The Byzantine Empire The Roman empire, divided in the late AD200s, was
weakened by internal and external forces. Power shifted to the east, as Germanic invaders weakened the western half of the once great Roman empire.
By 330, the emperor Constantine, had built a new capital city in Constantinople on the site of the Greek city Byzantium. The Byzantine empire arose from this site.
At its height, the Byzantine empire covered an area from Rome through southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, down to Egypt and across North Africa.
The city of Constantinople, was on a peninsula overlooking the Bosporus, a strait connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. From its central location, the city controlled key trade routes that liked Europe and Asia.
The Byzantine empire reached its peak under the emperor Justinian. Justinian was a autocratic ruler, or single ruler with complete authority.
Emperor Justinian became known for his collection of ancient laws known as Justinians Code. This written set of laws became the basis todays international laws.
In the area of architecture, Justinian blended Greek, Roman, Persian and Middle Eastern styles. The best known structure is the Church of Hagia Sophia whose name means Holy
Wisdom In the area of art, the Byzantine empire made great contributions. Icons were images of Jesus, the Virgin
Mary and others. These icons were supposed the create the sense that the holy person was actually present.
Byzantine artists also developed Mosaics, pictures or designs formed by inlaid pieces of stone or other materials. Mosaics often displayed religious themes.
In 1054, permanent split or schism occurred between the Orthodox Christian Church in the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the West.
The decline of the Byzantine empire came with the onset of invading armies. The final blow came at the hands of the Ottoman empire in 1453.
The Byzantine empire hoped to preserve Greek and Roman culture and also strongly influenced the first Russian state. As Russia traded with the Byzantine empire, the Byzantines influenced both Russian and eastern European
development. The Byzantines gave Russia a written language. Two Byzantine missionaries adapted the Greek alphabet This
new system, called the Cyrillic alphabet is still used in Russia today. Byzantine missionaries carried Orthodox Christianity to
Russia and other Eastern European nations. Another Byzantine influence on Russia was that of an autocratic ruler. Autocratic rulers in Russia were known
as czars. Czar is the Russian word for Caesar. The Byzantine empire had its influence in the development of history. Emerging out of the once
strong Roman empire, the Byzantines develop a written set of law and strongly influence art and architecture of the time. The Byzantine empire preserved the Greek,
Roman and Persian achievements as well as influencing the development of Russia and Eastern Europe.
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