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395 CE = final division
of Roman Empire into
eastern and western
halves
476 = end of the
western Roman
Empire
Eastern half remained
intact = the Byzantine
Empire (aka
Byzantium)
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Roads in disrepair
Cities falling apart
Central government
broke down
Long-distance trade
stopped
People moved to rural
areas
Christianity still
dominant = Roman
Catholicism
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Unified and
centralized
government
Capital =
Constantinople
Religion = Eastern
Orthodox Christianity
Attempted to preserve
some elements of the
Roman Empire
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Enjoyed many
advantages that allowed
it to stay intact, unlike
the western Roman
Empire
◦ Wealthier and more
urbanized
◦ More defensible capital;
Constantinople was walled
in
◦ Shorter frontier to guard
◦ Stronger army and navy
◦ Strong leaders and clever
diplomacy
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Elements of the Roman
Empire within Byzantium:
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Roads
Taxation system
Military structures
Centralized administration
Laws and court system
Roman-style robes and
sandals
But a lot changed as well
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Never as large as the
Roman Empire
Reached its largest size
during the reign of
Emperor Justinian
Lost many territories
due to Arab/Muslim
expansion in the 7th
century =
Syria/Palestine, Egypt,
and North Africa
Still controlled: the
eastern Mediterranean,
Greece, the Balkans, and
Anatolia
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Centralized authority in
Constantinople
◦ Emperor viewed as “God’s earthly
representative”
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Empress Theodora
(Justinian’s Wife)
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Imperial court filled with
grandeur, wealth, and court
ceremonies
Provinces within the empire
ruled by generals who had civil
authority and could raise their
own armies
Government focused on:
collecting taxes, maintaining
order, and suppressing revolts
Did not become heavily
involved in the lives of most
people
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Began to face invasions
after 1085 CE from:
◦ Catholic Crusaders from
Western Europe
◦ Turkic Muslim invaders
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Empire officially fell
when Ottoman Turks
conquered
Constantinople in 1453
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Caesaropapism = Church
and state were connected
◦ Unlike in Western Europe 
where the Roman Catholic
Church was independent from
political authorities
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Emperor = assumed roles of
head of state and head of
the Church
◦ Appointed Church leaders
◦ Called Church councils into
session
◦ Made decisions about religious
doctrine/rules
◦ Treated the Church as a
government department
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Eastern Orthodox
Christianity provided a
cultural identity for people
within the Byzantine Empire
Empire (especially
Constantinople) filled with
churches, relics of saints,
and icons
Icons = religious paintings
of Jesus, Mary, and other
saints/holy figures
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Eastern Orthodox came
from the Roman Empire
originally, so it shares many
common elements with
Roman Catholic Christianity:
Teachings of Jesus
The Bible
The Sacraments
A church hierarchy with
patriarchs, bishops, and priests
◦ Missionaries
◦ Intolerance toward other
religions
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Byzantine Empire
Greek
Priests grew long
beards
Priests could get
married
Rejected the authority
of the Pope of Rome
Eastern Orthodox
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Western Europe
Latin
Priests shaved
Priests = celibate
Accepted the Roman
Pope as the sole
authority for Christians
everywhere
Roman Catholic
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Further separation came
between the Eastern
Orthodox Church and
the Roman Catholic
Church in 1054
◦ Both Churches
excommunicated each
other
◦ Declared that those in the
opposing Christian
tradition were not real
Christians
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Byzantium faced many
threats from outsiders
◦ Persian Empire
◦ Arab armies/the Islamic world
◦ Crusaders from Western
Europe
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Biggest military weapon =
“Greek fire”
◦ Combination of oil, sulfur,
and lime launched from
bronze tubes
◦ Worked like a flamethrower
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Central player in long-distance trade of
Eurasia
Products made by Byzantine craftspeople in
high demand
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Jewelry
Gemstones
Silver and gold work
Linen, woolen, and silk textiles
Purple dyes
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Aristotle
Significant cultural
influence in the world
Preserved ancient
Greek learning and
transmitted it to the
Islamic world and
Western Europe
Impacted scientists,
philosophers,
theologians, and
intellectuals
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Spread of Eastern Orthodox
religion --> especially to
Slavic-speaking peoples in
the Balkans and Russia
Cyril and Methodius =
created a Slavic alphabet
◦ Called Cyrillic script
◦ Made it possible to translate
the Bible and other religious
texts
◦ Helped in mass conversion
Cyrillic Alphabet
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Most significant
expansion of Eastern
Orthodox Christianity
= to Kievan Rus
◦ Modern-day Ukraine and
western Russia
◦ Major city = Kiev
◦ Highly stratified society
◦ Ruled by many different
princes
 Prince Vladimir = Prince
of Kiev
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Prince Vladimir = wanted to bring a new faith
to Rus that would unify the many diverse
peoples of the region
He also wanted to link Rus into wider
networks of communication and exchange in
the world
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Prince Vladimir was
drawn to Eastern
Orthodox Christianity
because of:
◦ The splendor and wealth of
Constantinople
◦ The beauty of Eastern
Orthodox churches
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As a result of this
conversion he received:
◦ A sister of the Byzantine
emperor as a bride
◦ Byzantine priests and
advisors
Interior of St. Mark’s
Basilica
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Kievan Rus consequently
adopted many Byzantine
cultural elements:
Architectural styles
Cyrillic alphabet
Use of icons
Monastic tradition stressing
prayer and service
◦ Idea of imperial/state
control of the Church
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