Portals → History → Byzantine Empire
Animated map showing the territorial evolution of the Byzantine Empire (in green).
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern Istanbul, formerly Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD 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. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I (r. 324–337) reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital and legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. In the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, orientated towards Greek rather than Latin culture and characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
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.
George of Trebizond (1395 – 1486), 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.
Did you know...
External links and resources
Societies of Byzantine studies
Journals of Byzantine studies
Byzantine studies and research institutes
- AHRB Centre for Byzantine Cultural History ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Византолошки институт САНУ - Institute for Byzantine Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts ‹See Tfd›(in Serbian) ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Ινστιτούτο Βυζαντινών Ερευνών (ΙΒΕ) - Institute of Byzantine Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens ‹See Tfd›(in Greek) ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Institut für Byzantinische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, University of Heidelberg ‹See Tfd›(in German)
- Institut für Byzantinistik und Neogräzistik, Münster ‹See Tfd›(in German)
- Institut für Byzantinistik und Neogräzistik, University of Vienna ‹See Tfd›(in German)
- Institut für Byzanzforschung (IBF), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna ‹See Tfd›(in German)
- Κέντρο Βυζαντινών Ερευνών (ΚΒΕ) - Byzantine Research Centre, University of Thessaloniki ‹See Tfd›(in Greek) ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- The Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών - Society for Byzantine Studies of Athens ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
Bibliography and primary sources
On-line manuscript collections
Art, museums and exhibitions
- Byzantine Coins ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Byzantine Coinage, Chronological Index of Byzantine Rulers ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Byzantium 1200 ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- The Byzantine churches of Istanbul, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Byzantine Monuments of Attica, Institute of Byzantine Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation ‹See Tfd›(in English) ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
- Byzantine Seals Online Catalogue, Dumbarton Oaks Research Institute ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Coins of the Byzantine Empire ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Digitales Forschungsarchiv Byzanz, University of Vienna ‹See Tfd›(in German) ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Ίδρυμα Μείζονος Ελληνισμού - Foundation of the Hellenic World ‹See Tfd›(in English) ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
- Interactive Map of Constantinople, University of Toronto ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization, Harvard University ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- PLEIADES: A community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Η Καστροπολιτεία του Μυστρά, Hellenic Ministry of Culture ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
- LEVANTIA - Social history of the Levant ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Roman and Byzantine Law ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Suda On Line: Byzantine Lexicography ‹See Tfd›(in English)
Things to do