Liutprand of Cremona:
Report of his Mission to Constantinople
Introduction [From Henderson translation]
This remarkable and exceedingly original piece of writing has been relegated to the appendix [of Henderson's source collection] not because it is less important than the other documents in this collection, but because, being more of a narrative, it differs from them in character.
We first hear of Liutprand at the court of Berengar and Willa, who, in the middle of the tenth century, ruled over northern Italy. Becoming estranged from his royal patrons he wrote against them the Antapodosis, or book of retribution, which is one of our most valued historical sources for those times. In 963 Liutprand was envoy of Otto the Great to the shameless Pope John XII., and wrote the only connected account which we have of the latter's condemnation and deposition.
The journey to Constantinople took place in 968. Otto had, in his efforts to bring Italy into his power, come into collision with the Greeks, who regarded Benevento and Capua as belonging to the provinces of the Eastern Empire. Otto went so far as to occupy Apulia and to besiege the Greek town of Bari, but soon came to the conclusion that more was to be gained by negotiations than by war. Liutprand, now Bishop of Cremona, advised peace, and suggested that a Greek princess should be sought in marriage for the
young emperor Otto II., who had commenced to reign ,conjointly with his father. It was upon the princess Theophano that the hopes of the emperor were fixed, and it was thought that Nicephorus would give Apulia and Calabria as her dowry. It was to arrange this matter that Liutprand, accompanied by a large suite, went to Constantinople. The reception that he met with will be explained in his own words.
Liutprand bishop of the holy church of Cremona desires, wishes and prays that the Ottos, the unconquerable emperors of the Romans,-and the most glorious Adelaide flourish, prosper and be triumphant.
Why it was that you did not receive my former letters or my envoy the following explanation will make clear. On the day before the Nones of June (June 4) we came to Constantinople, and there, as a mark of disrespect to yourselves, being shamefully received, we were harshly and shamefully treated. We were shut up in a palace large enough, indeed, but uncovered, neither keeping out the cold nor warding off the heat. Armed soldiers were made to stand guard who were to prevent all of my companions from going out and all others from coming in. This dwelling, into which we alone who were shut up could pass, was so far removed from the palace that our breath was taken away when we walked there - we did not ride. To add to our calamity the Greek wine, on account of being mixed with pitch, resin, and plaster was to us undrinkable- The house itself was without water, nor could we even for money buy water to still our thirst. To this great torment was added another torment - our warden namely, who cared for our daily support. If one were to look for his like, not earth. but perhaps hell, would furnish it; for he, like an inundating torrent, poured forth on us whatever calamity, whatever plunder, whatever expense, whatever torment, whatever misery he could invent.- Nor among a hundred and twenty days did a single one pass without bringing us groaning and grief.
On the day before the Nones of June (June 4), as
stated above, we arrived at Constantinople before the Carian gate and waited with our horses, in no slight rain, until the eleventh hour. But at the eleventh hour, Nicephorus, not regarding us, who had been so distinguished by you as worthy to ride, ordered us to approach; and we were led to the aforesaid hated, waterless, open marble house. But on the eighth day before the Ides (June 6), on the Saturday before Pentecost, I was led into the presence of his brother Leo, the marshal of the court, and chancellor; and there we wearied ourselves out in a great discussion concerning your imperial title. For he called you not emperor, which is Basileus in his tongue, but, to insult you, Rex, which is king in ours. And when I told him that the thing signified was the same although the terms used to signify it, were different, he said that I had come not to make peace but to excite discord; and thus angrily rising he received your letters, truly insultingly, not in his own band, but through an interpreter. He was a man commanding enough in person but feigning humility; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it..'
On the seventh day before the Ides (June 7), moreover, on the sacred day - of Pentecost itself, in the palace which is called the crown hall, I was led before Nicephorus-a monstrosity of a man, a pygmy, fat-headed and like a mole as to the smallness of his eyes; disgusting with his short, broad, thick, and half hoary beard; disgraced by a neck an inch long; very bristly through the length and thickness of his hair; in color an Ethiopian; one whom it would not be pleasant to meet in the middle of the night; with extensive belly, lean of loin, very long of hip considering his short stature, small of shank, proportionate as to his heels and feet; clad in a garment costly but too old, and foul-smelling and faded through age; shod with Sicyonian shoes; bold of tongue, a fox by nature, in perjury, and lying a Ulysses. Always my lords and august emperors you seemed to me shapely, how much more shapely after this! Always magnificent, how much more magnificent after this! Always powerful, how much more powerful after this! Always gentle, how much more gentle henceforth! Always full of virtues, how much fuller henceforth. At his left, not in a line but far below, sat two
petty emperors, once his masters, now his subjects. His discourse began as follows:
"It would have been right for us, nay, we had wished to receive you kindly and with honor; but the impiety of your master does not permit it since, invading it as an enemy, he has claimed for himself Rome; has taken away, from Berengar and Adalbert their kingdom, contrary to law and right; has slain some of the Romans by the sword, others by hanging, depriving some of their eyes, sending others into exile ; and has tried, moreover, to subject to himself by slaughter or by flame cities of our empire. And, because his wicked endeavour could not take effect, he now has sent you, the instigator and furtherer of this wickedness, to act as a spy upon us while simulating peace."
I answered him:-"My master did not by force or tyrannically invade the city of Rome; but he freed it from a tyrant, nay, from the yoke of tyrants. Did not the slaves of women rule over it; or, which is worse and more disgraceful, harlots themselves? Your power, I fancy, or that of your predecessors, who in name alone are called emperors of the Romans and are it not in reality, was sleeping at that time. If they were powerful, if emperors of the Romans, why did they permit Rome to be in the hands of harlots? Were not some of them most holy popes banished, others so oppressed that they were not able to have their daily supplies or the means of giving alms? Did not Adalbert send scornful letters to the emperors Romanus and Constantine your predecessors? Did he not plunder the churches of the most holy apostles? What one of you emperors, led by zeal for God, took care to avenge so unworthy a crime and to bring back the holy church to its proper conditions You neglected it, my master did not neglect it. For, rising from the ends of the earth and coming to Rome, he removed the impious and gave back to the vicars of the holy apostles their power and all their honor, But afterwards those who had risen against him and the lord pope,, according to the decrees of the Roman emperors Justinian, Valentinian, Theodosius and the others he slew, strangled, hung, and sent into exile as violators of their oath, as sacrilegious men, as torturers and plunderers of their lords the popes. Had he not done so he would
have been impious, unjust, cruel a tyrant. It is well known that Berengar and Adalbert, becoming his vassals, had received the kingdom of Italy with a golden scepter from his hand, and-that they, taking an oath, promised fealty in the presence of servants of yours who still live and are at present in this city. And because, at the devil's instigation they perfidously violated this promise, he justly deprived them as deserters and rebels against himself, of their kingdom. You yourself would do the same to those who had been your subjects, and who afterwards rebelled."
"But Adalbert's vassal," he said, "does not acknowledge this". I answered him: "If he denies it one of may suite shall, at your command, show by a duel tomorrow that it is so". "Well" he said, "he may, as you say, have done this justly. Explain now why with war and flame he attacked the boundaries 'If our empire. We were friends, and were expecting, . by means of a marriage to enter into an indissoluble union".
"The Land", I answered, "which you say belongs to your empire belongs, as the nationality and language of the people proves, to the kingdom of Italy. The Lombards held it in their power, and Louis, the emperor of the Lombards, or Franks, freed it from the hand of the Saracens, many of them being cut down. But also Landolph, prince of Benevento and Capua, subjugated and held it in his power for seven years. Nor would it until now have passed from the yoke of his servitude or that of his successors, had not the emperor Romanus, giving an immense sum of money, bought the friendship of our king Hugo. And it was for this reason that he joined in a marriage to his nephew and namesake the bastard daughter of this same king of ours, Hugo, And, as I see, you ascribe it not to kindness but to weakness that, after acquiring Italy and Rome, he left it to you for so many years. The bond of friendship, however, which you did wish, as you say, to form through marriage, we look on as a wile and a snare: you do demand a trace, which the condition of affairs neither compels you to demand nor us to grant. But, in order that now all deceit may be laid bare and the truth not be bidden, my master (Otto) has sent me to you, so that if you art willing to
give the daughter of the emperor Romanus and of the empress Theophano to my master his son, Otto the august emperor, you may affirm this to me with an oath; whereupon I will affirm by an oath that, in return for such fav6urs, he will observe and do to you this and this. But already my master his given to you, as to his brother, the best pledge of his friendship in restoring to you, by my intervention, at whose suggestion you declare this evil to have been done, all Apulia which was subject to his sway. Of which thing there are as many witnesses as there are inhabitants in all Apulia."
The second hour," said Nicephorus, , is already past. The solemn procession to the church is about to take place. Let us now do what the hour demands. At a convenient time we will reply to what you have said."
May nothing keep me from describing this procession, and my masters from hearing about it! A-numerous multitude of tradesmen and low-born persons, collected at this festival to receive and to do honor to Nicephorus, occupied both sides of the road from the palace to St. Sophia like walls, being disfigured by quite thin little shields and wretched spears. And it served to increase this disfigurement that the greater part of this same crowd in his (Nicephorus') honor, had marched with bare feet. I believe that they thought in this way better to adorn that holy procession. But also his nobles who passed with him through the plebeian and barefoot multitude were clad in tunics which were too large, and which were tom through too great age. It would have been much more suitable had they marched in their everyday clothes. There was no one whose grandfather had owned one of these garments when it was new. No one there was adorned with gold, no one with gems, save Nicephorus alone, whom the imperial adornments, bought and prepared for the persons of his ancestors, rendered still more disgusting. By, your salvation, which is dearer to me than my own, one precious garment of your nobles is worth a hundred of these, and more too. I was led to this church procession and was placed on a raised place next to the singers.
And as, like a creeping monster, he proceeded thither, the singers cried out in adulation: "Behold the morning
star approaches Eos rises; he reflects in his glances the rays of the sun-he the pale death of the Saracens, Nicephorus the ruler." And accordingly they sang: "Long life to the ruler Nicephorus"1 Adore him, you people, cherish him, bend the neck to him alone! 1How much more truly, might they have sung: ,Come, you burnt-out coal, you fool; old woman in your walk, wood-devil in your look; you peasant, you frequenter of foul places, you goatfoot, you horn-head, you double-limbed one; bristly, -unruly, countrified, barbarian, harsh, hairy, a rebel, a Cappadocian! " And so, inflated by those lying fools, he enters St. Sophia, his masters the emperors following him ground. His armor-bearer, with an arrow for a pen,' from afar, and, with the kiss of peace, adoring him to the places in the church the era which is in progress from the time when he began to reign, and thus those who did not then exist learn what the era is.
On this same day he ordered me to be his guest. Not; thinking me worthy, however, to be placed above any of his nobles, I sat in the fifteenth place from him, and without a tablecloth. Not only did no one of my suite sit at table, but not one of them saw even the house in which I was a guest. During which disgusting and foul meal, which was washed down with oil after the "manner of drunkards, and moistened also with a certain and other exceedingly bad fish liquor, he asked me many questions concerning your power, many concerning your dominions and your army. And when I had replied to him consequently and truly, "You lie," he said, "the soldiers of your master do -not know bow to ride, nor do they know how to fight on foot; the size of their shields, the weight of their breast-plates, the length of their swords, and the burden of their helms permits them to fight in neither one way nor the other." Then he added, smiling: "their gluttony also impedes them, for their God is their belly, their courage but wind, their bravery drunkenness. Their fasting means dissolution, their sobriety panic. Nor has your master a number of fleets on the sea. I alone have a force of navigators; I will attack him with my ships, I will overrun his maritime cities with war, and those which a-re near the rivers I will reduce to ashes. And how, I ask, can he even on land
resist we with his scanty forces? His son was there, his wife was there, the Saxons, Swabians, Bavarians, were all with him: and if they did not know enough and were unable to take one little city that resisted them, how will they resist me when I come, I who am followed by as many troops as
'Gargara corn-ears have, or grape-shoots the island of Lesbos,
Stars in the sky are found, or waves in the billowy ocean
When I wished to reply to him and to give forth an answer worthy of his boasting, he did not permit me; but added as if to scoff at me: "You are -not Romans but Lombards." When he wished to speak further and was waving his hand to impose silence upon me, I said in anger: "History, teaches that the fratricide Romulus, from whom also the Romans are named, was born in adultery-; and that he made an asylum for himself in which he received insolvent debtors, fugitive slaves, homicides, and those who were worthy of death for their deeds. And he called to himself a certain number of such and called them Romans. From such nobility those are descended whom you call world-rulers, that is, emperors; whom we, namely the Lombards, Saxons, Franks, Lotharingians, Bavarians, Swabians, Burgundians, so despise, that when angry, we can call our enemies nothing more scornful than Roman-comprehending in this one thing, that is in the name of the Romans, whatever there is of contemptibility, of timidity, of avarice, of luxury, of lying: in a word, of viciousness. But because you do maintain that we are unwarlike and ignorant of horsemanship, if the sins of the Christians shall merit that you shall remain in this hard-heartedness: the next battle will show what you are, and how warlike we."
Nicephorus, exasperated by these words, commanded silence with his hand, and bade that the long narrow table should be taken away, and that I should return to my hated habitation-or, to speak more truly, my prison. There after two days, as a result of vexation as well as of heat and thirst, I was taken with a severe illness. And,
indeed, there was not one of my companions who, having drunk from the same cup of sorrow, did not fear that his last day was approaching. Why should they not sicken, I ask, whose drink instead of the best wine was brine; whose resting place was not bay, not straw, not even earth, but hard marble; whose pillow was a stone, whose open house kept off neither heat, nor showers, nor cold? Salvation itself, to use a common expression, if it had poured itself out upon them could not have saved them. Weakened therefore by my own tribulations and those of my companions, calling my warden, or rather my persecutor, I brought it about, not by prayers alone but through money, that he should carry my letter containing what follows, to the brother of Nicephorus:
"To the coropalate and logothete of the palace, Leo- Bishop Liutprand. If the most illustrious emperor thinks of granting the request on account of which I have come, the suffering which I here endure shall not exhaust my patience; only his lordship must be instructed by my letters and by an envoy that I will not remain here without reason. But if the contrary be the case, there is a transport ship of the Venetians here which is just about to start. Let him permit me who am ill to embark, so that, if the time of my dissolution be at hand, my native land may at least receive my corpse."
When he had read these lines he ordered me to come to him after four days. There sat with him, according to their tradition, to discuss your affair the wisest men, strong in Attic eloquence: Basilius the chief chamberlain, the chief state secretary, the chief master of the wardrobe and two other officials, They began their discourse as follows: " Tell us, brother, why you have taken the trouble to come hither." When I had told them that it was on account of the marriage which was to be the ground for a lasting peace, they said: "It is an unheard of thing that a daughter born in the purple of an emperor born in the purple should be joined in marriage with strange nations. But although you seek so high a favor, you shall receive -what you wish, if you give what is right: Ravenna, namely, and Rome with all the adjoining places which extend from thence to our possessions. But if you desire friendship
without the marriage, let your master permit Rome to be free; but the princes, of Capua, namely, and Benevento, ,who were formerly slaves of our empire and now are rebels, let him give over to their former subjection."
I answered them: "You yourselves can not but know that my master rules over Slavonian princes who are mightier than Peter king of the Bulgarians who has wedded the daughter of the emperor Christophorus." "But Christophorus," they said, " was not born in the purple."
But Rome, "I said, " which, as you exclaim, you wish to have free, who does it serve, to whom does it pay tribute' ? Did it not formerly serve harlots? And, while you were sleeping, nay, powerless, did not my master the august emperor free it from so disgraceful a servitude? Constantine, the august emperor who founded this city and called it after his name, as world-ruler gave many gifts to the holy apostolic Roman church, not only in Italy but in almost all the western kingdoms; also in the eastern and southern-in Greece, namely, Judea, Persia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Egypt, Libya: as his own privileges witness, which are preserved in our land. Now whatever there is, in Italy and also in Saxony and Bavaria or in any, of the dominions of m master, that belongs to the church of the blessed apostles: he has conferred it on the vicar of those same most holy apostles. And may I deny God if my master has retained from all of these a city, an estate, a vassal or a serf - But why does your emperor not do the same? Why does he not restore to the church of the apostles what lies in his kingdom; so that he may make it, rich and free as it is by the labor and munificence of my master, still richer and more free?
"But this," said the first chamberlain Basilius, "he will do as soon as Rome and the Roman church shall be subordinated to his will." "A certain main," I said, "having suffered much injury from another, approached God with these words: I Lord, avenge me upon my adversary!' To whom the Lord said I will do it at the day when I shall render unto each man according to his works!' I Alas,' said he, 'how late that will be!
At which all except the emperor's brother shook with laughter. They then ended the interview and ordered me
to be led back to my hated abode, and to be guarded with great care until the day, honored by all religious persons, of the holy apostles. On this festal occasion the emperor commanded me-I was very ill at the time-and also the Bulgarian envoys who had arrived the day before, to meet him at the church of the holy apostles. And when after the garrulous songs of praise (to Nicephorus) and the celebration of the mass we were invited to table, he placed above me on our side of the table, which was long and narrow, the envoy of the Bulgarians who was shorn in Hungarian fashion, girt with a brazen chain, and as it seemed to me, a catechumen; plainly in scorn of yourselves my august masters. On your behalf I was despised, rejected and scorned. But I thank the Lord Jesus Christ whom you serve with your whole soul that I have been considered worthy to suffer contumely for your sakes. However, my masters, not considering myself but yourselves to be insulted, I left the table. And as I was about indignantly to go away, Leo the marshal of the court and brother of the emperor, and Simeon the chief state secretary came up to me from behind, barking out at me this: "When Peter the king of the Bulgarians married the daughter of Christophorus articles were mutually drawn up and confirmed with an oath to the effect that with us the envoys of the Bulgarians should be preferred, honored and cherished above the envoys of all other nations. That envoy of the Bulgarians although, as you say and as is true, he is shorn, unwashed and girt with a brazen chain, is nevertheless a patrician; and we decree and judge that it would not be right to give a bishop, especially a Frankish one, the, preference over him. And since we know that you do consider this unseemly, we will not now, as you do expect, allow you to return to your quarters, but shall oblige you to take food in a separate apartment with the servants of the emperor.
On account of the incomparable grief in my heart I made no reply to them, but did what they had ordered; judging that table not a suitable place where-I will not say to me, that is, the bishop Liutprand, but to your envoy-an envoy of the Bulgarians is preferred. But the sacred emperor soothed my grief through a great gift,
sending to me from among his most delicate dishes a fat goat, of which he himself had partaken, deliciously (?) stuffed with garlic, onions and leeks; steeped in fish sauce: a dish which I could have wished just then to be upon your table, so that you who do not believe the delicacies of the sacred emperor to be desirable, should at length become believers at this sight!
When eight days had passed and the Bulgarians had already departed, thinking that I thought very highly of his table he compelled me, ill as I was, to dine with him in the same place. There was present also, with many bishops, the patriarch; in whose presence he asked me many questions concerning the Holy Scriptures; which, the divine Spirit inspiring me, I expounded with elegance, And at last, in order to make merry over you, he asked me what synods we recognized. When I bad mentioned to him Nicea, Chalcedon, Ephesus, Carthage, Ancyra, Constantinople, -"Ha, Ha, Ha," said he, "you have forgotten to mention Saxony, and, if you ask us why our books do not contain it, I answer that your beliefs are too young and have not you been able to reach us."
I answered: "That member of the body where the infirmity has its seat must be burned with the burning iron. All heresies have emanated from you, have flourished among you; by us, that is by the western nations they have been here strangled, here put an end to.-A Roman or a Pavian synod, although they often took place, I do not count here. A Roman clerk, indeed, afterwards the universal pope Gregory who is called by- you Dialogus, freed Eutychius the heretical patriarch of Constantinople from his heresy. This same Eutychius said, nor did he only say but taught, proclaimed and kept writing, that we would assume at the Resurrection not the true flesh which we have here, but a certain fantastic flesh. The book containing this error was, in an orthodox manner, burned by Gregory. Ennodius, moreover, bishop of Pavia, was, on account of a certain other heresy, sent here, that is to Constantinople, by the Roman patriarch. He repressed it, and restored the orthodox catholic teaching.-The race of the Saxons, from the time when it received the holy baptism and the knowledge of God, has been spotted by
no heresy which would have rendered a synod necessary of an error which did not exist. Since for the correction of an error which did not exist. Since you declare the faith of the Saxons to be young, I am willing also to affirm the same; for always the faith of Christ is young and not if with those, those whose works second their faith. Faith is there not young but old where works do not accompany it; but faith is scorned, as it were, for its age, like a worn out garment. But I knew for certain of one synod that was held in Saxony in which it was decreed and confirmed that it was more fitting to fight with the sword than with the open, and better to submit to death than to turn one's back to the enemy. Your own arm has experienced the truth of this," in my heart I said "And may they (the Saxons) soon have occasion to show how warlike they are ! "
On this same day, after midday, he ordered me to meet him on his return from the palace , although I was so weak and changed that the women who, before when they met me, called out in astonishment "Manna, manna", [untranslatable] now pitying my misery, beat their breasts with their hands and said: "Poor sick man" What then, raising my hands to Heaven, I wished him,-Nicephorus, namely, as he approached-and you who were absent: oh that it might be fulfilled! But you may well believe me, he made me laugh little, for he sat on an impatient and unbridled horse-a very little man on a very big beast. My mind pictured to itself one of those dolls which your Slavonians tie on to a foal, allowing it then to follow its mother with out a rein.
After this I 'was led back to my fellow citizens and fellow inmates five lions, into the aforesaid hated abode; where, during a space of three weeks .Was treated to the conversation of no-one save my companions On account of which my mind pictured to itself that Nicephorus wished never to let me go, and my unbounded sadness brought on one illness after another, so that I should have died had not the mother of God, by her prayers, obtained my life from the Creator and His son; as was shown to me not through a fancied but through a, true vision.
During these three weeks, then, Nicephorus had his camp outside of Constantinople, in a place that is called "At the Fountains"; and thither be ordered me to come. And, although I was so weak that not Only standing but even sitting seemed a heavy burden to me, he compelled me to stand before him with uncovered head; a thing which was entirely wrong in my state of ill health. And he said to me: "The envoys of your king Otto who were here before you in the preceding your promised me under oath -and the wording of the oath can be produced-that he would never in any way bring scandal upon our empire. Do you wish for worse scandal than that he calls himself emperor, or that he usurps for himself the provinces of our empire? Both of these things are unbearable; and if both are insupportable, that especially is not to be borne, nay not to be heard of, that he calls himself emperor. But if you will confirm what they promised our majesty, will straightway dismiss you happy and rich." This, moreover, he said not in order that I might expect you to observe the engagement , even if in my foolishness I had made it; but he wished to have in hand something that he might show in time to come to his praise and to our shame.
I answered him: "My most holy master, most wise as he s and full of the spirit of God, foreseeing this which you do desire, wrote me instructions which he also signed with his seal lest I should act counter to them: to the effect that I should not transcend the bounds he set for me." -you know, my august master, what I relied upon when I said this - "Let these instructions be produced, and whatever he shall order, will be confirmed by an oath from me to you. But as to what the former envoys, without the order of in master, promised, swore or wrote,-in the words of Plato: 'the guilt is with the wisher, the god is without fault"
After this we came to the matter of the most noble princes of Capua and Benevento, whom he call, his slaves, and on account of whom an inward grief is troubling him. "Your master," he said, has taken my slaves under his protection; if he will not let them go restore them to their former servitude, he must do without our friendship
They themselves demand to be taken back under our rule but our imperial dignity refuses them, that they may know and experience how dangerous it is for slaves to fall away from their masters and to flee slavery. And it is more becoming for your master to give them over to me as friend, than to renounce them to me against his will. Indeed they shall learn, if my life holds out, what it is deceive their lord; what it is to desert their servitude. And even now, as I think, they feel what I say,-our soldiers who are beyond the sea, having brought it to pass!"
To this he did not permit me to reply; but, although desired to go away, he ordered me to return to his table. His father sat with him, a man, it seemed to me, a hundred and fifty years old. Before him, as before his so the Greeks call out with hymns of praise - nay, with blatancies - that God may multiply his years. From this we can gather how foolish the Greeks are; how fond of such glory; how adulatory; how greedy. For, not only to an old man but to an utterly worn-out graybeard, they wish what they know for certain that nature itself will not grant. And the worn-out graybeard rejoices that that is wished to him which, as he knows, God will not grant him; and which, if He did, would be to his disadvantage, and not to his advantage. And Nicephorus, if you please could rejoice at being called the prince of peace, and the morning star! To call a weakling strong, a fool wise, a short man tall, a black man white, a sinner holy, is believe me, not praise but contumely. And he who rejoices in having strange attributes called after him, rather than those that are rightly due to him, is altogether like those birds whose eyes the night illumines, the day blinds.
But let us return to the matter in hand, At this meal -a thing that he had not done before-he ordered to read with a loud voice a homily of St. John Chrysostom on the Acts of the apostles. At the end of this reading, when I sought permission to return to you, nodding affirmatively with his bead, he ordered my persecutor to take me back -my fellow citizens and co-denizens, the lions. When this had been done I was not received by him until the thirteenth day before the Calends of August (July 20), but was diligently guarded lest I might enjoy the discourse of any
one who might indicate to me his actions. Meanwhile he ordered Grimizo, Adalbert's messenger, to come to him and bade him return with the imperial fleet, This consisted of twenty- four Chelandian, two Russian, and two Gallic ships -1 do not know if he sent others which I did not see. The bravery of your soldiers, my masters and august emperors, does not require to be encouraged by, the weakness of their adversaries, although this has often been the case with other nations; the hindmost of which, and the weakest in comparison, have struck down the Greek bravery and made it tributary. For just as it would not intimidate you if I announced that they were very strong and comparable to the Macedonian Alexander, so also I do not put courage into you when I narrate their weakness, true as it is. I wish you might believe me, and I know you will believe me, that you with four hundred of your warriors can slay that whole army, if ditches or walls do not prevent. And over this army, in scorn of you, as I think, be has placed in command a sort of man-a sort of, I say, because be has ceased to be a male and was not able to become a female. Adalbert has sent word to Nicephorus that he, has eight thousand knights in armor, and says that, if the Greek army helps him, he can, with them, put to flight or annihilate you. And he asks your rival to send him money, that he may the more readily induce his troops to fight.
Now, however, my masters,
Hark to the wiles of the Greeks, and from one single example learn all.
Nicephorus gave that slave, to whom he had entrusted the army which he had brought together and hired, a considerable sum of money to be disposed of as follows: if Adalbert, as he had promised, should join him with seven thousand and more knights in armor, then he was to distribute among them that sum; and Cono, Adalbert's brother, with his and the Greek army was to attack you; but Adalbert was to be diligently guarded in Bari, until his brother should come back having gained the victory. But if Adalbert when he came should not bring with him- so many thousands of men, lie ordered that he was, to be taken, bound, and given over to you where you came; moreover that
the money which was destined for him, Adalbert, should be paid over into your hands! Oh what a warrior, oh what fidelity. He wishes to betray him for whom he pre pares a defender; he prepares a defender for 'him whom he wishes to destroy. Towards neither is he faithful, towards both untrue. He does what he did not need to do, he needed to do what be has not done. But so be it, he acted as one might expect from Greeks! But let us return to the matter in hand.
On the fourteenth day before the Calends of August (July 19) he dismissed that motley fleet, I looking on from my hated abode. On the thirteenth day, moreover (July 20), on which day the flippant Greeks celebrate with theatrical plays the ascension of the prophet Elias, he ordered me to go to him and said - "Our imperial majesty thinks to lead an army against the Assyrians, not as your master does, against followers of Christ. Already last year I wished to do this, but hearing that your master intended to invade the territory of our empire, letting the Assyrians go, we turned our reins against him. His envoy, the Venetian Dominicus met us in Macedonia, and, with much labor and exertion, induced us to return, affirming to us with an oath that your master would never think of such a thing, much less do it. Return therefore," -when I heard this I said to myself, " Thank God!" -" and announce this and this to your master; if he give me satisfaction, return hither again."
I answered: " If your most holy majesty shall command me quickly to fly to Italy, I know for certain that my master will fulfill what your majesty wishes, and I will joyfully return to you." In what spirit I said this did not, alas, remain hid from him. For, smiling, he nodded his head and ordered me, as I was adoring him to the ground, and was going away, to remain outside and come to his meal, which smelt strongly of garlic and onions and was filthy with oil and fish-juice. On this day I brought it about through many prayers that he deigned to accept my gift, which he had often scorned.
As we were sitting at his long narrow table, which was covered for some ells - for the most part, however, uncovered - he made merry over the Franks, under which
name he included the Latins as well as the Germans; and he asked me to tell him where the city of my bishopric was situated and in what name it rejoiced. I said, "Cremona, quite near to the Eridanus (Po), the king of the rivers of Italy. And since your imperial majesty hastens to send Chelandian ships there, may it be of advantage to me to have seen and known you! Grant peace to the place, that at least by your favor it may continue to exist, since it cannot resist you." But the sly fellow saw that I said this ironically, and with submissive mien promised that he would do this; and he swore to me by virtue of his holy empire, that I should suffer no ill, but should prosperously and quickly arrive at the port of Ancona with his Chelandian ships. And this he swore to me, striking his breast with his fingers.
But mark how impiously he had sworn. These things were said and done on the thirteenth day before the Calends of August (July 20) on the second day of the week (Monday); from which day, until the ninth day, I received no supplies from him. And this was at a time when the famine in Constantinople was so great that for three gold pieces I was not able to provide a meal for my twenty five companions and the four Greek guards. On the fourth day of that week Nicephorus left Constantinople to march against the Assyrians.
On the fifth day his brother called me before him and addressed me as follows: "The holy emperor has gone forth and I have remained at home to-day at his command. Tell me, then, now, if you do desire to see the holy emperor, and if you have any thing which you have not yet imparted." I answered him: "I have no reason for seeing the holy emperor or for narrating any thing new; I ask this alone, that, according to the promise of the holy emperor, he allow me to cross on his Chelandian ships to the port of Ancona." On hearing this,-the Greeks are always ready to swear by the head of another -he began to swear that he would do so by the head of the emperor, by his own life, by his children whom God, according as he spoke truly, was to preserve. When I asked him: "When " he answered: "As soon as the emperor is gone; for the 'delongaris' in whose hand all
the power over the ships rests, will see to you when the holy emperor goes away." Deceived by this hope, I went away from him rejoicing.
But two days after, on Saturday, Nicephorus had me summoned to Umbria, which is a place eighteen miles from Constantinople. And he said to me: "I thought that you had come hither, as a distinguished and upright man, in order altogether to accede to my demands and to establish a perpetual friendship between me and your master. But as, on account of your hardness of heart, you are not willing to do this: at least bring about this one thing, which you may with perfect right do; promise, namely, that your master will lend no aid to the princes of Capua and Benevento, my slaves whom I am about to attack. Since he gives us nothing of his own , let him at least give up what is ours. It is a well-known thing that their fathers and grandfathers gave tribute to our empire, and that they themselves shall shortly do the same,-for that the army of our empire will labor."
I answered him: "Those princes are nobles of the first rank and vassals of my master; and, if he see that your army attacks them, be will send to them aid which will enable them to annihilate your forces and to take away those two provinces which are yours beyond the sea." Then, swelling like a toad and -very angry: "Go away," be said; " by myself, by my parents who engendered me such as I am, I will make your master think of other things than of protecting rebellious slaves."
As I was going away, he ordered the interpreter to invite me to table; and summoning the brother of those two princes, and Bysantius of Bari, he ordered them to give vent to gross insults against yourselves and against the Latin and the Teuton race. But as I was going away from the foul meal, they sent word to me secretly through messengers and swore that what they had growled out bad been said not of their own will, but because of the wishes and threats of the emperor. But Nicephorus himself asked me at that meal if you bad parks and if in your parks you had wild asses and other animals. When I had answered him that you had parks and animals in the parks, but no wild asses, he said: "I will take you into our park
and you will be surprised to see its size and to look at the wild asses." I was led therefore into a park which was rather large, hilly and fruitful, but -not at all pleasing to the view; and as I was riding along with my hat on and the marshal of the court saw me from afar, he quickly, dispatched his son to me to say that it was wrong for any one to be with his bat on where the emperor was and that I must wear the Teristra. I answered: " With us the women wear hoods and veils; the men ride with their hats on. And you have no right to compel me here to change the custom of my country, considering that we permit your envoys who come to us to keep to the custom of theirs, For with long sleeves, swathed, spangled, with long hair, clad in tunics down to their ankles, they ride, walk and sit at table with us; and, what to all of us seems too disgraceful, they alone kiss our emperors with uncovered heads."-" May God not allow it to be done any longer " I said to myself.-" you must turn back, then," he said.
As I did this there met us, herded together with goats, the so-called wild asses. But why, I ask, wild asses? Our tame ones at Cremona are the same. Their color, shape and ears are the same; they are equally melodious when they begin to bray; they resemble each other in size, have the same swiftness, and are equally pleasant food for wolves. When I saw them I said to the Greek who was riding with me: "I never saw the like in Saxony." ,If," he said, " your master shall be friendly to the holy emperor, he will give him many such; and it will be no little glory to him himself to possess what no one of his distinguished predecessors has ever seen." But believe me, my august masters, my brother and fellow bishop, master Antony, (of Brixen) can furnish ones that are not inferior, as is witnessed by the markets which are held at Cremona; and there they walk about not as wild asses but as tame ones. But when my escort bad announced the above words to Nicephorus, he sent me two goats, and gave me permission to go away. On the following day he himself started towards Syria.
But mark now why he led his army against the Assyrians. The Greeks and Saracens have books which they call the Visions of Daniel; I would call them Sibylline
Books. In them is found written how many years each emperor shall live; what things, whether peace or war, are to happen during his reign; whether fortune is to be favorable to the Saracens, or the reverse. And so it reads, that, in the time of this Nicephorus, the Assyrians will not be able to resist the Greeks, and that he, Nicephorus, will only live seven years; and that after his death an emperor shall arise worse than he-only I fear that none such can be found-and more unwarlike; in whose time the Assyrians shall so prevail, that they shall bring all the regions as far as Chalcedon, which is not far from Constantinople, under their sway. For both peoples have regard for their favorable seasons; and from one and the same cause the Greeks press on encouraged, and the Saracens, in despair, make no resistance; awaiting the time when they themselves may press on, and the Greeks, in turn, may not resist.
Hippolytus, indeed, a certain Sicilian bishop, wrote similarly concerning your empire and our people-I call "our people," namely, all those who are under your rule;-and would that it were true what he prophesied concerning the present times. The other things have hitherto come to pass as he foretold, as I have heard from those who know these books. And of his many sayings I will mention one. For he says that now the saying is to be fulfilled: "The lion and his whelp shall together exterminate the wild ass." The interpretation of which is, according to the Greeks: Leo -that is, the emperor of the Romans or Greeks-and his whelp,-the king, namely, of the Franks - shall together in these days drive out the wild ass - that is, the African king of the Saracens. Which interpretation does not seem to me true, for this reason, that the lion and the whelp, although differing in size, are nevertheless of one nature and species or kind; and, as my knowledge suggests to me, if the lion be the emperor of the Greeks, it is not fitting that the whelp should be the king of the Franks. For although both are men, as the lion and the whelp are both animals, yet they differ in habits as much-I will not say alone as one species from another-but as rational beings from those who have no reason. The whelp differs from the lion only in age; the form is the same, the ferocity
the same, the roar the same. The king of the Greeks wears long hair, a tunic, long sleeves, a hood; is lying, crafty, without pity, sly as a fox, proud, falsely humble, miserly, and greedy; lives on garlic, onions, and leeks, and drinks bath-water. The king of the Franks, on the contrary, is beautifully shorn ; wears a garment not at all like a woman's garment, and a hat; is truthful, without guile, merciful enough when it is right, severe when it is necessary, always truly humble, never miserly; does not live on garlic, onions and leeks so as to spare animals and, by not eating them, but selling them, to heap money together. You have heard the difference; do not be willing to accept their interpretation, for either it refers to the future, or it is not true. For it is impossible that Nicephorus, as they falsely say, can be the lion and Otto the whelp, and that they together shall exterminate anyone. For "sooner mutually changing their bounds shall the Parthian exile drink the Araris, or the German the Tigris,". than that Nicephorus and Otto shall become friends and close a treaty with each other.
You have beard the interpretation of the Greeks; hear how that of Liutprand, bishop of Cremona. For I say and not alone do I say, but I affirm-that if the prophecy is to be fulfilled in the present time, the lion and the whelp are the father and the son, Otto and Otto, unlike in nothing only differing in age,-and that they together shall, in this present time, exterminate the wild ass Nicephorus; who not incongruously is compared to the wild ass on account of his vain and empty gladly, and on account of his incestuous marriage with his fellow god-parent and mistress. If now that wild ass shall not be exterminated by our lion and his whelp-by Otto and Otto, the father, namely, and the son, the august emperors of the Romans-then that which Hippolytus wrote will not have been true; for that former interpretation of the Greeks is entirely to be discarded. But oh blessed Jesus, eternal God, the Word of the Father-who does speak to us, unworthy as we are, not by voice but by inspiration - may you be willing to see in this sentence no other interpretation than mine. Command that that lion and that whelp may exterminate and bodily humble this wild ass; to the end that, retiring into himself, subjecting himself to his masters the emperors
Basilius and Constantine, his soul may be saved at the Day of the Lord!
But the astronomers prophesy alike concerning yourselves and Nicephorus. Truly wonderful, I say. I have spoken with a certain astronomer who truly described your form and habits, most illustrious master, and that of your august namesake; and who related all my past experiences as if they were present. Nor were the names mentioned of any of my friends or enemies concerning whom I thought of asking him, but that he could tell me their appearance, form and character. He foretold all calamity that has happened to me on this journey. But may all that he said to me be false, I only ask that one thing alone be true that which he foretold you would do to Nicephorus. Oh may it come to pass! Oh may it come to pass! And then I shall feel that the wrongs I have suffered are as nothing at all.
The aforesaid Hippolytus writes also that not the Greeks but the Franks shall put an end to the Saracens. Encouraged by which prophecy the Saracens, three years ago, engaged in battle near Scylla and Charybdis in the Sicilian waters, with the patrician Manuel, the nephew of Nicephorus. And when they bad laid low his immense forces -they took his own self and beheaded him and hung up his corpse, And when they bad captured his companion and colleague, who was of neither gender, they scorned to kill him; but having bound him and kept him to pine in long imprisonment, they sold him for a price at which no mortals who were sound in their heads would have bought him. And with no less spirit, encouraged by this same prophecy, they shortly after met the general Exachontes. And when they had put him to flight, they destroyed his army in every way.
Another reason also compelled Nicephorus at this time to lead his army against the Assyrians. For at this time, by the will of God, a famine had so laid waste all the land of the Greeks, that not even two Pavian sextares could be bought for a piece of gold: and this in the very realm of plenty, as it were, This misfortune, the field mice aiding him, Nicephorus increased by collecting for himself, at the time of harvest, whatever corn there was anywhere; giving
a minimum price to the despairing owners. And when he had clone this on the side towards Mesopotamia, where the supply of grain on account of the absence of the mice was greater: the amount of corn that he had equaled the amount of the sands of the sea. When, therefore, on account of this vile transaction, famine was everywhere shamefully raging, he brought together eighty thousand men under pretext of a military expedition; and he sold to them, during one whole mouth, for two gold pieces what he had bought for one. These, my master, are the reasons which compelled Nicephorus now to lead his forces against the Assyrians. But what sort of forces? I ask. Truly, I answer, not men, but only images of men; whose tongue only is bold, but whose right hand is frigid in war. Nicephorus did not look for quality in them, but only for quantity, How perilous this is for him he will learn to his sorrow, when the multitude of unwarlike ones, brave only on account of numbers, shall be put to rout by a handful of our men who are skilled in war - nay, thirsting for it.
When you were besieging Bari only three hundred Hungarians seized five hundred Greeks near Thessalonica and led them into Hungary. Which attempt, inasmuch as it succeeded, induced two hundred Hungarians in Macedonia, not far from Constantinople, to do the like ; of whom forty, when they were retreating incautiously through a narrow pass, were captured. These Nicephorus, freeing them from custody and adorning - them with most costly garments, has made his body guard and defenders-taking them with him against the Assyrians. But what kind of an army he a has you can conjecture from this,-that those who are in command over the others are Venetians and Amalfians!
But no more of this! Learn now what happened to me. On the sixth day before the Calends of August (July 27), 1 received at -Umbria, outside of Constantinople, permission from Nicephorus to return to you, And when I came to Constantinople, the patrician Christophorus, the eunuch who was the representative of Nicephorus there, sent word to me that I could not then start to return because the Saracens at that time were holding the sea and the Hungarians the land-I should have to wait until they retired. Both of which facts, oh woe is me, were
false! Then wardens were placed over us to prevent myself, and my companions from going out of our habitation. They seized and slew or put in prison the poor of Latin race who came to me to beg alms. They did not permit my Greek interpreter to go out even to buy supplies-but only my cook, who was ignorant of the Greek tongue and who could speak to the vendor, when he bought of him, not with words but by signs of his fingers or nods of his head. He bought for four pieces of money only as much as the interpreter for one. And when some of my friends sent spices, bread, wine and apples,-pouring theta all on the ground, they sent the bearers away overwhelmed with blows of the fist. And had not the divine pity prepared before me a table against my, adversaries, I should have bad to accept the death they arranged for me. But Ho who permitted that I should be tempted, mercifully granted then that I should endure. And these perils tried my soul at Constantinople from the second day before the Nones of June (June 4), until the sixth day before the Nones of October (Oct. 2)-one hundred and twenty days.
But, to increase my calamities, on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary the holy mother of God (August 15), there came-an evil augury for me-envoys of the apostolic and universal pope John, through whom he asked Nicephorus ,the emperor of the Greeks " to close an alliance and firm friendship with his beloved and spiritual son Otto "august emperor of the Romans." Before the question as to why- this word, this manner of address, sinful and bold in the eyes of the Greeks, did not cost its bearer his life-why he was not annihilated before it was read, I, who, in other respects, have often shown myself enough of a preacher and with words enough at my command, seem dumb as a fish! The Greeks inveighed against the sea, cursed the waves, and wondered exceedingly how they had been able to transport such an iniquity end why the yawning deep had not swallowed up the ship. " Was it not unpardonable," they said, "to have called the universal emperor of the Romans, the august, great, only Nicephorus: "of the Greeks"';-a barbarian, a pauper: of the Romans'? Oh sky! Oh earth! Oh sea! But
what," they said, " shall we do to those scoundrels, those criminals?" They are paupers, and if we kill them we pollute our hands with vile blood; they are ragged, they are slaves, they are peasants; if we beat them we disgrace not them, but ourselves; for they are not worthy of the gilded Roman flail and of such punishments. Oh would that one were a bishop, another a margrave! For sewing them in sacks, after stinging blows with whips, after plucking out their beards or their hair, they would be thrown into the sea. But these," they said, " may continue to live; and, until the holy emperor of the Romans, Nicephorus, learns of this atrocity, they may languish in narrow confinement."
When I learned this I considered them happy because poor, myself unhappy because rich. When I was at home, my desire was to excuse my poverty; but placed in Constantinople, fear itself taught me that I bad the wealth of a Croesus. Poverty had always seemed burdensome to me -then it seemed welcome, acceptable, desirable; yes, desirable, since it keeps its votaries from perishing, its followers from being flayed. And since at Constantinople alone this poverty thus defends its votaries, may it there alone be considered worth striving after !
The papal messengers, therefore, being thrown into prison, that offending epistle was sent to Nicephorus in Mesopotamia; whence no one returned to bring an answer until the second day before the Ides of September (Sept. 12). On that day it came, but its import was concealed from me. And after two days- on the eighteenth day namely, before the Calends of October (Sept. 14)-I brought it about by prayers and gifts that I might adore the life-giving and salvation-bringing cross. And there in the great crowd, unnoticed by the guards, certain persons approached me, and rendered my saddened heart joyful through stolen words.
But on the fifteenth day before the Calends of October (Sept. 17), as much dead as alive, I was summoned to the palace. And when I came into the presence of the patrician Christophorus-the eunuch, receiving me kindly, rose to meet me with three others. Their- discourse began as follows The pallor in your face, the emaciation of - your
whole body, your long hair, and your beard-flowing, contrary to your custom-show that there is immense grief in your heart because the date of your return to your master has been delayed. But, we pray you, be not angry with the holy emperor nor with us. For we will tell you the cause of the delay. The Roman pope-if indeed he is to be called pope who has held communion and worked together with the son of Alberic the apostate, with an adulterer and unhallowed person-has sent letters to our most holy emperor, worthy of himself, unworthy of Nicephorus, calling him the emperor "of the Greeks," and not "of the Romans." Which thing beyond a doubt has been done by the advice of your master."
"What do I hear?" I said to myself. ,I am lost; there is no doubt but what I shall go by the shortest way to the judgment-seat."
" Now listen," they continued, " we know you will say that the pope is the simplest of men; you will say it, and we acknowledge it." "But," I answered, "I do not say it."
Hear then! The stupid silly pope does not know that the holy Constantine transferred hither the imperial scepter, the senate, and all the Roman knighthood, and left in Rome nothing but vile minion s- fishers, namely, peddlers, bird catchers, bastards, plebeians, slaves. He would never have written this unless at the suggestion of your king; how dangerous this will be to both-the immediate future, unless they come to their senses, will show." "But the pope," I said, "whose simplicity is his title to renown, thought he was writing this to the honor of the emperor, not to his shame. We know, of course, that Constantine, the Roman emperor, came hither with the Roman knighthood, and founded this city in his name; but because you changed your language, your customs, and your dress, the most holy pope thought that the name of the Romans as well as their dress would displease you. He will show this, if he lives, in his future letters ; for they shall be addressed as follows: 'John, the Roman pope, to Nicephorus, Constantine, Basilius, the great and august emperors of the Romans! " And now mark, I beg, why I said this.
Nicephorus came to the throne through perjury and adultery. And since the salvation of all Christians -per-
tains to the care of the Roman pope, let the lord pope send to Nicephorus au epistle altogether like to those sepulchers which without are whited, within are full of dead men's bones; within let him show to him how through perjury and adultery he has obtained the rule over his masters let him invite Nicephorus to a synod, and, if he do not come, let him hurl the anathema at him. But if the address be not as I have said, it will never reach him.
But to return to the matter in hand. When the princes I have mentioned heard from me the aforesaid promise concerning the address, not suspecting any guile: "We thank you," the said, " oh bishop. It is worthy of your wisdom to act as mediator in so great a matter. You are the only one of the Franks whom we now love; but when at your behest they shall have corrected what is evil, they also shall be loved. And when you shall come to us again you shall not go away unrewarded."
I said to myself : "If I ever come back here again, may Nicephorus present me with a crown and a golden scepter!"
"But tell us," they continued, " does your most holy master wish to close with the emperor a treaty of friendship through marriage?"
" When I came hither he wished it," I said, " but since, during my long delay, he has received no news; he thinks that you have committed a crime, and that I have been taken and bound; and his whole soul, like that of a lioness bereft of her whelps, is inflamed with a desire through just wrath to take vengeance, and to renounce the marriage and to pour out his anger upon you,"
"If he attempts it," they said, " we will not say Italy but not even the poor Saxony where he was born - where the inhabitants wear the skins of wild beasts-will protect him. With our money, which gives us our power, we will arouse all the nations against him; and we will break him in pieces like a potter's vessel, which, when broken can not be brought into shape again. And as we imagine that Al thou, in his honor, hast bought some costly garments, we order you to bring them before us. What are fit for you shall be marked with a leaden seal and left to you; but those which are prohibited to all nations except to us Romans, shall be taken away and the price returned."
When this had been done they took away from me five most costly purple stuffs; considering yourselves and all the Italians, Saxons, Franks, Bavarians, Swabians-nay, all nations-as unworthy to be adorned with such vestments. How unworthy, how shameful it is, that these soft, effeminate, long-sleeved, hooded, veiled, lying, neutral gendered, idle creatures should go clad in purple, while you heroes-strong men, namely, skilled in war, full of faith and love, reverencing God, full of virtues-may not! What is this, if it be not contumely? "But where," I said, "is the word of your emperor, where the imperial promise? For when I said farewell to him, I asked him up to what price he would permit me to buy vestments in honor of my church. And he said: "Buy whatever ones and as many as you do wish;' and in thus designating the quantity and the quality, he clearly did not make a distinction as if he had said 'excepting this and this.' Leo, the marshal of the court, his brother, is witness; Enodisius, the interpreter, John, Romanus, are witnesses. I myself am witness, since even without the interpreter, I understood what the emperor said."
"But," they said, -these things are prohibited; and when the emperor spoke as you say he did, he could not imagine that you would even dream of such things as these. For, as we surpass other nations in wealth and wisdom, so also we ought to surpass them in dress; so that those who are singularly endowed with virtue, should have garments unique in beauty."
"Such a garment can hardly be called unique," I answered, " when with us the street-walkers and conjurers wear them."
"Where do they get them? " they asked.
"From Venetian and Amalfian traders," I said, " who, by bringing them to us, support themselves from the food we give them."
"Well, they shall not do so any longer," they said. They shall be closely examined , and if any thing of this kind shall be found on them they shall be punished with blows and shorn of their hair."
"In the time of the emperor Constantine, of blessed memory," I said, " I came here not as bishop but as
deacon; not sent by an emperor or king but by the margrave Berengar; and I bought many more and more precious vestments, which were neither looked at nor viewed by the Greeks nor stamped with lead. Now, having become a- bishop by the mercy of God, and being sent by the magnificent emperors Otto and Otto, father and son, L am so insulted that my vestments are marked after the manner of the Venetians; and, as they are being transported for the use of the church entrusted to me, whatever seems of any worth is taken away. Are you not weary of insulting me, or rather my masters, for whose sake I am derided? Is it not enough that I am given into custody, that I am tortured by hunger and thirst, that I could not return to them, being detained until now,-without, to fill the measure of their disrespect to them, my being robbed of my own things ? Take away from me at least only what I have bought; leave me those things that have been given me as a gift by my friends!
"The emperor Constantine," they said, "was a mild man, who always stayed in his palace, and by such means as this made the natives friendly to him; but the emperor Nicephorus, a man given to war, abhors the palace as if it were the plague. And he is called by us warlike and almost a lover of strife; nor does he make the nations friendly to him by paying them, but subjects them to his rule by terror and the sword. And in order that you may see what is our opinion of your royal masters, all that has been given to you of this color, and all that has been bought shall revert to us by the same process."
Having done and said these things they gave to me a letter written and sealed with gold to bring to you; but it -was not worthy of you, as I thought. They brought also other letters sealed with silver and said: "We judge it unseemly that your pope should receive letters from the emperor; but the marshal of the court, the emperor's brother, sends him an epistle which is good enough for him - .not through his own poor envoys but through you to the effect that ' unless he come to his senses, he shall know that he shall be utterly confounded."
When I had received this, they let me go, giving me kisses which were very sweet, very loving. But as I went
away they sent me a message right worthy of themselves but not 6f me-to the effect, namely, that they would give me horses for myself personally and for my companions, but none for my luggage. And thus, being very much annoyed, as was natural,- I had to give to my guide as pay, objects of the worth of fifty pieces of gold. And as I had no means of retaliating upon Nicephorus for his ill deeds,' I wrote these verses on the wall of -my hated habitation, and upon a wooden table:
False is Argolian faith, be warned and mistrust it O Latin;
Heed you and let not your ear be lent to the words that they utter.
when it will help him the Argive will swear by all that is holy!
Lofty, with windows tall, ornate with varying marble,
This-dwelling, deficient in water, admits the sun in its confines,
Fosters the bitterest cold, nor repels the heat when it rages
Liutprand a bishop I, from Cremona a town of Ausonia,
Hither for love of peace to Constantinople did journey;
Here I was kept confined throughout the four months of the summer.
For before Bari's gates had appeared the emperor Otto,
Striving to take the place by-flame alike and by slaughter.
Thence, by my prayers induced, he hastens to Rome, his own city
Greece meanwhile having promised a bride for the son of the victor.
O had she ne'er been born, and I had been spared this grim journey
Safely avoiding the wrath that Nicephorus since has poured on me-
He who prohibits his stepchild from wedding the son of my master!
Lo, the day is at hand, when war, impelled by fierce furies,
Wildly shall rage o'er earth's limits, should God not see fit to avert it.
Peace which is longed for by al1, because of his guilt will be silent!
After writing these verses, on the sixth day before the Nones of October (Oct. 2), at the tenth hour, I entered my boat with my guide, and left that once most rich and flourishing, now half-starved, perjured, lying, wily, greedy, rapacious, avaricious, vain-glorious city; and after forty nine days of ass-riding, walking, horse-riding, fasting, thirsting, sighing, weeping, groaning, I came to Naupactus, which is a city of Nikopolis. And here my, guide deserted me after placing us on two small ships, and committing us to two imperial messengers who were to being me by sea to Hydronto. But since their Orders did
not include the right of levying from the Greek princes, they were everywhere repulsed ; so that we were not supported by them, but they by us. How often did I revolve within me that verse of Terence : "They themselves need help whom you do choose to defend you."
On the ninth day before the Calends of December, then (Nov. 23), we left Naupactus and I arrived at the river Offidaris in two days - my companions not remaining in the ships, which could not hold them, but advancing along the shore. From our position on the river Offidaris we looked over to Patras, eighteen miles distant, on the other shore of the sea. This place of apostolic suffering, which we had visited and adored on our way to Constantinople, we now omitted-I confess my fault-to visit and adore. My unspeakable desire, my august lords and masters, of returning to you and seeing you was the cause of this; and if it had not been for this alone, I would, I believe, have forever perished.
A storm from the south rose against me-madman that I was,-disturbing the sea to its lowest depths with its ragings. And when it had continued to do this for several days and nights: on the day before the Calends of December (Nov. 30)-on the very day, namely, of His passion-I recognized that this had happened to me of my own fault. Trouble alone taught me to give ear to its meaning. Famine, indeed, had begun to violently oppress us. The inhabitants of the land thought to kill us, in order to take our goods from us. The sea, to hinder our flight, was raging high. Then, betaking myself to the church which I saw, weeping and wailing, I said: "Oh holy apostle Andrew, I am the servant of your fellow fisherman, brother and fellow apostle, Simon Peter; I have not avoided the place of your suffering or kept away from it through pride; the command of my emperors, the love of them, urges me to return home. If my sin has moved you to indignation, may the merit of my august masters lead you to mercy. You have nothing to bestow on your brother; bestow something on the emperors who love your brother by putting their trust in Him who knows all things. You know with what labor and exertion, with what vigils and at what expense-snatching it from
the hands of the godless-they have enriched, honored, exalted, and brought back to its proper condition, the Roman church of your brother the apostle Peter. But if my works cast me into peril, let their merits at least free me; and let not those whom your aforesaid brother in the faith and in the flesh, Peter the chief apostle of the apostles, wishes to have rejoice and prosper, be saddened by this-that is, through 2ne whom they themselves had sent! "
This is not, oh my masters and august emperors, this is not flattery. I tell you truly, and I do not sew pillows under my arms-the thing, I say, is true - after two days, through your merits the sea became calm and so tranquil, that when our sailors deserted us, we ourselves sailed the boat to Leucate - a hundred and forty miles, namely suffering no danger or discomfort, except a little at the mouth of the river Acheloi, where its current running down rapidly is beaten back against the waves of the sea.
How then, most mighty emperors, will you repay the Lord for all that which for your sakes He did to me. I will tell you how God wishes this and demands this to be done. And although He can do it without you, He wishes nevertheless that you shall be His instruments in this. matter. For He himself furnishes what shall be offered unto Him keeps what He demands from us, in order to crown His own work. Pay attention then, I beg. Nicephorus, being a man who scorns all churches, on account of the wrath in which he abounds towards you, has ordered the patriarch of Constantinople to raise the church of Hydronto to the rank of a bishopric, and not to permit any longer, throughout all Apulia and Calabria, that the divine mysteries be celebrated in Latin, but to have them celebrated in Greek. He says that the former popes were traders and that they, sold the Holy, Spirit - that Spirit by which all things are vivified and ruled -, which fills the universe; which knows the Word,; which is co-eternal, and of one substance with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, without beginning, without end, for eve-r true; who ('Christ) I 'not valued at a fixed price, but is bought by the clean-hearted for as much as they hold Him to be worth. And so Poly-
euctus, the patriarch of Constantinople, wrote a privilege for the bishop of Hydronto to this effect -. that be should by his authority have permission to consecrate bishops in Acerenza, Tursi, Gravina, Matera and Tricarico: which, however, evidently belong to the diocese of the lord pope. But why need I say this when, indeed, the church of Constantinople itself is rightly subject to our holy catholic and apostolic church of Rome. We know-nay, we have seen-that the bishop of Constantinople did not use the pallium except with the permission of our holy father. But when that most godless Alberic,-whom cupidity, not by drops, but, as it were, by torrents, had filled-usurped for himself the Roman city, and held the lord pope like his own slave in his dwelling, the emperor Romanus made his own son, the eunuch Theophylactus, patriarch. And since the cupidity of Alberic was not hidden from him, he sent to him very great gifts, bringing it about that, in the name of the pope, letters were sent to the patriarch Theophylactus, by the authority of which be and his successors alike might use the pallium without permission from the popes. From which vile transaction the shameful custom arose that not only the patriarchs but also the bishops of all Greece should use the pallium. How absurd this is, I do not need to make clear.- It is therefore my plan that a sacred synod be held, and Polyeuctus be summoned to it. But if he be unwilling to come and to amend the faults that have been mentioned above, then let that be done which the holy canons shall decree. Do you in the mean. time, most potent emperors, continue to labor as you have done; bring it about that, if Nicephorus be unwilling to obey us when we arrange to proceed against him canonically, he will hear you, whose forces this half-corpse will not dare to meet. This, I say, is what the apostles, our masters and follow fighters, wish us to do. Rome is not to be despised by the Greeks because Constantine went away from it; but rather to be the more cherished, venerated and adored for the reason that the apostles, the holy teachers Peter and Paul, came thither. But may what I have written concerning this suffice until, being snatched from the hands of the Greeks, through the grace of God and the prayers of the most holy apostles I may come to
you. And then it may not weary me to say what it burdens me now here to write. Now let us return to the matter in hand.
On the eighth day before the Ides of December (Dec. 6) we came to Leucate, where, by the bishop of that place a eunuch, as by other bishops everywhere, we were most unkindly received and treated. In all Greece - I speak truly and do not lie - I found no hospitable bishops. They are at the same time poor and rich; rich in gold, with which they play from full coffers; poor in servants and implements. Alone they seat themselves at their bare little tables, placing before themselves their ship-biscuit; and then not drinking, but sipping their bath-water from a very small glass. They, themselves sell and buy; they themselves close and open their doors; they are their own stewards, their own ass-drivers, their own "capones"-but ha! I was going to write "caupones," but the thing itself is so true that I was compelled to write the truth even when I did not wish to-for really, I say, they are "caupones "-that is, eunuchs- which is against the ecclesiastical law; and they are also " capones," that is, tavern keepers; which is also against the canons. One can say of them -
Lettuce does end the meal that with lettuce has had its beginning,
Lettuce, which too was wont to close the meals of their fathers.'
[Martial ep. Xiii]
I would consider them happy in their poverty if this were an imitation of the poverty of Christ. But nothing impels them to this save sordid gain and the cursed thirst for gold. But may God spare them! I think they do this because their churches are tributary. For the bishop of Leucate swore to me that every year his church had to pay to Nicephorus a hundred pieces of gold; and in like manner the other churches, more or less, according to their means. How wicked this is is demonstrated by the acts of our most holy father Joseph; for when he, ii; the time of famine, made all Egypt tributary to Pharaoh, he permitted the land of the priests to be free from tribute.
Leaving Leucate, their, on the nineteenth day before the Calends of January (Dec. 14), and navigating ourselves since, as we said above, our sailors had fled - on the fifteenth (Dec. 18) we came to Corfu; where, before we had left the ship, a certain war-commander met us - Michael by name, a Chersonite, born in the place called Cherson. He was a hoary-headed man, jovial faced, good-natured in his discourse, always pleasantly laughing; but, as it afterwards turned out, a devil at heart - as God showed to me even then by clear enough proofs, if only my mind could then have understood them. For at the very time when, with a kiss, he was wishing me the peace that he did not bear in his heart, all Corfu-a great island, namely-trembled; and not only once but three times on the same day did it tremble. Four days later, moreover, -namely on the eleventh day before the Calends of January (Dec. 22)-while, sitting at table, I was eating bread with him who was treading me under foot, the sun, ashamed at such an unworthy deed, hid the rays of his light, and, suffering an eclipse, terrified that Michael, but did not change him.
I will explain, then, what I had done to him for the sake of friendship, and what I received from him by way of reward. On my way to Constantinople I gave to his son that most costly shield, oiled and worked with marvelous art, which you, my august masters, gave to me with the other gifts to give to my Greek friends. Now, returning from Constantinople, I gave the father a most precious vestment; for all of which he gave me the following thanks - Nicephorus had written that, at whatever hour I should come to him, without delay he should place me or a Greek ship and send me to the chamberlain Leo. He did not do this; but detained me twenty days and nourished me not at his own but at my, expense; until an envoy came from the aforesaid chamberlain Leo, who rated him for delaying me. But because he could not bear my reproaches, laments, and sighs, he went away and handed me over to a man so sinful and utterly bad that he did not even permit me to buy supplies until he had received from me a carpet worth a pound of silver. And when, after twenty days, I did go away, from there, that
man to whom I had given the carpet ordered the ship's master, after passing a certain promontory, to put me ashore and let me die of hunger. This he did because he bad searched my baggage to see if I had any purple vestments concealed, and, when he had wanted to take one, I had prevented him. Oh you Michaels, you Michaels, where have I ever found so many of you and such ones! For my 'keeper in Constantinople gave me over to his rival Michael - a bad man to a worse, the worse one to a rascal. My guide was also called Michael-a simple man, indeed, but one whose simplicity harmed me almost as much as the wickedness of the others. But from the hands of these little Michaels I came into you, O great Michael half hermit, half monk! I tell you and I tell you truly; the bath will not avail you, in which you do assiduously get drank for love of St. John the Baptist! For those who seek God falsely, shall never merit to find Him!
(The manuscript containing Liutprand's report breaks off here suddenly.)
translated in the appendix of Ernest F. Henderson, , Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages , (London: George Bell, 1910), pp. 440-477 [pagination preserved] The text has been modernized slightly by the changing of archaic verb forms ["thou wert" and so forth], and by the Americanization of the spelling.
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(c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996