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The Byzantine Empire Eastern Christian Empire - One God, One Empire, One Religion
The Eastern Empire • As Western Europe succumbed to the Germanic invasions, imperial power shifted to the Byzantine Empire (the eastern part of the Roman Empire).
Constantinople • Constantinople became the sole capitol of the empire and remained so until the successful revival of the western empire in the 8th century by Charlemagne.
The Empire at Its Height The empire was at its height In 565, during Justinian’s reign. It included most of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Extensive Building Plans Justinian was an ambitious builder. His greatest monument was the magnificent domed church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), which was constructed in just five years (53237).
Decline in the 7th Century • In the seventh century the empire lost Syria, the Holy Land, Egypt, and North Africa to invading Islamic armies.
First Fall of Constantinople • in 1204, the Crusaders attacked, conquered, and pillaged the city of Constantinople, a goal that the Muslims had been trying achieve for centuries
Recovery of Territory • The Byzantines called upon the European states to push back the Muslim conquerors. The European states complied, successfully pushed back the Seljuks, returned territory to the Byzantines, and carved out kingdoms of their own in Syria and Palestine.
Fall of Constantinople • In 1451, 19 year old new Sultan Mehmed (Muhammed) II set out to prove himself by conquering Constantinople and all of Asia Minor and Balkans once and for all. • Key to successful siege was ability to breach massive 3.5 mile long Theodosian wall with its moats, towers and triple layered walls that held out invaders for over a millennium!
Gunpowder Impact • Services of Urban of Transylvania, willing to build a monster gun measuring 26ft, 8 in with calibre of 8in that could lob a solid stone cannon ball weighing more than a ton more than 1 mile • Offered his services to Constantinople first, but they could not afford the expensive guns! • Completed gun in Jan. 1415 • Took a crew of 700 to transport, load and handle the monster gun – prove to be effective against the walls
Opposing Forces • Emperor Constantine XI calls for help from the West again, but no real assistance. • Number of defenders approximately 10,000 • Mahmed’s army consisted of 12,000 elite guard and entire army of approx. 120,000. • In addition, Mahmed had established a large navy to help with blockade of Constantinople
Some positive signs for Defenders • Ottomans make several failed attempts to breach the walls • Defenders have success in setting fire to siege towers and blowing up Ottoman tunnels designed to get below city walls • In May, defenders receive supplies and small number of Italian reinforcements
Final Assault • Night of May 28, large assault led by 20,000 Ottomans. Defenders initially turn them back again, but Ottomans find a breach in the walls and pour through. • Italian general mortally wounded, Venetian and Genoese Italians retreat • Defensive positions collapse and Ottomans open main gate and kill defenders including Constantine. Sack the city. • Turn Hagia Sophia into mosque.
Conquered by the Ottoman Turks • In May 1453, the city was finally and permanently conquered by the Ottoman Turks and renamed Istanbul. Byzantine culture, law, and administration came to its final end. Ottoman Turks pose threat to Europe until failed siege at Vienna in 1683
Contribution to Western Civilization • Throughout the early Middle Ages, the Byzantine Empire remained a protective barrier between western Europe and hostile Persian, Arab, and Turkish armies. • The Byzantines were also a major conduit of classical learning and science into the West down to the Renaissance. While western Europeans were fumbling to create a culture of their own, the cities of the Byzantine Empire provided them a model of a civilized society.