Portal:Byzantine Empire

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The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing 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 applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), and Romania (Ῥωμανία).

Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330, Constantine I (r. 306–337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism.

The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-century Macedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer" (r. 976–1025). However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068–1071) and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in the First and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Selected article

Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction within a culture of the culture's own religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are called iconodules.

In Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making and worshipping of "graven images". The two Byzantine outbreaks of iconoclasm during the 8th and 9th centuries were unusual in that the use of images was the main issue in the dispute, rather than a by-product of wider concerns.

As with other doctrinal issues in the Byzantine period, the controversy was by no means restricted to the clergy, or to arguments from theology. The continuing cultural confrontation with, and military threat from, Islam probably had a bearing on the attitudes of both sides. Iconoclasm seems to have been supported by many from the East of the Empire, and refugees from the provinces taken over by the Muslims. It has been suggested that their strength in the army at the start of the period, and the growing influence of Balkan forces in the army (generally considered to lack strong iconoclast feelings) over the period may have been important factors in both beginning and ending imperial support for iconoclasm.

Selected biography

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George of Trebizond (13951486), Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance, was born on the island of Crete, and derived his surname Trapezuntius from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.

At what period he came to Italy is not certain; according to some accounts he was summoned to Venice about 1430 to act as amanuensis to Francesco Barbaro, who appears to have already made his acquaintance; according to others he did not visit Italy till the time of the Council of Florence (1438-1439).

He learned Latin from Vittorino da Feltre, and made such rapid progress that in three years he was able to teach Latin literature and rhetoric. His reputation as a teacher and a translator of Aristotle was very great, and he was selected as secretary by Pope Nicholas V, an ardent Aristotelian. The needless bitterness of his attacks upon Plato (in the Comparatio Aristotelis et Platonis), which drew forth a powerful response from Johannes Bessarion, and the manifestly hurried and inaccurate character of his translations of Plato, Aristotle and other classical authors, combined to ruin his fame as a scholar, and to endanger his position as a teacher of philosophy. (Pope Pius II was among the critics of George's translations.) The indignation against George on account of his first-named work was so great that he would probably have been compelled to leave Italy had not Alfonso V of Aragon given him protection at the court of Naples.

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August 2016

New creations

Al-Hasan ibn Ammar • Apokaukos • Barjawan • Geremia Ghisi • Siege of Medina (1053–54) • Siege of Melite (870) • Tymandus • Usdibad • Yazid ibn Abi Kabsha al-Saksaki

July 2016

New creations

Byzantine–Hungarian War (1127–29) • Church of Panagia Kera • Church of Panagia Protothronos • Conon, Count of Montaigu • Godfrey of Esch • Monastery of St. Simeon Stylites the Younger • Skiathos Castle

June 2016

New creations

Ferran d'Aunés • Lopadion • Stephen Kontostephanos

June 2016

New creations

Andronikos Kontostephanos (son of Isaac) • Anushtakin al-Dizbari • Fanari, Karditsa • Flavius Hermogenes • Flavius Studius • Ignatius of Bulgaria • Isaura Nea • Isaura Palaea • Jarrahids • John Doukas Kamateros • John Kontostephanos (son of Stephen) • Kontostephanos • Petraki Monastery • Porta Panagia • Strategius Musonianus • Trachy (currency) • Trikala Castle • Zoodochos Pigi Church, Dervenosalesi

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Byzantine Bath (Thessaloniki) • Cosmas I of Alexandria

May 2016

New creations

Basil Doukas Kamateros • Chariton of Constantinople • Constantine IV of Constantinople • Dositheus of Constantinople • Germanus III of Constantinople • Gregory Kamateros • Leontius of Constantinople • Lombard–Gepid War (567) • Macarius of Constantinople • Nicetas II of Constantinople • Theodore Pantechnes

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Andronikos Kamateros

April 2016

New creations

Abd Allah ibn al-Fadl • Adada, Pisidia • Anseau de Cayeux • Florentius of Sardis • Giovanni Colonna (died 1245) • Ja'far ibn Dinar al-Khayyat • John Angelos (protostrator) • John Ises • Malakasioi • Manuel Komnenos Raoul • Manuel Raoul • Melite (ancient city) • Metropolis of Corfu, Paxoi and the Diapontian Islands • Michael Gabras • Rashid al-Dawla Mahmud • Raymond-Joseph Loenertz • Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Tamimi

March 2016

New creations

Battle of the Gulf of Corinth • Beresford Hope Cross • Byzantine Empire under the Doukas dynasty • Byzantine enamel • Christ Pantocrator (Sinai) • Icon of the Annunciation, St. Catherine's Monastery • Methodius II of Constantinople • Panagia tis Angeloktistis • Patricia Clementina • Pseudo-Nonnus

External links and resources

Societies of Byzantine studies

Journals of Byzantine studies

Byzantine studies and research institutes


Bibliography and primary sources

On-line manuscript collections

Art, museums and exhibitions



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Selected picture

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Russian 19th century depiction of Constantine the Great and his mother Saint Helena in Byzantine imperial garments.

Recognised content

This is a list of articles related to the Byzantine Empire that have been recognized by the Wikipedia community as being of particular quality.

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Featured articles:

Basiliscus • Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081) • Battle of Kalavrye • Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347 • Byzantine Empire • Byzantine navy • Chariot racing • Greece runestones • Gregory of Nazianzus • Istanbul • Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria • Manuel I Komnenos • Maximus the Confessor • Roman–Persian Wars • Sack of Amorium • Siege of Constantinople (717–718) • Simeon I of Bulgaria • Theodore Komnenos Doukas • Thomas the Slav • Treaty of Devol • Jovan Vladimir

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A-class articles:

Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (782) • Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (806) • Abu'l-Aswar Shavur ibn Fadl • Ahmad ibn Tulun • Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith • Bardanes Tourkos • Battle of Lalakaon • Battle of Solachon • Bessas (general) • Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628 • John Kourkouas • John Troglita • Priscus (general) • Siege of Constantinople (674–678) • Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria • Vitalian (general)

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Good articles:

Abdallah al-Battal • Abu Taghlib • Alexios Apokaukos • Alexios Philanthropenos • Alexios Strategopoulos • Artabanes (general) • Bardas • Baths of Zeuxippus • Battle of Akroinon • Battle of Alexandretta • Battle of Anzen • Battle of Apamea • Battle of Arcadiopolis (970) • Battle of Bathys Ryax • Battle of Constantinople (922) • Battle of Kleidion • Battle of Kopidnadon • Battle of Krasos • Battle of Manzikert • Battle of Mauropotamos • Battle of the Gates of Trajan • Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros • Battle of Yarmouk • Byzantine–Arab Wars • Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896 • Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty • Byzantine Greeks • Byzantine–Ottoman Wars • Chalke • Chlemoutsi • Church of St. Polyeuctus • Constantine the Great • Constantine Diogenes • Constantine Doukas (usurper) • Constantine Lekapenos • Cutzinas • David III of Tao • Domestic of the Schools • Droungarios of the Watch • Emirate of Crete • Eustathios Argyros (general under Leo VI) • Eustathios Daphnomeles • Eutharic • Gabras • Geoffrey of Briel • George Mouzalon • Germanus (cousin of Justinian I) • Glarentza • Gubazes II of Lazica • Harald Hardrada • Heraclius • John Doukas (megas doux) • John Doukas (sebastokrator) • John Komnenos (Domestic of the Schools) • John Komnenos Asen • John Komnenos the Fat • John of Brienne • John Palaiologos (brother of Michael VIII) • Justin (consul 540) • Justinian I • Law School of Beirut • Licario • Manuel Erotikos Komnenos • Manuel the Armenian • Marianos Argyros • Martino Zaccaria • Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik • Michael I Komnenos Doukas • Michael Bourtzes • Michael Dokeianos • Michael Lachanodrakon • Momchil • Muslim conquest of Sicily • al-Mu'tasim • Nikephoros (Caesar) • Nikephoros Melissenos • Nikephoros Phokas Barytrachelos • Nikephoros Phokas the Elder • Nikephoros Xiphias • Orphanotrophos • Paul Palaiologos Tagaris • Peter the Patrician • Sa'd al-Dawla • Sayf al-Dawla • Shahrbaraz • Siege of Berat (1280–1281) • Siege of Constantinople (860) • Siege of Damascus (634) • Siege of Jerusalem (637) • Siege of Kamacha (766) • Siege of Nicaea (727) • Siege of Patras (805 or 807) • Siege of Tyana • Solomon (Byzantine general) • Staurakios (eunuch) • Stephen Lekapenos • Stylianos Zaoutzes • Syrgiannes Palaiologos • Theodore Synadenos • Theodosius (son of Maurice) • Theoktistos • Turahan Bey • Tzachas • Umar al-Aqta • Uprising of Ivaylo • Vandalic War • Walls of Constantinople


Byzantine Emperors


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