Leo has two daddies (questionable 9th century Byzantine paternity)

In all honesty, Emperor Michael III was well, a disappointment. Becoming emperor of Byzantium at the age of three, he spent most of his time in a wine-soaked haze, suffered humiliating military defeats by the Saracens, Russians, and Cretans, and failed to check the spread of Judaism among the Khazars ( ;j ). And there was no denying that he was kind of effeminate, too.

Enter Basil, a hunky wrestler who blew into town from Macedonia. Impressed by Basil’s, err, “assets”, Michael made him his bodyguard and pretty soon the pair were inseparable. They even murdered Michael’s uncle together. Somewhere along the way Michael had fallen for an exotic (half-Swedish, half-Greek) babe by the name of Eudokia Ingerina. He had Eudokia marry Basil, and the three of them lived in a happy little triumvirate for a while. When Eudokia gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, Leo, in 866, the child’s true paternity was known only to God. Basil was the father, at least on paper, but Michael did throw a big party to celebrate Leo’s birth, which was no doubt fabulous.

But all was not well in paradise. Basil and Michael had a tiff, and Michael took up with a handsome sailor named Basiliskianos. Not one to take this lightly, Basil had Michael assassinated, and proclaimed himself emperor. But there was still the little problem of Leo, who was officially Basil’s son, but whom Basil never seemed to trust – in fact, he almost had Leo blinded at one point. After nineteen years on the throne, Basil died in 886, and was succeeded by Leo, possibly the Byzantine emperor with the most confusing genealogy ever. Leo VI was noted for not being entirely stupid, and for being a serial monogamist.

I find this whole saga terribly amusing – if they were alive today the principals would no doubt end up on Geraldo, demanding a paternity test.

Well, you’ve certainly posted this little tidbit in the correct forum! :slight_smile:

In fact, you could say his genealogy was downright… byzantine!

Ha! I kill me!

Damn. Constipation is a* bitch*!