Sir Thomas Browne was an English polymath and author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including science and medicine and the esoteric. His writings display a deep curiosity towards the natural world, influenced by the scientific revolution of Baconian enquiry. Browne's literary works are permeated by references to Classical and Biblical sources as well as the idiosyncrasies of his own personality. Although described as suffused with melancholia, his writings are characterised by wit and subtle humour, while his literary style is varied, according to genre, resulting in a rich, unique prose which ranges from rough notebook observations to polished Baroque eloquence; the son of Thomas Browne, a silk merchant from Upton and Anne Browne, the daughter of Paul Garraway of Sussex, he was born in the parish of St Michael, Cheapside, in London on 19 October 1605. His father died while he was still young and his mother married Sir Thomas Dutton. Browne was sent to school at Winchester College.
In 1623, he went to Broadgates Hall of Oxford University. Browne was chosen to deliver the undergraduate oration when the hall was incorporated as Pembroke College in August 1624, he graduated from Oxford in January 1627, after which he studied medicine at Padua and Montpellier universities, completing his studies at Leiden, where he received a medical degree in 1633. He settled in Norwich in 1637 and practised medicine there until his death in 1682. In 1641, he married Dorothy Mileham, of Norfolk, she bore him ten children. Browne's first literary work was Religio Medici; this work was circulated as a manuscript among his friends. It surprised him when an unauthorised edition appeared in 1642, since the work included several unorthodox religious speculations. An authorised text appeared with some of the more controversial views removed; the expurgation did not end the controversy: in 1645, Alexander Ross attacked Religio Medici in his Medicus Medicatus and, in common with much Protestant literature, the book was placed upon the Papal Index Librorum Prohibitorum in the same year.
In 1646, Browne published his encyclopaedia, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or, Enquiries into Very many Received Tenets, Presumed Truths, whose title refers to the prevalence of false beliefs and "vulgar errors". A sceptical work that debunks a number of legends circulating at the time in a methodical and witty manner, it displays the Baconian side of Browne—the side, unafraid of what at the time was still called "the new learning"; the book is significant in the history of science because it promoted an awareness of up-to-date scientific journalism. Browne's last publication during his lifetime were two philosophical Discourses which are related to each other in concept; the first, Urn Burial, or a Brief Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns found in Norfolk inspired by the discovery of some Bronze Age burials in earthenware vessels found in Norfolk, resulted in a literary meditation upon death, the funerary customs of the world and the ephemerality of fame. The other discourse in the diptych is antithetical in subject-matter and imagery.
The Garden of Cyrus, or The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the Ancients, Artificially and Mystically Considered features the quincunx, used by Browne to demonstrate evidence of the Platonic forms in art and nature. In Religio Medici, Browne confirmed his belief, in accordance with the vast majority of seventeenth century European society, in the existence of angels and witchcraft, he attended the 1662 Bury St Edmunds witch trial, where his citation of a similar trial in Denmark may have influenced the jury's minds of the guilt of two accused women, who were subsequently executed for witchcraft. In 1671 King Charles II, accompanied by the Court, visited Norwich; the courtier John Evelyn, who had corresponded with Browne, took good use of the royal visit to call upon "the learned doctor" of European fame and wrote of his visit, "His whole house and garden is a paradise and Cabinet of rarities and that of the best collection, amongst Medails, Plants, natural things". During his visit, Charles visited Browne's home.
A banquet was held in St Andrew's Hall for the royal visit. Obliged to honour a notable local, the name of the Mayor of Norwich was proposed to the King for knighthood; the Mayor, declined the honour and proposed Browne's name instead. Browne was buried in the chancel of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, his skull was removed when his lead coffin was accidentally re-opened by workmen in 1840. It was not re-interred in St Peter Mancroft until 4 July 1922 when it was recorded in the burial register as aged 317 years. Browne's coffin plate, stolen the same time as his skull, was eventually recovered, broken into two halves, one of, on display at St Peter Mancroft. Alluding to the commonplace opus of alchemy it reads, Amplissimus Vir Dns. Thomas Browne, Medicinae Dr. Annos Natus 77 Denatus 19 Die mensis Octobris, Anno. Dni. 1682, hoc Loculo indormiens. Corporis Spagyrici pulvere plumbum in aurum Convertit. — translated from Latin as "The esteemed Gentleman Thomas Browne, Doctor of Medicine, 77 years old, died on the 19th of October in the year of Our Lord 1682 and lies sleeping in this coffin.
With the dust of the alchemical body he converts lead into gold". The origin of the invented word spagyrici are from the Greek of: Spao to tear open, + ageiro to collect, a signature neologism coined by Paracelsus to define his medicine-oriented alchemy.
George Hamartolos or Hamartolus was a monk at Constantinople under Michael III and the author of a chronicle of some importance. Hamartolus is not his name but the epithet he gives to himself in the title of his work: "A compendious chronicle from various chroniclers and interpreters, gathered together and arranged by George, a sinner", it is a common form among Byzantine monks. Krumbacher protests against the use of this epithet as a name and proposes the form Georgios Monachos. Nothing is known about him except from the internal evidence of his work, which establishes his period and his calling; the chronicle consists of four books. The first treats of profane history from Adam to Alexander the Great; the chronicle is the only original contemporary authority for the years 813–842, the other being the Scriptor Incertus. Because of this fact, it is indispensable; as in the case of such medieval chronicles, the only part to be taken is the account of more or less contemporary events. The rest is interesting as an example of Byzantine ideas on the subjects, of the questions that most interested Byzantine monks.
George describes his ideal and principles in the preface. He has used ancient Greek and modern Greek sources, has consulted edifying works, has striven to relate such things as were useful and necessary, with a strict adherence to truth, rather than to please the reader by artistic writing or pretensions to literary style, but of so great a mass of material he has chosen only what is necessary. In effect, the questions that seemed most useful and necessary to ecclesiastical persons at Constantinople in the ninth century are those that are discussed. There are theological excursuses, he writes of how idols were invented, the origin of monks, the religion of the Saracens, of the Iconoclast controversy that had just ended. Like all monks he hates iconoclasts; the violence with which he speaks of them shows how recent the storm had been and how the memory of iconoclast persecutions was still fresh when he wrote. He writes out long extracts from Greek Fathers; the first book treats of an astonishingly miscellaneous collection of persons — Adam, the Persians, Brahmins, etc.
In the second book, although it professes to deal with Bible history only, he has much to say about Plato and philosophers in general. Hamartolus ended his chronicle with the year 842. Various people, among them notably "Symeon Logothetes", Symeon Metaphrastes, the famous writer of saints' lives, continued his history to dates — the longest continuation reaches to 948. In these additions, religious questions are relegated to the background, more attention is devoted to political history, the language is more popular. Still further continuations of little value go down to 1143. In spite of his crude ideas and the violent hatred of iconoclasts that makes him always unjust towards them, his work has considerable value for the history of the last years before the schism of Photius, it was soon translated into Church Slavonic and in Georgian by Arsen of Iqalto. In these versions it became a sort of fountain-head for all early Slavonic historians, most notably Nestor; as a popular and consulted book of large circulation it has been re-edited and rearranged by anonymous scribes, so that the reconstruction of the original work is "one of the most difficult problems of Byzantine philology".
Combefis, François. "Bioi ton neon Basileon." In Maxima bibliotheca Paris, 1685. The last part of Book IV of the chronicle and the continuation. Muralt, E. de. Georgii monachi, dicti Hamartoli, Chronicon ab orbe condito ad annum p. chr. 842 et a diversis scriptoribus usq. ad ann. 1143 continuatum. St. Petersburg, 1859; the first edition of the whole work. It does not represent the original text, but one of the many modified versions, is in many ways deficient and misleading. Migne, Jacques Paul. Patrologia Graeca 110. Reprint of the previous edition, with a Latin translation; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed.. "George Hamartolus". Catholic Encyclopedia. 6. New York: Robert Appleton; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "George the Monk". Encyclopædia Britannica. 12. Cambridge University Press. Afinogenov, D. "The Date of Georgios Monachos Reconsidered." BZ 92. Pp. 437–47. Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Graeca with analytical indexes
The Byzantine calendar called "Creation Era of Constantinople" or "Era of the World", was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire from 988 to 1453, of Kievan Rus' and Russia from c. 988 to 1700. Since "Byzantine" is a historiographical term, the original name uses the noun "Roman" as it was how the Eastern Roman Empire continued calling itself; the calendar was based on the Julian calendar, except that the year started on 1 September and the year number used an Anno Mundi epoch derived from the Septuagint version of the Bible. It placed the date of creation at 5509 years before the Incarnation, was characterized by a certain tendency, a tradition among Jews and early Christians to number the years from the calculated foundation of the world, its Year One, marking the supposed date of creation, was September 1, 5509 BC, to August 31, 5508 BC. It is not known when; the first appearance of the term is in the treatise of a certain "monk and priest", who mentions all the main variants of the "World Era" in his work.
Georgios argues that the main advantage of the World era is the common starting point of the astronomical lunar and solar cycles, of the cycle of indictions, the usual dating system in Byzantium since the 6th century. He already regards it as the most convenient for the Easter computus. Complex calculations of the 19-year lunar and 28-year solar cycles within this world era allowed scholars to discover the cosmic significance of certain historical dates, such as the birth or the crucifixion of Jesus; this date underwent minor revisions before being finalized in the mid-7th century, although its precursors were developed c. AD 412. By the second half of the 7th century, the Creation Era was known in Western Europe, at least in Great Britain. By the late 10th century around AD 988, when the era appears in use on official government records, a unified system was recognized across the Eastern Roman world; the era was calculated as starting on September 1, Jesus was thought to have been born in the year 5509 since the creation of the world.
Historical time was thus calculated from the creation, not from Christ's birth, as in the west after the Anno Domini system was adopted between 6th and 9th centuries. The Eastern Church avoided the use of the Anno Domini system of Dionysius Exiguus, since the date of Christ's birth was debated in Constantinople as late as the 14th century. Otherwise the Byzantine calendar was identical to the Julian Calendar except that: the names of the months were transcribed from Latin into Greek; the leap day of the Byzantine calendar was obtained in an identical manner to the bissextile day of the original Roman version of the Julian calendar, by doubling the sixth day before the calends of March, i.e. by doubling 24 February. The Byzantine World Era was replaced in the Orthodox Church by the Christian Era, utilized by Patriarch Theophanes I Karykes in 1597, afterwards by Patriarch Cyril Lucaris in 1626, formally established by the Church in 1728. Meanwhile, as Russia received Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium, she inherited the Orthodox Calendar based on the Byzantine Era.
After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the era continued to be used by Russia, which witnessed millennialist movements in Moscow in AD 1492. It was only in AD 1700 that the Byzantine World Era in Russia was changed to the Julian Calendar by Peter the Great, it still forms the basis of traditional Orthodox calendars up to today. September AD 2000 began the year 7509 AM; the earliest extant Christian writings on the age of the world according to the Biblical chronology are by Theophilus, the sixth bishop of Antioch from the Apostles, in his apologetic work To Autolycus, by Julius Africanus in his Five Books of Chronology. Both of these early Christian writers, following the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, determined the age of the world to have been about 5,530 years at the birth of Christ. Ben Zion Wacholder points out that the writings of the Church Fathers on this subject are of vital significance, in that through the Christian chronographers a window to the earlier Hellenistic biblical chronographers is preserved: An immense intellectual effort was expended during the Hellenistic period by both Jews and pagans to date creation, the flood, building of the Temple...
In the course of their studies, men such as Tatian of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus of Rome
Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959. He was the son of the emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, the nephew of his predecessor, the emperor Alexander. Most of his reign was dominated by co-regents: from 913 until 919 he was under the regency of his mother, while from 920 until 945 he shared the throne with Romanos Lekapenos, whose daughter Helena he married, his sons. Constantine VII is best known for his four books, De Administrando Imperio, De Ceremoniis, De Thematibus, Vita Basilii, his nickname alludes to the Purple Room of the imperial palace, decorated with porphyry, where legitimate children of reigning emperors were born. Constantine was born in this room, although his mother Zoe had not been married to Leo at that time; the epithet allowed him to underline his position as the legitimized son, as opposed to all others who claimed the throne during his lifetime.
Sons born to a reigning Emperor held precedence in the Eastern Roman line of succession over elder sons not born "in the purple". Constantine was born at Constantinople, an illegitimate son born before an uncanonical fourth marriage. To help legitimize him, his mother gave birth to him in the Purple Room of the imperial palace, hence his nickname Porphyrogennetos, he was symbolically elevated to the throne as a two-year-old child by his father and uncle on May 15, 908. In June 913, as his uncle Alexander lay dying, he appointed a seven-man regency council for Constantine, it was headed by the Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos, the two magistroi John Eladas and Stephen, the rhaiktor John Lazanes, the otherwise obscure Euthymius and Alexander's henchmen Basilitzes and Gabrielopoulos. Following Alexander's death, the new and shaky regime survived the attempted usurpation of Constantine Doukas, Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos assumed a dominant position among the regents. Patriarch Nicholas was presently forced to make peace with Tsar Simeon of Bulgaria, whom he reluctantly recognized as Bulgarian emperor.
Because of this unpopular concession, Patriarch Nicholas was driven out of the regency by Constantine's mother Zoe. She was no more successful with the Bulgarians, who defeated her main supporter, the general Leo Phokas, in 917. In 919 she was replaced as regent by the admiral Romanos Lekapenos, who married his daughter Helena Lekapene to Constantine. Romanos used his position to advance to the ranks of basileopatōr in May 919, to kaisar in September 920, to co-emperor in December 920. Thus, just short of reaching nominal majority, Constantine was eclipsed by a senior emperor. Constantine's youth had been a sad one due to his unpleasant appearance, his taciturn nature, his relegation to the third level of succession, behind Christopher Lekapenos, the eldest son of Romanos I Lekapenos, he was a intelligent young man with a large range of interests, he dedicated those years to studying the court's ceremonial. Romanos kept and maintained power until 944, when he was deposed by his sons, the co-emperors Stephen and Constantine.
Romanos spent the last years of his life in exile on the Island of Prote as a monk and died on June 15, 948. With the help of his wife, Constantine VII succeeded in removing his brothers-in-law, on January 27, 945, Constantine VII became sole emperor at the age of 39, after a life spent in the shadow. Several months Constantine VII crowned his own son Romanos II co-emperor. Having never exercised executive authority, Constantine remained devoted to his scholarly pursuits and relegated his authority to bureaucrats and generals, as well as to his energetic wife Helena Lekapene. In 949 Constantine launched a new fleet of 100 ships against the Arab corsairs hiding in Crete, but like his father's attempt to retake the island in 911, this attempt failed. On the Eastern frontier things went better if with alternate success. In 949 the Byzantines conquered Germanicea defeated the enemy armies, in 952 they crossed the upper Euphrates, but in 953 the Hamdanid amir Sayf al-Daula entered the imperial territory.
The land in the east was recovered by Nikephoros Phokas, who conquered Hadath, in northern Syria, in 958, by the general John Tzimiskes, who one year captured Samosata, in northern Mesopotamia. An Arab fleet was destroyed by Greek fire in 957. Constantine's efforts to retake themes lost to the Arabs were the first such efforts to have any real success. Constantine had active diplomatic relationships with foreign courts, including those of the caliph of Cordoba Abd ar-Rahman III and of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. In the autumn of 957 Constantine was visited by Olga of Kiev, regent of the Kievan Rus'; the reasons for this voyage have never been clarified. According to legends, Constantine VII fell in love with Olga, however she found the way to refuse him by tricking him to become her godfather; when she was baptized, she said. Constantine VII died at Constantinople in November 959 and was succeeded by his son Romanos II, it was rumored that Constantine had been poisoned by his son or his da
Alexander the Great
Alexander III of Macedon known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20, he spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history's most successful military commanders. During his youth, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until age 16. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, he succeeded his father to the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. Alexander was awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father's pan-Hellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest of Persia. In 334 BC, he began a series of campaigns that lasted 10 years. Following the conquest of Anatolia, Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela.
He subsequently overthrew Persian King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire in its entirety. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River, he endeavored to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" and invaded India in 326 BC, winning an important victory over the Pauravas at the Battle of the Hydaspes. He turned back at the demand of his homesick troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city that he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in the establishment of several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and heirs. Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion and syncretism which his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism, he founded some twenty cities. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s.
Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics, he is ranked among the most influential people in history. Alexander was born on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, although the exact date is disputed, in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon, he was the son of the king of Macedon, Philip II, his fourth wife, the daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of Epirus. Although Philip had seven or eight wives, Olympias was his principal wife for some time because she gave birth to Alexander. Several legends surround Alexander's childhood. According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch, on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, Olympias dreamed that her womb was struck by a thunder bolt that caused a flame to spread "far and wide" before dying away.
Sometime after the wedding, Philip is said to have seen himself, in a dream, securing his wife's womb with a seal engraved with a lion's image. Plutarch offered a variety of interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb. Ancient commentators were divided about whether the ambitious Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine parentage, variously claiming that she had told Alexander, or that she dismissed the suggestion as impious. On the day Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice; that same day, Philip received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the combined Illyrian and Paeonian armies, that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. It was said that on this day, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt down; this led Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down because Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander.
Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception. In his early years, Alexander was raised by a nurse, sister of Alexander's future general Cleitus the Black. In his childhood, Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, by Lysimachus of Acarnania. Alexander was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, ride and hunt; when Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. The horse refused to be mounted, Philip ordered it away. Alexander however, detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, which he managed. Plutarch stated that Philip, overjoyed at this display of courage and ambition, kissed his son tearfully, declaring: "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you", an
Priscus of Panium was a 5th-century Roman diplomat and Greek historian and rhetorician. Priscus was born in Panion between 410-420 AD. In 448/449 AD, he accompanied Maximinus, the head of the Byzantine embassy representing Emperor Theodosius the Younger, on a diplomatic mission to the court of Attila the Hun. While there, he met and conversed with a Greek merchant, dressed in "Scythian" fashion, captured eight years earlier when the city of Viminacium was sacked by the Huns; the trader explained to Priscus that after the sack of Viminacium, he was a slave of Onegesius, a Hunnic nobleman, but obtained his freedom and chose to settle among the Huns. Priscus engaged in a debate with the Greek defector regarding the qualities of life and justice in both the Byzantine Empire and in barbarian kingdoms. After an interlude in Rome, Priscus traveled to the Thebaid in Egypt, he last appeared in the East, circa 456, attached to the staff of Euphemios as Emperor Marcian's magister officiorum. He died after 472 AD.
Priscus was the author of an eight-volume historical work, written in Greek, entitled the History of Byzantium, not the original title name. The History covered the period from the accession of Attila the Hun to the accession of Emperor Zeno, or from 433 up until 474 AD. Priscus's work survives in fragments and was influential in the Byzantine Empire; the History was used in the Excerpta de Legationibus of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, as well as by authors such as Evagrius Scholasticus, Cassiodorus and the author of the Souda. Priscus's writing style is straightforward and his work is regarded as a reliable contemporary account of Attila the Hun, his court, the reception of the Roman ambassadors, he is considered a "classicizing" historian to the extent that his work, though written during the Christian era, is completely secular and relies on a style and word-choice that are part of an historiographical tradition dating back to the fifth century BC. Priscus recount of a dinner with Attila the Hun was at, one of the many houses of Attila.
But this one was said to be greater than the rest. Made for celebration due to it being constructed of decorative polished wood, with little thought on making any aspects of the place for defense. Priscus entered the house the following day bearing gifts to Attila's wife, her name was Kreka. The dinner was at three O’clock; that to Priscus, Attila considered his people were more important than the Roman embassy. As Priscus and the Western Roman embassy stood, they followed the cultural tradition of being given tea from the cupbearers, they were to have a drink before having a seat at the table. Attila sat with the seats being arranged linear to the walls; as the seating arrangement went on the right side of Attila was held for the Chiefs in honor. With the everyone else including Priscus and the Roman embassies on the left. Following the seating, everyone was to raise a glass to pledge one another with wine. Once the Cupbearers left another attendant came in with a plate of meat, followed by other items of food such as bread and things of the time.
All of the food was served on plates of gold. Prius notes that Attila didn’t use any silver or gold plates but instead used a cup made of wood, his attire was bland. Once the first round was finished, they stood and drank again to the health of Attila. Once evening arrived torches were lit and songs that were composed of Attila's victories were sung. Priscus is an important character in Slave of the Huns by Geza Gardonyi, he is depicted as a kindly master and scholar, part of the novel is based on his account of his visit to Attila. The remaining works of Priscus are published in four collections: Given, John; the Fragmentary History of Priscus. Merchantville, New Jersey: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-935228-14-5. Blockley, Roger C.. The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire. II. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Francis Cairns. ISBN 0-905205-51-0. Gordon, Colin Douglas; the Age of Attila: Fifth-century Byzantium and the Barbarians. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Dindorfius, Ludovicus.
Historici Graeci Minores. Leipzig, Germany: B. G. Teubneri. Media related to Priscus at Wikimedia Commons Georgetown University: "Priscus at the Court of Attila"
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