The Commonwealth Of Byzantium


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I. The early Byzantine empire
II. Byzantine economy and society
III. Classical heritage and Orthodox Christianity
IV. The influence of Byzantium in eastern Europe

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The Commonwealth Of Byzantium

  2. 2. Main Topics <ul><li>I. The early Byzantine empire </li></ul><ul><li>II. Byzantine economy and society </li></ul><ul><li>III. Classical heritage and Orthodox Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>IV. The influence of Byzantium in eastern Europe </li></ul>
  3. 3. I. The later Roman empire and Byzantium <ul><li>Fifth century, eastern half of empire remained intact while west crumbled </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges: Sassanids and Germans </li></ul><ul><li>Highly centralized state </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emperor with aura of divinity--Caesaropapism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large and complex bureaucracy </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. I. Justinian (527-565 C.E.) and his legacy; Theodora (empress) <ul><li>Rebuilt Constantinople, including Hagia Sophia </li></ul><ul><li>Codified Roman law Corpus iuris civilis ( The Body of the Civil Law ) </li></ul><ul><li>Sent Belisarius to reconquer the western Roman empire (didn't last) </li></ul>
  5. 5. I. Islamic conquests and Byzantine revival <ul><li>The emergence of the Islamic state, seventh century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arab peoples conquered the Sassanid empire and part of Byzantium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prolonged sieges of Constantinople by Islamic armies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Byzantium survived partly because of Greek fire </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Byzantine society reorganized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provinces ( themes ) under generals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Armies of free peasants helped agricultural economy </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. I. Byzantium and western Europe: ecclesiastical and political tensions <ul><li>The Iconoclastic Controversy of 710AD completed the break between Rome and Constantinople. </li></ul><ul><li>Facing numerous defections to the Muslims along his southern border, and the creation of a Muslim Persia along his eastern border, Emperor Leo initiated religious reforms in an attempt to retain followers. </li></ul><ul><li>The main item was a declaration that religious images were corrupt . This appealed to Eastern Monophysites and to Muslims who distrusted the worship of anything that came between the individual and the deity (saints), but it also resulted in the destruction of much Byzantine religious art. </li></ul><ul><li>Reforms had political goals as well as spiritual goals. </li></ul><ul><li>By purifying Christianity, they hoped to reduce the attractiveness of Islam to Eastern Monophysites and other religious opponents. </li></ul><ul><li>By eliminating religious images, they hoped to undermine the worship of saints, including that of St. Peter, who was the ancestral founder of the Roman bishopric. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, by doing away with the worship of saints, the emperor also found a reason to close monasteries and confiscate their wealth for the Empire. </li></ul>
  7. 7. II. Rural economy and society <ul><li>Large agricultural base to support cities </li></ul><ul><li>Economy strongest when large class of free peasants ( themes ) existed </li></ul><ul><li>Economy weakened when large landholders consolidated and made peasants dependent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They do not have as much $$, so they do not spend as much. </li></ul></ul>Byzantine Farm
  8. 8. II. Industry and trade <ul><li>Constantinople was major site of crafts and industry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Glass, linen, textiles, gems, jewelry, gold, and silver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Silk developed into major industry in sixth century; secrets came from China </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constantinople was clearinghouse for trade </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bezant (gold coins) was the standard currency of Mediterranean basin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Western anchor of trade route revived silk roads </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Banks and partnerships supported commercial economy </li></ul>
  9. 10. II. Urban life <ul><li>Housing in Constantinople varied widely by class </li></ul><ul><li>Attractions of Constantinople: baths, taverns, theaters (culture) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hippodrome used for mass entertainment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chariot races most popular; Greens and Blues rivalry </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. III. The legacy of classical Greece <ul><li>Official language went from Latin to Greek </li></ul><ul><li>State-organized school system trained workforce </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primary education: reading, writing, grammar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Later education: classical Greek, literature, philosophy, science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher education in Constantinople: law, medicine, philosophy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Byzantine scholarship emphasized Greek tradition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrote commentaries on Greek literature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserved and transmitted Greek thought to later cultures </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. III. The Byzantine church <ul><li>Most distinctive feature was involvement of the emperor ( Caesaropapism ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.) in which Arianism was declared heresy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Iconoclasm controversy (726-843) was started by Leo III </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Greek philosophy applied to Byzantine theology </li></ul>St Arius - Founder of Arianism
  12. 13. III. Monasticism and popular piety <ul><li>Monasticism origins in early Christian ascetics (hermits) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot; Pillar saints &quot; like St. Simeon Stylite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>St. Basil of Caesarea (329-379 C.E.) organized monastic movement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mt. Athos, monastery in northern Greece from ninth century to present </li></ul><ul><li>Monks/nuns very popular with laity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provided social services to the community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposed iconoclasm </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Tensions between eastern and western Christianity <ul><li>Constantinople and Rome: strains mirrored political tensions </li></ul><ul><li>Ritual and doctrinal differences, such as iconoclasm </li></ul><ul><li>Schism in 1054--Eastern Orthodox versus Roman Catholic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the East-West Schism was actually the result of an extended period of estrangement between Latin and Greek Christendom </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. IV. Domestic problems and foreign pressures <ul><li>Generals and local aristocrats allied; new elite class challenged imperial (religious) power </li></ul><ul><li>Western Europe took parts of Byzantium </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Normans in southern Italy and Sicily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crusaders carved out states and sacked Constantinople (1204) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Muslim Saljuq Turks invaded Anatolia, defeated Byzantines at Manzikert, 1071 </li></ul><ul><li>Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, the end of the empire </li></ul>
  15. 17. IV. Early relations between Byzantium and Slavic peoples <ul><li>Byzantines began to influence Bulgarian politics and culture after the eighth century </li></ul><ul><li>Missions to the Slavs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Saints Cyril and Methodius, mid-ninth century </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyrillic writing stimulated conversion to Orthodox Christianity (syncretism) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education and religion tied together, led to more conversions </li></ul></ul>
  16. 18. Byzantium and Russia <ul><li>Mid-ninth century, Russians started to organize a large state: Kiev </li></ul><ul><li>The conversion of Prince Vladimir, 989 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kiev served as a conduit for spread of Byzantine culture and religion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyrillic writing and literature and Orthodox missions spread Byzantine culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Byzantine art and architecture dominated Kiev: icons and onion domes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Princes established caesaropapist control of Russian Orthodox church </li></ul><ul><li>Russian culture flourishes from eleventh century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moscow claimed to be world's &quot; third Rome &quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sent out many missionaries from sixteenth century on </li></ul></ul>
  17. 19. Summary <ul><li>Eastern half of Rome became known as Byzantium </li></ul><ul><li>Survived and, mostly, thrived for a millennium </li></ul><ul><li>This culture blended Roman and Greek traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Declined over centuries (slow fall)--culminating in its conquest by the Islamic Ottoman Turks in 1453. </li></ul><ul><li>Several unique features of the Byzantine civilization contributed to its prosperity: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A strategically located capital city called Constantinople that was one of the largest, most influential, and cosmopolitan urban centers in the world. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A highly centralized and autocratic governmental structure consisting of an exalted emperor with an aura of divinity and a large and intricate bureaucracy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A rich Christian tradition elaborated by the emperor and the patriarchs that eventually evolved into an independent and separate faith referred to as Eastern Orthodox. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An unusual and effective administration system whereby generals governed over free peasants who received small tracts of land to work in exchange for military service. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The extension of Byzantine cultural traditions to eastern Europe and Russia through political, cultural, and economic relations. </li></ul></ul>