Dynasties Of The Byzantine Empire History Essay

The history of the Byzantine Empire begins with the tetrarchy introduced by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 286 CE and the initiation of Constantinople as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 330 CE by Constantine I. Diocletian had established a tetrarchy. The imperium gets its name from Byzantium the former name Constantinople. Once Constantine changed its name to Constantinople, he did non waver to name it “ the new Rome ” doing it more of import than the declining power of Rome. When Constantine came to power he put an terminal to tetrarchy replacing it with familial sequence.

Although a portion of the Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire was more Grecian than Roman. The rule linguistic communication was Grecian and non Latin and people adopted Christianity sooner than the Romans.

Dynasties of the Byzantine imperium

The tradition of dynastic swayers based on familial sequence was laid down by Constantine ( 324-337 CE ) which continued until Emperor Justinian. This dynasty was besides called the Neo Flavian dynasty as every swayer bore the name Flavian.

Constantine Dynasty ( 306 CE to 363 CE )

The Constantinian Dynasty ( C. 306 CE to 361 CE ) ruled over an imperium covering parts of Egypt, Syria and the Balkans ( considered to be covering Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova ) . Emperor Valens ( 364-378 CE ) was the frequenter of the Valentinian Dynasty.

Constantine was a presbyopic swayer who had introduced many administrative reforms to upgrade the socio-political construction of the imperium. He introduced the gold bezant ( coins ) which stabilised the economic system as it was extremely prized.

Mosaic of Constantine in Hagia Sophia

The strategic location of Constantinople on the trade path between the East and the West overlooking the Danube River helped Constantine to utilize to his advantage. He strengthened the ground forces and extended the munitions of Constantinople doing them impossible to suppress. To guard off the uninterrupted onslaughts of aliens Constantine had started a system of giving subsidies ( supposedly 300kg gold yearly ) and besides favoured merchandisers who traded with the Huns and other foreign groups.

Constantine ‘s replacements worked towards spliting the civil and military governments which persisted until the 7th century. They farther strengthened the defense mechanisms of Constantinople. The Eastern Empire was spared the adversities of the West thanks to effectual disposal and able swayers.

Under Constantine Christianity received royal backing in the signifier of generous privileges by the emperor. This helped the faith to make the multitudes.

The Constantine Dynaty was followed by non dynastic swayers from 363 CE to 364 CE followed by the Valentian dynasty from 364 CE to 379 CE. Under Arcadius, a swayer from the Theodosian dynasty ( 379 to 457 CE ) the Roman Empire was for good divided to organize the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire in 395 CE.

Leonid Dynasty ( 457 CE to 518 CE )

This dynasty was founded by Leo I ( 457-474 CE ) who made an unsuccessful effort to reconquering the imperial parts of North Africa. His son-in-law Zeno ( 474-491 CE ) succeeded him as the following emperor as his ain boy Leo II died after functioning for merely one twelvemonth. When the Western Roman Empire fell, Zeno was in charge in the East. Zeno tried to acquire back the Western Empire by directing a Gothic warrior Theodoric I as the commander-in-chief of Italy. Although Theodoric ruled as an independent male monarch, Zeno maintained at least a nominal domination over the Western Empire.

Justinian Dynasty ( 518 CE to 602 CE )

Justinian I ( 527-656 CE ) the replacement to the laminitis of the dynasty Justin I, was possibly the lone male monarch who embarked upon the ambitious undertaking of unifying the Western and the Eastern Empire. Justinian brought great prosperity to his land. Although an ambitious swayer, some of his policies were unpopular with the multitudes. This unpopularity about cost him his Crown during the Nika Riots ( 532 CE ) . His queenTheodora encouraged him to stamp down the public violences instead than crush a headlong retreat. 30,000 civilians are believed to hold been killed in Justinian ‘s effort to stamp down the public violences.

Motivating words of Queen Thoedora that prompted Justinian I to confront the Nika Riots were “ Those who have worn the Crown should ne’er last its loss. Never will I see the twenty-four hours when I am non saluted as empress. “ aˆ¦ “ Royalty is a all right burial shroud, ” or possibly, [ the royal colour ] “ Purple makes a all right twist sheet. ”

He reclaimed the state of North Africa in 533 CE which had been lost to the Vandals. He reached every bit far as Italy and defeated the weak Ostrogoths. But the Ostrogoths shortly rearranged themselves and came back with dual force and evicted his general Belisarius. Justinian entered into a figure of pacts with the neighboring lands to guard off the uninterrupted menace of invasion. By 555 CE, Justinian had won triumphs in most topographic points except the Balkan district which was continually invaded by the Slavs.

Justinian became universally celebrated for revising the old Roman legal codification and making the new principal of Torahs popularly known as Justinian ‘s Code. The codification serves as a footing for civil jurisprudence even today and provides a valuable penetration to historians into the concerns and activities of the ulterior Roman Empire.

Justinian was a devout Orthodox Christian which made him unbearable non merely to other faiths but even to differing political orientations within Christianity. He had become a frequenter of Christianity and has even been mentioned in the Bible as a saint. He regulated everything related to faith and jurisprudence. The bishops of the Church recognised that nil could be done without the will of the emperor. He viciously suppressed any unorthodoxy by oppositions of the Church. He promoted monasticism, allowing the monastics many rights which were before considered a tabu, like having belongings. He granted them the right to inherit belongings from private citizens and and revoked the Ir right to have solemnia or the monastics ‘ right to have gifts from the imperial exchequer or from the revenue enhancements of certain states. He aalso prohibited arrogation of cloistered estates for any ground.

Justinian rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia which had been destroyed during the Nika Riots. It served as the chief church of the Byzantine Empire.


Byzantine art was an extension of the Roman art. As Roman art itself was inspired by the Greek art, one can see similarity among the three. However Byzantine art differed with the latter two in its attack which was more abstract than realistic. The figures and statuettes in the Byzantine art appear level and one dimensional with small usage of shadow to give a life-like visual aspect. Faces were long and narrow devoid of any world.

The 6th century was regarded as the ‘Golden Age ‘ of Byzantine art. One can see a considerable displacement in the thought and application of art in this period. Mathematicss was regarded as the highest scientific discipline and Justinian had appointed Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician, as one of Hagia Sophia ‘s designer. Anthemius described architecture as ‘an application of geometry to solid affair ‘ . The architecture differs from the traditional manner in its executing of the domes and columns. The domes are more semi-circular than the about round forms found in the West. Most of the art depicts scenes from the life of Christ. One of the most of import genres of Byzantine art was the icon, an image of Christ, Virgin Mary or a saint. The male monarchs excessively found a topographic point of fear in these spiritual temples.


Mosaics were more cardinal to the Byzantine Empire than where they originated – the Western Roman Empire. Mosaics were non merely found in churches but in every family in the signifier of little icons to mark the life and times of Christ. Some even depicted everyday life. Mosaic art was at its extremum during the fifth and 6th centuries.

( From left to compensate ) – Mosaic picturing day-to-day life ; an iconic mosaic from the Patmos Monastery, Greece and a Gladiator mosaic found in Cyprus

Boy and Donkey, Byzantine Mosaic


Harmonizing to historians the foundation of Hagia Sophia was laid by Constantine I. The Church was built in three stages. The first church was by Constantius II in 360 CE and the 2nd by Theodosius II in 415 CE. During the Nika public violences in 532 CE the church was burned to the land. Justinian built the 3rd stage which is still integral.

The Hagia Sophia Museum as it stands today-the minarets were added by the OttomansJustinian was really ambitious about the Hagia Sophia church. The church was constructed so excellently that when it was completed, he exclaimed, “ Solomon, I have outdone thee! ” He called it the ‘Church of Holy Wisdom ‘ . He had bought the most alien and olympian stuffs from all over the Roman Empire – eastern as good western. The Hellenic columns were ordered from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, big rocks from the preies in Egypt, green marble from Thessaly, Greece ; black rock from the Bosporus part, and yellow rock from Syria.

Some of the few lasting mosaics from the Hagia Sophia – Jesus and the Virgin Mary


Ravenna served as a Byzantine Centre in the Italian heartland and many constructions were constructed in the metropolis. The Church of San Vitale is one of the finest illustrations of Byzantine art and architecture in the Western Roman Empire. Although the designer of the construction is unknown, it was sponsored by a Grecian banker Julius Argentarius around 527 CE. The Church is a all right combination of Roman and Byzantine art. It has the Roman elements of archways, domes and stepped towers and the Byzantine bequest of polygonal apsis ( semi handbill, arched infinite in the wall- important to Byzantine art ) , pillars, columns and narrow bricks.

Justinian with his soldiers and the clergy

San Vitale is celebrated for the mosaic panels of Emperor Justinian and his queen Theodora. The mosaic of Justinian says a batch about his power and place. He is standing in the center with soldiers to his right and the clergy on his left including Bishop Maximianus, underscoring Justinian as the leader of both church and the State. He is clad in purple, the royal coloring material and has a aureate aura, which gives him the same position as Christ.

Theodora excessively is depicted as a goddess, solemn and low, transporting the goblet that holds the holy vino. She is flanked by priests on the right who are escorting her in the church and a tribunal of ladies on the left.

Theodora being escorted to the Church


Theodora, before get marrieding Justinian was a public entertainer. In those yearss, this profession was non considered worthy of regard. Harmonizing to church Torahs, such adult females were non good received. However Justinian fell frantically in love with Theodora and in order to do her his queen, abrogated the jurisprudence and in fact provided better protection for adult females wrongdoers and created separate cells for adult females wrongdoers guarded by adult females guards.

See the above incident and reflect on what this incident tells us about the power that Justinian held over the Church?

How has faith become a tool in the custodies of the powerful?

“ aˆ¦abrogated the jurisprudence and in fact provided better protection for womenaˆ¦ ” Is it applicable to the present times? Support your answerwith grounds.

Torahs have been held to hold absolute power ; nevertheless they have been twisted and amended to accommodate one ‘s demand, normally of the powerful. In the present context have you come across any such arbitrary jurisprudence? Name it/ them and explicate why you feel they are arbitrary.

Use your Greies cellsaˆ¦

Beauty in Wordsaˆ¦

Read the undermentioned article “ Talking Turkey ” by high editorialist Jug Suriya depicting the beauty of Istanbul, Turkey. Courtesy blog “ Juggle- Bandhi ” featuring in the Times of India web site.



Istanbul has witnessed the teeter of history between East and West

Bunny and Is take a boat from Europe to Asia. The journey lasts 20 proceedingss. We are in Istanbul, and the ferry takes us from Eminonu, which is on the European side of the metropolis, to Uskudar, which is on the Asiatic side, on the other shore of the Bosphorus.

Istanbul – once known as Constantinople, after the Christian emperor Constantine – is the legendary meeting topographic point of Europe and Asia, East and West. The straggling metropolis of 22 million people is strikingly beautiful, a challenge to the creative person ‘s coppice, the poet ‘s phrase. Seven low hills crouch down to the sun-spangled Sea of Marmara, flanked on one side by the Bosphorus, which links it to the Black Sea, and on the other side by the recess of the Golden Horn. The H2O is so bluish that it has given us the word ‘turquoise ‘ , a coloring material arising in Turkey.

Europe and Asia, East and West, hang-up shoulders in comfy acquaintance. Sleek, French-built tramcars glide soundlessly down wide thoroughfares bounded by hustling pavings where designer-ripped denims and hijabs go manus in manus. The slender minarets of a myriad mosques conjure a Communion of Earth and sky, and difficult stone discos coexist with dervishes twirling in Sufi rapture. In the Grand Bazaar in Beyazit, the ‘fixed monetary value ‘ rigidness of the western supermarket is made flexible and fluid by the eastern art of bargaining, for anything and everything, from rugs and spices, to 22-carat gold jewelry and cellular telephone cards, for the sheer pleasance of it. For what better manner for client and tradesman to pass the twenty-four hours than in spirited dialogue, over eternal bantam cups of midst, treacle-sweet java?

This co-mingling of East and West is best represented by the many-domed Ayasofya, billed as one of the most fantastic edifices in the universe. Originally called Hagia Sophia, it was built in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and for about a thousand old ages it was said to be the universe ‘s largest Christian church. In the fifteenth century, after Sultan Mehmed II seized Constantinople and changed its name to Istanbul, which merely means ‘The City ‘ , Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque and renamed Ayasofya. Five hundred old ages subsequently, Kemal Ataturk, the laminitis of modern Turkey, made it into a museum. Ataturk – frequently said to be Turkey ‘s opposite number of Russia ‘s Peter the Great – tried to ‘westernise ‘ his state by doing it into a secular province, presenting the Latin alphabet, and following the European chapeau as the national headdress alternatively of the traditional Fez.

Today, Ayasofya is still a museum, thronged by visitants who strain their cervixs to gaze in admiration at the mosaic-encrusted cardinal dome, so high that it can suit the Statue of Liberty. But Turkey has voted in favor of an Muslim authorities alternatively of Ataturk ‘s secular dispensation, a development which is one of the hindrances to the state ‘s coveted rank of the all-Christian European Union. East or West? The teeter of history has yet to settle which of the two Turkey truly belongs to.

Or possibly it belongs to both, and in making so belongs to neither. For Istanbul, more than any other metropolis, is historic cogent evidence that ‘East ‘ and ‘West ‘ are arbitrary geographical and cultural concepts which progressively are going interchangeable with each other. Long before ‘globalisation ‘ became a catch phrase, Istanbul that one time was Constantinople was populating cogent evidence of a cosmopolite catholicity which underlies the decorative alterations that history makes on the face of clip.

We take the ferry from Uskudar back to Eminonu, from Asia to Europe, from East to West. And we ‘re still in the same topographic point, still in Istanbul, still in the metropolis which could be given a name no other than ‘ The City ‘ , unique unto itself.


If you had the pick, which metropolis would you like to see a metropolis of antiquity and why?



The Eastern Roman Empire was the most comfortable civilization from the beginning of the Middle Ages until the Arab invasions. Travelers and adventurers described it as the most advanced civilization of the clip and were in awe of the people populating in luxury with its brilliant architectural wonders. Constantinople was a trade oasis, widening to Eurasia and North Africa. It was the primary western hub of the silk trade. From Constantinople, the silk was so exported to Egypt, Bulgaria and farther West. The province controlled internal and international trade and held a monopoly over issuing mintage. The currency of the Byzantine Empire had a high value in the in-between ages. Reforms initiated by Diocletian and Constantine laid the foundations for the Byzantium economic system by replacing the gold aureus with the bezant and presenting the follies ( coins ) in bronze. Coins were minted both in the capital every bit good as states. Many batchs were located in big eastern metropoliss like Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Kyzikos, Ravenna and Rome. Major clubs and corporations were supervised through revenue enhancement, commanding involvement rates and modulating trade good monetary values.

Non-monetary exchange of goods and services through swap was more typical to remote countries.

The Byzantines had a strong clasp on commercial activities. Professions were organised in clubs and no 1 was allowed to belong to two clubs at the same time. Builders, by jurisprudence, had to supply a ten-year warrant of the construction they erected!

Solidus of Justinian II from the 7th century

Coin of Justinian I excavated in India proposing being of Indo-Roman trade

Peoples were engaged in a assortment of professions, agribusiness being the prevailing business. The upper category largely comprised of the nobility, province officials, senior military officers and big land proprietors. The in-between category was made up of the merchandisers, skilled craftsmen and proprietors of medium size lands and belongingss while the lower category was made up of pay earners, laborers and destitute. Men occupied all the official stations in the imperial tribunals, bureaucratism and military.

Women by and large did non actively take part in trade and were confined to household responsibilities nevertheless grounds of adult females prosecuting in weaving and whirling, working as fruit and vegetable sellers, herb gatherers and kourisses ( adult females who dressed other adult females ‘s hair employed either in private or in public baths ) . Womans could besides hold the option of being doctors and accoucheuses. Some served nutrient in invitee houses and tap houses. Although adult females were excluded from priesthood, they had a particular topographic point in monasteries. Many nunneries in the Byzantine Empire were run by female archimandrites.


The Byzantine society worked on the theoretical account of patriarch. The male exerted absolute authorization and took attention of the household. The households were extended household with two to three coevalss populating together. Nuclear households existed in urban metropoliss where bargainers moved and settled with their immediate household members. The adult female of the household raised and cared for the kids.

The more broad patriarch of the Roman society was reduced to the Grecian thought of paternal households where girls were kept under rigorous authorization of the male relations and male childs were given the freedom to move independently. A adult female was constantly accompanied by person whenever she left house. Kekaumenos, a Byzantine writer in his work Strategikon has said, “ Keep your girls as captives, confined and invisible ” . Education was limited to reading and composing.

Girls got married at the age of 13 or 14 and the suer was selected by the parents. Sometimes professional matchers helped in conveying two compatible households together and earned by taking a per centum of the dowery. Girls normally did non hold a say in taking the spouse. Marriage was a formal ceremonial sanctioned by the church. A adult female earned regard in society through her matrimony. It was of import to hold at least one male kid.

Law AND Order

Christianity had pervaded every aspect of human life in the Byzantine Empire, including jurisprudence and order. State Torahs received a godly countenance as the emperor was held to be God ‘s earthly representative and so his Torahs were indispensable for keeping stableness. An spread outing organic structure of Canonical Laws reflect the turning authorization of the church.

Corpus juris civilis introduced by Justinian I served as a footing for civil law. Many ulterior parts like Nomos Georgikas ( Farmer ‘s Law ) and Rhodian Sea Law were private aggregations of codifications refering to rural life and maritime activities severally.

Condemnable jurisprudence chiefly addressed cases of larceny, robbery, harm or hurt to another individual or belongings. Courts were established to cover with these affairs. Punishments ranged from fiscal compensation, imprisonment, expatriate and in instances of pre-meditated slaying or fatal assault decease punishment was awarded.

Class barriers existed in the Byzantine Empire excessively. Convicted elites in instances other than lese majesty could lose their rubrics, personal belongings or acquire banished to a monastery or remote state, whereas public whipping, mutilation and executing were the penalties referred for the members of the lower categories. As the influence of the church grew, such penalties were avoided and ostracism in monasteries became more common. The church became an refuge for personal penitence and religious healing.


Decline of the Byzantine Empire was a procedure which lasted several centuries before the concluding prostration. Although there is no certain day of the month for the beginning of the diminution, historians nem con agree that it all started with the invasion of the Arabs.

The Arabs had conquered districts in the Levant ( contemporary Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian districts ) and Egypt by the 9th century. The loss of Egypt was a significant blow as most of the manufactured goods and naturals resources of the Byzantine Empire came from the state. Conversely Egypt now proved to be a beginning of finance to the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphates, giving them the bravery and resources to spread out. The Byzantine-Arab Wars crippled the imperium non merely monetarily but the uninterrupted province of war drained the people of their physical and emotional strength.

Between the 11th and 12th centuries, the Seljuk Turks for good settled in Anatolia. By 1025, the whole of Asia Minor, about 70 per cent of the Byzantine Empire was lost to the Seljuks.

The Crusades were launched partially to reconstruct the lost glorification of the Byzantine Empire but majorly to acquire back the sanctum topographic points in and near Jerusalem. However the Crusades added to the fiscal load of the Empire and became a ground for its diminution.

Important day of the months

286 CE- Founding of Constantinople by the first Constatnitne Emperor Constantine I.

306- Founding of the Constantine Empire by Emperor Constantine.

330 -founding of Constantinople as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

360- First Church of Hagia Sophia built by Constantius II.

363 to 364- non dynastic swayers.

364 to 379 -Valentian dynasty.

379 to 457 – Theodosian dynasty.

395- Final division of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire.

415-Second Church of Hagia Sophia built by Theodosius II.

457 – Initiation of the Leonid Dynasty.

518 – Initiation of the Justinian Dynasty by Justin I.

523- Nika Riots put down by Justinian I.

533- Justinian reclaims the state of North Africa.

Use your Grey Cellsaˆ¦


Describe the geographic factors that made Constantinople a Centre of cultural diffusion, military defense mechanism, and trade.

How were the Roman and Byzantine imperiums connected?

What is Justinian ‘s Code?

How did the Byzantine Empire aid to continue and convey classical Greek and Roman civilization and cognition?

How did Byzantine art and architecture differ from the Romans?


Justinian ‘s ‘ Code helped set up order in the Byzantine Empire. What function do you believe regulations and Torahs play today?

Given below is a jurisprudence on slaves from Book I of Justinian ‘s Code. Read it carefully and reply the inquiries that follow ;

Slaves are in the power of Masterss, a power derived from the jurisprudence of states ; for among all states it may be remarked that Masterss have the power of life and decease over their slaves, and that everything acquired by the slave is acquired for the maestro.

Was it a merely jurisprudence?

Would this jurisprudence work today? Why?

Justinian uses the words jurisprudence of states? Do you believe the phrase is exaggerated? Why?

In Grade 6, you learnt about Hammurabi ‘s Code. How does it differ from Justinian ‘s Code? Compare and contrast.

Why has codification of jurisprudence been an of import facet of judicial procedures?


Byzantine Empire has contributed vastly to art and architecture. In visible radiation of the statement measure the part of Byzantine art.