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Basil I, called the Macedonian (Greek: Βασίλειος ὁ Μακεδών, Basíleios ō Makedṓn; 811 – August 29, 886) was a Byzantine Emperor
Byzantine Emperor
who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the theme of Macedonia, he rose in the Imperial court, and usurped the Imperial throne from Emperor Michael III
Michael III
(r. 842–867). Despite his humble origins, he showed great ability in running the affairs of state, leading to a revival of Imperial power and a renaissance of Byzantine
Byzantine
art. He was perceived by the Byzantines as one of their greatest emperors, and the Macedonian dynasty, which he founded, ruled over what is regarded as the most glorious and prosperous era of the Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire.

Contents

1 From peasant to emperor 2 Reign

2.1 Domestic policies 2.2 Foreign affairs

3 Last years and succession 4 Family 5 In culture 6 See also 7 References

7.1 Citations 7.2 Sources

8 Further reading 9 External links

From peasant to emperor[edit] Basil was born to peasant parents in late 811 (or sometime in the 830s in the estimation of some scholars) at Charioupolis in the Byzantine theme of Macedonia (an administrative division corresponding to the area of Adrianople in Thrace).[1][2] The name of his father is unknown, but the name of his grandfather was Maïktes; his mother was named Pankalo (Pagkalo?), and her father was called Leo.[3] His ethnic origin is unknown, and has been a subject of debate. During Basil's reign, an elaborate genealogy was produced that purported that his ancestors were not mere peasants, as everyone believed, but descendants of the Arsacid (Arshakuni) kings of Armenia, and also of Constantine the Great.[4][5] The Armenian historians Samuel of Ani
Samuel of Ani
and Stephen of Taron
Stephen of Taron
record that he hailed from the village of Thil in Taron.[3] In contrast, Arab writers such as Hamza al Isfahani,[6] or al-Tabari call both Basil and his mother Saqlabi, an ethnogeographic term that usually denoted the Slavs, but can also be interpreted as a generic term encompassing the inhabitants of the region between Constantinople
Constantinople
and Bulgaria.[7] Claims have therefore been made for an Armenian,[8] Slavic,[6][9] or indeed "Armeno-Slavonic"[2] origin for Basil I. The name of his mother, Pankalo (Παγκαλώ), points to a Greek origin on the maternal side.[7] The general scholarly consensus is that Basil's father was "probably" of Armenian origin, and settled in Byzantine
Byzantine
Thrace.[3] The author of the only dedicated biography of Basil I
Basil I
in English has concluded that it is impossible to be certain what the ethnic origins of the emperor were, though Basil was definitely reliant on the support of Armenians in prominent positions within the Byzantine Empire.[10]

Basil victorious in a wrestling match against a Bulgarian champion (far left), from the Madrid Skylitzes
Madrid Skylitzes
manuscript.

One story asserts that he had spent a part of his childhood in captivity in Bulgaria, where his family had, allegedly, been carried off as captives of the Khan Krum (r. 803–814) in 813. Basil lived there until 836, when he and several others escaped to Byzantine-held territory in Thrace.[1] Basil was ultimately lucky enough to enter the service of Theophilitzes, a relative of the Caesar Bardas
Bardas
(the uncle of Emperor Michael III), as a groom. While serving Theophilitzes, he visited the city of Patras, where he gained the favour of Danielis, a wealthy woman who took him into her household and endowed him with a fortune.[11] He also earned the notice of Michael III
Michael III
by his abilities as a horse tamer and in winning a victory over a Bulgarian champion in a wrestling match; he soon became the Byzantine
Byzantine
Emperor's companion, confidant, and bodyguard (parakoimomenos).[12]

The coronation of Basil I
Basil I
as co-emperor, from the Madrid Skylitzes manuscript.

On Emperor Michael's orders, Basil divorced his wife Maria and married Eudokia Ingerina, Michael's favourite mistress, in around 865.[11] During an expedition against the Arabs, Basil convinced Michael III that his uncle Bardas
Bardas
coveted the Byzantine
Byzantine
throne, and subsequently murdered Bardas
Bardas
with Michael's approval on April 21, 866. Basil then became the leading personality at court and was invested in the now vacant dignity of kaisar (caesar), before being crowned co-emperor on May 26, 866. This promotion may have included Basil's adoption by Michael III, himself a much younger man. It was commonly believed that Leo VI, Basil's successor and reputed son, was really the son of Michael.[11] Although Basil seems to have shared this belief (and hated Leo), the subsequent promotion of Basil to caesar and then co-emperor provided the child with a legitimate and Imperial parent and secured his succession to the Byzantine
Byzantine
throne. It is notable that when Leo was born, Michael III
Michael III
celebrated the event with public chariot races, whilst he pointedly instructed Basil not to presume on his new position as junior emperor.[13] When Michael III
Michael III
started to favour another courtier, Basiliskianos, Basil decided that his position was being undermined. Michael threatened to invest Basiliskianos
Basiliskianos
with the Imperial title and this induced Basil to pre-empt events by organizing the assassination of Michael on the night of September 23/24, 867. Michael and Basiliskianos
Basiliskianos
were insensibly drunk following a banquet at the palace of Anthimos when Basil, with a small group of companions (including his father Bardas, brother Marinos, and cousin Ayleon), gained entry. The locks to the chamber doors had been tampered with and the chamberlain had not posted guards; both victims were then put to the sword.[14] On Michael III's death, Basil, as an already acclaimed co-emperor, automatically became the ruling basileus.[15] Reign[edit] Basil I
Basil I
inaugurated a new age in the history of the Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire, associated with the dynasty which he founded, the so-called "Macedonian dynasty". This dynasty oversaw a period of territorial expansion, during which Byzantium was the strongest power in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. It is remarkable that Basil I
Basil I
became an effective and respected monarch, ruling for 19 years, despite being a man with no formal education and little military or administrative experience. Moreover, he had been the boon companion of a debauched monarch and had achieved power through a series of calculated murders. That there was little political reaction to the murder of Michael III
Michael III
is probably due to his unpopularity with the bureaucrats of Constantinople
Constantinople
because of his disinterest in the administrative duties of the Imperial office. Also, Michael's public displays of impiety had alienated the Byzantine populace in general. Once in power Basil soon showed that he intended to rule effectively and as early as his coronation he displayed an overt religiosity by formally dedicating his crown to Christ. He maintained a reputation for conventional piety and orthodoxy throughout his reign.[16]

Basil I
Basil I
on horseback

Domestic policies[edit] To secure his family on the throne, Basil I
Basil I
raised his eldest son Constantine (in 869) and his second son Leo (in 870) to the position of co-emperor. Because of the great legislative work which Basil I
Basil I
undertook, he is often called the "second Justinian." Basil's laws were collected in the Basilika, consisting of sixty books, and smaller legal manuals known as the Eisagoge. Leo VI was responsible for completing these legal works. The Basilika remained the law of the Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire down to its conquest by the Ottomans. Ironically, this codification of laws seems to have begun under the direction of the caesar Bardas
Bardas
who was murdered by Basil.[17] Basil's financial administration was prudent. Consciously desiring to emulate Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
(r. 527–565), Basil also initiated an extensive building program in Constantinople, crowned by the construction of the Nea Ekklesia cathedral. His ecclesiastical policy was marked by good relations with Rome. One of his first acts was to exile the Patriarch of Constantinople, Photios, and restore his rival Ignatios, whose claims were supported by Pope Adrian II.[1] However, Basil had no intention of yielding to Rome
Rome
beyond a certain point. The decision of Boris I of Bulgaria
Boris I of Bulgaria
to align the new Bulgarian Church with Constantinople
Constantinople
was a great blow to Rome, which had hoped to secure it for herself. But on the death of Ignatios in 877, Photios became patriarch again, and there was a virtual, though not a formal, breach with Rome. This was a watershed event in conflicts that led to the Great Schism that ultimately produced the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
and the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
as separate ecclesiastical entities. Foreign affairs[edit] Emperor Basil's reign was marked by the troublesome ongoing war with the heretical Paulicians, centered on Tephrike on the upper Euphrates, who rebelled, allied with the Arabs, and raided as far as Nicaea, sacking Ephesus. Basil's general, Christopher, defeated the Paulicians in 872, and the death of their leader, Chrysocheir, led to the definite subjection of their state.[18] There was the usual frontier warfare with the Arabs
Arabs
in Asia Minor, which led to little concrete gain, but the Empire's eastern frontier was strengthened. The island of Cyprus
Cyprus
was recovered, but retained for only seven years. Basil was the first Byzantine
Byzantine
emperor since Constans II
Constans II
(r. 641–668) to pursue an active policy to restore the Empire's power in the West. Basil allied with Holy Roman Emperor Louis II (r. 850–875) against the Arabs
Arabs
and sent a fleet of 139 ships to clear the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
of their raids. With Byzantine
Byzantine
help, Louis II captured Bari
Bari
from the Arabs
Arabs
in 871. The city eventually became Byzantine
Byzantine
territory in 876. However, the Byzantine
Byzantine
position on Sicily
Sicily
deteriorated, and Syracuse fell to the Emirate of Sicily
Sicily
in 878. This was ultimately Basil's fault as he had diverted a relief fleet from Sicily
Sicily
to haul marble for a church instead. Although most of Sicily
Sicily
was lost, the general Nikephoros Phokas (the Elder) succeeded in taking Taranto
Taranto
and much of Calabria
Calabria
in 880. The successes in the Italian peninsula
Italian peninsula
opened a new period of Byzantine
Byzantine
domination there. Above all, the Byzantines were beginning to establish a strong presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and especially the Adriatic.[19] Last years and succession[edit]

Basil I
Basil I
and his son Leo. Leo is discovered carrying a knife in the emperor's presence

Basil's spirits declined in 879, when his eldest and favorite son Constantine died. Basil now raised his youngest son, Alexander, to the rank of co-emperor. Basil disliked the bookish Leo, on occasion physically beating him; he probably suspected Leo of being the son of Michael III. In his later years, Basil's relationship with Leo was clouded by the suspicion that the latter might wish to avenge the murder of Michael III. Leo was eventually imprisoned by Basil after the detection of a suspected plot, but the imprisonment resulted in public rioting; Basil threatened to blind Leo but was dissuaded by Patriarch Photios. Leo was eventually released after the passage of three years.[20] Basil died on August 29, 886 from a fever contracted after a serious hunting accident when his belt was caught in the antlers of a deer, and he was allegedly dragged 16 miles through the woods. He was saved by an attendant who cut him loose with a knife, but he suspected the attendant of trying to assassinate him and had the man executed shortly before he himself died.[21] One of the first acts of Leo VI as ruling emperor was to rebury, with great ceremony, the remains of Michael III
Michael III
in the Imperial Mausoleum within the Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
in Constantinople. This did much to confirm in public opinion the view that Leo considered himself to have been Michael's son.[22] Family[edit] Aspects of the family relationships of Basil I
Basil I
are uncertain and open to a variety of interpretations, the information given below should not be treated as comprehensive or definite.[23] By his first wife Maria, Basil I
Basil I
had several children, including:

Bardas. Anastasia, who married the general Christopher. Constantine (circa 865 – September 3, 879), co-emperor to Basil from January 6, 868 to his death. According to George Alexandrovič Ostrogorsky, Constantine was betrothed to Ermengard of Provence, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Louis II and Engelberga in 869. The marital contract was broken in 871 when relations between Basil and Louis broke down.

By his second wife, Eudokia Ingerina, Basil I
Basil I
officially had the following children:

Leo VI, who succeeded as Byzantine
Byzantine
emperor and may actually have been a son of Michael III. Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople, who may also actually have been a son of Michael III. Alexander, who succeeded as Byzantine
Byzantine
emperor in 912. Anna Porphyrogenita, a nun at the convent of St. Euphemia in Petrion. Helena Porphyrogenita, a nun at the convent of St. Euphemia in Petrion. Maria Porphyrogenita, a mother of nuns at the convent of St. Euphemia in Petrion.

According to John Boswell's "Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe," Basil was married second to Thekla the elder sister of the Emperor Michael, then to Michael's mistress Eudokia Ingerina.[citation needed] However, the Byzantine
Byzantine
chroniclers, including Leo Grammaticus and Symeon Logothetes, state that the intercourse between Basil and Thekla was 'criminal', and therefore out of wedlock.[24] In culture[edit]

Harry Turtledove, a historian noted for his speculative fiction based on alternative history, has written several series set in a place called Videssos, which is a thinly disguised Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire. The Tale of Krispos trilogy – Krispos Rising (1991), Krispos of Videssos (1991), and Krispos the Emperor (1994) – are fictionalized tellings of the rise of Basil and his sons. Stephen Lawhead's book, Byzantium (1996), uses the succession of Basil I as seed for the conspiracy which occupies most of the novel.

See also[edit]

Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
portal

List of Byzantine
Byzantine
emperors

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ a b c Treadgold 1997, p. 455. ^ a b Vasiliev 1928–1935, p. 301. ^ a b c PmbZ, Basileios I. (#832/add. corr.). ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 457. ^ Vogt & Hausherr 1932, p. 44. ^ a b Tobias 2007, p. 20. ^ a b PmbZ, Pankalo (#5679). ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 455. ^ Finlay 1853, p. 213. ^ Tobias 2007, p. 264. ^ a b c Bury 1911. ^ Gregory 2010, p. 242. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 453. ^ Finlay 1853, pp. 180–181. A man named John of Chaldia killed Michael III, cutting off both the Emperor's hands before returning to stab him in the heart. ^ Treadgold 1997, pp. 453–455. ^ Finlay 1853, pp. 214–215. ^ Finlay 1853, pp. 221–226. ^ Jenkins 1987, p. 191. ^ Jenkins 1987, pp. 185–187. ^ Jenkins 1987, pp. 196–197. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 461. ^ Finlay 1853, p. 241. ^ Tougher, pp. 7-8, 30-31, 42-50 ^ Finlay, p. 177, footnote 2

Sources[edit]

Bury, John Bagnell (1911). "Basil I". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.).  view online Finlay, George (1853). History of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
from DCCXVI to MLVII. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons.  Gregory, Timothy E. (2010). A History of Byzantium. Malden, Massachusetts and West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-8471-X.  Jenkins, Romilly (1987). Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries, AD 610–1071. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6667-4.  Lilie, Ralph-Johannes; Ludwig, Claudia; Zielke, Beate; Pratsch, Thomas, eds. (2013). Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit Online. Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Nach Vorarbeiten F. Winkelmanns erstellt (in German). De Gruyter.  Tobias, Norman (2007). Basil I, Founder of the Macedonian Dynasty: A Study of the Political and Military History of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
in the Ninth Century. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-5405-5.  Tougher, S. (1997) The Reign of Leo VI (886–912): Politics and People. Brill, Leiden. Treadgold, Warren T. (1997). A History of the Byzantine
Byzantine
State and Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.  Vasiliev, Alexander Alexandrovich (1928–1935). History of the Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-80925-0.  Vogt, Albert; Hausherr, Isidorous, eds. (1932). "Oraison funèbre de Basile I par son fils Léon VI le Sage". Orientalia Christiana Periodica (in French). Rome, Italy: Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum. 26 (77): 39–78. 

Further reading[edit]

Bury, John Bagnell (1912). A History of the Eastern Roman Empire from the Fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil I
Basil I
(A.D. 802–867). London, United Kingdom: Macmillan and Company.  Kazhdan, Alexander Petrovich, ed. (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York, New York and Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.  Mango, Cyril (1973). "Eudocia Ingerina, the Normans, and the Macedonian Dynasty". Zbornik Radova Vizantološkog Instituta. 14-15: 17–27.  Živković, Tibor (2013). "On the Baptism of the Serbs and Croats in the Time of Basil I
Basil I
(867–886)" (PDF). Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana (1): 33–53. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Basileios I.

Basil I
Basil I
- Ancient History Encyclopedia

Basil I Macedonian Dynasty Born: c. 811 Died: 29 August 886

Regnal titles

Preceded by Michael III Byzantine
Byzantine
Emperor 867–886 Succeeded by Leo VI

Court offices

Preceded by Damian Parakoimomenos 865–866 Succeeded by Rentakios

v t e

Roman and Byzantine
Byzantine
emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine
Byzantine
Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 14838284 LCCN: n82154653 ISNI: 0000 0000 7970 8941 GND: 118507028 SUDOC: 031957447 BNF: cb12307797s (dat

.