Eudocia 1067

Romanus IV 1068 — 1071

Eudocia Becomes Ruler of The Empire, With Her Sons Michael And Constantine

1. When the empress Eudocia, in accordance with the wishes of her husband, succeeded him as supreme ruler, she did not hand over the government to others. Far from choosing to spend most of her life In idleness at home, while the magistrates had charge of public affairs, she assumed control of the whole administration in person.

At first she behaved modestly enough: neither in the imperial processions nor in her own clothing was there any mark of extravagance. She made herself conversant with all her duties, and wherever it was practicable, she took part in all the processes of government, the choice of magistrates, civil affairs, revenues and taxes. Her pronouncements had the note of authority which one associates with an emperor. Nor was this surprising, for she was in fact an exceedingly clever woman. On either side of her were her two sons, both of whom stood almost rooted to the spot, quite overcome with awe and reverence for their mother.

2. That Constantine should respect her, being a child and still incapable of understanding the affairs of state, will cause no surprise, and I cannot bring myself to praise him for a modesty that was natural, but Michael’s case is different. He was already long past his boyhood and able to think for himself. His intellectual powers were fully developed, had been frequently put to the test.

It is no easy matter, therefore, to find a parallel to his obedient attitude, or to the way he left the whole administration to his mother. I find it altogether impassible to praise the young man enough for this. On several occasions I have seen him myself, when he could have spoken in his mother’s presence, keep silent, as if speech were beyond him, and though he had the ability to undertake any task you like to name, he took no part in matters concerned with the Empire.

3. Yet it would not be true to say that his mother despised him, at the beginning of her reign. As a matter of fact, she personally trained him for his future career, and later on allowed him to appoint magistrates and encouraged him to act as a judge. She often demonstrated her affection for him with kisses. There were times when she commended him, expressed her pride in what he had done, and always she was building up his characters quietly preparing him for the various duties that an emperor has to perform. She frequently handed him over to me and suggested that I should instruct him in the functions of his office and give him advice.

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