Basil II

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Basil II (Greek: Βασίλειος Β΄, Basileios II; 958 – December 15, 1025), known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.

The first part of his long reign was dominated by civil war against powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Following their submission, Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the Byzantine Empire's eastern frontier, and above all, the final and complete subjugation of Bulgaria, the Empire's foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. For this he was nicknamed by later authors as "the Bulgar-slayer" (Greek: Βουλγαροκτόνος, Boulgaroktonos), by which he is popularly known. At his death, the Empire stretched from Southern Italy to the Caucasus and from the Danube to the borders of Palestine, its greatest territorial extent since the Muslim conquests, four centuries earlier.

Despite near-constant warfare, Basil also showed himself a capable administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military, and filling the Empire's treasury. Of far-reaching importance was Basil's decision to offer the hand of his daughter Anna to Vladimir I of Kiev[1] in exchange for military support, which led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus', and the incorporation of Russia within the Byzantine cultural sphere.

Contents

Birth and childhood

Basil was the son of Emperor Romanos II by Theophano, whose family was of Laconian Greek origin[2][3][4][5][6][7] originating in the Peloponnesian region of Lakonia[8], possibly from the city of Sparta[9]. In 960, he was associated on the throne by his father, but the latter died in 963, when Basil was only five years old. Because he and his brother, the future Emperor Constantine VIII (ruled 1025–1028), were too young to reign in their own right, Basil's mother Theophano married one of Romanos' leading generals, who took the throne as the Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas several months later in 963. Nikephoros was murdered in 969 by his nephew John I Tzimisces, who then became emperor and reigned for seven years. Finally, when John died on January 10, 976, Basil II took the throne as senior emperor.

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