Portal:Byzantine Empire

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The Byzantine Empire Portal

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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

Map of Byzantine Constantinople

Constantinople (Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις, Konstantinoúpolis, or ἡ Πόλις hē Pólis, Latin: Constantinopolis, in formal Ottoman Turkish: قسطنطينيه Kostantiniyye) was the imperial capital (Gr: Βασιλεύουσα, Basileúousa) of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). Strategically located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara at the point where Europe meets Asia, Byzantine Constantinople had been the capital of a Christian empire, successor to ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.

Selected biography

Basil II and Constantine VIII, holding cross. Nomisma histamenon.

Basil II, later surnamed the Bulgar-slayer (Greek: Βασίλειος Β΄ Βουλγαροκτόνος, Basileios II Boulgaroktonos, 958 – December 15, 1025), known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.

The first part of his long reign was dominated by civil war against powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Following their submission, Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the Byzantine Empire's eastern frontier, and above all, the final and complete subjugation of Bulgaria, the Empire's foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. At his death, the Empire stretched from Southern Italy to the Caucasus and from the Danube to the borders of Palestine, its greatest territorial extent since the Muslim conquests, four centuries earlier.

Despite near-constant warfare, Basil also showed himself a capable administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military, and filling the Empire's treasury. Of far-reaching importance was Basil's decision to offer the hand of his sister Anna to Vladimir I of Kiev in exchange for military support, which led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus', and the incorporation of Russia within the Byzantine cultural sphere.

Did you know...

  • ...that although Anna Komnene was carefully trained in the study of history, mathematics, science, and Greek philosophy, her parents banned her from studying ancient poetry because of its depictions of lustful gods and unchaste women and that despite her parents' attempts to restrict her, Anna furtively studied the forbidden poetry with one of the imperial court’s eunuchs?

New articles

March 2017

New creations

Byzantine churches at Sardis • Byzantine glass • Constantine, son of Theophilos • Limburg Staurotheke • 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 • 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 • Poutza

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles


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 • 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

August 2016

New creations

Al-Hasan ibn Ammar • Apokaukos • Barjawan • Geremia Ghisi • Numayrid dynasty • Siege of Medina (1053–54) • Siege of Melite (870) • Tymandus • Usdibad • Yazid ibn Abi Kabsha al-Saksaki

July 2016

New creations

Byzantine–Hungarian War (1127–29) • Church of Panagia Kera • Church of Panagia Protothronos • Conon, Count of Montaigu • Godfrey of Esch • Monastery of St. Simeon Stylites the Younger • Skiathos Castle

June 2016

New creations

Abulchares • Andronikos Kontostephanos (son of Isaac) • Anushtakin al-Dizbari • Fanari, Karditsa • Ferran d'Aunés • Flavius Hermogenes • Flavius Studius • Ignatius of Bulgaria • Isaura Nea • Isaura Palaea • Jarrahids • John Doukas Kamateros • John Kontostephanos (son of Stephen) • Kontostephanos • Lopadion • Oikeios • Petraki Monastery • Porta Panagia • Stephen Kontostephanos • Strategius Musonianus • Trachy (currency) • Trikala Castle • Zoodochos Pigi Church, Dervenosalesi

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Byzantine Bath (Thessaloniki) • Cosmas I of Alexandria

May 2016

New creations

Basil Doukas Kamateros • Chariton of Constantinople • Constantine IV of Constantinople • Dositheus of Constantinople • Germanus III of Constantinople • Gregory Kamateros • Leontius of Constantinople • Lombard–Gepid War (567) • Macarius of Constantinople • Nicetas II of Constantinople • Theodore Pantechnes

Major expansions/de-stubbed articles

Andronikos Kamateros

April 2016

New creations

Abd Allah ibn al-Fadl • Adada, Pisidia • Alexios Komnenos (protosebastos) • Anseau de Cayeux • Florentius of Sardis • Giovanni Colonna (died 1245) • Ja'far ibn Dinar al-Khayyat • John Angelos (protostrator) • John Ises • Malakasioi • Manuel Komnenos Raoul • Manuel Raoul • Melite (ancient city) • Metropolis of Corfu, Paxoi and the Diapontian Islands • Michael Gabras • Rashid al-Dawla Mahmud • Raymond-Joseph Loenertz • Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Tamimi

External links and resources

Societies of Byzantine studies

Journals of Byzantine studies

Byzantine studies and research institutes


Bibliography and primary sources

On-line manuscript collections

Art, museums and exhibitions



Things to do

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) • Justin (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 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 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


Byzantine Emperors


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