Basileopator Michael Karantenos - MattH

Player: MattH
Faction: Orthodox, Byzantium

Makis Karantenos was a successful general in days gone by, serving under Manuel Komnenos until the latter's death. Now, he has been recalled from retirement by the new Emperor to serve the State and lead the armies of Byzantium once again. Though an old man, his reputation is fearsome. Rumours persist, however, of unhappiness in his private life, and in particular of some disgrace surrounding his son.


From 'A History of the Karantenids' by D. Choss, Constantinople University Press (1752)

The oration for Basileopator Michael Karantenos was given in the Hagia Sophia. As the priest spoke of his martial deeds, it seemed that a cloud crossed the sun, plunging the inside of the ancient cathedral into half-darkness. And those who were there said that beside the coffin a line of men were seen, who had not entered with the rest, and were not afterwards seen to leave; and small wonder, for they were hazy and insubstantial in form, like a waking dream. They were a great long line, that walked past the Basileopator's corpse, and did seem to pay their respects, then go to stand at the nether wall. And they were armed and armoured, even in that holy place, and there was blood on their hands, and on their faces, and all who were there said that they stank of slaughter. A few afterwards recalled a hint of familiarity in some of those stern and spectral faces, as if they had seen a likeness of this man or that before. And when the priest had finished his oration, although he and the whole congregation with him now trembled in fear, one of the line stood forwards, and he said:

“You know who we are. We are those who have built this church. We are those who have built this city. Down the years we have have tended the hedge that rounds this garden you live in, and have watered it well. You will live heartily, and worship your God in peace, and know of art, and music, and poetry, and will watch your children play in the gardens. You will have your civilization. And it shall truly be beautiful. And it shall truly be exalted.

And we will kill not monsters, but your fellow men, by the thousand and by the million. And the line… the line will stretch on, to the crack of doom.”

And although it had not been observed before, those within the church said that they saw now that at the end of that line stood the Basileopator, as though death had drawn back its hand, and though he still lay pale in the coffin. Like the others in the line, the face of Makis Karantenos was grim, as he surveyed the congregation. For a second perhaps, his gaze fell upon the Emperor and his wife Lida, and for a second perhaps he smiled; but then he was done with that. A roll as of thunder shook the Hagia Sophia, and once more the light of God shone there; and the strange procession was departed. Though priest and congregation were much troubled, they proceeded to fulfil the rites for the departed Basileopator, and put what they had seen from their minds…

From 'A Medieval Byzantium', a new interpretation of the Byzantine Empire as resurgent and ascendant in the Medieval period.

As for the Karantenids, we must see the dynasty in a new light, for though it had been assumed to have been consumed by the Komnenians following the marriage of Lida Karantenos and Alexios Chrusorosmios (Golden Tusk), the newest research by Professor Robin Street-Wolff has revealed a deeper involvement. It seems that the children of Alexios and Lida were often referred to as 'of Karantenos' following Alexios's death and the next two centuries produced at least five emperors and empresses who could be traced back to either Lida and Alexios or Michael and his young Saxon wife Beatrice. The latter was also to play a significant role in Byzantine court politics and became a valuable asset in ensuring Byzantium's strong position in counterbalance to the Holy Roman Empire.

Indeed, as I will now show, the Empress Irene II, was recognised at the time as a Karantenid and almost certainly the 'Karantena' Imperial seals discovered in Greece belonged to her, rather than Lida…

'Heroes of Rome', a popular television pop-history programme, presented by a famous comedian (German Broadcasting Corporation GBC2, Thursdays at 19.30)

Voiceover plays as an actor, dressed imperially and with a stern face, lined with wrinkles and scars, looks over a representation of Constantinople

”… but no less a hero was Michael Karantenos, briefly Emperor at Constantinople, and a brilliant general serving four Emperors. To him can be attributed any number of Roman victories over half a century, and not least the fighting of Ghenghis Khan to a standstill…”

Switch to a scene of Michael Karantenos is seen to call out orders to Byzantine soldiers as a line of Mongol lancers charge towards him. There is confusion and dramatic shouting and screaming.

bio/makis_karantenos.txt · Last modified: 2009/07/11 12:52 by innokenti
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