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Basil II and the Governance of Empire (976-1025) (Oxford Studies in Byzantium) Hardcover – February 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0199279685 ISBN-10: 0199279683

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Studies in Byzantium
  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199279683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199279685
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.6 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,494,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Basil II and the Governance of Empire marks a major advance in the understanding of the late tenth and early eleventh century...[A] fundamental and balanaced monograph ." --Speculum

About the Author

Catherine Holmes is Tutor and Fellow in Medieval History, University College, University of Oxford.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This excellent book first published in 2005 and derived from the author's PhD thesis has become the main reference on Basil II, portrayed as the last of the three "soldier-Emperors" and the one during which Byzantium became the main power in the East.

This book is an example of what a thoughfull and well-researched piece of scholarship can achieve. Through a comprehensive analysis of the sources, and above all of the little studied texts from Skylitzes and Psellos, both of which were writting over half a century aftr the emperor's death, Catherine Holmes reconstructs the reign of Basil II, the challenges he had to face and how (and at what price) he overcame them. It also addresses a large number of issues which have raised decades of controversy among byzantinists.

One is how to interpret the civil wars and more generally the internal conflicts that Basil II had to face during the first 13 years of his reign (from 976 to 989). The traditional explanation since Ostrogorsky had been to oppose the civil aristocracy and the center (Constantinople) to the military aristocracy and the provinces, in particular in the eastern part of Asian Minor. Catherine Holmes shows that this was rather a fight for power and control over the army, with Basel II wanting to be center stage and ousting his great-uncle before defeating the eastern generals (Skleros and Phocas) who wanted to become emperors.

A related point which is very well made is that to ensure his power and dominance, Basil II made himself in an autocrat by controlling all of the institutions of the Empire and by carefully constructing a public image of martial prowess, of omnipotence and as being omniscient.
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