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THEOPHANO



THEOPHANO

XTbe Crusabe of tbc Zcntb Centura

«

A ROMANTIC MONOGRAPH



BY

FREDERIC HARRISON, M.A,

VICE-PILESIDENT OF THE ROYAL HISTORICAL SOUETY



LONDON
CHAPMAN AND HALL, Ld.

1904

[All rights reserved]






To
J. B. BURY, LiTT.D., LL.D., etc.

REGIUS PROFESSOR OF MODERN HISTORY IN
THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

5s inscribcD

THIS MONOGRAPH IN BYZANTINE HISTORY

THE STUDY OF WHICH HE HAS

SO GREATLY INSPIRED

AND

ENLARGED



Rcr^^' 1



CONTENTS



CHAP. PAGE

I. THE BOY BASILEUS . . . . .1

II. THE WARDEN OF THE EASTERN MARCH . . II

III. THE BETROTHAL . . . . . l8

IV. THE YOUNG AUGUSTA . . . . 24
V. THE DYING EMPEROR . . . . -3^

VI. THE CORONATION ..... 39

VII. THE CONFESSION . . . . -52

VIII. THE SACRED PALACE .... 59

IX. THE MUSTER OF THE CRUSADE . . -72

X. THE CONQUEST OF CRETE . . . . 87

XI. THE STORMING OF CHANDAX .... lOO

XII. DIGENES AND FATIMA : ROMAN OR SARACEN . #112

XIII. THE CALIPH OF THE WEST . . . . I24

XIV. THE CONQUEST OF ALEPPO . . . 136
XV. EMPRESS AND CHAMBERLAIN . . . . 148

XVI. C^SAR AT THE RUBICON .... 162

XVII. THE NEW BASILEUS . . . . . 170

XVIII. EMPEROR AND PATRIARCH . . . 1 79

XIX. THE SARACEN PERIL . . . . . I90

XX. AN emperor's DAY .... 200

XXI. ISLAM AND CROSS . . . . .212

XXII. THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES . . . 223

XXIII. THE MARCH ON ANTIOCH .... 235

vii



Contents



CHAP. PAGE

XXIV. LOVE AND FALSEHOOD .... 250

XXV. LOVE AND TROTH .... 259

XXVL OLD ROME . . . . , .266

XXVn. OLD ROME AND NEW ROME — RIVALS IN EMPIRE 280

XXVIII. BASILEUS IN COUNCIL .... 289

XXIX. THE RISING STORM .... 299

XXX. THE LAST CAMPAIGN ..... 308

XXXI. THE LAST AGONY .... 316



XXXII. CLYTEMNESTRA



325



XXXIII. RETRIBUTION ..... 335

NOTES ...... 338



VUl



THEOPHANO:

THE CRUSADE OF THE TENTH CENTURY



CHAPTER I

■» THE BOY BASILEUS

Towards the close of the long reign of Constantine Porphyro-
gennetus, seventh of that historic name, a hunting party from
the royal capital of Constantinople was occupied in chasing the
wild boar on the slopes of Mount Damatrys on the Asian side
of the Bosphorus. This mountain, now called Bulgarlu, lay a
few miles eastwards of Chrysopolis, the modern town of Scutari,
opposite the Golden Horn. In the middle of the tenth century
of our era, when this story opens, the view from the mountain
on the Asian side of the Bosphorus was indeed very different
from that which delights the traveller to-day, but it was not less
beautiful in its exquisite union of wood, sea, rocky headland,
stately towers, and domes.

The sun was just rising over the eastern hills in a •fresh
morning of spring — it was the year of our Lord 956 — when a
body of huntsmen, some on foot, and some on mountain ponies,
were seen hastily emerging from the dense copses of the forest
in the early dawn. Clothed in short leather jerkins and banded
leggings, with close skull-caps, some carried lances, some bows
and arrows : three held in leash powerful hounds, and others
were bearing stout nets and poles. They were evidently return-
ing home in haste and with anxiety painted in all their move-
ments. A mounted man of some authority now pushed his way
to the front and bade them seek for the nearest house where
help and shelter could be obtained. Coming at last to a half-
ruined woodman's hut, he struck his hunting-spear thrice
against the rude door of the hovel, and imperiously asked if
any man was within. A scared, half-clothed old man un-.olted

B



Theophano



the entrance, and stood with bare head, trembling before his
questioner.

"Which is the nearest house wherein a wounded man can be
sheltered, and who in this place has any art in staunching a
flow of blood ? " called out the horseman.

*' Saint Michael save us ! " cried the old dotard, " has fighting
begun in sight of the Sacred Palace itself? "

"Tush, old fool, there has been a hunting accident, and a
noble youth is now bleeding to death. Where, I ask again, can
we find him shelter and a leech ? "

" The house there of Craterus, the Laconian, at the first turn
of the path below sometimes gives shelter and accommodation
to belated travellers at need," quavered the terrified hind.
" And his daughter has a gift for tending poor folk in sickness,
and has been known to set a bone and bind up a broken head."

As he spoke, a small party of men in hunting garb emerged
from the dense copse and cautiously descended the mountain
path. They were bearing some burden in a rude litter, formed
out of the stout poles and heavy net used to entangle the wild
boar in the run from his lair. As they came down, it was seen
that their charge was a tall and graceful youth, half wrapped in
his hunting cloak, deeply smeared with blood. He was not
dead, but ghastly pale and almost insensible. His beautiful
head, that might have served for a marble Antinous, lay
white and motionless on a pillow of purple silk. On each
side of him rode a horseman of noble bearing and athletic
frame, both turning their eyes with a look of anxiety and pain
from the fainting youth to each other, and then looking out
along the path beyond. Close beside the litter walked another
man, grasping with all his force the thigh of the wounded youth,
and striving to staunch the blood that oozed from it with a
folded cloth.

Guided by the horseman in front they soon reached the house
of Craterus, whom they succeeded in rousing from his bed with
his household. It was a long, rambling edifice of no pretension
without, but with an air of space and comfort within that no
chance visitor would suspect. Craterus led the bearers and
attendants to a spacious chamber in the rear of the house,
where the youth was laid softly on a couch, and the old man
bade his servants to summon his daughter and her maid with
bandages to bind a wound. The master himself, with his
snow-white beard, his delicate features, and lofty forehead, might

2



The Boy Basileus



have stood for some bust of an Attic poet, had not his singularly
handsome face been marred by keen, roving-, and somewhat
sinister eyes. With fox-like glances he scrutinised the youth
and his companions, whilst actively busying himself with all that
he could devise to save the sufferer's life.

At this moment there entered a girl closely veiled and shrouded
in a long, loose wrapper, attended by her old nurse and a younger
maid, bearing bandages and surgical appliances of a simple
kind. The girl herself was so much concealed by her draperies
that little of her could be seen, except some mysterious beauty
like that of the veiled Isis ; for her full wimple betrayed nothing
but the perfect features of a Greek goddess, with lustrous eyes
of deep sapphire. The old nurse removed the coverings from
the limb of the youth, as he lay white and unconscious from loss
of blood. Her trained hands laid bare the wounded thigh and
leg which, but for the gash caused by the tusk of the boar, was
of the faultless symmetry we see in the Hermes of Olympia,
even as it left the chisel of Praxiteles. The maiden bent over
him in pity and tenderness. They formed a group as if it were
Aphrodite as she hung over the wounded Adonis. The nurse,
directed by her, and aided by the nervous arm of the attendant,
whose thumb so long had closed the wound, succeeded in pass-
ing a rude but effective tourniquet round the femoral artery, and
having checked the pumping of the blood downwards, they
dexterously bandaged the gaping wound.

A breathless silence ensued as they stood around with restora-
tives and strong scents and endeavoured to restore consciousness
to the youth. At last a faint tinge of colour returned to the
marble cheeks, and his lips moved again in inaudible murmurs.
Craterus moistened his mouth with a draught of strong Samian
wine, in which he had mixed some aromatic spices of the East.
With a prolonged sigh at length the boy again opened his eyes ;
and a faint smile played round his blanched lips as he murmured :
"Let not my father know, but carry me to my own lodgings
before the news be abroad."

Slowly the wine and drugs that Craterus administered in
measured sips began to tell on the splendid constitution of the
athletic youth, who was in the highest training of body. He
held low converse with his two chief attendants whilst Craterus,
his daughter, and her women withdrew to the end of the
chamber. " Where am I ? Who are these? Whither are you
bearing me ? " he asked in a faint whisper ; and, turning his

3



Theophano



head, he perceived the master of the house and the women
behind him. Then the young sufferer's eye caught sight of the
veiled girl, whose close draperies seemed but to increase the
grace of her figure. He saw her lustrous eyes beaming on him
as he lay, in pity, wonder, and admiration. In all his wander-
ings after beauty, he had never in his life beheld such eyes.
The fire, the passion, the profound mysteries they betrayed shot
down to the marrow of his bones, and he sank back amazed and
thrilled ; exhausted with the spasm of enjoyment it had caused
him. " Let me thank her who has dragged me from the jaws
of death," he murmured ; and with a feeble sign of his out-
stretched finger, as if he had been summoning a slave, he
beckoned to the girl to approach.

He took her fingers in both of his own weak, cold hands ;
and, looking into her eyes with rapture, he said: "Who art
thou that hast saved me ? Is it some angel that follows Our
Lady in heaven above, or rather, I think, an Oread from the
train of our Huntress Artemis. Complete my cure, and restore
me to manhood by bending down and kissing me, as our poets
say Artemis on Latmos would kiss her Endymion." And he
drew her down till her lips almost touched his ; and, before she
could speak, he had slipped a ring into her hand, whispering :
" Yes ! we shall meet again ! "

Craterus, who had not observed this scene, now advanced
to his daughter, saying, " Anastasia, my child, withdraw now
to your chamber with your nurse ; you may safely leave the
wounded youth to us, and we will send for you if need arise
again." In fact, the potions of Craterus and the bandages of
his daughter were now doing so much to restore the strength
of the young patient, that his companions agreed with the old
man that all immediate danger to life was passed, and that he
might safely be transported home by water. The patient him-
self insisted — and that in a tone of imperious command — that
he should be forthwith carried to his barge and conveyed across
the Bosphorus to Constantinople before the city was astir, or
rumours of his accident were bruited abroad. With great care
and adroitness the bandages were again tightened over his
thigh ; he was supplied with fresh restoratives and draughts of
wine, and carried to the shore in the litter constructed out of the
hunting net and poles.

As the party descended the hillside, it was closely watched by
inquiring eyes from the house into which it had entered so

4



The Boy Basileus



suddenly and with so much mystery. Neither Craterus nor any
of his people had been able to learn the name or rank of the
young huntsman, notwithstanding all their inquiries and the most
curious search. All they knew was that some young sportsmen
from Constantinople had arrived in a barge the evening before,
and had spent the night in the mountain forest in pursuit of
wild boar. Just before dawn the pony of one of the hunters had
fallen in a hole and thrown its rider, who had been deeply gashed
by the boar, even in the act of spearing the brute to death.
Neither names nor particulars of the party could be obtained,
but suitable rewards had been left for the help and accommoda-
tion afforded them.

Breathless, behind the wooden lattice-work that formed the
blind of her chamber, Anastasia watched the litter as it was
borne down the path, and she fancied that she caught sight of a
kiss wafted towards her window, when the fingers of the help-
less youth were faintly raised to his lips. From his own door-
step, also, Craterus saw the cavalcade disappear ; and, as his
fox-like eyes watched every detail of their dress and trappings,
he shook his head and murmured that " It might bring him
good, but it was wiser to keep silence and be careful what he
did." As he slowly withdrew to an inner room he found his
daughter waiting for him with eager looks, and ready to ply
him with questions and suggestions. "Who was the wounded
youth ? — what did her father think he could be ? — how came
they to bring him to this house? — what did they say when they
left? " These, and such questionings, the girl poured upon her
father, who showed little inclination to answer her inquiries,
even if he had known more than he did.

'* Nay, my child, I have no means of satisfying your curio-
sity. They somewhat peremptorily declined to give me any
kind of information, bidding our servants keep silence as to their
visit on pain of some harm to them if they pressed their inquiries.
They told me that the youth was a gallant of the city, whose
accident was not to be made known lest it should alarm his
parents, and they might prevent his following such dangerous
sports."

"And why, my dear father, may I ask, why were you in such
haste to bid me leave the chamber, even whilst the fair youth
was still in need of our skill and comfort ? We would gladly do
our best for so gentle and comely a patient."

"Gentle and comely enough, my child, I do not deny, but

5



Theophano



you must try to forget him and his accident ; for certain it is
that you will never see him again, nor know his name or his
rank."

" I am not so sure of that," she murmured softly to herself,
as she fingered the precious ring which her father had failed to
see given when she had stooped over the youth on his couch.

The keen eyes of the old man had noticed an expression on
his daughter's face, and he rejoined in an impressive tone,
" Anastasia, my only child, and dearest hope, I charge you to
remember what we are now, and whence we came. This youth,
for all his gentleness of speech, is proud and wild. He is evi-
dently some slip of a wealthy, perhaps of a noble family, and
since he conceals his name and rank there is a mystery, if not a
mischief, in his life. Be he what he may, he is wholly beyond
our sphere. We shall never fall again in his way, and he would
treat us with contempt if we did."

"Father," said the girl proudly, her luminous eyes aglow,
"have you not often told me of the race we spring from, and
of the blood of heroes that I inherit from my sainted mother?"

"True is it, Anastasia, O thou glorified image of my dear
departed wife, thou hast, indeed, the blood of kings of Lace-
dsemon in thy veins, as thou renewest the beauty of the god-
desses of Greece. Fallen as I am now in estate, despoiled of
my patrimony by the corsairs of Saracens from Africa, I cannot
forget that I was born of noble race and am the equal of those
minions there across the strait. In wedding your mother I rose
to a height above them. She came from Lacedaemon, and could
trace descent from the ancient kings of Sparta. Crushed, plun-
dered, and slain, as we have been for a thousand years by
Romans, by Goths, by Armenians, Slavonians, and Isaurians,
we have maintained the purity of our blood. Cherish it in thy
memor}', my child, that my Anastasia comes of the royal stock
which produced such heroes as Lycurgus, Leonidas, Agesilaos,
and Lysander. When I laid thy mother to rest in the last
remnant of her paternal estate by the banks of Eurotas, I swore
by the Mother of God that I would keep her daughter worthy
of her and worthy of the heroes from whom both were sprung.
Have I not done so, my child, have I not taught thee to hold
thyself higher than these barbarians of Thrace and Anatolia?
Nay, have I not taught thee to distrust the whining of their
dirty priests and crazy hermits, and to cherish the purer fancies
of our older faith, the inspiration of Apollo, the insight of

6



The Boy Basileus



Athene, the grace of Aphrodite ? Thou knowest also the inner
meaning- of these primaeval creeds as expounded in the mysteries
of Mithras and the Phrygian Mother."

"Would that thou hadst sworn by the Pallas of the Parthe-
non," his daughter broke in, "rather than by these idols wor-
shipped by the mobs in the city. But am I not worthy then to
mate v^ith the son of the Autocrator himself, if Athene were to
turn his eyes upon me so that he desired me for his wife? "

" His wife? — silly child, put away such absurd and unwhole-
some dreams. The Basileus, or the least minion of his Court,
would no more think of taking thee to wife than he would take
the meanest scullion in his kitchen. No ! girl, he would take
thee for his plaything for a day, for a week or two, till he flung
thee to some parasite of his own like a cast-off" shoe. Wife !
wife ! " shrieked the old man, " say rather toy, lap-dog, slave —
not wife ! Shall the daughter of Craterus, the Spartan, the
descendant of a hundred kings, born of a mother in whose eyes
the blood of these Augusti, children of Basil, the stable-boy, is
ditch-water — shall she enter the hareem of these vicious mon-
grels who cringe round the Sacred Palace? Never! my child,
I would rather see thee dead. Thou art above them in god-like
race as thou art in god-like beauty, thou child of Helen of Troy,
more like to her than ever yet has been any child of hers since.
This lad, whoever he be, though not fit to be thy slave, is far
above thee in legal rank, as he certainly is above thee in fortune.
Think of him no more. Thou wilt never see him again. And
if thou didst, it would be to thy ruin."

Anastasia was not wont to discuss matters with hef father
when he had mounted his high horse about the kings of Sparta,
and the illustrious ancestry of her mother, whom she had almost
forgotten. Still less did she take very seriously all his extra-
ordinary ravings about the mysteries of Mithras and the eternal
cult of Isis, which the old man had mixed up in a strange medley
of occult superstitions. With her keen intellect and her aspiring
temper, Anastasia had been nurtured by her father from child-
hood in proud disdain of the mongrel races of the capital which
had now become a veritable colliivies gentium, as, indeed, from
that day to this it has remained. From infancy she had been
taught to look coldly on the endless ceremonies and miraculous
paraphernalia of the Byzantine Church, though her practical
mind had inclined her to little interest in the esoteric mysteries
of Mithraism in which Craterus would dream away whole days.

7



Theophano



She regarded these dreams as the unhallowed maunderings of a
morbid mind. And whilst she outwardly conformed to the cere-
monial cult of the Christians around her, her maiden day-dreams
would ever turn back to the immortal creations of Hellenic
poetry and myth. She would conjure up to herself visions of a
Helen of Troy, a Clytemnestra, a Medea ; even an Aspasia, and
a Thais ; she knew the thrilling story of Byzantine palace
history ; how Athenais, the daughter of a philosopher of Athens,
had blossomed out into Eudocia, the Empress ; how Theodora
had stepped from the dancing stage to the throne of the world ;
how Irene had divided the Roman realm even with the mighty
Charles himself.

Long after she had quitted her father, Anastasia sate musing
in her own chamber, from time to time scrutinising the ring
which the wounded youth had given her, and which she had
hastily concealed in her bosom. Again and again she turned
the jewel to the light, and examined it on every side. Could it
be, indeed, an emerald — a real emerald — of such a size, and such
lustre? If it were, indeed, a veritable stone it was worth a
king's ransom ! Could the stranger lad have so magnificent a
ring in his possession, and would he lightly hand 'it to an un-
known girl ? And yet — could a youth evidently so noble, so
wealthy, bear about on his finger a thing of paste ? Anastasia
knew something of jewels, antique enamels, and sardonyx
cameos, as of reliquaries, crosses, and miraculous ikons ; for
her father was supposed to procure such things from time to
time from correspondents he had in Asia Minor, and to dispose
of them successfully to the travellers who would come to his
place on their way to the capital from the East. And Anastasia
had half suspected that the old Corinthian attendant who had
charge of her father's curios had done something more than
always repair or reset the pieces on which she saw him secretly
engaged.

And whilst she turned the jewel round and round, she fancied
she could read some letters engraved ; but her untrained eye,
for all her curiosity, was not able to put the words together.
She called her nurse, the aged woman who had been about her
since her mother's death, and in whose fidelity she was sure she
could confide. "Charmion," she said, "dear old girl, here is
an adventure. As I was turning over the old jewel-case of my
sainted mother in heaven I found this ring, which had been
strangely overlooked by my father for years. Take it to

8



The Boy Basileus



Leontius in his workshop, and ask him to tell us what it is, and
if he can read these words that are engraved around the setting.
But be sure you charge him, as he values my favour, to breathe
not a word of it to man or woman — least of all my father. It
would break his heart to think that he had neglected so dear a
relic of my mother — and thou knowest that all she had of jewels
are mine."

The crone eyed the ring with keenness, and her eyes then fell
on her lovely mistress, who bore her scrutiny with a tranquil
smile. She hurried off to Leontius, who was preparing to
"reset " an eticolpioii that was destined for a great ecclesiastic.
The old engraver took the ring, and examined it with attention
and no small wonder. Then he scrutinised it through a crystal
lens, and tried it against some pieces that he had in a case by
his side. He looked hard at the nurse, and she looked at him.
Neither spoke. " Nurse," he said, at last, " the ring is one of
the finest and largest emeralds I ever beheld, and it is set in a
rare enamel of exquisite work. Yes ! words have been engraved
within the margin, and I will write them on this slip of parch-
ment." He took his stile, and, peering closely with his crystal
lens to the minute letters in the ring, he wrote, Kvpie ^orjOet
Pw/xavwi. " No ! " said he, " the last letters must be somewhat
defaced, it must be Pw/,iaiois — Lord, help the Romans ! It
could hardly be Roman! Could it be?" said the old artist in
cameos, talking to himself.

Old Charmion hurried back to Anastasia, too eager that she
might report her news and ply her young mistress with questions
to notice the intense agitation of mind that Anastasia concealed
under her outward ease. " How came she to find it?" asked
the crone again and again. " How was it overlooked ? How
had her mother obtained it ? What would she do with it ? "
and a thousand similar questions, which Anastasia put off with
affected indifference and studious silence. Nor could the girl
rid herself of the nurse's importunate curiosity until she had
peremptorily insisted on the attendant leaving her alone in order
to prepare her bath in another chamber.

Left alone, Anastasia sprang up in a whirlwind of emotion,
pacing the room, and flinging up aloft her shapely arms in the
attitude of a priestess at the shrine of the Delphic Apollo.
" Mother of God ! Daughter of Zeus ! Queen of Love !
Where am I ? What is this ? What will come of it ? An
emerald of priceless worth ! Why, who could wear such a

9



Theophano



thing- but one from the Palace of Caesar — wear it — nay, wear it
in a forest chase, in a wild night on the mountain ? ' Lord,
help the Romans ' — who could bear about such a meaningless
prayer? 'Help the Romans.' Yes! the priests and monks
whine out these litanies in their daily canticles. But does a
youth who looks like a young prince engrave on his seal so
stupid a motto ? Prince ! Ah ! what am I saying ? Why, what
other prince is there but Romanus, son of our purple-born
Constantine, Basileus of the Romans? Queen of Paphos, and
of the world ! He was Romanus — the young Basileus himself
— lovely as Adonis — and he loves me — he shall love me.
Augustus that is to be — and why should not I, too, be Augusta
by divine right — of beauty?" And the girl flung herself down
on a couch and buried her face in her hands, as if she needed
to shut out from her eyes the excess of light which beamed
down on her, even as Zeus descended upon Semele in thunder



Online LibraryFrederic HarrisonTheophano, the crusade of the tenth century : a romantic monograph → online text (page 1 of 33)