Byzantium by xiaoyounan


o 527 – 565 Reign of Justinian
o 574 – 641 Reign of Heraclius
o 867 – 1056 Macedonian Dynasty (not really
   – 867 – 886 Basil I
   – 976-1025 Basil II
o 1081 – 1118 Emperor Alexius Comnenus
o 1204 Crusader sacking of Constantinople
o 1453 Fall of Constantinople to the Turks
o Successor to the Roman Empire (Eastern Roman
o Named for the Greek name of its capital city –
  Byzantium (Constantinople/Istanbul)
o This Empire will hold on for almost 1000 years after
  the end of the Western Roman Empire (ends with
  Turkish take over of Constantinople in 1453)
o Very influential in the cultures of the eastern part of
  Europe (Greece, Russia, Romania, etc)
            Rise of Byzantium
o Originally supposed to be equal of Western
  Roman Empire but the Eastern Empire has
  advantages in trade and production
  capabilities – also closer culturally to the east
o With excellent protection form invasion
  Eastern Roman Empire doesn’t have to worry
  as much about Germanic invasions – this
  helps out their economy
           Justinian the Great
o Adopted son of Justin I (an emperor of the
  Eastern Roman Empire)
o Justinian is
  • Well educated (as a politician with aims of
    reconstituting old Roman Empire)
  • An Autocrat (rule of one man over religious,
    political, and military decisions)
o Justinian chose church officials, set church
  law, and even dictated fashion in the
  Byzantine world
o Justinian saw himself
  as the heir to Roman
  power – and his wife
  Theodora pushed
  hard to make that
  theory a reality
  (Theodora is a street
  wise prostitute who
  may be the power
  behind the throne
  – later made a saint)
             Justinian’s Goals
o To fulfill his desire to be a full Roman emperor
  Justinian sends large army to conquer the
  Germanic kingdoms of the old Roman west –
  hires many mercenaries at a great cost to the
  empire to fulfill his desires
o Justinian also starts to beautify Constantinople
  in preparation for his new empire
  • Knocks down several old buildings and builds
                 Nika Riots
o To keep the poor from rioting during the
  period of his lavish spending organizes
  chariot races to entertain the poor
o A contested chariot race results in the
  famous Nika Riots (532)
o During Nika riots most of Constantinople is
o Justinian puts Belisarius in charge to quell the
  revolt – he becomes top general after this
o After Nika Riots Justinian rebuilds the city
  with elaborate buildings
o Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome are the best
              Justinian’s Wars
o In the years before Justinian, Byzantium faced many
  external threats which threatened economic
  hardships – Byzantium weathers these as Justinian
  brings them back into prominence
o Justinian focuses on the west because he is born on
  Byzantium’s western frontier (Serbia)
o Justinian sends Belisarius to fight for the
  reunification of Roman territory
o Belisarius first pushes back the Persians from the
  Byzantine territory (Byzantines and Persian will
  fight almost all the time)
o Belisarius also defeats the Vandals in North Africa,
  Ostrogoths in Italy, defeated the Bulgars in the east
  before he is summoned by Justinian to come back
  to Constantinople
o Justinian puts Belisarius on trumped up charges
  because he is jealous of the popularity of Belisarius
  – Belisarius is blinded and reduced to begging for
           Death of Justinian
o Justinian is unlike many in that he dies of old
  age rather than by the sword
o After Justinian dies Byzantium experiences
  financial problems and loses North Africa,
  Italy, and some territory in Asia (main battle
  lines for Byzantium will now be in the east)
o Death is marked by the great achievements in
  his life – Corpus Juris Civilius
                   Civil Law
o Justinian’s greatest legacy is that he codifies
  many different legal precedents into a single
  law for his empire – most fair in Roman history
o Jurius Civilius recognizes the rights of slaves,
  women, and children (first time children have
  had rights)
o Justinian’s legal code serves as the basis for
  almost all European legal codes – and
  consequently the American legal code
               Cultural Shifts
o After Justinian reign, several different shifts
  in the culture of Byzantium take place
o In relation to the rule of the autocrats, the
  stipulation was now made that rulers were
  chosen by God
o Greek becomes a more dominant force as
  Byzantium adopts Greek as its official
o A huge shift during this period of Byzantium
  is the iconoclast movement
o Some in Byzantine religious circles became
  troubled by the overt worship given to icons
  (paintings of the Virgin Mary, holy sites of the
  saints, etc.)
o This fear starts a movement to do away with
  worshiping icons as part of the Christian
  experience (iconoclasm)
o Iconoclasm reaches its height during the reign of Leo III
  – he outlaws the use of icons in religious practices
o Leo III also encourages the destruction of some icons
  through edict – a step the Popes in Rome know
  compromises their power
o This episode will go a long way toward the separation
  of the eastern and western church
            Why Hate Icons?
o The argument against icons is that they lead
  to the worship of idols (polytheism) instead
  of Jesus
o Icons also take away from the authority of
  those in charge of the church – the autocrats
  don’t control paintings
o Opposition says that God creates idols
  through humans for humans – reminds them
  of their religion
          Byzantium’s Zenith
o Following Heraclius, Byzantium started losing
  a lot of territory again – by 750 only Asia
  Minor, the Balkan Peninsula and the
  southern coast of Italy remain in Byzantium’s
o Under the leadership of Michael III (842-867)
  Byzantines go on the offensive
                Slavic Missions
• Prince Rotislav of Moravia appeals to Michael III to
  send teachers to Moravia to spread Christianity –
  didn't ask Western Europe because Charlemagne
  was trying to kill him
• Michael sends St. Cyril and St. Methodius in
  862/863 – this results in Russian orthodoxy and
  Cyrillic language – basis for all Slavic languages (a
  Greek offshoot)
  Macedonian Revival (867-1056)
o Not really Macedonian – not really a revival
o Named because some of the leaders had
  been in a Macedonian prison – additionally,
  the revival had already started
o Came into being after a period of Turkish
  invasion – in which Byzantines survive by
  using Greek Fire (petroleum and quicklime)
o Period of outstanding achievements
                        Basil I
o Basil I, even though he had Michael III murdered,
  ushered in a protracted era of peace
o Basil and his successors are capable rulers who
  emphasize strong civil service programs designed to
  coincide with revivals in the economic and banking fields
      Basil II (The Bulgar Slayer)
o Reclaimed many areas which had been lost
  by Byzantines over the years (Syria and
  places in the Balkans)
o Known as Bulgar Slayer for his campaign
  against the Bulgarians – finally subduing
  them in 1018
o With this victory Basil regains Danubian
  frontier for the first time in 400 years – this
  will continue to have influence in the region
  to this day
Post-Macedonian Revival Problems
o After the Basils, Byzantium is plagued by a
  series of incompetent rulers (Alexius
o Continuing external threats characterize the
  later periods of the empire
o Empire also suffers from continuing divisions
  with the papacy (Greek Orthodoxy vs. Roman
Pope vs. Patriarch of Constantinople
o Patriarch would not submit to the power of the
  pope – this would have made the pope the sole
  power over Christianity
o Tensions arise during iconoclasm and continue to
  grow until Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael
  Cerularius excommunicate each other
o This leads to the Great Schism of 1054 – Eastern
  Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church have not
  been united since
          Later Developments
o Byzantine Empire gets routed at Manzikert in
  1071 – this brings on the Crusades
o Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople and
  deals Byzantium a near death blow
o Byzantium finally disappears in 1453 when
  Turks finally take Constantinople after three
  tries (defeat Constantine XI)
o Turks rename the city Istanbul

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