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The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), and Romania (Ῥωμανία).

Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330, Constantine I (r. 306–337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism.

The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-century Macedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer" (r. 976–1025). However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068–1071) and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in the First and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period led to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Selected article

The Byzantine economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. The Arab conquests, however, would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of decline and stagnation. Constantine V's reforms (c. 765) marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. All this changed with the arrival of the Fourth Crusade, which was an economic catastrophe. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces.

Selected biography

Georgius Trapezuntius.jpg

George of Trebizond (13951486), Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance, was born on the island of Crete, and derived his surname Trapezuntius from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.

At what period he came to Italy is not certain; according to some accounts he was summoned to Venice about 1430 to act as amanuensis to Francesco Barbaro, who appears to have already made his acquaintance; according to others he did not visit Italy till the time of the Council of Florence (1438-1439).

He learned Latin from Vittorino da Feltre, and made such rapid progress that in three years he was able to teach Latin literature and rhetoric. His reputation as a teacher and a translator of Aristotle was very great, and he was selected as secretary by Pope Nicholas V, an ardent Aristotelian. The needless bitterness of his attacks upon Plato (in the Comparatio Aristotelis et Platonis), which drew forth a powerful response from Johannes Bessarion, and the manifestly hurried and inaccurate character of his translations of Plato, Aristotle and other classical authors, combined to ruin his fame as a scholar, and to endanger his position as a teacher of philosophy. (Pope Pius II was among the critics of George's translations.) The indignation against George on account of his first-named work was so great that he would probably have been compelled to leave Italy had not Alfonso V of Aragon given him protection at the court of Naples.

Did you know...

  • ... that there are many types of porphyry, some more common than others, but what made Imperial Porphyry so special and rare is that it is found in only one place on earth, atop a 1600-meter mountain in the eastern deserts of Egypt?
  • ... that Constantine the Great celebrated the founding of his new capital, Constantinopolis (Constantinople), in the year 330 AD by erecting there a 30-meter (100') column, built of seven porphyry drums, or cylinders, that is still standing today?

New articles

September 2017

New creations

Al-Hasan ibn al-Abbas • Battle of Caltavuturo • Chronicle of Muntaner • Syrian campaigns of John Tzimiskes • Treaty of Gallipoli

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Euphemius (Sicily)

August 2017

New creations

Battle of Melantias • Battle of Thannuris • Byzantine conquest of Cilicia • Byzantine Sardinia • Gabriele Trevisano • Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies • Kommata • Melantias • Metropolis of Ancyra • Nicaean–Latin wars • Siege of Chandax

July 2017

New creations

Byzantine–Venetian war of 1171 • Byzantium (play) • Garella • John Hagiopolites • Lazaros of Mount Galesios • Nikephoros Proteuon

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Isaac Komnenos (brother of Alexios I)

June 2017

New creations

Decarch (military rank) • Decius (exarch) • Leslie Brubaker • Phoulloi • Prostagma • Zichia

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Megas logothetes • Nicopsis • Pothos Argyros (11th century)

May 2017

New creations

Exisotes • John Belissariotes • Michael Stypiotes • Perenos • Stephen Pateranos • Theodore Kastamonites

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Andronikos Doukas Angelos

April 2017

New creations

Aspona • Battle of Gardiki • George the Confessor • George the Standard-Bearer • John VIII bar Abdoun • Paul of Xeropotamou • Synkellos

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Baioulos

March 2017

New creations

Byzantine churches at Sardis • Byzantine glass • Constantine, son of Theophilos • Leo Scepter • Limburg Staurotheke • Mary the Younger • Pseudo-Simeon • Ralph-Johannes Lilie • Synodicon Vetus • Thekla, daughter of Theophilos • Theophilos Palaiologos • Troyes Casket • Worcester Hunt Mosaic

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Agios Neophytos Monastery • Battle of the Masts • Daphni Monastery • Junayd of Aydın • Lazarus Zographos • Pietro Loredan • Siege of Thessalonica (1422–1430)

February 2017

New creations

Battle of Gallipoli (1416) • Eudokia Komnene (daughter of Alexios I) • Konstantinos Amantos • Mosaic Fragment with Man Leading a Giraffe • Poutza

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Vatatzes

January 2017

New creations

Battle of Keramaia • Battle of Megara (1359) • Battle of Milazzo (888) • Eustace of Flanders • Hospitaller conquest of Rhodes • John Kammytzes • Megas archon • Sebastohypertatos

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Constantine Angelos • Guy Pallavicini • Iyad ibn Ghanm • Paul (exarch) • Theodora Komnene (daughter of Alexios I)

December 2016

New creations

Amytzantarioi • Anthony Bryer • Council of Blachernae (1285) • John Taronites (sebastos) • Metropolis of Elis and Olena • Michael Apsaras • Michael Taronites • Nicholas Hagiotheodorites • Panhypersebastos • Protoierakarios • Protokynegos • Protosebastos • Rodolphe Guilland • Salīhids • Siege of Taormina (962) • Skouterios • Trapezuntine Civil War • Tzanichites • Üçayak Byzantine Church • Umayr ibn al-Hubab al-Sulami

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Abu'l-A'war • Safwan ibn Muattal • Stratopedarches

November 2016

New creations

Abydikos • Baioulos • Battle of Sufetula • Diocese of Hierapolis • Ernst Stein • Helena Angelina Komnene • John Pitzigaudes • Lazia (theme) • Mark Whittow • Theodore Daphnopates

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Battle of Andrassos • Al-Muktafi • Shibl al-Dawla Nasr

October 2016

New creations

Andronikos of Sardis • Antony of Larissa • Bishop Samuel's inscription • Dagisthaeus • Diocese of Philippi • George Kleidas • Karaman Castle • Mansur ibn Lu'lu' • Petra, Lazica • Skande • Vartsikhe

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Berthold II von Katzenelnbogen

September 2016

New creations

Aziz al-Dawla • Constantine Chabaron • Feraklos Castle • Gabriel Sphrantzes • John Phakrases • Metropolis of Iconium

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Sino-Roman relations


External links and resources

Societies of Byzantine studies

Journals of Byzantine studies

Byzantine studies and research institutes

Projects

Bibliography and primary sources

On-line manuscript collections

Art, museums and exhibitions

Prosopography

Other

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Selected picture

Raphael Baptism Constantine.jpg

Photo credit:Cmmmm

The Baptism of Constantine, painting by the students of Raphael, 1520-1524

Recognised content

This is a list of articles related to the Byzantine Empire that have been recognized by the Wikipedia community as being of particular quality.

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Featured articles:

Basiliscus  • Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081)  • Battle of Kalavrye  • Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347  • Byzantine Empire  • Byzantine navy  • Chariot racing  • Greece runestones  • Gregory of Nazianzus  • Istanbul  • Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria  • Manuel I Komnenos  • Maximus the Confessor  • Paul Palaiologos Tagaris  • Roman–Persian Wars  • Sack of Amorium  • Siege of Constantinople (717–718)  • Simeon I of Bulgaria  • Theodore Komnenos Doukas  • Thomas the Slav  • Treaty of Devol  • Jovan Vladimir

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A-class articles:

Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (782)  • Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor (806)  • Abu'l-Aswar Shavur ibn Fadl  • Ahmad ibn Tulun  • Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith  • Bardanes Tourkos  • Battle of Lalakaon  • Battle of Solachon  • Bessas (general)  • Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628  • John Kourkouas  • John Troglita  • Priscus (general)  • Siege of Constantinople (674–678)  • Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria  • Vitalian (general)

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Good articles:

Abdallah al-Battal  • Abu Taghlib  • Alexios Apokaukos  • Alexios Philanthropenos  • Alexios Strategopoulos  • Artabanes (general)  • Bardas  • Baths of Zeuxippus  • Battle of Akroinon  • Battle of Alexandretta  • Battle of Andrassos  • Battle of Anzen  • Battle of Apamea  • Battle of Arcadiopolis (970)  • Battle of Bathys Ryax  • Battle of Constantinople (922)  • Battle of Kleidion  • Battle of Kopidnadon  • Battle of Krasos  • Battle of Manzikert  • Battle of Mauropotamos  • Battle of the Gates of Trajan  • Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros  • Battle of Yarmouk  • Byzantine–Arab Wars  • Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896  • Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty  • Byzantine Greeks  • Byzantine–Ottoman Wars  • Chalke  • Chlemoutsi  • Church of St. Polyeuctus  • Constantine Angelos  • Constantine Diogenes  • Constantine Doukas (usurper)  • Constantine Lekapenos  • Constantine the Great  • Cutzinas  • David III of Tao  • Domestic of the Schools  • Droungarios of the Fleet  • Droungarios of the Watch  • Emirate of Crete  • Eustathios Argyros (general under Leo VI)  • Eustathios Daphnomeles  • Eutharic  • Gabras  • Geoffrey of Briel  • George Mouzalon  • Germanus (cousin of Justinian I)  • Glarentza  • Gubazes II of Lazica  • Harald Hardrada  • Heraclius  • Heraclius the Elder  • John Doukas (megas doux)  • John Doukas (sebastokrator)  • John I Doukas of Thessaly  • John Komnenos (Domestic of the Schools)  • John Komnenos Asen  • John Komnenos the Fat  • John of Brienne  • John Palaiologos (brother of Michael VIII)  • Junayd of Aydın  • sJustin (consul 540)  • Justinian I  • Law School of Beirut  • Licario  • Manuel Erotikos Komnenos  • Manuel the Armenian  • Marianos Argyros  • Martino Zaccaria  • Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik  • Michael I Komnenos Doukas  • Michael Bourtzes  • Michael Dokeianos  • Michael Lachanodrakon  • Momchil  • al-Muktafi  • Muslim conquest of Sicily  • Nikephoros (Caesar)  • Nikephoros Komnenos  • Nikephoros Melissenos  • Nikephoros Phokas Barytrachelos  • Nikephoros Phokas the Elder  • Nikephoros Xiphias  • Orphanotrophos  • Peter the Patrician  • Protostrator  • Sack of Damietta (853)  • Sa'd al-Dawla  • Salih ibn Mirdas  • Sayf al-Dawla  • Shahrbaraz  • Siege of Berat (1280–1281)  • Siege of Constantinople (860)  • Siege of Damascus (634)  • Siege of Jerusalem (637)  • Siege of Kamacha (766)  • Siege of Nicaea (727)  • Siege of Patras (805 or 807)  • Siege of Syracuse (877–878)  • Siege of Thessalonica (1422–1430)  • Siege of Tyana  • Solomon (Byzantine general)  • Staurakios (eunuch)  • Stephen Lekapenos  • Stylianos Zaoutzes  • Syrgiannes Palaiologos  • Theodore Synadenos  • Theodosius (son of Maurice)  • Theoktistos  • Turahan Bey  • Tzachas  • Umar al-Aqta  • Uprising of Ivaylo  • Vandalic War  • Walls of Constantinople

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