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The bad relations between Alexander and Leo

Tougher, Shaun Fitzroy ORCID: 1996. The bad relations between Alexander and Leo. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 20 , pp. 209-212.

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It is well known that there was an element of tension, not to say hatred, between the imperial brothers Leo VI (886?912) and Alexander I (912?913). This fraternal enmity appears to have emanated primarily from Alexander himself, as the Life of Euthymios makes explicit. 1 Certainly during Leo's reign Alexander, his co-emperor, was implicated in two plots against his brother. The first is located in the period from late 899 to early 900, a very sensitive moment in Leo's reign as his second wife Zoe Zaoutzaina had just died without providing him with a male heir. The Life of Euthymios reports that at this time Alexander was suspected of designing to overthrow Leo, and as a punishment he was separated from his wife. The second plot in which Alexander was thought to have been involved was that which led to the assassination attempt on Leo in the church of St. Mokios during the feast of Mid-Pentecost 903. Such was Leo's suspicion of his brother that he kept him well away from the tasks of an emperor, and it seems that ultimately he considered removing Alexander as the imperial colleague of his son Constantine VII and appointing the logothete of the drome Himerios as guardian of the young emperor instead. However Alexander did come to power on the death of Leo in 912, and his brief reign suggests the depth of his antipathy for his sibling as it is characterised by its policy of overturning what Leo had established: the treaty with the Bulgarians was rejected, the Arabs were offended, the patriarch Euthymios was deposed and Nikolaos was reinstalled, Zoe Karbonopsina was ejected from the palace, Constantine VII ran the risk of castration, and Himerios was sacked and imprisoned. Thus it is clear from our sources that there was a high degree of animosity between Leo VI and Alexander, which largely issued from the younger brother. What the sources do not indicate is why this should be so, and in this short note I aim to provide an explanation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Maney Publishing
ISSN: 0307-0131
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 10:29

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