Flavius Basiliscus (His full name is known only through the Fasti consulares; elsewhere, he is known simply as Basiliscus (Martindale). (d. 476/477) was a Byzantine Emperor of the House of Leo, who ruled briefly (9 January 475-August 476), when Emperor Zeno had been forced out of Constantinople by a revolt.
Basiliscus was the brother of Empress Aelia Verina, the wife of Emperor Leo I (457-474). His relationship with the emperor allowed him to pursue a military career that, after minor initial successes, ended in 468, when he led the disastrous Byzantine invasion of Vandal Africa, in one of the largest military operations of Late Antiquity.
Basiliscus succeeded in seizing power in 475, exploiting the unpopularity of Emperor Zeno, the "barbarian" successor to Leo, and a plot organized by Verina that had caused Zeno to flee Constantinople. However, during his short rule, Basiliscus alienated the fundamental support of the Church and the people of Constantinople, promoting the Monophysite christological position in opposition to the widely accepted Chalcedonian faith. Also, his policy of securing his power through the appointment of loyal men to key roles antagonized many important figures in the imperial court, including his sister Verina. So, when Zeno tried to regain his empire, he found virtually no opposition, triumphally entering Constantinople, and capturing and killing Basiliscus and his family.
The struggle between Basiliscus and Zeno impeded the intervention of the Eastern Empire in the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which happened in early September 476. When the chieftain of the Heruli, Odoacer, deposed Western Emperor Romulus Augustus, sending the imperial regalia to Constantinople, Zeno had just regained his throne, and he could only appoint Odoacer dux of Italy. So the Western Roman Empire ended. (Read more...)