Basil the Physician

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Basil the Physician (died 1118) was the Bogomil leader condemned as a heretic by Patriarch Nicholas III of Constantinople and burned at the stake by Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus.

Basil first came to the attention of the emperor after imperial officers had tortured a member of the Bogomil sect, named Diblatius, to reveal the identity of their leader. He admitted that Basil was their leader and that he had selected twelve teachers to act as his apostles. This sect, noted for their Manichaean tendencies, iconoclastic principles and their detestation of the Orthodox hierarchy, had been rapidly gaining adherents throughout Alexius’ reign, and began to cause alarm among the Byzantine clergy. Eager to confront this threat, he was ordered to appear before the emperor.[citation needed]

Basil was convicted and condemned as a heretic before the patriarchal tribunal of Nicholas the Grammarian.[citation needed] Refusing to renounce his opinions, Basil was ordered to be burnt at the stake.[citation needed] Though the sentence was passed in 1110, the execution was delayed for eight years.[citation needed] During this time, every attempt was made to convince Basil to retract his opinions, as Alexius was keen to be known as a converter of heretics.[citation needed] He failed, and eventually Alexius decided to put the man to death, especially as rumours began to circulate that Basil’s firmness was due to his belief that angels would descend from heaven to release him from the stake. He was burned as a heretic in the hippodrome of Constantinople.[citation needed]


  • George Finlay, History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 1057 - 1453, Volume 2, William Blackwood & Sons, 1854
  • Anna Komnena, 'The Alexiad', Book XV