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