Alexius Part 27

The story runs thus, the arch-villain Robert who was hatching war against the Romans, and had been making his preparations for some time, was kept in check by the nobles of highest rank in his suite, and also by his own wife, Gaïta, on the ground that the war would be unjust and waged against Christians; indeed he was prevented several times when he was anxious to start. But he was determined to procure a specious pretext for war, and therefore sent some men to Cotrone and entrusted them with the secret of his plot, and gave them the following directions. If they could find any monk willing to cross from there to Italy to worship at the shrine of the chief apostles, the patron saints of Rome, and if he did not betray his low origin too openly in his appearance, they were to welcome him and make a friend of him, and bring him back with them.

Your kinsman Michael

When they discovered the aforementioned Raictor, a versatile fellow without his equal for knavery, they signified the fact to Robert who was waiting at Salernum, [*Salerno] by a letter to this effect: “Your kinsman Michael, who has been expelled from his kingdom has arrived here to solicit your assistance.” For Robert had ordered them to write the letter to him in those words. Directly he received the letter, he read it privately to his wife, and then in an assembly of all the Counts he showed it to them too, and swore they could no longer keep him back, as he had now got hold of a really just excuse for war. As they all immediately fell in with Robert’s desire, he brought the man over, and entered into association with him.

Thereupon he worked up the whole drama, and put it in its proper stage-setting, pretending that that monk was the Emperor Michael, that he had been deprived of his throne, and despoiled of his wife and son and all his possessions by the usurper Botaniates, and that against all law and justice he had been clothed in a monk’s garb instead of a fillet and crown, and “Now,” he concluded, “he has come as suppliant to us.” Robert used to harangue the people like this, and professed that because of their kinship he must restore the kingdom to him. Daily he shewed honour to the monk, as if he were the Emperor Michael, giving him the best place at table, a higher seat, and excessive respect.

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