Talk:Byzantine Empire

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Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum) is incorrect[edit]

Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn means 'Kingdom of the Romans' (talk) 03:10, 1 January 2015 (UTC)

In Byzantine parlance, "basileus" meant "emperor", and "basileia" "imperial reign, empire". Constantine 11:12, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
We could switch to "its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Medieval Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum),[1] or Romania (Ῥωμανία)" by using {{lang-gkm}} and {{transl|gkm}} instead of {{lang-grc}} and {{transl|grc}}. NebY (talk) 11:45, 1 January 2015 (UTC)


Lead, again[edit]

The lead has been discussed at length (ad nauseum) and a consensus version agreed upon. The current changes break the hard-fought Byzantine/Eastern Roman description with rewording and an unnecessary mention of the Sassanid empire. The new changes are also inconsistent, as the page uses 330 as the begin point for the Byzantine empire, while this dates it from the 3rd century. Tampering with the lead after such extensive work to reach a consensus version should be proposed and approved here before addition. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 02:01, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

I was not aware of an already reached consensus. Any case, good that you brought it to the talk page.
My rationale is that I believe that the mentioning of the Sassanids can't be left out, simply because the two functioned as the two main leading powers in West Eurasia, until the Sassanids' their demise in the mid 7th century. (After a failed Byzantine-Sassanid) The two's rivalry dominated European and West Asian geo-politics for 4 centuries. Roman-Persian Wars speaks for itself. They were arch rivals, which is something attested in references.
By these reasons, I believe there should be a mention of it in the lede. Just mentioning that there was a two-decade war which caused Sassanid Persias demise, isn't really sufficient looking at the significance of Byzantine-Sassanid relations.
- LouisAragon (talk) 11:28, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

Please discuss all changes to the lead. Here we go again... For literally years, the lead was a source of dispute and in constant flux. See, for instance, here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and ... this is only a partial list!). If you look back at some of these discussions, you'll see that more than one notes that the lead was changing every time someone visited the page. At last a proposal was floated and debated -- word by word at times -- until a consensus version was reached, here. That version has remained stable for over two years. It is not perfect, but it has ended years of constant changes and arguments. If further changes are to be proposed, please review these old discussions so that we do not have to go through the same arguments yet again. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 20:37, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

I quite concur. Just for the avoidance of doubt, if you are referring to my latest edits [1], I think these were all reverting to that version as last discussed, undoing a couple of undiscussed additions that had crept in during the last month or so. If I was mistaken in that, I apologize. Fut.Perf. 20:44, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
No, no, I was talking about the other edits from earlier today and other recent tinkering. I think you returned it to where we were after the consensus was formed. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 20:58, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
User:Laszlo Panaflex, thanks for linking the previous discussions about the lede. I just read them. However, in none of the previous discussions was there mentioned about the insertion of a somewhat more detailed explanation about Sassanid-Byzantine rivalry which lasted for centuries.
This is what I had in mind [2] From the 3th to mid 7th century, it was recognized as one of the leading powers in the world alongside its arch rival, the Sassanid Persian Empire.[1][2]
By doing so, we refer to the many centuries long rivalry which dominated much of Western Eurasia and we will have ~400 years of Byzantine-Sassanid Wars and political hegemony better covered. Looking at the significance of the relations the two empires had, I'd say it's definetely a must-have for this article its lede.
Regards and awaiting response. - LouisAragon (talk) 16:32, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
First, there was discussion about when the start date of the empire was, and 330 was settled upon. Thus "3rd century" is inconsistent. Second, "arch rival" is a peacock term, and gives excess weight to one rival that was only around for part of the empire's existence. And third, WP:LEAD states that "Apart from trivial basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article." The Sassanids are not even mentioned until 532, and nowhere does the body state that they were the key rival or leading world power. I'm not against a better description of the relationship to the Sassanids, but the place to start is in the body, not in the lead. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 17:12, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Fair enough. I can fully agree with the reasons and points you mentioned. I will work up the body to include more information about their relations, rivalry, wars, etc later on. After that, I'll make a new section on this very same talk page (and I'll ping you again if you'd like to) so we can discuss changes for the lead by that time once again. Regards - LouisAragon (talk) 00:59, 2 May 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Norman A. Stillman The Jews of Arab Lands pp 22 Jewish Publication Society, 1979 ISBN 0827611552
  2. ^ International Congress of Byzantine Studies Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London, 21-26 August 2006, Volumes 1-3 pp 29. Ashgate Pub Co, 30 sep. 2006 ISBN 075465740X

Not "Byzantine", Roman[edit]

utterly futile debate. Fut.Perf. 18:31, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

"Byzantine Empire" was popularized by Enlightenment philosophers and Catholics of the West to decry the validity of the ERE as the Roman Empire compared to the HRE. In my opinion, it is a dated and pejorative term similar to Negro and I can not fathom how it still stands today.--Sigehelmus (talk) 03:36, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

I cannot fathom how you could equate "Byzantine" with the word "Negro." Even if the term "Byzantine" was disparaging, Byzantines weren't lynched. I actually find the comparison offensive and appalling.--3family6 (Talk to me | See what I have done) 05:00, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Sigh. Not again. It stands today because reliable sources are using it today. End of discussion. Fut.Perf. 05:09, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
The East Romans were betrayed, massacred, pillaged, looted, and assaulted in many forms by Crusaders and historically no Western nation apologized for it, and some even justified it. Just because it's medieval it's irrelevant now? Also even if modern Western sources use it today, there needs to be more clarification on the matter. It's not like the Holy Roman Empire still exists or most modern Catholics consider Franz II a direct successor to Augustus anymore.--Sigehelmus (talk) 15:45, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
I urge you to review the discussions I linked above, where this issue was debated in depth, before raising the same old arguments again. We do not need to rehash all that yet again. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 16:35, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
I still feel like there needs to be more clarification that Roman Empire was the official and native name to most of the world until the Fall in 1453 AD, and ERE is at least more accurate than the comparatively-modern term Byzantine.--Sigehelmus (talk) 16:38, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
The first paragraph of the article states, "its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire ... and to themselves as 'Romans'". Regarding Byzantine, please review WP:COMMONNAME and the previous discussions. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 17:07, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
I was aware of that page, but common to whom? A purely Western and/or non-Orthodox audience? Even if you are 100% correct, the problem still lies that the article still carries the essence that "Byzantine" is the proper or scholarly way to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Think of the viewpoint of the historians who first thought of the term; "Oh yes I say, those wacky schismatic Greeks (and only Greeks as far as I know!) and their empire thought they were the Roman Empire! Dohohoho~! How silly!"--Sigehelmus (talk) 18:23, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Unused secondary sources[edit]

I count 22 unused secondary sources, most of which don't deal with the overall history of Byzantine Empire. Shouldn't these be removed?--Zoupan 13:46, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, feel free to remove (or move to "further reading" if they sound more important). When footnotes and source list are kept separate, like in this article, these things can easily accumulate and might need a clean-out from time to time. Fut.Perf. 14:14, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Form of Government: Autocratic Absolute Monarchy[edit]

In the infobox it states that the government of the Byzantine Empire was an "Autocratic Absolute Monarchy". Links lead not to a government of that name but rather once to "Autocracy" and once to "Absolute Monarchy". That does not make much sense even though I believe I get the idea and agree with it. Autocracy is, in short, a government in which one person holds all power. Absolute Monarchy is, in short, a government in which one person holds all power, but is a term used in conjunction with a medieval christian european concept of "Divine Right" (or later reinterpretations to adapt it to other religions and parts of the world) and is used typically for late medieval and early modern european countries or later on until today for countries with other major religions in other parts of the world. Bottom line: 1. Autocracy contains Absolute Monarchy and 2. Absolute Monarchy is an anachronistic term. I suggest to change it to simply "Autocracy". And I am not going into the whole "Why do we need to put a simplistic label on something as complex as the government of an empire that existed for over a millenium?" thing right now. (talk) 15:05, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

I concur. A quick look at several sources do show that many authors refer to it simply as an autocracy or "autocratic empire". I guess we could just use autocracy in the infobox, or perhaps something like "Imperial autocracy", as indeed adding the term "absolute" is anachronistic, looking at what time the empire existed. Good you've taken this up btw. - LouisAragon (talk) 17:07, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

Predominantly Greek speaking[edit]

Basic conclusion makes me dubious about that the Byzantine empire was predominantly Greek speaking throughout all the time to say the least. for example under Justinian the empire not only included the Italic peninsula and Roma but Latin was official, in addition to the numerous Illyrian tribes and some Germanics. How could be said that in such periods Greek was spoken predominatly? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:36, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Dubious listing[edit]

The dubious tag should, if possible be removed. If the authors/editors of this page would look into it, as I believe it is a direct cause of the other post previously made by another. The Byzantine empire, although not listed as predominantly Greek by Ethnicity, was definitely predominately Greek in terms of culture and language. The citizens would have most likely have known Greek to a certain standard because it was the lingua franca of the empire. For instance, Greeks, not only by Ethnicity, but mostly by their culture and language were highly frequent in the parts of the Empire now not considered Greece. With only a short amount of research one can find that the influence of the Greek population was far reaching, helped along by the Byzantine administration and the age old spread that Greek Culture benefits from.In regards to the doubts raised by the previous post, the Romans had for centuries spoken Greek to some degree, the Empire adopted Greek culture to a moderate degree and as for the italic peninsula, in regards mostly to the southern, it was highly Hellenised even after the fall of the West and the reconquest by Belisarius and the Eastern Romans/Byzantines. That period was merely a marked transition from predominantly Roman administration to Hellenic Administration. The transition however had no effect on the culture of the land, which merely remained influenced by the Greek language and culture. The effect of the influence of the Greeks is longstanding, even visible today in those parts of Italy. As for the Illyrians, it is safe to say that by the period of Justinian they were safely Hellenised to a degree that is worthy of note. The Illyrian population began its process of Hellenisation prior to it being conquered by Rome, having began around the time of Phillip II. The process continued due to varying levels of already existing similarities. The Romans merely began their influence after their conquest, stated as having had a 'Latin influence'. The point of interest is that whilst the areas of Greek influence are clearly consolidated ( Take a look at the JirečekLine ) The Areas of Latin influence are hardly solidified, with the Latin culture and language already being transitioned to a more Greek centralised position. It is safe to say that the Greek Culture and Language, even to some degree of Religion in its various forms, was the predominant ( if not able to use a stronger term) in the the Empire. (talk) 17:08, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

The editor who put the tag on seems to be under the impression that "predominantly" means "entirely", since his/her objection is that other languages were spoken. I'll remove it. --Nicknack009 (talk) 17:43, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

Status text[edit]

In the article Western Roman Empire, the status text of the infobox clearly shows it as the "Provinces of the Roman Empire governed by the Western Court". Similarly for this article, it should show the Byzantine Empire as the "Provinces of the Roman Empire governed by the Eastern Court (330-476)" when it coexisted with the Western Roman Empire (and perhaps with added status text "Sole court of the Roman Empire (476-1453)" for the later periods). In order to be consistent, the status text should either be shown in both articles (the preferred solution), or shown in neither articles. Thanks. --Cartakes (talk) 16:24, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

OTHERCRAPEXISTS. I don't care what the Western Roman Empire article does. Consistency is not a priority here; the only thing that matters is that each article does what locally makes sense. Putting "provinces governed by the eastern court" in the box here makes no sense, because the period label "Byzantine" conventionally refers primarily and prototypically to the time when there was no western court to contrast it with (which was true for at least 90% of the time we call Byzantine even by the widest defintion of this term, if not for 100% of the time, depending on where you draw the line). The "Western" and the "Eastern" empire are not historically symmetrical entities and never were; that's why it really makes no sense to impose artificial uniformity on the way we present them. As for the second addition ("sole court 476-1453"), that would at least make it not entirely factually wrong, but the two entries together are clumsy, unwieldy, pedantic and simply not the kind of stuff that should be in infoboxes, whose first and only priority must be to remain crisp and brief. There simply is no cmpelling reason at all why any of this should be in the infobox in the first place, these are things that must be presented in proper text. Fut.Perf. 16:36, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
The Byzantine Empire in fact had two periods of different nature: 1. as part of the Roman Empire, from 330 to 476; 2. as a standalone empire from 476 onward. There is an important relationship between the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire, which should be listed in the infobox similar to other articles such as the Western Roman Empire even if we don't consider the Byzantine Empire and the Western Roman Empire as historically symmetrical entities. With this two lines as the status text for this article, it would be much clearer to readers about the actual nature of the Byzantine Empire by simply looking at this even if we don't talk about consistency with the Western Roman Empire article here. Furthermore, it is definitely not clumsy or unwieldy to list both. Look at articles such as Joseon, it is in fact a commonplace in Wikipedia to list such texts in the infobox. --Cartakes (talk) 16:47, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

Just for reference: this text was first added by User:Jack Gaines on 11 April 2015 [3], then removed (by me) on 26 April [4], then reinserted by User:Cartakes on 27 June [5], then removed by User:Swarm on 15 August [6], then reinserted and expanded again by Cartakes on 16 August [7], then removed again by me on 7 September [8], then re-added once again by User:I Feel Tired [9] and twice more by Cartakes [10][11], with reverts back by myself and most recently by User:Dr.K. [12]. None of the three people who inserted it made even a single talkpage contribution here during all that time, until today. What a fucking pathetic story. Fut.Perf. 17:02, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

It's always so with infoboxes! While we're at it "Roman polytheism until 380" is a very odd way indeed to describe the start of Byzantine religion. Johnbod (talk) 17:15, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
Please note that at least two editors had thanked me for reinserting this text by now, including User:Swarm mentioned above after I expanded the text on 16 August. So it was not at all without support from other editors. --Cartakes (talk) 17:18, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't feel strongly about it either way and removed it because it was flat out misleading originally. I thanked Cartakes for his attempt at a compromise that rectified my concern and let it go. I do not think the article suffers in any sense from its removal though. I understand wanting to bring it in line with the WRE infobox, but if anything, it's a weird use of the "status text" parameter in the first place and I can't think of any other infoboxes that do something similar. Swarm 20:06, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree that the use of the "status text" parameter is weird. It is also UNDUE and POV to put at the top of the infobox the description of a relatively short period of time from 330 to 476 AD on equal footing with the much longer period when the Empire was the sole representative of the Roman Empire. It looks like POV-advertising to me. Another indicator of POV is the longterm edit-warring, as FPaS mentioned. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 20:46, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
Status text in more than one line is not really uncommon in WP however. Also, if you look at the status text in articles such as Joseon (as mentioned earlier) and Goryeo, there are line of texts in normal font and the other line in smaller font. So a suggestion: if you don't want to see the two lines in equal footing, then it's fine to make the shorter period in smaller fonts. I agree that in the longer period that Empire was the sole representative of the Roman Empire, which is in fact an important information for readers. You can see the demo of the status text in this way here. Thanks. --Cartakes (talk) 21:57, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for the demo. I think it is ok. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 01:38, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
I see no improvement in this new version [13]. It's still quite as wordy, there's still no obvious explanation of why this piece of information is in the box in the first place, the difference in font size adds yet another layer of visual distraction (rather than being self-explanatory, it's another unexplained feature whose sense the reader has to figure out on their own somehow), and on top of all this, it's reversing the temporal order, again without explaining why. Fut.Perf. 19:05, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
(Adding to the above, because I forgot to point it out earlier: the proposed wording is also still factually wrong, because the Byzantine Empire wasn't "the sole court" of the Roman Empire. An empire isn't a court. It has a court. The "sole court" of the Roman Empire may have been the court at Constantinople, but it's just plain nonsensical to say that the empire itself "was" that court. Fut.Perf. 15:00, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
The improvement I saw was regarding the previous description which mentioned provinces and the eastern court. In my opinion the new description is more accurate. I can't argue about the wordiness or the temporal order because I can see the validity of both of these points. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 23:25, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

I don't see consensus for this addition. I see one editor saying the demo looks OK. I agree with Fut.Perf's remarks above. This is unnecessary, undue weight, and worse, it takes us back into the Byzantine/Roman argument that has been beaten to death. We specifically distinguish between the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, yet this addition confusingly calls the Byzantine Empire a court of the Roman Empire. We've been down this road too many times (see my list of links to prior arguments on this point in the discussion above, beginning with the bolded text, "Please discuss all changes to the lead"). The only use I see for this addition is for people who cannot be bothered to read the first two sentences of the article. It is just infobox bloat, trying to summarize complex content into soundbite size. It is unnecessary and introduces inconsistency at the very top of the page. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 19:13, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. Johnbod (talk) 15:04, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
I have undone the edit for now because of your comment. However, from the discussions above I see it seems to be generally agreed that the Byzantine Empire was the sole representative of the Roman Empire after 476, although Fut.Perf. argued that there is no need to display the status text. I am wondering how you view the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire then? Thanks! --Cartakes (talk) 22:12, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
A "Byzantine/Roman" debate, whatever that is, which is not a legitimate topic for debate. The distinction between ERE and WRE is historical and not rooted in this project. The Byzantine Empire is the Roman Empire, everyone knows that, that's not being debated. Fact-wise, the infobox blurb isn't wrong nor is it confusing, misleading, undue weight or inconsistent with the rest of the article or with reliable sources. I agree that it's unnecessary infobox bloat and the exact same information can be found in the lead, the body, and summarized further down in the infobox in the "historical era" section, but I really don't understand where all this vitriol is coming from. Swarm 04:00, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
As I stated above, this has been debated ad nauseum and at last a consensus version of the opening was reached, at times after word-by-word debate (see the links I refer to above re the “Byzantine/Roman” debate). Now we are trying to refine it even further, for an infobox blurb that needlessly attempts to summarize a complex issue that is discussed at the very beginning of the intro. It is reductive and unnecessary. You say you don’t understand the vitriol, so I urge you to go back over the years-long debate over what you say "is not a legitimate topic for debate"; perhaps then you’ll understand the frustration. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 15:08, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
I understand the frustration with users who endlessly try to argue that it should not be referred to as "Byzantine Empire" but that argument has literally no merit, never has, and as such it has never actually gained any traction. It's not fair to project your frustration with such ridiculous past debates onto this issue, which is obviously an editor trying to factually summarize two distinct stages in the infobox. Do you want a pat on the back for being able to form a consensus to back what is both the scholarly, common, and stable name? Distinguishing the Byzantine Empire and the Ancient Roman Empire as is done historiographically does not mean the edit was wrong or was attempting to rewrite history or ignore consensus. Swarm 17:10, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

Let's mantain a clear distinction between the Roman Empire (that fell duiring the fifht century) and the Byzantine empire that fell in the 15th century. Moreover, I oppose to use the term "eastern roman empire" when there was not a western part. Barjimoa (talk) 11:25, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

I saw my name mentioned and thought I might as well add in my two cents. The reason I hadn't been on this talk page is because I've been on break, because I was tired of dealing with you. You treat anyone who makes an edit you don't like or disagrees with you like crap. Your attitude really makes me not want to spend time here. I Feel Tired (talk) 16:29, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

Orphaned references in Byzantine Empire[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Byzantine Empire's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "Norwich93":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 16:59, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

First usage of the term Byzantine Empire[edit]

I'm removing these sentences:

However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world. As regards the English historiography in particular, the first occasion of the "Byzantine Empire" appears in an 1857 work of George Finlay (History of the Byzantine Empire from 716 to 1057).[1]
  1. ^ Rosser 2011, p. 2.

Rosser says nothing of the kind on p. 2, though on p. xxxvii he calls that expression "modern". A search on Google Books shows it to have been used since at least 1704, and it's also used by Gibbon, but all that's just OR. The OED doesn't have an entry for Byzantine Empire. --Antiquary (talk) 11:36, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Well now, it seems that when I look at the right edition of Rosser he really does say that. I'm restoring the first of the sentences I removed, though the second is clearly wrong, as I've shown. --Antiquary (talk) 12:01, 22 November 2015 (UTC)