33. The war, therefore, flared up against him all the more bitterly. But the rebels were afraid lest the combined efforts of Michael and Zoe might yet prove their undoing. Most of their supporters might be persuaded by her and give up the struggle. So a new policy was adopted, a policy which of itself was a complete answer to Michael’s scheming.

34. At this stage I would like to go back a little, so that the story can be told in a methodical way. I will have to refer to events previous to this outbreak and link them with it. As I have said before, Constantine had not one daughter, but three. The eldest of these ladies was dead. The youngest for a short time continued to live with her sister after she became empress and, to a certain extent, shared the throne with her.

Enjoy exceptional honours

The privilege of acclamation was not extended to her, but she did enjoy exceptional honours and she had her share of splendour in the palace, although her position was inferior to that of her sister. Their close relationship however, and the fact that they were born of the same mother, were not sufficient to avert jealousy, and even her lower rank excited the empress to envy Theodora**7l (that was the younger sister’s name).

At the same time certain persons maliciously spread tales about her and prevailed on Zoe to remove her from the palace, cut off her hair, and give her one of the more stately imperial houses to live in. The place would be a kind of prison, but it would be veiled under a fine name. This advice was followed at once. Jealousy divided the two sisters and kept one in a position of greater importance, the other in an inferior condition, but Theodora at least retained the semblance of majesty.

35. Yet she (Theodora) resigned herself to her lot. Neither the donning of a nun’s robe nor separation from her sister provoked her to angers and as for the emperor, he still treated her with some of his former courtesy. He even granted her certain imperial favours. But when he died and Michael (Paphlagon) ascended the throne, the latter, as I have already shown, soon forgot Zoe and completely despised Theodora. In his turn, he too fulfilled the allotted span of life and departed, to be succeeded by his nephew, Michael Calaphates.

This emperor not only did not know who Theodora was, or if she was born of royal stock, but as far as he was concerned, she might never have been born, might never have passed this way at all. Although she was in this plight — perhaps I should rather say, despite the attitude of the emperors towards her — she never opposed their wishes. This was no enforced obedience; she submitted of her own free will. I had to explain all this before I could return to my narrative.

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