The Byzantine Empire

   1. History of the Byzantine Empire

   Before his death, the emperor Theodosius the Great divided his states between his two sons. Honorius received the West and Arcadius the East. In 476, Romulus Ausgustulus was dismissed when Odoacer, leader of the barbarous people, took control of Rome. With this fact the Middle Ages start.

   But the Eastern Roman Empire survived for over a thousand years with frequent wars and some difficulties until the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. The Capital was Byzantium, also called Constantinople, because Constantine inaugurated it as the capital of the empire in 330 A.C.

  Arcadio was the first monarch who had to defend himself of the Germans, Bulgarians and Persians.

   The Byzantine Empire reached its peak with Justinian. Great part of the territories of the original Roman Empire, such as North Africa, Italy and part of the Iberian Peninsula, was conquered. But these conquests were short and fell into the hands of the barbarians.

   Justinian's successes are due to two qualities: first, they were hard working, such was the case that soldiers called him "the emperor who never sleeps" and second, he had a special intuition to choose the right person to every moment.

   With Basil I the peak is reached in all aspects and in his time the Bulgarians were defeated. But in 1054 the East–West Schism that separated the Roman Church from the Byzantine occurred. Thus the decline of the Empire starts.


   2. Answers if these facts refer to the emperor Arcadius, to Justinian or to Basil I:
 

Africa and Italy were conquered

He was the first monarch

He defended himself of the Bulgarian

It reached its peak

He was hard working

The East–West Schism occurred

He defended himself of the Persians

He choose the right person

He began the decline






    3. Society and economy

   - SOCIETY: The emperor lived so splendid in his palace, with all the oriental luxury. His authority was absolute and despotic; he was the owner of lives and property of his subjects.

   There were three classes: aristocracy, clergy and people. The aristocracy was made up of senior court officials and landowners. The clergy had great influence after the East–West Schism and the people lived quite hardship. This caused some revolts.

   - ECONOMY: Byzantium or Constantinople was the most prosperous and richest city in Europe: it had Eastern goods, such as fabrics, perfumes and spices, leathers from Russia and metals from Europe, which distributed to the cities of the Mediterranean. Constantinople was a magnificent city, it was the financial center of the world and the point of great trade routes.


   4. Indicate if these sentences refer to the society or to the economy:

The emperor lived splendid

Fabrics and perfumes arrived

They had leathers from Russia

There were three social classes

The people lived hardship

Great trade routes

The emperor was despot

They had metals from Europe


    5. Byzantine Civilization

      - CULTURE: The emperor Justinian promulgated the famous "Corpus Juris Civilis” Code of Laws of great importance. In this way, they preserved Roman law which was the basis of European laws of the Middle and Modern Ages.

   Byzantine culture preserved and transmitted the Greek and Roman contributions.

   - ART: in the Byzantine Empire, the classical Greek and Roman Art combine with East trends. This influenced in Europe and in the Muslim art.

   Justinian embellished Constantinople with large buildings, such as Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture (see the upper picture) and the Imperial Palace. Other notable buildings are the Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice and the basilica of san vitale in Ravenna.

   They developed the art of mosaic, the metalwork and the ivories decoration.

   - RELIGION: The emperors saw with displeasure the dependence to the Pope of Rome and wanted to dominate them. This caused the schism, that is, the separation between the Church of Rome and Byzantium.

   Two heresies spread: the Monophysite and iconoclast. The Monophysites said that Christ is a God and not a man, denying human nature. The iconoclasts were contrary to the worship of images, saying that God and the saints cannot be represented in human figures.  


   6. Indicates if these sentences refer to the culture, to the art or to the religion:

They did not want the dependence to the Pope

They created the Code of Civil Laws

They built the Saint Mark's Basilica

They preserved the Roman law

They were iconoclasts

He embellished Constantinople

Ivories decoration

The Monophysite heresy

They preserved the Greek contributions




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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL