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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© 2006 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 location (East meets West)
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 a major hemispheric
power until 13th c. CE
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The Later Roman Empire
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Roman infrastructure remains in place in the East
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Roads, institutional hierarchies, communication
networks
State in the East is much different than western
Roman Empire
Challenges from strong Persian empire (Sassanid
dynasty, 226-641 CE)
Invasions of Germanic peoples from the north
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Caesaropapism
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Power centralized in figure of Emperor
Christian leader cannot claim divinity, rather
claims divine authority
Political rule and Religious rule
No separation of church and state
Absolute Authority-- Emperors have final say in
all matters
Byzantine: Unnecessary complexity &
convolution ----large bureaucracy
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The Byzantine Court
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Etiquette reinforces authority of Emperor
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Royal purple---lavish dress
Prostration---three times
Mechanical devices designed to inspire awe--like lions
and birds---think Disneyland
All used to justify the awesome splendor of the
Emperor
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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/stripper
Hagia Sophia
Law Code definitive for centuries
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Justinian’s Code
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Codification of Roman Law
Review of Roman Code
Body of the Civil Law--The definitive
codification of Roman Law
Influenced civil law codes throughout
Western Europe
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Byzantine Conquests
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Effort to re-conquer western Roman empire from
the Germanic people
General Belisarius recaptures much of western
Roman Empire under Justinian
Unable to consolidate control of territories
Classical Roman empire is beyond recovery
Withdrew to defend empire from Sassanids, Slavs
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The Byzantine empire and its neighbors 527554 C.E.
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Islamic Conquests and Byzantine Revival
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7th century Arab Muslim expansion
Besieged Byzantium 674-678, 717-718
Byzantium resisted
Defense made possible through use of “greek
fire”--sulphur, lime, petroleum
Able to retain hold in the region
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Imperial Organization
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Reorganization of society in face of Islamic
expansion
Themes (provinces) under control of generals
Military administration
Control from central imperial government
Soldiers from peasant class, rewarded with land
grants
Able to mobilize quickly to fight Islamic
expansion
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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
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Byzantine--Emperor
Rome--Pope
Takeover Germanic peoples
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Roman pope gives Frankish ruler Charlemagne the
imperial crown in 800, a challenge to Byzantine
authority
Challenging Byzantine claims to imperial 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 for
economic growth---agriculture
Large landholders make peasantry a dependent class
Large landholdings destroyed by invasions in 6th-7th
centuries
Theme system rewards peasant/soldiers with land grants
Decline of free peasantry after reemergence of large
landholders
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Decline of the Free Peasantry
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Large landholdings on the increase
Decline of free peasants reduces tax revenues,
recruits to military
Large landholdings pay less taxes than many
individual peasant farms
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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Loans
Merchant partnerships
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Urban Life
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Aristocrats: palances; artisans: apartments;
working poor: communal living spaces
Hippodrome
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Chariot races, “greens vs. blues”
Politically inspired rioting
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Legacy of Classical Greece
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Legacy of Classical Greece
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Greek replaces Latin after 6th c. CE as language of
government
Greek is original language of the New Testament
Byzantine education sponsors development of
large literate class for state bureaucracy
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Reflects cultural legacy of Classical Greece
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The Byzantine Church
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Church and state closely aligned
Council of Nicaea (325) bans Arian movement
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Human/divine nature of Jesus
Arians believe Jesus was a mortal human created by
god
Christians think Jesus is a manifestation of god
Constantine originally 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)
Byzantium has long history of creating icons
Destruction of icons after 726
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Veneration of religious symbols was a sin
Popular protest, rioting
Policy abandoned 843
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Greek Philosophy and Byzantine Theology
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Attempt to reconcile Greek philosophy with
Judeo-Christianity
Constantine establishes schools to apply
philosophical methods to religious questions
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Ascetism
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Laity looks more to monasticism for leadership
See high church and institutional church as out of
touch
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 Caesarea (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---might inspire
carnal thoughts in the monks.
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Tensions between Eastern and Western
Christianity
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Rome & Byzantium centers of Christianity
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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Precise relationship between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
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Schism
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Arguments over hierarchy, jurisdiction
Autonomy of Patriarchs in Byzantine, or Primacy
of Popes in Rome? Who has the primary
authority in the Christian Church?
1054 Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope of
Rome excommunicate each other--each refusing
to recognize each other as properly Christian
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East: Orthodox Church
West: Roman Catholic Church
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Social Problems in the
Byzantine Empire
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Problems arise from the success of the theme
system
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 (Turks) invade Anatolia
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Threatens grain supply and empire
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 C.E.
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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---survives in Russia
Slavic lands develop orientation to Byzantium
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Kiev & Russia
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Byzantine culture influences development of
Slavic cultures
Conversion of Prince Vladimir 989 CE
Distinctively Slavic Orthodox church develops
Eventual heir to Byzantium
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