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Byzantine Empire. Amanda G. Arundel High School. Byzantium. Foundations. Roman Predecessors Diocletian split the Roman Empire into two sections, aligning myself with a co-emperor Augustus, establishing a tetrachy This did not last long after his death, and was reversed until Constantine

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byzantine empire

Byzantine Empire

Amanda G.

Arundel High School



  • Roman Predecessors
  • Diocletian split the Roman Empire into two sections, aligning myself with a co-emperor Augustus, establishing a tetrachy
  • This did not last long after his death, and was reversed until Constantine
  • Constantine reunited the empires but established the capital at Constantinople, with more focus on the Eastern segments of the Empire than the previously Western focus
  • Established a leniency with Christianity that would make it the dominant religion after the Western fall
  • In 395 the two empires are officially split
  • In the 6th century CE Justinian takes command and the Byzantine Empire flourishes

Political Structure

  • Dynasties
  • First Emperor of the officially designated Eastern Empire
  • Herculean Dynasty established in the middle 7th century CE only to experience territorial loss. During this period the arts became more political and less innovative
  • Isaurian Dynasty was then founded after driving out Muslim forces and set about consolidating the empire
  • Macedonian Empire followed and this saw the revival of the arts and a somewhat of a golden age for the Byzantine. Saw numerous battles among the Bulgarians, Muslims, and eventually Normans
  • With the Kommenian Dynasty the Byzantine saw the Crusades which would lead to its disintegration, giving way to Russia


  • Christian Orthodoxy
  • Initially the Eastern Portion of the Empire followed the traditional Catholic ways
  • Later n the 11th century CE the church was split into Roman Catholicism and Christian Orthodoxy
  • Based at Constantinople and had secular leaders, but did not recognize the authority of the Pope
  • Believed Emperor to be Christ’s messenger for the populace
  • Most powerful symbol of Orthodoxy was Hagia Sophia, built by Justinian

Artistic Achievements

  • Orthodox Influence
  • Most of art was spurred by religious influences
  • Theological impressions were made to create strictly designed interpretations of the Orthodox belief system
  • More symbolic in approach with less attempts to appease naturalistic principles
  • Produced the very important aspect of Iconoclasm which spurred the schism between the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox
  • Used not only to symbolize religious pursuits but also to create imperial recognition for the Empire
  • Iconoclasm was used to severely limit the expression of art in other forms, such as murals and mosaics

Economic Makeup

  • Government Involvement
  • Initial Byzantine Economics involved strict government involvement in the exports and imports of the Empire
  • Regulated interest rates and had a monopoly on coining currency
  • Often intervened to prevent economic failures and to redistribute surplus through public works and burucratic salaries
  • Constantinople remained on of the wealthiest cities in the world and many were impressed by the grandeur
  • Intersecting the Eastern and Western world it became an important trade center, creating massive wealth
  • However with the coming of the fourth crusades, the Empire fell into collapse with massive inflation and no economic structure
  • Eventually contributed to the collapse of the Empire in 1453 CE