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THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE 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. 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 arts. 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 development. The Byzantines gave Russia a written language. 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.