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

Category: Religion