Byzantines and Slavs Medieval History Chapter 10 Section 1
Byzantine Empire • 395 Roman Empire was divided. • Eastern ½ became Byzantine Empire • At its height in AD 500’s. • Major population group was of Greek ethnicity. • Many ethnic groups gave it an international character.
Constantinople • Byzantine capital. • Located on major trade routes. • Built by Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 330. • Strategic location. • Controlled movement between Black Sea & Mediterranean. • Water protects the city on 3 sides.
By AD 400 • Constantinople had become the wealthiest part of the Roman Empire. • Handled rich cargoes from Asia, Europe & Africa.
After the fall of Rome… • The Byzantine Empire was heir to Roman Power, but was more than a continuation of the old Roman Empire.
The Greek World… • Formed the heart of the Byzantine Empire. • People spoke and used Greek over Latin. • Developed distinct form of Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy.
Mixture of cultures… • Classical Greek heritage. • Christian religion. • Cultural influences from Persia. • Mixture creates distinct Byzantine civilization. • Between 500-1200 AD, very advanced w/ higher standard of living than Europe.
Justinian • Became emperor in 527 at age 44. • Son of peasants from Macedonia. • Worked in the court of his uncle, Emperor Justin I. • Worked hard to educate himself.
Ruled until 565. • Brilliant & ambitious soldier. • Power behind the throne.
Married to Theodora, despite objections. She was a former actress.
Big Scandal! • Actresses not respectable citizens. • Did all types of acting. • Theodora had a very wild reputation, but became a capable ruler.
Participated actively in government. Concerned with improving conditions for women.
Persuaded Justinian to… • Give women the right to own land = in value to her dowry. • Gave widows income needed to support children w/o govt. help.
Laws for women seeking divorce… • Laws that prohibited forced prostitution. • Death penalty given in cases of rape.
During a taxpayer revolt in 532, Justinian's advisors urged him to leave the city. Theodora convinced him to stay & fight. His throne was saved.
Nika (Victory ) Revolt • 5 days, mobs ruled the streets, rioting. • Justinian sent in the army at the end. • 30,000 dead
Military Threats • Persia, under Chosroes threatened the Byzantines. • The Byzantines rallied and stopped the Persians. • Justinian also paid tribute to have peace.
Justinian dreamed… • Of restoring the Roman Empire. • 533 began reconquest. • Gen. Belisarius led army. • 533-555 fought series of wars. • Conquered Germanic groups & extended Byzantine rule in the west.
Defeat the Vandals in North Africa.
Vandal King Gelimer… • Was defeated in 2 decisive battles. • Belisarius recaptured Hebrew treasures (menorah & other furnishings) taken from Jerusalem in AD 70. Justinian returned them to Jews in Jerusalem.
The Ostrogoths in Italy.
Belisarius took Sicily… • then marched into Rome. • Ostrogoths counter attacked. Belisarius eventually won all of Italy. • Fighting over Italy continued for years. • In 522, Ostrogoths permanently expelled.
Visigoths in southern Spain.
Wars costly to the empire… • Exhausted financial resources. • Left eastern borders open to invasion from Persia. • Lost outlying territories w/in a generation of Justinian’s death.
Legal reforms did last. Codified Roman Laws.
Made govt. run more efficiently. • Took power from provincial officials. • Gave to central govt. • Church leaders gained power.
Commission made up of 10 scholars to organize laws. Took over 6 years. Led by Tribonian, a legal expert. Called the Justinian Code. Preserved Rome’s legal heritage. Basis for most European legal systems. Affecting western law today…
Byzantine Art & Architecture • Thrived under Justinian & achieved unique character. • Constructed new roads, aqueducts, monasteries and other buildings.
Hagia Sophia "Holy Wisdom"
Justinian believed… • The Church should serve the state. (Erastianism) • Hagia Sophia was completed in 537.
The largest most beautiful church in the empire
New architectural techniques… • Largest dome of its kind. • Many priceless relics on display. • Table from the last supper • Christ’s baby clothes.
Byzantine Religion • Strong ties linked emperors & Church. • Emperors are God’s representatives on earth. • From 400, royalty crowned by patriarch of Constantinople. • Took oath to defend the faith.
Emperors have major role in church affairs. • Appointed church officials. • Defined worship style. • Used wealth of church for govt. purposes. • Justinian intervened in disputes over church beliefs, unified empire under one Christian faith. • Unfair to non-Christians? (Jews & non-Greek Christians)
AD 700’s: Controversy • Clergy-church officials like priests & bishops. • Laity-church members. • Dispute broke out over use of icons, (religious images, in worship. • Became a political issue.
Those opposed argued the bible prohibited such images.
Defenders say icons symbolize God's presence in human affairs.
AD 726 Emperor Leo ordered all icons removed from churches
Believing… • Icons encouraged superstition and idol worship. • His supporters (military, govt. officials & many people) became known as “iconoclasts”, or image breakers.
Many church leaders resisted… • And other people as well. • Roman church on their side. • Roman pope’s involvment strained relations between eastern & western churches. • Icons finally approved in AD 787 by Council at Nicaea.
Empress Irene, first woman to hold throne in her own right, allowed use of icons. Couldn't be given the worship due to God.
Irene was regent… • for her underage son after Leo IV died. (775-80) • When son was close to legal age, power struggle broke out. (He was against icons.) • Irene had him put in chains & ordered his eyes plucked out. • Caused internal bleeding & he died. She was then in complete control.
Eastern Church further settled the issue in AD 843, allowing use of pictures, but not statues, in worship. • Amount of preserved images showed the people had ignored the laws.
Conflict with Rome • Struggles between Rome & Constantinople over who was supreme leader of the church. • Also disagreed on points of doctrine.
Relations worsened in AD 700’s • Germanic Lombards invaded Italy. • Byzantine emperor refused to give military protection to the pope. • Pope turned to the Franks, a Germanic Catholic people.
Franks defeated the Lombards • Pope gave Frankish leader, Charlemagne, title of emperor- a title only the Byzantine ruler could legally grant. • Caused more bitterness.
Year 800 • Since woman (Irene) on the throne, no ruler according to Rome. • Charlemagne sent delegation to ask for Irene in marriage. • Irene approved, but citizens didn’t. Irene was overthrown. • New emperor Nikephoros (802-11)