The Byzantine Empire

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The Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire was the successor of the Roman Empire in the Greek-speaking, eastern part of the Mediterranean.Constantinople lay halfway between the Balkan and the Euphrates, and not too far from the immense wealth and manpower of Asia Minor.Byzantium was to become the name for the East-Roman Empire. After the death of Constantine, in an attempt to overcome the growing military and administrative problem, the Roman Empire was divided into an eastern and a western part.


The Code of Justinian, a compilation of all the imperial laws, soon the Institutions and the Digests , were added. The project was completed with some additional laws, the Novellae. And those laws make the empire better.

The Roman government was the strongest unifying force in the empire .Widespread trade of farm goods and another products also helped unify the empire.

Christian Church

After the Great Schism of 1054 CE the eastern church separated form the western (Roman Catholic) church. The centre of influence of the orthodox churches later shifted to Moscow.

Decline and Fall

For the Byzantines, it was increasingly difficult to contain the westerners. They were not only fanatic warriors, but also shrewd traders. In the twelfth century, the Byzantines created a system of diplomacy in which deals were concluded with towns like Venice that secured trade by offering favorable positions to merchants of friendly cities.Soon, the Italians were everywhere, and they were not always willing to accept that the Byzantines had a different faith. In the age of the Crusades, the Greek Orthodox Church could become a target of violence too. So it could happen that Crusaders plundered the Constantinople in 1204 CE. Much of the loot can still be seen in the church of San Marco in Venice. For more than half a century, the empire was ruled by monarchs from the West, but they never succeeded in gaining full control. Local rulers continued the Byzantine traditions, like the grandiloquently named "emperors" of the Anatolian mini-states surrounding Trapezus, where the Comnenes continued to rule, and Nicaea, which was ruled by the Palaiologan dynasty.The Seljuk Turks, who are also known as the Sultanate of Rum, benefited greatly of the division of the Byzantine Empire, and initially strengthened their positions. Their defeat, in 1243 CE, in a war against the Mongols, prevented them from adding Nicaea and Trapezus as well. Consequently, the two Byzantine mini-states managed to survive.The Palaiologans even managed to capture Constantinople in 1261 CE, but the Byzantine Empire was now in decline. It kept losing territory, until finally the Ottoman Empire (which had replaced the Sultanate of Rum) under Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453 CE and took over government. Trapezus surrendered eight years later.


The Byzantine Empire

Justinian Code



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