The Byzantine Empire Essay

1181 words - 5 pages

The Byzantine EmpireThe Byzantine Empire, the survivor of the Roman empire, flourished into the oldest and longest lasting empire in our history. It began with Constantine the Great's triumph of Christianity. He then transferred his capital from Rome to the refounded Byzantium in the early 4th century, year 330 AD, and named it Constantinople after himself. This city became the surviving safe spot after the breakup of the Western Roman empire by the 5th century. It was by far the largest and richest city in Christendom during the Middle Ages with a population of about one million people. (Encarta)Constantine the Great had established a criterion for the empire to follow throughout its history. It included the harmony of the church, the leaders and the teachers of the empire. Constantine created a successful new monetary system based on the gold solidus, or nomisma which lasted well into the middle of the 11th century. Because of the commercial thriving throughout the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries, many ancient cities flourished. Large estates dominated agriculture which continued to be fruitful in spite of the heavy taxation causing an abandonment of land. From the beginning to the end of the Byzantine empire, the church and the emperor had been the largest landholders, therefore being the largest profiteers of Byzantine. (Encarta)After the Roman empire fell in 476 AD, Byzantine conquered all. It took over the space of southeastern Europe, southwestern Asia, and the northeast corner of Africa. The present day countries in these areas include the Balkan Peninsula, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. This large empire known as Byzantine didn't get called Byzantine until scholars named it. The people of that time were not thought of as Byzantines but as Romans who lived a Roman lifestyle. Byzantine had been started and ruled by an emperor without any formal constitution. It slowly formed a similar establishment of late Roman institutions. Byzantine followed the Romans orthodox Christianity as well. The predominant language of this era was Greek, although some subjects spoke Latin, Coptic, and Armenian. (Great Ages)The Greek language led to a Greek culture. The Byzantine empire stood out for their Christian religion and their expression of it in their artwork. These Romans carved exquisite ivories, illuminated manuscripts, and formed mosaics out of glass and stone. Mosaics were pictures formed from these objects with the intent to stimulate profound religious thought. The mood of these mosaics was always honoring and respectful of Christianity and its components. Another form of Christian expression was in the form of icons. These were parts of the Gospel played out into visual pictures. The icons portrayed prayers, hymns, and sermons in color. These too created a reverence for worshippers to follow. That was the first goal of icons. The second goal was to form an existential link between themselves as worshippers and God. These are only a few ways that...

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