The man wanted respect, and he was unable to get it by acting respectably. The failure to earn respect through respectable acts is one that plagues mankind. Many great leaders wreak all kinds of havoc on people who refuse to submit. Eventually, we give up this desire for freedom, and we pretend to respect the leader, providing tribute as required by law. But all that was long before Basil came around. The millenia that have gone by since prehistoric man was enslaved only by nature can't be counted. Basil just wanted to be one of the masters.
It's like rape. Some men want love, and they are unable to get it by pleasing their would be lovers. They are too stupid, crude, or foolish to be desirable to anyone, so they must trick their own bodies into acting as though they have been chosen as a mate. Even if the physical act is not forced upon the victim, when it is the result of deceit, the relationship that produces it cannot be sustained. Every empire eventually falls, and this is because the fundamental reaons for its existence are missing. When political bonds reflect the will of the people, violence is generally only a reflection of external violence, a reflection which tends to protect the people from external threats. But nowadays, who feels a political bond out of mutual desire for protection from external threats? Most of us pay tribute because we are scared of punishment.
These great people can never know the peace and joy of earning what they want. They have convinced themselves that they are worthless to others, and their only recourse is violence. And it works, unfortunately, for the single human life that uses it. We are, after all, as much biological machine as we are spiritual being. The machine evolves to recreate and maintain itself through the inexorable laws of indefinitely making imperfect copies from slightly older imperfect copies, but the spirit is left to explore and wonder, and sometimes decide to stop trying to find real love and respect. The end is a hollow and meaningless engine of subtle cruelty and invisible tyranny, good at maintaining itself, and devastating to spiritual health, at least to its practitioners.
Basil died childless as far as we know, and the changes his efforts produced were quickly undone. Respect for him today is for his skill at crushing Bulgars. His name means "The Bulgar Slayer". He did halt the attacks that Bulgars had been making against communities all over the region, but didn't stop there. His efforts were sustained by the confiscation of land from rich citizens, and the fruit of his labors disappeared when he did.