Chapter 9. Civilization in Eastern Europe: Byzantium and Orthodox Europe. Sam Gehman, Caroline Potter, and Alfred VanGilder. The Byzantine Empire. 500-1450 CE. Origins of the Empire. In the 4 th century CE, the Romans set up Constantinople as the capital
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Chapter 9 Civilization in Eastern Europe: Byzantium and Orthodox Europe Sam Gehman, Caroline Potter, and Alfred VanGilder
The Byzantine Empire 500-1450 CE
Origins of the Empire • In the 4th century CE, the Romans set up Constantinople as the capital • Constantinople became the home of many elegant buildings and Christian churches • The city was built on the old town of Byzantium • Invading Huns and other intruders were warded off • There was a solid tax base in the peasant agriculture of the Eastern Mediterranean • The empire succeeded on high levels of trade • Latin becomes an inferior language as Greek is the common tongue • Knowledge of Greek allowed Easterners to read ancient classics and Hellenistic writings • Hellenized Egyptians and Syrians became integrated into the culture • Armies were recruited from the Middle Easterners • The empire focused on an emperor surrounded by administrators • Leaders of the East and West were kept separate
Justinian’s Achievement • Eastern emperors relied on a military base to fight off the Sassanian Empire and Germanic invaders • Justinian tried to reconquer the western empire in 533 CE to restore a way similar to Rome • Procopius described him as a “moron” that was easily hoodwinked • Theodora stiffened his resolve and pushed plans for expansion • Justinian is well known for recapturing Constantinople, which was ravaged by riots and taxes • He codified Roman law, organizing the empire and spreading legal principles • He chose his leaders based on their merit • He made Christian the state religion, and only Christians were citizens • With Belisarius, he conquered North Africa and the Iberian peninsula
The Hagia Sophia The Hagia Sophia was constructed in the year 537 CE by Justinian’s builders. It was a wonder of the Christian world for many years and it still stands today. It is now a museum.
Arab Pressure and the Empire’s Defenses • Persian successes in the Middle East were reversed and they were made Christians • The Byzantine Empire was strong enough by the 7th century to survive the strengthening Arab Muslims • The Arabs built a strong fleet that led to their capture of the Eastern seaboard and push into the heartland • Greek Fire, a Byzantine chemical weapon, helped protect the capital from Arab invaders • Weak and strong emperors for the Byzantine did not help the strength of the military • The Arabs took over Crete in the 9th century, enabling harassment of Byzantine trade • Slavic kingdoms like Bulgaria occasionally threatened the Byzantine borders • Military success and marriage alliances brought down the power of the Bulgarians • Basil II bribed the Bulgarians and then defeated them, killing the king and capturing 15,000 men • At the end of the 10th century, the Byzantine Emperor may have been the world’s most powerful man
Byzantine Society and Politics • The politics of the Byzantines were extremely similar to that of the Chinese • The leader of the Byzantines ruled politics and religion, and the leader could even be a woman • The leader was surrounded by a court educated in Hellenistic ways to help with decisions • The court could be made of all classes but was usually aristocratic • The empire relied on Constantinople’s dominance of the countryside • Peasants supplied the food and paid most taxes, and food prices stayed low • Trading was a large part of the empire but merchants never held political power • Silk imported from China became a symbol among the wealthy • Domed buildings, colored mosaics, and painted icons linked to the Orthodox Christianity
The Split Between Eastern and Western Christianity • The Great Schism was the split between Eastern and Western Christianity • Many disagreements led to the split, but a debate over yeast in bread was the last straw • Emperors were resisting the attempts of papals to interfere with religious issues • Charlemagne claimed to be the Roman King in the year 800 • Rituals were put in Latin instead of Greek, even though the East’s language was Latin • The pope was seen as the first bishop in the West but not in the East • Priests were allowed to marry and have families in the East but remained solitary in the West • Religious art in the east was focused on suffering and appeared Asian to the Westerners • Michael the first led the rebellion for the East
The Empire’s Decline • The Empire began its long period of decline after the split of East from West • Turkish troops invaded from the East and eventually defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Manzakurt • The larger army of the Byzantines had been defeated, paving the way for Slavik establishments • The East asked the West for help but the West focused instead on the Crusades • Italians with strong navies took control of Constantinople and managed trade • In 1453, a Turkish Sultan brought an army with artillery from Hungary, that by 1461, had conquered the remaining pockets of Byzantine rule • The influence of the Byzantine Empire left a lasting impression on other empires like the Ottomans
The Spread of Civilization in Eastern Europe • Orthodox missionaries from Constantinople converted some Balkans to Christianity and brought other forms of Byzantine influence • Cyril and Methodius were sent to the territories of the Czech and Slovak republics in 864 • Roman Catholic missionaries were more effective in these areas • In the Balkans and Southern Russia, the two devised a written script for Slavic language • The possibility of literature and literacy developed along with Christianity outside of the Byzantine Empire • Byzantine missionaries were even willing to use local languages in Church services, which differed from other cultures that insisted on church Latin
The East Central Borderlands • The Latin alphabet prevailed in the Czech area as well as Hungary and Poland • This area would long be an area of competition between Eastern and Western political and intellectual models • After becoming Christian, this area was loosely governed amid a powerful land-owning aristocracy • Eastern Europe received lots of Jews who were fleeing the Middle East and the Western intolerance • Poland received the most Jews • Eastern Jews, who were barred from agriculture and were resented by Christian authority, gained strength in local commerce while maintaining their own beliefs • An emphasis on education and literacy, though mainly for males, separated Jewish culture from most of the societies around Europe and the world
The Emergence of Kievan Rus’ • Slavic peoples had moved into the sweeping plains of Russia and Eastern Europe during the time of the Roman Empire • They mixed with Bulgarians, used iron, extended agriculture, and held an animist religion while holding a rich tradition of folk music and oral legend • Scandinavian traders followed rivers and developed trading with Constantinople • These traders developed the city of Kiev along the routes and Rurik became the first ruler • The name Russia came from Kiev, and the city became a center of trade • Vladimir I ruled the land from 980 to 1015, converting the area to Christianity • It became the largest single state in Europe and its final leader, Yaroslav, issued legal codification while building churches and arranging religious translations from Greek to Slavic
Institutions and Culture in Kievan Rus’ • Kievan Rus’ borrowed some things from Byzantium but could not replicate major institutions • Kievan rulers liked the Byzantine luxury as well as the concept of a central ruler with wide powers • Orthodox Christianity spread into Kiev, passing along the culture and traditions of Christianity with it • Russian literature developed using the Cyrillic alphabet, writing of religious and royal events • Polygamy fell to monogamy, and God was seen as a leader who punished • Ukrainian and Russian art focused on religion as well • Orthodox churches were similar to Byzantine models, but were wood instead of stone • Russian peasants were fairly free farmers, although boyars (aristocrats) existed • Yaroslav made ties with marriages, and he used Byzantine styles in Kievan cathedrals and law codes
Kievan Decline • The Kievan principality began to decline in the 12th century. • Asian invaders invaded Russia, taking some of their land in the process. • The decline of the Byzantines led to a loss of trade and wealth for Russia. • The final blow dealt to Russia was in 1237-1238 and 1240-1241, when two groups of Mongol invaders attacked Russia, defeating it until it's uprising later. • Russian peoples called the Mongols 'Tartar' from the Turkish name. • Tartars held back at the Russian culture in its writings, but not its Christian influence. • Tartars were pushed out of Russia later, making the country free from the Mongol influence, and able to let their culture grow and blossom. • When Constantinople fell in 1453, Russia had just began to assert it's independence from the Tartars.
The End of an Era in Eastern Europe • Post classical Eastern Europe fell on hard times after the collapse of Russia and the Byzantine Empire. • The Western European areas were free, unrestricted, and had a much better economy, political thoughts, and religious advancement than its Eastern counterpart. • During post classical eras, West and East Europe separated slightly, leaving west to become more prosperous and east to be left in the dust. • Tartar invasion and the fall of the Byzantine Empire led this collapse of the East. • Christianity, European assumptions about political rulers, the church-state relations, and the pride in a lively artistic culture served as threads in the rebuilding of the Russian and Slavic communities.