Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic, traditionally known as La Serenissima was a sovereign state and maritime republic in northeastern Italy, which existed for over a millennium between the 7th century and the 18th century from 697 AD until 1797 AD. It was based in the lagoon communities of the prosperous city of Venice, was a leading European economic and trading power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; the Venetian city state was founded as a safe haven for the people escaping persecution in mainland Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire. In its early years, it prospered on the salt trade. In subsequent centuries, the city state established a thalassocracy, it dominated trade on the Mediterranean Sea, including commerce between Europe and North Africa, as well as Asia. The Venetian navy was used in the Crusades, most notably in the Fourth Crusade. Venice achieved territorial conquests along the Adriatic Sea. Venice became home to an wealthy merchant class, who patronized renowned art and architecture along the city's lagoons.
Venetian merchants were influential financiers in Europe. The city was the birthplace of great European explorers, such as Marco Polo, as well as Baroque composers such as Vivaldi and Benedetto Marcello; the republic was ruled by the Doge, elected by members of the Great Council of Venice, the city-state's parliament. The ruling class was an oligarchy of aristocrats. Venice and other Italian maritime republics played a key role in fostering capitalism. Venetian citizens supported the system of governance; the city-state employed ruthless tactics in its prisons. The opening of new trade routes to the Americas and the East Indies via the Atlantic Ocean marked the beginning of Venice's decline as a powerful maritime republic; the city state suffered. In 1797, the republic was plundered by retreating Austrian and French forces, following an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Republic of Venice was split into the Austrian Venetian Province, the Cisalpine Republic, a French client state, the Ionian French departments of Greece.
Venice became part of a unified Italy in the 19th century. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is referred to as La Serenissima, in reference to its title as one of the "Most Serene Republics". During the 5th century, North East Italy was devastated by the Germanic barbarian invasions. A large number of the inhabitants moved to the coastal lagoons. Here they established a collection of lagoon communities, stretching over about 130 km from Chioggia in the south to Grado in the north, who banded together for mutual defence from the Lombards and other invading peoples as the power of the Western Roman Empire dwindled in northern Italy; these communities were subjected to the authority of the Byzantine Empire. At some point in the first decades of the eighth century, the people of the Byzantine province of Venice elected their first leader Ursus, confirmed by Constantinople and given the titles of hypatus and dux, he was the first historical Doge of Venice. Tradition, first attested in the early 11th century, states that the Venetians first proclaimed one Anafestus Paulicius duke in 697, though this story dates to no earlier than the chronicle of John the Deacon.
Whichever the case, the first doges had their power base in Heraclea. Ursus's successor, moved his seat from Heraclea to Malamocco in the 740s, he represented the attempt of his father to establish a dynasty. Such attempts were more than commonplace among the doges of the first few centuries of Venetian history, but all were unsuccessful. During the reign of Deusdedit, Venice became the only remaining Byzantine possession in the north and the changing politics of the Frankish Empire began to change the factional divisions within Venetia. One faction was decidedly pro-Byzantine, they desired to remain well-connected to the Empire. Another faction, republican in nature, believed in continuing along a course towards practical independence; the other main faction was pro-Frankish. Supported by clergy, they looked towards the new Carolingian king of the Franks, Pepin the Short, as the best provider of defence against the Lombards. A minor, pro-Lombard faction was opposed to close ties with any of these further-off powers and interested in maintaining peace with the neighbouring Lombard kingdom.
The successors of Obelerio inherited a united Venice. By the Pax Nicephori, the two emperors had recognised that Venice belonged to the Byzantine sphere of influence. Many centuries the Venetians claimed that the treaty had recognised Venetian de facto independence, but the truth of this claim is doubted by modern scholars. A Byzantine fleet sailed to Venice in 807 and deposed the Doge, replacing him with a Byzantine governor. During the reign of the Participazio family, Venice grew into its modern form. Though Heraclean by birth, the first Participazio doge, was an early immigrant to Rialto and his dogeship was marked by the expansion of Venice towards the sea via the construction of bridges, bulwarks and stone buildings; the modern Venice, at one with the sea, was being bor
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the established Kingdom of Italy; the Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini. The city attracts millions of tourists each year, the Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982; the city is noted for Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.
The city contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, still exerts an influence in the fields of art and politics. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy. Florence originated as a Roman city, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, it was politically and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries; the language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, still is, accepted as the Italian language. All the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.
Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, they financed the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of Rome. Florence was home to the Medici, one of European history's most important noble families. Lorenzo de' Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family were popes in the early 16th century: Leo X and Clement VII. Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France and, after his death in, reigned as regent in France. Marie de' Medici married Henry IV of France and gave birth to the future King Louis XIII; the Medici reigned as Grand Dukes of Tuscany, starting with Cosimo I de' Medici in 1569 and ending with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737.
The Etruscans formed in 200 BC the small settlement of Fiesole, destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC in reprisal for supporting the populares faction in Rome. The present city of Florence was established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named Fluentia, owing to the fact that it was built between two rivers, changed to Florentia, it was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated along the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement became an important commercial centre. In centuries to come, the city experienced turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 people. Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital.
The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county. Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD; the Golden Age of Florentine art began around this time. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte; the exterior of the church was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. In 1100, Florence was a "Commune"; the city's primary resource was the Arno river, providing power and access for the industry, access to the Mediterranean sea for international trade. Another great source of strength was its industrious merchant community; the Florentine merchant banking skills became recognised in Europe after they brought decisive financial innovation to medieval fairs. This period saw the eclipse of Florence's powerful rival Pisa, the exercise of power by the mercantile elite following an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, that resulted in a set of laws called the Ordinances of Justice.
Of a population estimated at 94,00
Saint Catherine's Monastery
Saint Catherine's Monastery "Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai", lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai, near the town of Saint Catherine, Egypt. The monastery is controlled by the autonomous Church of Sinai, part of the wider Eastern Orthodox Church, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world; the site contains the world's oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus. According to tradition, Catherine of Alexandria was a Christian martyr sentenced to death on the breaking wheel; when this failed to kill her, she was beheaded. According to tradition, angels took. Around the year 800, monks from the Sinai Monastery found. Although it is known as Saint Catherine's, the monastery's full official name is the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai; the patronal feast of the monastery is the Feast of the Transfiguration.
The monastery has become a favorite site of pilgrimage. The oldest record of monastic life at Sinai comes from the travel journal written in Latin by a woman named Egeria about 381–384, she visited many places around the Holy Land and Mount Sinai, according to the Old Testament, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. The monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I, enclosing the Chapel of the Burning Bush ordered to be built by Empress Consort Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush; the living bush on the grounds is purportedly the one seen by Moses. Structurally the monastery's king post truss is the oldest known surviving roof truss in the world; the site is sacred to Christianity and Judaism. A mosque was created by converting an existing chapel during the Fatimid Caliphate, in regular use until the era of the Mamluk Sultanate in the 13th century and is still in use today on special occasions. During the Ottoman Empire, the mosque was in desolate condition.
During the seventh century, the isolated Christian anchorites of the Sinai were eliminated: only the fortified monastery remained. The monastery is still surrounded by the massive fortifications; until the twentieth century, access was through a door high in the outer walls. From the time of the First Crusade, the presence of Crusaders in the Sinai until 1270 spurred the interest of European Christians and increased the number of intrepid pilgrims who visited the monastery; the monastery was supported by its dependencies in Egypt, Syria, Crete and Constantinople. The monastery, along with several dependencies in the area, constitute the entire Church of Sinai, headed by an archbishop, the abbot of the monastery; the exact administrative status of the church within the Eastern Orthodox Church is ambiguous: by some, including the church itself, it is considered autocephalous, by others an autonomous church under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. The archbishop is traditionally consecrated by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
During the period of the Crusades, marked by bitterness between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the monastery was patronized by both the Byzantine emperors and the rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, their respective courts. On April 18, 2017, an attack by the Islamic State group at a checkpoint near the Monastery killed one policeman and injured three police officers; the monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library. It contains Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Caucasian Albanian texts. In May 1844 and February 1859, Constantin von Tischendorf visited the monastery for research and discovered the Codex Sinaiticus, dating from the 4th Century, at the time the oldest completely preserved manuscript of the Bible; the finding from 1859 left the monastery in the 19th century for Russia, in circumstances, long disputed. But in 2003 Russian scholars discovered the donation act for the manuscript signed by the Council of Cairo Metochion and Archbishop Callistratus on 13 November 1869.
The monastery received 9000 rubles as a gift from Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The Codex was sold by Stalin in 1933 to the British Museum and is now in the British Library, where it is on public display. Prior to September 1, 2009, a unseen fragment of Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in the monastery's library. In February 1892, Agnes Smith Lewis identified a palimpsest in St Catherine's library that became known as the Syriac Sinaiticus and is still in the Monastery's possession. Agnes and her sister Margaret Dunlop Gibson returned with a team of scholars that included J. Rendel Harris, to photograph and transcribe the work in its entirety; as the manuscript predates the Codex Sinaiticus, it became crucial in understanding the history of the New Testament. The Monastery has a copy of the Ashtiname of Muhammad, in which the Islamic prophet Muhammad is claimed to have bestowed his protection upon the monastery; the most important manuscripts have since been filmed or digitized, so are accessible to scholars.
With planning assistance from Legatus, a research center of the University of the Arts London, the library will be extensively renovated for some time. Sin
The Magi Chapel is a chapel in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi of Florence, Italy. Its walls are entirely covered by a famous cycle of frescoes by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli, painted around 1459 for the Medici family, the effective rulers of Florence; the chapel is on the piano nobile of the palace and was one of the first rooms to be decorated after the completion of the building, designed by Michelozzo. In its original appearance the chapel was symmetrical and had its entrance through the central door, which today is closed. Inside, the chapel is divided into two juxtaposed squares: a large hall and a raised rectangular apse with an altar and two small lateral sacristies. Begun around 1449-50, the chapel was completed around 1459 with the precious ceiling of inlaid wood and generously gilded by Pagno di Lapo Portigiano, according to Michelozzo's design; the latter designed the flooring of marble mosaic work divided by elaborate geometric design, which due to the extraordinary value of the materials affirmed the Medicis' desire to emulate the magnificence of the Roman basilicas and the Florentine Baptistry.
The first pictorial element in the chapel was the altar panel bearing Filippo Lippi's Adoration in the Forest. This painting is now in Berlin after being sold in the 19th century, while a copy by a follower of Lippi remains in the chapel; the chapel is famous for the series of wall paintings by Benozzo Gozzoli, with the Angels in Adoration in the rectangular apse and the Journey of the Magi in the large hall. The latter is covered in three large frescos, each showing the procession of one of the Three Magi on their way to Bethlehem to see the Nativity of Jesus; the religious theme was combined with a depiction of several members of the Medici family, their allies and some of the important figures who arrived in Florence for the Council of Florence several decades earlier. On that occasion the Medici could boast to have facilitated the reconciliation between the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches; the luxury of the Byzantine dignitaries is manifest, shows the impression they would have at the time on the Florentine population.
In the apse, the side walls are painted with saints and angels in adoration, where Gozzoli followed the style of his master, Fra Angelico. There are three thin vertical fresco sections showing the shepherds of the nativity. Having begun the work in the spring-summer of 1459, Benozzo completed the work over the space of a few months, with the help of at least one assistant, under the supervision of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, it was Piero who suggested that the artist should use Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration of the Magi as a model for the frescoes. The extraordinary complexity and subtlety of the technique of execution, in which true fresco alternated with dry fresco, permitted the painter to work with meticulous care as if he was engraving, like the goldsmith he had been in Ghiberti's workshop; this sheer craftsmanship is evident not just in the precious materials of jewelry and harnesses, but in the trees laden with fruit, the meadows spangled with flowers, the variegated plumage of the birds, the multicolored wings of the angels.
Leaves of pure gold were applied generously to shine in the dark, in the dim light of the candles. The painting is dedicated to a sacred rich in traces of pomp and secular elegance. Hosts of angels sing and adore while the magnificent procession of the Three Kings approaches Bethlehem, accompanied by their respective entourages as they enjoy the scene of a noble hunting party with falcons and felines along the way; the sumptuous and varied costumes with their princely finishing make this pictorial series one of the most fascinating testimonies of art and costume of all time. Melchior, the oldest Magus, rides on the west wall leading the procession. Traditionally, his features have been read as those of Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople, who died in Florence during the Council. Like Cosimo, he is shown as a peacemaker riding on a donkey, he is preceded by a page in blue with a cheetah on his horse - this figure is by some argued to represent an idealized Giuliano de' Medici. Bearded Balthasar, the middle Magus, rides a white horse on the south wall.
He is portrayed with the same facial features as Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaiologos. It is thought by some that the three pages behind him represent Piero's daughters, Nannina and Maria, while others argue that the faces of those young women are more to be amongst the rest of the Medici portraits. On the east wall, the youngest Magus, leads the end of the procession on a white horse; this figure has been taken for an idealized Lorenzo il Magnifico, born in 1449 and so was still a boy when the fresco was completed. Following Caspar are the contemporary head of the family, Piero the Gouty on a white horse, devout family founder Cosimo on a humble donkey. Come Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and Galeazzo Maria Sforza lord of Rimini and Milan, they did not take part in the Council, but were guests of the Medici in Florence in the time the frescoes were painted. After them is a procession of illustrious Florentines, such as the humanists Marsilio Ficino and the Pulci brothers, the members of the Art Guilds and Benozzo himself.
The painter looks out at the viewer and can be recognized for the scroll on his red hat, reading Opus Benotii. Little Lorenzo il Magnifico is the boy directly below him with the distinctive snub nose.
Bonne of Luxembourg
Bonne of Luxemburg or Jutta of Luxemburg, was born Jutta, the second daughter of John the Blind, king of Bohemia, his first wife, Elisabeth of Bohemia. She was the first wife of King John II of France. Jutta was referred to in French historiography as Bonne de Luxembourg, she was a member of the House of Luxembourg. Among her children were Charles V of France, Philip II, Duke of Burgundy, Joan, Queen of Navarre. In 1326, Jutta was betrothed to Henry of Bar. Jutta was married to Duke of Normandy on 28 July 1332 at the church of Notre-Dame in Melun, she was 17 years old, the future king was 13. Her name Jutta, translatable into English as Good, was changed by the time of her marriage to Bonne or Bona. Upon marriage, Bonne was the wife of the heir to the French throne, becoming Duchess of Normandy, Countess of Anjou and of Maine; the wedding was celebrated in the presence of six thousand guests. The festivities were prolonged by a further two months when the young groom was knighted at the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
John was solemnly granted the arms of a knight in front of a prestigious audience bringing together the kings of Bohemia and Navarre, the dukes of Burgundy and the Brabant. Bonne was a patron of the arts, she died on 11 September 1349 of the bubonic plague in France at the age of thirty-four. She was buried in the Abbey of Maubuisson. Less than six months after Bonne's death, John married Joan Countess of Auvergne. John and Bonne had the following children together: Charles V of France Catherine died young Louis I, Duke of Anjou John, Duke of Berry Philip II, Duke of Burgundy Joan Marie, married Robert, Duke of Bar in 1364 Agnes, died young Margaret, died young Isabelle d'Arras, Jean. Melusine. Translated by Maddox, Donald; the Pennsylvania State University Press. Boehm, Barbara Drake. Prague: The Crown of Bohemia, 1347-1437. Yale University Press. Hand, Joni M.. Women and Identity in Northern Europe, 1350-1550. Ashgate Publishing. Nicolle, David. Poitiers 1356: The Capture of a King. Osprey. Perrot, G..
Revue archéologique Juillet-Decembre 1907. Vol. 4-Vol. 9. Ernest Leroux. Robertson, Anne Walters. Guillaume de Machaut and Reims. Cambridge University Press. Vaughan, Richard. Philip the Bold: The Formation of the Burgundian State; the Boydell Press
Thessaloniki familiarly known as Thessalonica, Salonica or Salonika, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman Empire, alongside Constantinople. Thessaloniki is located at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, it is bounded on the west by the delta of the Axios/Vardar. The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical center, had a population of 325,182 in 2011, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 824,676 and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area had 1,030,338 inhabitants in 2011, it is Greece's second major economic, industrial and political centre. The city is renowned for its festivals and vibrant cultural life in general, is considered to be Greece's cultural capital.
Events such as the Thessaloniki International Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital; the city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire, it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, passed from the Ottoman Empire to Greece on 8 November 1912. It is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman and Sephardic Jewish structures; the city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.
Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece. The original name of the city was Θεσσαλονίκη Thessaloníkē, it was named after princess Thessalonike of Macedon, the half sister of Alexander the Great, whose name means "Thessalian victory", from Θεσσαλός'Thessalos', Νίκη'victory', honoring the Macedonian victory at the Battle of Crocus Field. Minor variants are found, including Θετταλονίκη Thettaloníkē, Θεσσαλονίκεια Thessaloníkeia, Θεσσαλονείκη Thessaloneíkē, Θεσσαλονικέων Thessalonikéōn; the name Σαλονίκη Saloníki is first attested in Greek in the Chronicle of the Morea, is common in folk songs, but it must have originated earlier, as al-Idrisi called it Salunik in the 12th century. It is the basis for the city's name in other languages: Солѹнь in Old Church Slavonic, סלוניקה in Ladino, Selânik سلانیك in Ottoman Turkish and Selanik in modern Turkish, Salonicco in Italian, Solun or Солун in the local and neighboring South Slavic languages, Салоники in Russian, Sãrunã in Aromanian, Salonica or Salonika in English.
Thessaloniki was revived as the city's official name in 1912, when it joined the Kingdom of Greece during the Balkan Wars. In local speech, the city's name is pronounced with a dark and deep L characteristic of Modern Macedonian accent; the name is abbreviated as Θεσ/νίκη. The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages, he named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedonia as daughter of Philip II. Under the kingdom of Macedonia the city retained its own autonomy and parliament and evolved to become the most important city in Macedonia. After the fall of the Kingdom of Macedonia in 168 BC, in 148 BC Thessalonica was made the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. Thessalonica became a free city of the Roman Republic under Mark Antony in 41 BC, it grew to be an important trade-hub located on the Via Egnatia, the road connecting Dyrrhachium with Byzantium, which facilitated trade between Thessaloniki and great centers of commerce such as Rome and Byzantium.
Thessaloniki lay at the southern end of the main north-south route through the Balkans along the valleys of the Morava and Axios river valleys, thereby linking the Balkans with the rest of Greece. The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, it became the capital of all the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire because of the city's importance in the Balkan peninsula. At the time of the Roman Empire, about 50 A. D. Thessaloniki was one of the early centers of Christianity. Paul wrote two letters to the new church at Thessaloniki, preserved in the Biblical canon as First and Second Thessalonians; some scholars hold that the First Epistle to the Thessalonians is the first written book of the New Testament. In 306 AD, Thessaloniki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius, a Christian whom Galerius is said to have put to death. Most scholars
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia; the church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v