Byzantine Empire

330 CE - 1453 CE

The Byzantine Empire was the eastern half of the old Roman Empire.

        The start of the Byzantine Empire could have begun at two different times. Some people say that it began in 330 CE when the Roman emperor named Constantine moved the capitol to Byzantium. Others say that it began in 476 CE, when the western half of the Roman Empire fell apart because of barbarian attacks. At this time, the western half entered a time called the Dark Ages and the eastern half, the Byzantine Empire, grew strong and lasted about 1000 years. It lasted a long time for several reasons, such as not getting too large, minding their own business, and that it had an organized government.

          The Byzantine Empire had an impact on Russia and its culture. Many Byzantine ideas were spread into Russia because of trading. One thing that spread to Russia was religion. The Eastern Orthodox religion was taken by the Russians and is known as Russian Orthodox. Other things that were spread into Russia were art works, such as mosaics, the Cyrillic alphabet, and architecture. The architecture that spread can mostly be seen in the Byzantine and Russian churches and is characterized by domes that look onion-shaped.

         Along with influencing Russia, the Byzantine Empire made some contributions to our society. For example, the Byzantine Empire's set of laws, Justinian's Code, became a basis for laws in many European nations. Justinian's Code was based on the "Twelve Tables" from the Roman Empire, which was the "eye for an eye" system. The art and architecture of the Byzantine Empire are also considered a contribution and they usually supported the Christian Church. Without the Byzantine Empire, the only surviving religion in Europe would be Islam because Byzantine preserved the Greek and Roman culture. They didn't only save religion, but they also saved the Classical science, literature, philosophy, and  engineering of the old Roman and Greek cultures.

      Justinian I was the first great ruler of the Byzantine Empire. He took power in 527 and ruled until he died in 565. During these years, the empire was the largest it would grow. Justinian I was also the man who reformed the Roman laws which helped shape the modern concept of the state. These laws stayed in place for centuries.

      The Byzantine Empire had been declining for a while, but the end of the Byzantine Empire came on May 29, 1453 when the Ottoman army stormed the capital of Constantinople. The emperor, Emperor Constantine XI, died in the battle that day. This completed the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire. Even though the empire was over, many of the Byzantine scholars fled to Italy where they continued the knowledge and learning of the Byzantine Empire.