Difference between revisions of "Byzantine Empire"

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Despite the fact that the Byzantine Empire shifted away from classical culture as the [[Middle Ages]] progressed, it was a continuation of the Roman Empire. Its Greek-speaking inhabitants called themselves Romans.<ref>Teall, John L. & Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. [https://www.britannica.com/place/Byzantine-Empire Byzantine Empire]. ''Encyclopedia Britannica''. Retrieved September 9, 2016.</ref><ref name="Boundless">[https://www.boundless.com/world-history/textbooks/boundless-world-history-i-ancient-civilizations-enlightenment-textbook/the-byzantine-empire-6/byzantium-the-new-rome-35/naming-of-the-byzantine-empire-134-13338/ Naming of the Byzantine Empire]. ''boundless.com''. Retrieved September 9, 2016.</ref>
 
Despite the fact that the Byzantine Empire shifted away from classical culture as the [[Middle Ages]] progressed, it was a continuation of the Roman Empire. Its Greek-speaking inhabitants called themselves Romans.<ref>Teall, John L. & Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. [https://www.britannica.com/place/Byzantine-Empire Byzantine Empire]. ''Encyclopedia Britannica''. Retrieved September 9, 2016.</ref><ref name="Boundless">[https://www.boundless.com/world-history/textbooks/boundless-world-history-i-ancient-civilizations-enlightenment-textbook/the-byzantine-empire-6/byzantium-the-new-rome-35/naming-of-the-byzantine-empire-134-13338/ Naming of the Byzantine Empire]. ''boundless.com''. Retrieved September 9, 2016.</ref>
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==Art==
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The history of Byzantine art is divided into several periods. Until the middle of the sixth century, art in Constantinople continued in the classical tradition. The 550 to 843 period was a dark age. Very little art from this period survived. The numerous icons produced were later destroyed by the Iconoclasts.<ref name="Jones">Jones, L.A., "[https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/byzantine-art Byzantine art]", ''New Catholic Encyclopedia''.</ref>
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[[File:Byzantine art.jpg|thumb|right|Mosaic of Christ at Chora Church in Istanbul, Turkey.]]The Middle Byzantine period, or Macedonian Renaissance, began in 843 and continued until 1204. The defeat of the Iconoclasts allowed for the flowering of Orthodox art. Notable artwork of this period includes the richly illustrated Paris Psalter and the Limburg staurotheke (relic container). Many artists were employed illustrating church walls, although little of this type of art survived the Muslim conquest. The best known example is the illustrations of various imperial families in the South Gallery of Hagia Sophia. These portraits have given Byzantine art a reputation for stern remoteness. But the Byzantines could also evoke strong emotion, for example with a painting of the Lamentation in the Church of St. Panteleimon in Nerezi, Macedonia (1164).<ref name="Jones"/>
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The Late Byzantine period dates from 1261 to 1453. This period focused on reconstruction, including the redecoration of Chora Church (1321).<ref name="Jones"/>
  
 
==History==
 
==History==
===The coming of the Dark Ages (Justinian and Heraclius)===
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===The coming of the Dark Ages===
 
[[File:Byz-600.jpg|thumb|right|Even as Justinian expanded the boundaries of the empire, plague, war, and natural disasters combined to bring about the collapse of classical civilization.]]
 
[[File:Byz-600.jpg|thumb|right|Even as Justinian expanded the boundaries of the empire, plague, war, and natural disasters combined to bring about the collapse of classical civilization.]]
The East survived the fall of the Western Empire in 476 largely because of its greater financial resources. Despite a shortage of manpower, Byzantium could generally pay off the armies that threatened its security. In 500, the empire retained a city-based classical civilization. This unraveled under [[Justinian]]. The earthquakes of 526 and 530, the drought of 530, and the Nika riot of 532 were described by a chronicler as three blows by God against sinful humanity.<ref>Shepard, p. 121.</ref> Justinian deployed the army against the Nika rioters. Some 30,000 were killed in Constantinople and the palace area was burned down.<ref>Shepard, p. 120.</ref> Cataclysmic eruptions in 536, 540, and 547 led to a sharp cooling of the global climate. The 536 eruption created a ‘dust-veil event.’ Procopius described this event: "During this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness ... and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear."
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The East survived the fall of the Western Empire in 476 largely because of its greater financial resources. Despite a shortage of manpower, Byzantium could generally pay off the armies that threatened its security. In 500, the empire retained a city-based classical civilization. By the end of the sixth century, the public urban spaces central to classical culture were in decay. Public culture survived only in the churches, and icons became a focus of great reverence.<ref>Shepard, pp. 128-129.</ref>
  
The most devastating event of this period was the Plague of Justinian, which arrived in Constantinople in 542. It killed 250,000 in this city alone, over half the population. Victims were typically dead within two or three days. The plague returned in 553–554, 568–569, and 583–584. By the end of the sixth century, the public urban spaces central to classical culture were in decay. Public culture survived only in the churches, and icons became a focus of great reverence.<ref>Shepard, pp. 128-129.</ref>
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====Justinian (r. 527-565) ====
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The reign of [[Justinian]] was a time of outstanding achievements, including the compilation of the Code of Justinian, the rebuilding of Constantinople, and the reconquest of Italy. But the empire's resources, depleted by grandiose schemes, were unequal to the onslaught of the Persians, natural disasters, and, worst of all, the plague. The earthquakes of 526 and 530, the drought of 530, and the Nika riot of 532 were described by a chronicler as three blows by God against sinful humanity.<ref>Shepard, p. 121.</ref> Justinian deployed the army against the Nika rioters. Some 30,000 were killed in Constantinople and the palace area was burned down.<ref>Shepard, p. 120.</ref> With his capital in ruins, Justinian energetically rebuilt, erecting the magnificent Hagia Sofia. Cataclysmic eruptions in 536, 540, and 547 led to a sharp cooling of the global climate. The 536 eruption created a ‘dust-veil event.’ Procopius described this event: "During this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness ... and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear."
  
The Arabs defeated the Byzantines in a decisive battle at Yarmouk in 636. Antioch and Jerusalem fell the following year, Egypt in 641. The low point for the empire came in 718 with the second Arab siege of Constantinople. After the failure this siege, the situation began to stabilize.
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The most devastating event of this period was the Plague of Justinian, which arrived in Constantinople in 542. It killed 250,000 in this city alone, over half the population. Victims were typically dead within two or three days. The plague returned in 553–554, 568–569, and 583–584.
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====Slavs and Arabs====
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The seventh century saw the disintegration of the empire almost everywhere aside from Constantinople itself. The Slavs moved into the Balkans in the late sixth and seventh centuries. The Arabs defeated the Byzantines in a decisive battle at Yarmouk in 636. Antioch and Jerusalem fell the following year, Egypt in 641. The low point for the empire came in 718 with the second Arab siege of Constantinople. The Arabs were beaten back with Greek fire, the medieval version of napalm. After the failure this siege, the situation began to stabilize.
  
 
===Iconoclasm (726-843)===
 
===Iconoclasm (726-843)===
[[File:Byzantine art.jpg|thumb|Byzantine mosaic depiction of Christ at the Church of Chora in Istanbul, Turkey.]]
 
 
The empire had difficulties with the "Iconoclast" controversy - a dispute lasting nearly 100 years and centering around arguments over whether or not to allow "holow images" or icons to be displayed in the churches.  The position of the Emperors was often at odds with many of the subjects but since the Emperors considered that they were appointed by God, this didn't matter since their opponents were automatically heretics.  
 
The empire had difficulties with the "Iconoclast" controversy - a dispute lasting nearly 100 years and centering around arguments over whether or not to allow "holow images" or icons to be displayed in the churches.  The position of the Emperors was often at odds with many of the subjects but since the Emperors considered that they were appointed by God, this didn't matter since their opponents were automatically heretics.  
  
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==Orthodox Church==
 
==Orthodox Church==
In 451, the Council of Chalcedon created a system of five patriarchs, an attempt to put the diocese of Constantinople on an equal footing with that of Rome. The bishops also agreed that Christ had a dual human-divine nature. There was a long and bitter struggle between the orthodox, who accepted this conclusion, and the monophysites, who rejected it. This struggle inspired Justinian to take full control of the eastern church. Justinian's policy of imperial control was continued by subsequent emperors. Catholics in the west, who were outside imperial territory, did not accept this approach. The Quinisext Council of 692, rejected in the West, allowed for married clergy and established the foundation for a separate Orthodox cannon law. The split into Orthodox and Catholic churches is usually dated to 1054.
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In 451, the Council of Chalcedon designated the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem as patriarchs. The council also ruled that Christ had a dual human-divine nature. There was a bitter struggle between the orthodox, who accepted this conclusion, and the monophysites, who rejected it. This struggle inspired Justinian to take full control of the eastern church. He decreed that the five patriarchs were a decision making  body for the church, called the pentarchy. Justinian's policy of imperial control was resisted by Rome, but continued by subsequent emperors.
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In 638–640, the Arabs overran Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, leaving only the sees of Constantinople and Rome in Christian hands. Greek speakers looked to Constantinople for leadership while Latin speakers looked to Rome. The Quinisext Council of 692 allowed for married clergy and established the foundation for a separate Orthodox cannon law. Although Greek-speaking clerics dominated the "Byzantine papacy" of 537 to 752, the emperor could not get the pope to agree to the cannons of this council. The split into Orthodox and Catholic churches is usually dated to 1054.
  
 
The empire was multi-ethnic and officially Orthodox Christian; after c 750 AD, predominantly Greek-speaking. The empire's heritage consisted of the [[Eastern Orthodox Church|Orthodox Church]], ancient Greek culture, Byzantine art and architecture and [[Roman law]]. Of the 55,000 ancient Greek texts in existence today, some 40,000 were transmitted by Byzantine [[Scribes (Bible)|scribes]]. And it was the Byzantine Empire that shielded Western Europe from invasion until it was ready to take its own place at the center of the world stage.
 
The empire was multi-ethnic and officially Orthodox Christian; after c 750 AD, predominantly Greek-speaking. The empire's heritage consisted of the [[Eastern Orthodox Church|Orthodox Church]], ancient Greek culture, Byzantine art and architecture and [[Roman law]]. Of the 55,000 ancient Greek texts in existence today, some 40,000 were transmitted by Byzantine [[Scribes (Bible)|scribes]]. And it was the Byzantine Empire that shielded Western Europe from invasion until it was ready to take its own place at the center of the world stage.

Revision as of 08:46, 11 February 2020

The Byzantine Empire was at its largest territorial extent in 555, during the reign of Justinian I. Vassals are shaded pink.
The Byzantine Empire was a Greek-speaking, Christian state that existed from about 500 to 1453.[1] Its capital was Constantinople, now Istanbul, and it ruled the lands that surround the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Hagia Sophia cathedral, Greek fire (a flame throwing weapon), and the Cyrillic alphabet were outstanding Byzantine achievements. It's monks copied and preserved ancient learning through the Dark Ages, including Aristotle, Roman law in the form of the Code of Justinian, and the Greek New Testament.

The Byzantine Empire was a continuation of the Eastern Roman Empire, although the empire was reorganized under Heraclius (r. 610-641). Heraclius changed the official language from Latin to Greek, established the "theme" system of defense, and made other reforms. Under the Macedonian dynasty (867-1025), Byzantium experienced a golden age even as western Europe battled the Vikings for survival. The empire lost Anatolia, the imperial heartland, as a result of the Seljuk victory at Manzikert in 1071. In 1204, Constantinople was sacked by Crusaders. It finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

The inhabitants of the empire referred to themselves as "Romans" and called their religion "Roman Orthodox." Constantinople was built on the site of the Greek colony of Byzantium. The use of the term "Byzantine" to refer to the empire can be traced to historians of the 16th century.

Names

The Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves upon the death of Theodosius I in 395. The distinction made by historians between the Eastern Roman Empire of 395 to 500 and the Byzantine Empire of 500 to 1453 emphasizes the difference between the culture of the classical period and that of the Middle Ages. The term "Byzantine" first appears in Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ (1557) by German historian Hieronymus Wolf. That is to say, the term was coined after the empire itself no longer existed.[2]

Despite the fact that the Byzantine Empire shifted away from classical culture as the Middle Ages progressed, it was a continuation of the Roman Empire. Its Greek-speaking inhabitants called themselves Romans.[3][4]

Art

The history of Byzantine art is divided into several periods. Until the middle of the sixth century, art in Constantinople continued in the classical tradition. The 550 to 843 period was a dark age. Very little art from this period survived. The numerous icons produced were later destroyed by the Iconoclasts.[5]

Mosaic of Christ at Chora Church in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Middle Byzantine period, or Macedonian Renaissance, began in 843 and continued until 1204. The defeat of the Iconoclasts allowed for the flowering of Orthodox art. Notable artwork of this period includes the richly illustrated Paris Psalter and the Limburg staurotheke (relic container). Many artists were employed illustrating church walls, although little of this type of art survived the Muslim conquest. The best known example is the illustrations of various imperial families in the South Gallery of Hagia Sophia. These portraits have given Byzantine art a reputation for stern remoteness. But the Byzantines could also evoke strong emotion, for example with a painting of the Lamentation in the Church of St. Panteleimon in Nerezi, Macedonia (1164).[5]

The Late Byzantine period dates from 1261 to 1453. This period focused on reconstruction, including the redecoration of Chora Church (1321).[5]

History

The coming of the Dark Ages

Even as Justinian expanded the boundaries of the empire, plague, war, and natural disasters combined to bring about the collapse of classical civilization.

The East survived the fall of the Western Empire in 476 largely because of its greater financial resources. Despite a shortage of manpower, Byzantium could generally pay off the armies that threatened its security. In 500, the empire retained a city-based classical civilization. By the end of the sixth century, the public urban spaces central to classical culture were in decay. Public culture survived only in the churches, and icons became a focus of great reverence.[6]

Justinian (r. 527-565)

The reign of Justinian was a time of outstanding achievements, including the compilation of the Code of Justinian, the rebuilding of Constantinople, and the reconquest of Italy. But the empire's resources, depleted by grandiose schemes, were unequal to the onslaught of the Persians, natural disasters, and, worst of all, the plague. The earthquakes of 526 and 530, the drought of 530, and the Nika riot of 532 were described by a chronicler as three blows by God against sinful humanity.[7] Justinian deployed the army against the Nika rioters. Some 30,000 were killed in Constantinople and the palace area was burned down.[8] With his capital in ruins, Justinian energetically rebuilt, erecting the magnificent Hagia Sofia. Cataclysmic eruptions in 536, 540, and 547 led to a sharp cooling of the global climate. The 536 eruption created a ‘dust-veil event.’ Procopius described this event: "During this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness ... and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear."

The most devastating event of this period was the Plague of Justinian, which arrived in Constantinople in 542. It killed 250,000 in this city alone, over half the population. Victims were typically dead within two or three days. The plague returned in 553–554, 568–569, and 583–584.

Slavs and Arabs

The seventh century saw the disintegration of the empire almost everywhere aside from Constantinople itself. The Slavs moved into the Balkans in the late sixth and seventh centuries. The Arabs defeated the Byzantines in a decisive battle at Yarmouk in 636. Antioch and Jerusalem fell the following year, Egypt in 641. The low point for the empire came in 718 with the second Arab siege of Constantinople. The Arabs were beaten back with Greek fire, the medieval version of napalm. After the failure this siege, the situation began to stabilize.

Iconoclasm (726-843)

The empire had difficulties with the "Iconoclast" controversy - a dispute lasting nearly 100 years and centering around arguments over whether or not to allow "holow images" or icons to be displayed in the churches. The position of the Emperors was often at odds with many of the subjects but since the Emperors considered that they were appointed by God, this didn't matter since their opponents were automatically heretics.

Macedonian dynasty (867-1025)

The Macedonian dynasty, founded by Basil I in 867, was Byzantium's golden age. Basil replaced the Code of Justinian with a Greek legal code called the Basilica. The military revival of this period did not prevent Sicily from falling to the Arabs in 902 or the sack of Thessalonica in 904. After 150 years of Arab terror on the seas, the Byzantines regained naval supremacy after a victory in 961. There was also was a revival of literature, including the Suda, an early encyclopedia, as well as the Lexicon and Bibliotheca of Photius. After the devastation of the Dark Ages, Byzantine scholars devoted themselves to the project of carefully classifying, copying, preserving, and summarizing the learning that survived. This revival occurred while the West was suffering the ravages of the Viking age.

Wars

The empire was often at war with at least one foreign power, but their strong defensive strategy was usually able to weather attacks. While taking on offensive position to "reunite" with the west under Justinian in the 500s, for the most part the position of the empire was defensive in nature, having little desire to increase its borders. For centuries, the Byzantine Empire was Europe's protector, repelling Islamic armies that would stretch to control lands from Morocco to India via Hungary.

The secure and lasting nature of the empire was changed forever when treachery led their defeat to Islamic armies at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. It lost all of Anatolia to the invaders. Even when the Greeks retook the land, much of the population had perished with many of the survivors having fled. Areas that once allowed armies of 120,000 men to be raised for the defense of the empire had now become barren. The empire was forced to rely on mercenaries for the bulk of their army from that point forward.[9]

Fourth Crusade

See also: Crusades
The empire was dealt another blow in 1204 when forces from Western Europe in the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople in 1204, the first time that had ever happened, instead of going to the Holy Land. They set up their own "Latin" Empire, so called because of their attempts to restore Latin as the official language of the empire rather than Greek. The Crusader kingdom lasted until the Byzantine reinstatement in 1261. On their arrival in Constantinople, the Latins, mostly Franks and Venetians, were astonished at the power and positions held by eunuchs - men who, as children, had been castrated so that they would have no children and hence be no threat to the ruling imperial dynasty.
Byz-1450.jpg

Collapse

The Byzantine Empire never truly recovered from the blow dealt to it by the Crusaders. Following the fall of the city to the Latins in 1204, the empire was reduced to a mere shell of its former self. On May 29, 1453, Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottoman Turks after a long cannon bombardment. The relatives of the last Byzantine Emperor continued to rule Morea for a few years before being absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1460, ending the Palaiologos dynasty. The Ottoman conquerors, whose original capital had been located in Sofa, now in Bulgaria, renamed the city Istanbul and turned Hagia Sophia, the great church of that city into a mosque and later into a museum.

Orthodox Church

In 451, the Council of Chalcedon designated the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem as patriarchs. The council also ruled that Christ had a dual human-divine nature. There was a bitter struggle between the orthodox, who accepted this conclusion, and the monophysites, who rejected it. This struggle inspired Justinian to take full control of the eastern church. He decreed that the five patriarchs were a decision making body for the church, called the pentarchy. Justinian's policy of imperial control was resisted by Rome, but continued by subsequent emperors.

In 638–640, the Arabs overran Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, leaving only the sees of Constantinople and Rome in Christian hands. Greek speakers looked to Constantinople for leadership while Latin speakers looked to Rome. The Quinisext Council of 692 allowed for married clergy and established the foundation for a separate Orthodox cannon law. Although Greek-speaking clerics dominated the "Byzantine papacy" of 537 to 752, the emperor could not get the pope to agree to the cannons of this council. The split into Orthodox and Catholic churches is usually dated to 1054.

The empire was multi-ethnic and officially Orthodox Christian; after c 750 AD, predominantly Greek-speaking. The empire's heritage consisted of the Orthodox Church, ancient Greek culture, Byzantine art and architecture and Roman law. Of the 55,000 ancient Greek texts in existence today, some 40,000 were transmitted by Byzantine scribes. And it was the Byzantine Empire that shielded Western Europe from invasion until it was ready to take its own place at the center of the world stage.

See also

Further reading

  • Browning, Robert. The Byzantine Empire (1992) excerpt and text search
  • Brownworth, Lars. Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization (2009) 352 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Hussey, J. M. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire (1990) excerpt and text search
  • Luttwak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire (2009), military and diplomacy
  • Shepard, Jonathan, ed. The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire c.500-1492 (2009), advanced scholarship excerpt and text search
  • Theophanes. The Chronicle of Theophanes. Anni Mundi 6095-6305 (A.D.602-813) Ed. and trans. Turtledove H.(1982) University of Pennsylvania Press.excerpt and text search

References

  1. Shepard, Jonathan, The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire c.500-1492 (2019), p. 26. The replacement of the Western Empire by barbarian states posed, "new problems yet also diplomatic and strategic openings for the rulers of Constantinople...and this goes some way towards justifying the starting-point of this book around AD 500."
  2. Webb, Eugene, In Search of the Triune God: The Christian Paths of East and West, p. 354.
  3. Teall, John L. & Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. Byzantine Empire. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  4. Naming of the Byzantine Empire. boundless.com. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Jones, L.A., "Byzantine art", New Catholic Encyclopedia.
  6. Shepard, pp. 128-129.
  7. Shepard, p. 121.
  8. Shepard, p. 120.
  9. Encyclopedia of Military History, Dupuy & Dupuy, 1979.

External links

  • Livius (April 28, 2011). Byzantine Empire. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 9, 2016.