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Basil I

Basil I (Basil the Macedonian)băzˈəl, bāˈzəl, c.813–886, Byzantine emperor (867–86). His ancestors probably were Armenians or Slavs who settled in Macedonia. He became (c.856) the favorite of Emperor Michael III. In 886, Basil, with the aid of Michael, assassinated Michael's uncle and chief minister, Bardas, and was made coemperor. Michael's feeling toward Basil began to change and in 867 Basil had him murdered and had himself proclaimed emperor. Thus the Macedonian dynasty of the East, which lasted until 1056, was founded. A capable ruler, Basil reformed the finances; modernized the law of Justinian I by introducing a new code, the Basilica; protected the poorer classes; and restored the military prestige of the empire. Byzantine art and architecture entered their second golden age during his rule. A major event of his reign was the dissension between the Roman and the Eastern churches. In order to prevent an open break, Basil restored (867) to the patriarchate Ignatius of Constantinople, who had been deposed in favor of Photius. On Ignatius' death, Basil reinstated (877) Photius, causing strained relations but not a full break with Rome. Basil in 865 had divorced his wife and married the mistress of Michael III. He was succeeded by his son Leo VI.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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