23. I do not intend at this moment to write of the time spent by the emperor in captivity or of the attitude adopted towards him by his conqueror. That must wait till later. A few days after the battle one of those who had escaped, arriving before his comrades, brought the terrible news to the City. He was followed by a second messenger, and by others.

Government of the Empire

The picture they painted was by no means distinct, for each explained the disaster in his own fashion, some saying that Romanus was dead, others that he was only a prisoner; some again declared that they had seen him wounded and hurled to the ground, while others had seen him being led away, in chains, to the barbarian camp. In view of this information, a conference was held in the capital, and the empress considered our future policy. The unanimous decision of the meeting was that, for the time being, they should ignore the emperor, whether he was a prisoner, or dead, and that Eudocia and her sons should carry on the government of the Empire.

24. At this conference some councillors wished Michael, and his young brother, to control the administration entirely: their mother was to take no active part whatever. Others again favoured the complete restoration of Eudocia’s rule, to the exclusion of her sons. For my own part, neither solution of the problem seemed satisfactory.

My personal opinion — I will speak frankly — was that both should act in concert: the son should pay her respect, because she was his mother, and she should govern the whole Empire as sovereign on equal terms with her son. This was in fact the proposal which the emperor Michael himself favoured and he supported me. There were persons who wished to get supreme power for themselves and to govern the state for their own profit, and these were just the people who urged her to rule alone. At the same time they were busily engaged in trying to force a quarrel between Michael and his mother.

25. It is difficult for me, at this stage, to express adequately the admiration I feel for this young man. He discussed the constitutional question with me privately, and he was prepared, if his mother so desired to abdicate. He was most anxious to avoid any mark of disrespect for her: at all costs she must be treated with all due consideration.

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