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THEOCRACY - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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THEOCRACY. Christianity played a big role in creating and maintaining loyalty of subjects to the emperor Christians saw emperor as more than a political ruler He was also God’s representative on earth and the protector of the Church Christianity promoted high degree of patriotism.

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  • Christianity played a big role in creating and maintaining loyalty of subjects to the emperor

    • Christians saw emperor as more than a political ruler

      • He was also God’s representative on earth and the protector of the Church

  • Christianity promoted high degree of patriotism


  • Because state and church were so closely connected, heresy became a matter of direct government concern

    • It became treason

    • Religious disputes became political disputes in the East

  • Political interference in religious matters tended to turn Christianity in the East into just another branch of government

    • Made it subservient to political needs

    • Gradually weakened its hold on the common people and left them open to other, more dynamic and independent religious doctrines

      • Such as Islam


  • Emphasis on education resulted in the preservation of many masterpieces of ancient Greek literature

    • Survived to fertilize the intellectual life of western world

  • Literature was predominantly Greek

    • History was the favorite subject among reading public

      • Herodotus, Thucycides, etc.

      • Best known contemporary Byzantine historian was Procopius


  • Wrote official account of the reign of Justinian and also an unofficial “Secret History” of the reign in which he viciously attacked and ridiculed the same emperor he praised in the official version

    • Not exactly an objective historian but his work was lively and entertaining

  • Later historians concentrated on victories of emperors and descriptions of barbarian enemies

    • Also very curious about foreigners

    • Painted unflattering portraits of western European rulers


  • Discovered nothing new in geometry, astronomy and natural sciences

    • But they did faithfully learn what the ancients had achieved in these areas

  • Only made advances in science when they could be put to military use

    • Greek Fire

      • Combination of oil, sulphur, and quick-lime which was shot from a flame thrower and could even burn under water

      • Devastating weapon against wooden ships


  • General level of medical competence higher in Byzantine Empire than in the West

    • Basis was Hippocrate’s concept of the “four humours”

      • In healthy body, four humours were in perfect balance

    • Also stressed diet and rest

    • Relied heavily on drugs made from herbs

    • Weakness was excessive use of “bleeding”

    • Empire had many hospitals and army had medical corps


  • Byzantine culture was almost exclusively Greek

    • Not Roman per se

  • As time went on, the Empire cut itself off from non-Greek west

    • Byzantine Church paid no attention to pope in Rome

    • Latin not taught in schools after 1000 AD

    • Cultural isolation from the West would continue until the Crusades


  • Highest peak in Byzantine history occurred during the reign of Justinian

    • 527-565 AD

    • Obsessed with reviving old unified Roman Empire by reconquering the western provinces from barbarians

    • Reign also witnessed golden age of art and architecture

      • Construction of Sancta Sophia


  • Justinian received tremendous support in achieving his goals from his wife

    • Perhaps more ambitious than the emperor himself

    • Former circus performer and prostitute

    • Possessed extraordinary amount of energy and intelligence

    • Pushed Justinian to greatness

      • Sometimes in spite of himself

Returned to Italy in 552 and retook it

Meanwhile, Byzantine armies and naval squadrons took over islands in Western Mediterranean and southern coast of Spain from the Visigoths

Justininian took advantage of disunity in West to pick off barbarian kingdoms one by one

Belisarius defeated Vandals in North Africa; invaded Sicily and ultimately captured Rome from the Ostrogoths after four years of hard fighting

Persian invasion forced transfer of army from Italy to Syria—allowing Ostrogoths to recover most of their lost territory

By last years of his rule, the treasury was bankrupt, economy was shattered by outbreak of plague, and new barbarian tribes, such as the Slavs, Avars, and Bulgars had moved into eastern Europe

New barbarian tribes began to pick off his conquests shortly after his death

Lombards took over northern Italy in 568

Visigoths retook Spain

Arabs would take North Africa in the 690s

Justinian’s plan to reconquer west was essentially just foolish romantic nostalgia

He overextended resources of the empire instead of concentrating them on his eastern provinces


Took over Persian in 300 AD and developed a cosmopolitan and powerful society

Served as a bridge between Mediterranean world and India

Possessed a culture that was, at the minimum, equal to that of the Byzantine Empire

Biggest threat in years after Justinian’s death was Sassanid Empire


  • Warlike Persian aristocracy found perfect leader in Khusro II

    • Dreamed of restoring the old Persian Empire of Darius I

    • Attacked Byzantine Empire in 602 AD

      • Captured Antioch, Damascus, Tarsus, and Jerusalem by 613

      • Besieged Constantinople for ten years but never could capture city

      • Decisively defeated in 627 and then murdered by his own men

        • Byzantines then reoccupied Syria, Palestine, and Egypt


  • Long and costly war left both Byzantine Empire and Persians fatally weakened and unprepared for new and unexpected attack by Arabs

    • Beginning in 632 Arabs conquered entire Persian Empire and grabbed Palestine, Syria, and Egypt

    • Also attacked Constantinople several times

      • But the city held on, saving the rest of the empire and much of eastern and western Europe

Still held Constantinople and Asia Minor and had shaky control of southeastern Europe

Empire was now much smaller but it was also more compact, easier to defend, and more unified in terms of religion and culture

By 800, the Byzantine Empire had lost all the western territory conquered by Justinian and much of the Middle East to the Arabs


  • 867-1056 AD

  • Empire began to expand again

    • Reconquered Syria and extended northeast frontier in Asia Minor

  • Most important accomplishments were the establishment of firm control of Slavs and Bulgars in southeastern Europe and the conversion of these formerly pagan tribes to Christianity


  • Empire had trade links with the Vikings who had taken over Russia in the 900s

    • Also used them as mercenaries

  • Independent Russian state of Kiev founded around 1000 AD

    • Macedonian emperors went out of their way to establish good relations with this new state

      • Formed an alliance with it and provided military aid


  • Prince Vladimir of Kiev married sister of Byzantine emperor in 1015 and officially converted to Christianity

    • Byzantine influence flooded into Kievan Russia from this point onwards and left permanent impression on the new state’s emerging civilization

      • Alphabet that Russia still uses today was invented by Byzantine missionary St. Cyril in order to translate Bible into spoken language of the Russians


  • Seljuk Turks moved into Middle East

    • Took over most of the territory formerly controlled by Arabs

    • Invaded Asia Minor in 1071

      • Destroyed Byzantine army at Battle of Manzikert (1071)

      • Empire now fatally crippled

        • Could now only fight Turks by begging military aid from Western Europe


  • Byzantine Empire limped on for several more centuries

    • But period of expansion and greatness was over

    • Devoted all its energies and resources to just surviving

  • Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in 1453

    • Put empire out of its misery for good


  • By preserving Greek culture and Roman administrative practice, the Byzantine Empire performed a valuable service for the still embryonic civilization of Western Europe

    • Also protected fledgling Western kingdoms from the full force of such powerful invaders as the Persians and Arabs

    • Commercial network eventually stimulated the economic revival of such western trading centers as Venice and Genoa

  • Biggest impact was on the Slavic people of Eastern Europe

    • Eastern Orthodox Christianity, for example

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