Alexius Part 34

The first was that the monk in his train was a deceiver, and cheat, and only impersonating the Emperor Michael, and that the whole story about him was a pure fabrication. For he told how he had seen Michael in the royal city after his deposition from the throne clad in a grey habit, and living in a monastery, as he had made it his special business to see the deposed king with his own eyes. Secondly, he gave news of the events which had occurred during his return journey – namely, that my father had grasped the sceptre (as I will recount later), driven Botaniates out of the kingdom, sent for Ducas’ son, Constantine, the most distinguished of all men living, and had again given him a share in the government.

Military preparations

Raoul had heard, this on his way, and brought it forward in the hope of persuading Robert to relinquish his military preparations. “For with what justice,” he said, “can we go to war with Alexius, when it was Botaniates who was the author of the wrong done you, and who deprived your daughter Helen of the Roman throne? Wrongs done to us by one set of men should not make us wage war upon others who have never offended against justice. And if your war has no just basis, then all will be lost, ships, equipment, men, in fine, all your military preparations.” These words exasperated Robert still further; he went quite mad, and nearly did Raoul personal violence.

On the other hand, that fictitious Ducas, and pseudo-emperor Michael (whom we have called “Raictor”), waxed most indignant and angry, and did not know how to contain his wrath when it was so clearly proved that he was not the Emperor Ducas, but merely a fictitious king. The tyrant Robert had yet another cause for his fury against Raoul, for Raoul’s brother Roger had deserted to the Romans, and had given them detailed information of the military preparations that were being made against them, so he burned to do Raoul some harm, and threatened him with instant death.

Raoul, however, who was not at all slow to take flight, escaped to Bohemond, as being the nearest refuge. Raictor vented the most abominable threats against Raoul’s brother, the deserter. With loud cries, and beatings of his thigh with his right hand, he implored Robert, saying, “One thing only I beg of you – if ever I recover the crown, and am restored to the throne, hand over Roger to me, and then, if I do not condemn him to the most miserable death, and crucify him in the middle of the city, then may God do so to me, and more also!”

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