CIVILIZATION IN EASTERN EUROPE: BYZANTIUM AND ORTHODOX EUROPE
Lindsey Leonard Cheryn Moore
October 4, 2009
Origins of the Empire
• Began in 4th century when the Romans set up Constantinople (527-565)
– Controlled Balkan Peninsula, northern Middle East, Mediterranean Coast, and
– Empire had many enemies though it was less severe than the West was going
against. They defended themselves by recruiting armies in the Middle East,
not by relying on barbarian troops.
• Emperor Justinian came in the 6th century
– During this time, Greek became the common language and official language
– Latin was then seen as inferior
• Emperor Constantine had big impact on the city
– Structured elegant buildings/churches
– These were built on what used to be the town Byzantium
Emperors Justinian and Constantine
• Came in the 6th century
– During this time, Greek became the common and official language
– Latin was then seen as inferior
• 533 CE, he tried to re-conquer the western territory to reestablish an empire like Rome
• Dull and selfish but had great ideas.
– Influenced by his wife, Theodora
• Constantinople was rebuilt
– Because of riot
– His builders built many new structures
• Hagia Sophia (catholic church)
– Pope was the leader of this church
• Important because…
– 1. Justinian Code
• unified every one
• reduced confusion
• Organized the new empire
– 2. Development
• Of arts and sciences
• Construction of buildings, churches, and cathedrals.
• Captured North Africa and Italy with the help of General Belisarius
» Wanted North Africa to be the grain producer (agriculture)
» Wanted Italy to be the symbol for their past (imperial glories)
» A new capitol, Ravenna, was temporarily made to hold their artistic artifacts
• All of the wars created new tax pressures, which lead to his death in 565 CE
Arab Pressure and the Empire’s Defenses
• Persian took over the northern Middle East in the 7th century,
and the people were reconverted to Christianity.
• By then, the empire was centered in the southern Balkans and
parts of modern day turkey.
• They were nowhere near as good as Rome
– But they had a rich culture (Hellenistic)
– Could blend with Christianity
– Achieved in military and engineering
• Greek Fire (petroleum, quicklime, and sulfur mixture) was
used to ruin the Arab Ships.
– This started a rival with the Muslims. Added taxation and weakened
their agricultural status, and added new economic burdens.
• Moved Byzantine territory in the Balkans
• Tsar- Bulgarian king
• In 1014, Basil II (Bulgaroktonos) defeated the
• By the end of the 10th Century, Byzantine was the
most powerful monarch on earth
– Had rich buildings in the city
– Were many popular entertainments for visitors and/or
• Byzantine Had many similar patterns of China
• Emperor was known to be chosen by God
– Head of church
– Head of state
• Emperor passed religious and secular laws
• Byzantine bureaucrats could be recruited from all social classes, unlike China
where aristocrats dominated
• Trained in Greek classics, sciences, and philosophy
– Spies were used to preserve loyalty in the empire but brought distrust among
– Were specialized into different offices
– Provincial governors were appointed by the emperor and watched over
– Bureaucracy regulated trade and food prices. Kept the prices power so the
lower classes can afford them.
• Empire depended on Constantinople’s control
over the country
• Developed a trading network through Asia, Russia
– Silk-expanded in the empire
– Cloth, carpets, and spices were sent north to Russia
• Traded with India, Arabs, and east Asia
• Received products from western Europe and
• Cultural life was centered around Hellenism
– Education for bureaucrats and religions especially Christianity (Eastern or
• There was little innovation; the empire focused more on their past then
developing new ideas.
– Art and architecture were exceptions.
• Byzantine Style:
– Roman domed buildings
– Richly colored mosaics
– Icon painting- of saints and other religious figures (all referred to Christianity
in one way or another)
– In 8th century, a new emperor attacked the use of religious images.
• Iconoclasm- The breaking of images
– Because of this, there was a threat of separation between church and state
• After a long battle, the use of icons was restored. The state control over
church affairs were resumed
Women in Power
• Empress Theodora (981- 1056)
– Strong and Austere
– Refused to marry the imperial heir, which brought her sister, Zoe
– Her actions effected women rulers. Shows how complex politics
– Had trouble with building a staff. Therefore, she was attacked
for her reliance on “menials” (not much skill, lacking)
• Zoe (978- 1050)
– Afraid of her sisters influences
– Both put into power because Zoe’s husband was overthrown.
When emperor died, Theodora was put into more power
Empresses Theodora and Zoe
• Organization became important to Byzantine.
• Recruiting troops locally to adapt the later Roman system
– Rewarded them land in return for their military service
• Land could not be sold, so it was inherited for military responsibility.
• Slavs and Armenian Christians
• Military system had many advantages in protecting themselves
from being in attack by the Muslims (Persians, Arabs, then the
Turks) and nomadic intruders from central Asia
• Until the 15th century, the Byzantine Empire blocked the path to
Europe for most of these groups.
• Hereditary military leaders were given power, rather than the
traditional and better educated aristocrats.
– Emperor Michael II was a result of this system
• Hated Greek education and was just ignorant.
Split Between East and West
• Growing break between Eastern version of Christianity and
the Western version, which was lead by the pope in Rome.
• Different rituals were developed when the West translated
the Greek bible into Latin in the 4th century.
• Byzantine emperors didn’t approve of the popes’ attempts
to interfere with the iconoclastic dispute
– Wanted to help loosen state control over eastern church to
make it transform to their own ideas
• Byzantine officials believed they were the true heirs of
Rome. And western rulers were crude and unsophisticated
– Hostility was shown to Charlemagne
• Neither East nor West wanted to separate, but contact was
Split Between East and West
• In 1054, conflict was brought up about what kind of bread
to use for communion
– The bread quarrel was an old issue, relating to use of bread in
Christ’s day. Patriarch Michael now brought up this issue: Must
bread used for communion be baked without yeast?
• Patriarch Michael also insisted on priests being celibate;
Eastern orthodox priests could marry
• Roman pope excommunicated the patriarch and his
followers. The patriarch retaliated by excommunicating all
of the catholic's.
• Lastly, the East- West split fell short of complete divorce.
The split reflected on the different patterns of development
between the two.
The Empire’s Decline
• Began after the split between East and West
• The Turkish began to invade more
– In late 11th century, Turkish troops (Seljuk's) cut off sources of tax revenue and food
• Battle of Manzikert (1071)
– Byzantine emperor lost
– Empire never recovered, but after four centuries, new kingdoms were created
• Eastern emperors appealed to western leaders for help against Turks, but were ignored
– This helped motivate western crusades to the holy land
– Italian cities gained advantages in Constantinople. Such as trading.
• Western crusades (1204) set up to conquer holy land from Muslims, but turned against Byzantium
– Attacked and conquered Constantinople, weakening the imperial structure.
– West wasn’t powerful enough to continue this battle, so a small byzantine empire was restored
• Turkish settlements got closer to Constantinople in modern day Turkey. In 1453, Turkish sultan brought a
powerful army against Constantinople. It fell after two months.
• By 1461, Turks conquered the remaining parts of the Byzantine control
• Byzantine empire was so durable and important during the decline.
• After it was declined, its influences affected other societies, like the new Ottomon Empire.
Spread of Civilization in Eastern Europe
• This happened long before the decline in 11th century.
• The empire was the source of a new serge of Christianity.
• Missionaries from Constantinople converted Balkans to their form
• In 1864, Byzantine government sent the missionaries Cyril and
Methodius to what is modern day Czech and Slovak Republics
• These missionaries failed, the Roman Catholic seemed to be more
• Cyril and Methodist continued, they wrote a script for their
language. Known as the Cyrillic, derived from Greek letters and
• Byzantine missionaries were more known to have local languages
used in church
– Western Catholicism, on the other hand, used Latin.
The East Central Borderlands
• Eastern missionaries didn’t control eastern borderlands in Europe
– Much of this region was a competition between Eastern and Western
– Roman Catholicism and the Latin alphabet took over Czech, Hungary,
• This was also an active area for trade and industry
– Iron working developed in the West during the 12th century
– Eastern Europe received lots migrating Jews in the 12th century
– Poland gained largest single concentration of Jews
• Jews gained strength in local commerce while maintaining their own religion
and cultural traditions
• Jewish culture were strong in education and literacy, male
prominent, and spread easily.
The Rise of Keivan Rus’
• In the centuries of Byzantine influence, the centuries
would influence later developments in Eastern Europe.
• Slavic people have moved to Eastern Europe and
Russia, mixing with Bulgaria.
• The Slavs used iron and their agriculture extended into
modern day Ukraine and Russia.
• They believed in a Animist religion.
– Believed that there were gods for the sun, thunder, wind,
• Early Russians developed loose regions
The Rise of Keivan Rus’
• In the 6th and 7th centuries, traders from Scandinavia began to work
through Slavic lands
• During their routs, they were able to reach the Byzantine Empire creating
a trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople.
– Traded luxury products like fur and oil from Byzantium
– Scandinavia traders gradually set up governments. Particularly in the city of
– Scandinavian traders, also called Norse Traders had strong military ideas
– Scandinavians came up with the word Russia, the green word for Red, for the
hair color for a lot of the Norse Traders
– The Scandinavian minority eventually mingled with the Slavic population
• A monarchy was developed around 855 C.E. with a prince named Rurik, a
native of Denmark
• Principality was loosely organized through alliances with regional
– Flourished into the 12th century
The Rise of Kievan Rus’
• Contacts between Kievan Rus’ and Byzantium extended steadily
– Kievan became a strong trading center
• Prince Vladimir I (980-1015)
– Organized baptisms
• Russian orthodox church was soon developed
– Took the step of converting to Christianity on behalf of all his people
– Strong enough to avoid other religions coming in
• For example, Islam was rejected
• Christianity was accepted
• As Kievan Rus’ became Christian, it was the largest single state in
– Rurik’s descendants managed at some point to avoid battles
– Issued a formal law code
• A great Kievan prince, Yaroslavl, arranged the religion’s literature.
Institutions and Culture in Kievan Rus’
• Kievan Rus’ borrowed much from Byzantine but kept much to themselves.
• Many characteristics of orthodox Christianity took over Russian culture.
• Traditional practices, such as polygamy, gradually yielded to the Christian practice
• Russian literature used Cyrillic alphabet, had a mixture of religious and royal
events, and praised on the saints and the power of God.
• Russian and Ukrainian art focused on religion also
– Paintings and manuscripts became a Kievan specialty
– Orthodox churches were being made of wood rather than stone
– Religious art and music were popular entertainment
• Russia’s religion culture developed separately from western Europe
– Russian social and economic patterns were strong
– Russian peasant were farmers. Aristocrats, called Boyars, had little political power
• Yaroslavl the Wise (1019-1054)
– Used marriage to create ties. He arranged over 30 marriages with royalty, 11 with Germany,
and mixed weddings
• Example, Russians and Germans were married
• Began to fade in 12th century
• Invaders from Asia overthrew Russian territory
– Rapid decline of Byzantium reduced Russian trade and wealth
• The new kingdom, around modern day Moscow, weakened quickly
• The two invasions by Mongols in central Asia moved through Russia and other
parts of Europe
– Mongols easily captured the major Russian cities, but did not go any farther west because of
their political difficulties.
• Invaders were despised and feared, called Tatars.
• For over two centuries, Russia remained under Tatar control, which separated the
dynamic Russian from Western Europe
– Russian literature stayed under Tatar supervision
• Trade picked up then lapsed in western Russia
• Then Tatar control created new Russian social classes
• In 15th century, Tatar control was forced out and taken over by Russian culture.
The End of an Era in Eastern Europe
• The difficulties that Byzantine and Russia were going through really
showed the differences between eastern and western European
– Western Europe remained free from outside control. Despite new
problems, they maintained a strong economy, culture, and politics.
– When eastern Europe reemerged, western Europe was at a
disadvantage in terms of power, economic, and cultural sophistication.
• Different from the balance of Kievan Russia and Byzantium
• The Tatar invasion in Byzantine collapsed. Key features of the Kievan
social structure disappeared in the development of imperial Russia.
• Christianity and East European assumptions about political rulers,
the relationship between church and state were key to the
rebuilding of Russia and other Slavic societies, and lively artistic
culture were key as well.
• The Byzantine Empire participated in interregional trade
– Constantinople became one of the world’s greatest trading cities,
connecting Europe and Asia.
– Their importing of silk from china was a sign of their awareness of the
world “beyond their borders”
• Russia’s geographical position encouraged awareness of Europe and
• They became dependent on Byzantium as a major trading contact
for the rest of the trading area.
• When Byzantium declined, and when Mongols conquered Russia,
Russia became isolated
– Russia was only able to feed off of Mongol influence
• By the 15th century, Russia began to regain independence.
– The Russians were then faced with decision of who and what to foster