The reign of Leo VI (886-912) : personal relationships and political ideologies
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Leo VI (886-912) is an emperor who has suffered from a hostile and inadequate press. He has been portrayed as a weak and careless emperor, known mainly for his dubious parentage and marital exploits. This thesis questions these popular perceptions of Leo, and attempts to present a more realistic account of the emperor and the politics of his age. The aspects of the reign tackled focus on essential elements of Leo's life and rule, presented in a rough chronological framework, and the themes of personal relationships and political ideologies are recurrent. Chapter One examines Leo's relationship with Basil I and his attitude to his Macedonian heritage. Chapter Two considers the fate of the monumental figure of Photios at the emperor's hands. Chapter Three deals with the position and role of the 'all powerful' Stylianos Zaoutzes during the first half of the reign. Chapter Four ponders the origin and meaning of Leo's 'wise' epithet. Chapter Five focuses on the emperor's four marriages. Chapter Six turns to the course of foreign affairs during the reign, concentrating on Bulgaria and the Arab navy, and considers the emperor's attitude towards these military problems. Chapter Seven examines the emperor's relationship with his senatorial officials, focusing on two distinct groups, eunuchs and the generals who originated from families of the eastern frontier. Finally Chapter Eight addresses the tense relationship that existed between Leo and his brother and co-emperor Alexander. What emerges from a consideration of these aspects of Leo and his reign is that this is an emperor who does not deserve the popular perceptions that still persist about him. He was an emperor who forged a 'new' and distinctive imperial style, a style that should not deceive us; he may have been literate, sedentary and city-based, but he was also forceful, strong-willed and conscientious.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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