Ancient Civilizations In Africa And Europe

1922 words - 8 pages


The Byzantine Empire (or Byzantium) was a predominantly Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire throughout Late Antiquity and the middle Ages. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania by its contemporaries, the empire was centered on the capital of Constantinople and was ruled by emperors in direct succession to the ancient Roman emperors after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The two main agents of continuity were the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the Christian church. The Byzantine Empire existed for more than a thousand years (from approximately 306 to 1453). During its existence, the Empire remained one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe, despite setbacks and territorial losses, especially during the Roman–Persian and Byzantine–Arab Wars. The Byzantine Empire’s most important achievements were the preservation of forms, institutions and traditions of the old Roman Empire. Byzantium passed their intellectual heritage of Greco-Roman civilization on to later cultures.
The Sassanid Empire of Persia was recognized as one of the two main powers in Western Asia and Europe, alongside the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire. The Empire was founded by Ardashir I (r. 226-243) and lasted until 651. The Muslims overthrew the Sassanid Empire. The Sassanid Empire’s economic prosperity rested on agriculture, their location also made them suited for commerce. Zoroastrianism was the Persians official state religion. Zoroastrianism promoted hostility toward Christians because of the perception of their connections to Rome, Constantinople, and the Jewish population in Mesopotamia after Diaspora (dispersion of Jews from Jerusalem between 132 & 135). Byzantine Emperors preserved Roman law, which made a lasting contribution to medieval & modern worlds. Emperor Justinian appointed a committee of Jurists to sort through and organize laws, which resulted in The Code. Justinian’s lawyers compiled a handbook of civil law, the Institutes. These three works: The Code, Digest, & Institutes are the foundation of the corpus juris civilis, the “body of civil law.”The most powerful woman in Byzantine history was Theodora of Constantinople. The daughter of a bear trainer, she married Justinian in 525. She became empress in 527. Theodora was a major influence on her husband. Instead of becoming an exile, he revolted and ordered between 30-35,000 executions. Justinian’s authority was restored. Even after her death, Justinian continued her influence by passing reforms that favored women, orphanages, hospitals, and rehabilitation for women. Eventually the Western Roman Empire disintegrated in the 4th & 5th century. Christianity gained support of emperors and adopted the Roman system of hierarchical organization. Bishops stressed supremacy over Christian communities. Christianity refashioned the Germanic & classical legacies, creating new rituals and practices that were of influence and meaningful to people....

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