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History 11. The Byzantine Empire . Constantinople . The emperor Constantine rebuilt the Greek city of Byzantium and gave it the name Constantinople. In 330 AD it became the capital of the “New Roman” empire. In time this eastern empire became known as the Byzantine Empire. . Constantinople .

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History 11

History 11

The Byzantine Empire


  • The emperor Constantine rebuilt the Greek city of Byzantium and gave it the name Constantinople. In 330 AD it became the capital of the “New Roman” empire.

  • In time this eastern empire became known as the Byzantine Empire.


  • The location of this great city made it ideal for trade. The city connected all of the countries of the world. They sold silk from China, wheat from Egypt, gems from India, spices from Southeast Asia, and furs from the Viking lands.

  • The harbor connected them to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

New rome
New Rome

  • The Byzantine Empire wanted to carry the rich traditions of the Roman empire. The royalty would dress in rich silk, they would chariot race. They even built a giant stadium called the Hippodrome for special events. This was all intended to be a reminder of their rich Roman heritage.

Emperor justinian
Emperor Justinian

  • The Byzantine reached its greatest size under emperor Justinian around 527 to 565. He had recovered a lot of the land that had been lost . They took the empire back in many areas.

Emperor justinian1
Emperor Justinian

  • The victory over the old lands were temporary. The successors after Justinian lost the lands.

  • One great monument that he built that did last was the church “Hagia Sophia” (Holy Wisdom). He built this temple to try and surpass King Solomon. He wanted it to be more glorious.

Code of law
Code of law

  • Justinian was also know for his reform of law. He set up a commission that organized the laws they were known as the “body of civil law,” or Justinian’s Code. The massive collection of laws included all the Roman assemblies or decrees. This code was picked up by the legal thinkers and it guides law today.


  • Justinian used the the law to unite the kingdom under his control. He was an autocrat. He ruled with absolute power as the sole ruler. He had complete authority even over the church. He combined political power and spiritual authority. His wife Theodora also helped him keep this role.

After justinian
After Justinian

  • Centuries after Justinian the empire rose and fell. They were attacked by a number of different people. Constantly at war. The Persians, Slavs, Vikings, Mongols, and Turks all tried to take them down but failed.

  • Much of the empire did cave in the 700s to the Arabs but the Constantinople remained strong.

After justinian1
After Justinian

  • The Empire was able to fight off attacks from all others and hold power. The peasants were the backbone of the empire. They worked the land, paid tax, and provided soldiers. Trade also helped them flourish. While western Europe was reduced to a barter economy the Byzantine Empire used gold coin stamped with the image of the emperors.

Byzantine christianity
Byzantine Christianity

  • The Christian Church was just as influential in the Byzantine empire as it was in Europe. There was a large division that grew.

  • The leadership was different. The emperor was not a priest but he controlled church affairs and appointed the “patriarch” or the highest church official.

Byzantine christianity1
Byzantine Christianity

  • The Byzantine Christians rejected the pope’s claim to authority over all Christians.

  • Unlike the priests their clergy kept the right to marry. They spoke Greek, not Latin in the Byzantine church.

  • They focused on Easter, the day Jesus rose from the dead. While the West celebrated Christmas, the birthday of Jesus.


  • A dispute over icons, or holy images contributed to the split. Many people would pray to images of Christ and the Virgin Mary. In the 700s an emperor outlawed that because he felt it was idol worship. With that the pope excommunicated the emperor. There was resentment against the pope after that. This created conflict and they split, (Schism) in 1054. This separated the churches.


  • Constantinople is what present day city?

  • What does Hagia Sophia mean?

  • Why did Justinian want to build such a great temple?

  • What is the name of the code of law?

  • Name 3 differences in the religious practices of the east and west?