Basilio II – Biography of Basilio II

The byzantine emperor Basil ii ruled from 963 to 1025 and was called Bulgaróctono, the murderer of Bulgarians. He was the last and greatest of the emperors who led Byzantium to its military heyday.

Eldest son of the Roman Emperor II, Basil and his younger brother, Constantine, succeeded the throne after the death of their father in 963. Their positions were successively exploited by two military usurpers, Nicéforo Focas (963-969) and Juan I Tzimiscés (969-976). After John’s death, while Constantine was in the background, Basil He tried to rule, but became dependent on his great-uncle, the eunuch Basilio the Chamberlain. A shrewd politician with long experience, the chamberlain helped Basil to face the challenges of two other alleged usurpers, the aristocrats Bardas Scleros and Bardas Focas. In the midst of these struggles, the Chamberlain’s tutelage became intolerable, and Basil he was forced to remove him from office.

The rebellions of the two Bardas eventually led to Basil to seek military aid from Prince Vladimir of Kiev; this alliance led to the subsequent conversion of Russia to Byzantine Christianity. The unit of Russian soldiers sent by Vladimir helped Basil to stop Bardas Focas in 989, and Bardas Scleros surrendered soon after. These long struggles to secure his throne left deep scars on his personality. Tolerant and dissipated in his youth, he became, by his terrifying experiences, a severe, dour ascetic and self-sacrificing person. His experiences with ambitious warlords also fostered in him a passionate hatred for aristocrats and a determination to dominate them.

With the aristocracy dominating the high military command, Basil He decided early on to reestablish his own reputation as a soldier. A first attempt to campaign against Bulgaria, the deadly enemy north of Byzantium, in 986 had proved an embarrassing failure. In 990, however, Basil he resumed his efforts against Bulgaria, which would become his main military target. The 25 years of bitter war between King Samuel of Bulgaria and Basil they became both a personal duel and a fight to the death between the two enemy states.

With victories, devastation and bold strategy, Basil managed to defeat Samuel, segmenting their territories, and paralyzing the Bulgarian forces. The climax was reached in 1014, when the Byzantines captured the main Bulgarian army of about 14,000 men. Basil He blinded the entire army, but left one in a hundred with one eye to serve as their guide. He sent them back to Samuel, who died from shock at seeing them. Basil he completed the annexation of Bulgaria and its incorporation into the empire with singular restraint and pragmatic wisdom.

In the following years the tireless emperor devoted his reign to solve the interests of the empire in eastern Asia Minor and the Caucasus. The dismemberment and annexation of independent Armenia began. Then, still restless, he turned his attention to the west. He planned an expedition to reconquer Sicily and expand Byzantine authority in Italy; but before he could carry out this campaign, he suddenly fell ill and died on December 15, 1025.

Being single, Basil He left the throne to his younger brother, Constantine VIII, during whose reign (1025-1028) the rapid erosion of the power that Basil had built began.