Sunday, October 09, 2011

From a Groom to an Emperor – Part III – „The one who sleeps beside”.

It took ten years before Empress's prophetic words were fulfilled. In the meantime, Basil steadily climbed the Byzantine hierarchical ladder, mostly because a favorable combination of circumstances allowed it.

The most powerful man in Byzantium at that time was Emperor’s uncle Bardas. Bardas was a man of luxurious administrative abilities. In 865, he removed the parakoimōmenos Damian whose influence he was afraid of, and appointed Basil on his place.

Parakoimōmenos (Greek word for “The one who sleeps beside”) was the head of royal nuptial bed, something like a “guardian” of emperor’s bedroom who, due to the fact that he stayed close to the emperor, had the opportunity to be at the source of valuable information. This position was usually reserved for eunuchs, but in Basil’s case, they made an exception. Very soon, Bardas regretted for promoting Basil on such high position, and he expressed that with these words: “I got rid of the fox; but in his place I have put a lion who will end by devouring us all.”

The emperor’s uncle and former emperor’s groom were now worst enemies. In April 866, during the campaign for Crete, an island that the Arabs captured from the Byzantines, Basil and his men killed Bardas.

Still enchanted, a month after Basil’s return to Constantinople, Michael III gave the crown of co-emperor to his little pet. The stranger from Thrace officially became the second man of the empire and just one step behind the throne.

Afraid of Emperor’s capricious and sometimes unbalanced nature, Basil left nothing to chance. He devised a plot. In the night between September 23 and 24, 867, after a feast on the court, his men killed a drunken Emperor in his bedroom. 

Phrygian Dynasty was succeeded by new Macedonian dynasty. This new dynasty will become the most famous Byzantine dynasty that ruled almost for two centuries over the Roman Empire (867-1056).

Staggering rise of ambitious and ruthless newcomer, crowned with legends that are not deprived of historical background, is convincing testimony to the fact that the path to the Byzantine throne was open to everyone and that the biggest “nobody” could have climbed on the very top of the Roman Empire.

This was typical for early (4-7 century) and middle Byzantine (7-11 century).  In the late Byzantine Empire (11-15 century), just a member of some of the most prominent noble families could have become an emperor.  

To read Part IV – Basil the Noble, click HERE.

To return to Part II – Little Theophilus and Big Basil, click HERE.

Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl

0 comments: on "From a Groom to an Emperor – Part III – „The one who sleeps beside”."

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails