Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily Byzantium Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein As has been noted before in class, when the western part of the Roman Empire fell to the German tribes, the eastern half did not, thanks largely to Constantinople. They were richer, more urban, and more populous, and hence better able to protect themselves from invasion. As Perry observes, the Byzantine civilization was Christian in its religion, Greek in its language and culture, and Roman in its machinery of administration. And the intellectuals and scholars in Byzantium studied and kept alive the classical studies from Greece and Rome of philosophy, literature, law, and science. As time progressed, differences developed between the Byzantine church and the Roman church. The pope of Rome resisted being dominated by the emperor in Constantinople, and the Byzantines resisted being told what to do by the pope in Rome. The church as it was experienced in the East quarreled constantly with the church as it was experienced in the West, and ultimately in 1054, the Christian church split into the Roman Catholic in the West and the Eastern or Greek Orthodox in the East. And that division exists today. Besides the codification of the law under Justinian mentioned above, and the preservation of the culture of the Graeco-Roman world, Byzantium expanded the culture and orthodoxy of Christianity to some of the Slavic peoples of eastern and southeastern Europe, including the Russians, giving them art forms, legal principles, and an alphabet (the Cyrillic, based on the Greek alphabet and named for St. Cyril, who took Christianity to many of these peoples) that allowed them to put their languages into writing. Over the centuries the Byzantines faced attacks from the Lombards and Visigoths, Persians, Muslim Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Latin Christians, and finally from the Ottoman Turks, who broke through the walls of Constantinople and conquered it in 1453. And that’s why it’s Istanbul today.