Here I must mention something that I feel is beyond praise the most remarkable fact about Michael’s reign. At a time when our affairs, no less in the east than in the west, were at their lowest ebb — a condition brought about in the first place by the sovereigns who preceded him — any other man, however resolute, would have allowed himself to drift with the tide of misfortune, would have given up the struggle. With what result?

The cable that held the ship of state would have cracked under the strain, and we should have seen the roof of the edifice come crashing down, the foundations torn up. But the tide of misfortune was checked by Michael’s steadfast spirit, by his unshakable resolve, and if, so far, we have not beached our vessel in harbour, at least we are riding the storm in deep waters and we have not been driven back into the open sea. **287

Augmenting the wealth

8. His attitude to the others I have described. Now I will examine his relations with myself. There was, in fact, no comparison at all between the way he treated them and his behaviour towards me, his biographer. Not one of his brothers enjoyed the confidence that he placed in me, nor did the great nobles, nor the churchmen. Favours were heaped upon me. Gifts, in ever-increasing profusion, were sent to me, and boons followed one another in rapid succession, augmenting the wealth that I already possessed.

Others, of course, have done much the same thing, but there are certain characteristics that mark him out as different from all the rest: the depth of his feeling for me, not only on mental, but spiritual, grounds: his unhesitating frankness and the obvious pleasure he takes in my company: his belief in my supremacy as a man of learning, both here, among men with whom he is personally acquainted, and among others, of whom he [285] has heard only by repute. I pray that the darts of jealousy and malice may never disturb that friendship.

9. In my efforts to compress this account, I have inadvertently passed over many things: for example, Michael’s love for his wife,**288 by whom he has a baby son;**289 and his affection for his two brothers, who, though admirable themselves, are not his equal.

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