Byzantine Empire
As the Western Roman empire disintegrated in the fifth century ce, Roman civilization continued to flourish, lasting as the Byzantine Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean for another thousand years.  Centered on Constantinople--named for Constantine--aka New Rome, the Eastern Roman Empire existed as a unique mix of Roman law and urban life, Christianity, Greek culture and language, and a cosmopolitan population.  As the dominant culture of the Eastern Mediterranean, Byzantine Rome distinctly shaped the politics, economies, religions and cultures of the newly-emerging states and societies in Eastern Europe, Russia and Anatolia.  As such, Russia inherited a civilization much more directly linked to the Greek-speaking (and Orthodox Christian) world than to the Latin West.  Russia also became the frontier/border between Europe and Asia.
The Byzantine empire developed very effective military and diplomatic techniques that helped to ensure its long survival. In fact, the adjective "Byzantine" is often used to connote enormous complexity, as in "Byzantine" diplomacy. It refers to the complexities of constant palace revolutions, coups and murders over the centuries that made dealing with Byzantine officials an extremely difficult matter.
Some recommended online lectures and websites:
  • The Byzantine Empire
  • Lecture 17: Byzantine Civilization
  • Byzantine Empire and Eastern Europe
  • History of the Byzantine Empire
  • The Reign of Justinian
  • Hagia Sophia: The Deesis Mosaic According to Bridget Byrne, "Hagia Sophia, also sometimes referred to as Santa Sophia, is the greatest monument of Byzantine architecture. It was originally built by the Emperor Constantius in 360 and later rebuilt as a masterpiece of Justinian's. The small, single picture in our course book does not even begin to show the mosque's true beauty. The following website gives a more detailed history and includes extravagant pictures of the mosque including the first representation of Christ mosaic which is said to be among the greatest treasures of world art and culture. This Byzantine art dates from somewhere between 1185-1204 and was first revealed beneath layers of plaster on July 14, 1934. Not much of the mosaic remains but the faces of Christ, his mother, and St. John the Baptist. This website offers a great history of both Byzantine architecture and the how the Byzantine mosaics were made. I found this website to be very fascinating and I believe many others will consider the same."
  • For extra credit please suggest to your instructor a relevant website for this unit of the course.
    Send the title of the site, the url and a brief explanation why you find the information interesting and applicable to the material being studied in this unit.


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