The History Of The Byzantine Empire

1080 words - 5 pages

As the Roman Empire expanded to help govern it better it brought out the Western (old) Romans in Western Europe and the Eastern (new) Romans in Eastern Europe. Many in the west saw the east as Greeks, but the Eastern Romans saw themselves as the Roman Empire with its capital in Constantinople. Early on Emperor Constantine sought to keep the two united but as the fifth and sixth centuries rolled around they each had gone their separate ways. With chaos in the west, the east thrived after the west fell under Germanic tribes and the east later became known as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire lasted from 330-1453 a thousand years longer than the Western Roman Empire. Due to the ...view middle of the document...

Though they were Christians, they disagreed in 1054 with Rome about worshiping icons and split into practicing Eastern Orthodox while the west continued with Catholicism.
Throughout its life, Constantinople saw many foes try to attack and overrun its city walls, but none could penetrate its barriers. Many waves of attacks were survived from the Hun and Slavs in 559, the Sassanid Empire, who seemed to be a regular foe for many years until 651, and the Arabs. Their fortress was one of the most immaculate of its time with immense triple walls to protect from a sea invasion. Behind these walls reservoirs supplied water along with limitless gardens to contribute vegetables and meat for the people to survive much longer than any attack by sea. Outside of the capital urban life declined, while Constantinople grew to become the largest city in the Christian world. Several attempts to conquer Constantinople by the Arabs failed in the face of the Byzantines' superior navy, the Byzantines' monopoly over the still-mysterious incendiary weapon (Greek fire), the strong city walls, and the skill of Byzantine generals and warrior-emperors such as Leo III the Isaurian reigning from 717-741 (1, www.crystallinks.com). Many enemies wanted this city for it had grown to be large in trade and offered new expansion to their kingdoms.
Following the fall of Rome, none of the emperors sought after retaking Rome from the Germanic captures. They did, however, take a lesson from the fall of Rome and all throughout the fifth century, the Byzantine emperors wrought a series of administrative and financial reforms. They produced the single most extensive corpus of Roman law in 425 and reformed taxation dramatically (1, Hooker). However, with time, there soon rises an emperor not like the rest who wants to reseize the fallen lands of their Western brothers. Justinian (527-565) reclaimed the western empire to what it was before, and conquered North Africa and Italy. Only to later see Italy struggle as it was drained of much needed supplies and resources. They held Italy for as long as they could, though impossible to hold it forever. Just three years after Justinian’s death, the...

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