Basil II

Basil II Porphyrogenitus, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was senior Byzantine Emperor for 50 years, having been a junior colleague to other emperors since 960. He and his brother Constantine were named as co-rulers before their father Romanos II died in 963; the throne went to two generals, Nikephoros Phokas John Tzimiskes, before Basil became senior emperor. His influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos was the de facto ruler of the Byzantine Empire until 985. Basil II held power for forty years; the early years of Basil's reign were dominated by civil wars against two powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire and the complete subjugation of the First Bulgarian Empire, its foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. Although the Byzantine Empire had made a truce with the Fatimid Caliphate in 987–988, Basil led a campaign against the Caliphate that ended with another truce in 1000, he conducted a campaign against the Khazar Khaganate that gained the Byzantine Empire part of Crimea and a series of successful campaigns against the Kingdom of Georgia.

Despite near-constant warfare, Basil distinguished himself as an administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military, filling its treasury, leaving it with its greatest expanse in four centuries. Although his successors were incapable rulers, the Empire flourished for decades after Basil's death. One of the most important decisions taken during his reign was to offer the hand of his sister Anna Porphyrogenita to Vladimir I of Kiev in exchange for military support, thus forming the Byzantine military unit known as the Varangian Guard; the marriage of Anna and Vladimir led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus' and the incorporation of successor nations of Kievan Rus' within the Byzantine cultural and religious tradition. Basil is seen as a Greek national hero but as a despised figure among Bulgarians; the courtier and historian Michael Psellos, born towards the end of Basil's reign, gives a description of Basil in his Chronographia.

Psellos describes him as a stocky man of shorter-than-average stature, an impressive figure on horseback. He had light-blue eyes arched eyebrows, luxuriant side whiskers — which he had a habit of rolling between his fingers when deep in thought or angry — and in life a scant beard. Psellos states that Basil was not an articulate speaker and had a loud laugh that convulsed his whole frame. Basil is described as having ascetic tastes and caring little for the pomp and ceremony of the Imperial court wearing a sombre, dark-purple robe furnished with few of the gems that decorated imperial costumes, he is described as a capable administrator who left a well-stocked treasury upon his death. Basil despised literary culture and affected scorn for the learned classes of Byzantium. According to the 19th century historian George Finlay, Basil saw himself as "prudent and devout. For Greek learning he cared little, he was a type of the higher Byzantine moral character, which retained far more of its Roman than its Greek origin".

The modern historian John Julius Norwich wrote of Basil. And it is hardly surprising: Basil was ugly, coarse, boorish and pathologically mean, he was in short un-Byzantine. He cared only for the greatness of his Empire. No wonder that in his hands it reached its apogee". Basil II was born c. 958. He was a porphyrogennetos, as were his father Romanos II and his grandfather Constantine VII. Basil was the eldest son of Romanos and his Laconian Greek second wife Theophano, the daughter of a poor tavern-keeper named Krateros and may have originated from the city of Sparta, he may have had an elder sister named Helena. Romanos succeeded Constantine VII as sole emperor upon the latter's death in 959. Basil's father crowned him as co-emperor on 22 April 960, his brother Constantine in 962 or 963. Only two days after the birth of his youngest child Anna, Romanos II died on 15 March 963 at 24 years of age, his unexpected death was thought at the time to be the result of poisoning with hemlock. Basil and Constantine were too young to rule in their own right when Romanos died in 963.

Therefore, although the Byzantine Senate confirmed them as emperors with their mother as the nominal regent, de facto power passed for the time into the hands of the parakoimomenos Joseph Bringas. Theophano did not trust Bringas and another enemy of the powerful parakoimomenos was Basil Lekapenos, an illegitimate, eunuch son of Emperor Romanos I – Basil's great-grandfather. Lekapenos himself had been parakoimomenos to Constantine VII and megas baioulos to Romanos II, yet another enemy of Bringas was the successful and popular general Nikephoros Phokas, who had just returned from his conquest of the Emirate of Crete and a successful raid into Cilicia and Syria, which cul


The Intuitive Technology and Bio-Architecture School is an eco-centre located in the coastal jungle of Brazil, dedicated to demonstrating and teaching sustainable development and'barefoot' construction techniques. It was founded in 1987 by Rose and Johan Van Lengen, author of the grassroots construction manual'The Barefoot Architect'; this book has gained popularity worldwide through its advocation and detailed instruction on appropriate technology and natural building techniques for builders and students. The bio-architecture school was established to provide a place in which students can share and learn these techniques hands-on; the name TIBÁ comes from the Tupi language meaning "A place where many people meet". Various workshops are held year round in sustainable construction, sanitation and education. Specialist workshops held throughout the year include: Bio-Architecture Techniques Earth Construction Techniques (Adobe, Rammed earth and Daub, Super Adobe, Natural Paints/Pigments, Natural Finishes/Plasters Bamboo Construction Agroforestry, as taught by Ernst Götsch PANCs Introduction to Permaculture Appropriate Technology Natural Building Ecological Sanitation Green Building Sustainable Architecture Vernacular Architecture Sustainable Agriculture Forest Gardening Forest Farming Agroforestry TIBÁrchitects - Intuitive Technology and Bio-Architecture Brasil / México / United States TIBA - Institute of Bio-Architecture and Intuitive Technologies the centre in Bom Jardim, Rio de Janeiro Ernst Gotsch The Barefoot Architect

Parker Pillsbury

Parker Pillsbury was an American minister and advocate for abolition and women's rights. Pillsbury was born in Massachusetts, he moved to Henniker, New Hampshire where he farmed and worked as a wagoner. With the encouragement of his local Congregational church, Pillsbury entered Gilmanton Theological Seminary in 1835, graduating in 1839, he studied an additional year at Andover, there came under the influence of social reformer John A. Collins, before accepting a church in Loudon, New Hampshire, his work in the ministry suffered after he made a number of sharp attacks on the churches' complicity with slavery. His Congregational license to preach was revoked in 1840; however Pillsbury became active in the ecumenical Free Religious Association and preached to its societies in New York and Michigan. Pillsbury's dislike of slavery led him into active writing and lecturing for the abolitionist movement and other progressive social reform issues, he became a lecturing agent for the New Hampshire and American antislavery societies, held these posts for over two decades.

He edited the Concord Herald of Freedom in 1840, again in 1845 and 1846. In 1854, he served as an emissary from the American Anti-Slavery Society to Great Britain, he stayed with his abolitionist daughter Mary Estlin. Both John and Mary became involved in Pillsbury's problematic correspondence with the British activist Louis Chamerovzow. Pillsbury lectured on abolition and social reform in the company of fellow abolitionist Stephen Symonds Foster, he earned a reputation for dealing with hostile crowds through non-resistance tactics. His support for non-resistance led to service on the executive committee of the New Hampshire Non-Resistance Society. Pillsbury was not an active supporter of the Union war effort. However, he did applaud Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and defended the actions of John Brown after the raid on Harpers Ferry, he was a supporter of the abolitionist Radical Democracy Party, which challenged Lincoln from the left during the 1864 presidential election. However, the party refused to endorse some of his more radical proposals regarding black suffrage and land redistribution for freed slaves.

In 1865, Pillsbury broke with longtime associate William Lloyd Garrison over the need for continued activity by the American Anti-Slavery Society. He edited the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1866. Pillsbury helped to draft the constitution of the feminist American Equal Rights Association in 1865, served as vice-president of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association. With feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Pillsbury served as co-editor for the women's rights newsletter The Revolution, founded in 1868. Pillsbury completed his abolition memoirs, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, in 1883, his nephew, Albert E. Pillsbury, drafted the bylaws of the NAACP. McPherson, James M. "The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction." Princeton, 1964. Colby-Sawyer College Archives, Parker Pillsbury Papers David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Parker Pillsbury Diaries, 1864-1896