The Macedonian epoch (867-1081) The history of the Macedonian dynasty falls into two periods, unequal in significance and duration. The first period extends from 867 to 1025, the year of the death of Emperor Basil II; the second, the brief period from 1025 to 1056, when Empress Theodora, the last member of this dynasty, died.
The first period was the most brilliant time of the political existence of the Empire. The struggle in the east and in the north with the Arabs, Bulgarians, and Russians, was crowned with brilliant success for Byzantine arms by the second half of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh century. This was achieved in spite of some failures at the end of the ninth and in the early part of the tenth century. This was the moment of the highest strength and glory ever attained by the Empire. The intensive legislative work, expressed in the publication of a gigantic code, the Basilics, and a number of famous novels directed against the pernicious growth of large landownership, and the intellectual advance associated with the names of Patriarch Photius and Constantine Porphyrogenitus add further glory and significance to the first period of the Macedonian dynasty.
The main problem in the external policy of Basil I, the founder of the Macedonian dynasty, was the struggle with the Muslim world. Conditions were unusually favorable for great achievements in this struggle, because in his time the Empire maintained peaceful relations with Armenia in the east, with Russia and Bulgaria in the north, and in the west with Venice and the western emperor. Added to these advantages was the internal dissension within the eastern caliphate aroused by the increasing influence of the Turks at the Arabian court, the defection of Egypt, where the independent dynasty of the Tulunids arose in the year 868, the civil wars among the North African Arabs, and the difficult position of the Spanish Umayyads in the midst of the local Christian population.
The successful military campaign which opened at the beginning of the seventies in the eastern part of Asia Minor against the followers of the sect of the Paulicans resulted in the Emperor’s occupation of their main city of Tephrice. This conquest not only widened the extent of Byzantine territory, but also placed Basil face to face with the eastern Arabs.Victory was sometimes on the side of the Greeks and sometimes on the side of the Arabs, but in the end the Byzantine borderline in Asia Minor moved considerably to the east.
Painting of Basil II replicated from an 11th century manuscript.
Far more serious were Basil’s relations with the western Arabs, who at that time possessed the greater part of Sicily and occupied some important points in southern Italy. The troubled affairs of Italy caused the intervention of the western Emperor, Louis II, who occupied the important city of Bari. It was with this ruler that Basil I formed an alliance for a combined attempt to drive the western Arabs out of Italy and Sicily. But this alliance did not succeed and was soon dissolved.
In spite of the loss of Syracuse and the unsuccessful campaigns against the Arabs, Basil increased somewhat the extent of Byzantine possessions in Asia Minor, and restored the lost importance of Byzantine rule in southern Italy. “The aged Basil,” said a recent student of his period, “could die in peace. He had fulfilled, both in the east and in the west, a very great military task, which was at the same time a civilizing task.
The Empire left by Basil was stronger and more imposing than the one he had received. The peaceful relations maintained by Basil with all his neighbors, excepting the Arabs, were broken under his successor, Leo VI the Wise (886-912). A war broke out with the Bulgarians, which ended with their victory. It was during this war that the Magyars (Hungarians) appeared in Byzantine history for the first time.
The campaigns against the Arabs were generally ineffective in the time of Leo VI. In the military clashes on the eastern borders the Arabs were at times as victorious as the Greeks. Neither side gained much from these collisions.
The beginning of the tenth century was marked by active operations of the Muslim fleet. Even at the end of the ninth century Cretan pirates had repeatedly raided the coasts of the Peloponnesus and the islands of the Aegean Sea.
Thus the Byzantine struggle with the Arabs was highly unsuccessful in the time of Leo VI: in the west Sicily was definitely lost; in southern Italy Byzantine troops failed to accomplish anything after the recall of Nicephorus Phocas; on the eastern border the Arabs were slowly but persistently going forward; and on the sea the Byzantine fleet suffered several serious defeats.
In the long reign of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (913-59) and Romanus I Lecapenus (919-44) the Byzantine Empire could not struggle effectively with the Arabs until the end of the third decade of the tenth century, because all its forces were thrown into the Bulgarian war.
The epoch of Romanus Lecapenus was of very great importance for the Byzantine policy in the East. After three centuries of keeping to the defensive, the Empire under the guidance of Romanus and John Curcuas assumed the offensive and began to triumph. The frontier was in a very different condition from what it had been at the time of Romanus’ accession. The border provinces were comparatively free from Arab raids.
The last years of Constantine Porphyrogenitus were marked by desperate battles with Saif-ad-Daulah, and although the Greeks had been beaten in several of these collisions, the outcome of the struggle was the defeat of the Arabs in northern Mesopotamia and the crossing of the Euphrates by the Byzantine army.
The eastern conquests of John Curcuas and John Tzimisces, which extended the borders of the Empire beyond the Euphrates, inaugurated a brilliant period of Byzantine victories over the Muslims.
During the brief reign of Romanus II (959-63), his capable and energetic general, Nicephorus Phocas, the future emperor, occupied the island of Crete, thus destroying the nest of Arabian pirates who had terrorized the population of the islands and coasts of the Aegean Sea.
The achievements of the next three emperors — Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces, and Basil II Bulgaroctonus — form the most brilliant pages of the military history of the Empire in its struggle with Islam. During his six years’ reign (963-69) Nicephorus Phocas concentrated his attention on the East, although occasionally he diverted it to the hostile acts of the Bulgarians, which became more serious due to the intervention of the Russian prince, Sviatoslav.
Coin of Nicephorus II Phocas and Basil II
The occupation of Cilicia and Cyprus opened for Nicephorus the road to Syria, and he began to work toward the realization of his cherished dream: the conquest of Antioch, the heart of Syria.
In the West the policy of Nicephorus Phocas was a failure. In his time the last points in Sicily which still belonged to the Empire were conquered by the Muslims, so that Sicily was completely in their hands. The main problem of John Tzimisces (969-76), who succeeded Phocas, was to secure the conquests in Cilicia and Syria. During the first years of his reign he could not participate personally in the military activities on the eastern border, because the Russian and Bulgarian wars, and the insurrection of Bardas Phocas demanded his undivided attention. He was victorious in the northern wars, and he also succeeded in suppressing the rebellion of Bardas Phocas.
Coin of John Tzimisces
Under the successor of John Tzimisces, Basil II (976-1025), the general state of affairs was not favorable for an aggressive policy in the east. The menacing insurrections of Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phocas in Asia Minor and the continuing Bulgarian war demanded Basil’s undivided attention. By his personal appearance in Syria, at times unexpected, Basil frequently succeeded in restoring Byzantine influence in this province, but failed to make any significant new conquests
The anarchy which set in after Basil’s death emboldened the Muslims to start a series of offensive movements, which were particularly successful in the districts of Aleppo. The situation was somewhat improved for the Empire by the young and gifted general, George Maniaces.
The Empire’s attempts to reconquer Sicily did not bring about any definite results, in spite of the fact that George Maniaces was victorious in several battles.
Thus, in the time of the Macedonian dynasty, in spite of the troubled period which followed the death of Basil II, the efforts of John Curcuas, Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces, and Basil II widened the eastern borders of the Empire as far as the Euphrates, and Syria, with Antioch, once more formed part of Byzantine territory. This was the most brilliant period in the history of Byzantine relations with the eastern Muslims.
As early as 1025, after the death of Basil II Bulgaroctonus [MAP of the empire at Basill II death], the Empire entered upon a period of troubles, frequent changes of accidental rulers, and the beginning of a general decline.
This period, characterized externally by frequent changes on the throne, which was occupied for the most part by incapable emperors, was a very significant period in the history of the Byzantine Empire; for during these twenty-five years those conditions developed in the Empire which later called forth the crusade movements in the West.
During this period the external enemies of the Byzantine Empire exerted pressure on all sides: the Normans were active in the west, the Patzinaks and Uzes in the north, and the Seljuq Turks in the east. In the end the territory of the Byzantine Empire was considerably reduced.
Alexander A.Vasilief-History of Byzantine Empire
The medeival Roman armies of that period were organised in two main corps. The Thematical armies that were the units of the provinces and the Tagmatic ones that were the units that stationed in Constantinople.
A third part of armies were the mercenaries or allied forces that were available according the finansial abillity of the empire and the alliences between the empire and other warlords.
The Thematic Armies
=NF=Basileios the 2nd
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Ας εχουν λοιπον, την πληρη και απολυτη ασφαλεια ,οσον αφορα τη ζωη τους ,τους ναους τους ,
τις πεποιθησεις τους και ολους τους προς προσκυνηση τοπους που κατεχουν τωρα εντος και εκτος της πολης.
Οι υπολοιποι χριστιανοι θα ερχονται ως απλοι προσκυνητες και θα υπαγονται στον Πατριαρχη Ιεροσολημων.
So..let them (Roman Orthodox christians) have the full and absolute safety for their lives,
their temples, their beliefs and to all worship sites currently held within and outside the city.
The rest of the Christians will come as ordinary pilgrims and subject to the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Achtiname (decree) of Capliph Muʿāwiyah ibn ʾAbī Sufyān 658AD
"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."
Achtiname of Muhammad
Pechenegs are here![click it]
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