Naming the the oriental Empire

While the west Roman empire fell, the Eastern roman Empire, now recognized as the byzantine Empire, thrived.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the west Roman empire fell in 476 CE, the Eastern roman inn Empire, focused on the city the Constantinople, survived and thrived.After the Eastern roman inn Empire’s lot later fall in 1453 CE, western scholars started calling that the ” oriental Empire ” come emphasize its distinction from the earlier, Latin-speaking roman Empire centered on Rome.The “Byzantine Empire” is currently the traditional term used amongst historians to describe the Eastern roman inn Empire.Although the oriental Empire had actually a multi-ethnic character throughout most that its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it came to be identified v its significantly predominant Greek element and its very own unique social developments.Key TermsConstantinople: previously Byzantium, the capital of the byzantine Empire as created by its an initial emperor, Constantine the Great. (Today the city is known as Istanbul.)

The byzantine Empire, sometimes referred to together the Eastern roman inn Empire, to be the extension of the Roman empire in the east during Late Antiquity and the middle Ages, as soon as its funding city to be Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, originally established as byzantine ). It made it through the fragmentation and fall the the west Roman empire in the fifth century CE, and also continued to exist for an additional thousand years till it fell to the footrest Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most an effective economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both “Byzantine Empire” and “Eastern roman inn Empire” are historiographical terms developed after the end of the realm; that is citizens ongoing to refer to their realm as the roman inn Empire, and also thought of themselves as Romans. Although the civilization living in the east Roman realm referred to themselves as Romans, lock were identified by their Greek heritage, Orthodox Christianity, and also their local connections. End time, the culture of the east Roman realm transformed. Greek changed Latin together the language that the empire. Christianity became an ext important in daily life, although the culture’s pagan Roman previous still exerted one influence.

Several signal occasions from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the roman inn Empire’s Greek east and also Latin west divided. Constantine i (r. 324-337) reorganized the empire, do Constantinople the brand-new capital, and legalized Christianity. Under Theodosius i (r. 379-395), Christianity came to be the empire’s official state religion, and also other spiritual practices to be proscribed. Finally, under the power of Heraclius (r. 610-641), the empire’s armed forces and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. Thus, return the roman state continued and also Roman state traditions were maintained, modern-day historians identify Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centered on Constantinople, oriented in the direction of Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterized through Orthodox Christianity.

Just together the oriental Empire stood for the political continuation of the roman inn Empire, byzantine art and society developed directly out the the arts of the roman inn Empire, which was itself profoundly affected by ancient Greek art. Oriental art never shed sight of this classic heritage. For example, the oriental capital, Constantinople, was adorned through a big number of timeless sculptures, back they ultimately became things of part puzzlement because that its inhabitants. And indeed, the art created during the byzantine Empire, although marked by periodic revivals that a classical aesthetic, was over all significant by the breakthrough of a new aesthetic. Thus, back the byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history, and also preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it came to be identified by its western and also northern contemporaries v its significantly predominant Greek element and its own unique social developments.


Map of Constantinople: A map that Constantinople, the capital and founding city the the oriental Empire, attracted in 1422 CE by Florentine cartographer Cristoforo Buondelmonti. This is the earliest surviving map of the city and the just one that predates the Turkish occupation of the city in 1453 CE.


The very first use that the ax “Byzantine” to brand the later on years the the Roman empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf released his work, Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources. The term comes from “Byzantium,” the surname of the city the Constantinople before it became Constantine’s capital. This older name of the city would hardly ever be provided from this point onward other than in historic or poetic contexts. However, it to be not till the mid-19th century the the term came into general use in the western world; calling the the “Byzantine Empire” aided to emphasize its differences from the earlier Latin-speaking roman inn Empire, focused on Rome.

The ax “Byzantine” was additionally useful to the numerous western European states that likewise claimed to be the true successors of the roman inn Empire, together it was supplied to delegitimize the cases of the Byzantines as true Romans. In contemporary times, the hatchet “Byzantine” has also come to have a pejorete sense, offered to define things that are overly facility or arcane. “Byzantine diplomacy” has come to mean excess use of trickery and also behind-the-scenes manipulation. These are all based on medieval stereotypes about the byzantine Empire that emerged as west Europeans come into call with the Byzantines, and were perplexed through their an ext structured government.

No such difference existed in the Islamic and also Slavic worlds, where the realm was an ext straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the roman inn Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman empire was known primarily as Rûm. The surname millet-i Rûm, or “Roman nation,” was supplied by the Ottomans v the 20th century to refer to the previous subjects that the byzantine Empire, the is, the Orthodox Christian ar within ottoman realms.

The Eastern roman inn Empire, Constantine the Great, and also Byzantium

The Christian, Greek-speaking oriental Empire had its capital at Constantinople, developed by Emperor Constantine the Great.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe byzantine Empire (the Eastern roman inn Empire) was distinctive from the west Roman empire in number of ways; many importantly, the Byzantines were Christians and spoke Greek instead of Latin.The founder of the byzantine Empire and also its first emperor, Constantine the Great, moved the resources of the Roman empire to the city of byzantine in 330 CE, and also renamed the Constantinople.Constantine the an excellent also legalized Christianity, which had actually previously to be persecuted in the roman inn Empire. Christianity would become a major element of byzantine culture.Constantinople became the largest city in the empire and also a major commercial center, when the west Roman empire fell in 476 CE.Key TermsGermanic barbarians: an uncivilized or uncultured person, originally compared to the hellenistic Greco-Roman civilization; often connected with fighting or various other such mirrors of strength.Christianity: an Abrahamic religion based upon the teachings the Jesus Christ and various scholars that wrote the Christian Bible. It was legalized in the byzantine Empire through Constantine the Great, and also the religion became a major element of oriental culture.

Constantine the good and the start of Byzantium

It is a matter of dispute when the Roman realm officially ended and also transformed right into the byzantine Empire. Many scholars accept that it did not take place at one time, but that it was a slow process; thus, late Roman background overlaps with early oriental history. Constantine ns (“the Great”) is usually hosted to it is in the founder that the oriental Empire. He to be responsible because that several significant changes that would help create a Byzantine culture distinct indigenous the roman inn past.

As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and military revolutionary to strengthen the empire. The government was restructured and civil and military authority separated. A new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation. That would become the traditional for Byzantine and also European currencies for much more than a thousand years. As the first Roman emperor to claim conversion come Christianity, Constantine played an influential function in the advance of Christianity as the faith of the empire. In military matters, the Roman army was reorganized come consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering inner threats and also barbarian invasions. Constantine sought successful campaigns versus the people on the roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians—, and also even resettled regions abandoned by his predecessors during the chaos of the ahead century.

The age of Constantine significant a distinctive epoch in the history of the roman Empire. He built a brand-new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople after self (the laudatory epithet the “New Rome ” came later, and also was never an official title). It would later end up being the resources of the realm for end one thousands years; hence the later on Eastern empire would concerned be recognized as the byzantine Empire. His more immediate political legacy was that, in leave the empire to his sons, he replaced Diocletian ‘s tetrarchy (government whereby power is divided among four individuals) with the rule of dynastic succession. His call flourished during the life time of his children, and for centuries after his reign. The middle ages church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, if secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a allude of reference, and the price of imperial legitimacy and identity.


Constantine the Great: byzantine Emperor Constantine the great presents a representation of the city that Constantinople together tribute come an enthroned Mary and also Christ son in this church mosaic. St Sophia, c. 1000 CE.

Constantinople and also Civil Reform

Constantine moved the seat of the empire, and also introduced important alters into its polite and religious constitution. In 330, he founded Constantinople together a 2nd Rome ~ above the site of Byzantium, which to be well-positioned astride the trade routes between east and also west; it to be a superb base from which come guard the Danube river, and also was reasonably close come the east frontiers. Constantine likewise began the structure of the good fortified walls, which to be expanded and rebuilt in subsequent ages. J. B. Bury asserts the “the structure of Constantinople <…> inaugurated a permanent division between the Eastern and Western, the Greek and the Latin, halves that the empire—a division to which occasions had currently pointed—and influenced decisively the totality subsequent background of Europe.”

Constantine developed upon the governmental reforms presented by Diocletian. He stabilized the coinage (the yellow solidus the he introduced ended up being a extremely prized and also stable currency), and also made changes to the framework of the army. Under Constantine, the realm had recovered lot of its armed forces strength and also enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity. He also reconquered southern components of Dacia, after beating the Visigoths in 332, and he to be planning a campaign versus Sassanid Persia as well. To divide governmental responsibilities, Constantine replaced the single praetorian prefect, who had traditionally worked out both military and also civil functions, with regional prefects enjoying polite authority alone. In the course of the 4th century, four an excellent sections arised from these Constantinian beginnings, and the practice of separating polite from army authority persisted till the 7th century.

Constantine and also Christianity

Constantine to be the an initial emperor to protect against Christian persecutions and also to legalization Christianity, and all other religions and also cults in the roman Empire.

In February 313, Constantine met with Licinius in Milan, where they developed the Edict the Milan. The edict declared that Christians must be allowed to monitor the faith without oppression. This eliminated penalties because that professing Christianity, under which many had been martyred previously, and also returned confiscated Church property. The edict protected from religious persecution not just Christians yet all religions, enabling anyone to worship whichever deity they chose.

Scholars controversy whether Constantine adopted Christianity in his youth indigenous his mother, St. Helena,, or even if it is he adopted it progressively over the food of his life. Follow to Christian writers, Constantine to be over 40 as soon as he finally asserted himself a Christian, composing to believer to make clear the he believed he owed his successes to the protection of the Christian High God alone. Throughout his rule, Constantine sustained the Church financially, built basilicas, granted privileges to clergy (e.g. Exemption from specific taxes), supported Christians to high office, and returned home confiscated during the Diocletianic persecution. His most famous building projects incorporate the Church that the divine Sepulchre, and Old Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The power of Constantine created a criterion for the place of the emperor as having good influence and also ultimate regulatory authority in ~ the religious discussions including the at an early stage Christian councils of the time (most notably, the problem over Arianism, and also the nature of God). Constantine himself disliked the threats to societal security that spiritual disputes and also controversies lugged with them, like where possible to develop an orthodoxy. One means in which Constantine used his influence over the early Church councils was to look for to establish a consensus over the oft debated and argued concern over the nature of God. In 325, he summoned the council of Nicaea, successfully the first Ecumenical Council. The the supervisory board of Nicaea is most well-known for its handling Arianism and also for setting up the Nicene Creed, i m sorry is still supplied today by Christians.

The loss of the Western roman inn Empire

After Constantine, couple of emperors ruled the whole Roman Empire. It was too large and was under assault from too plenty of directions. Usually, there to be an emperor that the western Roman empire ruling native Italy or Gaul, and also an emperor that the east Roman empire ruling native Constantinople. When the Western realm was overrun by germanic barbarians (its soil in Italy were dominated by the Ostrogoths, Spain was dominated by the Visigoths, phibìc Africa was dominated by the Vandals, and Gaul was conquered by the Franks), the Eastern empire thrived. Constantinople came to be the largest city in the empire and a major commercial center. In 476 CE, the last Western roman Emperor to be deposed and the west Roman realm was no more. Thus the eastern Roman empire was the only Roman empire left standing.

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Justinian and Theodora

Emperor Justinian to be responsible for substantial expansion, a legal code, and the Hagia Sophia, yet suffered defeats against the Persians.