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Thread: Byzantium

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    Byzantium

    As there has been some interest expressed in Byzantine history, civilization and culture, often accompanied by some very ill informed commentary, in my opinion, these resources might be helpful"

    This is an excellent youtube presentation by the historian John Romer:
    Byzantium: The Lost Empire
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWljhb1DEQ8

    BBC documentary: Art of Eternity-the Glory of Byzantium
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3M8BBBkqSE

    Given the lack of objectivity of some people from the east, including film makers, I think it is wise to stick to "neutral" sources.


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    Was Byzantium more Roman or Greek. Was it an extension of Roman culture with Greek flavour? Or was it really a Greek empire, with Greek language and mostly Greek ruling class and emperors? The second coming of Greece.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Was Byzantium more Roman or Greek. Was it an extension of Roman culture with Greek flavour? Or was it really a Greek empire, with Greek language and mostly Greek ruling class and emperors? The second coming of Greece.
    I think it depends on the time period. Originally, it was an attempt to build a new Roman capital in the east, but by the time of the Crusades, it was a Greek empire, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Was Byzantium more Roman or Greek. Was it an extension of Roman culture with Greek flavour? Or was it really a Greek empire, with Greek language and mostly Greek ruling class and emperors? The second coming of Greece.
    Flavians until Justinian is clear Roman that engulfs Greek only as christians
    it is the time of big hunt against everything non christian, so Greek pagans also were Hunt,
    After Justinian start the change which becomes faster with Iberians
    from the times of Basileios the 1rst we consider it Greek that engulfs Roman.
    After 1204 the Roman branch is tottaly a bad word, since the Latin occupations, especially in Thrace and minor Asia, Latin was mark of enemy,
    in balkans latin kept its linguistic in Aromanian and Romanian
    ΟΘΕΝ ΑΙΔΩΣ OY EINAI
    ΑΤΗ ΛΑΜΒΑΝΕΙΝ ΑΥΤΟΙΣ
    ΥΒΡΙΣ ΓΕΝΝΑΤΑΙ
    ΝΕΜΕΣΙΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΙΣΗ ΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΟΥΣΙ ΔΕ

    When there is no shame
    Divine blindness conquers them
    Hybris (abuse, opprombium) is born
    Nemesis and punishment follows.

    Εχε υπομονη Ηρωα
    Η τιμωρια δεν αργει.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yetos View Post
    Flavians until Justinian is clear Roman that engulfs Greek only as christians
    it is the time of big hunt against everything non christian, so Greek pagans also were Hunt,
    After Justinian start the change which becomes faster with Iberians
    from the times of Basileios the 1rst we consider it Greek that engulfs Roman.
    After 1204 the Roman branch is tottaly a bad word, since the Latin occupations, especially in Thrace and minor Asia, Latin was mark of enemy,
    in balkans latin kept its linguistic in Aromanian and Romanian
    After the 4th crusade of 1204, the Franks ruled byzantium......the venetians did not want it. The frankish rule lasted about 60 years. The franks used Latin language for byzantine in this period.
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

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    Byzantium was a Christian empire with a mix of Roman and heavily Greek influences. So for me would be a Christian culture.

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    Genetically speaking, I've seen a couple of Greeks with up to 20% "Italian" admixture, which I've not seen in Albanians, who have almost identical genetics at a maximum of 4-5% Italian. My guess is the percentage of Romans/Italians in the Greek Byzantine population was over 10% until "the schism", after which they all hid their Roman identity and assimilated.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by kamani View Post
    Genetically speaking, I've seen a couple of Greeks with up to 20% "Italian" admixture, which I've not seen in Albanians, who have almost identical genetics at a maximum of 4-5% Italian. My guess is the percentage of Romans/Italians in the Greek Byzantine population was over 10% until "the schism", after which they all hid their Roman identity and assimilated.
    The thing is, that the term 'Byzantine empire' has been thought of after the fall of the eastern Roman empire. The eastern Romans saw themselves as Romans, most of them spoke Greek and not Latin, but Romans they saw themselves as. Just like the Roman Britons never really adopted Latin (it was scarce), rather, continued to speak Celtic languages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Doe View Post
    The thing is, that the term 'Byzantine empire' has been thought of after the fall of the eastern Roman empire. The eastern Romans saw themselves as Romans, most of them spoke Greek and not Latin, but Romans they saw themselves as. Just like the Roman Britons never really adopted Latin (it was scarce), rather, continued to speak Celtic languages.
    Obviously there were many continuity elements in Byzantium from Roman Empire. It was run by people (genetically) of Empire, many symbols were the same, very close culturally, Roman technology used throughout. I think we can find more linking aspects here than between Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire. Though Holy Roman Empire used latin as official language, and religion of late Roman Empire. Anything else was totally different.

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    I understand the Latin-Greek duality of the Byzantine Empire up to the schism, but after that, speaking Italian-Latin was not such a good idea anymore. Also anything remotely related with Catholicism and Rome, was seen as heresy. So they stopped being friends and started competing for control over the mediterannean world, which culminated with the destruction of Costandinople by the Crusaders. When the turks came, they just "collected the bones" of a dead empire. The Turks were never that strong to match Byzant at its peak; as proof, for 25 years after the fall of Constandinople the whole Ottoman Empire was held back and defeated by a few thousand Albanians under Skanderbeg. So these guys still calling themselves Roman after the schism, would be more for political reasons on their part.

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    None of the links I posted is a substitute for actual scholarship and a nuanced and objective view of the Byzantines, which Romer decidedly does not have. His Romanticism about them is as misplaced as is the calumny which has been heaped upon them, in my opinion, by a very misinformed and prejudiced poster.

    Fordham university has quite a good department on Byzantine studies and an online course outline with links to the pertinent reading material. His introduction is a quite balanced one, I think. The statements in parentheses are mine.

    "These names give witness to the composite nature of Byzantium. It was, without any doubt, the continuation of the Roman state, (merely the eastern part of the Roman Empire administratively) and until the seventh century, preserved the basic structures of Late Roman Mediterranean civic culture: - a large multi-ethnic Christian state, based on a network of urban centers, and defended by a mobile specialized army.

    After the Arab/Muslim conquest of Egypt and Syria, the nature of the state and culture was transformed. Byzantium became much more a Greek state [perhaps best seen in the emperor Heraklios' adoption of the Greek title Basileus], all the cities except Constantinople faded away to small fortified centers, and the military organization of the empire came to be based on a series of local armies. There is then a persistent ambiguity about the beginning of Byzantine history - between the building of Constantinople by Constantine I and the mid-7th century collapse of late antique urban culture.


    The seventh to ninth centuries are generally accounted a low point of Byzantine history. Little literature - even saints' lives - survives, and even less art. The period is studied above all for the history of the struggle over icons. This Iconoclastic Controversy bears witness to a continued intellectual vitality, and the emergence of one of history's most sophisticated analyses of the nature and function of art.

    Under the Macedonian Dynasty [867-1056], Byzantium's political power reached its apogee as former territories were incorporated in the Empire, and an element of multi-ethnicity was restored. This period is also significant as the time in which Byzantine culture was spread among the Slavs and other Balkan peoples. Following massive Turkish attacks in the late eleventh century, the Empire was able to maintain a lesser but still significant political and military power under the Komnenian Dynasty: the cost was a social transformation which exalted a powerful military aristocracy, and gradually enserfed the previously free peasantry. In 1204, internal Byzantine politics and the resurgent West, effectively ended the imperial pretensions of the Byzantine state. The Fourth Crusade [1204] succeeded in conquering Constantinople and making it a Latin principality for half a century. The Greek political leadership, under the Palaiologan Dynasty regained Constantinople in 1261, but the "empire" was just one state among many in the area for the final 200 years of its existence. Strangely, this period was among the most culturally productive, in art, in theology, and in literature.

    It would be wrong then to present the later history of Byzantium as a "thousand year history of decline", leading inevitably to its conquest by the Ottoman Turks on Tuesday 29th May 1453. This perception, promoted disastrously by the English historian Edward Gibbon, reflects the origins in the classical studies of Byzantine studies. The classic periods of ancient cultures [the fifth and fourth centuries BCE in Greece and the late republican/early imperial period in Rome] have long appealed to modern Western sensibilities because - as times of rapid change and innovation in art and literature - echoes and origins of the present have been seen there. In comparison, Byzantine political culture changed slowly, and continuity was valued over change. Furthermore, classical secularism, so attractive to Renaissance and Enlightenment scholars, had no place in Byzantine thought worlds. As a result Byzantine culture was subjected to centuries of abuse as a time of barbarism and superstition.
    The counterpart to the dismissal of Byzantine culture was its exaltation by 19th-century Romanticism, and by a substrate of Christian, especially Anglican, intellectuals. [Even now Anglican seminaries are good places to locate books on Byzantine studies.] Byzantium was also "claimed" by some Orthodox Christian intellectuals. The result was that, after having been demeaned by the Enlightenment, Byzantium acquired defenders, but defenders who concentrated equally on the culture's religious aspects. Far from calm scholarship, Byzantine studies has ever been a locus of contestation, of defamers and champions.'

    I'll try to respond to some of the other posts, especially those related to genetics, later. :)

    Ed. This is the link to the site from which I quoted:
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/byzantium/
    Last edited by Angela; 08-10-14 at 22:20.

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    What a great thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Obviously there were many continuity elements in Byzantium from Roman Empire. It was run by people (genetically) of Empire, many symbols were the same, very close culturally, Roman technology used throughout. I think we can find more linking aspects here than between Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire. Though Holy Roman Empire used latin as official language, and religion of late Roman Empire. Anything else was totally different.
    Split between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians, formalized 1054 was primarily political.

    In the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church then one church including Old Catholics and some Western Christian branches had the same doctrine about divine and human nature of Christ (dyophisitism). However Eastern churches including Oriental Christians of Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Ethiopia pleaded that nature of Christ was divine, fully divine nature united with human nature (monophisytism).

    Although differences in language, culture etc. existed between West and East, unity has been maintained. However things worst moved during 800 year when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne King of the Franks as Emperor. Charlemagne required recognition from the ruler at Byzantium, but without success. The Byzantines regarded Charlemagne as an meddler and the Papal coronation as an act of schism within the Empire.

    This was pure politic and not religious issue. However this was milestone and tragic path of split. Charlemagne, rejected by the Byzantine Emperor, was quick to retaliate with a charge of heresy against the Byzantium and Byzantine Church.

    Formal split was 1054 during pope St. Leo IX and Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius, who could not tolerate each other.

    It is true that over time began to make theological and doctrinal divergences but if there were no political division divergences could be overcome. It is damage for the unity of the church and all conflicts and clashes which were then followed between Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

    Separation of churches mostly used by Muslims. The Mediterranean, which once was the Roman, passed largely into Muslim control.

    Byzantium had extensive damage from Crusaders (mostly 4th Crusade, in the start of XIII century). Byzantine army was defeated and Constantinople was severely damaged. Boys and women was killed, and women was raped, city and country were robbed, churches and buildings had been destroyed etc.

    After the Crusades was a great hatred focused on Western world by the Byzantines and the split of churches was permanently cemented. Politics, not religion (or language, culture etc.) was main cause.

    Muslims knew to use this situation and won the spaces that once were Christian.

    Muslim Ottomans dealt a mortal blow to Byzantium, at in one point come to Vienna. Last Byzantine stronghold was Monemvasia, today it is turistical attraction on the Peloponessus.

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    The Germanic Kingdoms and East Roman Empire (486 AD)



    This map shows the Byzantine Empire and the various Germanic kingdoms shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire (in 486).

    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 50-51.

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    Barbarian and Byzantine Empires (525 AD)


    This map shows the extent of the Byzantine Empire, the Ostrogoths, the Burgundian kingdom, the Suevian kingdom, the Visigoths, the Franks, the Vandals, and more at this time.

    Source: Bartholomew, J.G. LLD. A Literary & Historical Atlas of Europe. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. and New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1910. 10-11.

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    The Germanic Kingdoms and the East Roman Empire (526-600 AD)


    This map shows the Germanic kingdoms and the East Roman Empire between the years 526 and 600.


    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 52.

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    Europe and the East Roman Empire (533-600 AD)


    View the boundaries of Europe and the East Roman Empire from 533 to 600 AD. Seats of patriarchates are also displayed.

    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 52.

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    Byzantine Empire at the Death of Justinian (565 AD)



    According to this map, the Byzantine Empire was divided into prefectures; the map shows the prefectures of Africa, Italy, Illyricum, and of the East.

    Source: Bartholomew, J.G. LLD. A Literary & Historical Atlas of Europe. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. and New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1910. 13.

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    The Expansion of Islam (ca. 750 AD)



    Two maps are displayed: one shows the Eastern Roman Empire and Western Asia just before the Muslim conquests, while the other shows the expansion of the conquests themselves.

    Source: Dow, Earle W. Atlas of European History. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1907. Plate 6.

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    The Caliphate (750 AD)



    This map shows Saracen conquests up to the death of Mohammed in 632, conquests under the first three caliphs from 632 to 656, and conquests under the Ommiad Caliphs from 661-750. In addition to the borders of the caliphate, it also shows the borders of the Byzantine Empire.

    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 53.

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    Saracen Dominions (ca. 800 AD)


    This map shows the dominion of the Saracens around the time of Charlemagne.

    Source: Bartholomew, J.G. LLD. A Literary & Historical Atlas of Europe. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. and New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1910. 18.

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    Europe at the Death of Charlemagne (814 AD)


    This map shows the area of the Kingdom of the Asturias, The Omayyad Emirate of Kurtuba, Slavania, the Kingdom of the Avars, Sclavinia, the Kingdom of the Khazars, and more.

    Source: Bartholomew, J.G. LLD. A Literary & Historical Atlas of Europe. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. and New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1910. 14-15.

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    The Carolingian and Byzantine Empires (ca. 814 AD)


    The boundaries of the Carolingian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Caliphate, and the Slavic peoples tributary to Charlemagne are displayed on this map.

    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 54-5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Doe View Post
    The thing is, that the term 'Byzantine empire' has been thought of after the fall of the eastern Roman empire. The eastern Romans saw themselves as Romans, most of them spoke Greek and not Latin, but Romans they saw themselves as. Just like the Roman Britons never really adopted Latin (it was scarce), rather, continued to speak Celtic languages.

    Flavians kept their latin language, at least in rulling and laws.

    we say Codex Thodosianus,
    Codex Justinianus etc,

    after Basileios 1rst we se words like Χρυσοβουλον (gold sealed)

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    Tenth Century Europe (ca. 980 AD)


    This map shows Europe as it looked during the later tenth century.

    Source: Dow, Earle W. Atlas of European History. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1907. Plate 8.

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    Europe and the Byzantine Empire (ca. 1000 AD)

    View the boundaries of Europe and the Byzantine Empire around 1000 AD. The map also shows the route of the Varangians.

    Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 58-9.

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