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The Byzantine Empire
Rise of the Byzantine Empire
What did the Roman Emperor Diocletian do in A.D. 285 that ultimately
paved the way for the creation of the Byzantine Empire?
In A.D. 330, to
which city did
move the
capital of the
Emperor Justinian
• Ruled from 527-565 (37 years)
• Sent his armies to regain some of the
territory lost (from the western
Roman Empire) to Germanic invaders
• Organized and put together old
Roman and Byzantine laws into one
clear code of laws
Justinian’s Conquests
In A.D. 476, the
Byzantine Empire
included Asia
Minor (now part of
Turkey), the Balkan
Peninsula, Egypt,
Palestine, and
Justinian, with
Generals such as
conquered and
reclaimed parts of
North Africa, the
southern tip of
Spain, and all of
Italy during his
Corpus Juris Civilis: The
Body of Civil Law
• Better known as Justinian’s Code, Justinian
ordered that old Roman laws be reviewed and that
repetitive or outdated laws be deleted.
• Taking good Roman and Byzantine Laws and
adding some new ones, a collection of 10 books of
law were established for the empire.
• These laws influenced future laws in Europe and
the United States (for example, principles were
continued such as all people are equal under the
law and people are innocent until proven guilty.)
How do the legal principles below
compare to U.S. law?
Laws about
Justinian’s Code
Women’s Rights All women could own property, make
contracts, and bring lawsuits.
Robbery was not a crime but the
victim could sue the robber for up to
four times the value of the stolen
Failure to pay
People who were owed something
could sue the person owing them
something to gain the debt back.
Murder was punished by
The Hagia Sophia
Justinian also undertook many great building projects in
Constantinople, including a number of large churches.
The most famous was a magnificent church known as the
Hagia Sophia, built between 532 and 537. It later became
a mosque under Turkish rule.
Theodora was the wife of
Justinian who rose from a
humble background to become
not only an Empress, but an
important advisor to Justinian
and one of the world’s most
powerful women of that time
(6th century).
During an early challenge to
Justinian’s rule called the Nika
Rebellion, she urged Justinian
to stay and fight the rebels
rather than flee the throne.
The Christian Church Divides
After several years of conflict over
church authority, doctrine, and practices,
the Christian Church officially divided
into two parts in 1054. The division of the
Church into the Roman Catholic Church
(in the West) and the Orthodox Church
(in the East) is known as The Great
Schism. Though relations have improved
in modern times, the Roman Catholic
Church and Eastern Orthodox Church
remain under separate leadership to
this day!
Defenses around Constantinople
Restored section of the Walls of Theodosius. The Moat Wall and Outer Wall
can be seen in the foreground, with a tower of the Inner Wall in the
background (top left). Some towers stood as high as 20 meters (over 65
feet). The moat was about 20 meters wide and 10 meters deep.
The Fall of Constantinople
After years of decline and
loss of territory due to
various wars and
invasions, the Byzantine
Empire finally came to an
end in 1453 when the
Ottoman Turks under
Sultan Mehmed II
captured Constantinople.
The city was renamed
Istanbul and is now the
largest city in Turkey.
The army of Mehmed II readies to
attack Constantinople
siege of
the city
by the