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Michael IV 1034 – 1041
Such was the manner of Romanus’s death, after a reign of five and a half years. The empress Zoe, learning of his death — she had not herself been present while he was dying — immediately took control of affairs, apparently under the impression that she was the rightful heir to the throne by divine permission. In point of fact, she was not so much concerned to seize power on her own behalf; all her efforts were directed to securing the crown for Michael, the person I have already described.

Michael IV – There was opposition,**43 for those courtiers who had been allotted positions of dignity — most of them were old family retainers — joined with her husband’s friends and his retainers, who had served his family ever since his father’s time, in trying to prevent her from any precipitate or drastic action. They advised her to consider the noblest course for herself before making any decisions. One of the people, they said, should be promoted to the crown, some man preeminent among themselves and a man willing to treat her, not as his consort, but as empress in her own right.

All kinds of argument were produced to persuade her. They believed their influence would quickly prevail and she would come over to their point of view. To their surprise, she persisted in her support of Michael, with unwavering loyalty; there was no question of reason in the matter, for her judgment of the man was inspired by sentiment.

Michael IV – It remained to set a time for the ceremony of coronation and for the assumption of the other insignia of power. Michael’s elder brother approached her on the subject privately (he was the eunuch John, a man of outstanding intellect, as well as a man of action). ‘We shall die,’ he argued, ‘if there is any further delay in promoting Michael.’ Zoe, now completely won over, at once sent for the young man, clothed him in a robe interwoven with gold, placed on his head the imperial crown, and set him down on a magnificent throne, with herself near him in similar dress. She then issued an order that all those who were living in the palace were to prostrate themselves before both of them and hail them both as sovereigns in common.

Michael IV part 6

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If he did no harm to a soul, yet in his dealings with the people he assumed a fierce expression which terrified one and all. As far as looks were concerned, he really hurt...

Michael IV part 8

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16. So much then for the brothers. Let us return to the emperor. For some time he treated Zoe with marked consideration, but that phase soon passed. He suspected her motives — there were...

Michael IV part 9

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There was something else that he feared, too — something that further prevented him from visiting the empress. The brain-storms no longer attacked him, as heretofore, at lengthy intervals, but they occurred more frequently,...

Michael IV part 10

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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...

Michael IV part 11

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It came about like this. One day he found Michael alone, and cloaking his thoughts in periphrasis, began to address him in the following manner, obviously with the idea of compelling him to ask...

Michael IV part 12

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The Empress’s Adoption of Michael**48 and his Promotion to Caesar22.’A very easy measure,’ answered John, ‘and all ready. If our brother **49 were not dead, you would have granted him the second highest dignity...

Michael IV part 13

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24. What had taken place was, in reality, the beginning of mighty disasters in the future, and what was, to all appearances, the foundation stone of the family’s glory proved really to be its...

Michael IV part 14

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26. Let me now give some account of this man.**50 His family, on his father’s side, was altogether insignificant and completely obscure. His father came from some absolutely deserted country place or from some...

Michael IV part 15

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He was expert in the conception and planning of unlikely designs. He showed no consideration for benefactors, no gratitude to anyone for friendship or solicitude or devotion on his behalf. But his powers of...

Michael IV part 16

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31. It was now evident that the whole of the emperor’s body was swollen, and nobody could fail to notice the hydropsy from which he was suffering. He tried various methods, such as prayers...

KARS

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THE SILK ROAD

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Discovering Brusa

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