The fall of the western portion of the Roman Empire is attributed to multiple factors. Many of its people suffered from a series of plagues. Heavy taxation put huge financial strains on the people. Also, the Germans had a large responsibility for the fall of Western Rome. To the north, they were being pushed off of their lands by the Huns. Like dominoes, the Germans proceeded to the borders of the Roman Empire in Italy and attacked, sacking Rome in 410 A.D. In 476, the last of the Roman Emperors of the west was deposed, and the Roman Empire was finished. The Barbaric German leader Odoacer became king of Italy (www.loyno.edu/~seduffy/byzantine.html). After the fall of the west, the eastern half of the Roman Empire became dominant. This time is also thought of as the start of the Byzantine Empire, named for the town Byzantium on which the city of Constantinople was built. The Byzantines were the Greek-speaking portion of the Roman Empire, so at this time the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire were synonymous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justinian_I). Even before the fall of the west, the Eastern half was much richer, and with the west's demise, became even wealthier without the expense of providing for military defense of the west. About 50 years after the fall of the west, the greatest of the Byzantine emperors came to power: Emperor Justinian I in 527 A.D (www.loyno.edu/~seduffy/byzantine.html). The reign of Justinian was an extremely significant period. He believed in a Mediterranean wide Christian order politically and religiously united, and restricted the rights of non-Christians by banning them from the walls of Constantinople, and barring them from holding any office. In his time, Justinian established Christianity as the dominant religion of the Byzantine Empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justinian_I). He also had Hagia Sophia (holy wisdom) built. This was the great architectural feat of the Byzantine Empire, a great domed church at...
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