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CHAP. district of Castamona in the neighbourhood of the Euxine ; XLVIII. and one of their chiefs, who had already entered the paths

of ambition, revisited with affection, perhaps with regret, the modest, though honourable dwelling of his fathers. The first of their line was the illustrious Manuel, who, in the reign of the second Basil, contributed by war and treaty to appease

the troubles of the East: he left in a tender age, two sons, Isaac and John, whom, with the consciousness of desert, he bequeathed to the gratitude and favour of his sovereign. The noble youths were carefully trained in the learning of the monastery, the arts of the palace, and the exercises of the camp: and from the domestic service of the guards, they were rapidly promoted to the command of provinces and armies. Their fraternal union doubled the force and reputatian of the Comneni, and their ancient nobility was illustrated by the marriage of the two brothers, with a captive princess of Bulgaria, and the daughter of a patrician, who had obtained the name of Charon from the number of enemies whom he had sent to the infernal shades. The soldiers had served with reluctant loyalty a series of effeminate masters; the elevation of Michael the sixth was a personal insult to the more deserving generals; and their discontent was inflamed by the parsimony of the emperor and the insolence of the eunuchs. They secretly assembled in the sanctuary of St. Sophia, and the votes of the military synod would have been unanimous in favour of the old and valiant Catacalon, if the patriotism or modesty of the veteran had not suggested the importance of birth as well as merit in the choice of a sovereign. Isaac Comnenus was approved by general consent, and the associates separated without delay to mect in the plains of Phrygia at the head of their respective squadrons and detachments. The cause of Michael was defended in a single battle by the mercenaries of the Imperial guard, who were aliens to the public interest, and animated only by a principle of honour and gratitude. After their defeat, the fears of the emperor solicited a treaty, which was almost accepted by the moderation of the Comnenial. But the former was betrayed by his ambassadors, and the latter was prevented by his friends. The solitary Michael submitted to the voice of the people ; the patriarch annulled their oath of allegiance; and as he shaved the head of the royal monk, congratulated his beneficial ex. CHAP.

XLVIII. change of temporal royalty for the kingdom of heaven: an exchange, however, which the priest, on his own account, would probably have declined. By the hands of the same patriarch, Isaac Comnenus was solemnly crowned: the sword which he inscribed on his coins, might be an offensive symbol, if it implied his title by conquest; but this sword would have been drawn against the foreign and domestic enemies of the state. The decline of his health and vigour suspended the operation of active virtue; and the prospect of approaching death determined him to interpose some moments between life and eternity. But instead of leaving the empire as the marriage portion of his daughter, his reason and inclination concurred in the preference of his brother John, a soldier, a patriot, and the father of five sons, the future pillars of an hereditary succession. His first modest reluctance might be the natural dictates of discretion and tenderness, but his obstinate and successful perseverance, however it may dazzle with the shew of virtue, must be censured as a criminal desertion of his duty, and a rare offence against his family and country. The purple which he had refused was accepted by Constantine Ducas, a friend of the Comnenian house, and whose noble birth was adorned with the experience and reputation of civil policy. In the monastic habit, Isaac recovered his health, and survived two years his voluntary abdication. At the command of his abbot, he observed the rule of St. Basil, and executed the most servile offices of the convent: but his latent vanity was gratified by the frequent and respectful visits of the reigning monarch, who revered in his person the character of a benefactor and a saint.

If Constantine the eleventh were indeed the subject most Constanworthy of empire, we must pity the debasement of the age Ducas,

tine XI. and nation in which he was chosen. In the labour of pue

1059, rile declamations, he sought, without obtaining, the crown of Dec. 23.

. eloquence, more precious, in his opinion, than that of Rome; and, in the subordinate functions of a judge, he forgot the duties of a sovereign and a warrior. Far from imitating the patriotic indifference of the authors of his greatness, Ducas was anxious only to secure, at the expense of the republic, the power and prosperity of his children. His three sons,

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CHAP Michael the seventh, Andronicus the first, and Constantine XLVIII. the twelfth, were invested, in a tender age, with the equal

title of Augustus ; and the succession was speedily opened Eudocia, by their father's death. His widow, Eudocia, was entrust1067, May.

ed with the administration ; but experience had taught the jealousy of the dying monarch to protect his sons from the danger of her second nuptials; and her solemn engagement, attested by the principal senators, was deposited in the hands of the patriarch. Before the end of seven months, the wants of Eudocia, or those of the state, called aloud for the male virtues of a soldier: and her heart had already chosen Romanus Diogenes, whom she raised from the scaffold to the throne. The discovery of a treasonable attempt had exposed him to the severity of the laws: his beauty and valour absolved him in the eyes of the empress; and Romanus, from a mild exile, was recalled on the second day to the command of the Oriental armies. Her royal choice was yet unknown to the public, and the promise which would have betrayed her falsehood and levity, was stolen by a dexterous emissa. ry

from the ambition of the patriarch. Xiphilin at first alleged the sanctity of oaths and the sacred nature of a trust; but a whisper, that his brother was the future emperor, re

laxed his scruples, and forced him to confess that the public Romanus safety was the supreme law. He resigned the important paIII. Dio

per ; and when his hopes were confounded by the nomination of Romanus, he could no longer regain his security,

retract his declarations, nor oppose the second nuptials of the August.

empress. Yet a murmur was heard in the palace; and the Barbarian guards had raised their battle-axes in the cause of the house of Ducas, till the young princes were soothed by the tears of their mother and the solemn assurances of the fidelity of their guardian, who filled the Imperial station with dignity and honour. Hereafter I shall relate his valiant, but unsuccessful, efforts to resist the progress of the Turks. His defeat and captivity inflicted a deadly wound on the Byzantine monarchy of the East; and after he was released from the chains of the sultan, he vainly sought his wife and his subjects. His wife had been thrust into a monastery, and the subjects of Romanus had embraced the rigid maxim of the civil law, that a prisoner in the hands of the enemy is deprived, as by the stroke of death, of all the public and pri

genes, A.D.


vate rights of a citizen. In the general consternation, the CHAP. Cæsar John asserted the indefeasible right of his three ne

XLVIII. phews: Constantinople listened to his voice; and the Turk

Michael ish captive was proclaimed in the capital, and received on the VII

. Para

pinaces, frontier as an enemy of the republic. Romanus was not more

Andronic fortunate in domestic than in foreign wår: the loss of two cus I. Con.

stantine battles compelled him to yield, on the assurance of fair and x11. honourable treatment ; but his enemies were devoid of faith A. D.

1071, or humanity; and, after the cruel extinction of his sight, his August

. wounds were left to bleed and corrupt, till in a few days he was relieved from a state of misery. Under the triple reign of the house of Ducas, the two younger brothers were reduced to the vain honours of the purple ; but the eldest, the pusillanimous Michael, was incapable of sustaining the Roman sceptre; and his surname of Parapinaces denotes the reproach which he shared with an avaricious favourite, who enhanced the price, and diminished the measure, of wheat. In the school of Psellus, and after the example of his mother, the son of Eudocia made some proficiency in philosophy, and rhetoric; but his character was degraded, rather than ennobled, by the virtues of a monk and the learning of a sophist. Strong in the contempt of their sovereign and their own esteem, two generals, at the head of the European and Asiatic legions, assumed the purple at Adrianople and Nice. Their revolt was in the same month ; they bore the same name of Nicephorus ; but the two candidates were distinguished by the surnames of Bryennius and Botaniates; the former in the maturity of wisdom and courage, the latter conspicuous only by the memory of his past exploits. While Botaniates advanced with cautious and dilatory steps, his active competitor stood in arms before the gates of Constantinople. The name of Bryennius was illustrious ; his cause was popular; but his licentious troops could not be restrained from burning and pillaging a suburb ; and the people, who would have hailed the rebel, rejected and repulsed the incendiary of his country. This change of the public opinion was favourable to Botaniates, who at length, with an army of Turks, approached the shores of Chalcedon. A formal invitation, in the name of the patriarch, the synod, and the senate, was circulated through the streets of Constantinople; and the general assembly, in the dome of St. Sophia, debated, with order VOL. VI.


rus III.

CHAP. and calmness, on the choice of their sovereign. The guards XLVIII. of Michael would have dispersed this unarmed multitude ;

but the feeble emperor, applauding his own moderation and clemency, resigned the ensigns of royalty, and was rewarded with the monastic habit, and the title of archbishop of Ephesus. He left a son, a Constantine, born and educated in the purple ; and a daughter of the house of Ducas illustrated the blood, and confirmed the succession of the Com

nenian dynasty. Nicepho- John Comnerus, the brother of the emperor Isaac, surBotaniates,

vived in peace and dignity his generous refusal of the scepA. D. tre. By his wife Anne, a women of masculine spirit and 1078, March 25. policy, he left eight children: the three daughters multipli

ed the Comnenian alliances with the noblest of the Greeks: of the five sons, Manual was stopped by a premature death; Isaac and Alexius restored the Imperial greatness of their house, which was enjoyed without toil or danger, by the two younger brethren, Adrian and Nicephorus. Alexis, the third and most illustrious of the brothers, was endowed by nature with the choicest gifts both of mind and body : they were cultivated by a liberal education, and exercised in the school of obedience and adversity. The youth was dismissed from the perils of the Turkish war, by the paternal care of the emperor Romanus; but the mother of the Comneni, with her aspiring race, was accused of treason, and banished, by the sons of Ducas, to an island in the Propontis. The two brothers soon emerged into favour and action, fought by each other's side against the rebels and Barbarians, and adhered to the emperor Michael, till he was deserted by the world and by himself. In his first interview with Botaniates, “ Prince," said Alexius, with a noble frankness,“ my duty rendered me your enemy; the “ decrees of God and of the people have made me your sub"ject. Judge of my future loyalty, by my past opposition.” The successor of Michael entertained him with esteem and confidence: his valour was employed against three rebels, who disturbed the peace of the empire, or at least of the emperors. Ursel, Bryennius, and Basilacius, were formidable by their numerous forces and military fame: they were successively vanquished in the field, and led in chains to the foot of the throne ; and whatever treatment they might

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