Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire. This is a nice essay on the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. It is from Wikinfo.

From the site:

The Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire was the eastern section of the Roman Empire which remained in existence after the fall of the western section. The life of the empire is commonly considered to span AD 395 to 1453.

During the thousand years of its existence, it was known as the Eastern Roman Empire. It was not referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" until the 17th century. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt Byzantium (today's Istanbul) in AD 330. He renamed it Constantinople and made it the capital of the Roman Empire.

The division of the Empire began with the Tetrarchy (quadrumvirate) in the late 3rd century AD with Diocletian, as an institution intended to efficiently control the vast Roman empire.

The Roman empire was divided by Theodosius I (also called "the great") for his two sons in AD 395. Arcadius became ruler in the East, with his capital in Constantinople, and Flavius Honorius became ruler in the west, with his capital in Milan.

The Byzantines considered themselves to be Romans and the legitimate continuation of the Roman Empire. Practically speaking, however, the general prevailing national identity of the Eastern Roman State was Greek. Greek was not only the official language, but also the language of the church, of the literature and of all commercial transactions. Even though the Byzantine Empire was a multinational state, including Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Egyptians, Syrians, Illyrians, and Slavs, it was considered to be a "Greek state" due to its Orthodox Christian character and its common Greek culture radiated by large centers of Hellenism such as Constantinople, Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalonika and Alexandria.

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