Alexander, the fourth son of Basil I, succeeded his older brother, ruling both in his own and in his nephews' name. Colorful accounts of Alexander’s debauchery, pagan practices, persecution of Patriarch Euthymios’s partisans, war-provoking bad behavior, removal of Leo’s political appointees, and the circumstances of his death dominate narratives of Alexander’s thirteen-month reign. However, the careful work of P. Karlin-Hayter has gone a long way to demonstrate that even though Alexander was not a good emperor, he was not particularly worse than any other and, more importantly, that he did nothing that many emperors before and after him had done or would do. Alexander did cause a renewal of the hostilities between the empire and the Bulgar khan Symeon by refusing the annual tribute which his brother had agreed to as the price of peace. This war would continue until the end of the next decade. In the east the Arabs attacked the area controlled by the Armenian Melias. Arethas’s Epitaphios suggests that Alexander was more popular with commoners rather than the upper class, whose animosity is evident in the sources of his reign.
Unlike his seals, none of Alexander’s coins depict the emperor with his nephew and colleague, Constantine VII. The innovations of Alexander’s coinage, most importantly the full-length depiction of the emperor being crowned by St. Alexander, are absent from the slight sigillographic record. The seals of Alexander are very similar to those of his father and older brother, replicating the design common to the early Macedonian dynasty, with Christ on the obverse and the two emperors on the reverse. For the seals of Alexander's family see the Macedonian Dynasty in the Dynasties of Empire section.
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