28. That was the state of affairs, when Michael, fearing for his own safety and distrusting the cruel nature of Diogenes, decided on his own course of action. The plan he adopted undoubtedly saved him and it was admittedly a wise move. He cut himself off from his mother and henceforth became his own master.

Allegiance the palace guards

Then, on the advice of his cousins, the Caesar’s sons,**272 he won over to his allegiance the palace guards.**273 (These men are, without exception armed with shields and the rhomphaia, a one-edged sword of heavy iron which they carry suspended from the right shoulder.) Well, the guards banged on their shields all together, bawled their heads off as they shouted their war-cry, clashed sword on sword, with answering quells, and went off in a body to the emperor, thinking he was in danger. Then, forming a circle about him, so that no one could approach, they carried him off to the upper parts of the palace.

29. So much for them. Meanwhile those who were with the empress — and I was one of that number — not knowing what was happening, were almost petrified with fear. We thought that terrible things were about to befall us. The empress did indeed lose her nerve, and pulling her veil over her head she ran off to a secret crypt below ground. While she was hiding in the depths of this cavern, I stayed by the opening that led to it. I had no idea what to do, nor nowhere to turn for safety. However, once his own security was guaranteed, Michael remembered me.

I was the first person he thought of, and messengers were sent to all parts of the palace, to find out where I was. Having discovered my whereabouts, they lifted me up in their arms and carried me in cheerful triumph to their sovereign, as if I were some lucky find, or some precious gift. And he, as soon as he set eyes on me, was like a man who breathes a sigh of relief when a storm has passed. At once he handed over to me the responsibility of taking all decisions that might be necessary.

30. So I busied myself with affairs of state. There were plans to be made, precautions to be taken, if the administration of the City was to ride this storm. Meanwhile the others were dealing with the question of the dowager empress. To cut a long story short, it was decreed that she must leave the city and live in a convent that she herself had founded by the sea in honour of Mary, the Mother of God.**274 No time was lost in carrying out this decision, although her son refused to ratify it: he could not agree to his mother’s exile. I know that for a fact, and I am prepared to maintain it before all the world, with God as my witness. The truth is, circumstances were too strong for him and overruled his own wishes.

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