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Chandax brought about the complete conquest of the island.
The Saracens were enslaved or expelled, and missionary monks
soon succeeded in winning back the Greek population to the
faith of their fathers, which many had been forced to reject for
the religion of their conquerors. Nicephorus followed up this
great triumph by attacking the Hamdanad Ameer of Aleppo.
He crossed the Taurus into Cilicia, and in another spirited
campaign restored many strong places to the Empire.

In 963 Romanus n. was cut off prematurely, leaving his young
widow Theophano to act as regent for the two infant sons,
Basil ii. (963-1025) and Constantine vm. (963- Basil n.,
1028) who now became joint-emperors. But the 9 6 3- I02 s,

i /! i ii i , and Constan-

tnumphs of Nicephorus Phocas had won him such tine vm.,
a position that in a few months he associated 963-1028.
himself with them in the Empire and married their
mother Theophano. By this ingenious combination of
hereditary succession with the rule of the successful soldier,
the quiet transmission of power was combined Nice horus
with the government of the fittest. For six years Phocas,
Nicephorus Phocas (963-969) ruled the Empire in g&3 ' g6g -
the name of his two step-sons and soon procured for them
new triumphs. His first measure was to improve the con-
dition of the army, and with this object he piled up new taxes,
and, almost alone among Greek Emperors, stooped to debase
the coinage. A fierce soldier in a nation of monks and mer-
chants, Nicephorus soon got into conflict with the Church, as
well as the trading class. He issued a sort of law of mortmain
to check the foundation of new monasteries, and Nicephorus'
kept important sees vacant to enjoy their revenues. mil tary

... , , ,,. reforms and

At last in his zeal for war against Islam, Nicephorus qua rrei with
wished the Church to declare that all Christians the church,
who died in war against the infidel were martyrs to the

160 European History, 918-1273

Christian religion. The Patriarch replied that all war was
unchristian, and that a Christian who killed even an infidel
enemy in war, deserved to be denied the sacraments. The
Emperor made himself hated by the mob of the capital by
suppressing the costly shows and amusements which the
court had hitherto provided for their diversion, while the
officials were scandalised at his disgust for the childish cere-
monies that hedged about his domestic life. Conscious of his
unpopularity, he fortified his palace and lived as much as he
could in the camp, where he enjoyed unbounded popularity
with the soldiers.

In a series of vigorous campaigns against the Ameer of
Aleppo, the Emperor sought to consolidate his former efforts
His con- as general by winning back all Cilicia and
quests. north Syria to the Empire. In 964 and 965 he
completed the conquest of Cilicia, sending the brazen gates
of Tarsus and Mopsuestia to adorn the imperial palace at
Constantinople. In 965 Nicetas, one of his generals, re-
conquered Cyprus. In 968 Nicephorus again took the field
and overran northern Syria. Aleppo, the residence of the
Ameer, was easily captured ; the Ikshidite realm, now on the
verge of dissolution, was overrun ; Damascus paid tribute to
avoid destruction ; and Antioch was captured by assault on
a snowy night in winter.

While thus occupied with the east, Nicephorus did not
neglect the west. He_projected the famous marriage between
His western the future Emperor, Otto n. and Theophano, the
policy. daughter of Romanus n. and his own step-daughter

[see page 34], hoping thus to strengthen the Byzantine
power in south Italy. But the terms of the alliance were hard
to settle, and no agreement could be arrived at during Nice-
phorus' lifetime. Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona, sent to
negotiate the match, left Constantinople in disgust, and vented
his spleen in the famous, but not very flattering, account
of Constantinople and its court to which we have already re-
ferred. Soon hostilities broke out between Otto the Great

The Eastern Empire and the Seljukian Turks 161

and Nicephorus in southern Italy, without any very permanent
results. Nicetas, the conqueror of Cyprus, failed signally
in an attempt to win Sicily from the Saracens. There were
wars with the northern barbarians that produced equally little

Nicephorus was a brave soldier, sprung from a stock of
warlike Cappadocian landowners, who changed few of his
habits even on the throne. He was cultured enough to
write a book on the art of war, but he had neither the
policy or pliancy for the intrigues of a despotic Oriental
court. The uprightness he showed in preserving intact his
step-sons' position as Emperors met with an evil requital
from their mother. Theophano hated and feared her stern,
uncouth, unsympathetic husband. She conspired with her
lover, John Zimisces, nephew of Nicephorus, a dashing
cavalry soldier and the most capable of his captains. On the
night of loth December 969 the Empress's woman admitted
Zimisces and a select band of confederates into conspiracy of
the castle. They found the Emperor sleeping on Theophano.
the floor after his soldier's fashion, and promptly stabbed him
to death. The murderers at once proclaimed John Zimisces
Emperor, and court and city alike accepted the results of the
despicable intrigue that had robbed the Empire of its strongest
man. John i. Zimisces reigned from 969 to 976. j ohn L
The brutal treachery which gained him the throne
was somewhat atoned for by the energy and vigour
he displayed in the possession of power. He was mean enough
to make Theophano the scapegoat of his crime, and, instead
of marrying her, shut her up in a monastery. After this he
did little that was not commendable. By way of penance
he devoted half his private fortune to the poor peasantry
round Constantinople, and to building a great hospital for
lepers. Like Nicephorus, he studiously respected the rights
of his young colleagues, the sons of Romanus IL, and legiti-
matised his rule by wedding their sister Theodora. The
negotiations for the marriage of the other sister, Theophano,


1 62 European History, 918-1273

with Otto the Saxon were now resumed and completed
in 972, Theophano taking with her to Germany Byzan-
tine art and the temporary friendship of east and west. John
The Russian abandoned the civil administration to the dexterous
war - chamberlain Basilius, and soon found in the

Russian war an opportunity to revive the exploits of his uncle.
The valour of Rurik and his Vikings had, before this, united
the Slavs of the east into a single Russian state, of which the
centre was Kiev, and which, though constantly threatening
the Byzantine frontiers, had since the conversion of Olga,
baptized at Constantinople in the days of Constantine VH.,
began slowly to assimilate Byzantine Christianity and civilisa-
tion. But Olga's son Sviatoslav (964-972) had refused to incur
the ridicule of his soldiers by accepting his mother's religion.
He was a mighty warrior who, in alliance with the Hungarians,
overran and conquered Bulgaria, and in 970 crossed the
Balkans and threatened Adrianople. In 971 John Zimisces
took the field against him, and a desperate campaign was
fought in the lands between the Danube and the Balkans.
Like true sons of the Vikings, the Russians fought on foot in
columns, clad in mail shirts and armed with axe and spear.
John's army was largely composed of heavy cavalry, and its
most efficient footmen were slingers and bowmen. In two
great battles at Presthlava and Dorystolum (Silistria), Russians
and Greeks fought under conditions that almost anticipate the
battle of Hastings, and in both cases the result was the same.
After long resisting the fierce charges of the Greek horsemen,
the close array of the Russians was broken up by a hail of
arrows and stones, and the lancers, returning to the charge,
rushed in and completed the discomfiture of the enemy.
After the second battle, Sviatoslav and the remnants of his
host stood a siege within Silistria, until a treaty was drawn up
by which they promised to go home, on being supplied with
enough corn to prevent them plundering by the way. For
the future, they were to renew the old commercial treaties
and leave the Empire in peace. Intercourse betwej

The Eastern Empire and the Seljukian Turks 163

and_ Constantinople was quickly renewed, and henceforth
Russian or Norse mercenaries, the famous Varangians, began
to form an important part of the imperial armies. Thus the
Empire was relieved from the pressure of her most dangerous
foe in the north, and again acquired the command of the
interior of the Balkan peninsula. Bulgaria, already conquered
by Sviatoslav, was reduced to obedience, while its titular king
lived as a pensioner at Constantinople. Flushed with these
brilliant successes, John again turned his arms against the
Saracens of Syria, who had won back many of Nicephorus' con-
quests, including Antioch. He reconquered Antioch, though
only with great difficulty ; his capture of Edessa prepared the
way for the occupation of the upper valley of the Euphrates ;
and many holy relics passed from Moslem to Orthodox custody.
In the midst of his triumphs John died suddenly in 976,
poisoned, it was said, by the crafty eunuch Basilius, who feared
that his wealth had excited the Emperor's jealousy.

Basil ii. (976-1025), the elder of Constantine vn.'s sons, was
now twenty years of age when, under the guidance of Basilius
he proceeded, after his brother-in-law's death, Basil n , s
to govern as well as reign. But the over- personal rule,
wealthy minister soon fell from power. Basil 97 ^' 1025 '
soon showed the same austere Roman type of character as
Nicephorus Phocas, and became a brave soldier, a skilful
general, and a capable, administrator. His chief object of
internal policy was the repression of the great landholding
families of Asia, which were the only barrier left against the
imperial despotism ; and, after a long struggle, he succeeded
in accomplishing their ruin. Under the legitimate Basilian
Emperor, the military glories of the fortunate adventurers were
fully continued. The great event of his long The Bulgarian
reign is the Bulgarian war. The occupation War<
of Bulgaria by John I. was too rapid to be permanent, and,
except in the lands between the Danube and Balkans, had
been merely nominal. Under a new Bulgarian king, named
Samuel, the unconquered regions of the west made a long

164 European History, 918-1273

and determined effort for freedom. Even the Slavs the
chief inhabitants of these regions followed Samuel to the
field; and by fixing his capital first at Prespa and afterwards
at Ochrida, in the highlands bordering on Albania and
Macedonia, he threatened alike Dyrrhachium andThessalonica
Year after year, Samuel's motley following plundered and
devastated the rich plains of Thessaly and Macedonia, Even
in the north all the Greeks crrald- do was to hold Silistria,
and a few fortresses, and keep a tight hold of the Balkan
passes. In 981 Basil first took the field in person, but
his early campaigns were but little successful. Samuel at last
invaded southern Greece ; but though he devastated the
Peloponnesus from end to end, he failed to capture any of the
larger cities (996). On his way back, he was surprised by
the Greek general Uranus, and escaped with infinite diffi-
culty and the complete destruction of his army. Basil now
took the offensive. In 1002 he captured Vidin, a triumph
that resulted in the gradual reconquest of Bulgaria proper.
But Samuel still held out long in the fastnesses of Mount
Pindus. Bit by bit Basil won back the hill castles that
were the centres of the Slavo-Bulgarian power./ At last, in
1014, Basil gained a decisive victory, taking prisoner some
15,000 Bulgarians. The grim Emperor put out the eyes of
all his captives, save that he spared one eye to every
hundredth man, and sent the mutilated wretches back to
their king at Ochrida under the guidance of their one-eyed
leaders. Samuel, on seeing his subjects' plight, fell senseless
to the ground, and died two days later. His brave son
Gabriel continued the contest, but was soon murdered by his
cousin Ladislas, who usurped the throne. In despair Ladislas
took the bold step of besieging Dyrrhachium, hoping thus to
open communications with Basil's enemies beyond sea ; but
he perished in the siege, and with him fell the last hopes
of the kingdom of Ochrida. In 1018 the work of conquest
was completed, and Basil celebrated his victory by a splen-
did triumph at Constantinople. The populace greeted the

The Eastern Empire and the Seljukian Turks 165

relentless conqueror with the surname of ' Slayer of the Bul-
garians ' [/?ovA.ya/30KTovos]. Basil then turned his arms against
the Armenians, but his success in pushing forward his eastern
frontier at the expense of a Christian kingdom did not atone
for the impolicy of weakening a natural ally against the
Mohammedans. Conscious perhaps of this, he prepared to
divert his arms against the infidel by a new expedition to
Sicily. Death overtook him in the midst of his preparations,
when he was sixty-eight years old, and had reigned for sixty-two
years. No Emperor since Justinian had succeeded so well in
enlarging the bounds of the Empire. But with him expired
all the glories of the Macedonian dynasty.

Basil ii. left no son, and his brother Constantine vm.
(1025-1028) therefore became sole Emperor. Though
nominal Emperor since 963, Constantine had

Sole rule of

never taken any real part in political affairs, and Constantine

he was now too old and careless to change his VIII ->

habits. He lived like an Oriental despot, secluded

in his palace, amusing himself with musicians and dancing-
girls, while six favourite eunuchs of the household relieved
him from all cares of state. Great indignation was excited
among the nobles, but Basil n. had humbled them too
thoroughly for them to take any effective action. However,
Constantine died in 1028, before he could do much harm.
He was the last man of the Macedonian house, and his only
heirs were his daughters Zoe and Theodora, under whose
weak and contemptible rule the Basilian dynasty came to an

From 1028 to 1054 the husbands and dependants of Zoe
governed the Byzantine Empire. First came Romanus m.
(1028-1034), to whom she had been married ,

^' Zoe and her

at her fathers deathbed. But Zoe was hard, husbands,
greedy, and self-seeking, and allowed her hus- K " 13 " 118 HI -i
band little real share of power. On his death
she married a handsome young courtier, Michael iv. the
PapbJagonian (1034-1041), who, though an epileptic invalid,

1 66 European History, 9 1 8- 1 273

did good work against the Saracens before his early death
in 1041. His brother John the Orphanotrophos [minister
Michael iv., of charitable institutions], a monk and a eunuch,
1034-1041. wno na d procured Michael's marriage, con-
ducted the internal government with great dexterity and cun-
ning, but the time of his rule marks an epoch of deterioration
in Byzantine finance. By constantly increasing the taxes, and
devising more arbitrary and oppressive methods for their
collection, he did much to sap the foundations of the indus-
trial supremacy of the Empire.

It was thought necessary always to have a male Emperor.
When Michael iv. died, Zoe, already more than sixty years of
Michael v., age, took three days to decide whether she
1041-1043. should wed a third husband or adopt a son.
She chose the latter course; but Michael v. (1041-1042),
nephew of Michael iv., whom she raised to this great posi-
tion, speedily proved ungrateful and unworthy, and was
deposed, blinded, and shut up in a monastery. Having
Constantino failed with her son, Zoe chose as her third husband
ix., 1043-1054- Constantine Monomachus (an hereditary sur-
name), who was soon crowned as Constantine ix. (1042-1054).
The new Emperor was an elderly profligate, who had only
consented to \ved Zoe on condition that his mistress should
be associated with her in the Empire. Their rule was
most disastrous. It saw the expulsion of the Greeks from
Italy by the Norman conquest of Apulia and Calabria. It
saw the consummation of the fatal policy of weakening
Armenia, at a moment when the rise of the Seljukian Turks
was again making Islam aggressive. It witnessed the
impolitic imposition of taxes on the eastern subjects and
vassals, who had hitherto defended the frontiers with their
swords, but who henceforth were discontented or mutinous.
It saw the final consummation of the schism of Eastern and
Western Churches.

The Synod of Constantinople in 867 [see Period i., pp.
453-4], following upon the quarrel of Pope Nicholas i. and

The Eastern Empire and the Seljukian Turks 167

the Patriarch Photius, had already brought about the open
breach of the Orthodox East and the Catholic West. Despite
new rivalries between the Greek and Latin missions The Schism
to the Slavs and Bulgarians, efforts had been ofthe

, - . . . . , Eastern and

made from time to time to heal the schism, and western
Basil n. negotiated with Rome, hoping to Churches,
persuade the Pope to allow ' that the Church of Constanti-
nople was oecumenical within its own sphere, just as the
Church of Rome was oecumenical throughout Christendom.'
But in 1053 Michael Caerularius, the Patriarch of Constanti-
nople foolishly shut up the Latin churches and convents and
wrote to the Latin bishops, bitterly reproaching them with
their schismatic practices, and taking new offence in the Latin
use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist. Mutual excom-
munications followed, and, at the very moment when Christen-
dom had most need of union, the schism of East and West
became inveterate.

Zoe died in 1050, and Constantine ix. in 1054. On his
death, Zoe's sister Theodora, the last of the Macedonians,
became Empress. Though old, she was strong Theodora,
and vigorous, and her long incarceration in a 10 54->57-
cloister gave her monastic virtues that contrasted strangely
with the dissolute habits of Zoe. During her reign of three
years the Empire enjoyed at least peace and repose. Her
death in 1057 ended not ingloriously the famous dynasty
that had since the days of Basil i. held the imperial throne.
A new period of trouble now sprang from disputed succes-
sions and weak Emperors, at a time when the growth ofthe
Seljukian power threatened the very existence of the Empire.

The Turkish or Mongol tribes of Central Asia had long
troubled from time to time the tranquillity of Europe. Among
them were Attila and his Huns, but these fierce Rige of the
marauders passed away without leaving any Seljukian
permanent traces of their influence. Of the <lurks<
same stock were the Magyars, who, in 895, finally settled in
Pannonia, and the Bulgarians, who, as we have seen, had

1 68 European ffistory, 918-1273

even earlier taken possession of a large part of the Balkan
peninsula. But the Magyars and Bulgarians by accepting
Christianity made themselves permanent members of the
European commonwealth. While Mongolian invasions such
as these disturbed from time to time the peace of eastern
Europe, similar invasions had terrified all the civilised nations
of Asia as far as the Chinese frontier. But it was the
Caliphate in its decline that began to stand in the most
intimate relations with the Turks. The growing anarchy of the
Arab Empire offered to the Turks a career as mercenaries,
and a field for plunder and devastation. As the reward
of their services, the Caliphs gave them what they could
conquer from the Christians on the eastern frontiers of
the Empire. A large Turkish immigration soon peopled the
marches of the Caliphate with the fierce warriors from the
north. As the Caliphs declined in power, the Turkish condot-
tieri chieftains grew discontented with their pay, and set up
military despotisms on their own account. Many of the
petty states that grew out of the dissolution of the Caliphate
had, like the Ikshidites in Syria, Turkish lords, and were kept
together by Turkish arms. Early in the eleventh Century
the period of transition was over. The Turks became
converts to Islam, and religious enthusiasm bound together
their scattered tribes and directed their aims. A great
Turkish invasion plunged all Asia in terror. In the extreme
east Turks or Tartars established at Peking a Manchurian
kingdom for northern China (1004). In the very same
year, Mahmoud of Ghazni set up a great Turkish state in
Afghanistan and India. A generation later, the Turks of the
house of Seljuk began to threaten the thrones of ^restem Asia.
The fame of Seljuk, the founder of a united Turkish
state in Central Asia, is almost mythical. Under his son,
the Seljukian house became great by crossing the Oxus
and effecting the conquest of Khorassan. Under his
grandson Togrul Beg, the Seljukians became the greatest
power in Asia. Togrul first broke up the power of the

The Eastern Empire and the Seljukian Turks 169

descendants of Mahmoud of Ghazni, and then attacked the
Bowides, and conquered Persia. In 1055 he crowned his
career by the occupation of Bagdad, where he was welcomed
as the deliverer of the phantom Caliphs from the tyranny
of their Bowide Ameers, and was solemnly invested by them
with their temporal power. Henceforth Togrul, the Sultan of
East and West, posed as the defender of the faith, and the
protector of the successor of Mohammed.

After the conquest of Bagdad, Togrul Beg attacked Armenia
and threatened the Byzantine frontiers. He died in 1063,
and in the very next year Alp Arslan, his nephew and suc-
cessor (1063-1072), completed, by the capture of Ani, the
capital, the subjugation of the unhappy Armenians. The
Georgians were next enslaved ; and, master of the Christian
outposts of the East Roman realm, Alp Arslan turned his
arms against the Empire itself.

The occupation of the rich plains of Asia in no wise
changed the character of the Turks. They remained as they
had ever been, soldiers and nothing more. Their old religions
had died away as they came into contact with Islam, and in
embracing the Mohammedan faith they obtained religious
sanction for their ferocity and greed. But they never, like
the Arabs, entered into the spiritual side of the faith. They
rather received and retained the new religion, as a faithful
soldier keeps the word of command of his general. They
had no eyes for the brilliant fascination of Arab civilisation,
such as was at that very time attaining its highest perfection in
Mohammedan Spain. They appropriated what had gone be-
fore, but they never assimilated it or added anything of their
own. The statecraft of the Arabs had no more attraction for
them than the poetry, the romance, the lawgiving, the archi-
tecture, or the busy commercial life of Semitic
Asia. When they had conquered they carelessly
stood aside, and contemptuously allowed their Turks and
vassals to live on their old life, save when, in occa-
sional fits of fury, they taught that they were masters by hideous

1 70 European History, 918-1273

violence or promiscuous massacres. But their hardiness won
An easy triumph ovei the soft and effeminate Arabs, and was
soon to win fresh laurels at the expense of the lax and corrupt
Christians of the East. It was a day of ill omen for East and
West alike when the capture of Bagdad made the Turkish
soldier the type of Mohammedan conquest In the cen-
turies when the Arab was the typical representative of
Islam, the desolation of Africa and Syria showed how
great were the evils that followed in the wake of Moham-
medan conquest of Christian lands. But in East and West
alike the triumphs of the Turk were unmixed evils, and the
strife of East and West assumed a new aspect when a bar-
barous and unteachable soldier, mighty only in destruction,
became the chief agent of Eastern advance. It was no
longer the continuance of the struggle between Eastern and
Western civilisation that was as old as Marathon. Hence-
forth it was a strife between the only possible civilisation and
the most brutal and hopeless barbarism. Yet the superior
military efficiency of the Turk put an irresistible weapon into
his hands. Since the days of Leo the Isaurian and Charles
Martel, the relations of the Eastern and Western worlds had
been almost stationary. A new wave of Eastern aggression
now set in, to be followed in its turn by a period of Western
retaliation. The Seljukian attacks on Armenia and the
Empire brought about the Nemesis of the Crusades and the
Latin kingdoms of the East.

Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 14 of 45)