Basil the Macedonian (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Through his strength, intelligence, and excellent administration, Basil established the 189-year Macedonian dynasty, which brought Byzantium to great heights. He imparted such vitality to an ancient imperial tradition that it has been emulated by modern nations.
Basil was born in Macedonia, the eldest son of a couple commonly called Constantine and Pancalo. The father of Constantine appears to have been an Armenian, Hmayeak, known sometimes by his name in Greek form, Maiactes. The mother of Constantine may have been a daughter of Leo V, the ruler of Byzantium from 813 to 820, also of Armenian descent. Cyril Toumanoff has traced Hmayeak’s ancestry through the Armenian Mamikonian princes and the Arsacid rulers to the Achaemenid monarchs of Persia. The presence of the Armenians in Macedonia was not unusual, as Byzantium often moved groups of its minorities to areas which it wished to strengthen and develop. Macedonia was under attack by the Bulgars during Basil’s childhood, and there are unconfirmed reports that he and his family were taken captive by them for a time.
Basil did not learn to read and write until late in life, but he credited his father with being his principal instructor in the wisdom of life. A large, handsome man, he became a skilled rider and breaker of horses and developed impressive strength and athletic ability. These traits helped open his path to...
(The entire section is 2105 words.)
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