glabinitza on the seventh day. Here he stayed so that he and the other survivors from the storm at sea might recuperate, and that those he had left behind at Brindisi and others, whom he expected to come by sea from other places, might join him, as well as the troops who had started overland a short time before, the fury-equipped cavalry, infantry and the light-armed soldiers. When he had collected his whole army from land and sea, he occupied the plain of Illyria with an his troops. In his company there was a Latin, an envoy, as he said, from the Bishop of Bari to Robert, and he it was who gave me an account of all this, and assured me that he went through this whole campaign with Robert. And next, huts were put up inside the ruined walls of the city once called Epidamnus, and the soldiers lodged in them by battalions. In this city the Epirote King, Pyrrhus, dwelt when he made an alliance with the Tarentines and began his fierce struggle with the Romans in Apulia. And at that time such a frightful slaughter took place that all to the last man fell a prey to the sword, and the city was left uninhabited. But in later years, as the Greeks say, and to this the inscriptions in the town bear testimony, the city was rebuilt by Amphion and Zethus in the style that it still retains, and its name was changed to 'Dyrrachium.' These few words about this city must suffice, and here I will conclude my third book and continue the tale of Robert's doings in the next.

Notes[edit]

  1. Cf. Iliad, 19: 302
  2. Greek for 'Augustus"
  3. ligh galleys
  4. Hervaeus
  5. Germany
  6. lit. "a thunderbolt bound with gold. Finlay translates this as "a gold ornament containing a protective charm against thunder."
  7. Balm of Mecca
  8. Sea of Marmora
  9. Butrinrto