Byzantine Empire

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 29, 2022, 7:53

Also known as the East Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire is believed to have begun in 330 AD up to 1453 AD. Although the people under the Byzantine Empire saw themselves as Romans, with the inclusion of the Greek and Christian cultures, the overall culture of the empire changed radically over time. The empire continued well until Constantinople fell into a siege that the Ottoman Empire carried out in 1453.

Origination of the Byzantine Empire

The Greek colony 'Byzantium' is believed to be the origin of the term Byzantine Empire. Located on the European side of Bosporus, the strait links the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Over time it evolved into an attractive trade and transit route, serving Asia and Europe.

Byzantium was chosen as the location for a capital city by Constantine I, who was the Roman emperor in 330 AD. According to historians, several reasons might have prompted him to select. At the forefront was the simple mammoth size of the Roman empire, which could no longer be controlled by Rome's capital. Another prominent reason might have been the constant absence of the emperor from Rome due to invasions and aggression from outsiders and usurpers claiming the throne.

Byzantine ultimately emerged as a new capital that served as a backup if any part was lost to war. After the fall and death of Constantine in 337 AD, the Roman empire was divided and later fell into the hands of other emperors.

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Rise of the Byzantine Empire

Several factors led to the survival and rise of the Byzantine Empire, which are as discussed below:

  • The favourable geographical location of the Eastern empire made it less vulnerable to attacks and invasions than its Western counterparts.
  • Most conventional weapons proved ineffective at attacking the land's defence systems, which was located on a strait.
  • The ruling emperors had a good inflow of revenue, which proved to be beneficial for the empire's economic resources since it was located near the silk road. Thus, the empire found it easier to install and pay for a standing army and gather the resources that it would take to mount an attack against any invaders.

Due to these factors, the Eastern end of the Roman Empire found it easier to survive even after the fall of the Roman empire.

Highlights Of The Byzantine Empire

Even after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the legacy left behind by the empire continued to flourish. The empire's arts, literature, and law continued to influence Western culture long after its decline. It is believed that scholars from successive periods used to refer to scholars from the Byzantine period for translations.

The most prominent impact of the byzantine culture could be seen in countries where the practice of Eastern orthodox religion was widespread. This includes Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Russia and more.

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FAQs on Byzantine Empire

Q.1. What were the official languages used in the Byzantine Empire?

The official language used in the Byzantine Empire was Latin. However, another common language used widely in the empire was Greek, which students also used to receive an education.

Q.2. What makes the Byzantine Empire different from the Roman empire?

In modern historical terms, the Byzantine Empire is used as a distinction to separate the state from the Western portion that belonged to the Roman empire. The Byzantine Empire is an ancient Greek colony that was originally called Byzantium.

Q.3. What led to the fall of the Byzantine Empire?

It is believed that the Byzantine Empire fell in the year 1453. The Ottoman Turks are believed to be the pressing cause for the empire's fall. It had been over 100 years since they had been fighting.

Q.4. What was the peak of the Byzantine Empire?

The Byzantine Empire reached its highest peak during the rule of emperor Justinian I between the years 527 and 565. During this time, the Byzantine Empire conquered several other territories and expanded its empire significantly throughout the Roman empire and several parts of North Africa.