The figures are eloquent. Of 109 sovereigns, 65 were assassinated, 12 died in convent or prison, 3 died of hunger, 18 were castrated or had their eyes put out, their noses or hands cut off, and the rest were poisoned, suffocated, strangled, stabbed, thrown down from the top of a column or ignominiously hunted down. In 1058 years there were 65 revolutions of palace, street or barracks and 65 dethronements.
— René Guerdan, Byzantium: Its Triumphs and Tragedies
There’s something to be said for the peaceful transfer of power, isn’t there?
7 thoughts on ““…even if you do got a two-piece, custom-made pool cue.””
And to think, we still fill little kids’ heads with the bedtime stories of princesses and handsome princes who would grow up to be kings and queens.
If we used real life examples such as any of those who were umm – deposed in less than wholesome manners – I suppose the kiddos would have a hard time falling asleep.
I am looking forward to hearing your “man on the street” account of being in D.C. and all the excitement of the crowds who came from all over to share in our government’s peaceful transfer of power.
Stay warm if you can!
There’s also something to be said for the colon that should have followed `assassinated’ in the quote! As it is it reads as if every single Byzantine emperor met a violent death, which is not true. Just, er, most of them.
Yikes! You’re right that something is amiss in the translation. The quote above is punctuated exactly as it appeared in several English-language editions—but I’ll see if I can track down the original French.
In the meantime, here’s what appears to be a more smooth translation from the book Heavenly Serbia, presumably made directly from the original:
Of the 109 sovereigns twenty-three ended by being assassinated. Twelve died in a convent or prison. Three died of starvation. Eighteen were mutilated by castration, or had their eyes gouged, or nose or hands cut off; and, apart from the thirty-four who died in their beds, and eight that were killed in a war or accident, the others were poisoned, suffocated, strangled, stabbed, hurled from the top of a pillar, or driven away ignominiously. Altogether, within 1058 years there were sixty-five palace-, street-, or barracks revolutions, and sixty-five dethronements.
I have just had the pleasure of reading your blog for the first time – it is quite a delight, I must say.
Hear hear for democracy!
I’m also confused by the two different quotes: were 23 or 65 rulers assassinated?
Hi, Caroline! I suspect the second quotation is the more accurate, but I haven’t yet been able to check the French original…