29. It was decided first to attack the emperor’s family and tear down their proud and luxurious mansions. With this object they advanced to the general assault, and all was razed to the ground. Of the buildings some were covered over, others were left open to the sky; roofs falling to the ground were covered with débris, foundations thrust up in ruins from the earth were uncovered, as if the earth were throwing off its burden and hurling away the floors.

It was not the hands of strong men in the prime of youth that pulled down the most of it, but young girls and children of either sex lent a hand in the destruction with them. Every building fell straightway at the first assault and the destroyers carried away what had been smashed or pulled down, with utter indifference. The objects were put up for sale, without a thought for the mansions from which they had come.

War without the shedding of blood

30. Such then was the state of affairs in the city and so quickly had its usual appearance been altered. As for the emperor, he sat in the palace, at first by no means alarmed at the course of events. His idea was to end civil war without the shedding of blood, but when the revolution was afoot beyond all doubt and the people adopted military formations, with quite a respectable battle-array, then he was fearfully troubled. Hemmed in on all sides, he was at a loss what to do.

He was afraid to sally forth and he was no less suspicious of remaining where he was to sustain a siege; he had no allay in the palace nor could he send out for help, and even the mercenaries maintained by him were, some of them, of doubtful allegiance and not invariably responsive to orders, while others were openly hostile, and when their discipline broke, they broke out with the mob.

31. In his utter perplexity an ally did come to his aid — the Nobilissimus. At that moment he happened to be away from the palace, but when he learnt of the danger, being filled with alarm at the course of events, he at first stayed in his house. He was terribly afraid of the crowd standing at his gates and would not venture outside, for he believed he would die on the spot if he did. Later on, however, he armed the whole of his household staff, without putting on defensive armour himself, and with their help he gave the door a sudden shove, got outside without attracting any attention, and went through the city like lightning.

Read More about Michael V Part 20

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