Talk:Byzantine Empire

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To Chewings72 regarding inapropriate language and incorrect use of "arrows" in infobox.[edit]

Original anonymous poster of the section which you edited here.

Yes, some of the language was inapropriate.

Yes, linking the "Byzantine Empire" article to the "Ottoman Empire" article through an "arrow" in the infobox, denotes an connotation that is also inapropriate and factually wrong as the "Ottoman Empire" is not a sucessor state to the "Byzantine Empire".

Hopefully Chewings72 and other "armchair" wikipedia editors find this new section, civil in nature and without inapropriate language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:30, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Explaining the complexity/misconceptions[edit]

The central mistake the current lead makes is that it doesn't explain the often-misunderstood issue of what exactly this state was and how it "came to be"

The Roman Empire was never split in two, rather, it was a single state with two administrations. During such periods when it had two Imperial courts, the area administered by the Eastern Court in Constantinople is referred to by historians(!) as the "Eastern Roman Empire", while the provinces administered by the Western Court in Ravenna/Milan is called "Western Roman Empire", again - by historians.

Those two troublesome terms come with two misconceptions: that the Empire was split into two states; amd that the contemporary names of said states were "Eastern/Western Roman Empire". It must be made clear that the Empire was not split into two, and that the terms are historiographic, not contemporary (the latter is sort of done, but it could be done better).

Further, the term "Eastern Roman Empire" is even more problematic as historians sometimes use it to refer to the Roman Empire as a whole(!) - after there is no more "Western Roman Empire". This is all part of the simplified high-school-level narrative ("there were western and eastern empires; then the western fell, and the eastern continued on"). I know this is by no means the first time I myself am struggling to somehow correct high-school history.

So there are three points connected to the ERE term:

  • the Empire was not split into two, but was merely administered by two imperial courts
  • the terms WRE and ERE are historiographic, not contemporary (this was already done, I'd like to make it more explicit)
  • If used after 476 (or rather after the death of Julius Nepos) the term "ERE" in fact indicates the whole of the Roman Empire. As an interesting side-note, the Western Province of Dalmatia passed into the hands of the Eastern Court when the Western was abolished.

I've tried to somehow address this in my latest lead draft. I'm not 100% happy with it, but I think its a step in the right direction.

A few further points:

  • I disagree that the Byzantine Empire is a "continuation" of the Roman Empire. It is the Roman Empire. "Byzantine Empire" is simply the term for the Roman Empire, i.e. the same state, during a certain period.
  • I don't think we should have two entries in the 'conventional long names' parameter. This is a parameter intended for a single name entry. We should chose one, and go with it. In my experience, that's how its almost always done when a country has several names. "Romania" is referred to in the lead, I don't think its necessary in the infobox.
  • Finally, as one can see in the template instructions, the 'common_name' parameter is the one intended for the non-factual, "unofficial" name. 'Conventional_long_name=' is almost always utilized by the historically accurate, "official" name ("official" is in quotation marks).

-- Director (talk) 16:50, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

The "common name" parameter isn't displayed at all. It only serves for creating links to categories, subpages and so on. Fut.Perf. 22:00, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
I prefer the lead as FutPerf reverted it to today. I don't find any of the points in the above post important enough for the lead. They are points of detail which would be mildly interesting in the body of the article somdwhere - but, no they are not important unless one has an obsessional attachment to this tired issue. I find the theme that we shouldn't reflect the "misconceptions" of historians too close to WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS and outside the scope of Wikipedia. DeCausa (talk) 20:15, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. Do we really have to go through the yearly morass of discussing all of this again, and again, and again? I quite agree with DeCausa that this obsessive insistence on something that most of the literature does in fact not stress in the same way has a feeling of "righting great wrongs" to it, and it certainly is an instance of WP:Lead fixation to have it monopolize all the first half of the lead paragraph like this. Last time we discussed this, the main outcome was that we wanted to free the lead section from this excess weight. I do actually like some of the wording Director suggested, but that's really for somewhere further down in the text. Where I also agree with Director is in the general aim of streamlining the naming section in the disinfobox (I said something about that last year at Talk:Byzantine Empire/Archive 12#Name variants in infobox). However, I disagree with removing the main "Byzantine Empire" heading (i.e. changing the "conventional long name" parameter). "Byzantine Empire" is just that, the conventional name, and that is precisely what that heading is for. Essentially, the main title of the box should always be the same as the title of the article, or at least stand in an immediately understandable logical relation to it. "Byzantine Empire" and "Roman Empire" don't do that; having the article under the one and the box under the other heading doesn't help to clarify things but only confuses. My personal preference would be to reduce the "native name" parameter (i.e. the smaller heading underneath) to "Roman Empire" – it's "native" in the sense that it represents the autonym, even if it's an English translation of it, and all the Latin and Greek is really not of prime interest to the reader, and, again, not easily to take in from a mere box entry without supporting prose. Fut.Perf. 22:51, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I'm sure you're all bored by all this, but rest assured I'm no "crusader" in this matter (no pun intended), but merely a user who's taken the time to do some research. I'm very mu interested in Byzantine history, myself.. but I'm not Orthodox, I'm not Greek, or Russian, or whatever. I don't have some ethno-religious bone to pick with you arrogant Latins :P
At the very least the infobox heading should be changed to "Roman Empire", as opposed to the a-historical term, and the intro sentence should do without the word "continuation". As I'm sure you know, I can easily show that the 'conventional long name' parameter is not used for the most common term in sources (which has the 'common_name=' parameter), but the historically accurate term. People who know how to read Wikipedia look to that entry to find out the full historical name of the state. Also I of course am opposed to the removal of the Greek and Latin native names, why would we do that? -- Director (talk) 09:01, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
You are not listening. If you are not prepared to take in what other people are saying, it's no use continuing this discussion. Fut.Perf. 09:24, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
Of course I'm "listening". The 'conventional_long_name=' parameter is for the (quote) "full name in English", nothing else. "Roman Empire" is the "full name in English" of this state, I don't think anyone disputes that. As I said, Wikipedia readers look to the infobox heading for the "official", historical name of the former state, whereas the most common name in the sources is used in the title. In practically every former country article out there, you have the historical name as the infobox heading, supported by the translations of said name in the native language. Clear, direct, easy to understand - not this mess. We must make the actual name of this state more obvious to the reader. And I don't think this is a point to be dismissed offhandedly. -- Director (talk) 10:17, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
No, the "actual name" in English is what it is in the present tense, by convention (hence "conventional name"), and that is "Byzantine Empire" and nothing else, period. That will remain the heading in the infobox, for the same reason as it remains the title of the article itself. Fut.Perf. 11:15, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
The title of the article and the heading of the infobox are determined by different criteria. To me it seems that "full name in English" refers unambiguously to the "official", historical name of the state. Nazi Germany is the "Greater German Reich" in the infobox, even though "Nazi Germany" is the term used "by convention". And, as I said twice, this is a situation practically ubiquitous to all such articles. Now you might say it "doesn't apply" to such an ancient state, but this has to do with the infobox itself and its parameter criteria. The bottom line, for me, is that the reader looks to the infobox heading to find the historical name in English - and he/she should find it. Consistency is important to at least diminish the detrimental effects of (dis)infoboxes. -- Director (talk) 11:25, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
We should never assume that readers look for particular entries in infoboxes based on any implicit conventions learned from other infoboxes – average readers don't have that kind of automatic familiarity with whatever you or I might think are Wikipedia-wide habits. Readers look at the top of the box with nothing but a vague expectation that it will contain something fundamentally characterising the topic of the article; by default, that will be the same name as the article itself. If it isn't the same name, it has to be something whose logical relation to the article title is self-evident. With a case like "Nazi Germany" vs. "German Reich", that relation is indeed easy to understand – it will be self-obvious to any reader that "Nazi Germany" isn't what the Nazis themselves called it, so they can easily figure out that the string in the infobox will represent that instead. However, with "Byzantine Empire" vs. "Roman Empire", that link is far from obvious. It doesn't explain, but is itself in need of explanation. Anything that is in need of explanation and cannot be fully understood from the tabulated listing alone simply should not be in an infobox, ever. Fut.Perf. 11:38, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
@Director, per my first post, I wasn't accusing you of any political/cultural/religious agenda. I was accusing you of uninteresting literalist pedantry that's of no special value to the general reader. (Is that better?...) When I read the points you are making, I just have the overwhelming desire to say "so what?". They are footnote-level points only. (And, that's how they are treated in the historiography.) As to the infobox (ugh), agree with Fut.Perf. I think it just looks bizarre to have it headed with the name of a different Wikipedia article. Isn't it just common sense? DeCausa (talk) 13:53, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
(Apologies for my absence, rather busy these days.)
I take your point(s). The link between the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire is less obvious than that usually present between the title and the infobox heading. However, I view that as problem to solve rather than anything else - I still think the parameter must be used as its used throughout the project. I propose using a note that briefly explains to the reader why we're using "Roman Empire". -- Director (talk) 15:48, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
No, that's not what notes are for, and anything that requires an explanative extra note is not what an infobox is for, and your obsession on making the simple, conventional, standard name "Byzantine Empire" disappear from the top of the page for nothing but your private POV interests is becoming absurd now. Stop it. You will not remove "Byzantine Empire" from the top of the box, period. Fut.Perf. 15:53, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe I am at all "obsessed" with any of this, and I can't fathom what you could possibly mean by "private POV interests"? Infoboxes everywhere are of course absolutely teeming with explanative notes [1][2][3], in fact they have special parameters for them (including this one), and I'd like to point out that its you who believes the matter needs further elaboration. I'm fine with just using the infobox as it is used throughout the project. -- Director (talk) 16:01, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
No, I absolutely do not think the matter "needs further elaboration". I believe it would need further elaboration, if we went by your very bad proposal of making the top of the box say something other than the top of the article, and that is precisely why it is such a bad proposal. And stop repeating that inane argument that that's what's done everywhere else; I just showed you in one of my last postings how it isn't. You are, again, not listening. Fut.Perf. 16:07, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I meant to emphasize its you who believe "Roman Empire" is confusing to the reader. I don't really think we need a note, but I can see how one might feel the matter is not entirely clear.
If you hold that to have the infobox 'say something other than the top of the article' is a very bad proposal, then I'm afraid you have a lot of work to do changing existing infobox headings across the project. I can literally go to the former countries cat and just spam links here, one after the other, where the heading uses the full, historically accurate, "official" name, while the title uses a different, most common one. Of the three articles I linked above to show notes usage, two are good examples of this ([4][5]). But pick practically any country where the official name does not match with the commonname and you will get a good example of what I'm talking about [6][7][8][9][10][11][12], etc. etc. Its not that I'm not listening, I'm just not seeing your argument in this regard. -- Director (talk) 16:31, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, you are not seeing it, because you are not listening. I know. But I'll say it again: Having different headings in the box and in the article title is okay if and only if the relation between the two is self-evident. That said, I'm not going to accept any argument on the basis of "other articles are doing it that way" in any case, where infoboxes are concerned, as a matter of principle. Ill-designed infoboxes are pretty much one of the most widespread evils of Wikipedia, so no habit based on other infoboxes in other articles will ever form a compelling argument to do anything here. Fut.Perf. 16:42, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
  • @"I'm not going to accept any argument on the basis of 'other articles are doing it that way'". - My argument is that the relevant infobox parameter is misused, as it does not sport the "full name" of this state. Note: not the common name, but simply the "full name". I base that interpretation on the fact that the entire project does not use the common name in the infobox, but the full "official" name.
  • @"Having different headings in the box and in the article title is okay if and only if the relation between the two is self-evident." - Well, pardon me, but - says who? What are you basing that particular claim on? Because I'm not seeing such criteria in either the relevant infobox instructions or in common use? Certainly not below the level of "Byzantine Empire"/"Roman Empire". To pick the first example from just the links I posted above, the Kingdom of Naples is called the "Kingdom of Sicily" in the infobox (and I can't imagine changing it to "Kingdom of Naples").
Sometimes the names are completely different, sometimes they are naturally similar. But the point is to show the different criteria: the infobox name sports the historically accurate term, whereas the title uses the commonname.
I don't want to annoy you, Future. But I assure you I have no agenda here and am arguing in complete good faith. My only motive is to reduce the detrimental effects of the infobox by at least filling-in the parameters in a consistent fashion with the rest of the project. If we used the common name in the infobox heading (as we do with modern countries), I'd not be proposing anything here. -- Director (talk) 16:59, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Future, since the gist of your argument seems to be (and correct me if I'm wrong on this) that "having different headings in the box and in the article title is okay if and only if the relation between the two is self-evident", then please support that claim with something or otherwise give this up. Far from it being a "personal" thing for me, it seems that the reverse may be true. Frankly I feel all these "orders" you're issuing are a bit demeaning ("No.", "You will not change this.", etc.). -- Director (talk)

It isn't in need of "supporting" with "something"; it is plain common sense. You, Direktor, have doggedly tried to replace the heading in this box for several years now, at least since mid-2012, going away whenever you found that your change didn't win consensus, only to come back repeating the same edit some month later. This is blatant long-term revert-warring. Stop it. Fut.Perf. 11:09, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Its not common sense - its nonsense. If we had some of the articles use a historical infobox heading and some use the commonname, because the former was arbitrarily decreed not to be "self-evident", - we'd have a terrible, even more confusing state of affairs. Fortunately - we don't: we use the historical name in the heading of the former country infobox, and I can attest to that, if I have to, by literally spamming this thread with 150 links or more.
I ask you again: who says that the link between the common name and the heading needs to be "self-evident", and who is it that decides what is or is not "self-evident"? And finally, why would you even object to that when an infobox note is proposed to dispel any hypothetical misconceptions you believe the reader may acquire??
If you wish to claim I have engaged in some kind of 10-year edit war here, you know where to bring that up, but I'd be much obliged if you stopped discussing your perceptions of my conduct here on the Byzantine Empire talkpage - because that looks like you're threatening me in loo of a credible argument. -- Director (talk) 11:41, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Stop "asking again" and again the same thing all over. I've given you my arguments. If you don't find them convincing, fine, that's up to you, but stop pretending you never heard them. I see I probably won't convince you here, and you certainly won't convince me, but then again, it seems you have so far failed to convince anybody else in all the three years you've been trying to push this change through. Long-term consensus on this page has been against you. I'm not willing to discuss this further with you at this point; it's a waste of time. Fut.Perf. 11:56, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
I've not heard on what basis you claim that the connection between the names must be "self-evident" (whatever it is exactly that defines that). If it is indeed only your opinion that it makes "common sense", then I can't see how you can hold that up. My position is not based on anything I personally consider to be "common sense", but on conventions that the entire project follows (which, btw, I believe are a better indication of what is sensible). I'll post an RfC, I hope you'll participate? -- Director (talk) 12:29, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Director, this edit but was bad enough, but this is unacceptable. Not only did you make those edits while there was an ongoing talk page discussion on that point, no one has supported you in that talk page discussion. And this was after you were already reverted on 30 January here. This is just edit-warring against consensus. DeCausa (talk) 14:01, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
No, its not edit-warring. As I said above, if you feel I have engaged in edit-warring, then please express your opinion in the appropriate venue. Not on the Byzantine Empire talkpage. As things are, such comments appear to me as little more than rather unimpressive rhetorical ploys.
From my perspective, all I did was #1 demonstrate a different proposal that takes into consideration your objections to the original edit (making that clear in the edit summary), and #2 demonstrate the fact that infoboxes do, in fact, use "explanatory notes", through making use of the infobox parameter specifically intended for that purpose. -- Director (talk) 15:41, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
Direktor, all you are doing is wasting your time. Don't think you are the only person who has tried to push this through. Stop believing yourself to be some vigilante "Lone Ranger". User:Keeby101 attempted a similarly eccentric and out-of-context stunt, but at least he apologized for it. I believe you made a comment regarding User:DeCausa and User:Future Perfect at Sunrise describing them as "arrogant Latins", but in truth you were attacking the wrong people. You are the arrogant one here. You refuse to listen to and ignore the arguments of other distinguished Wikipedia editors. Please, Direktor, stop all this nonsense and cease creating havoc on this otherwise wonderful Wikipedia article. It should not be an advertisement for personal opinions. B14709 (talk) 23:14, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I was obviously joking (I'm a "Latin" as well, in every sense). What is wrong with you folks, why do you keep imagining this is personal somehow?? "Lone Ranger"? What? Fellas, pls stop commenting on me personally and produce a credible argument for using the commonname in the infobox heading in loo of the historical name. That just isn't done, certainly not in the vast majority of cases. Clearly, most people do not share the view that it is "common sense" to do so. -- Director (talk) 05:11, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

Allow me to but in on this conversation! Especially given that I was mentioned and my username was linked to everyone! Dear B14709, its fine to mention me, but please do not link my username to everyone please!

Since I am here however... I will give my two cents on regards to this edit war or rather a discussion that is starting to escalate into an edit war. Personally, I think that the name of the article along with the article itself is fine as is, however the only problem that I have with it is the fact that the Ottoman Empire is shown/labeled as the successor state to it. In my opinion, the Despotate of the Morea and the Empire of Trebizond should be labeled as the successor states to the Byzantine empire given that they survived after 1453 and were not absorbed into the Ottoman empire until 1460-61. Cheers! Kirby (talk) 12:04, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

That might make sense if we were to imagine that the Empire was somehow not inextricably tied with Constantinople itself, which it was. -- Director (talk) 13:37, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Sorry about that, Kirby. Also, because the Despotate of the Morea and the Empire of Trebizond were created before the fall of the Byzantine Empire, it might not be the right decision to list them as the direct successors. As many, many, different countries ended up with the former territory of the Byzantine Empire, if we put all or most of them as successor states it would get pretty confusing. Thanks for pointing that out, though! B14709 (talk) 21:23, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. You've already gone to great lengths to point out how the Roman Empire was not inextricably tied with administration in Rome, but you will then argue that the Byzantine/Eastern Empire is conversely unable to detach from its original administrative centre?
  2. At the risk of sounding too direct, I have to say that the lead as it is now is better in quality and readability than what you tried to replace it with. Furthermore, it already addresses the issue of "Byzantine Empire" really being a historiographical term for what started as "the eastern half of the Roman Empire".
  3. I would like to point out that you appear to be overly sensitive to finding negative meanings in neutral wordings describing the Byzantine Empire. "Continuation" doesn't necessarily imply "separate from what came before", and it's a false distinction to draw a line between the splitting of the state or its administration (except in times when all emperors were in fact subordinate to one).
  4. I feel like this is bordering on WP:Attrition (from continuing efforts to WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS). This debate has been flaring up for years, and I can't help but notice how few of the people who took part even a year ago have come back this time around. Pushing on this issue until enough people are too tired to push back is the wrong course of action.
 —Sowlos  17:51, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. Say what now? I see you're trying to make it look like I'm contradicting myself somehow, but uh - I'm obviously not. Rome was not the capital of the Roman Empire since the Crisis of the 3rd Century, and it only really ceased to be part of that state in 772 AD. That has nothing to do with the fact that the historical name of the state remained "Roman Empire" throughout its history (until 1453). That also has nothing to do with the fact that the Empire became inextricably identified with its new capital later on... Weird point.
  2. Lets leave the lead aside, at least for now. The infobox heading, however, it just makes no sense.
  3. See above.
  4. I am not here to "right great wrongs" nor is this part of some sinister plan on my part. I have no interest in Byzantium besides finding its history fascinating. Seriously - can we stop discussing me? All I hear when these sort of comments pop up is "I have no relevant counter-argument".
-- Director (talk) 16:44, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Direktor, you are missing the point. Your proposal would only confuse readers instead of fulfilling the purpose of an infobox: " to summarize key facts in the article in which it appears". Because nearly all historians currently use the term Byzantine Empire, the fact that at the time it was called something else isn't exactly "key" to the article. And as that fact is mentioned in the FIRST PARAGRAPH of the article, readers can easily access that information if they wish. B14709 (talk) 21:36, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Also, the parameter itself is called "conventional long name", and I think nearly all of us can agree that calling the state in question "the Roman Empire" is decidedly UNconventional. B14709 (talk) 21:42, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
And again, this subject has been discussed for years, and I think we all have better things to do than argue about this. Visit the archives of this article and you will find many debates about whether or not to change the name or the infobox. Can we please stop arguing? B14709 (talk) 22:07, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
No offense, but to me it seems like you're missing the point. Never mind that the parameter is called "conventional_long_name=" (and the various implications one could possibly draw from that) - the relevant instructions state its for the "full name of the state". Note: not the most common name in sources - but simply the "full name in English". Plus, there's the parameter directly below intended for the most common name in sources. Now, to me, that clearly seems to indicate that the parameter in question is simply for the real, actual historic full name of the state in English. And its not just me - everyone apparently sees it that way. Everyone? Everyone. Practically everywhere on this project in such circumstances - you have the common name in the title, and the historically accurate name in the infobox heading [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. And that to me is even more important than whether the parameter is used properly, because the infobox heading is where the reader looks to find the historical name - even though we must use the commonname in the title. Not to use one here implies that "Byzantine Empire" is the historical full name of this polity. Now, Future seems to think the practice of having different names in the title and the infobox heading is a bad idea. That can be debated. But as things are, its just how these infoboxes are written. If we had the commonname more often in the infobox (as we do in articles about modern countries), then we would have a different situation. -- Director (talk) 22:31, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually the bottom line point is that you have absolutely no support for your position, while you refuse to acknowledge that consensus is overwhelmingly against you. No wonder the conversation turns to you, as you continue beating this dead horse. Please accept the consensus of every other responding editor and move on. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 02:52, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
You're all nuts.. :) sure, fine. Though, since I received no relevant argument from you guys (besides "we're against you, shut up"), I reserve the right to stir-up trouble with this again in the form of various DR; it makes no sense to me. -- Director (talk) 11:03, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
I suppose it might be a little late to contribute but to reply to Panaflex: since, as you've mentioned, this gets brought up a lot might it be safe to assume that the "consensus" isn't as overwhelming as you imply? I for one think Director's proposal has merit and his argument is sound. I Feel Tired (talk) 00:05, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Just a quick post from a retired Wikipedia editor. I was working on this page back in 2005, and people were arguing over the name issue even then. Pages and pages and pages of discussions on this topic have been written and archived. In my humble opinion, the Byzantine Empire name dispute will never be solved to the satisfaction of all parties. Long after those who have just taken part in this round of debate have retired from Wikipedia, I am certain that others will come after you and continue the debate. :) Bigdaddy1204 (talk) 17:06, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Well, on that cheery note I think we should declare this thread closed...until the next one! DeCausa (talk) 17:32, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Also consider that article needs to depict the truth[edit]

The term Byzantine wasn't used until 1558 by Hieronymus Wolf. That frankly needs to be mentioned prominently. We are talking the direct continuation of the Roman Empire, people who never referred to themselves as Byzantine,I did like that that was mentioned early on. However it isn't even mentioned in the opening that there is still contention between historians to this day over weather we should even use the term "Byzantine" at all, in my undergrad studies professor that wouldn't let us refer to them as Byzantines at all.. The reason I think this should be included early on is because most people frankly don't read past that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Officialaccount (talkcontribs) 23:19, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

I think a sentence or two about the academic controversy in the 'nomenclature' section could be useful. I don't think it is necessary to add more than what is already in the lede, since the lede does an excellent job of highlighting the continuity between the Roman empire and the Byzantine empire and gives an accurate history of the name already. I don't have any good sources right off hand for the academic controversy of the name, although if nobody digs one up before I get around to it I may indeed get around to it eventually. Chuy1530 (talk) 04:09, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Latin Empire as potential successor?[edit]

After the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, the empire's territories were partitioned. The newly established state to take the Byzantine Empire's place was the Latin Empire: as a distinct country with different territory, a different religion, and different leaders, shouldn't the Latin Empire be recognized as a successor and antecedent to the Byzantine Empire? Although the Latin Empire lasted for barely 50 years, the re-established Byzantine Empire was much different from the previous one. For a model of how I suggest this article's infobox be structured, you can check out Northern Rhodesia's article. Thanks! B14709 (talk) 22:40, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Too complicated. We had endless debates here over what (if anything) to include in those "successor" fields, and if we were to include all the different states that inherited all or some of Byzantium's position at any time, the list would grow out of all proportions. Moreover, having the same entry appear both in the predecessor and successor fields strikes me as exceedingly confusing to the reader. It's the typical kind of situation that boxes simply aren't good at. Entries in a box should be self-explanatory, otherwise they fail purpose of the box, which is to offer basic information that can be taken in at a glance. Having such a double link would present the reader with a puzzle, which could only be solved through additional explanations. If the box doesn't explain itself but is in need of external explanation for its contents to be properly understood, it is useless. For this kind of information, the reader is simply better off just reading the text. The information that there was a short-lived state that was established when the B.E. had been temporarily overthrown is quite easy to convey in prose, and much easier and faster for the reader to take in in that way than if they were to encounter it merely through these linked flags in the box. Fut.Perf. 23:26, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

cfd note[edit]

No Wikiproject Byzantine Empire, huh?

I support both, the idea is to replace the use of modern or religious place names with the contemporary names. Of course it is being opposed by religious or nationalistic indignants. trespassers william (talk) 20:47, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Talk page history problem[edit]

This talk page shows all history in the various archives, but the View history link does not show edits prior to the first archival in 2008. It looks like someone mistakenly deleted all of the history elements when archiving the talk page on June 15, 2008 (THIS edit). There is a redirect to the archive, located HERE, but there is no capacity to view history in archives. Or, rather, the history only shows the history of the archival. Does anyone know how to remedy this situation? I assume it is possible to recover the history from the underlying database (at least it seems to appear to be there and in exported XML).

I will also post on Village Pump (technical), since this seems to be a solidly technical issue.Wikipositivist (talk) 03:56, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

I've replied at the technical village pump; as I said there, the history Is at Talk:Byzantine Empire/Archive 7. Graham87 06:48, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Graham 87. I'll keep further discussion on Village Pump, since not all (or even most) is directly relevant to this article. For those interested, check here.Wikipositivist (talk) 22:45, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Religion in infobox[edit]

Can't believe we have yet another infobox problem here (seriously, why is it that it's only ever the infobox entries that attract disagreement on this article?) Anyway, people have been reverting between two versions of the "religion=" entry, one of which simply describes the main religion as "Orthodox Christianity", while the other distinguishes between "Christianity" first and "Orthodox Christianity" only "after 1054" [22]. The "after 1054" version was first introduced about 12 months ago [23], apparently without significant discussion back then.

I can see the point for both sides, of course. On the one hand, some people are obviously reluctant to project the label "eastern orthodox" back into the pre-schism period. On the other hand, the version that emphasizes the distinction between "Christianity" and "Orthodox Christianity" seems to imply that the Byzantines suddenly changed their religion in 1054 – which is obviously wrong. So I personally prefer the plain version. The religion of the Byzantines didn't suddenly turn into something different, just because something else was branching away from it in some other part of the world. The form of Christianity that characterizes the Byzantine Empire is clearly the single, unbroken tradition which today, in hindsight, we describe as the "Eastern Orthodox" one. Trying to cram the terminlogical distinction into the box strikes me as a typical instance of over-scrupulous obsession with detail at the cost of plain readability that's unfortunately such a common problem in infobox editing.

Of course, just to make this clear, this has nothing to do with which of the two branches of the schism has any claim to representing the "true" continuation of pre-schism Christianity. I would obviously make the same argument for the western side (and indeed, I find that the corresponding infobox entry at Papal States duly says "Roman Catholic" throughout, which is as it should be). Fut.Perf. 07:05, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree that infoboxes are useless in dealing with these kind of subtleties. On the one hand, Orthodoxy was such a key component of the distinctiveness of Byzantine culture that it seems strange not to give it a namecheck. On the other, calling it "Orthodoxy" for the whole period is anachronistic. (And 1054 certainly shouldn't be used to indicate any sort of change either in substance or nomenclature) Would "Christianity/Eastern Orthodox" be suitably ambiguous? DeCausa (talk) 08:49, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
Would work for me. Ambiguity sometimes really is a blessing. Nice trick. Fut.Perf. 09:24, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

Historiographical term vs real name[edit]

Hello, I noticed that the real/conventional name of the Byzantine Empire (which is Roman Empire), wasn't on the top of the article's leading paragraph, in contrast to how the real/conventional names were always on top of their corresponding Wiki articles, such as for the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

I find it important that the name Roman Empire is placed on the top of the article, alongside the term Byzantine Empire, because the official name of that state should be on the top of the paragraph. So, I decided to make some careful edits that do not break the meaning and readability of the leading paragraph, while at same time, it has the real/conventional name for that state moved to the top of the page, like how it was done in all other Wikipedia articles for all other states, so far:


The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context, it survived the 5th century fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

and After my improvements:

The Byzantine Empire or late Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally founded as Byzantium. Often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context, it survived the 5th century fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

The article is already very clear about the fact that the "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created and used after the end of the realm, but with these edits today, the conventional name too, is prioritized, and moved to its proper place, along with its historiographical terms used for that state. It doesn't matter if the article explains the state's real name or not, its conventional name should be at the beginning like how it was done with all the other Wikipedia articles for the empires of the world. --SilentResident (talk) 09:14, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Copying over what I wrote on your user talk just now:
You have tried out three different ways of integrating "Roman Empire" in that first sentence. First [24] you called it an "official" name. Problem is, it wasn't an official name; there was no such thing as "official names" of states back then, and certainly not an "offical name" of the Byzantine Empire in English, a language of whose existence the Byzantines had no idea. Then [25] you introduced it with "more specifically"; problem is that "Roman Empire" isn't actually "more specific" then "Byzantine Empire" (look up what "specific" means). Then [26] you modified it by calling it "Late Roman Empire"; problem with that is that it isn't actually called that; in historiography, the term "Late Roman" conventionally refers to somewhere between the 4th to 6th centuries or thereabouts. So each of your three attempts so far have been plain, factually wrong.
As for your perceived need to get the alternative names into the lead sentence somehow, the only argument for doing that you have proposed is that other articles are doing it too. That, in principle, is a very poor argument on Wikipedia – there are lots of csrappy articles on this project and crappy habits that have been entrenched through unthinking convention, and the habit of overloading lead sentences with naming details in brackets, taking up loads of valuable space before even getting to the gist of the defining sentence, is undoubtedly one such very bad habit. It makes lead sentences difficult to read and keeps the reader's attention away from the really important things, i.e. the definition that comes after the "was". Just because many other articles are doing it wrong is not a good reason to do it here too; in fact, we should be proud of having kept this one article clean of the bad habit. Alternative names, unless they are very few and can be handled with extreme brevity, are best handled where they are properly contextualized and explained, and the place we were doing it here was just fine. Your three failed attempts at explaining and contextualizing them properly in the first sentence just go to demonstrate that it is not conveniently possible with the required brevity there. Fut.Perf. 09:24, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Alternate name? Are you joking, right? I will copy-paste here what I answered in my talk page: your argument of using only a historiographical term (aka Byzantine Empire) (its a scientific/historical term, not its actual name) in the expense of the real name (Roman Empire) the state used in all of its official diplomatic contacts with foreign states, and the very name the citizens used to call their state with, to be in the top of the article, is indeed a very poor argument. Really, I fail to understand how do you find it logical to have the native/real/conventional/official name for that state be moved to sentences or bottom of paragraphs, instead of the article's top? Can you present me any other Wiki pages where a state has only its post-realm historiographical term be of top priority, at the beginning, and its real name be of secondary priority, lost in paragraphs and such? You wont. Even, for example, the article of the Holy See has this: the official/conventional name Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) instead of the more "common" term Vatican City, despite everybody today calling it with the name Vatican. Because Holy See is the official name of that state (or conventional in case of Medieval era's states) in the top of its page. Please... Seriously now... A state's real name should be on the top of the article... --SilentResident (talk) 09:43, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh for chrissake. I just gave you a reason for not including the term there: because there is no convenient way of explaining its relation to the primary term (the one that is the title of the article and therefore must come first) that is not misleading (as each of your attempts so far have been) and not too long and complicated for the lead sentence. That's just the problem with you, again and again: you fail to even notice people are explaining things to you, and then you complain they aren't giving you explanations. Just read what I'm saying, will you. Fut.Perf. 10:03, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh and just for the record, your example of the Holy See is completely off and shows you haven't even read the article you're quoting. The "Holy See" and the "Vatican" are not alternative names, but two different things, which rightly have two different articles. But that's off-topic here. Fut.Perf. 10:06, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
I understand what are you saying - that what was used/done in other Wiki pages cannot be a good excuse for it to be repeated to this page. This is indeed a poor argument. But my point wasn't to say just "hey! This was done in other pages, so why not here too?", but to show you "hey! all other pages use the real names for places and states, so why not here too?". Really, if other pages use real names, and this page uses only a historiographical term created by a German historian who lived after the empire's fall, a term which isn't even the official/real one the empire used. So you say there is the problem with the explanation: I understood what you wanted to say, but I am very presistent in making you understand, that, since the German historian created the term Byzantine only for historiographical purposes, it wasn't meant to replace the original real name the particular State had! But, sadly, we did: infobox, leading name, and everything in the article, now, is now using the term Byzantine instead of the name Roman. I can't explain you better than this, but terms aren't supposed to replace names - their purpose is to distinguish the object A from the object B that share the same name, but are from different chronological periods... Yes, the word Byzantine sure is a term that helps people refer to a specific chronological period of the Roman Empire, the late/medieval one - but even so, this doesn't nullify the original name for that entity - which was Roman Empire and only that. I am sorry for my English, but I don't know how else to explain you that. The Byzantine isn't a name at all. Never a such word ever existed before the 1700s. It is a term that had no connection at all with that Empire during its existence. Even when it was known that its capital city, Constantinople, was where the settlement of Byzantium once stood, the Roman citizens of the late Roman Empire could still question you about the meaning of the -unknown to them- term Byzantine. Yes, Wikipedia aims to enhance the people's knowledge of things and facts from different chronological periods, and to do this better, in a more understandable and less confusing way, Wikipedia utilizes the terms given by historians, such as the term Byzantine. But what people don't notice is that Wikipedia uses real names/native names for the other states/entities except for Byzantine Empire, to begin the article with. So here I came: to correct this as best as I can. And of course, adding just the word Roman Empire and its native translations (Greek and Latin), isn't making a page more complicated than it was. Just the reader will be informed about why there is both a name and a term for the same faction (Roman Empire), is because it is only part of the history of the original Roman Empire. You know, what was disturbing, FutPerfect, before the edits were made? That the people first learn that the word Byzantine is the name for the faction, and then, after continuing reading, they learn how misleading this is - Byzantine wasn't even a word made by the Byzantines. Was a word made by a... German, who didn't even exist when the Empire was still in existence. All Wikipedia articles use original names for the places/entities, not the names the historians may give to them later. The (late) Roman Empire too should do. Having the original name on top of the article, can't be of any harm, unless the paragraph beneath it which explains what each term/name is for, is confusing. --SilentResident (talk) 10:27, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Your argumentation now begins to reek of WP:righting great wrongs crackpottery, so it's probably about time to stop taking it at all seriously. For better or worse, current scholarship calls this thing "Byzantine Empire", so that's what we do too. Are you seriously suggesting we should re-open the issue of how to name the actual article? Dude, that's been done millions of time here; everybody is tired of that idiotic debate. It's WP:COMMONNAME, period. The rest is simple:
  1. As long as the article title is "Byzantine Empire", the lead sentence will start with "Byzantine Empire".
  2. Any other terms or names can go into the lead sentence if and only if they can be fit in there in ways that are factually accurate and brief enough to be unobtrusive.
The main thing about the lead sentence is to define what the empire was, not to discuss what it was called, when and by whom. Defining what it was is done in the second half of the sentence, after the copula. Anything stuck in front of that copula needs to be short enough not to be obtrusive and not to divert the reader's attention away from the main definition that follows. Anything that needs substantial explanation to be understood properly cannot go in that slot. The relationship between the different historical terms and names is one such thing that has proven to be too complex to be presented well in this position; that's why we have it a little bit further down within the lead. That doesn't mean de-valuing it (unless you suffer from an extreme form of WP:Lead fixation); it just means insisting on putting things in proper perspective. Fut.Perf. 10:50, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
In the name of all that's holy. This argument has been going on for at least a decade and it never gets anywhere, because it's simple pedantry, to my mind the worst flaw of Wikipedia. Everybody thinks their point is so important it has to come first, even if putting it first denies the reader any context to enable them to understand it. Front-loading the lead sentence with alternative names just means it takes longer for the reader to the get to the point where they find out what the article is actually about. The subject is primary, the terminology is secondary. --Nicknack009 (talk) 10:57, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Support FPaS and Nicknack009. It is absolutely unbelievable that this garbage is back again. Really, we need to get something like discretionary sanctions applying to this sort of disruption. DeCausa (talk) 11:06, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Fully agree with FPaS, DeCausa and Nicknack09. The article can be improved further in many ways, but this is not one of them. The name and nature of the subject are well explained as it is, there is no need to trumpet further that this and this alone was the Roman Empire™, especially if by so doing we invent new terms or distort established usage like "late Roman Empire". There is a reason we have a big disclaimer on the name right on top of this discussion page, although perhaps we should make it blinking and floating around the page, because people don't seem to notice it. Constantine 11:19, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh, so this whole term vs name thing has again been raised in the past? Yeah, usually people don't scroll down every archived talk page just for a small edit such as this. All right, my apologies then. Only wanted to improve the article, nothing more. My apologies again. --SilentResident (talk) 11:28, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

The official representation of Byzantine Empire[edit]

In contrast to the Roman Empire and Republic, I think that the Byzantine Empire is to have its flags and symbols instead of using coins to represent the state. Different to the case of Roman Empire and Republic while the conventions of flags and coats of arms has not yet arisen, Byzantine empire was already a highly structural and feudalistic state in the high middle ages, which also has its official flags and symbols. The Palaeologian flag is used in the Wikipedia template of Byzantine empire. Some argues that the labarum is just a simple, solely religious symbol, but there is no doubt in that the double headed eagle is the official imperial heraldry of the Byzantine Emperors and represents their imperial authorities. I am happy to discuss here for which edition of flag to be used, and equally happy to ditch the labarum for the double headed eagle, but I just specifically detest the use of coin as representation in the case of Byzantine Empire. Thank you for everyone's notices and contributions. Pktlaurence (talk) 05:08, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Regardless of any merits of your argument: stop edit-warring. You have made this change four times in a row now, and had it reverted by three different people (now four, including me.) That ought to have given you a hint that consensus is against you so far. The logical thing that a rational person would do now is to open this discussion (as you did, good for you), but then wait to see if and when consensus swings your way. Seriously, what's so freaking difficult mentally to see your favorite solution not yet implemented for a week or two?
Independently of the main issue of the Eagle versus coin etc., I will insist on again removing the "Latin Empire" symbol from the "predecessor" and "successor" fields in the box, as this was discussed before, see above under #Latin Empire as potential successor?. First, it looks esthetically bad [27], especially when combined with the two other symbols, due to the glaring repetition and overdose of red and yellow. Second, it is visually confusing and counter-intuitive, as it suggests the Byzantine Empire was an interlude temporarily sandwiched between two instances of the Latin Empire, when in reality it was exactly the other way round. That section of the box is designed to work according to the visual logic of a left-to-right timeline with a visual representation of "before" and "after", and in that format there simply is no way of properly representing something that is crammed in during a short interlude in the middle of the topic period. Trying to push it into the box at all costs despite this visual mismatch is yet another instance of the rampant infobox and lead pedantry that somebody described on this page just yesterday in the last thread above, and which has been the root cause of problems plaguing the article practically without interruption in every single discussion thread here during the last few years. When will this finally stop? Fut.Perf. 07:27, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
Well, God knows. The idea of using coins to represent a nation is rather too radical and controversial to our conventional sense of a nation, so it is inevitable that there would be a whole lot of users (especially those IPs and new ones) complaining when they first see the infobox. Anyway, thankyou for reminding me about the Latin Empire issue and I promptly apologize for my absent-minded negligence to the Latin Empire thread in the talk page. Back to the main issue, Byzantine Empire is still a whole lot more advanced in nationalism compared to Roman Empire and Republic, and therefore it has got flags and symbols with enough representativeness, such as the Chi-Ro, double headed eagle and Palaeologian flag. I think that's enough for us to ditch the coin representations for the case of Byzantine Empire. Pktlaurence (talk) 10:16, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Population in the infobox[edit]

Well, this edit did not help, since the infobox only supports population params 1 through 5. The only way to fix it is to add more params to the template. GregorB (talk) 12:36, 13 December 2014 (UTC)