Byzantine Empire


The Byzantine Empire is considered as the continuation of the Roman Empire in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. It is an empire of Christian nature that was perennially at war with the Muslims , flourishing during the reign of the Macedonian emperors . His disappearance occurred as a result of attacks by Seljuk Turks and Ottoman Turks .


What is the Byzantine Empire?


It can be defined as a Christian State created by different ethnic groups of great cultural , economic and political importance of the time, and whose existence originated after the fall and division of the Roman Empire after the reign of Theodosius I.



People who lived under the early Byzantine Empire saw themselves as Romans , but the culture of the empire changed over the years. By incorporating Greek and Christian culture , it was transformed into a unique Byzantine culture . The Byzantine Empire was influenced by Latin, Coptic, Armenian, and Persian cultures . Later, it was also influenced by Islamic cultures. Constantinople was an extremely diverse city and its residents were multi-ethnic and multi- religious.. Taxes for foreign merchants were the same as for residents, and Byzantine merchants actively traded with regions of the Mediterranean and the east and west, including areas around the Black Sea , the Red Sea , and the Indian Ocean.

Formation of the Byzantine Empire

Byzantium was the name of a small but important city located on the Bosphorus , the strait that connects the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Aegean with the Black Sea , and that separates the continents of Europe and Asia. In Greek times, the city was on the border between the Greek and the Persian world . In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great made both worlds part of his Hellenistic universe , and later Byzantium became a city of increasing importance within the Roman Empire . Its formation was given from the decision of the EmperorDiocletian to administer the Holy Roman Empire by means of two parties ruled by an emperor and a vice-emperor .


The empire is divided into three important stages:

  • First Byzantine Golden Stage : At that time the crusaders destroyed Constantinople.
  • Second Byzantine Golden Stage : the Turks took Constantinople.
  • Proto-Byzantine art : the iconoclastic quarrel appears in the time of Justinian.

Fall of the Byzantine Empire

The arrival of Emperor Michael VIII began the decline of the empire. During his term of office the Turkish army was in charge of reducing the dominions of the Byzantine Empire. What also caused its fall were the changes that occurred in society , mainly on the part of the settlers and workers as they had to pay high taxes , and they decided to give up their lands.


  • Initially, the empire’s territories included Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia.
  • Its population was very varied.
  • The settlers preferred to call themselves ” Romans .”
  • The name of the Byzantine Empire was given to it in the 16th century by Hieronymus Wolf .
  • They adopted Hellenic traditions and the Greek language .
  • The heyday of the empire took place during the reign of Justinian .
  • The crisis stages of the empire were the 6th and 7th centuries.


In its beginnings it covered the entire Mediterranean coast of Africa , the Anatolian peninsula , Greece, the Italian peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, the Balkans and a large part of the Black Sea coast. During the 7th and 8th centuries the Muslims also managed to conquer the Mediterranean coast of Africa , Syria and Palestine and from that moment, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to the Anatolian peninsula , the Balkans and southern Italy.


Some of the most recognized emperors were: Arcadius, Theodosius II, Leo the Great, Zeno, Justinian I and II, Leoncio, Filipo Bardanes, Constantino X, Teodora, Miguel VI, Eudoxia and Constantino VI.

Cultural manifestations

One of the main manifestations of Byzantine culture was Orthodox Christianity . Byzantine society was very religious and held certain values ​​in high regard, including respect for order and traditional hierarchies . The family was at the center of society, and marriage , chastity, and celibacy were celebrated and respected. The women and mothers were seen as important members of the family unit. The women had their own spaces, called gynaikonitis, where they engaged in activities such as spinning and weaving. They built great palaces andracetracks , its architecture offered a contrast between austerity and luxury . They built numerous churches , the main one being the church of Santa Sofia. They were dedicated to agriculture and there was great cultural diversity . Learning was based on reading Homer and the Bible . Literature was related to the Greeks and art was based on religiously influenced icons .

Political and social organization of the Byzantine Empire

It was a theocratic state in which the emperor was considered the representative of God on earth and was the one who had all political and religious power . It was followed by a large number of officials and armies. The society was hierarchical and distinguished the slaves, peasants, merchants, the clergy, army and the nobility.


The base of its economy was agriculture through large estates . The trade was quite austere and they minted gold coins as the main method of payment. The importance of its economy lay in the Silk Road where silk, fabrics and precious stones were traded.

Contributions of the Byzantine Empire

Byzantine culture was one of the most important and influential in the world today since its methods were based on the hierarchical order . Other contributions were:

  • Military education and political structure originated .
  • The trade was first used as an economic activity.
  • It began with the practice of Christianity worldwide.
  • Roman laws were codified generating Civil Law.
  • The legal techniques manual was created .


It was located on the European side of the Bosphorus , a strait that linked the Mediterranean to the Black Sea . This position was strategic as it served as a transit for trade with Europe and Asia Minor.

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