The Byzantine Empire


The Byzantine Empire Essay, Research Paper

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire, the survivor of the Roman empire, flourished into

the oldest and longest lasting empire in our history. It began with Constantine

the Great’s triumph of Christianity. He then transferred his capital from Rome

to the refounded Byzantium in the early 4th century, year 330 AD, and named it

Constantinople after himself. This city became the surviving safe spot after

the breakup of the Western Roman empire by the 5th century. It was by far the

largest and richest city in Christendom during the Middle Ages with a population

of about one million people. (Encarta)

Constantine the Great had established a criterion for the empire to

follow throughout its history. It included the harmony of the church, the

leaders and the teachers of the empire. Constantine created a successful new

monetary system based on the gold solidus, or nomisma which lasted well into the

middle of the 11th century. Because of the commercial thriving throughout the

4th, 5th, and 6th centuries, many ancient cities flourished. Large estates

dominated agriculture which continued to be fruitful in spite of the heavy

taxation causing an abandonment of land. From the beginning to the end of the

Byzantine empire, the church and the emperor had been the largest landholders,

therefore being the largest profiteers of Byzantine. (Encarta)

After the Roman empire fell in 476 AD, Byzantine conquered all. It took

over the space of southeastern Europe, southwestern Asia, and the northeast

corner of Africa. The present day countries in these areas include the Balkan

Peninsula, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. This large empire known as

Byzantine didn’t get called Byzantine until scholars named it. The people of

that time were not thought of as Byzantines but as Romans who lived a Roman

lifestyle. Byzantine had been started and ruled by an emperor without any

formal constitution. It slowly formed a similar establishment of late Roman

institutions. Byzantine followed the Romans orthodox Christianity as well. The

predominant language of this era was Greek, although some subjects spoke Latin,

Coptic, and Armenian. (Great Ages)

The Greek language led to a Greek culture. The Byzantine empire stood

out for their Christian religion and their expression of it in their artwork.

These Romans carved exquisite ivories, illuminated manuscripts, and formed

mosaics out of glass and stone. Mosaics were pictures formed from these objects

with the intent to stimulate profound religious thought. The mood of these

mosaics was always honoring and respectful of Christianity and its

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