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SECTION IV.

THE CRUELTY AND BLOODTHIRSTINESS OF THE EMPRESS
THEODORA—THE FREE STATE AND CITY OF TEPHRICE.

On the death of Theophilus his empress, Theodora, became regent (her son, Michael III., being but five years of age), and for fifteen years ruled with a rod of iron. It is a remarkable fact that the empresses and em-press-regents of these Byzantine dynasties were always more cruel, destructive, and persecuting in their dispositions than the emperors. Theodora was no exception to this rule. She restored the images and pictures, convened a council of bishops at Nicaea, which she compelled to register her edict for the maintenance of these idolatrous pictures in the churches, and then turned her whole energies to the destruction of the Armenian Paulicians. She issued her decree that all her subjects should conform to the Greek Church, and when the Armenians refused she sent her armies into their land, put to death, either by the sword or the stake, over one hundred thousand Paulicians (some accounts say two hundred thousand), and drove the remainder into exile.[5]

Satisfied at last that this cruel queen (whose private life was as infamous as her rule was imperious and despotic) meant nothing less than their utter extermination, the Armenians rose in rebellion, having as their leader a brave Paulician named Car-seas, asserted their independence, and after driving Michael III. and the usurper Bardas out of Armenia and threatening Constantinople, established the free state of Tephrice with absolute freedom of opinion for all its inhabitants.[6] From the capital of this free state, itself called Tephrice,[7] went forth a host of missionaries to convert the Sclavonic tribes of Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Serbia to the Paulician faith. Great was their success—so great that a large proportion of the inhabitants of the free state migrated to what were then independent states beyond the emperor's control. The free state of Tephrice declined for some years, and finally became extinct by the emigration of most of its inhabitants and the surrender of the remainder to the Saracens. The times were not propi-tious to its permanence—for a higher intelligence than then existed among the masses is essential to the existence of a free state—but it had lasted sufficiently long to demonstrate that the religious basis is the best on which to found a state, and that it was possible for a nation to exist while maintaining perfect religious freedom. More than seven hundred years later these problems were wrought out with a grand success on the coasts of a land in the far West, of whose existence no man then dreamed, the motives which prompted the establishment of a free state being the same in the latter as in the former case, and the doctrines professed by these exiles for their faith differing very slightly..

 
 
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