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The Byzantine Empire
The Roman empire, divided in the late
AD200’s, was weakened by internal and
external forces. Power shifted to the east, as
Germanic invaders weakened the western half
of the once great Roman empire.
By 330, the emperor Constantine, had built a new capital
city in Constantinople on the site of the Greek city
Byzantium. The Byzantine empire arose from this site.
At its height, the Byzantine empire covered an area
from Rome through southeastern Europe and Asia
Minor, down to Egypt and across North Africa.
The city of Constantinople, was on a peninsula overlooking
the Bosporus, a strait connecting the Black Sea to the
Mediterranean Sea. From its central location, the city
controlled key trade routes that liked Europe and Asia.
The Byzantine empire reached its peak under the
emperor Justinian. Justinian was a autocratic ruler,
or single ruler with complete authority.
Emperor Justinian became known for his collection of ancient
laws known as Justinian’s Code. This written set of laws
became the basis today’s international laws.
In the area of architecture, Justinian blended Greek, Roman,
Persian and Middle Eastern styles. The best known structure
is the Church of Hagia Sophia whose name means “Holy
In the area of art, the Byzantine empire made great
contributions. Icons were images of Jesus, the Virgin
Mary and others. These icons were supposed the
create the sense that the holy person was actually
Byzantine artists also developed Mosaics, pictures
or designs formed by inlaid pieces of stone or other
materials. Mosaics often displayed religious themes.
In 1054, permanent split or schism occurred between the
Orthodox Christian Church in the East and the Roman
Catholic Church in the West.
The decline of the Byzantine empire came with the onset
of invading armies. The final blow came at the hands of
the Ottoman empire in 1453.
The Byzantine empire hoped to preserve Greek and Roman
culture and also strongly influenced the first Russian state.
As Russia traded with the Byzantine empire, the Byzantines
influenced both Russian and eastern European
The Byzantines gave Russia a written language. Two
Byzantine missionaries adapted the Greek alphabet This
new system, called the Cyrillic alphabet is still used in
Russia today.
Byzantine missionaries carried Orthodox Christianity to
Russia and other Eastern European nations.
Another Byzantine influence on Russia was that of an
autocratic ruler. Autocratic rulers in Russia were known
as czars. Czar is the Russian word for Caesar.
Roman Catholic
Easter n Or thodox
• Services Conducted in
• Pope has authority over
all bishops
• Pope has authority over
all emperors
• Priests can not marry
• Services Conducted in
• Patriarch and other
bishops head the church
• Emperor has authority
over Patriarch
• Priests can marry
Byzantine Empire
Capitol: Constantinople
Spoke Greek
Education religion based
Art emphasized holiness
and spirituality
Eastern Orthodox
Roman Empire
Capitol: Rome
Spoke Latin
Education science based
Art emphasized beauty
and physical appearance
• Roman Catholic
Preserved Culture of the Greeks and Romans
Great Schism split Christianity into Roman
Catholic and Eastern Orthodox
Justinian’s Code preserved Roman laws
Be basis for creation of laws in future European
Cyrillic Alphabet allowed for spread of Eastern
Orthodox Christianity into Russia
Take out a sheet of paper and answer
one of the following questions. Put
your name on the paper it will be
turned in for a participation point.
1)List the differences between the Byzantine
Empire and the Roman Empire.
2)How did the Byzantine Empire influence
3)What were the Justinian Laws and why were
they significant?