Katapan of Crete 1066-67
Andronikos Petraliphas was the Katapano of the island of Crete. Ever hungry, modest and loyal it is a wonder that this somewhat plump young man ever ended up in charge of such a large island. To explain this mystery we must turn to his far more ambitious team.
The somewhat elderly Strategos Aniketos, whose sole hobby consisted of engaging (or hectoring) monks and priests in endless theological wranglings and whose work consists of the thankless task of trying to keep the local garrison on the path of virtue.
Postal Logothetes Athenagoras, once a officer in the army but long since disgraced due to his dangerously unpredictable battle-tactics.
Logothetes Leon, a reasonably competent bureaucrat whose exploits in the bedchambers of Crete's women was matched only by his....... piety.
Andronikos's cunning and word mincing Mysticos. The key power behind the throne and puller of the necessary strings to bring Andronikos Petraliphas to power in the first place.
Once a scion of the Monokarites clan, sent to Chandakas by her parents in order to foil Konstantios Phokas bid for influence by seducing Andronikos and limiting his influence as much as possible. Having failed in this task and successfully marginalised by the Konstantios Phokas she was soon forgotten by her family who never cared for her much anyway. And she hasn't forgiven them either.
December 27th 1066: Governer's Palace is Chandax
Leon Kataphloros was growing tired of counting solidus and pushing bits of paper around. This was not what he had envisioned, this was not what he had dreamed of when he was younger. In addition to dreaming of constant rampant sex with every woman he knew who wasn't about 90 or his mother he'd dreamt of devoting himself fully to the service of God and becoming a bishop.
In his life he'd enjoyed many exploits. At the heights of his prowess he once had enjoyed sexual relations with the daughter, wife and mother of the Kephale of someplace he couldn't remember. He did it all within the same day, two of them in the same bed, couldn't remember which pair though. But back then he had been young and good looking apparently. But now he was growing old.
It was not as if he was lacking in gold, he could always hire prostitutes. Indeed in his youth he had probably enjoyed at least half of the prostitutes in Chandax, but that was old and they were boring. He wanted real lust not fakery. And then it struck him, the answer was NUNS! For all the sins he had committed he had not committed this one, he had never violated the chastity of a nun. And then everything began to thread together; both of his desires ultimately required the fulfilment of the other.
Woman lusted after power, while he might be able to corrupt a young novice nun to do so he would have gain access to a convent and that would require corrupting an abbess. To wield power such as an abbess would lust after would require serious power she would desire AND access to her person. Being not just a bishop but the Archbishop of Crete would be perfect.
And when he had truly completed his sinful carnal nature upon the bodies of these nuns, he would be so truly repentant; such that God would free him from his nature that he may truly devote himself to God; for God so truly loved him he would allow him to succeed in his endeavours.
"Lord Andronikos, the post of archbishop of Crete lies vacant, it has long been my wish that I be appointed Archbishop of Crete," Leon suggests to Katapan Andronikos.
"My Logothetes, I just need you too much, you cannot be distracted from your duties to Crete, the Patriarch can deal with the problem of whose Archbishop" Andronikos replies.
"Yes lord," Leon replies.
For all Andronikos Petraliphas's lack of ambition and general small-mindedness, he was not weak-willed and could not be pushed around that easily. Generally he was content to let others run things in his absence but Leon had got into a situation where his direct involvement was required and he had refused to co-operate.
Could it be that God was punishing him for his sins? Leo thought
Andronikos had departed in order to stuff his face: it was dinner time again (apparently) and this left General Logothetes Leon Kataphlorus and Mysticos Konstantinos Phokas alone together.
"It's no good, I've already want to be Archbishop and Andronikos refuses to grant me the position now it is available!" Leon moans.
"There's always a way for those who are 'flexible' and who understand exactly how others are 'inflexible'," Konstantios responds calmly.
"What do you mean?" Leon responds confused.
Konstantios moves closer to Leon.
"Well let's start with the problem, the inflexibility as it were, why won't Andronikos grant your request?" Konstantios asks.
"Because he doesn't trust me to be holy!" Leon replies bitterly.
"You're just reflecting your own sense of guilt at your many misdeeds with women, what did he actually say" Konstantinos responds matter-of-factly.
"Of course he doesn't trust me! Why would anyone trust me given what I've done?" Leon argues.
"Understand the kind of Dux Andronikos is, government is just something that fills up that boring time between meals, what he doesn't see as far as misdeeds go doesn't exist; now why did he not make you Arch-bishop?" Konstantios responds forcefully.
"He says he needs me around as General Logothetes for Crete," Leon answers.
"Remember how others are inflexible, why would he be lying?" Konstantinos asks.
"Because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings," Leo answered uncertainly.
"And why does he care about your feelings?" Konstantinos asks
"Because otherwise I might leave his service?" Leon answers.
"And the reason he cares about that is?" Konstantinos responds.
"He needs me as General Logothetes?" Leon replies.
"So does it matter if he's lying or telling the truth?" Konstantinos answers smiling.
"No it doesn't actually," Leon replies uncomfortable at being outmanoeuvred.
There is a pause.
"Then at least part of the solution is to find another General Logothetes for Crete," Konstantinos points out.
"Do you have any candidate; and even if you had a candidate why would Andronikos choose him over me?" Leon asks.
"Because she's a brilliant Logothetes that has already made great progress in bringing that desolate theme of Kaneia in the west to something resembling productivity, in a mere 2 years," Konstantinos answers.
"But why would Praetor Issakios Paraspondylos ever agree to give such a woman up?" Leon asks.
"Because we're going to marry her to Andronikos," Konstantios answered.
"Is this out choice?" Leon responds.
"Not exactly, but leave the talking to me and we should do fine.
Eudokia Glykys, proposed bride for Andronikos and her present lord Issakos Paraspodylus
Andronikos Petralithas was busy scoffing second helpings of food at the table; Maria Monokarites was busy arguing about something with Postal Logothetes Athenagoras Kyriotes. Strategos Aniketos Alousinos remained near to his side however and he could easily complicate things.
Konstantinos Phokas was not helping Leon out of the goodness of his heart; he didn't really care about his stupid bishopric ambitions. He had been considering the prospects of arranging a marriage for Andronikos for a while now but neither for his advantage or for Leon's. The Monokarites had grown powerful and were beginning to usurp the primacy that rightfully belonged to the Phokas family whose Emperor had once liberated Crete from beneath the Muslim boot-heel. But they were careless spenders, for all their ambition their finances were weak compared to those of his family.
The marriage of a Dux like Andronikus would send the local noble houses into a spending frenzy as all attempted to offer gifts worthy of their presumed station to the bride and groom. Such was a win-win situation, either the Monokarites offered up gifts sufficient to compete with the Phokas, destroying them financially or they declined to offer such gifts thus affirming that they are of lesser status to Phokas.
The idea looked good on paper but there was still the small matter of execution- he had to still convince Andronikos to consent to this plan. And there were presently two people present that could distrurb the plan, Leon himself and Strategos Aniketos Alousinos. Perhaps it would be best to suggest the marraige plan to Andronikos later when they were alone........
"What were you doing?" Andronikos asked them.
"We were talking about your marriage prospects," Leon replied.
Damn Leon and his honesty; he just had to go and spoil everything.
"I'm not getting married am I? Why would I want to get married?" Andronikos replied.
"Because......... getting married has its advantages," Leon answers.
"Such as?" Andronikos.
"You can do what you want with a woman in complete privacy without having to confess it afterwards," Leon replies.
"Not exactly, lots of stuff is still forbidden," Aniketos interrupts.
Damn the plan, Konstantinos had to act now or everything would fall apart.
"We want you to marry for the greater good of Crete and the Roman Empire!" he butted in loudly.
"What do you mean? It's not like this is some kingdom of Latin barbarians that needs an heir or else it will fall apart, my 'inheritance' if you can call it that is purely in the hands of the Prefect," Andronikos responds.
"Marriage means weddings, weddings mean presents, presents mean money," Andronikos explains.
"And marraige also means wives and children which cost money," Andronikos replies.
"We aren't talking about a small amount of money here, I have encountered such wedding before, we talking about a potential doubling of how many solidus we have in our coffers. Besides I haven't told you about the talents of the bride," Konstantios responds.
"Just how well do you know this woman, she's not having any of your children is she?" Andronikos responds sarcastically.
"She's Eudokia Glykys, the General Logothetes of the theme of Kaneia that managed to turn that place into something approaching a source of revenue for the Roman Empire in a mere two years,"
"Just how old is this woman?" Andronikos asks.
"She's 18 and for all the competance of our present Logothetes Leon Kataphlorus he's not getting any younger," Konstantios answers.
"And neither are you or Aniketos, our children might also be useful to Crete eventually; I'll consider the idea," Andronikos concludes.
Konstantios smiled at Leon. They both knew that Andronikos never considered any idea that he hadn't already agreed to.
The happy couple and the total amount added to the Cretan treasury.
January 5th 1067: Chandax
Praetor Issakios Paraspodylus had reluctantly agreed to marry off his brilliant Logothetes when he sent him a letter promising to find a replacement General Logothetes for Kaneia. Of course he Konstantios wouldn't bother, he regularly broke annoying promises and what could that fool Paraspodylus do about it. The Basileus wouldn't notice if the whole of Kaneia sank into the sea so why should he care that he had lied to its Praetor?
Leon Kataphlorus was busy gathering up the various wedding presents so an assesment of their worth could later be made. It was satisfying to behold the sheer cheap shoddiness of the Monokarite presents compared with the brilliance of his family's presents. Their humiliation was delicious but it such a shame that they would not now be driven into penuary also.
Leon would get want he desired, this woman didn't get where she was by being anything like her new husband. She wasn't a pawn; she was the chess-player. She would doubtlessly demand to manage things like she did before and she would use her considerable charm to get her hands on his job sooner or later.
January 15th 1067: Governers Palace in Chandax
For several days after her wedding Eudokia had been neglected by her ever-present husband and then she had made the mistake of stripping naked and practically throwing herself at him which had worked far too well. Now she couldn't seem to get rid of him; that ginormous hulk of bone, muscle and fat, lots of fat seemed to be all over her all the time. Perhaps she might actually enjoy it if she put her mind to it but she missed proper work that involved actual thought since leaving Kaneia. It was time to bring the matter to the attention of her husband.
"Andronikos, why do you love me so much?" she asked him.
"Did I ever say I loved you?" Andronikos answers.
"So why are we inseparable?" Eudokia replies.
"Because this is the focus of the fantasies of all of Crete, now I am married I must live up to my expectations as a husband or those fantasies will take a certain turn, such as my being interested in goats or you being interested in women and I being either too weak or too good to take what is mine by force," Andronikus tells him.
"You see Eudokia as I dux I have two options, I can either be the force of iron chastity and mortification of the flesh which I can never be or I can be the virile father of many children and I cannot be the latter without your help," Andronikos explains.
So this was it then Eudokia thought, to be confined to a breeding pen by an obese man that didn't even love her for the sake of nothing more than his reputation. What a cruel end for her ambition.
"So why did you marry me in the first place? It doesn't even sound like you are desperately keen on becoming a father," Eudokia asks.
"My servants, Leon Kataphloros and Konstantinos Phokas seemed hugely keen on the idea for some reason, so they persuaded me to marry you," Andronikos responds.
"But why were you persuaded?" Eudokia asks.
"By the prospect of additional money for the Cretan treasury," Andronikos answers.
"Were you bribed?" Eudokia asks.
"In a matter of speaking, the gifts they gave me Leon sold them off to a coterie of merchants and they were worth 25,720 solidus!" Andronikos tells them.
"Ah yes that great trick, don't try to take their money from them by force but instead play on their pride and rivalry, just rename your taxes gifts and then everyone is dying to hand over whatever they can afford to the benefit of the treasury!" Eudokia laughs.
There is a pause and Andronikos sits down on the bed.
"I do feel as if I've sold my life away for 30 pieces of silver, a bit like how Judas sold Christ," Andronikos complains.
"It doesn't have to be 30 pieces of silver, I could make you are lifetime of wealth; all I ask in return the position of General Logothetes for Crete; wait doesn't Leon Kataphlorus have that title already," Eudokia says opportunistically.
"Leon doesn't want it though, he desires the position of Archbishop of Crete," Andonikos responds.
"Really!" Eudokia responds with as widest a smile as her mouth could muster (which isn't very wide).
"Yes I will consider your idea, you want to be General Logothetes and he wishes to be Archbishop, so why not arrange the 'swap'?"' Andronikos concludes.
January 16th 1067: Harbour of Chandax
Maria Monokarites was departing the Chandax, leaving behind her horrible relatives and the stultifying boredom of the old men of the court for the adventure of travelling across the ocean to a place called Kaliopolis. The day she had been worried would never come had came, she was getting married. Where Kaliopolis was and what this Praetor of Kaliopolis was really like she had no idea. But anywhere must be better than Chandax and any husband would surely be better than Leon Kataphlorus.
February 30th 1067:Governers Palace in Chandax
"On February 19th a few weeks ago Konstantinos Doukas our Basileus passed away from his recurring illness and his soul now lies in the bosom of our Lord," Mysticos Konstantinos Phokas read the report out with seemingly sincere solemnity.
"This does not surprise me, Konstantinus was old and sick, but who is the new emperor,"
"His son Mikhail Doukas is now Basileus," Konstantios replies matter-of-factly.
"What's he like?" Andronikos asks.
"Can't be bothered to get out of bed until past noon I've heard, quite content to let other people run his life for him, basically just quite content to be a mere figurehead," Konstantios replies.
"So it's the people around him we have to care about," Andronikus suggests.
"Precisely so, as long as these people are competent then we may not have to worry but the moment an incompetent minister takes over we may be in trouble," Konstantios responds.
"Although it is the Protosekratis who will be reading I must write a letter of fawning subservience praising the new Basileus many non-existent virtues," Konstantios tells Andronikos.
"I take it that it that the non-existence of said virtues is crucial, it does not do well to refer to the actual virtues of the Basileus, for instance his laid-back attitude and avoidance of haste," Andronikos jokes.
"It is indeed vitally important that they be the very same non-existent virtues possessed by the last Basileus; in a long line going all the back to Julius Caeser himself whose might have had such virtues had he not been a pagan," Konstantios responds.
"I think you should take that up with Aniketos, he loves to discuss such things!" Andronikos responds.
March 3rd 1067:Cathedral in Chandax
Leon Kataphlorus was content. He now bore in his hand the staff of a bishop along wit the hat and the robe. This was what he was meant to be, he understood now that God had brought him to realise his calling *by* his sinful carnal nature. He was thrilled in his certainty, certainty that God had favoured him. The events had combined together in exactly the right way for him to be archbishop, a sign surely of divine providence.
March 8th 1067:Somewhere in the theme of Chandax
Panagiotakis Matthias had recently learned of the latest miracle of agriculture, by leaving some of his fields fallow he had learned that instead of declining and leaving him in debt to the moneylender he could restore their fertility and maintain his crop yield year-on-year. Such was the wonders of modern technology.
The new bishop (with an unfortunate surname)
April 15th 1067:Governers Palace in Chandax
Postal Logothete Athenagoras Kyriotes had decided to intrude on Andronikos and his Mysticos.
"The Patriarch has appointed a new bishop, someone by the name Ionnikos Erotikos" Athenagoras reports.
"But I thought we had arranged it already, Leon is our bishop not this stranger from Constantinople or wherever!" Andronikos responds angrily.
"He obviously hasn't been made Arch-Bishop of Crete, he's merely been made Bishop of Chandax, is that not so Athenagoras?" Mysticos Konstantios replies.
"Yes it is," Athenagoras reports.
"That's okay then I suppose," Andronikos says.
"Shall we send him away?" Athenagoras asks.
"Why would I wish to do that, he's still bishop of Chandax?" Andronikos asks.
"Well when bishops and the ilk are entertained too much by worldly rulers like themselves they can sometimes 'get ideas' and start to act like they are actually the rulers themselves. Some rulers that believe in- I can't remember the name, I think it was called Secularism; believe that clergy, monks, bishops should be strictly rationed in their involvement in politics and be relegated to their monastries, churches, cathedrals and the ilk," Konstantios explains.
"Sounds like nonsense to me, why would I listen to bishops when I wouldn't listen to you?" Andronikos tells them.
August 19th 1067:Harbour in Chandax
Angelos Spyridon watched his new fleet of ships leave the harbour. Such was the pinnacle of many years effort. The idea was simple, rather than merely depending upon individual merchant ships to transport goods, goods could be moved en-masse once a year so that a surplus would always be available at a particular pre-arranged time of the year so that the buyers would be guaranteed an affordable supply of particular time of the year. At the same time the merchants would also be guaranteed buyers. Such was the wonders of modern economics.
On July 22nd Eudokia gets pregnant with a child
August 30th 1067:Governer's Palace in Chandax
Eudokia was pregnant. She was not surprised but there was the question of what future awaited her child, assuming that it was a boy.
The prospects were grim. The position of Katapan of Crete was not hereditery, those in the strongest position to influence the relevant parties would be appointed upon his death. And the strongest was indeed her former lord Issakios Paraspodylos, who controlled Kaneia, which poor as Kaneia is was certainly the strongest nobleman in Crete. Without more land her son would be end up being ruled over by whoever controlled Kaneia, whether he is of the Paraspodylos or not. Yet how to avoid this fate?
There were indeed a few petty Muslim kingdoms in Sicily and one of the weakest; the Sheikdom of Syracuse ruled over Greek people. But were they not too weak to conquer even them. They needed land to fix the succession as the late Emporer had done with his useless son, but without land how could they get strong enough to conquer it? And even if they were that strong did Andronikos care enough to try?
The Sheikdom of Syracuse