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330 C.E. to 1453 C.E.
--- Only in the eastern Mediterranean did a classical empire survive. The
eastern half of the Roman empire, known as the Byzantine empire, withstood the various problems that brought down other classical societies and survived for almost a millennium after the collapse of the western Roman empire in the fifth century C.E.
--- The Byzantine empire was a political and economic powerhouse of the
postclassical era. Until the twelfth century, Byzantine authority dominated the wealthy and productive ...view middle of the document...
The city kept
the name Constantinople until 1453 C.E., when it fell to the Ottoman Turks,
who renamed it Istanbul.
--- The Byzantine empire originated as the eastern half of the classical Roman
empire, which survived the collapse of the western Roman empire in the fifth
century C.E. In its early days the Byzantine empire embraced Greece, the
Balkan region, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and northeast Africa.
--- The most important feature of the Byzantine state was tightly centralized
rule that concentrated power in the hands of a highly exalted emperor. This
characteristic was noticeable already in the time of Constantine, who built his
new capital to lavish standards. He filled it with libraries, museums, and artistic
treasures, and he constructed magnificent marble palaces, churches, baths, and
--- Constantine also set a precedent by hedging his rule with an aura of divinity.
As protector of the Christians and a baptized Christian himself, Constantine
could not claim the divine status that some of his imperial predecessors had
sought to appropriate. As the first Christian emperor, however, Constantine
claimed divine favor and sanction for his rule. He intervened in theological
disputes and used his political position to support views that he considered
orthodox and condemn those that he regarded as heretical. Constantine initiated
a policy that historians call “caesaropapism.”
--- Even dress and court etiquette drew attention to the lofty status of Byzantine
rulers. The emperors wore heavily bejeweled crowns and dressed in
magnificent silk robes dyed a dark, rich purple – a color reserved for imperial
use and strictly forbidden to those not associated with the ruling house.
--- The most important of the early Byzantine emperors was Justinian (527 – 565 C.E.), an energetic and tireless worker known to his subjects as “the sleepless emperor,” who profoundly influenced the development of the Byzantine empire with the aid of his ambitious wife Theodora.
--- Like Constantine, Justinian lavished resources on the imperial capital. During the early years of his rule, riots against high taxes had destroyed much of Constantinople. After Theodora persuaded him to deploy the imperial army and quash the disturbances, Justinian embarked on an ambitious construction program that thoroughly remade the city. The most notable building erected during this campaign was the church of Hagia Sophia, a magnificent domed structure that later became a...