Portal:Byzantine Empire

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The Byzantine Empire Portal

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The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing 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. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), and Romania (Ῥωμανία).

Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330, Constantine I (r. 306–337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism.

The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-century Macedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer" (r. 976–1025). However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068–1071) and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in the First and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Selected article

Maurice's Balkan campaigns were a series of military expeditions conducted by Byzantine emperor Maurice (582-602) in an attempt to defend the Balkan provinces of the East Roman Empire from Avars and Slavs. Maurice was the only Byzantine Emperor, except for Anastasius I, who did his best to implement determined Balkan policies in Late Antiquity, paying adequate attention to the safety of the northern frontier against Barbarian incursions. During the second half of his reign, the Balkan campaigns were the main focus of his foreign policies, as a favourable peace treaty with Persia in 591 enabled him to shift his experienced troops from the Persian front to the region. The refocusing of Roman efforts soon paid off: the frequent Roman failures before 591 were succeeded by a string of successes afterwards.

Although it is widely believed that his campaigns were only a token measure and that Roman rule over the Balkans collapsed immediately after his overthrow in 602, Maurice was in fact well on his way forestalling the Slavic landfall on the Balkans, nearly preserving the order of Late Antiquity there. His success was only undone over ten years after his overthrow. Retrospectively, these campaigns were the last in the series of classical Roman campaigns against the Barbarians on the Rhine and Danube. With respect to the Slavs, these campaigns had the typical trait of Roman campaigns against unorganized tribes and of what we now call asymmetric warfare.

Selected biography

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Alexios I Komnenos or Alexius I Comnenus (Greek: Αλέξιος Α' Κομνηνός, Alexios I Komnēnos 1048 – August 15, 1118), Byzantine emperor (1081–1118), was the son of John Komnenos and Anna Dalassena and the nephew of Isaac I Komnenos (emperor 1057–1059). The military, financial and territorial recovery of the Byzantine Empire known as Komnenian restoration began in his reign.

Alexios' father declined the throne on the abdication of Isaac, who was accordingly succeeded by four emperors of other families between 1059 and 1081. Under one of these emperors, Romanos IV Diogenes (1067–1071), he served with distinction against the Seljuk Turks. Under Michael VII Doukas Parapinakes (1071–1078) and Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078–1081) he was also employed, along with his elder brother Isaac, against rebels in Asia Minor, Thrace and in Epirus.

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Alexios AspietesAlexios LaskarisArmenian HexapolisBasiliskianosBerthold II, Count of KatzenelnbogenConstantine AspietesDorotheus I of AthensIsaac LaskarisMichael AspietesPaul, Latin Patriarch of ConstantinopleTzangion

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George TagarisManuel TagarisMargaret of VillehardouinMichael MonomachosPaul Palaiologos TagarisRogoiStephen ZaccariaTatas tes aulesTheodore Pileles Doranites

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AspietesAspietes (general under Alexios I)AspronConstantine DoranitesEuthymius of SardisFirst Cyprus TreasureGregory of DekapolisIgnatios the DeaconLampsacus TreasureLeo of SynadaLimnia (Pontus)Metropolis of NicaeaPanagia EpiskopiPatriarch Euthymius II of ConstantinopleRendakisSoterioupolis

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Patriarch Euthymius I of Constantinople

March 2014

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Alexios GidosAndrea GhisiAndreas StratosAnna Komnene DoukainaArab–Byzantine prisoner exchangesBoleronChurch of St. George, KurbinovoConstantine KeroulariosEpi ton kriseonEustathios RhomaiosGeorge GalesiotesHugh IV of Saint PolJohn LazaropoulosMagical Treatise of SolomonTheodore of Dobruja

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Battle of PankaleiaByzantine–Venetian War (1296–1302)KarytainaLeo II MungSiege of Trebizond (1222–23)

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Andronikos Palaiologos (late 12th century)Andronikos Palaiologos (megas domestikos)Andronikos Palaiologos (sebastos)Andronikos Palaiologos (son-in-law of Theodore I)Catherine ZaccariaConstantine KabasilasDemetrios Doukas KabasilasKarakabaklıNicholas MesaritesPatriarch Nicephorus II of ConstantinoplePolyphengosSaint Blaise of AmorionSlavery in the Byzantine Empire

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Photo credit: Robert Raderschatt

The Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia, built by Emperor Justinian I in the short period of four and a half years (532–537).

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Basiliscus • Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081) • Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347 • Byzantine Empire • Byzantine navy • Chariot racing • Greece runestones • Gregory of Nazianzus • Istanbul • Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria • Manuel I Komnenos • Maximus the Confessor • Roman–Persian Wars • Sack of Amorium • Siege of Constantinople (717–718) • Simeon I of Bulgaria • Thomas the Slav • Treaty of Devol • Jovan Vladimir

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Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (782) • Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (806) • Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith • Bardanes Tourkos • Battle of Kalavrye • Battle of Lalakaon • Battle of Solachon • Bessas (general) • Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628 • John Kourkouas • John Troglita • Priscus (general) • Siege of Constantinople (674–678) • Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria • Vitalian (general)

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Abdallah al-Battal • Abu Taghlib • Alexios Apokaukos • Alexios Philanthropenos • Alexios Strategopoulos • Artabanes (general) • Bardas • Baths of Zeuxippus • Battle of Akroinon • Battle of Anzen • Battle of Arcadiopolis (970) • Battle of Bathys Ryax • Battle of Kleidion • Battle of Kopidnadon • Battle of Krasos • Battle of Manzikert • Battle of Mauropotamos • Battle of the Gates of Trajan • Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros • Battle of Yarmouk • Byzantine–Arab Wars • Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty • Byzantine Greeks • Byzantine–Ottoman Wars • Chalke • Chlemoutsi • Church of St. Polyeuctus • Constantine the Great • Constantine Doukas (usurper) • Constantine Lekapenos • David III of Tao • Domestic of the Schools • Emirate of Crete • Gabras • Geoffrey of Briel • George Mouzalon • Germanus (cousin of Justinian I) • Glarentza • Gubazes II of Lazica • Heraclius • John Doukas (megas doux) • John Komnenos Asen • John Komnenos the Fat • John Palaiologos (brother of Michael VIII) • Justin (consul 540) • Justinian I • Law School of Beirut • Licario • Manuel the Armenian • Martino Zaccaria • Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik • Michael Bourtzes • Michael Lachanodrakon • Momchil • Nikephoros (Caesar) • Nikephoros Melissenos • Paul Palaiologos Tagaris • Peter the Patrician • Rus'–Byzantine War (860) • Sa'd al-Dawla • Sayf al-Dawla • Siege of Berat (1280–1281) • Siege of Damascus (634) • Siege of Jerusalem (637) • Siege of Kamacha (766) • Siege of Nicaea (727) • Siege of Patras (805 or 807) • Siege of Tyana • Solomon (Byzantine general) • Staurakios (eunuch) • Stephen Lekapenos • Stylianos Zaoutzes • Syrgiannes Palaiologos • Theodosius (son of Maurice) • Turahan Bey • Umar al-Aqta • Vandalic War • Walls of Constantinople

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