Basil II - The Bulgar Slayer
On this day in history, December 15, 1025 AD, emperor Basil II dies at Constantinople.
Basil was born around 958 AD to Romanos II and Theophano, and raised to be an emperor since he was an infant. In 960 AD he was made a junior emperor alongside his father, and in 962 AD his brother Constantine VIII became his co-emperor, even if the two were just children. Basil's father died the next year and the empire was ruled by a succession of "guardian emperors" in his place (Nikephoros II 963-969 AD and Ioannes Tzimiskes 969-976 AD). After the death of the last one, Basil finally became senior emperor, although he was just eighteen.
Power did not come quickly to Basil and the East Roman Empire was beset by bad news immediately upon his elevation. His great-uncle, Lakapenos, for now effectively ruled as regent, for one. The Arabs in Sicily had also expelled a short-lived Roman garrison on the island, and the Bulgarian subjects of the empire revolted, proclaiming Samuil as their new Tsar. Also, one of the empire's best generals, Bardas Skleros, raised the standard of rebellion and declared himself emperor. While the Bulgarians assaulted the Balkans and the Arabs raided Byzantine Italy, Skleros was defeated and driven to exile by 979 AD, albeit at the cost of heavy casualties and defeats.
Basil didn't assume full control until his uncle was deposed in 985 AD, however he proved an effective and pragmatic emperor. Basil's own efforts against Bulgaria began poorly, however he was able to grind them down via a long war of attrition by 1018 AD when he took their capital, earning the nickname "Bulgar Slayer". In the East, Basil had stabilized the frontier with the Arabs by 1000 AD and even added new territories. And he established peaceful relations with the Kievan Rus in 989 AD, forming the Varangian Guard from Rus warriors sent to his service. An army revolt in 1021-1022 AD was swiftly put down. Overall, Basil handled the multiple external and internal threats the empire faced very well, leaving behind a strong empire in 1025 AD.
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