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For Byzantine and modern historians alike the reign of Basil II marks the apogee of the Middle Byzantine Empire.

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Moreover, within half a century of Basil's death, the empire had disintegrated, torn apart by internal discord and external adversaries.

Some historians argue that Byzantium's collapse in the eleventh century should be attributed to Basil's own overweening ambition, arguing that the emperor's campaigns overstretched the capacities of the empire.3 In what follows I will argue rather a different case.

Despite his fearsome military image, Basil's approach to government was flexible enough to accommodate his territorial conquests.

Michael VIII Palaeologus translated Basil's relics from their original burial place at the Hebdomon (see below) to his own family monastery near Selymbria.2 Yet, despite this glorious posthumous reputation, Basil experienced many setbacks during his own lifetime.

Civil war was endemic in the first thirteen years of his adult reign.

His long campaign against the Bulgarians included several heavy defeats.Even after his annexation of Bulgaria, dissent persisted within Byzantium itself.It was also during Basil's reign that Vladimir, prince of Kiev, converted to Christianity.

His long campaign against the Bulgarians included several heavy defeats.

Even after his annexation of Bulgaria, dissent persisted within Byzantium itself.

It was also during Basil's reign that Vladimir, prince of Kiev, converted to Christianity.1 In later centuries Basil the 'Bulgarslayer' came to be compared with the most prestigious and successful emperors of Late Antiquity.

Michael Choniates writing in the early thirteenth century bracketed Basil with Heraclius (610-641).

Basil's reputation was a powerful propaganda tool for successive imperial dynasties.

The Comnenian emperors in the twelfth century consistently sought to associate their images with Basil.