42. So far the story has proceeded without a hitch: I have taken you along ‘the royal, smooth highway’, as the Holy Scripture has it. To pass on to what happened thereafter is a most disagreeable task. I am reluctant to describe a deed that should never have taken place. And yet, if I may alter my words slightly, it was a deed that should have taken place by all means.
On the one hand, the scruples of religion, as well as a natural unwillingness to inflict pain, would forbid such a deed: on the contrary side, the state of affairs at the time, and the possibility of sudden changes in the fortunes of both parties, proclaimed that it must be done. The thing came about as follows. The more enthusiastic element in the emperor’s council were afraid that Diogenes might succeed in his plots and once more embarrass the new sovereign. So, concealing their intentions from Michael, they wrote a letter to a certain person who was conveniently able to carry them out, with orders to blind him.**282
43. The emperor was quite ignorant of what was being done — and God knows I am not saying that to flatter Michael. This is a perfectly true account. When, therefore, he found out, too late, what had occurred, he wept more bitterly even than Diogenes did before undergoing his torture. The news had the most distressing effect on him. Indeed, Michael did not leap for joy, or show any other sign of pleasure, even when he first heard that his enemy had been take prisoner.
There is no doubt but that he would have long continued to mourn him openly, had he not feared public resentment. As or Diogenes, he was brought in his blindness to the monastery which he himself had founded, on the island of Prote, and there he died, not long afterwards. His reign had lasted less than four years.**283 Michael was now undisputed ruler of the Empire.
Michael VII 1071-1078
1. Now that I am about to write an account of the emperor Michael Ducas, or at least to give a rough outline of his reign, as far as the limited space of this history allows me, I must first beg my readers not to look upon my version of the man’s character and deeds as exaggerated. On the contrary, I shall hardly do justice to either. As I write these words, I find myself overcome by the same emotions as I often feel when I am in his presence: the same wonder thrills me. Indeed, it is impossible for me not to admire him.
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