Byzantium at Its Height, AD 976-1043

The reign of Emperor Basil II and after: an encyclopaedic chronology of the 'Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks'. In 1022, with the annexation of south-eastern Armenia, the Empire was extended eastwards almost as far as Trajan reached in Antiquity.
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  O’ROURKE: THE BYZANTINE APOGEE, AD 976-1038 Basileia ‘Rwmaiwn Vasileia Rhõmaiõn THE ‘CHRISTIAN ROMAN EMPIREOF THE GREEKS’ AT ITS HEIGHT BASIL II AND AFTER:AN ENCYCLOPAEDIC CHRONOLOGY OF BYZANTIUM, AD 976-1043 byMichael O’RourkeCanberra AustraliaApril 2011 List of Roman (‘Byzantine’) Emperors 976-1025: Basil II (Vasileios), afterwards dubbed ‘the Bulgar-Slayer’1025-28: Constantine VIII Porphyogenitus1028-34: Romanus II Argyrus1034-41: Michael IV ‘the Paphlagonian’1041-42: Michael V ‘the Caulker’1042: (empress regnant) Zoë Porphyogenita1042-55: Constantine IX MonomachusIn addition to short yearly entries, this paper contains “mini-articles” of several pages on: - ‘Territory and Population in 1000’, after the entry for 997-1000.- ‘The Battle of Kleidion or Belasitsa or Campu-lungu, 1014’ (Basil defeats theBulgarians).- ‘The Sicilian Expedition of 1038’, after the entry for 1038.- ‘Land, Local Recruits and Imported Soldiers in Byzantine Italy’: also after theentry for 1038- ‘Equipment and Dress in Maniakes’ Army, 1038”: appendix at the end of thispaper. 1  O’ROURKE: THE BYZANTINE APOGEE, AD 976-1038 Introduction: The Mediterranean World in the Late 10 th Century As had been the position for several centuries, Muslim monarchs controlledthe southern shore of the Mediterranean and our southern Spain, whileChristian kings ruled in the north. The Mediterranean Sea was commonlyknown in Arab sources as Bahr al-Rum , ‘the Roman Sea’, where Romanmeans Byzantine.* (Sometimes we have Bahr al-Rum wa Misr  , ‘the Sea of Byzantium and Egypt’, as in Qudama, d. 948 [Heck 2002: 109]).(*) The term Rum corresponded to the Byzantine Empire in the earlierArabic geographical works, while the writers of later geographies beganto use the term to define the Christian ‘north’ in general, includingByzantium.Tracking from east to west, the whole sector from Palestine and Egypt toAlgeria was ruled by the self-designated Fatimid Caliph, from an ‘Arabo-Berber’ Shi’ite line. (The Fatimids established themselves first in what is nowTunisia before capturing Egypt and Jerusalem in 969.) Muslim Sicily was ruledseparately by an emir of the Kalbid line, also Shi’ites. The last unconqueredChristian (“Byzantine”) towns in Sicily were subdued in the 960s, leaving theStrait of Messina the distinct political border between Christendom and Islam(but Christians were still a majority in Sicily especially in the east).In today’s Algeria and Spain, the (Sunni) Muslim rulers were the self-designated Caliphs of the Umayyad line. There were three small Christianrealms in the north of what is now Spain: 1 the Kingdom of León, named forthe town where its king kept court; 2 the kingdom of Pamplona (the futureNavarre); and 3 the ‘Gotho-Frankish’ County or March of Barcelona, whichwas a slice of land south of the eastern end of the Pyrenees. (The populationof Spain and Portugal was composed variously of Hispano-Romans, Iberians,Basques, Jews and Goths – also Arabs and Berbers in the south.)Let us now look at the Levant. Eastern Syria and Mesopotamia weredivided among three Shi’a Muslim emirates, namely the (Arab) Hamdanidemirate of Mosul; the emir of Diyarbakir (also Hamdanid until 983, then underthe Marwanids, a Kurdish line); and Aleppo, also under a Hamdanid ruler.Byzantium ruled western Syria including the large metropolis of Antioch(recaptured from Islam in 969). There was a short Fatimid-Byzantine bordersouth of Antioch.Old Armenia was divided among several Christian Armenian princes,including those of Taron, Tayk, Kars and Vaspurakan. The region of Dvin, inthe north-east of Old Armenia, was from 951 ruled by a Muslim, Kurdish lineof emirs, the Shaddadids.Present-day Georgia was divided between the small Christian Kingdom of Iberia (east) and the small Christian Kingdom of Abasgia (west). King BagratII/III,   r.   975-1014, will unite all the principalities of eastern and westernGeorgia into one state. But Tbilisi will remain under Muslim control untilaround 1050.  2  O’ROURKE: THE BYZANTINE APOGEE, AD 976-1038 The greatest power of the Mediterranean world, stronger than the Fatimids,was the ‘Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks’ with its great capital atConstantinople.Byzantium ruled the whole of Asia Minor but the Balkans were dividedbetween it and the “West Bulgarian state”. Eastern Bulgaria has beendefeated and annexed in 971. See under 976 in the chronology below.With the recapture of Crete and Cyprus from Islam in the 960s, theAegean had once more become a secure Christian lake.In the west, Byzantium also ruled the toe and heel of Italy (Calabria,Lucania and Apulia). The Dalmatian coast too was dominated by the Empire,in the form of several “Romance” (non-Greek, non-Slavic speaking) coastaltowns and islands loyal to Constantinople. The Slavs—Bulgarians, Serbs andCroats—controlled the hinterlands in the NW Balkans.The western half of southern Italy was divided between the “Lombard”(Latin) principality of Capua-Benevento and the several ‘Greco-Roman’ port-towns of Salerno, Amalfi, Naples and Gaeta. (Amalfi elected its first duke in958; until then it had been nominally a vassal of Byzantium.)Northern Italy was part of the German Empire of the house of Saxony. Ithad been annexed in 961 by Otto after he had defeated the local “Lombard”king. Thus was created the first Reich or German Empire of the Saxons.Crowned by the Pope in 962, Otto affected the title imperator augustus (“serene emperor”), somewhat* to the annoyance of the true Romanemperor in Constantinople. (Otto’s father had claimed no title higher thanking of Germany.) Further west, the Kingdom of Burgundy and the Kingdomof France held parts of the Mediterranean coast.(*) The Byzantine emperor John (Ioannes) I Tzimisces had recognisedOtto's imperial title in 972 and agreed to a marriage between Otto's sonand heir Otto II and John’s niece Theophanu. 3  O’ROURKE: THE BYZANTINE APOGEE, AD 976-1038 Above: Map of the provinces (“Themes”) of the Roman (Byzantine)Empire before the re-capture of Crete, Cyprus, Cilicia and westernSyria in the 960s. Eastern Bulgaria too was annexed in the 970s,leaving a rump ‘West Bulgarian state’ in what is today inlandAlbania and SE Serbia.In Italy it is not clear when Byzantium ousted the ‘Lombards’ of Salerno from Basilicata, the region between Calabria and Apulia:perhaps in 968-69.* There was certainly an imperial ‘Theme’(separate province) of “Lucania” in southern Basilicata in the 1030sand 1040s (and perhaps earlier).(*) Italian Wikipedia 2011, citing Venturino Panebianco, 1980:‘Osservazioni sulla eparchìa monastica del Mercurion e sul Themabizantino di Lucania’, Rivista storica calabrese a. I (n. 1-2): pp.189-93. Ditto, under ‘Storia della Basilicata’, citing Adele Cilento, Bisanzio in Sicilia e nel sud dell'Italia, Udine, Magnus Edizioni SpA,2005, p.65.  Ibn Hawqal Written in 961-88, the Surat al-‘Ard of the Mesopotamian-born Muslimtraveller Ibn Hawqal contains much interesting information on Byzantium andthe rest of the Mediterranean world. Among other places, he visited Egypt,Muslim Sicily (AD 973), and Muslim Spain (Andalusia). He wrote of ChristianAmalfi but it is unclear whether he actually went there from Sicily.He mentions the Byzantines coming along the Syrian coasts with warships( marâkib bahriya), shalandis [Gk chelandia : fast, decked war-galleys] and 4
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