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A Millennium of Glory: The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire

A Millennium of Glory: The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire

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Late antiquity was one of the most dramatic periods in our history – a turbulent time in which nations and peoples rose and fell, vying for power and territory in a merciless fight for prominence. Great migrations shook the known world, centuries-old traditions became obsolete, and strange new religions came into play – the world was changing.

And out of this change, this violent shifting of powers, a single realm managed to thrive and rise to the top. A mighty force that would survive great changes and dominate the European scene for more than a millennium – the Byzantine Empire.

Introduction to the Byzantine Empire

The proud descendants of the immortal Roman Empire , the Byzantine emperors and their realm would come to play an important role in the creation of the world as we know it today. And the ultimate, sad fate of this colossal empire would set in motion a string of changes that would resonate through the history forever.

If the Byzantine tale had a different ending, who knows how the world would look today? And to mark this monumental significance, we are revisiting this crucial story of our time – the story of the Byzantine Empire .

The Crisis and The Split of The Roman Empire: The Birth of the Byzantine Empire

Every ending is followed by a new beginning, in whatever form. And just so, the earliest history of the Byzantine Empire takes us to the turbulent final days of the classical Roman Empire as we all know it. Byzantine history is proud and often magnificent, but it all started from a very unstable and ugly period.

During the 3rd century, the colossal Roman Empire experienced a critical period of instability, nearly collapsing from the pressure of barbarian invasions and political and economic struggles. This crisis of the 3rd century would establish a growing split of the unified empire into two distinct halves – the Western and the Eastern Roman Empires.

Governed separately, these two halves became increasingly estranged, with the west being under Latin cultural sphere, and the east under the Hellenistic sphere. And so, it was that from 285 AD, the empire became divided – the western half was ruled from Rome, while the eastern half was ruled from Byzantium.

In 395 the Roman Empire was divided. (AKIKA3D / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

In year 330 AD, Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople, a new city which he founded on the site of ancient Byzantium. This city, a place that would play a crucial role in history, was located in a strategic spot, on the trade route between Europe and Asia. Another important decree of Constantine was his tolerance of Christianity, and he eventually became the first emperor to adopt this religion .

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Emperor Constantine, the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. (Cplakidas)

Theodosius I , his successor, went a step further and made Christianity the official religion of the state, setting in motion a new era of history. He was also the last sole emperor to rule the two halves of the empire.

Leaping Into Glory: The Early History of the Byzantine Empire

This vastness of the empire, and the eventual emergence of two distinct halves, led to them having totally different problems and obstacles. The Hun Empire , a large threat for the eastern empire, finally collapsed in 453 AD and brought a period of peace. But the Western Roman Empire was not so lucky.

Continually deteriorating under the ceaseless migrations and invasion of the ‘barbaric’ Germanic peoples, the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed in the second half of the 400’s, with the deposition of western Emperor Romulus Augustulus. This important event left the eastern Emperor Zeno as the sole ruler, the claimant to the title of emperor of the Roman Empire, which would live on in the east.

That remainder of the venerable Imperium Romanum, later to be called the Byzantine Empire, would continue for many centuries to come, and would endure a rich history that witnessed some of the most crucial events. In simple terms, the timeline of the Byzantium was a rollercoaster – periods of stability and expansion, followed by disasters and periods of rebuilding.
But the first glorious chapter of that lengthy tale began with the rule of an exceptional man – it began with Justinian the First.

The Golden Age of the Byzantine Empire: Justinian I

The Justinian dynasty began with the rule of Justin I, a usurper to the throne who ruled for nine years and was succeeded by his nephew, Justinian. Justinian’s rule had a rough start and one of his first tastes of rule was a revolt.

The Nika Riots of 532 AD were aimed against him, protesting his reforms and high taxes. But the new emperor managed to overcome this difficulty and went on to solidify his newest reforms – the ‘ Corpus Juris Civilis ’ – a set of judicial works that still forms the basis of the civil law for many modern states.

The success of these reforms was followed by other accomplishments. On Justinian’s orders, his general Belisarius managed to re-conquer some of the territories lost with the fall of the Western Roman Empire – namely the province of Africa and parts of the Mediterranean.

Justinian I ruler of the Byzantine Empire who implemented many reforms. (PetarM / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

But one incredible feat was the height of Justinian’s acclaimed rule – the construction of Hagia Sophia . This monumental cathedral was so illustrious and grand, that it was unlike anything built up to that point. An incredible feat of construction, it was a defining, turning point in Byzantine architecture and held the title of the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years.

Once completed, the Hagia Sophia was a definitive statement of Byzantine power and the wealth of Constantinople. Less than a thousand years after its completion, this majestic building was turned into a mosque, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Hagia Sophia built by Emperor Constantine of the Byzantine Empire. Source: Givaga / Adobe Stock.

Barbarians at the Gates: The Loss of Provinces

In the decades following Justinian’s remarkable reign, new emperors came and went, and things were not looking up for Byzantium – hence the popular name for these years – ‘The Dark Age of Byzantium’. The reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine, in the years after Justinian’s death, saw a gradual loss of all territories that were re-conquered so recently.

Increasing invasions of Lombards saw an almost complete loss of the Italian peninsula, the Franks were pushing from Gaul, and the coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula soon fell to the invading Visigoths. To make things worse, the Empire’s northern borders saw ever-increasing incursions from migrating Slavic tribes – aided by Avars , these tribes crossed the river Danube and became a considerable threat.
Centuries that followed saw the ever-shifting political scene – peace treaties were made and broken, kingdoms rose and fell. Gradually Byzantine emperors solidified their rule once again and reclaimed some of the territories they lost.

Slavs were now a considerable entity in the Balkan peninsula, besides the Bulgarian Empire that would be a constant enemy of the empire until the rule of Basil the Second. But up to that point, the golden age of Justinian’s rule would never again come in such splendor.

The Byzantine Empire Rises from the Ashes: The Macedonian Renaissance

One of Byzantium’s most prominent ruling families, the Macedonian dynasty, would begin its nearly two and a half centuries long rule in 867 with the accession of Basil I. They would rule until 1056. And during this period, a so-called Macedonian Renaissance was born – a period of flourishing in arts , letters, and culture.

The coronation of Basil I as emperor of the Byzantine Empire. (Cplakidas / )

The empire expanded and gradually shifted from defending its borders to once again re-conquering lost lands. For perhaps the first time since the rule of Justinian, the Byzantine Empire would once again enter into a ‘golden age’, bolstered by the rule of able emperors such as Basil I, Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, and Basil II the Bulgar Slayer , with philosophy, arts, and cultural integrity greatly renewed.

The start of this able dynasty – one of Byzantium’s best ruling family – began with a rather inspiring, ambitious person – Basil I. In a true ‘game of thrones’ fashion, Basil’s story is truly remarkable. Born a simple peasant, he eventually entered into service of a relative to the Emperor.

By means unknown, but easily speculated, Basil gained favor of a wealthy widow – Danielis – one of the richest Byzantine landowners. Eventually, he gained favor with the emperor himself, after marrying his mistress. Once he managed this, he had the emperor murdered, and would rule the Byzantine Empire for nineteen years, with exceptional ability and skill.

Such stories, full of intrigue and treachery, are numerous in the long history of Byzantium, but Basil’s definitely stands out. To singlehandedly rise from a peasant to the emperor of the Byzantine Empire was a feat worthy of history’s loftiest heights.

And such heights were certainly marked by the numerous crucial events that transpired during the centuries of Macedonian dynasty’s rule. Basil II’s final subjugation of the Bulgarian Empire , as well as the gradual Christianization of pagan Slavs in the Balkans, all had significant importance, which is echoed even to the modern times.

The Last Breaths of an Empire: The Sack and Fall of Constantinople

In such lengthy histories of mighty empires, no flourishing period lasts forever. The history of the Byzantine Empire fluctuates greatly, and after the ending of the Macedonian dynasty, new centuries came with new rulers. New dynasties ascended to the throne – Komnenid, Doukid, Angelid, Laskarid, and Palaiologian dynasties each had its own ups and downs, with some having more success than others.

But the medieval age was a turbulent era and new forces became influential, with the political and religious scene of Europe shifting with increasing volatility. And this instability quickly spilled over and affected Byzantium, when one of the worst blows in its almost millennium long history was delivered – the sack of Constantinople.

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The taking of Constantinople. (World Imaging / )

In 1204, joined by Alexios Angelos, the son of the deposed Emperor Isaac II Angelos, a large crusader army took Constantinople and pillaged, burned, looted, and raped for three days completely sacking the town and stealing many precious relics. This catastrophic event forever diminished the relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox churches and saw the temporary end of the Byzantine Empire – it was divided in several Crusader states, mainly the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus, and the Empire of Trebizond.

But, in 1261, Constantinople was recaptured, and the empire once more entered a period of shaky stability – but in truth, it would never fully recuperate from the crippling blow that was the sacking of Constantinople. Decades that followed became increasingly difficult, with numerous temporary solutions, civil unrest and, from 1341 to 1347, a ravaging civil war. In the midst of the instability, the neighboring Serbian ruler - Stefan Dušan the Mighty – successfully conquered much of the Byzantine territories, thus expanding and establishing the Serbian Empire, making it the region’s major power.

These crippling losses meant that the power of the Byzantine Empire was at an end, and every new emperor had more and more difficulties to stabilize the realm. Constantinople became severely under-populated and dilapidated, and saw the dramatic rise of the Ottomans in the 1400’s.

This Ottoman rise culminated in 1453, when Sultan Mehmed , with a force of 80,000 men, besieged Constantinople for two whole months. The defenders were only 7,000 strong.

The entry of Sultan Mehmed into Constantinople, the fall of the Byzantine Empire. (Karamanli86)

The last ruler of the once mighty Byzantine Empire, Constantine XI Palaiologos, died in hand-to-hand combat in a desperate attempt to defend his city. On May 29th, 1453, Constantinople fell and with that, the Byzantine Empire – the millennium old descendant of Imperium Romanum – was no more.

An Orthodox Glory: Importance and Cultural Impact

In its history, Byzantium was often at the forefront of every important cultural renaissance, exerting its art, philosophy, and laws to much of Europe. With its gradual shift from Latin influenced Roman culture, to a Hellenic sphere influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Byzantine Empire developed a distinct style both in art and ruling, and it would dominate the courts of many European kingdoms and empires.

Its heavily religious focus on architecture, music, and art was a crucial separation from the western Latin influence of Catholic Europe and would shape the future of the continent in every way.

One of the most famous of the surviving Byzantine mosaics from the Byzantine Empire located in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople – the image of Christ on the walls of the upper southern gallery. (Soerfm / CC BY-SA 3.0 )


By far one of the lengthiest, richest tales in our history, the story of the Byzantine Empire is soaked with intrigues, usurpers, ambitious rulers, and conquests – all of which have done little to mar the beauty of the Eastern Roman Empire, or its wealth and splendor. But time and history are ruthless, and every mighty empire will eventually crack and buckle under the pressure of many enemies that wish to swell its borders and plunder the riches.

So it was that an empire that lasted for nearly a millennium – a lifespan almost unheard of in history – met its end at the crucial turning point in history – an end that was fated, dictated by the rapidly changing political scene. And it was this very end – the tragic fall of the Byzantine Empire - that would leave a long lasting impact on Europe for centuries to follow.

A Millennium of Glory: The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire - History

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Most history books will tell you the Roman Empire fell in the fifth century CE.

But this would’ve come as a great surprise to the millions of people

who lived in the Roman Empire up through the Middle Ages.

This medieval Roman Empire,

which we usually refer to today as the Byzantine Empire,

That’s when Constantine, the first Christian emperor,

moved the capital of the Roman Empire to a new city called Constantinople,

which he founded on the site of the ancient Greek city Byzantion.

When the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410

and the Empire’s western provinces were conquered by barbarians,

Constantine’s Eastern capital remained the seat of the Roman emperors.

There, generations of emperors ruled for the next 11 centuries.

Sharing continuity with the classical Roman Empire

gave the Byzantine empire a technological and artistic advantage over its neighbors,

whom Byzantines considered barbarians.

In the ninth century, visitors from beyond the frontier

were astonished at the graceful stone arches and domes

of the imperial palace in Constantinople.

A pair of golden lions flanked the imperial throne.

A hidden organ would make the lions roar as guests fell on their knees.

Golden birds sung from a nearby golden tree.

Medieval Roman engineers even used hydraulic engines

to raise the imperial throne high into the air.

Other inherited aspects of ancient Roman culture

could be seen in emperors’ clothing,

from traditional military garb to togas,

which continued to use Roman law.

Working-class Byzantines would’ve also had similar lives

to their Ancient Roman counterparts

many farmed or plied a specific trade,

But, of course, the Byzantine Empire

didn’t just rest on the laurels of Ancient Rome.

Their artists innovated, creating vast mosaics and ornate marble carvings.

Their architects constructed numerous churches,

one of which, called Hagia Sophia,

had a dome so high it was said to be hanging on a chain from heaven.

The Empire was also home to great intellectuals such as Anna Komnene.

As imperial princess in the 12th century,

Anna dedicated her life to philosophy and history.

Her account of her father’s reign is historians’ foremost source

for Byzantine political history at the time of the first crusade.

Another scholar, Leo the Mathematician,

invented a system of beacons that ran the width of the empire—

what’s now Greece and Turkey.

Stretching more than 700 kilometers,

this system allowed the edge of the Empire to warn the emperor of invading armies

within one hour of sighting them at the border.

But their advances couldn’t protect the Empire forever.

In 1203, an army of French and Venetian Crusaders

made a deal with a man named Alexios Angelos.

Alexios was the son of a deposed emperor,

and promised the crusaders vast riches

and support to help him retake the throne from his uncle.

Alexios succeeded, but after a year,

the population rebelled and Alexios himself was deposed and killed.

So Alexios’s unpaid army turned their aggression on Constantinople.

which destroyed countless works of ancient and medieval art and literature,

leaving about one-third of the population homeless.

The city was reclaimed 50 years later by the Roman Emperor Michael Palaiologos,

but his restored Empire never regained all the territory

the Crusaders had conquered.

Finally, in 1453, Ottoman Emperor Mehmed the Conqueror captured Constantinople,

Although the Byzantine Empire lasted over a millennium, it was riddled with crises almost from the very beginning. A combination of in-fighting, disease, and natural disaster served to prevent the empire from expanding, weaken it and ultimately cause its decline at various stages. It was an extraordinarily resilient empire, but the accumulation of issues ultimately led to its demise.

The empire was flourishing under the rule of Justinian I when a terrible plague in 540 wiped out a large proportion of its population. It impacted the army and weakened it to a point where Justinian had to accept a humiliating peace treaty with the Persians. The Byzantines ultimately subdued the Persians, but both empires were weakened by a 25-year war and were ripe for the marauding Arab invaders of the 7th century. The Arabs destroyed the Persian Empire and almost took Constantinople on a couple of occasions. The Byzantines held firm but lost territories such as Palestine and Egypt. The latter was of extreme importance since the Egyptian province of Aegyptus provided the empire with a vast proportion of its goods and natural resources.

The Byzantine Empire was also the architect of its downfall. It was routinely hurt by vicious in-fighting which often happened at times when the empire needed to establish a united front. This internal conflict occurred during the Arab invasions of the 7th century, the Turk invasion of the 11th century and in the 14th and 15th centuries when grandfathers fought grandsons! Rather than standing together against a common enemy, nobles squabbled over power and territory.

After the Arab invasions, there was a period of stability in the 8th century. Alas, the nobles feasted their greedy eyes on the farmlands of the free peasantry which were worth a lot more during times of peace. The government depended on the peasants for taxes and soldiers, but the nobles caused problems by trying to take this land and turn its inhabitants into serfs. The government sought to help the farmers, Basil II, in particular, did all he could, but the power of the nobles was too strong.

After Basil II died with no male heirs in 1025, the issue of greedy governors was to cost the empire dearly. His nieces married a series of men and elevated them to powerful positions. At this time, governors were able to rule almost independently of the government as they controlled the military forces of their themes and collected taxes. They had a nasty habit of imposing excessive taxes on farmers which caused widespread dissatisfaction. These charges led to a rebellion amongst the Bulgars.

The short-sighted action of the governors also resulted in the decline of the free peasantry and along with it, the strength of the theme system as it no longer supplied men to the army in the numbers it did previously. The state increased the taxes on peasants because it needed to pay for foreign mercenaries and this vicious cycle significantly weakened the empire as it got to the point where it could no longer afford a navy. It was aided by the Venetians and Genoese fleets but had to remove the 10% import toll. These merchants could undercut their Byzantine counterparts which reduced government income from trade! All of the above resulted in the weakened military which ensured the empire entered a permanent downward spiral.

The Fall of the Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire followed after the Roman Empire fell. Before the Roman Empire fell, The Byzantine was considered part Eastern Roman Empire which covered the southeast part of Europe, as well as West Asia. The Byzantine Empire began as the city of Byzantium, which had grown from the ancient Greek colony founded on the European side of the Bosporus. The city was then taken in AD 330 by Constantine 1, who re-founded it as Constinople. When Constantine died in 395, Theodosius 1 divided the empire between his two sons. This was starting point at which the Roman Empire fell, and the eastern half continued as the Byzantine Empire with Constinople as the capital.

Two crises between AD 330 and 518 helped shape the Greek part of the empire. The first was the invasion by the Barbarian Huns, Visigoths, and Ostrogoths in the fifth century. Many believe that Constinople averted the fate of Rome, which fell, creating smaller kingdoms in the west.

While the Western Empires was being diminished, the East flourished, and the power now moved primarily to the east.

The second major crisis concerned religion. In the East, religions like Nestorianism and Monophysitism drew on the rich Greek traditions, which clashed with the emerging Roman Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. Among the challengers was the Eastern branch of the church with Greek as its language, which was closely bound to the political world of Constinople. Soon after these crises, Justinian laid the foundation on which the Byzantine Empire would rest for nearly a century. Justinian was considered an ambitious and dynamic leader. He greatly expanded the empires territory by conquering the southern Levant, northern Africa, and Italy, in an effort to recreate the area of the old Roman Empire. Justinian's administrative reforms created a centralized.

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Byzantine Empire, one of the longest medieval state formation, had a very specific artistic expression. In the first of several articles which will deal with this topic, we will get acquainted with some of its eminent emperors, buildings whose construction had prompted and art that developed in the Byzantine Empire in the first three centuries of its existence.

Byzantine Empire

Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium rose to existence by the foundation of the city Constantinople in 324 AD, and the final division to Eastern and Western Roman Empire did not happen until 395 AD. It lasted until the year 1453 when the Turks conquered Constantinople. Though the Byzantines emphasized their Roman origins, as time passed, they gradually distanced from their roots. The culture and language are more and more influenced by the Hellenization of the Empire and its theocracy. 1 Byzantium had a prominent position among the medieval states of that time. It was prominent for its unique organization of government, excellently equipped army with a remarkable war technique, developed economic and monetary system, and above all that it was enormously wealthy. 2 One of the most famous byzantologists G. Ostrogorski described the Byzantine Empire thus: „Roman government, Greek culture and Christianity are the key foundations of the Byzantine development. A lack of any of those elements would unhinge the very existence of Byzantium. Only by the congregation of Hellenic culture and Christianity with the Roman statehood could emerge such a historical entity that we call the Byzantine Empire. “ 3

The construction of Constantinople

The city was named after its founder, the emperor Constantine. The slavenic people called it Tsargrad, and it got its current name Istanbul after being conquered by the Turks. The emperor Constantine spent much time on the Eastern borders of the Empire due to the war with Germania, so he mostly resided close to Little Asia, and rarely in Rome. That could be an explanation of why he chose this location to found a new Empire’s capital.

After the “New Rome “was founded, it was built and expanded rapidly. Many buildings were built, including the new Hippodrome, palace, forums, administrative and clerical buildings, and the city was decorated with bronze statues. The emperor Constantine himself expanded the city four or five times. It was modelled in Roman style, though it was, unlike Rome, a Christian city from the start. In Rome, churches were built outside the city walls, while in Constantinople churches were built in the city itself. 4 The bishop’s palace was built next to the emperor’s, which meant a bond between the holy and empire (emperor’s power being connected to religion). The cathedral and bishop’s residence were located in the narrow centre, close to the Senate and the secular government. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Christian Empire continued evolving here, but it became Greek by its language and culture.

The emperor’s palace, known as Daphne, which was located near the Hippodrome, would later become the main palace of the Byzantine Empire. The city also had wide avenues with sidewalks for pedestrians and merchants, which are significant for the eastern cities. They were discontinued by forums. One of them was Constantine’s forum, which was circular, unlike the Roman forums, and it had a pole with the bronze statue of Constantine on top, in the figure of God of the Sun. 5

The statues were appointed all over the city. They were pagan, but since they were extracted from the pagan temples, outside its religious context, they had merely a decorative function. Of all the statues, only one group was preserved – the horses that stood at Constantine’s Hippodrome.

Emperor Theodosius

Theodosius was the last emperor who ruled the complete Roman Empire. He brought relative political stability to the Empire by giving certain privileges to the Barbarians. For instance, with the Germans he made a pact (“foedus “) according to which the Germans had full autonomy, but were obliged to provide military service for the emperor whenever needed. 6 He issued edicts that prohibited any pagan cults and forced closure of the pagan temples, as well as banned religious sacrifice. Pagan art had no useful function anymore, although it was still preserved. Before his death, in 395 AD he appoints his son Arcadius as the ruler in the East and Honorius as the emperor in the West. The Empire was thus separated, and Constantinople becomes rival to Rome. The Western Empire falls in 476 AD, while the Eastern survives, becoming the Byzantine Empire. It was Roman in its origin, but culturally and linguistically Greek, and essentially Christian.

From the base of the obelisk posted by emperor Theodosius, formerly residing at the Hippodrome, we can see the trend in the sculpture of that period. The emperor is displayed as the ruler of Persians and Goths who brings him presents. Sitting next to him is his western co-ruler, and next to him Theodosius’ sons Arcadius and Honorius. The emphasis is not on the individuals but the political hierarchy. The sculpture also shows a rising aversion towards the figuration and narrativity of the classical sculpture, while the sculpture itself becoming more ornamental. It becomes closer to the provincial art featured by frontality, torpidity and disproportionality.

Emperor Justinian

Justinian is one of the most notable of Byzantine emperors, who, for a short period, succeeded in reconnecting the areas of the Western and the Eastern Roman Empire. He fought against the Vandals (north Africa), the Ostrogoths (Italy), the Visigoths (Pyrinees)… During his conquests, he never took account of the new perils that started threatening the Empire. Those perils were the new, strong Persia, and the unstable northern border on the Balkan Peninsula. Justinian tried to solve the Balkan border problem by constructing a dense network of fortifications, but it did not prove to be especially successful as a solution. The peace was not made until Byzantium made a treaty with Avars, who were from then onwards obliged to keep the peace on the Balkan Peninsula.

The most notable Justinian’s work was the codification of the Roman law, a collection of codes which finally constituted the Corpus iuris civilis. Furthermore, he consolidates the monetary economy by the coinage of golden money (hyperperos). The general economy is further developed, and the silk industry becomes the major economic branch. 7

He was an activator of construction in the Empire, he started construction of thirty-three churches. The period of his reign was a time of enormous progress. The imperial workshop (in which various luxury items were made) flourished. Art craftsmanship also experienced large progress in his time.

Haghia Sophia

The church dedicated to the divine wisdom, was built from 532 to 537 AD, and the architects that designed it were Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The construction was initiated by the emperor Justinian, to build the finest building of all times, which shows an ambition to restore the Roman Empire. He wanted to build an unmatched structure, which would pose as a monument to the glory of the Church and a symbol of the superiority of Constantinople over Rome, and at the same time it would have been a cenotaph to Justinian’s restoration of the Roman Empire.

The Church itself dominates the landscape of Constantinople. It has some elements of a basilica, but still differs in the construction of the dome and semi-dome, and its layout is almost quadratic, walls discontinued by the side naves, colonnades and galleries, rising through the semi-domes and four enormous pandatives to the incredible dome, that reminds of a shallow plate, with a diameter only 2,40 meters smaller than the one on the cathedral of St. Paul in London. It is a forty-window dome, which, by the words of a contemporary,looked not like residing on the firm ground but as if covering the space descended on golden chains from heaven. 8 They didn’t spare on precious materials, and the workers came from all the parts of the Empire. Eight different kinds of marble were used for the sheeting of the inner walls. The porphyria walls came from Egypt, the green marble was hewn in Greece, and the entire Church was covered in mosaics. A description of Haghia Sophia from the 6th century mentions a golden altar covered in jewels, numerous chandeliers, woven golden drapes, silk curtains… A silver septum separated the eastern apse with two doors for priests and twelve columns entirely mounted in silver. The upper galleries preserve the only saved mosaics from the time of Justinian when originally the whole Church was covered with mosaics.

Two important churches of this period, whose construction was also initiated by Justinian, are the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and Haghia Irena.

Euphrasian Basilica

Euphrasian basilica was raised in the 6th century, during the period of emperor Justinian and bishop Euphrasius, who it was named after. The pontifical complex was preserved entirely, which is a rarity in the architecture of that period. The building complex comprises of the baptistery, atrium (the north porch of the atrium serves as nartex at the same time), the Church and the bishop’s court. Nenad Cambi explains the functionality of the bishop’s court thus: “At the court of the bishop, that comprised of a ground floor and two upper floors, ceremonies were held, as well as admittances and other representative functions of the bishop as the head of the Church in Poreč. “. 9

One of the most representative parts of the Euphrasian basilica are its mosaics which are located in the building’s apse. Apart from the artistic value itself, the mosaics also have an important iconographic program. The Virgin Mary is placed at the centre of the apse, at a place regularly reserved for the Christ. She sits on a throne, with the little Christ in her lap, blessing with his right hand. Both sides are inhabitted by the two groups lead by angels. On the left side, there are three martyrs holding wreaths in their hands. On the other side is St. Mauro, also holding a wreath, but has a name written beside his aureola. Next to him are, standing, the three contemporaries of that period, still alive at the time when they were displayed there. They are the bishop Euphrasius, holding a model of his basilica in his hands, archdeacon Claudius, who was Euphrasius’ brother, and Claudius’ son, the boy named Euphrasius. In the lower part of the triumphal arch, there are thirteen circular medallions. In the central area, Christ is shown as Agnus Dei, and on each side, there are six more displaying various saints. In the highest portion of the apse, there is a frieze with apostles and the Christ in the middle.

Following the “golden age “of the emperor Justinian the Empire starts to weaken, mostly due to the wars with Persians. “The Langobard intrusion in Italy in 568 AD meant a loss of a large part of the Apennine Peninsula. At the same time, the northern defence failed as well, that is against the Slavic attacks. “ 10

The 1939 Pact had a provision which allowed Turkey an “Out” if joining a conflict might entail conflict with the Soviet Union, so despite calls by France and the British to join in once war had reached the Mediterranean, Turkey was able to avoid her treaty obligations there, Germany and the Soviet Union not necessarily …

Neutrality during World War II Many countries made neutrality declarations during World War II. However, of the European states closest to the war, only Andorra, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (with Liechtenstein), and Vatican (the Holy See) remained neutral to the end.

The Final Assault

Despite Grant's success, morale in Constantinople began to plummet as word was received that no aid would be coming from Venice. In addition, a series of omens including a thick, unexpected fog which blanketed the city on May 26, convinced many that the city was about to fall. Believing that the fog masked the departure of the Holy Spirit from the Hagia Sophia, the population braced for the worst. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Mehmed called a council of war on May 26. Meeting with his commanders, he decided that a massive assault would be launched on the night of May 28/29 after a period of rest and prayer.

Shortly before midnight on May 28, Mehmed sent his auxiliaries forward. Poorly equipped, they were intended to tire and kill as many of the defenders as possible. These were followed by an assault against the weakened Blachernae walls by troops from Anatolia. These men succeeded in breaking through but were quickly counterattacked and driven back. Having achieved some success, Mehmed's elite Janissaries attacked next but were held by Byzantine forces under Giustiniani. The Byzantines in Blachernae held until Giustiniani was badly wounded. As their commander was taken to the rear, the defense began to collapse.

To the south, Constantine led forces defending the walls in the Lycus Valley. Also under heavy pressure, his position began to collapse when the Ottomans found that the Kerkoporta gate to the north had been left open. With the enemy surging through the gate and unable to hold the walls, Constantine was forced to fall back. Opening additional gates, the Ottomans poured into the city. Though his exact fate is not known, it is believed that Constantine was killed leading a last desperate attack against the enemy. Fanning out, the Ottomans began moving through the city with Mehmed assigning men to protect key buildings. Having taken the city, Mehmed allowed his men to plunder its riches for three days.

The Rise Of The Roman Empire

intelligence, and fear, when you hear these words one thing comes to mind, the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires of all time. The span of the Roman Empire grew from itself outward to the countries of England, Africa, Spain, and even Syria. The Roman Empire covered a vast area of land, with ambitions of continued growth. The Roman Empire rose to glory in 27 BC. The rise of the Roman Empire began with its military forces and its many emperor’s reign. The society and life

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Fall of Constantinople Facts, Summary, & Significance

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See Article History Fall of Constantinople, (May 29, 1453), conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire. The dwindling Byzantine Empire came to an end when the Ottomans breached Constantinople’s ancient land wall after besieging the city for 55 days.

A Millennium of Glory: The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine

  • On May 29th, 1453, Constantinople fell and with that, the Byzantine Empire – the millennium old descendant of Imperium Romanum – was no more
  • An Orthodox Glory: Importance and Cultural Impact In its history, Byzantium was often at the forefront of every important cultural renaissance, exerting its art, philosophy, and laws to much of Europe.

The Fall of Rome: How, When, and Why Did It Happen

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  • The eastern half became the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople (modern Istanbul)
  • But the city of Rome continued to exist
  • Some see the rise of Christianity as putting an end to the Romans those who disagree with that find the rise of Islam a more fitting bookend to the end of the empire—but that would put the Fall of Rome

Free Essay: Compare and Contrast the Fall of the Byzantine

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  • Compare and Contrast the Fall of the Byzantine and West Roman Empire
  • The era from about 1025 to 1453 witnessed the decline of the Byzantine Empire and its ultimate destruction
  • Loss of territory, internal discord, and defeats by the crusaders were blows from which the empire could not recover
  • The decline of the Western Roman Empire refers to

U10 L1: The Byzantine Empire Flashcards Quizlet

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The Roman Empire slit in 286 CE - Byzantium became the eastern capital and was renamed Constantinople - The Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire Justinian I (483-565)

Fall of Byzantium: The Slow Death of Empire

  • The fall of Byzantium seemed imminent
  • The empire had been on this desperate plunge since 1204, when the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople and …

What caused the fall of the byzantine empire

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  • Byzantine Empire was called the Eastern Roman Empire that lasted for 10 centuries after the fall of the Western
  • It was one of the great empires in history
  • Its name, which began to be used in the 16th century , comes from Byzantium, the ancient city on …

Why Did The Byzantine Empire Fall

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  • The Byzantine Empire fell in 1453
  • The immediate cause of its fall was pressure by the Ottoman Turks
  • The Ottomans had been fighting the Byzantines for over 100 years by this time

The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire

  • Second, the Byzantine Empire was weakened politically because the Monophysite Christians were not loyal to its spiritual and political leaders
  • As a result, the rise and spread of Islam, beginning in 610 C.E
  • Came in contact with Monophysite Christianity
  • The lands which were dominated by Monophysites were the first to fall to

How was the Byzantine Empire destroyed

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The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire.The last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years later in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond.

What caused the final fall of the Byzantine Empire

  • The final fall of the Byzantine Empire was caused by attacks from the Ottomans
  • The Byzantine Empire fell, and Islam spread into Eastern Europe
  • The main reason of its fall was a significant number of attacks made by the Ottoman Turks

The Importance Of The Byzantine Empire ipl.org

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  • The Eastern Roman empire was the continuation of the Roman empire, in the eastern part of the Mediterranean ("The Byzantine," n.d., para
  • The changes that happened in this half of the empire were so important that historians renamed it the Byzantine empire
  • The term “byzantine” implies that this city was now the center of power and

The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle by George

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The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle by George Sphrantzes 1401-1477 (English and Greek Edition) (Greek) Hardcover – June 1, 1980 by George Sphrantzes (Author) 2 ratings See …

Decline of the Byzantine Empire

  • SOURCE 1 - Reading: Fall of the Byzantine Empire
  • The last dynasty on the throne of the Byzantine Empire lasted from 1204 to 1453 AD
  • They made some good alliances with some Italian cities and dominated Mediterranean Sea trade in the 1200s AD
  • By the 1300's though, the Byzantines were losing territory to invaders

The rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire

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Check out our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/tededView full lesson: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-byzantine-empire-leonora-nevil

The Byzantine Empire : The Fall Of The Roman Empire Bartleby

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The fall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E resulted in many tragedies, as history “replays” itself, this fall led to starts, the land that was once known as Rome split into two pieces, the eastern part known as the Byzantine Empire and the western part known as medieval Western Europe.

Rise & Fall of the Roman, Ottoman & Byzantine Empires

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The Byzantine Empire was originally the eastern part of the Roman Empire but broke off and became the dominant Christian power after the fall of Rome, which put it at odds with other powers

How did Justinian's actions contribute to the fall of the

  • Invading forces contribute to the fall of the Byzantine empire by weakening the empire
  • The Byzantines created another barbarian group, called the Avars, to stop the Slavs
  • As the two groups were at war with each other, they were physically weakening the empire's structure
  • What happened to the Byzantine Empire under Justinian?


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  • In conclusion, the byzantine empire was the longest-lasting prominent power
  • Despite its fall, its influence is still felt today, mostly in religion, law, architecture, and art around the world
  • It bequeathed to the world a great system of government built …

The fall of the Byzantine Empire : a chronicle : Phrantzēs

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  • The fall of the Byzantine Empire : a chronicle by Phrantzēs, Geōrgios, b
  • 1401 Philippides, Marios, 1950-Publication date 1980 Topics Byzantine Empire -- History -- John VIII Palaeologus, 1425-1448, Byzantine Empire -- History -- Constantine XI Dragases, 1448-1453, Istanbul (Turkey) -- History -- Siege, 1453

The Fall Of Constantinople: The Rise Of The Byzantine Empire

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  • The new emperor attempted to give away the church of the Byzantine people to Rome, but the move faced great resistance, resulting to the strangling of Alexius in 1204 after a palace coup
  • The death of Alexius prompted the Franks to declare war on the Constantinople, bring the fourth crusade to an end with looting in

How did the invading forces contribute to the fall of the

  • – The Slavs began attacking the Byzantine Empire and in response to this, the Byzantines arranged for the Avars to attack the Slavs
  • How did the Byzantine Empire fall? The dwindling Byzantine Empire came to an end when the Ottomans breached Constantinople’s ancient land wall after besieging the city for 55 days.

The Fall of Constantinople: A Captivating Guide to the

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The Byzantine Empire: A Captivating Guide to Byzantium and How the Eastern Roman Empire Was Ruled by Emperors such as Constantine the Great and Justinian The Fall of Constantinople: A Captivating Guide to the Conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks that Marked the end of the Byzantine Empire

The Fall Of The Byzantine Empire

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  • The Byzantine Empire : The Fall Of The Roman Empire 920 Words | 4 Pages
  • Looking at the fall of the Roman Empire and the reasons for the fall, including looking at the reasons for the split in the Empire in c
  • 312- 395 CE and how the eastern half managed to survive for so much longer before finally falling.

Economic Factors in the Decline of the Byzantine Empire

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  • Because the Byzantine Empire endured for over a thousand years and was the center of civilization until the middle of the eleventh century, it could not be looked at as a constantly declining empire
  • According to Charanis, it preserved antiquity, developed new forms of …

The Fall of Rome & Byzantine Empire Flashcards Quizlet

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A city founded as the second capital of the Roman Empire later became the capital of the Byzantine Empire current day Istanbul, Turkey Justinian and Theodora Ruler of Byzantine Empire (527-565) and his wife, known for Golden Age achievements in Constantinople and the expansion of the empire

Discuss the rise and fall of the byzantine empire

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Watch the video: The History of the Byzantine Empire: Every Month (May 2022).