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 The Roman Empire’s
power shifted to the east,
as Germanic invaders
weakened the western half.
 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.
 What made this location ideal?
 The Byzantine empire
reached its peak under
 Justinian was an
autocratic ruler, or
single ruler with
complete authority.
 Justinian took over in
527 CE and his reign
lasted nearly 30 years.
 He has been termed
the “last Roman” given
his works in law,
architecture and the
 Theodora served as
co-ruler of the empire.
 Early in Justinian’s
reign many of his
people were unhappy
with his rule, Theodora
brought his council
together and convinced
them to fortify, not give
up and not flee.
 This show of power and
determination fortified
Justinian’s rule and he
was forever grateful for
Theodora’s actions.
Justinian blended Greek, Roman, Persian & Middle Eastern styles.
The best known structure is the Church of Hagia Sophia,
whose name means “Holy Wisdom.”
 100,000 workers hired to build Hagia Sophia.
 Completed in just 5 years. (532-537 AD)
 Christian Church – then a Mosque – now a museum.
 Justinian reformed Roman Laws, which became known as
Justinian’s Code.
 This set of laws determined Christianity was the religion of the
East, it also outlawed heresy and pagan practices. This Code
was extensive and addressed everything from stealing to
adultery to slavery.
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.
Byzantine’s Art Achievements
 Icons - Were images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and others.
 These icons were supposed to create the sense that the holy
person was actually present.
 Byzantine artists also developed Mosaics, pictures or
designs formed by inlaid pieces of stone or other
materials. Mosaics often displayed religious themes.
 In 1054, a 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
 Two Byzantine
missionaries adopted
the Greek alphabet.
 This new system,
called the Cyrillic
alphabet is still used
in Russia today.
 The biggest difference between the Roman Catholics and
Greek Orthodox is the question of leadership – The Pope in
Rome, the Patriarchs in Orthodox.
 The use of icons was also a hot issue; Orthodox = NO icons
(iconoclasts), Catholics = use of icons okay.
 They also differ in their belief of purgatory.
 Byzantine missionaries carried Orthodox Christianity to Russia
and other Eastern European nations.
 The Greek Orthodox Church has nearly 250 million members
today, third largest to Catholicism and Protestantism.
Another Byzantine influence on Russia was that of an
autocratic ruler (Justinian). Autocratic rulers in Russia
were known as czars. Czar is the Russian word for
Caesar. Czar Nicholas II, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the
Great were notable Russian Czars.
• The Byzantine Empire had its influence in the development
of history. Emerging out of the once strong Roman empire,
the Byzantines developed a written set of laws and strongly
influenced art and architecture of the time.
• The Byzantine empire preserved the Greek, Roman and
Persian achievements as well as influencing the
development of Russia and Eastern Europe.