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Basil II = Worst Byzantine Emperor?

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Basil II = Worst Byzantine Emperor?
    Posted: 10-Apr-2008 at 07:48
Hello all,
  I recently had a discussion with a Byzantinist who clung very tightly to his opinion that Basil II was the worst (or among the worst) Byzantine emperor.  His primary reasons were: 1) Basil expanded far too much for the Byzantine economy, causing its ultimate collapse, and 2) He did not leave any heirs, almost guaranteeing dynastic squabbles.
 
Now I agree with point #2, not leaving a male heir (not counting his hedonistic brother) is just plain irresponsible.  But as far as #1 is concerned, I have never read anything supporting it.  Sure, he expanded the borders to such an extent that had not been known in several centuries, but much of it was through small expeditions, show of force, and diplomacy, especially in the east with the Armenians, Tao, Taron, etc.  Not to mention his military campaigns were methodically executed with rather small(ish) to medium sized armies (as far as sources imply) for the most part, therefore cutting expenses.
 
Any feedback is appreciated, thanks all.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2008 at 14:05
I could not agree with that at all. Basil only expanded where his predecessors already have had expanded into. His territory was not the problem, the theme system could supply soldiers and money was not in short supply. He could have had more hand in picking a credible heir. The theme system, the quality of soldiers, and the economy were ruined by subsequent rulers who shifted focus from the military to the bureaucratic and non-military based aristocracy, which destroyed the army to a degree that it was not as functional as it used to be.
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  Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2008 at 15:10
I'm always sceptical to these "worst ruler"-theories since I've yet to see one that wasn't horribly unbalanced as a result of selective reading to support the theory.
 
In general I would say Basil II improved on what he got and left the empire in a better state, although to little avail. To blame him for the mistakes of his successors is to misplace blame and overestimate Basil II's abilities (which among other things lacked the sixth sense).
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2008 at 19:01
Hey all.
 
I agree that to label a "greatest" or "worst" ruler of any given kingdom/empire/state is sketchy at best.
 
But anyway, to go back to Basil, it seems to me that his successors - Constantine, Romanos, the Michaels, Zoe, Theodora, and Constantine - were all said to have been more or less wastrels and/or lavish spenders.  Additionally, due to apparently lax administration, corruption grew, as did reliance upon foreign soldiers (some scholars do not agree with this last assertion, however).  After all, how could the other emperors have spent so much if Basil had already destroyed the economy?


Edited by Ahenobarbus - 18-Apr-2008 at 23:27
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  Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2008 at 14:02
Ehhh....actually basil II is regarded as the last capable emperor of the Macedonian dynasty, crushing Bulgars, reconquering Armenia, making laws in benefit of farmers and leaving the coffers strikingly full when he died. 
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  Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2008 at 20:18
All this, Vorian, does not contradict to what the byzantinist claimed.
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  Quote Sergeant113 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2008 at 18:55
I disagree. I even think that he is the greatest ruler of the Macedonian dynasty.1st, his alliance with Prince of Kiev led to the conversion to Othordox Chritiananity of the would-be Russia.2nd, he reclaimed a great deal of both western and eastern territories, ensuing the security of the empire's border.3rd, having understood the importance of the free peasant class in the theme system, he tried to prevent the aristocrats from receeding the free lands o the peasants. There were obviously more that he did, but those 3 factors sucessfully kept the Empire "alive" until the defeat of Manzikert, despite the incompetence of successors of Basil II's 
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  Quote Constantin V Isauros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2018 at 11:07
Some claim that by weakening the military aristocracy he made them useless and thats the reason couldnt fight back the turks. All the power was in Constantinople and so were the troops. But its just a theory... A HISTORY THEORY!< ="text/" async="" ="/_Incapsula_Resource?SWJIYLWA=719d34d31c8e3a6e6fffd425f7e032f3&ns=5&cb=336307845"> //
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