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• Please read “Christianity The Vision” and
answer the following question: why did
Constantine become a Christian, according
to this reading?
World History
Section 4, Unit 5
• Identify the importance of the growth of
• Explain how the moving from Rome to
Constantinople by the Roman empire affected both
Christianity and the Roman Empire.
• Name and explain the roles of important leaders in
• Identify the role of Christianity in Constantinople
• Summarize and evaluate the history and impact of
law in Roman culture– including Constantinople
What 4 factors helped cause the fall of Rome?
List them out in your notebook.
Outside invasions from the Huns and Germanic Tribes
Internal fighting (civil wars)
Famine and disease (loss of population)
Splitting of the empire into East and West
Fall of the Roman Empire
• The western Roman Empire crumbled in
the 5th century as it was overrun by
Germanic tribes.
• However, to spare the rest of the empire,
Emperor Constantine rebuilt the old port
city of Byzantium on the Bosporus straight.
• Constantine rebuilt Byzantium:
1. To quickly respond to the threat of Germanic
tribes, who could only attack Byzantium from
one direction
2. To be close to wealthy eastern provinces.
• In this, he renamed the city Constantinople
and, in 330, made it the capital of the
Byzantine Empire.
• Constantine had
Constantinople to be
the new capital of the
• As a result, the center
of power shifted
eastward, which aided
in the decline of the
western part.
• Because of the difficulties of
communication between the eastern and
western empires, they were officially
divided in 395.
• Despite this separation, Constantine's
successors continued to see themselves as
Roman Emperors.
– With this in mind, it’s why we consider the
Byzantine people to be Roman, essentially.
• Byzantine Emperors ruled with absolute
• They headed both the state and church and
could appoint or dismiss bishops at will.
• However, their politics were far more violent–
they were constantly under risk of
– Of the 88 Byzantine emperors, 29 died violently
and 13 abandoned the throne to live in a monastery.
• In 527, a high ranking
Byzantine nobleman
named Justinian came to
power in the eastern
• Justinian was described as
a serious, even-tempered
ruler. However, others
described him as
“deceitful, devious, false,
hypocritical, [and] twofaced…” among other
• Whatever his traits, the
new emperor quickly
decided to make good
on his claim to be the
head of the whole of the
Roman Empire.
• In 533, he sent his best
general, Belisarius (beluh-sar-ee-uhs) to
recover North Africa
from the Vandals.
• Two years later, Justinian attacked Rome
and took it from the Ostrogoths and won
nearly all of Italy and Roman territory in 16
• He also helped reestablish the Church’s
power in Rome, which had somewhat
diminished under the Ostrogoths.
– This control would only last another half
Justinian Code
• To regulate a complex society, Justinian set up
a panel of 10 legal experts and, between 528
and 533, they combed through 400 years of
Roman law and legal opinions.
• They were tasked with creating a new, uniform
system of laws using Rome’s outdated and
often contradictory laws as a base.
– As a result, the panel created a new body of law
known as the Justinian Code.
Justinian Code
• The Justinian code consisted of four works:
1. The Code– containing nearly 5000 Roman
laws, which experts thought were useful
2. The Digest– quoted and summarized opinions
of Rome’s greatest thinkers about the laws.
3. The Institutes– a textbook that taught law to
4. The Novellae (New Laws)–legislation passed
after 534
Justinian Code
• The Justinian Code
decided legal questions
that regulated all of
Byzantine life.
• Issues concerning
marriage, slavery,
property, crimes and the
like were some of those
• Although Justinian died
in 565, his codes served
the empire for around
900 years.
• A separate government
and difficult
communications with
the west gave the
Byzantine Empire it’s
own character– different
from the West.
• The citizens thought of
themselves as sharing
Roman tradition, but
few spoke Latin. The
majority of Byzantines
spoke Greek. They also
belonged to the eastern
branch of the Christian
Building a City
Building a City
• Justinian launched into an ambitious public
building program.
• He rebuilt the fortifications protecting
• The city’s coasts were ringed by a 14 mile
stone wall and was also protected by land
using a deep moat and a wall that, at it’s
thickest, was 25 feet thick.
Question: the citizens of the eastern empire were very
religious. What do you think they would focus a lot of their
time building?
As you can see in the picture below, the city has a large
wall built all along the shore and across the only land
access to the city. It was arguably one of the most well
defended cities in the ancient world.
Building a City
• Church building was
also a great passion of
the emperor.
• His beautiful churches
also helped him show
the close relationship
between church and
state in his empire.
• The crowning glory of
his reign was the Hagia
Sophia, arguably one of
the most beautiful
churches in the
Christian world.
Building a City
• Aside from church
building, Justinian also
enlarged his palace into
a vast complex.
• He also built court
houses, schools, baths,
and hospitals.
• By the time his projects
were complete, the city
teemed with an
excitement unmatched
anywhere in the eastern
and western empires.
City Life
• The main street running through
Constantinople was the Mese– “middle way”.
• Merchants lined up along this street and filled
the side streets.
• A large stone roof sheltered crowds shopping in
this giant open-air market.
City Life
• Products from the most
distant corners of the
ancient world passed
through the city.
– Shoppers could buy tin
from England, wine from
France, spices from the
India and even gold from
• While goods flooded
into the markets, the
streets were also filled
with acrobats and public
City Life
• Meanwhile, citizens
could enjoy free
entertainment at the
Hippodrome, which
offered wild chariot
races and circus acts.
• The Hippodrome could
hold up to 60,000
spectators and fans of
different teams would
wear their respective
team colors.
City Life
• Some supporters of teams
would get so riled up that
riots had to be put down.
• One such riot, known as
the Nika Rebellion, ended
in the deaths of almost
30,000 people at the hands
of Justinian’s general when
the rioters attempted to
proclaim a new emperor
after they were angry at
the government for how
they put down a previous
The rioters attempted to overthrow Justinian
who supported the opposing team (as teams
were considered to be politically powerful). He
was attempting to flee before his wife–
Theodora- -convinced him to stay and defend
his power.
City Life
• Byzantine families valued education and
sent their children to monastic or public
schools, or hired private tutors.
• Basic courses focused on Greek and Latin
grammar, philosophy, and rhetoric.
• The classics in Greek and Roman literature
served as textbooks.
City Life
• Students would learn much of what they
learned from Greek and Roman thinkers:
– They memorized Homer’s works.
– They learned geometry from Euclid
– They learned history from Herodotus
– They learned medicine from Galen
• Much of the modern world owes Byzantine
scholars a debt for preserving much of the
great works of Greece and Rome.
Question: What other group also preserved Greek and Roman
Great Schism
• During the many
centuries (even as the
city began to weaken, as
we will see), the Eastern
Church of
• However, because of the
distance between it and
the Western half, it’s
doctrines and rituals
began to diverge.
Great Schism
• Eastern Christianity
began to build it’s
heritage on the works
on early church
– One was Saint Basil
who wrote rules for the
life of monks and Saint
John Chrysostom, who
was a patriarch– or
leading bishop- of the
Great Schism
• A controversy that
tested the emperor’s
authority over religious
matters broke out in the
8th century.
• In 730, Emperor Leo III
banned the use of icons,
religious images used by
eastern Christians, to
aid their devotions.
• The Emperor believed
that the use of icons was
idol worship.
Even a simple cross could be
considered an “icon”.
Great Schism
• The army even supported the emperor and
began to destroy images, but the people
revolted and the clergy rebelled.
• In the West, the pope became involved in
the eastern dispute and supported the use
of icons.
• One pope even ordered excommunication
of a Byzantine emperor– i.e., that he was
casted out of the church.
Great Schism
• However, the issue was ended in 843, when
empress Theodora restored icons to the churches.
• Despite this, differences between the churches
would continue to grow.
Great Schism
• In 1054, the issue came to a head when the
pope and patriarch excommunicated each
other in a dispute over religious doctrine.
• After this schism—split– Christianity was
permanently divided between the Roman
Catholic Church in the West and the
Eastern Orthodox Church in the East.
Differences between the two Churches
Roman Catholic
Eastern Orthodox
Services are conducted in Latin
Services conducted in Greek or local
Pope has authority over all bishops
Patriarch and other bishops head
church as a group
Pope claims authority over all kings and Emperor claims authority over the
Patriarch and other bishops of the
Priests may not marry
Priests may marry
Divorce is not permitted
Divorce is allowed under certain
Changes in the Empire
• While the Orthodox
and Catholic churches
were dealing with
issues concerning
religious doctrine, the
empire was facing
issues that would spell
the end for
Greek Orthodox Church Cross
Weakening of the Empire
• Constantinople remained rich and powerful
for centuries.
• After Justinian's death in 565, however, the
empire suffered countless setbacks.
– During this time, there were riots, religious
quarrels, and foreign dangers.
– Each time the empire saved itself, it would face
another problem.
Weakening of the Empire
• The first crisis began
before Justinian’s death.
• It was a disease that
resembled the bubonic
plague. This illness hit
Constantinople in the
later years of Justinian's
• The disease very likely
arrived on a ship from
India, plagued with rats.
Weakening of the Empire
• In 542, at it’s peak, the plague killed about
10,000 people daily. This illness broke out
every 8 to 12 years until around 700, when it
faded out.
• By the time this occurred, a huge percentage
of the Byzantine population was gone, and
what was left had to protect the empire
from its enemies.
Weakening of the Empire
Siege of the walls of Constantinople
• Byzantine was pressed
on all sides from
• Various nomadic
groups and
civilizations attacked
the wealthy city.
• However, Byzantine
would find itself in the
middle of religiously
fueled wars.
Weakening of the Empire
• With the rise of Islam,
Arab armies attacked the
city three times between
860 and 1043. In the 11th
century, the Turks took
over the Muslim world and
fought their way slowly to
• The Crusades brought
armies of knights from
Western Europe who
pillaged Constantinople in
1204 on their way to fight
the Turks.
Weakening of the Empire
• As their first line of defense, the Byzantines
attempted bribery, diplomacy and political
marriages to solve these issues.
• However, these were unsuccessful.
• In the 7th century, Emperor Heraclius
reorganized the empire along military lines.
He developed themes, or military districts
which was run by a general who reported
directly to the emperor.
Fall of the Empire
• In spite of these
measures, the Byzantine
Empire was unable to
withstand foreign
• By 1350, the Empire was
reduced to the tip of
• Despite it’s high walls
and defenses,
Constantinople fell to
the Ottoman Turks in
1453, becoming part of a
new growing empire.
• When the Turks came to power, they
immediately began to either deport or
enslave the civilians within the city.
• The famous Hagia Sophia was turned into a
Mosque and the city was pillaged.
• However, the new rulers of the Ottoman
Empire focused on rebuilding the city to it’s
former glory.
• The city would continue to be a home to a
number of different rulers and, in the
1400’s, Constantinople was repopulated by
Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
• In the hundreds of years to follow,
Constantinople would continue to be an
important center of education and study
and, by the 1900’s, would be renamed
Answer the following two questions:
1. Why did the Byzantine peoples consider
themselves Roman, in your opinion?
2. What is something about Constantinople
or the Byzantine Empire that you didn’t
know before?
Review Objectives
• Identify the importance of the growth of
• Explain how the moving from Rome to
Constantinople by the Roman empire affected both
Christianity and the Roman Empire.
• Name and explain the roles of important leaders in
• Identify the role of Christianity in Constantinople
• Summarize and evaluate the history and impact of
law in Roman culture– including Constantinople
• If you have any questions, please ask.
Interior of the
Hagia Sophia
Next Lesson
• We will be moving into the Middle Ages of
Read the handout “Roman Legal Tradition and
the Compilation of Justinian” and answer the
Summarize the history of law in the Roman
Empire in no less than 1 page. Please address the
following when you write: Why did the Romans
invest in laws; how did law change Rome or affect
the lives or culture of the Roman peoples; what
was the impact of the Justinian Code; what was
the purpose of the Justinian Code?