The Mob is Led Away to the Augusta Theodora

36. As I have said, the people revolted against the tyrant, but they were afraid their efforts might be wasted. His force might get the better of them and the affair might develop into nothing more than an uproar. Since, therefore, they could not lay hands on the senior empress — the tyrant had anticipated that move and he was watching her with all the vigilance of a tax-gatherer waiting to collect dues from a ship in harbour — they turned their attention to her sister.

She was, after all, the second child of an emperor. There was no confusion, no disorderly tumult. On the contrary, they appointed one of her father’s retainers**72 to act as general at the head of their column, a man who was not a Greek by birth, but a person of the noblest character and a man of heroic stature, whose high-born ancestry inspired respect. With this brave leader they departed in full force to find Theodora.

37. Astounded by the unexpectedness of this sight, she refused at first to give way to their pleading and shut herself up in the church, deaf to every entreaty. The citizen army, however, giving up all hope of persuasion, used force, and some of their number, drawing their daggers, rushed in as if to kill her.

Boldly they dragged her from the sanctuary, brought her out into the open, and clothed her in a magnificent robe. Then they made her sit on a horse, and forming a circle all about her, they led her to the great church of Santa Sophia. Homage was paid to her, not now by a mere fraction of the people, but by all the elite as well. Everyone, with utter disregard for the tyrant, and loud applause for her, proclaimed Theodora empress.

The Flight of the Emperor and his Uncle, and the Blinding of their Eyes

38. When news of this reached Michael, fearing that the rebels would suddenly come upon him and lay violent hands on him [104] there in the palace, he embarked on one of the imperial ships, and landed with his uncle at the holy Studite monastery. There he laid aside his emperor’s garments and put on the clothes of a suppliant and refugee.

As soon as this information became known in the City, the hearts of all men,**73 hitherto filled with fear and grim foreboding, were relieved of anxiety. Some made thank-offerings to God for their deliverance, others acclaimed the new empress, while the common folk and the loungers in the market joined in dancing. The revolution was dramatized and they composed choral songs inspired by the events that had taken place before their eyes. More numerous still was the crowd that rushed in one wild swoop upon the tyrant himself, intent on cutting him down, on slitting his throat.

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