Michael IV part 10

This he did, partly by the despatch of envoys, partly by bribery, partly by annual displays of military strength. Thanks to these precautions neither the ruler of Egypt nor of Persia, nor even of Babylonia, broke the terms of treaties they had made with us. Nor did any of the more distant peoples openly show their hostility.

Apprehensive of the emperor’s watchful care

Some were actually reconciled altogether, while others, apprehensive of the emperor’s watchful care and fearful of his vengeance, followed a policy of strict neutrality. The organization and control of public finance had been deputed to his brother John. To John also was left the greater part of civil administration, but the remaining affairs of state Michael managed himself.

Now some subject of civil government would claim his attention; at other times he would be organizing the ‘sinews’ of the Roman Empire, that is, the Army, and building up its strength; but all the time that the disease which had begun to affect him was growing to its climax and reaching its zenith, he still supervised the whole administration of the Empire, just as if no illness were weighing upon him at all.

20. When his brother John saw his gradual decline, he was fearful for himself and all his family. After the sovereign’s death, in the general disorder, the Empire might forget him; he might be compelled to face all kinds of trouble. Wherefore he adopted a policy that was, to all appearances, most prudent, but in fact most perilous, as the outcome of the affair was to prove.

Indeed, it was the immediate cause of their shipwreck, with the loss of all hands, in what can only be described as complete and utter ruin. However, that story must come later. Well then, John, having abandoned all hope of the emperor’s recovery, had an interview with him unknown to his brothers. The suggestions made by him at that meeting were more specious than honest.

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