The Fourth Crusade was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first conquering the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. In late 1202, financial issues led to the Crusader army sacking Zara, brought under Venetian control. In January 1203, en-route to Jerusalem, the Crusader leadership entered into an agreement with the Byzantine prince Alexios Angelos to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore his deposed father as Emperor; the intent of the Crusaders was to continue to Jerusalem with promised Byzantine financial and military aid. On 23 June 1203, the bulk of the Crusaders reached Constantinople, while smaller contingents continued to Acre. After the siege of Zara the pope excommunicated the crusader army.
In August, following clashes outside Constantinople, Alexios was crowned co-Emperor. However, in January 1204, he was deposed by a popular uprising; the Crusaders were no longer able to receive their promised payments from Alexios. Following the murder of Alexios on 8 February, the Crusaders decided on the outright conquest of the city. In April 1204, they plundered the city's enormous wealth. Only a handful of the Crusaders continued to the Holy Land thereafter; the conquest of Constantinople was followed by the fragmentation of the Empire into three rump states centred in Nicaea and Epirus. The Crusaders founded several Crusader states in former Byzantine territory hinged upon the Latin Empire of Constantinople; the presence of the Latin Crusader states immediately led to war with the Byzantine successor states and the Bulgarian Empire. The Nicaean Empire recovered Constantinople and restored the Byzantine Empire in 1261; the Crusade is considered to be one of the most prominent acts that solidified the schism between the Greek and Latin Christian churches, dealt an irrevocable blow to the weakened Byzantine Empire, paving the way for Muslim conquests in Anatolia and Balkan Europe in the coming centuries.
Ayyubid Sultan Saladin had conquered most of the Frankish, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the ancient city itself, in 1187. The Kingdom had been established 88 years before, after the capture and sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, a Byzantine holding prior to the Muslim conquests of the 7th century; the city was sacred to Christians and Jews, returning it to Christian hands had been a primary purpose of the First Crusade. Saladin led a Muslim dynasty, his incorporation of Jerusalem into his domains shocked and dismayed the Catholic countries of Western Europe. Legend has it that Pope Urban III died of the shock, but the timing of his death makes that impossible; the crusader states had been reduced to three cities along the sea coast: Tyre and Antioch. The Third Crusade reclaimed an extensive amount of territory for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, including the key towns of Acre and Jaffa, but had failed to retake Jerusalem; the crusade had been marked by a significant escalation in long standing tensions between the feudal states of western Europe and the Byzantine Empire, centred in Constantinople.
The experiences of the first two crusades had thrown into stark relief the vast cultural differences between the two Christian civilisations. The Latins viewed the Byzantine preference for diplomacy and trade over war as duplicitous and degenerate, their policy of tolerance and assimilation towards Muslims as a corrupt betrayal of the faith. For their part, the educated and wealthy Byzantines maintained a strong sense of cultural and social superiority over the Latins. Constantinople had been in existence for 874 years at the time of the Fourth Crusade and was the largest and most sophisticated city in Christendom. Alone amongst major medieval urban centres, it had retained the civic structures, public baths, forums and aqueducts of classical Rome in working form. At its height, the city held an estimated population of about half a million people behind thirteen miles of triple walls, its planned location made Constantinople not only the capital of the surviving eastern part of the Roman Empire but a commercial centre that dominated trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, China and Persia.
As a result, it was both a rival and a tempting target for the aggressive new states of the west, notably the Republic of Venice. One of the leaders of the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa plotted with the Serbs, Byzantine traitors, the Muslim Seljuks against the Eastern Empire and at one point sought Papal support for a crusade against the Orthodox Byzantines. Crusaders seized the breakaway Byzantine province of Cyprus. Barbarossa died on crusade, his army disintegrated, leaving the English and French, who had come by sea, to fight Saladin. In 1195 Henry VI, son and heir of Barbarossa, sought to efface this humiliation by declaring a new crusade, in the summer of 1197 a large number of German knights and nobles, headed by two archbishops, nine bishops, five dukes, sailed for Palestine. There they captured Sidon and Beirut, but at the news of Henry's death in Messina along the way, many of the nobles and clerics returned to Europe. Deserted by much of their leade
Basil I, called the Macedonian was a Byzantine Emperor who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the theme of Macedonia, he rose in the Imperial court, he entered into the service of Theophilitzes, a relative of Emperor Michael III, was given a fortune by the wealthy Danielis. He gained the favour of Michael III, whose mistress he married on the emperor's orders, was proclaimed co-emperor in 866, he ordered the assassination of Michael the next year. Despite his humble origins, he showed great ability in running the affairs of state, he was the founder of the Macedonian dynasty. He was succeeded upon his death by his son Leo VI. Basil was born to peasant parents in late 811 at Chariopolis in the Byzantine theme of Macedonia; the name of his father was Bardas, the name of his grandfather was Maïktes. His ethnic origin is unknown, has been a subject of debate. During Basil's reign, an elaborate genealogy was produced that purported that his ancestors were not mere peasants, as everyone believed, but descendants of the Arsacid kings of Armenia, of Constantine the Great.
The Armenian historians Samuel of Ani and Stephen of Taron record that he hailed from the village of Thil in Taron. In contrast, Persian writers such as Hamza al-Isfahani, or al-Tabari call both Basil and his mother Saqlabi, an ethnogeographic term that denoted the Slavs, but can be interpreted as a generic term encompassing the inhabitants of the region between Constantinople and Bulgaria. Claims have therefore been made for an Armenian, Slavic, or indeed "Armeno-Slavonic" origin for Basil I; the name of his mother points to a Greek origin on the maternal side. The general scholarly consensus is that Basil's father was "probably" of Armenian origin, settled in Byzantine Thrace; the author of the only dedicated biography of Basil I in English has concluded that it is impossible to be certain what the ethnic origins of the emperor were, though Basil was reliant on the support of Armenians in prominent positions within the Byzantine Empire. One story asserts that he had spent a part of his childhood in captivity in Bulgaria, where his family had been carried off as captives of the Khan Krum in 813.
Basil lived there until 836, when he and several others escaped to Byzantine-held territory in Thrace. Basil was lucky enough to enter the service of Theophilitzes, a relative of the Caesar Bardas, as a groom. While serving Theophilitzes, he visited the city of Patras, where he gained the favour of Danielis, a wealthy woman who took him into her household and endowed him with a fortune, he earned the notice of Michael III by his abilities as a horse tamer and in winning a victory over a Bulgarian champion in a wrestling match. Symeon Magister describes Basil as "... most outstanding in bodily form and heavy set. On Emperor Michael's orders, Basil divorced his wife Maria and married Eudokia Ingerina, Michael's favourite mistress, in around 865. During an expedition against the Arabs, Basil convinced Michael III that his uncle Bardas coveted the Byzantine throne, subsequently murdered Bardas with Michael's approval on April 21, 866. Basil became the leading personality at court and was invested in the now vacant dignity of kaisar, before being crowned co-emperor on May 26, 866.
This promotion may have included Basil's adoption by himself a much younger man. It was believed that Leo VI, Basil's successor and reputed son, was the son of Michael. Although Basil seems to have shared this belief, the subsequent promotion of Basil to caesar and co-emperor provided the child with a legitimate and Imperial parent and secured his succession to the Byzantine throne; when Leo was born, Michael III celebrated the event with public chariot races, whilst he pointedly instructed Basil not to presume on his new position as junior emperor. When Michael III started to favour another courtier, Basil decided that his position was being undermined. Michael threatened to invest Basiliskianos with the Imperial title and this induced Basil to pre-empt events by organizing the assassination of Michael on the night of September 23/24, 867. Michael and Basiliskianos were insensibly drunk following a banquet at the palace of Anthimos when Basil, with a small group of companions, gained entry.
The locks to the chamber doors had been tampered with and the chamberlain had not posted guards. On Michael III's death, Basil, as an acclaimed co-emperor, automatically became the ruling basileus. Basil I became an effective and respected monarch, ruling for 19 years, despite being a man with no formal education and little military or administrative experience. Moreover, he had been the boon companion of a debauched monarch and had achieved power through a series of calculated murders; that there was little political reaction to the murder of Michael III is due to his unpopularity with the bureaucrats of Constantinople because of his disinterest in the administrative duties of the Imperial office. Michael's public displays of impiety had alienated the Byzantine populace in general. Once in power Basil s
Basil II, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was a Byzantine Emperor from the Macedonian dynasty whose effective reign—the longest of any Byzantine monarch—lasted from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025. He had been associated with the throne since 960 as a junior colleague to a succession of senior emperors: his father Romanos II, his step-father Nikephoros II Phokas, John I Tzimiskes. In addition to these emperors, Basil's influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos held power for several decades until he was overthrown in 985. From 962, Basil II's brother Constantine, who succeeded him as Constantine VIII, was nominal co-emperor; the early years of Basil's reign were dominated by civil wars against two powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire and the complete subjugation of the First Bulgarian Empire, its foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. Although the Byzantine Empire had made a truce with the Fatimid Caliphate in 987–988, Basil led a campaign against the Caliphate that ended with another truce in 1000.
He conducted a campaign against the Khazar Khaganate that gained the Byzantine Empire part of Crimea and a series of successful campaigns against the Kingdom of Georgia. Despite near-constant warfare, Basil distinguished himself as an administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military and filling its treasury, he left the Empire with its greatest expanse in four centuries. Although his successors were incapable rulers, the Empire flourished for decades after Basil's death. One of the most important decisions taken during his reign was to offer the hand of his sister Anna Porphyrogenita to Vladimir I of Kiev in exchange for military support, thus forming the Byzantine military unit known as the Varangian Guard; the marriage of Anna and Vladimir led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus' and the incorporation of successor nations of Kievan Rus' within the Byzantine cultural and religious tradition. Basil is seen as a Greek national hero but as a despised figure among Bulgarians.
The courtier and historian Michael Psellos, born towards the end of Basil's reign, gives a description of Basil in his Chronographia. Psellos describes him as a stocky man of shorter-than-average stature, an impressive figure on horseback, he had light-blue eyes arched eyebrows, luxuriant sidewhiskers—which he had a habit of rolling between his fingers when deep in thought or angry—and in life a scant beard. Psellos states that Basil was not an articulate speaker and had a loud laugh that convulsed his whole frame. Basil is described as having ascetic tastes and caring little for the pomp and ceremony of the Imperial court wearing a sombre, dark-purple robe furnished with few of the gems that decorated imperial costumes, he is described as a capable administrator who left a well-stocked treasury upon his death. Basil despised literary culture and affected scorn for the learned classes of Byzantium. According to the 19th century historian George Finlay, Basil saw himself as "prudent and devout.
For Greek learning he cared little, he was a type of the higher Byzantine moral character, which retained far more of its Roman than its Greek origin". The modern historian John Julius Norwich wrote of Basil, and it is hardly surprising: Basil was ugly, coarse, boorish and pathologically mean. He was in short un-Byzantine, he cared only for the greatness of his Empire. No wonder that in his hands it reached its apogee". Basil II was born c. 958. He was a porphyrogennetos, as were his father Romanos II and his paternal grandfather Constantine VII. Basil was the eldest son of Romanos and his Laconian Greek second wife Theophano, the daughter of a poor tavern-keeper named Krateros and may have originated from the city of Sparta, he may have had an elder sister named Helena. Romanos succeeded Constantine VII as sole emperor upon the latter's death in 959. Basil's father crowned him as co-emperor on 22 April 960, his brother Constantine in 962 or 963. Only two days after the birth of his youngest child Anna, Romanos II died on 15 March 963 at 24 years of age.
His unexpected death was thought at the time to be the result of poisoning with hemlock. Basil and Constantine were too young to rule in their own right when Romanos died in 963. Therefore, although the Byzantine Senate confirmed them as emperors with their mother as the nominal regent, de facto power passed for the time into the hands of the parakoimomenos Joseph Bringas. Theophano did not trust Bringas and another enemy of the powerful parakoimomenos was Basil Lekapenos, an illegitimate, eunuch son of Emperor Romanos I – Basil's great-grandfather. Lekapenos himself had been parakoimomenos to Constantine VII and megas baioulos to Romanos II, yet another enemy of Bringas was the successful and popular gene
Slovenia the Republic of Slovenia, is a sovereign state located in southern Central Europe at a crossroads of important European cultural and trade routes. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, it has a population of 2.07 million. One of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is a parliamentary republic and a member of the United Nations, of the European Union, of NATO; the capital and largest city is Ljubljana. Slovenia has a mountainous terrain with a continental climate, with the exception of the Slovene Littoral, which has a sub-Mediterranean climate, of the northwest, which has an Alpine climate. Additionally, the Dinaric Alps and the Pannonian Plain meet on the territory of Slovenia; the country, marked by a significant biological diversity, is one of the most water-rich in Europe, with a dense river network, a rich aquifer system, significant karst underground watercourses.
Over half of the territory is covered by forest. The human settlement of Slovenia is uneven. Slovenia has been the crossroads of Slavic and Romance languages and cultures. Although the population is not homogeneous, Slovenes comprise the majority; the South Slavic language Slovene is the official language throughout the country. Slovenia is a secularized country, but Catholicism and Lutheranism have influenced its culture and identity; the economy of Slovenia is small and export-oriented and has been influenced by international conditions. It has been hurt by the Eurozone crisis which started in 2009; the main economic field is services, followed by construction. The current territory of Slovenia has formed part of many different states, including the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Republic of Venice, the French-administered Illyrian Provinces of Napoleon I, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. In October 1918 the Slovenes exercised self-determination for the first time by co-founding the State of Slovenes and Serbs.
In December 1918 they merged with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes. During World War II Germany and Hungary occupied and annexed Slovenia, with a tiny area transferred to the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi puppet state. In 1945 Slovenia became a founding member of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, renamed in 1963 as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the first years after World War II this state was allied with the Eastern Bloc, but it never subscribed to the Warsaw Pact and in 1961 became one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. In June 1991, after the introduction of multi-party representative democracy, Slovenia became the first republic that split from Yugoslavia and became an independent country. In 2004, it entered the European Union. Slovenia's name means the "Land of the Slavs" in Slovene and other South Slavic languages; the etymology of Slav itself remains uncertain. The reconstructed autonym *Slověninъ is derived from the word slovo denoting "people who speak," i. e. people who understand each other.
This is in contrast to the Slavic word denoting German people, namely *němьcь, meaning "silent, mute people". The word slovo and the related slava and slukh originate from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱlew-, cognate with Ancient Greek κλέος, as in the name Pericles, Latin clueo, English loud; the modern Slovene state originates from the Slovene National Liberation Committee held on 19 February 1944. They named the state as Federal Slovenia, a unit within the Yugoslav federation. On 20 February 1946, Federal Slovenia was renamed the People's Republic of Slovenia, it retained this name until 9 April 1963, when its name was changed again, this time to Socialist Republic of Slovenia. On 8 March 1990, SR Slovenia removed the prefix "Socialist" from its name, becoming the Republic of Slovenia. Present-day Slovenia has been inhabited since prehistoric times. There is evidence of human habitation from around 250,000 years ago. A pierced cave bear bone, dating from 43100 ± 700 BP, found in 1995 in Divje Babe cave near Cerkno, is considered a kind of flute, the oldest musical instrument discovered in the world.
In the 1920s and 1930s, artifacts belonging to the Cro-Magnon, such as pierced bones, bone points, a needle were found by archaeologist Srečko Brodar in Potok Cave. In 2002, remains of pile dwellings over 4,500 years old were discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Ljubljana Marshes Wooden Wheel, the oldest wooden wheel in the world, it shows that wooden wheels appeared simultaneously in Mesopotamia and Europe. In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished. Archaeological remains dating from the Hallstatt period have been found in southeastern Slovenia, among them a number of situl
Byzantine Empire under the Isaurian dynasty
The Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 717 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna, lost influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks; the Isaurian dynasty is chiefly associated with Byzantine Iconoclasm, an attempt to restore divine favour by purifying the Christian faith from excessive adoration of icons, which resulted in considerable internal turmoil. By the end of the Isaurian dynasty in 802, the Byzantines were continuing to fight the Arabs and the Bulgars for their existence, with matters made more complicated when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Imperator Romanorum, seen as an attempt at making the Carolingian Empire the successor to the Roman Empire; the Heraclian dynasty faced some of the greatest challenges in history.
After overcoming the Sassanid Persians, the Emperor Heraclius and his exhausted realm were faced with the sudden onset of the Muslim expansion from Arabia into the Levant. Following the Muslim conquest of Syria, the rich province of Egypt, the Empire's chief source of grain and tax revenue, had fallen to the Arabs; the Byzantines faced Arab attacks through Libya against the Exarchate of Africa, against Cilicia, which controlled the southern passes into Asia Minor, now the Empire's last major contiguous territory, against the Armenian Highland, the Empire's chief source of manpower and a vital buffer between the now Arab-dominated Syrian Desert region and the northeastern passage into Asia Minor. These three areas would be the main fields of Byzantine-Arab contention during the next half-century; the Arabs continued to make headway, most notably constructing a navy that challenged Byzantine supremacy in the Mediterranean. The outbreak of the Muslim civil war in 656 bought the Byzantines time, emperor Constans II reinforced his position in the Balkans and Italy.
His successor, Constantine IV, was able to beat off the First Arab Siege of Constantinople, in its aftermath move into the counteroffensive, securing Asia Minor, recovering Cilicia and forcing the Caliphate to pay tribute. At the same time however, he was defeated by the Bulgar khan Asparukh, was forced to accept his people's settlement in Byzantine lands south of the Danube. With the first deposition of Constantine IV's son and heir Justinian II in 695 began a period of troubles that lasted a quarter-century and brought a succession of disasters that nearly brought about the downfall of the Byzantine state. Carthage fell in 697 and a Byzantine recovery attempt defeated next year. Cilicia was conquered by the Arabs and turned into a base for raiding expeditions that penetrated deep into Asia Minor, sacking its forts and cities, while the Caucasus brought under firm Muslim control; the Umayyad caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik began preparing another huge expedition to conquer Constantinople.
At the same time, the disasters of the 7th century saw major changes in the society and nature of what remained of the Empire: the urbanized, cosmopolitan civilization of Late Antiquity came to an end, the Medieval era began. With the decline of most cities to a small, fortified urban cores that functioned as administrative centres, society became agrarian, while education and intellectual life vanished; the loss of the Empire's richest provinces, coupled with successive invasions, reduced the imperial economy to a impoverished state, compared to the resources available to the Caliphate. The monetary economy persisted. Administrative practice changed: alongside the continued existence of the late Roman provincial system, the surviving field armies were reorganised into the theme system as a means to preserve the remaining imperial territory, although the extensive power concentrated in the hands of the thematic commanders, the strategoi, made them prone to rebel. At the same time, the central bureaucracy in Constantinople rose in importance.
In the religious field, the loss of the Monophysite eastern provinces ended the need for the unsuccessful compromise doctrine of Monotheletism, abandoned at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680, while the Quinisext Council in 692 saw the promotion of the interests and views of the Patriarchate of Constantinople against the See of Rome. After Justinian II's second overthrow, the Byzantine Empire spiralled into another era of chaos matched only by Phocas' mishandling of the last Persian War. Philippikos Bardanes, the Crimean rebel who seized the throne proved to be incompetent for rule. Rather than face the looming threat of the Bulgars or the Arabs, he intended to reignite the religious controversies by imposing the much hated Heraclian Monothelitism; when King Tervel of Bulgaria invaded Thrace, Bardanes had no choice but to summon the troops of the Opsician Theme to combat the Bulgars. For the Emperor, the troops had no loyalty whatsoever to him and after the ritual blinding he was replaced in June 713 by the chief secretary of the Emperor, Artemios.
Artemios was crowned as Anastasios II. Anastasios gave the Empire a brief taste of good leadership, improving the walls of the capital and filling the granaries of the capital to bursting point, in order that the newly reported Arab invasion be dealt with; every citizen was told to gather enough food for three years for if the Arabs were to reach the straits it would undoub
Empire of Trebizond
The Empire of Trebizond or the Trapezuntine Empire was a monarchy and one of three successor rump states of the Byzantine Empire that flourished during the 13th through 15th centuries, consisting of the far northeastern corner of Anatolia and the southern Crimea. The empire was formed in 1204 after the Georgian expedition in Chaldia, commanded by Alexios Komnenos a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople. Alexios declared himself Emperor and established himself in Trebizond. Alexios and David Komnenos and last male descendants of deposed Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, pressed their claims as "Roman Emperors" against Byzantine Emperor Alexios V Doukas; the Byzantine emperors, as well as Byzantine authors, such as George Pachymeres, Nicephorus Gregoras and to some extent Trapezuntines such as John Lazaropoulos and Basilios Bessarion, regarded the emperors of Trebizond as the “princes of the Lazes”, while the possession of these "princes" was called Lazica, in other words, their state was known as the Principality of the Lazes.
Thus from the point of view of the Byzantine writers connected with the Laskaris and with the Palaiologos dynasties, the rulers of Trebizond were not emperors. After the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade overthrew Alexios V and established the Latin Empire, the Empire of Trebizond became one of three Byzantine successor states to claim the imperial throne, alongside the Empire of Nicaea under the Laskaris family and the Despotate of Epirus under a branch of the Angelos family; the ensuing wars would see the Empire of Thessalonica, the imperial government that sprung from Epirus, collapse following conflicts with Nicaea and Bulgaria and the final recapture of Constantinople by the Empire of Nicaea in 1261. Despite the Nicaean reconquest of Constantinople, the Emperors of Trebizond would continue to style themselves as "Roman Emperors" for decades and continued to press their claim on the Imperial throne. Emperor John II of Trebizond gave up the Trapezuntine claim to the Roman imperial title and Constantinople itself 11 years after the Nicaeans recaptured the city, altering his imperial title from "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor and Autocrat of all the East and Perateia".
The Trapezuntine monarchy would survive the longest among the Byzantine successor states. The Despotate of Epirus had ceased to contest the Byzantine throne before the Nicaean reconquest and was occupied by the restored Byzantine Empire c. 1340, thereafter becoming a Serbian dependency inherited by Italians falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1479. Whilst the Empire of Nicaea had restored the Byzantine Empire through restoring control of the capital, it ended in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. Trebizond would last until 1461 when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II conquered it after a month-long siege and took its ruler and his family into captivity, marking the final end of the Roman imperial tradition initiated by Augustus 1,488 years previously; the Crimean Principality of Theodoro, an offshoot of Trebizond, lasted another 14 years, falling to the Ottomans in 1475. Trebizond had a long history of autonomous rule before it became the center of a small empire in the late middle ages.
Due to its natural harbours, defensible topography and access to silver and copper mines, Trebizond became the pre-eminent Greek colony on the eastern Black Sea shore soon after its founding. Its remoteness from Roman capitals gave local rules the opportunity to advance their own interest. In the centuries before the founding of the empire the city had been under control of the local Gabras family, which - while still remaining part of the Byzantine Empire - minted its own coin; the rulers of Trebizond called themselves Megas Komnenos and – like their counterparts in the other two Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus – claimed supremacy as "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans." However, after Michael VIII Palaiologos of Nicaea recaptured Constantinople in 1261, the Komnenian use of the style "Emperor" became a sore point. In 1282, John II Komnenos stripped off his imperial regalia before the walls of Constantinople before entering to marry Michael's daughter and accept his legal title of despot.
However, his successors used a version of his title, "Emperor and Autocrat of the entire East, of the Iberians and the Perateia" until the Empire's end in 1461. Geographically, the Empire of Trebizond consisted of the narrow strip along the southern coast of the Black Sea and the western half of the Pontic Alps, along with the Gazarian Perateia, or southern Crimea; the core of the empire was the southern Black Sea coast from the mouth of the Yeşilırmak river, a region known to the Trapezuntines as Limnia as far east as Chorokhi river, a region known as Lazia. Geography defined the southern border of this state: the Pontic Alps served as a barrier first to Seljuk Turks and to Turkoman marauders, whose predations were reduced to a volume that the emperors could cope with; this territory corresponds to an area comprising all or parts of the modern Turkish provinces of Sinop, Ordu, Trabzon, Bayburt, Gümüşhane and coastal parts of Artvin. In the 13th century, some experts believe the empire controlled the Gazarian Perateia, which included Cherson and Kerch on the Crimean peninsula.
David Komnenos, the younger brother of the first Emperor, expanded to the west, occupying firs
The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist 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 and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire