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Influences of the Byzantine Empire

Illustrates the Importance of the Byzantine Empire in Western civilization- focusing on the Greek and Roman legacy that they preserved.

Shane Mason

on 12 April 2011

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Transcript of Influences of the Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire Constantine the Great Background Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, bows his head in prayer during high mass in the Church of St. Eirene located in the ancient city of Byzantium. Up until now, Byzantium has been a small, but prosperous town on the shores of the Bosphorus inlet, which separates Europe from Asia. The sermon ends and the Emperor stands in his new capital, renamed Constantinople in his honor on May 11, 330 A.D. When Constantine Died, The Empire was split by his sons into a Western Roman Empire (Ruled from Rome) and an Eastern Byzantine Empire (ruled from Constantinople.) The end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the dark ages was marked by the sack of Rome in 476 A.D. on the other hand, the Byzantine Empire would continue on for almost a thousand years, fundamentally shaping Western civilization in the process. The Byzantine Empire was a bastion of culture during the Dark Ages. The literacy rate in the Byzantine Empire during the European dark ages was estimated at 30%, higher than 18th century France. The citizens were ethnically Greek, but considered themselves Romans. It was this standard of education and cultural fusion that allowed the Byzantine Empire to shape western civilization. Major Areas of Byzantine Influence Architecture European History Preservation of Greco-Roman Culture Byzantine Architecture was extremely prolific, Their trademark was an onion dome over square buildings, this style was emulated throughout Eurasia. Tajmahal Kremlin India Russia Rock of Jerusalem Palestine All of these buildings use a variation of the dome first made by the Byzantines. Hagia Sophia
Constantinople The Byzantine Empire was the threshold of Europe and Asia.
This geographic position gave it great economic and political importance. The Byzantine Empire had a long tradition of statesmanship to draw on in contrast to its many neighbors who were relatively new to the political game. Russia In 987 A.D. Vladimir, King of Russia, was in search of a religion (and by extension a culture) to unify the many slavic tribes under his rule. He naturally turned to the Byzantines. Luckily for him, Emperor Basil II was facing a revolt and in need of allies. Vladimir converted to Christianity and sent troops to help put down the revolt, and in return received Basil II's sister's hand in marriage. Russia then adopted much of Byzantine Culture as it's own. King Ivan the Terrible went so far as to declare Russia "a third Rome" that would carry on in the tradition of Rome and Constantinople. The Byzantines would also give the Russians and their Slavic neighbors their Alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet The Cyrillic Alphabet St.Cyrill was a Byzantine Missionary sent to Moravia in the latter half of the 9th century to convert the local populace to christianity, but the slavs had no written alphabet. So Cyrill made them one. Cyrillic Greek Justinian Justinian was the most important emperor of Byzantium during the dark ages. Justinian's foreign policy was one of reconquest. for a short time during his reign, the Byzantine Empire could once again be called the master of the Mediterranean sea. Justinian’s reign impacted the Dark Age world in many ways, while his military accomplishments would not last, the riches liberated from the conquests funded many a building project in Constantinople, including the Hagia Sophia. Justinian gave permission to a group of monks to travel to the Far East and bring back silkworm eggs and the skill to open a silk factory. He simplified the old Roman laws into the very influential Justinian Code, which would be taught as late and as far away as medieval Bologna, were it would have a powerful influence on European legal science. The Eastern Threat As the doorway from Asia to Europe, The Byzantine Empire was the eastern bulwark of Europe. The Persians had imperial designs on Europe since the time of Leonidas and his three hundred spartans. The Bosphorus inlet The Byzantines fought many wars with the Persians. Who made it to the bosphorus more than once. In the dark ages, Arab invaders conquered most of Spain.
With out the Byzantines, eastern Europe may have suffered a similar fate. The Byzantine Empire would be ended in 1453 A.D. by a new enemy, the Turks. Byzantium however, had lasted long enough for Europe to come of age. By the Early 15th century, middle and upper class Italians began to take interests in Europe's Greek and Roman past. At the same time, many upper and middle class greeks fleed from their collapsing Empire to Italy, especially the city of Venice. Many of these upper class greek immigrants were the product of Byzantine higher education, well-versed in the ancient works of their ancestors. These Greek scholars restored to the Italians a knowledge of ancient Greek that they had been deprieved of. They would also bring many ancient literary works to Italy
that had been nearly lost to the west during the dark ages. The availability of these ancient texts was due to a massive amount of Greek scribes and printers. Work Cited "Constantine Statue - Bing Images." Bing. Web. 06 Oct. 2010. <http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=constantinestatue&form=QBIR#focal=d6fbcc54838a7ab9eff0728a31d4783f&furl=http://saintpetersbasilica.org/Statues/Constantine/Constantine-b.jpg>.

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