Don’t ‘Cross’ Michael II.

On Christmas Eve of 820, the Emperor Leo V condemned the pretender Michael II to death by the rather bizarre method of having him tied to an ape and thrown into the furnaces that heated the imperial baths. Before the execution could take place, Michael’s supporters dressed up as monks and crept into the imperial palace to attack the emperor. Leo reportedly defended himself for more than an hour armed with nothing but a heavy metal cross that he swung around wildly before succumbing to the blades of his assailants. In what was surely the most undignified coronation in Byzantine history, Michael II was hastily brought up from the dungeons and crowned with the chains of his captivity still around his legs.

Found in Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization written by Lars Brownworth.

 

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