Heirs to Rome: The Byzantine Empire

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Heirs to Rome: The Byzantine Empire

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Heirs to Rome: The Byzantine Empire

World History: Libertyville HS


Where Was the ERE?

Capitol, Constantinople, located at narrowest point between Europe, Asia (Hellespont)Major trade routes to North / SouthNorth, to Rus / VikingsSouth, to Anatolia / MEMajor trade routes West / EastWest, to EuropeEast, to India / China


Straits, location of Constantinople (Istanbul)


Why Constantinople?

Great location for a city (trade, easily defended)Control the Black Sea assuredLegacy of the Greeks, RomansCity first built as a fortress (walls, location)Riches of East allowed for tribute to pay off invaders


Who Were They?

To inhabitants, they were simply the Roman EmpireEmperors continued in unbroken succession from Caesar to Diocletian and beyond

Statue of Augustus


When did Byzantine Empire Begin?

When Diocletian divided empire?When Constantine moved capitol from Rome to Const?When Theodosius made divisions of Empire permanent?Or Fall of Western Empire in 476 AD? Or when Heraclius (ca. 620) made Greek the official language of the East & its conflicts focused in that direction?

Hmm . . . So when did it begin?


Justinian I (527-565)

Introduced Law Code, a revision of old Roman laws, in GreekGreat general, Belisarius, helped recapture much of traditional Roman Empire (Italy, Africa, part of Spain)

Expansion of Byzantine Empire from start of Justinian’s rule to his death


Justinian I

Construction of the Hagia Sophia, the greatest church built east of Rome, completed


Justinian I

But with death of Justinian, territory gained in West was quickly lostEmpire almost fell in late 500sPersians reached Nile River & BosphorusSlavs overran the Balkans in Europe and laid siege to Constantinople itself


Byzantine Empire, 600-1025

Savior of Empire = Heraklius (610-640)Emperor who considered abandoning ConstantinopleReformsGave soldiers land in frontierSoldiers paid no taxesSons of soldiers = soldiers themselvesReorganized provinces into themes, under control of General

Byzantine Themes, ca 620 AD (yellow) and 900 AD (in pink)



SuccessesLongest period of Byz. Empire success, creativityRe-established Byz. Empire in BalkansBy 629 AD, recaptured most of ME (Jerusalem)Rise of Islam put Byz, Empire on the defenseLost Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Africa by 700 AD


Byzantine Empire, 600-1025

Spread of Orthodox ChristianityTwo monks, Cyril and Methodius, spread Orthodox faith into Balkans and Slavic lands (Poland, Russia, etc)Cyrillic Alphabet, to RussiansGreek orthodox spread throughout Eastern EuropeMonks, scholars, artists followed, giving culture distinct Byzantine flavor

Cyril and Methodius


Decline of the Byzantine Empire

Death of Basil II in 1025 led to conflict between military themes, civilian nobility in capitalBy 1081, Byzantine Empire had been reduced to Greece due to civil war, pressure from Turks

Byzantine Empire, 1081


Decline of Byzantine Empire

1100s were a “Renaissance” of the EmpireEconomy flourished, revival in art, re-captured SE EuropeHelped by Western Crusaders, starting in 1097


Fall of the Byzantine Empire

Weak ruler took throne in 1185 (emptied treasury for gifts, churches - not defense)1204 – Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders / VenetiansLed to fragmentation of empire & successor states trying to control areaSack of Constantinople in 1453 by Ottomans: 85k v. 7k defenders

Crusaders enter Constantinople


Legacy of Byzantine Empire

Most (only!) stable

state during European Middle Ages

Expert military, diplomacy

saved Europe from Muslim invasion

Trade center

brought many peoples into contact with one another

Transmission of classical knowledge

from Islamic world to West, helping bring about European Renaissance

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