Michael IV part 22

The Escape Of Alousianus To Bulgaria

45. The war had not yet broken out when a most astonishing thing happened — something nearly as amazing as the emperor’s action.The more agreeable of Aaron’s sons (Aaron had been king of the Bulgars), one Alousianus**58 by name, a man of gentle character, with a fine intellect and a position of considerable distinction, proved chiefly responsible for Michael’s victory.

This was not because of any desire on his part to help the emperor; in fact, it was quite the reverse. The truth is, God moved him to do what he did, and thus brought about the emperor’s triumph, in despite of his enemies.

46. Now this Alousianus was by no means in favour at court. He was neither consulted on matters of policy nor honoured in any way with the others. Indeed, an order was issued that he must remain in his own home and he was forbidden to enter Byzantium except by [78] express command of the emperor. Naturally this restriction irritated and depressed the man, but for the moment he was powerless. However, the events in Bulgaria were reported to him, and he knew that the people there had supported the claims of an illegitimate pretender to their throne for one reason only — because no one else in the country was of royal blood. Under these circumstances he ventured on rather a childish expedition.

Ignoring the claims of his own children and forgetting his love for his wife — none of them was allowed to know anything of his plans — he boldly marched from the extreme east to the west, with a handful of servants, men whom he knew to be reckless dare-devils, ready for anything. To avoid recognition in the city, he adopted a thorough disguise. It was not a matter of discarding some of his clothes and retaining others, but he dressed himself as a common mercenary soldier, and so escaped detection altogether.

47. On two or three occasions he visited my informant in the Great City. The latter gentleman told me about it afterwards. ‘The fellow was quite well-known to me,’ he said, ‘and he greeted me in a friendly way, but even so I failed to recognize him, and so did all the others he visited.’ Thus he escaped the vigilance of John the Orphanotrophus, him of the many eyes — no mean triumph.

Yet his sudden disappearance had roused suspicion, arid the authorities were on the watch to find and arrest him, if they could. however, to cut a long story short, he evaded them all and reached Bulgaria in safety. Now he did not make himself known to his people at once, but first approached certain individuals, on different occasions.

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