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Leo VI

Leo VI the Wise was Byzantine emperor from 886-912. He inherited from his father Basil I an empire that was much larger and stronger than it had been since the height of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century. However, he and his father hated each other, and Basil had almost had him blinded as a teenager. In 886, Basil died in a hunting accident, though he claimed on his deathbed that there was an assassination attempt in which Leo was possibly involved.

Leo completed work on the Basilica, the Greek translation and update of the law code created by Justinian I, which had been started during the reign of Basil.

In 894 Leo's army was routed by the Bulgars, something that had never happened during his father's reign. The next year he was more successful, after first allying with the Magyars, but in 896, without Magyar help, the Byzantines were again defeated.

Leo caused a minor scandal with his numerous marriages. His first wife, whom Basil had forced him to marry, died in 897, and he re-married ZoŽ ZaŁtzina, daughter of his counsellor ZaŁtzes, though she died as well in 899. A third marriage was technically illegal, but he married again, only to have his third wife die in 901. Instead of marrying a fourth time, which would have been an even greater sin than marrying a third time, according to the Patriarch, Leo instead took a mistress. He was allowed to marry her when she gave birth to a son in 904, but with many penalties such as the refusal to legitimize his wife as empress.

In 907 Constantinople was attacked by the Kievan Rus', but Leo paid them off. They attacked again in 911, and were given a favourable trade treaty by Leo. He was not so successful against the Arabs, who defeated his fleet when he attempted to take back Crete in 912. After this defeat Leo quickly became ill and died. As his son was still a child, Leo's brother and nominal (though powerless) co-emperor Alexander became full emperor.

Preceded by:
Basil I
Byzantine emperors Followed by:
Alexander III

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