In 1018, when the Byzantine emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025) conquered the First Bulgarian Empire, he ruled it cautiously. The existing tax system, laws, and the power of low-ranking nobility remained unchanged until his death in 1025. The autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate was subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople and downgraded to an archbishopric centred in Ohrid, while retaining its autonomy and dioceses. Basil appointed the Bulgarian John I Debranin as its first archbishop, but his successors were Byzantines. The Bulgarian aristocracy and tsar's relatives were given various Byzantine titles and transferred to the Asian parts of the Empire. Despite hardships, the Bulgarian language, literature, and culture survived; surviving period texts refer to and idealize the Bulgarian Empire. Most of the newly conquered territories were included in the themes Bulgaria, Sirmium, and Paristrion.
As the Byzantine Empire declined under Basil's successors, invasions of Pechenegs and rising taxes contributed to increasing discontent, which resulted in several major uprisings in 1040–41, the 1070s, and the 1080s. The initial centre of the resistance was the theme of Bulgaria, in what is now Macedonia, where the massive Uprising of Peter Delyan (1040–41) and the Uprising of Georgi Voiteh (1072) took place. Both were quelled with great difficulty by Byzantine authorities. These were followed by rebellions in Paristrion and Thrace. During the Komnenian Restoration and the temporary stabilisation of the Byzantine Empire in the first half of the 12th century, the Bulgarians were pacified and no major rebellions took place until later in the century.