The emperors. As early as 1025, after the death of Basil II Bulgaroctonus, the Empire entered upon a period of troubles, frequent changes of accidental rulers, and the beginning of a general decline. Empress Zoe succeeded in raising each of her three husbands to the throne. In the year 1056, with the death of Empress Theodora, Zoe's sister, the Macedonian dynasty was definitely extinguished. A period of troubles set in and lasted for twenty-five years (1056-81), It ended only with the accession of Alexius Comnenus, the founder of the famous dynasty of the Comneni.
This period, characterized externally by frequent changes on the throne, which was occupied for the most part by incapable emperors, was a very significant period in the history of the Byzantine Empire; for during these twenty-five years those conditions developed in the Empire which later called forth the crusade movements in the West.
During this period the external enemies of the Byzantine Empire exerted pressure on all sides: the Normans were active in the west, the Patzinaks and Uzes in the north, and the Seljuq Turks in the east. In the end the territory of the Byzantine Empire was considerably reduced.
Another distinguishing feature of this period was the struggle waged by the military element and the large landowning nobility (especially that of Asia Minor) against the central bureaucratic government. This struggle between the provinces and the capital ended, after a number of fluctuations, in the victory of the army and the landowners, which was a victory of the provinces over the capital. Alexius Comnenus was at the head of the victorious side.
A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents
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