Page images

Sorrow and repentance, his ill-dissembled joy on the removal CHAP. of two odious competitors. By these melancholy events, and Lxu. . ibe increase of his disorders, the mind of the elder emperor was gradually alienated ; and, after many fruitless reproofs, he transferred on another grandson his hopes and affection. The change was announced by the new oath of allegiance to the reigning sovereign, and the person whom he should appoint for his successor ; and the acknowledged heir, after a repetition of insults and complaints, was exposed to the indignity of a public trial. Before the sentence, which would probably have condemned him to a dungeon or a cell, the emperor was informed that the palace courts were filled with the armed followers of his grandson; the judgment was softened to a treaty of reconciliation; and the triumphant escape of the prince encouraged the ardour of the younger faction.

Yet the capital, the clergy, and the senate, adhered to the Three civu person, or at least to the government, of the old emperor; and twcen it was only in the provinces, by flight, and revolt, and foreign emperora. succour, that the malecontents could hope to vindicate their A.D. 1821, cause and subvert his throne. The soul of the enterprise was A. D. 1328,

May 24 the great domestic John Cantacuzene: the sally from Constantinople is the first date of his actions and memorials; and if his own pen be most descriptive of his patriotism, an unfriendly historian has not refused to celebrate the zeal and ability which he displayed in the service of the young emperor. That prince escaped from the capital under the pretence of hunting ; erected his standard at Adrianople, and, in a few days, assembled fifty thousand horse and foot, whom neither honour nor duty could have armed against the barbarians. Such a force might have saved or commanded the empire ; but their councils were discordant, their motions were slow and doubtful, and their progress was checked by intrigue and negotiation. The quarrel of the two Andronici was protracted, and suspended, and renewed, during a ruinous period of seven years. In the first treaty, the relics of the Greek empire were divided : Constantinople, Thessalonica, and the islands, were left to the elder, while the younger acquired the sovereignty of the greatest part of Thrace, from Philippi to the Byzantine limits. By the second treaty, he stipulated the payment of his Coronation troops, his immediate coronation, and an adequate share of the younger power and revenue of the state. The third civil war was ter- A. 0.13:29 minated by the surprise of Constantinople, the final retreat of Feb. 2the old emperor, and the sole reign of his victorious grandson. The reasons of this delay may be found in the characters of the men and of the times. When the heir of the monarchy first pleaded his wrongs and his apprehensions, he was heard

& His destined heir was Michael Catharus, the bastard of Constantine his second son. In this project of excluding his grandson Andronicus, Nicephorus Gregoras (l. viii. c. 3) agrees with Cantacuzene (1. i. 6. 1, 2.)

CHAP. with pity and applause; and his adherents repeated on all LXI. sides the inconsistent promise, that he would increase the pay

of the soldiers and alleviate the burthens of the people. The grievances of forty years were mingled in his revolt; and the rising generation was fatigued by the endless prospect of a reign, whose favourites and maxims were of other times. The youth of Andronicus had been without spirit, his age was without reverence: his taxes produced an annual revenue of five hundred thousand pounds; yet the richest of the sovereigns of Christendom was incapable of maintaining three thousand horse and twenty galleys to resist the destructive progress of the Turks. How different," said the younger Andronicus, “is my situation from that of the son of Philip! Alexander might complain, that his father would leave him nothing to conquer : alas ! my grandsire will leave me nothing to lose.” But the Greeks were soon admonished, that the public disorders could not be healed by a civil war; and that their young favourite was not destined to be the saviour of a falling empire. On the first repulse, his party was broken by his own levity, their intestine discord, and the intrigues of the ancient court, which tempted each malecontent to desert or betray the cause of rebellion. Andronicus the younger was touched with remorse, or fatigued with business, or deceived by negotiation; pleasure rather than power was his aim ; and the license of maintaining a thousand hounds, a thousand hawks, and a thousand huntsmen, was sufficient to sully his fame and disarm his ambition.

Let us now survey the catastrophe of this busy plot, and nbdicates the final situation of the principal actors. The age of An

dronicus was consumed in civil discord; and, amidst the A282324

, events of war and treaty, his power and reputation continually A.

decayed, till the fatal night in which the gates of the city, and palace were opened without resistance to his grandson. His principal commander scorned the repeated warnings of danger; and retiring to rest in the vain security of ignorance, abandoned the feeble monarch, with some priests and pages, to the terrors of a sleepless night. These terrors were quickly realized by the hostile shouts which proclaimed the titles and victory of Andronicus the younger ; and the aged emperor, falling prostrate before an image of the virgin, despatched a suppliant message to resign the sceptre, and to obtain his life at the hands of the conqueror. The answer of his grand

The elder


9 See Nicephorus Gregoras, l. vii. c. 6. The younger Andronicus complained, that in four years and four months a large sum of 350,000 byzants of gold was due to him for the expenses of his household (Cantacuzen. I. i. c. 48.) Yet he would have remitted the debt, if he might have been allowed to squeeze the farmers of the revenue.

10 I follow the chronology of Nicephorus Gregoras, who is remarkably exact. It is proved that Cantacuzene has mistaken the dates of his own actions, or rather that his text has been corrupted by ignorant transcribers.


SÓD was decent and pious; at the prayer of his friends, the chap.

younger Adronicus assumed the sole administration ; but the LXm. i elder still enjoyed the name and pre-eminence of the first em

peror, the use of the great palace, and a pension of twentyfour thousand pieces of gold, one-half of which was assigned on the royal treasure, and the other on the fishery of Constantinople. But this impotence was soon exposed to contempt and oblivion; the vast silence of the palace was disturbed only by the cattle and poultry of the neighbourhood, which roved with impunity through the solitary courts ; and a reduced allowance of ten thousand pieces of gold'' was all that he could, ask, and more than he could hope. His calamities were embittered by the gradual extinction of sight; his confinement was rendered each day more rigorous ; and during the absence and sickness of his grandson, his inhuman keepers, by the threats of instant death, compelled him to exchange the purple for the monastic habit and profession. The monk Antony had renounced the pomp of the world ; yet he had occasion for a coarse fur in the winter season, and as wine was forbidden by: his confessor, and water by his physician, the sherbet of Egypt was his common drink. It was not without difficulty, that the late emperor could procure three or four pieces to satisfy these simple wants; and if he bestowed the gold to relieve the more painful distress of a friend, the sacrifice is of some weight in the scale of humanity and religion. Four years after his ab- His death dication, Andronicus or Antony expired in a cell, in the seventy-1.b13 fourth year of his age ; and the last strain of adulation could only promise a more splendid crown of glory in heaven, than he had enjoyed upon earth. 12

Nor was the reign of the younger, more glorious or fortunate Poign of than that of the elder, Andronicus.13 He gathered the fruits theyounger of ambition ; but the taste was transient and bitter : in the su- May 24 preme station he lost the remains of his early popularity; and fun 13.41, the defects of his character became still more conspicuous to the world. The public reproach urged him to march in person against the Turks ; nor did his courage fail in the hour of trial; but a defeat and a wound were the only trophies of his expedition in Asia, which confirmed the establishment of the Ottoman monarchy. The abuses of the civil government aftained their full maturity and perfeetion; his neglect of forms,

11 l hare endeavoured to reconcile the 24,000 pieces of Cantacuzene (l. ii. c. i.) with the ten thousand, of Nicephorus Gregoras (1. ix. c. ii ;) the one of whom wished to sosten, the other to magnisy, the hardships of the old emperor.

12 See Nicephorus Gregoras (1. ix. 6, 7, 8. 10. 14, 1. x. c. 1.) The historian had. tasted of the prosperity, and shared the retreat, of bis benefactor ; and that friendship which "waite or to the scaffold or the cell,” should not lightly be aceused as "a bireling, a prostitute to praise.”

14 The sole reign of Andronicus the younger is described by Cantacuzene (l.. ii. c. 1-40, p. 191-339,) and Niccphorus Gregoras, (l. is.. c. 7-1. xi. c. 11, p. 262---361.)

His two wives.

Chap. and the confusion of national dresses, are deplored by the LXIII. Greeks as the fatal symptoms of the decay of the empire.

Adronicus was old before his time; the intemperance of youth had accelerated the infirmities of age ; and after being rescued from a dangerous malady by nature, or physic, or the Virgin, he was snatched away before he had accomplished his forty-fifth year. He was twice married ; and as the progress of the Latins in arms and arts had softened the prejudices of the Byzantine court, his two wives were chosen in the princely houses of Germany and Italy. The first, Agnes at home, Irene in Greece, was daughter of the duke of Brunswick. Her father14 was a petty lord 5 in the poor and savage regions of the north of Germany; yet he derived some revenue from his silver mines; 17 and his family is celebrated by the Greeks as the most ancient and noble of the Teutonic name. 18 After the death of this childless princess, Andronicus sought in marriage Jane, the sister of the count of Savoy;'9 and his suit was pre


14 Agnes, or Irene, was the daughter of duke Henry the Wonderful, the chief of the house of Brunswick, and the fourth in descent from the famous Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and Bavaria, and conqueror of the Sclavi, on the Baltic coast. Her brother Henry was surnamed the Greek, from his two journeys into the East : but these journeys were subsequent to his sister's marriage ; and I am ignorant how Agnes was discovered in the heart of Germany, and recom. mended to the Byzantine court (Rimius, Memoirs of the House of Brunswick, p. 126--137.)

15 Henry the Wonderful was the founder of the branch of Grubenhagen, ex. tinct in the year 1596 (Rimius, p. 287.) Ile resided in the castle of Wolfenbuttel, and possessed no more than the sixth part of the allodial estates of Brunswick and Luneburgh, wbich the Guelph family had saved from the confiscation of their great fiefs. The frequent partitions among brothers had almost ruined the princely houses of Germany, till that just, but pernicious, law was solely superseded by the right of primogeniture. The principality of Grubenhagen, one of the last remains of the Hercynian forest, is a woody, mountainous, and barren tract (Busching's Geography, vol. vi. p. 270_286, English translation.)

16 The royal author of the Memoirs of Brandenburgh will teach us, bow justly, in a much later period, the north of Germany deserved the epithets of poor and barbarous (Essai sur les Maurs, &c.) In the year 1306, in the woods of Luneburgh, some wild people of the Vened race were allowed to bury alive their infirm and useless parents (Rimius, p. 136.)

17 The assertion of Tacitus, that Germany was destitute of the precious metals, must be taken, even in his own time, with some limitation (Germania, c. 5. Annal. xi. 20.) According to Spener (Hist. Germaniæ Pragmatica, tom. i. p. 351,) Argentifodinæ, in Hercyniis montibus, imperante Otbone magno (A, D. 968) primum aperta, largam etiam opes augendi dederunt copiam : but Rimius (p. 258, 259,) defers till the year 1016 the discovery of the silver mines of Grubenhagen, or the Upper Hartz, which were productive in the beginning of the xivih century, and which still yield a considerable revenue to the house of Brunswick.

18 Cantacuzene has given a most honourable testimony, nv M Ex Teppearay aut* guy atup UENOS VTI MATPŚwin (the modern Greeks employ the v7 for the d, and the per for the B, and the whole will read in the Italian idiom di Brunzuic,) Ty mag'ava τοις επιφανεσατε, και λαμπρότητι παντας της ομοφυλος υποβάλλοντος το γένος. The praise is just in itse and pleasing to an English eas.

19 Anne, or Jane, was one of the four daughters of Amedee the Great, by a second marriage, and half sister of his successor Edward count of Savoy (Anderson's Tables, p. 650.) See Cantacuzene (1. i. c. 40–42.)

ferred to that of the French king.20 The count respected in CHAP. his sister the superior majesty of a Roman empress : her reti- LXIII. nue was composed of knights and ladies; she was regenerated and crowned in St. Sophia, under the more orthodox appellation of Anne; and, at the nuptial feast, the Greeks and Italians ried with each other in the martial exercises of tilts and tournaments.

The empress Anne of Savoy survived her husband; their Reign of son, John Palæologus, was left an orphan and an emperor, in læologus the ninth year of his age ; and his weakness was protected by the first and most deserving of the Greeks. The long and cordial friendship of his father for John Cantacuzene is alike honourable to the prince and the subject. It had been formed 4. D: 1341, amidst the pleasures of their youth; their families were almost A. D. 1391, equally noble ;2' and the recent lustre of the purple was amply Joha compensated by the energy of a private education. We have Cantacuseen that the young emperor was saved by Cantacuzene from the power of his grandfather; and, after six years of civil war, the same favourite brought him back in triumph to the palace of Constantinople. Under the reign of Andronicus the younger, the great domestic ruled the emperor and the empire ; and it was by his valour and conduct that the isle of Lesbos and the principality of Ætolia were restored to their ancient allegiance. His enemies confess, that, among the public robbers, Cantacuzene alone was moderate and abstemious; and the free and voluntary account which he produces of his own wealth may sustain the presumption that it was devolved by inheritance, and not accumulated by rapine. He does not indeed specify the value of his money, plate, and jewels; yet, after a voluntary gift of two hundred vases of silver, after much had been secreted by his friends and plundered by his foes, his forfeit treasures were sufficient for the equipment of a fleet of seventy galleys. He does not measure the size and number of his estates; but his granaries were heaped with an incredible store of wheat and barley; and the labour of a thousand yoke of oxen might cultivate, according to the practice of antiquity, about sixty-two thousand five hundred acres of arable land.2 His pastures were stocked with two thousand five hundred


20 That king, is the fact be true, must have been Charles the Fair, who in five years (1321—1326) was married to three wives (Anderson, p. 628.) Anne of Savoy arrived at Constantinople in February 1326.

21 The noble race of the Cantacuzeni (illustrious from the xith century in the Byzantine annals) was drawn from the Paladins of France, tbe heroes of those romances which in the xiiith century were translated and read by the Greeks. (Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 258.

2 See Cantacuzene (1. iji. c. 24. 30. 36.)

23 Saferna, in Gaul, and Columella, in Italy, or Spain, allow two yoke of oxen, two drivers, and six labourers, for two hundred jugera (125 English acres) of arable land, and three more men must be added if there be much underwood (Columella de Re Rusticâ, I. ii. c. 13, p. 441, edit. Gesner.)

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »