Basil Argyros

This article is about the 11th-century Byzantine nobleman. For the fictional character, see Agent of Byzantium.

Basil Argyros (Greek: Βασίλειος Ἀργυρός, c. 970 – after 1023) was a Byzantine nobleman of the Argyros family and a brother of the emperor Romanos III.[1]

According to the Synopsis Historion by John Skylitzes, Basil Argyros was the strategos of Samos who was sent to fight the Italian rebel Meles c. 1010–11.[2] It is possible that the account of Basil's career in Italy is the result of Skylitzes' conflation of Argyros with another contemporary Basil, surnamed Mesardonites, who was the catapan of Italy.[3] On the other hand, he may have been a commander of the fleet sent to support Basil Mesardonites in his crackdown on the rebellion.[4] He was recalled from Italy c. 1017.[2] Modern scholars such as Guilou and Vannier consider Basil Argyros and Basil Mesardonites to have been the same person, a view not shared by Alexander Kazhdan.[5]

After a gap in his recorded career, Basil appears as the first Byzantine commander of Vaspurakan, an Armenian kingdom, which was surrendered by its king Senekerim-John to the emperor Basil II in 1021/22. He was removed from the office for incompetence soon after his appointment.[6] The gap in Basil's career can tentatively be filled by the information provided on a seal discovered at Preslav, Bulgaria, on which Basil is named a patrikios and strategos of Thrace.[2]

Basil and his family members played a role in the Byzantine interaction with the empire's eastern neighbors. The marriage of Basil's daughter Helena to the Georgian king Bagrat IV was part of a peace deal negotiated by Bagrat's mother Queen Maria, daughter of the former king John-Senekerim of Vaspurakan, in 1032.[7] Skylitzes also speaks of the sons of Basil as archons who lived in the Anatolic Theme in the mid-11th century.[1] Basil's other daughter, whose name has not survived, was married to the general Constantine Diogenes and became the mother of the future emperor Romanos IV Diogenes.[8]


  1. 1 2 Kazhdan (1987), p. 69.
  2. 1 2 3 Cheynet & Vannier (2003), p. 72.
  3. Holmes (2005), p. 190.
  4. Holmes (2005), p. 505.
  5. Kazhdan (1987), p. 70.
  6. Holmes (2005), p. 367.
  7. Skylitzes, p. 357
  8. Cheynet & Vannier (2003), p. 78.


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