Constantinople, 797 AD

As a public service this paper is offering a new service, an advice column. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Androgynous II has graciously allowed the Abbess of the Convent of Our Lady of Perpetual Motion, Mother Agatha Stegosaurus to provide comfort and advice to the unfortunate. And now, our first letter;

Dear Abbess,

I'm having problems with a domineering mother. My Dad died when I was very young and I was raised as a single child by my Mother. Being royalty, money was never a problem, but there was never much affection to go around. I had bossy people around me constantly, telling me what I could and couldn't do. "Your mother the regent says Don't eat more candy". "Your mother the regent says Don't declare war on the Kazars". "Your mother the regent says Don't persecute the Iconoclasts". I couldn't wear the loros. I couldn't grow a beard. "Don't fib to me or you'll have sit in a corner of the Hagia Sophia and kiss the True Cross". I HATE being treated like a child. God's Wounds, I'm twenty two years old!

The problems really escalated when me and some friends managed to get Mom to take a vacation. No sooner had her ship sailed out of sight than we changed every lock in the palace and canceled all shipping to her little vacation 'retreat'. Much good it did me. Within six months she had whined and written enough letters to make ME look like the bad guy. Mom was brought back and reinstalled as co-Emperor. Some "co". She rules and I'm supposed to shut up and father kids on the Armenian bimbo she married me to.

I've heard rumors that Mom is making plans to remove me from from the scene completely. Reverend Mother, how should I deal with such a mother?

(signed) Bird in a Gilded Cage


Dear Bird,

What an ungrateful son you are. You should be happy to have a mother who takes an interest in your career. Aren't you forgetting the commandment to "Honor thy Father and thy Mother"? Wear a horsehair shirt for a month and scourge yourself daily in penance for your ingratitude. And lay off the iconoclasts.

The Abbess.


Historical Note:

In 797 Constantine VI was attacked and blinded by agents of his mother Irene. Her son finally disqualified for the throne, Irene ruled as Emperor (not Empress!) for four years until she was overthrown and banished by her Treasurer. Constantine spent the rest of his life in his room.