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The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer
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  • Page extent: 182 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.446 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 949.5/02/092 B
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DF595 .S74 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Basil--II,--Emperor of the East,--approximately 958-1025
    • Emperors--Byzantine Empire--Biography
    • Byzantine Empire--History--Basil II Bulgaroctonus, 976-1025

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521815307 | ISBN-10: 0521815304)

DOI: 10.2277/0521815304

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published August 2003

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 (Stock level updated: 02:09 GMT, 28 November 2015)


The reign of Basil II (976–1025), the longest of any Byzantine emperor, has long been considered as a 'golden age', in which his greatest achievement was the annexation of Bulgaria. This, we have been told, was achieved through a long and bloody war of attrition which won Basil the grisly epithet Voulgartoktonos, 'the Bulgar-slayer'. In this 2003 study Paul Stephenson argues that neither of these beliefs is true. Instead, Basil fought far more sporadically in the Balkans and his reputation as 'Bulgar-slayer' was created only a century and a half later. Thereafter the 'Bulgar-slayer' was periodically to play a galvanizing role for the Byzantines, returning to centre-stage as Greeks struggled to establish a modern nation state. As Byzantium was embraced as the Greek past by scholars and politicians, the 'Bulgar-slayer' became an icon in the struggle for Macedonia (1904–1908) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913).

• A broadly based, accessible book which spans history, art history and literature in both the medieval and modern periods • Addresses major issues in national history and nationalism in Byzantium and Greece through the ages • Illustrated in colour and black-and-white with rare and unusual images


List of illustrations; Preface; Annotated and translation; List of abbreviations; 1. Basil the Bulgar-slayer: an introduction; 2. Basil and Samuel; 3. Basil annexes Bulgaria; 4. Victory and its representations; 5. Basil the younger, porphyrogennetos; 6. The origins of a legend; 7. Basile après Byzance; 8. Basil and the 'Macedonian question'; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


Review of the hardback: 'It is well written and has that strong sense of Byzantium's place in the Hellenic tradition.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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