Background While the cities in the Western Roman Empire (WRE) were crumbling, Constantinople prospered. Blending of cultures: It promoted a brilliant civilization that blended ancient Greek, Roman, Christian and many others from the Mediterranean and Asia.
Byzantine Christianity In both sides of the Empire, Christianity was a driving force, but divisions grew between the two regions. The Byzantine emperor was not a priest but controlled church affairs and appointed the patriarch (highest church official). Priests could marry Greek was the main language of the church. Schism: It was the permanent split between the Orthodox (Byzantine) and Catholic (Roman) churches in 1054. Both the Pope and Patriarch excommunicated each other.
Hagia Sophia The church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) survives as an important legacy of the Byzantine Empire. During a revolt in 532, the original Hagia Sophia was destroyed. Justinian quickly began the task of rebuilding the church as Constantinople’s brightest jewel. He divided 10,000 workers into two crews and had them compete to finish opposite sides of the church. It was completed in less than six years and it was the largest religious building of its day. When the empire fell, it served as a mosque and today as a museum.
Heritage For a 1000 years, the Byzantines built on the culture of the Hellenistic world (science, philosophy, arts, and literature) blending it with Christian beliefs. Even the conquerors of theChurch of Yasofyakuçuk empire, the Ottomans adopted their ways of government, social life and architecture.
Arts Icons designed to evoke the presence of God, gave the viewers a sense of of personal contact with the sacred. Mosaics brought scenes of the bible to glowing life. In architecture, they blended Greek, Roman, Persian and other Middle Eastern styles.
World of Learning Byzantine scholars preserved the classic works of ancient Greece. They also produced their own great books. Historians from Byzantium, were more focused on writing on their “current events” than on the past. With the decline of the empire, the scholars moved to teach in Italy, helping ignited the Renaissance and save important volumes of books for posterity.
Ask Yourself Evaluate What kind of values do you think were important to the Byzantines by analyzing the name of Hagia Sophia? Why were most of the works of art, religion-related? Recall What is “schism”? What did Byzantine historians focused on? Analyze Why do you think both leaders of the church excommunicated each other? What is the benefit for us today, of the preservation of classical works of literature and science? Compare What were some differences between Roman and Byzantine Christianity?
Bibliography Ellis, E. G., & Esler, A. (2009). World History. (P. Hall, Ed.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, US: Pearson Education INC. Burstein, S. M., & Shek, R. (2012). World History (Teacher´s Edition) (1st Edition ed.). (H. McDougal, Ed.) Orlando, Florida, US.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Images taken from Google.