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Michael III the Drunkard, 20 January 842 - 23 September 867 A.D.
The reign and personality of Michael III are difficult to evaluate. Michael had just turned two years old when he succeeded as sole emperor. During his reign the Empire made considerable advances internally, held its own against the Abbasid Caliphate, and Bulgaria was transformed into a religious and cultural satellite. Hostile accounts by Byzantine authors writing under his successors describe Michael's habitual drunkenness, obsession with chariot racing, and public displays mocking the processions and rituals of the church. The impression gained from Arab sources, however, is one of Michael as an active and often successful military commander. Much of the credit for his achievements certainly must go to his mother Theodora (regent during his minority), his minister Theoktistos, and his uncle Bardas. Michael had his courtier Basil marry his mistress and later crowned him as co-emperor. The empress was childless, and this scheme was likely intended to legitimize the eventual succession to the throne of his mistresses' son (believed to be his son). The plan did not work as intended. Basil had Michael murdered and assumed sole rule.