Byzantine Empire /
(?-477) Byzantine emperor 475-476.
Basilicus rise to importance was through his sister, Aelia Verina, wife of Emperor Leo 1 (457-474). She secured him a prominent military career, which appeared to run well through most of the 460's. But his real abilities as a military leader became apparent with the extremely destructive and costly defeat in 468 against the Vandals in North Africa.
He made himself emperor following the coup against the unpopular Emperor Zeno. The coup had been staged to put the widowed empress' lover, Patricius on the throne. But Basilicus used his connections to make himself emperor.
He soon found that his popularity was limited and quickly decreasing. He appointed loyal men to his court and administration, thereby creating many enemies with the existing elite. He even managed to alienate his sister, the widowed empress, his most important ally, when he executed her lover.
As the state was still suffering from his own military defeat in 468, Basilicus saw himself forced to raise taxes, he even began auctioning offices.
He adhered to the Monophysite understanding of the nature of Christ, angering the majority which preferred the Chalcedonian understanding.
As the fight between deposed emperor Zeno and Basilicus dragged on for 20 months, it came to have direct influence on world history. Parallel, Odacer attacked the western emperor, and the Byzantines were unable to come to their assistance. With this the Western Roman Empire came to its end.
400-440: Year of birth cannot be set.
463: Leads a successful campaign against the Bulgars.
466: A new successful campaign, this against the Goths.
467: Another successful campaign, against the Huns.
468: Basilicus leads 100,000 men on 1,000 vessels against the Vandal king, Gaiseric, in North Africa. The Vandals completely destroyed the Byzantine army, allegedly because of the incompetence and treason of Basilicus.
Basilicus hides in the Hagia Sophia church, but is pardoned and exiled to Thrace.
471: Helps Leo 1 to have Aspar killed, removing the Germanic influence over the imperial court.
472: Revolt in Thrace, which Basilicus successfully suppresses.
475 January 9: A coup forces Emperor Zeno to flee Constantinople, and Basilicus has himself declared emperor using his connections in the senate, instead of Patricius who was the coup makers candidate. Virtually all Isaurians (the countrymen of Zeno) in Constantinople were killed by angry locals.
Later same year: A great fire destroys much of Constantinople, including a huge library. The fire was immediately interpreted as a divine revenge on Basilicus.
476 Summer: Illius, one of Zeno's former allies, who had turned on him in 475, returns to his alliance with Zeno. Together they march on Constantinople. Basilicus understands the danger, and try to rally support from both the elite and the people, but has little success. Even his closest ally, the military leader, Armatus, turns on him when promised a high position by Zeno.
August: Constantinople is besieged by Zeno's forces. The Senate chooses to open the city gates.
Basilicus seeks refuge in a church.
Basilicus is betrayed, and captured by Zeno, who has him and his family sent to a fortress in Cappadocia with a dry cistern, where they all would die within few days.