December 19, 2013
MWHH pd 3
The Decline of the Byzantine Empire
During the 5th century, the Roman Empire lost its western territories leaving only the Byzantine Empire remaining. In 565 A.D., Byzantine’s emperor, Justinian I, and his wife Theodora, expanded territory from Constantinople into parts of Europe, Asia and Africa in attempt to recover western land and re-create the Roman Empire. Although Justinian’s advances were shot-lived, the Byzantine Empire’s economic base continued to grow under his rule. For instance, trade was plentiful, silk production was often stolen from China and both the military and economy were superior compared to other empires. However, over time, the Byzantine Empire fell because of the major civil wars in 1321 and 1341, the crusades and ultimately the Ottoman Turk’s takeover.
One of the main contributors in the decline of the Byzantine Empire were the two civil wars that occurred in Macedonia and Constantinople. In 1321, the first civil war, often called the War of the Two Andronikoi, occurred between Byzantine’s emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and his grandson Andronikos III Palaiologos over control of the empire. Andronikos III had many supporters including John Kantakouzenos, who had a governorship in the nearby land of Thrace. Shortly after the war began, a peace treaty was reached in which Andronikos III Palaiologos was named co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire. The peace treaty did not last long and after seven more years of battle, the war ended leaving Andronikos III in charge of the army and John Kantakouzenos named as the leader. The second civil war of 1341, sometimes referred to as the Second Palaiogan Civil War, happened after disagreement broke out after Andronikos III Palaiologos’s death over the guardianship of his young son and heir, John V Palaiologos. The conflict occurred between John VI Kantakouzenos and Androsnikos III’s second wife, Empress Anna of Savoy. As Androniko III’s closest friend, Kantakouzenos became guardian for John V, until a coup d’état in September 1341, lead by Anna of Savoy’s supporters, established her to become the guardian of John V, and a rise of armed battles occurred. Following six years of civil war, John VI Kantakouzenos reigned victorious...