how did the eastern roman empire survive
The Avars had taken the great cities of the Balkans. It’s civilian structure of administration remained intact. The East was easier to defend, especially, as I’ve just said, the position of Constantinople, both as an impregnable site and as a commercial city with very, very extensive trade, and as a base to defend the two core territories of the Empire. The beginning of the seventh century is the period of the maximum danger of Byzantium. The eastern frontier with Persia–we already talked about them–and the Northern frontier, along the Danube River, more or less, with all sorts of different peoples, from the Avars, Slavs, Bulgars, all sorts of nations that would attack it. The conventional portrayal used to be that the Avars sort of lead the Slavs; the latter are kind of passive. ( Log Out /  As we can see, the bulk of the Eastern Empire and also the most wealthy part, was in the Hellenistic East, in Asia Minor, the Levant and in Egypt. When the oppression became too much to bear, the Goths rose up in revolt and eventually routed a Roman army and killed the Eastern Emperor Valens during the Battle of Adrianople in A.D. 378. After the demise of Attila, with the Hunnish threat diminished, the Eastern Empire was again able to consider a more active policy in the West, one that was pursued by Marcian’s successor Leo I, otherwise known as Leo the Thracian, building upon the prudent policies of Marcian. 19th-century illustration of Romulus Augustulus resigning the Roman crown to Odoacer; from an unknown source. And as you know, to this day, the Orthodox churches of Russia, Greece, and so forth, look very different. It is also, like these other heresies, a recurrence of this problem of how to represent the connection between God and human beings. That’s just it. 627–Byzantium would have seemed to have been triumphant. In 591, a revolution toppled the Persian ruler, who, peculiarly enough, fled to Byzantium for refuge, where the Emperor Maurice helped him gain his throne back. And then, as we’ll see, the great emperor of the sixth century, Justinian, who we’re going to be looking at much more closely, was a fierce anti-Monophysite or Chalcedonian, Orthodox. Part of the answer is geography. And if you just hold that in your mind, this, somewhat, “one event after another, that I never heard of,” quality, that this will have, I think will be, if not alleviated, at least rendered comprehensible. I think in generally some big reasons why the East survived included:- it was wealthier- easier to defend than the West. The further back you go in the Bible, the less are good intentions rewarded. Proceeds are donated to charity. Brewminate uses Infolinks and is an Amazon Associate with links to items available there. But their subordinates were very capable, the government worked well, and the East survived a number of powerful threats from the outside. They weren't Romans, they were Byzantines, it's only called the Eastern Roman Empire in the history books; the two Empires were pretty seperate by the fall of the West. She was turned into a pillar of salt. So the iconoclasts believe in banning images of persons. Society even here, as in the West, is rural. Procopius from the Justinian Mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, 547 CE / Wikimedia Commons. And what Heraclius does, is to confide the city in the care of the patriarch, and go off and attack the Persians from the rear. What he means by that, is that iconoclasm seems to be something that must not be about what it seems to be. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! By 660, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon have fallen to Muslim rule. If you inquire about a loaf of bread, the baker will reply, that the Son is inferior, and the Father is superior. This is really at the end of Greco-Roman Pagan knowledge. The west, in large part, destroyed itself from within. Lest this be interpreted as exalting figures, even the Prophet–especially the Prophet himself. In this post, I want to look at some of the physical conditions and events that helped make the difference. You must be logged in to reply to this topic. The so-called Theodosian Walls–rather nastily restored recently–are an incredible monument, still, in their ruined state, to the power of Constantinople, as they were built on the landward side. Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email. The emperor, at this time, Heraclius, whom Wickham is not very impressed by, admittedly. ( Log Out /  But the Bible, I’ve got to admit, does say that it is important to have the right belief. It took until 843 to settle this controversy. What’s at stake in this, and why it’s important, is how Christ saves people. Argument about icons before the emperor, from the Skylitzes Chronicle (Synopsis of the Histories), 12th century / Wikimedia Commons. In the ninth century, it would seem that the cities, with the exception of Constantinople itself, had declined to become little more than fortresses. This allowed Maurice to turn his attention to his other front, his Western- Northern front, where the Avars were a tremendous threat to him. The map really shows them, more or less, at their height. But the guy stumbles, and God strikes him dead. We’re back to emperors. That date was when Odoacer, the Germanic king of the Torcilingi, deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman … Did Titus destroy the Second Jesualem Temple on Purpose? It also had the disadvantage of internal religious dissent. She looked back. THEIR CULUTRAL UNITY CAUSED BY THEIR SINGLE RELIGION GAVE THEM MORE "POWER". And in what has come to be called the Orthodox tradition, these remain today, a figure of the church, a very distinct kind of aspect of the piety of the East. The danger of this reverence paid to icons is that the icon, then, becomes a sacred thing in itself, and you’ve fallen into idolatry. Why did so many Germanic tribes begin invading the Roman Empire? It would set the ships on fire. The first Arab attacks, however, were in 634, twelve years after Mohammed’s Hegira. A cross is fine, but not a picture of a saint. For the steppe barbarians migrating from north of the Black Sea, the easiest way to enter Asia Minor was via the Bosphorus. But this long view is justified by the fact that for 400 years, or so, this Eastern Roman Empire faced tremendous threats of invasion, sieges, difficulties dealing with all sorts of nations and peoples, and, at the same time, internal division, because of religious controversy. Representatives of the iconoclast defense fund want to claim equal time? Yes, it was more than the western Romans could defend, but the Byzantines weren’t unstoppable during the early Middle Ages, either. Why did the eastern Roman Empire survive Truth be told, though, Donnie, the Byzantines weren’t successful in defending those vast boundaries. See "Terms of Service" link for more information. And if you’ve studied things like the voyages of Marco Polo and other Western travelers in the thirteenth century, the people who interpret for them, who help them, who acquaint them with central Asia and the Chinese Mongol Empire, are Nestorians. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that Procopius’ theory about Justinian is that he’s a demon, a devil, a representative of hell. “From the outside” meaning it had the same problem as the Roman Empire, in an, admittedly, smaller and more defensible space. We’re going to take a long view of survival in the East–that is, from the fifth century to the mid-ninth century. enlightened people don’t really impose their beliefs, in detail, on others. It is not, exclusively, a matter of intellectuals or clergy. This portion of the empire was where most of the great cities lay, as well as containing the largest part of the population of the empire. The East did survive even this attack. Chair, History of Medicine and Science Program We do have, however, before the close of business, one more heresy. It’s a little more complicated than that. Which Empire Ultimately Survived? Today the question we’re going to deal with is the survival of the Roman Empire in the East. I’m sorry, Nineveh–E-H. Heraclius defeats the Persians, and the Persian Empire is virtually crippled. Persia, itself, would collapse in 640 and pass under Arab rule. Unfortunately for Odoacer, Theodoric had no intention of allowing this and at a feast, killed the hapless former German king of Italy, therefore initiating the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy. They are both perfect, they are indivisible, but they are separate. And that they lead to inappropriate worship of the image, rather than what the image symbolizes. And it, indeed, doesn’t like figural representation at all, in decoration of sacred spaces. This empire was held together by Constantinople, which, as you see, and as we’ve already spoken about, is strategically placed to control access between Europe and Asia, across the Bosphorus Straits, and also between the Black Sea, which is the access point to Central Asia and the Mediterranean Sea. The Eastern Roman Empire survived for another millennium, until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Sultan Mehmed II in 1453. This is just a selection of heresies, right? If he is too human, then he’s just a human, elevated by God, like some kind of ancient-world hero. Almost certainly, Leo’s greatest legacy in the West was something that he never intended at all. The Nestorians also have some scattered followers in the modern world. But again, if you refer to the map in 600, this is before the Islamic takeover. If you look around the churches of much of Northern Europe, you will see statues that have been decapitated by Protestants, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, or stained glass that was destroyed by Protestants. I've been wondering for quite a while why one half of the Empire collapsed while the other managed to hang on for another thousand years or so. These problems, eventually, did affect the East adversely. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! A heresy that starts to divide the Byzantine Empire in the late seventh century, and that is iconoclasm. View molly.moggins’s profile on Instagram, Follow Carole's Stuff and Occasional Nonsense on I think what you have to ask yourself is, how could a ruler of this particular time and polity, not be bloodthirsty? So, it can be seen that via the machinations of Leo, Marcian and Zeno, the Eastern Empire was able to neutralise the barbarian threats of the Goths and the Huns, remove a dangerous rival, Odoacer, in Italy and then remove an even more dangerous threat, Theodoric’s Ostrogoths, from the Eastern Empire’s territory. Argument about icons before the emperor, from the Skylitzes Chronicle (Synopsis of the Histories), 12th century / Wikimedia Commons. This is a reconquest that, at least, consultants from a later generation would have said was a mistake, an overexpansion. Heraclius leads a resistance, as does the patriarch, to a siege that is on both sides of the city of Constantinople. But they begin in the seventh century, and, very quickly, result in the loss, from the Byzantine point of view, of Egypt and the Mediterranean Near East. Saint Leo Magnuse (Pope Leo I “The Great”), by Francisco de Herrera el Mozo, 17th century oil on panel / Prado Museum, Madrid. For the time, the Orthodox world, in the East, and the Catholic world, in the West, are the same. Our logo, banner, and trademark are registered and fully copyright protected (not subject to Creative Commons). The Huns pushed into there land so they tried to flee from the Huns, and ended up pushing into Roman lands ... Why do you think the eastern half of the empire survived? By 617, they have taken Egypt, they have taken Syria, they have taken in Jerusalem, and the relic of the Holy Cross has been taken back to the Persian capital. The so-called Coptic Christians are the descendants of the Monophysites. Public Domain/Wikimedia. The seventh century is a crucial turning point. The East did survive even this attack. Theodoric remained, in theory, a vassal of the emperor, and continued to employ the continuation of Roman administration that had been employed by Odoacer, but in practice, we see the beginning of a real split between the Roman East and the new Germanic West from this time onwards. He would be the last emperor to visit Rome. OK. The Byzantine Emperors try to compromise with them.


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