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13. The Commonwealth of Byzantium

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Chapter 13
The Commonwealth of Byzantium
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Copyright В© 2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Permission Required for Reproduction or Display.
The Early Byzantine Empire
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Capital: Byzantium
On the Bosporus
Commercial, strategic value of location
Constantine names capital after himself
(Constantinople), moves capital there 340 CE
1453 falls to Turks, renamed Istanbul
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The Later Roman Empire and Byzantium
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Byzantine Empire inherits Roman Empire after
fall of Rome in 5th c. CE
Eastern territories remain major power until 13th
c. CE
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The Later Roman Empire
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Roman infrastructure in place
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Roads, institutional hierarchies
Challenges from strong Persian empire (Sassanid
dynasty, 224-641 CE)
Invasions of Germanic peoples
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Caesaropapism
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Power centralized in figure of Emperor
Christian leader cannot claim divinity, rather
divine authority
Political rule
Involved in Religious rule as well
Authority absolute
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The Byzantine Court
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Etiquette reinforces authority of Emperor
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Royal purple
Prostration
Mechanical devices designed to inspire awe
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Justinian (527-565 CE)
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The “sleepless emperor”
Wife Theodora as advisor
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Uses army to contain tax riots, ambitious
construction program
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Background: circus performer
The church of Hagia Sophia
Codification of Roman Law
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Byzantine Conquests
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General Belisarius recaptures much of western
Roman Empire under Justinian
Unable to consolidate control of territories
Withdrew to defend empire from Sassanids, Slavs
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The Byzantine Empire and its neighbors 527-554
CE
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Islamic Conquests and Byzantine
Revival
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7th century Arab Muslim expansion
Besieged Byzantium 674-678, 717-718
Defense made possible through use of a weapon
“Greek fire”
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Imperial Organization
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Themes (provinces) under control of generals
Military administration
Control from central imperial government
Soldiers from peasant class, rewarded with land
grants
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Tensions with Western Europe
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Church
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Byzantine: Greek; Roman: Latin
Conflicts over hierarchical control
Fealty of Germanic peoples
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Roman pope crowns Charlemagne in 800, a challenge
to Byzantine authority
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Byzantine Economy and Society
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Constantinople largest city in Europe, 5th-13th c.
Dependent on small landholders, free peasants
Earlier large landholdings destroyed by invasions
in 6th-7th centuries
Theme system rewards soldiers with land grants
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Decline of the Free Peasantry
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Large landholdings on the increase
Reduces tax revenues, recruits to military
Last three centuries indicate steady decline of
economy
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Manufacturing and Trade
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Trade routes bring key technologies, e.g. silk
industry
Advantage of location causes crafts and industry
to expand after 6th century
Tax revenues from silk route
Banking services develop
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Urban Life
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Aristocrats: palaces; artisans: apartments;
working poor: communal living spaces
Hippodrome
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Chariot races, “greens vs. blues”
Politically inspired rioting
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Orthodox Christianity
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Legacy of Classical Greece
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Greek replaces Latin after 6th c. CE; language of New
Testament
Byzantine education sponsors development of
large literate class for state bureaucracy
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Training in classical canon
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The Byzantine Church
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By 6th C. Christianity is the dominant cultural
community
Church and state closely aligned
Council of Nicea (325) bans Arian movement
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Human/divine nature of Jesus
Constantine favors Arians, but supports Nicean
condemnation
Byzantine Emperors appoint Patriarchs
Caesaropapism creates dissent in church
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Iconoclasm
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Emperor Leo III (r. 717-741 CE)
Destruction of icons after 726 CE
Popular protest, rioting
Policy abandoned 843 CE
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Greek Philosophy and Byzantine
Theology
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Attempt to reconcile Greek philosophy with
Judeo-Christianity
Constantine establishes school to apply
philosophical methods to religious questions
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Ascetism
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Hermit-like existence
Celibacy
Fasting
Prayer
St. Simeon Stylite
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Lived atop pillar for years
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Byzantine Monasticism
and St. Basil (329-379 CE)
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Patriarch of Constantinople reforms monasteries
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Communal living
Hierarchical structure
Mt. Athos
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No women, female animals allowed
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Tensions between Eastern and Western
Christianity
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Ritual disputes
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Beards on clergy
Leavened bread for Mass
Theological disputes
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Iconoclasm
Nature of the Trinity
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Schism
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Arguments over hierarchy, jurisdiction
Autonomy of Patriarchs, or Primacy of Rome?
1054 Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope of
Rome excommunicate each other
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East: Orthodox Church
West: Roman Catholic
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Social Problems in the
Byzantine Empire
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Generals of themes become allied with local
aristocrats
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Intermarry, create class of elite
Occasional rebellions vs. Imperial Rule
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Challenges from the West
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Western European economic development
Normans from Scandinavia press on Byzantine
territories
Crusades of 12th-13th centuries rampage through
Byzantine territory
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Constantinople sacked, 1204
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Challenges from the East
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Muslim Saljuqs invade Anatolia
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Threatens grain supply
Defeat Byzantine army in 1071, creates civil
conflict
Period of steady decline until Ottoman Turks
capture Constantinople in 1453
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Renamed Istanbul
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The Byzantine empire and its neighbors about 1100
CE
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Influence on Slavic Cultures
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Relations from 6th c. CE
Bulgaria influenced culturally, politically
Saints Cyril and Methodius
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Create Cyrillic alphabet
Slavic lands develop orientation to Byzantium
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Kievan Rus’
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Conversion of Prince Vladimir, 989 CE
Byzantine culture influences development of
Slavic cultures
Distinctively Slavic Orthodox church develops
Eventual heir to Byzantium
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