Basileus: A Concise History (Part I)

  By Rider, July 2006; Revised
  Category: Byzantium
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Leon V the Armenian

Unknown-820, Basileus from 813
After Michael, Leon, a general, was declared Emperor. He was from Armenia.
The crowning took place on the 11th of July in 813. In six days a massive Bulgarian army took the city under siege. The Bulgarians had no siege equipment and so they couldn’t be successful. Leon promiseda meeting with the Khan of Bulgars, Krum and the Khan agreed. Leon wanted an ambush but it wasn’t successful and the Khan was only wounded. Then Krum
Leon V
Leon V
razed Adrianapolis. He died shortly after. Byzantines had peace on both borders because the Arabs were in internal conflicts and so were the Bulgars.
Leon was talented and successfull. He was against icons. At first he hide his real thoughts but later when his position had strenghtened he took up active action aganst icons. In 814, he gave Johannes Grammaticus a task to find out more about icons and their worshipping. In 815 a conclave gathered to Constantinople. The conclave quickly agreed that the worshipping of icons was of evil and it has to be stopped.
One of his last enemies was Michael who had said some foolish sentences against Leon and Leon wanted to execute Michael. Empress still said that as it was winter and Christmas were at hand then at Christmas there should be now slaughters. The opposition didn’t think of it that way and assaulted the Emperor and killed him.


812-842, Basileus from 829
After the death of Michael II, his son from his first marriage, Theopilos, was crowned as the Basileus of the Roman Empire. He is one of the most known representatives of the Frygian dynasyty. His tutor was John Grammaticus who had previously been ordered to investigate the iconoclasm deeply. John was probably the one who taught Theopilos to be the men he was. Roman Empire had not had such an educated and talentad Basileus for long years. Theopilos wrote ecclestical anthems, poems and he was a good theologe and lawyer. Still, as his time was, he had to spend most of his time commanding troops against Bulgars and Arabs who were attacking from Sicily and Eastern fronts. Much of his energy took up the fight for icons.
In the year Theopilos was crowned, a large Arabian army attacked from East. The Basileus was utterly defeated and would almost have been caught as a prisoner. The problem was that he trusted Persians but those were lured to treachery by Arabs. One of his guards saved the Emperor by threatning him with a sword… later on the man was rewarded.
In 831 a successful counterattack took place. He took 25 thousand prisoners. A large triumph was created in Constantinople for this victory. In the next spring Caliph al-Mamun crushed the Romans. Theopilos asked for peace on which the Caliph answered that only when Byzantium would all turn to Muslims. Theopilos rejected and other great losses were suffered by the Byzantines. Fortunately the Caliph died a few years later. In the same time, Arabs had conquered Sicily leaving Romans with only a short area on the coast. Byzantine navy suffered many losses. In 829 it was totally
anhiliated. Two years later
Messina fell and after a one-year siege so did Palermo. The situation got a little better when the niece of Theoplios arrived.
The Basileus enjoyed dressing as commons and walking around the market or streets listening to opinions of people. He also had a great sense of justice. He even punished his wife’s brother and his wife, the Empress for trading saying that those business were for commons.
He wanted to promote science and art. Many new buildings were built, including large palaces. His friend, inventor Leo Matematicus invented a system of lighthouses that would report of alerts on border with a few hours. He was a dedicated enemy of the icons and worshipping of icons and fiercly persecuted those who did. He ordered to remove some cloisters from the town and he disliked monks.
In 837 he gathered an army of hundred thousand and stroke the Arabs effectively. Byzantines gathered many prisoners and large territories. Soon Arabs gathered and on 22 of July, Theopilos was mortally wounded in a decisive battle.
In the end of 841 he got sick and died on the 20th of January in 842. The patriarch declared that on his deathbed the Basileus took up an icon and returned to the Holy Church.
After his death, he became a symbol of justice for the Byzantine Romans.

Isaak I Komnenos
1007-1060/1061 Basileios from 1057-1059
Isaak’s father was one of the most appreciated generals of Basileios II Bulgaroktonos. The emperor himself taught a little of war to Isaak and Isaak’s brother. Isaak took advantage of it and made war with seljuks successfully. Isaak was very strong. At hunts his favourite action was to grab rabbit’s ears from full gallop.
He tried to improve the Empire’s conditions with many different reforms. He took some lands from cloisters and made punishments for bad treatment of peasants. He improved army conditions. He even tried to stop state officials from cheating but that made him unpopular in the court. Isaak so received a strong
Isaak I Komnenos
Isaak I Komnenos
One of his most important enemies was the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael. The patriarch thought that the secular powers must obey to the ecclestical powers and so he talked with the emperor but the emperor ordered the capture and exile of the patriarch. Michael didn’t want but the emperor ordered the patriarch under trials for even he didn’t dare kill him without the support of the courts. Michael Psellos, a famous Byzantine historian and a great intrigist, was in the head of the charges. The patriarch died few weeks before the final trials. Isaak forgive the patriarch and great-scale funerals were made to honour the patriarch.
During the rule of Isaak Byzantines had peace on several frontiers. Some people claim it was because of the emperors great military skills. In 1058 he commited a successful raid against the Schytians (Petchenegs).
In 1059, Isaak had a cold during a hunt and he fell very ill. Isaak was convinced that he wouldn’t heal and so he gave up the throne and went into a cloister. Still he didn’t die and healed. He tried to get back the throne but was unsupported and left again to a cloister where he died in 1060 or 1061.