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Empress of Constantinole

Empress of Constantinole

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Published by: paranormap on Apr 10, 2012
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THEEMPRESSESOFCONSTANTINOPLEBYJOSEPHMCCABEAUTHOROF"THEEMPRESSESOFROME,"ETC.WITHEIGHTILLUSTRATIONS22124RICHARDG.BADGERTHEGORHAMPRESSBOSTONDigitizedbytheInternetArchivein2011withfundingfromBrighamYoungUniversityhttp://www.archive.org/details/empressesofconstOOmccaPREFACEINconcludinganearliervolumeonthemistressesofthewesternRomanEmpireIobservedthat,asthegalleryoffairandfrailladiesclosed,westoodatthedoorof"thelong,quaintgalleryoftheByzantineEmpresses."ItseemednaturalanddesirabletopassontothismoreinterestingandlessfamiliarseriesofthemistressesoftheeasternRomanEmpire,andthepresentvolumewillthereforetellthestoryoftheEmpresses,orQueens,astheypreferredtobecalled,whooccupiedthethronesetupbyConstantineinNewRome,orancientByzantium,untilthevictoriousTurkthrustitdisdain-fullyasidetomakewayforhismorespaciousharem.TheeasternorByzantineEmpirehaslongbeen
 
regardedinEuropeasaworldoffarlessinterestthanthatwhichcentredonthebanksoftheTiber:aworldofmonotonouspietyandlittleadventureorspirit,almostChineseinitsplacidandunchangingadherencetotradi-tionalandveryconventionalforms.Oneistemptedtoattributethiserror,notmerelytothelongerconcealmentofByzantineantiquitiesfromourfathersandthesuperi-orattractivenessofItaly,but,insomemeasure,tothedisproportionofGibbon'swork.BythetimethegreathistorianhasadvancedonlyoneortwocenturiesinthelifeoftheEasthefindsthatthesuperbgenerosityofhisplanhascommittedhimtoanunachievabletask,andhebeginstocompresswholechaptersofthemostvividandadventuroushistoryintoafewdisdainfulpages;andasFinlay,theproperhistorianoftheGreekciviliza-tion,notonlylacksthecharmwhichdrawseachgenera-vviEMPRESSESOFCONSTANTINOPLEtionwithfreshwondertothevolumesofGibbon,butsharesandexpressesthesamedisdainforhissubject,hisworkhasnottendedtoredeemtheByzantineEmpirefromneglect.Oflateyearstherehasbeensomequick-eningofinterestintheeasternEmpire.ProfessorBuryinthiscountry,*M.DiehlinFrance,SchlumbergerinGermany,andotherhistorians,havedonemuchtodrawattentiontotheextraordinaryinterestandtheverylivelycharacterofByzantinelife.Whenweconfineourattention,aswedointhisvolume,totheCourtlifeandthepersonalityoftheimperialwomen,theinterestrisestothepitchofromance,andisoftensustainedatthatheightformanychapters.FewCourtsintheworldhave,intheirthousandyearsofhistory,witnessedsomuchadventure,intrigue,comedyandtragedy,asthatoftheByzantineEmpresses.FromallquartersoftheEmpire,inthemostvariedways,allsortsofwomen,fromprincessestovillagegirls,taverngirlsorcircusgirls,maketheirwaytothebronze-roofedpalaceandwearforaseasontheprodigiousjewelsandtheglitteringrobesofanEmpressofConstantinople;and,asthereisnolawormethodofsuccessiontothethrone,theriseandfallofEmperorsandEmpressesgivesadramaticmovementtothestory.ThenotionthattheeasternEmpressesareenwrappedinarigidpietyandformalism,astheyareintheirstifftunicsofgoldcloth,isaludicrousmistake.Theirpietyisusuallyexternalandsuperficial,andoftentheymakenottheleastpretenceofit;while,evenwhen*ReadersofProfessorBury'sincomplete"HistoryoftheLaterRomanEmpire"maywonderthatIcontinuetousethephrase"ByzantineEmpire"afterBury'sprotestagainstthatphrase.Butitseemstomethatif"RomanEmpire"meansanEmpirecentredinRome,"ByzantineEmpire"isthemostcongruousnameforadominionthatcentresinancientByzantiumandhas,duringthefargreaterpartofitsstory,noconnexionwhateverwithRome.Most
 
historianscontinuetospeakofitasByzantine.PREFACEviiitisobviouslysincere,itisassociatedwithaskillincasuistrywhichallowsafreeplayoftheirambitions,theirpassions,andeventheircriminalimpulses.Indeed,itisonlyfairtosayattheoutsetthatifareaderpassesfromthegalleryofthe"pagan"EmpressesintothatoftheEmpressesofConstantinopleinthehopeofencounteringmorerestful,morevirtuousandmoredomestictypesofwomanhood,hewillbegrievouslydisappointed.WemaynotfindaMessalinaamongthem,butirregularityoflifeismoreevenlydistributedthanamongtheRomanEmpresses,ambitionandin-triguearefarmorecultivated,andthereisastrainofbarbariccrueltyrunningthroughthegreaterpartofthestorywhichitwouldhavebeenmorepleasant,haditbeenconsistentwithtruthfulness,toomit.Butthebiographershouldnotbeamoralist.Mysimplepurposeistodepict,asfarasitispossible,theveryvariedtypesofwomanhoodwhichcomeinto"thefiercelightthatbeatsaboutathrone"inthatstrangeworldwhereGreekandRomanandSyrianbloodblendtoproduceanewcharacter.Thedifficultiesofthetaskhavebeenconsiderable,andmaybeurgedinextenuationofsomeoftheapparentdefectsofthestory.ApartfromsketchesofthelivesoffiveorsixoftheByzantineEmpresses,especiallythoseinM.DiehPsfine"FiguresByzantines,"thestudyisentirelynew,andthematerialhashadtobelaboriouslycollectedfromtheendlesspagesoftheGreekchroniclers.Thesechroniclersarelargelymonks,andinnearlyallcasestheyarelittledisposedtospeakoftheimperialwomenuntiltheyeithermisbehavethemselvesorcometowieldamasteryovermen.TheirreferencestotheEmpressesareusuallybriefandscatteredsentenceswhichhavetobegleanedwithcare,andinhardlyanyviiiEMPRESSESOFCONSTANTINOPLEsinglecasedoevencontemporarywriterscondescendtogiveusaportraitofanEmpress.Seeingthat,inaddi-tion,wehavenot(asinthecaseofRome)anystatuesorportrait-bustsoftheEmpresses,andthefewrepre-sentationsofthemwhichhavesurvived(inminiatures,ivories,etc.)arelifelessandconventionalizedpictures,itisnotpossibletobringthembeforetheeyeinassatis-factoryawayasonecouldwish.Inthis,asintheprecedingvolume,IhaveutterlyrefusedtofollowthegenialexampleofRoergasdeServiez,andallowimagi-nationtocometotheaidoffact.ButIhavecarefullygatheredandincludedallthatisknownabouttheeasternEmpresses,and,lestitbethoughtthattheless-knownEmpressesmightalterthebalanceofviceorvirtue,I

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