Although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture and characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
From the start, the régime faced numerous problems. The Turks of Asia Minor had since 1263 been raiding and expanding into Byzantine territory in Asia Minor. Anatolia, which had formed the very heart of the shrinking empire, was systematically lost to numerous Turkic ghazis, whose raids evolved into conquering expeditions inspired by Islamic zeal, the prospect of economic gain, and the desire to seek refuge from the Mongols after the disastrous Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243. With a decreasing source of food and manpower, the Palaiologoi were forced to fight on several fronts, most of them being Christian states: the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Empire, the remnants of the Latin Empire and even the Knights Hospitaller.
Taking advantage of the situation, the SeljukSultanate of Rum began seizing territory in Western Anatolia, until the Nicaean Empire was able to repulse the Seljuk Turks from the remaining territories still under Roman rule. Eventually Constantinople was re-taken from the Latin Empire in 1261 by the Nicaean Empire. The position of the Byzantine Empire in Europe remained uncertain due to the presence of the rival kingdoms of the Despotate of Epirus, Serbia and the Second Bulgarian Empire. This, combined with the reduced power of the Sultanate of Rum (Byzantium's chief rival in Asia) led to the removal of troops from Anatolia to maintain Byzantium's grip on Thrace.
The Byzantine economy was among the most robust economies in the Mediterranean for many centuries. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Eastern Roman Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. The Arab conquests, however, would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of decline and stagnation. Constantine V's reforms (c. 765) marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. All this changed with the arrival of the Fourth Crusade, which was an economic catastrophe. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces.
One of the economic foundations of the empire was trade. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage. Constantinople remained the single most important commercial centre of Europe for much of the Medieval era, which it held until the Republic of Venice slowly began to overtake Byzantine merchants in trade; first through tax exemption under the Komnenoi, then under the Latin Empire.
The East Roman or Byzantine Empire established and operated several mints throughout its history. Aside from the main metropolitan mint in the capital, Constantinople, a varying number of provincial mints were also established in other urban centres, especially during the 6th century. Most provincial mints except for Syracuse were closed or lost to invasions by the mid-7th century. After the loss of Syracuse in 878, Constantinople became the sole mint for gold and silver coinage until the late 11th century, when major provincial mints began to re-appear. Many mints, both imperial and, as the Byzantine world fragmented, belonging to autonomous local rulers, were operated in the 12th to 14th centuries. Constantinople and Trebizond, the seat of the independent Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461), survived until their conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-15th century.
A group of Andalusian exiles led by Abu Hafs Umar al-Iqritishi conquered Crete sometime c. 824 or 827/828, and established an independent Islamic state. The Byzantines launched a campaign that took most of the island back in 842 and 843 under Theoktistos, but the reconquest was not completed and was soon reversed. Later attempts by the Byzantine Empire to recover the island failed, and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the emirate was one of the major foes of Byzantium. Crete commanded the sea lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean and functioned as a forward base and haven for Muslim corsair fleets that ravaged the Byzantine-controlled shores of the Aegean Sea. The emirate's internal history is less well-known, but all accounts point to considerable prosperity deriving not only from piracy but also from extensive trade and agriculture. The emirate was brought to an end by Nikephoros Phokas, who launched a huge campaign against it in 960–961.
Thessalonica's ascendancy was brief, ending with the disastrous Battle of Klokotnitsa against Bulgaria in 1230, where Theodore Komnenos Doukas was captured. Reduced to a Bulgarian vassal, Theodore's brother and successor Manuel Komnenos Doukas was unable to prevent the loss of most of his brother's conquests in Macedonia and Thrace, while the original nucleus of the state, Epirus, broke free under Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Theodore recovered Thessalonica in 1237, installing his son John Komnenos Doukas, and after him Demetrios Angelos Doukas, as rulers of the city, while Manuel, with Nicaean support, seized Thessaly. The rulers of Thessalonica bore the imperial title from 1225/7 until 1242, when they were forced to renounce it and recognize the suzerainty of the rival Empire of Nicaea. The Komnenodoukai continued to rule as Despots of Thessalonica for four more years after that, but in 1246 the city was annexed by Nicaea.
Initially built by Constantine the Great, the walls surrounded the new city on all sides, protecting it against attack from both sea and land. As the city grew, the famous double line of the Theodosian Walls was built in the 5th century. Although the other sections of the walls were less elaborate, they were, when well-manned, almost impregnable for any medieval besieger, saving the city, and the Byzantine Empire with it, during sieges from the Avar-Sasanian coalition, Arabs, Rus', and Bulgars, among others. The advent of gunpowder siege cannons rendered the fortifications vulnerable, but cannon technology was not sufficiently advanced to capture the city on its own, and the walls could be repaired between reloading. Ultimately, the city fell from the sheer weight of numbers of the Ottoman forces on 29 May 1453 after a six-week siege.
The Despotate of the Morea (Greek: Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μορέως) or Despotate of Mystras (Greek: Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μυστρᾶ) was a province of the Byzantine Empire which existed between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries. Its territory varied in size during its existence but eventually grew to include almost all the southern Greek peninsula known as the Peloponnese, which was known as the Morea during the medieval and early modern periods. The territory was usually ruled by one or more sons of the current Byzantine emperor, who were given the title of despotes (in this context it should not be confused with despotism). Its capital was the fortified city of Mystras, near ancient Sparta, which became an important centre of the Palaiologan Renaissance.
The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Greek: Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωτῆρος ἐν τῇ Χώρᾳ; Turkish: Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, Kariye Kilisesi) is a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church preserved as the Chora Museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1948, though is to be reconverted to a mosque. The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum.
The emergence of Muslim Arabs from Arabia in the 630s resulted in the rapid loss of Byzantium's southern provinces (Syria and Egypt) to the Arab Caliphate. Over the next fifty years, under the Umayyad caliphs, the Arabs would launch repeated raids into still-Byzantine Asia Minor, twice besiege the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, and conquer the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. The situation did not stabilize until after the failure of the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople in 718, when the Taurus Mountains on the eastern rim of Asia Minor became established as the mutual, heavily fortified and largely depopulated frontier. Under the Abbasid Empire, relations became more normal, with embassies exchanged and even periods of truce, but conflict remained the norm, with almost annual raids and counter-raids, sponsored either by the Abbasid government or by local rulers, well into the 10th century.
In late 1202, financial issues led to the Crusader army conducting the Siege of Zara, sacking the Catholic city of Zara (Zadar) on the Adriatic Sea which was then brought under Venetian control. When the pope heard of this, he excommunicated the Crusader army. In January 1203, en route to Jerusalem, the Crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore his deposed father Isaac II Angelos as emperor. The intent of the Crusaders was then to continue to Jerusalem with promised Byzantine financial and military aid. On 23 June 1203, the main Crusader army reached Constantinople, while other contingents (perhaps a majority of all crusaders) continued to Acre.
The Byzantine era is usually dated from 330 AD, when Constantine the Great moved the Roman capital to Byzantium, which became Constantinople, until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. However, there was initially no hard line between the Byzantine and Roman empires, and early Byzantine architecture is stylistically and structurally indistinguishable from earlier Roman architecture. This terminology was introduced by modern historians to designate the medieval Roman Empire as it evolved as a distinct artistic and cultural entity centered on the new capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) rather than the city of Rome and its environs.
Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.
A number of states contemporary with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it, without actually being part of it (the "Byzantine commonwealth"). These included the Rus, as well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice, which separated from the Byzantine empire in the 10th century, and the Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire and had also been a Byzantine possession until the 10th century with a large Greek-speaking population persisting into the 12th century. Other states having a Byzantine artistic tradition had oscillated throughout the Middle Ages between being part of the Byzantine empire and having periods of independence, such as Serbia and Bulgaria. After the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453, art produced by Eastern Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire was often called "post-Byzantine." Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day.
Though during and after the European Renaissance Western legal practices were heavily influenced by Justinian's Code (the Corpus Juris Civilis) and Roman law during classical times, Byzantine law nevertheless had substantial influence on Western traditions during the Middle Ages and after.
The Byzantine Empire was ruled by emperors of the Komnenos dynasty for a period of 104 years, from 1081 to about 1185. The Komnenian (also spelled Comnenian) period comprises the reigns of five emperors, Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I. It was a period of sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire.
Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. The Komnenian emperors, particularly John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about.
A Hodegetria, or Virgin Hodegetria, is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.
The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the wife of emperor Theodosius II (408–450), and to have been painted by Saint Luke the apostle himself. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium".
After the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade overthrew Alexios V and established the Latin Empire, the Empire of Trebizond became one of three Byzantine successor states to claim the imperial throne, alongside the Empire of Nicaea under the Laskaris family and the Despotate of Epirus under a branch of the Angelos family. The ensuing wars would see the Empire of Thessalonica, the imperial government that sprung from Epirus, collapse following conflicts with Nicaea and Bulgaria and the final recapture of Constantinople by the Empire of Nicaea in 1261. Despite the Nicaean reconquest of Constantinople, the Emperors of Trebizond would continue to style themselves as "Roman Emperors" for two decades and continued to press their claim on the Imperial throne. Emperor John II of Trebizond officially gave up the Trapezuntine claim to the Roman imperial title and Constantinople itself 21 years after the Nicaeans recaptured the city, altering his imperial title from "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, Iberia and Perateia".
As reported by the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, the Arab attack was methodical: in 672–673 Arab fleets secured bases along the coasts of Asia Minor, and then proceeded to install a loose blockade around Constantinople. They used the peninsula of Cyzicus near the city as a base to spend the winter, and returned every spring to launch attacks against the city's fortifications. Finally, the Byzantines, under Emperor Constantine IV, managed to destroy the Arab navy using a new invention, the liquid incendiary substance known as Greek fire. The Byzantines also defeated the Arab land army in Asia Minor, forcing them to lift the siege. The Byzantine victory was of major importance for the survival of the Byzantine state, as the Arab threat receded for a time. A peace treaty was signed soon after, and following the outbreak of another Muslim civil war, the Byzantines even experienced a period of ascendancy over the Caliphate.
Byzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire. Originally it consisted of songs and hymns composed to Greek texts used for courtly ceremonials, during festivals, or as paraliturgical and liturgical music. The ecclesiastical forms of Byzantine music are the best known forms today, because different Orthodox traditions still identify with the heritage of Byzantine music, when their cantors sing monodic chant out of the traditional chant books such as sticherarion, which in fact consisted of five books, and the heirmologion.
After wintering in the western coastlands of Asia Minor, the Arab army crossed into Thrace in early summer 717 and built siege lines to blockade the city, which was protected by the massive Theodosian Walls. The Arab fleet, which accompanied the land army and was meant to complete the city's blockade by sea, was neutralized soon after its arrival by the Byzantine navy through the use of Greek fire. This allowed Constantinople to be resupplied by sea, while the Arab army was crippled by famine and disease during the unusually hard winter that followed. In spring 718, two Arab fleets sent as reinforcements were destroyed by the Byzantines after their Christian crews defected, and an additional army sent overland through Asia Minor was ambushed and defeated. Coupled with attacks by the Bulgars on their rear, the Arabs were forced to lift the siege on 15 August 718. On its return journey, the Arab fleet was almost completely destroyed by natural disasters and Byzantine attacks.
Greek fire was an incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire beginning c. 672. Used to set light to enemy ships, it consisted of a combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon. Some historians believe it could be ignited on contact with water, and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime. The Byzantines typically used it in naval battles to great effect, as it could continue burning while floating on water. The technological advantage it provided was responsible for many key Byzantine military victories, most notably the salvation of Constantinople from the first and second Arab sieges, thus securing the Empire's survival.
The impression made by Greek fire on the western European Crusaders was such that the name was applied to any sort of incendiary weapon, including those used by Arabs, the Chinese, and the Mongols. However, these mixtures used formulas different from that of Byzantine Greek fire, which was a closely guarded state secret. Byzantines also used pressurized nozzles to project the liquid onto the enemy, in a manner resembling a modern flamethrower.
Following the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy and Saracen Sicily, the Byzantine emperor, Michael VII Doukas (r. 1071–1078), betrothed his son to Robert Guiscard's daughter. When Michael was deposed, Robert took this as an excuse to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081. His army laid siege to Dyrrhachium, but his fleet was defeated by the Venetians. On October 18, the Normans engaged a Byzantine army under Alexios I Komnenos outside Dyrrhachium. The battle began with the Byzantine right wing routing the Norman left wing, which broke and fled. Varangian mercenaries joined in the pursuit of the fleeing Normans, but became separated from the main force and were massacred. Norman knights in the centre attacked the Byzantine centre and routed it, causing the bulk of the Byzantine army to rout.
Maurice campaigned extensively in the Balkans against the Avars – pushing them back across the Danube by 599. He also conducted campaigns across the Danube, the first Roman Emperor to do so in over two centuries. In the west, he established two large semi-autonomous provinces called exarchates, ruled by exarchs, or viceroys of the emperor. In Italy Maurice established the Exarchate of Italy in 584, the first real effort by the Empire to halt the advance of the Lombards. With the creation of the Exarchate of Africa in 590 he further solidified the power of Constantinople in the western Mediterranean.
Alexios III Megas Komnenos (Greek: Αλέξιος Γ΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, romanized: Alexios III Megas Komnēnos, 5 October 1338 – 20 March 1390), or Alexius III, was Emperor of Trebizond from December 1349 until his death. He is perhaps the best-documented ruler of that country, and his reign is distinguished by a number of religious grants and literary creations.
He was the son of Emperor Basil of Trebizond and his second (and bigamous) wife, Irene of Trebizond. Alexios III was originally named John (Ιωάννης, Iōannēs), and took the name Alexios either in memory of his older brother who had died prematurely or of his paternal grandfather, Emperor Alexios II of Trebizond.
Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitariantheology among both Greek- and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the "Trinitarian Theologian". Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with the brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers.
Alexios Komnenos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός; c. 1135/42 – after 1182) was a Byzantine aristocrat and courtier. A son of Andronikos Komnenos and nephew of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, he rose to the high rank of prōtostratōr in 1167. In 1176 he participated in the Myriokephalon campaign, and was raised to the titles of prōtosebastos and prōtovestiarios following the death of his older brother John in the campaign. Following Manuel's death in 1180, he won the favour, and reportedly became the lover, of Empress-dowagerMaria of Antioch and through her ruled the Byzantine Empire for two years as de facto regent of the underage emperor Alexios II Komnenos. His dominance was challenged by the aristocracy, led by the princess Maria Komnene, who plotted to assassinate Alexios II. The plot was discovered and most conspirators arrested, but Maria and her husband fled to the Hagia Sophia, protected by Patriarch Theodosios Borradiotes and the common people of Constantinople. Mounting tensions resulted in a popular uprising against Alexios' regime on 2 May 1181—other dates have been proposed by modern scholars as well—which ended in a mutual reconciliation. His power shaken, the prōtosebastos reacted by punishing Borradiotes for his role in the affair, but was forced to recall him shortly after in the face of overwhelming opposition both among the people and the aristocracy. These events left Alexios in poor shape to oppose the advance of the adventurer Andronikos I Komnenos, who moved against Constantinople from the east. The generals dispatched against Andronikos were defeated or defected, and the usurper entered the city in April 1182. The prōtosebastos Alexios was deposed, publicly humiliated, and mutilated. His fate thereafter is not known.
Alexios Doukas Philanthropenos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Δούκας Φιλανθρωπηνός) was a Byzantine nobleman and notable general. A relative of the ruling Palaiologos dynasty, he was appointed commander-in-chief in Asia Minor in 1293 and for a time re-established the Byzantine position there, scoring some of the last Byzantine successes against the Turkish emirates. In 1295 he rose up in revolt against Andronikos II Palaiologos, but was betrayed and blinded. Nothing is known of him until 1323, when he was pardoned by Andronikos II and sent again against the Turks, relieving a siege of Philadelphia, allegedly by his mere appearance. He was then named briefly governor of Lesbos in 1328, and again in 1336, when he recovered the island's capital from Latin occupation. He ruled the island thereafter, probably until his death in the 1340s.
Gold solidus struck during the revolt of the Heraclii, depicting Heraclius the Elder and his son, the future Emperor Heraclius, wearing consular robes.
Irene of Athens (c. 752 – 9 August 803), also known as Irene Sarantapechaina, was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, co-regent from 792 until 797, and finally sole ruler and first empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. A member of the politically prominent Sarantapechos family, she was selected as Leo IV's bride for unknown reasons in 768. Even though her husband was an iconoclast, she harbored iconophile sympathies. During her rule as regent, she called the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which condemned iconoclasm as heretical and brought an end to the first iconoclast period (730–787).
As Irene's son Constantine reached maturity, he began to move out from under the influence of his mother. In the early 790s, several attempted revolts tried to proclaim him as sole ruler. In 797, Irene gouged out her son's eyes, maiming him so severely that he likely died a few days later or was imprisoned up until 805. With her son dead or imprisoned, Irene proclaimed herself sole ruler. Irene's alleged unprecedented status as a female ruler of the Roman Empire (there had been women ruling the empire in their own right before, notably Pulcheria) led Pope Leo III to proclaim Charlemagne emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on Christmas Day of 800 under the pretext that a woman could not rule and so the throne of the Roman Empire was actually vacant. A revolt in 802 overthrew Irene and exiled her to the island of Lesbos, supplanting her on the throne with Nikephoros I. Irene died in exile less than a year later.
John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors. In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians and Serbs in the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the Anatolian peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into MuslimSyria at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the evasiveness of his Crusader allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces.
In his early life, Maximus was a civil servant, and an aide to the Byzantine EmperorHeraclius. He gave up this life in the political sphere to enter the monastic life. Maximus had studied diverse schools of philosophy, and certainly what was common for his time, the Platonic dialogues, the works of Aristotle, and numerous later Platonic commentators on Aristotle and Plato, like Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus. When one of his friends began espousing the Christological position known as Monothelitism, Maximus was drawn into the controversy, in which he supported an interpretation of the Chalcedonian formula on the basis of which it was asserted that Jesus had both a human and a divine will. Maximus is venerated in both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. He was eventually persecuted for his Christological positions; following a trial, his tongue and right hand were mutilated.
The son of the general Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, he was orphaned at an early age, and was raised under the care of Emperor Basil II. He made his name as a successful military commander, serving as commander-in-chief of the eastern armies between c. 1042 and 1054. In 1057 he became the head of a conspiracy of the dissatisfied eastern generals against the newly crowned Michael VI Bringas. Proclaimed emperor by his followers on 8 June 1057, he rallied sufficient military forces to defeat the loyalist army at the Battle of Hades. While Isaac was willing to accept a compromise solution by being appointed Michael's heir, a powerful faction in Constantinople, led by the ambitious Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Keroularios, pressured Michael to abdicate. After Michael abdicated on 30 August 1057, Isaac was crowned emperor in the Hagia Sophia on 1 September.
John is the first ruler of Trebizond for whom we know more than a few incidents and hints; there is enough information to compose a connected narrative of the first part of his reign. The chronicle of Michael Panaretos, which is often terse and even cryptic, is relatively full for John's reign, and external sources add further details to Panaretos' account. Emperor John II faced many challenges to his rule, which partly explains his marriage to the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.
Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential church leader of Constantinople subsequent to John Chrysostom's archbishopric around the turn of the fifth century. He is also viewed as the most important intellectual of his time – "the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance". He was a central figure in both the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity and the Photian schism, and is considered "[t]he great systematic compiler of the Eastern Church, who occupies a similar position to that of Gratian in the West," and whose "collection in two parts...formed and still forms the classic source of ancient Church Law for the Greek Church."
Peter the Patrician (Latin: Petrus Patricius, Greek: Πέτρος ὁ Πατρίκιος, Petros ho Patrikios; c. 500–565) was a senior East Roman or Byzantine official, diplomat, and historian. A well-educated and successful lawyer, he was repeatedly sent as envoy to Ostrogothic Italy in the prelude to the Gothic War of 535–554. Despite his diplomatic skill, he was not able to avert war, and was imprisoned by the Goths in Ravenna for a few years. Upon his release, he was appointed to the post of magister officiorum, head of the imperial secretariat, which he held for an unparalleled 26 years. In this capacity, he was one of the leading ministers of Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565), playing an important role in the Byzantine emperor's religious policies and the relations with Sassanid Persia; most notably he led the negotiations for the peace agreement of 562 that ended the 20-year-long Lazic War. His historical writings survive only in fragments, but provide unique source material on early Byzantine ceremonies and diplomatic issues between Byzantium and the Sassanids.
Portrait of Emperor Alexios I, from a Greek manuscript
Alexios I Komnenos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός, c. 1048 – 15 August 1118), LatinizedAlexius I Comnenus, was Byzantineemperor from 1081 to 1118. Although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans, Alexios was able to curb the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration. The basis for this recovery were various reforms initiated by Alexios. His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that likely contributed to the convoking of the Crusades.
Donor portrait of the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, from a collection of the "Works of Hippocrates" commissioned by him in the early 1340s. Alexios is depicted in the garb of his office, wearing a richly decorated kabbadion and the skaranikon, a ceremonial headdress depicting the reigning emperor.
Nikephoros II Phokas, LatinizedNicephorus II Phocas (Νικηφόρος Φωκᾶς; c. 912 – 11 December 969) was Byzantine Emperor from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century. His reign, however, included controversy. In the west, he inflamed conflict with the Bulgarians and saw Sicily completely turn over to the Muslims, while he failed to make any serious gains in Italy following the incursions of Otto I. Meanwhile, in the east, he completed the conquest of Cilicia and even retook the island of Cyprus, thus opening the path for subsequent Byzantine incursions reaching as far as the Jazira and the Levant. His administrative policy was less successful, as in order to finance these wars he increased taxes both on the people and on the church, while maintaining unpopular theological positions and alienating many of his most powerful allies. These included his nephew John Tzimiskes, who would take the throne after killing Nikephoros in his sleep.
Heraclius's reign was marked by several military campaigns. The year Heraclius came to power, the empire was threatened on multiple frontiers. Heraclius immediately took charge of the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628. The first battles of the campaign ended in defeat for the Byzantines; the Persian army fought their way to the Bosphorus but Constantinople was protected by impenetrable walls and a strong navy, and Heraclius was able to avoid total defeat. Soon after, he initiated reforms to rebuild and strengthen the military. Heraclius drove the Persians out of Asia Minor and pushed deep into their territory, defeating them decisively in 627 at the Battle of Nineveh. The Persian king Khosrow II was overthrown and executed by his son Kavad II, who soon sued for a peace treaty, agreeing to withdraw from all occupied territory. This way peaceful relations were restored to the two deeply strained empires.
Manuel the Armenian was a prominent Byzantine general of Armenian origin, active from circa 810 until his death. After reaching the highest military ranks, a palace conspiracy forced him to seek refuge in the Abbasid court in 829. He returned to Byzantine service the next year, receiving the position of Domestic of the Schools from Emperor Theophilos, who had married his niece Theodora. Manuel remained in the post throughout Theophilos's reign, and reportedly saved the emperor's life in the Battle of Anzen in 838. According to one report, he died on 27 July 838 of wounds received during the battle, but other sources record his survival past this date, ascribing him a major role in the regency that governed the empire after Theophilos's death, and report that he died some time around 860.
Miniature from the manuscript of Pachymeres' Historia