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Byzantine Empire /
Basil 2
Byname: Basil the Bulgar-Slayer


(957 or 958-1025) Byzantine emperor 976-1025, 49 years. He was also emperor for 3 months in 963, but then only a child, and under a regency.
Basil was very competent as emperor, and his reign is considered to be the most outstanding in the empire's history every since Justinian 1 more than 400 years earlier. He was a good civil administrator and excellent as an a military leader. He maintained excellent control of the state finances.
Basil spent most of his time with the army, instead of in the capital, Constantinople. He reportedly lived a solider's life, eating the same food as the troops. He provided well for children of officers, and his soldiers were deeply loyal to him. Therefore, his position as emperor could never be in danger, even though he was away from the capital for long periods, any usurper knew that the emperor could return with the army any time.
In the beginning of his reign he faced a poorly administered empire. Among his challenges were landowners across Anatolia who had grown wealthy enough to challenge the position of Constantinople. Both Bardas Skleros and Bardas Phocas launched rebellions, which took years to subdue. Basil proved ruthless in these processes. These rebellions aimed just as much to uphold their positions as for gaining power or even independence. Part of the background for their rebellions were Basil's reforms of reducing the influence and wealth of large landowners, and instead provide for the small landowners. Another group losing power during the reign of Basil was the church, which had many of its privileges removed.
He faced conflicts on all fronts, but managed to keep Byzantine possessions in Syria against Fatimid attacks, while in Georgia and Armenia, the Byzantine Empire was able to win territory. The same applied to Mesopotamia and in the West, in the Balkans.
Basil never married, and had no children.

Biography
957 or 958: Born as son of future Emperor Romanus 2.
963 March 15: Romanus dies and Basil becomes emperor together with his 3 year old brother, Constantine. The regency was left in the hands of their mother, Theophano, still only 20 years old, while the eunuch, Joseph Bringas, was in charge of the affairs of the state.
August 16: With the aid of Theophano and a popular revolt, Nicephorus is crowned new emperor. Formally, Basil and Constantine keep their positions.
969 December 10: Nicephorus is killed, John 1 Tzimisces becomes new emperor. Even now, Basil and Constantine formally remains emperors.
976 January 10: John dies, and Basil becomes sole emperor. However, the eunuch Basil the Chamberlain, emerges as the strong man of the regime.
979: A rebellion of Bardas Skleros is suppressed.
982: In a battle at Cotrone in southern Italy, the Byzantines manages to defend its Italian presence.
985: Basil the Chamberlain is exiled, Basil takes full control of the government.
986: Basil sends an expedition into Bulgaria, taking control of Sredets (modern Sofia). War would continue for 28 years, although with long periods without fighting.
August 17: Basil is seriously defeated at Trajan's Gate, he barely escapes.
989: Prince Vladimir 1 of Kiev marries Basil's sister, Anna, in exchange for both converting his people and providing the Byzantines with troops.
— Using the reinforcements from Vladimir, Basil manages to suppress the rebellion of Bardas Phocas.
991: Loses Moesia to Bulgaria.
995: Basil conquers much of Syria, but he is unable to take to Jerusalem.
1000: Turns his attention onto the conflict with Bulgaria again.
— Armenia becomes a Byzantine tributary, with the death of its king.
1000's: The Byzantines build a line of fortresses in Armenia to defend it against Seljuq Turkish invasions.
1002: Moesia is reconquered.
1003: Macedonia is raided, Skopje conquered.
1005: Durazzo (modern Dürres, Albania) surrenders to the Byzantines.
1014 July 29: Defeats the Bulgarians in the Battle of Kleidion. The story goes that Basil captured 15,000 soldiers and blinded all but 150, and sent them marching back to King Samuil. King Samuil is said to have died from stroke two days later. True or not, this is the incident providing Basil with his nickname, "Bulgar-Slayer."
1016: Byzantine control of Crimea is established.
1018: After continued warfare, Bulgaria submits to the Byzantine Empire. With this, the empire wins back territory which had been under its control 400 years earlier.
1025 December 15: Basil dies. The throne passes to Constantine 8, the official co-emperor. Constantine would quickly destroy much of the state structures built up by Basil.
1204: Basil's tomb in Constantinople is ravaged by Christian Crusaders during the 4th Crusade.




By Tore Kjeilen