The Byzantine Empire

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The Byzantine Empire, in western Asia and southeastern Europe, expanded into eastern Europe. The Byzantine Empire, with territory in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean, maintained very high levels of political, economic, and cultural life between 500 and 1450 C.E. The empire continued many Roman patterns and spread its Orthodox Christian civilization through most of eastern Europe, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. Catholic Christianity, without an imperial center, spread in western Europe. Two separate civilizations emerged from the differing Christian influences. The Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire, once part of the greater Roman Empire, continued flourishing from an eastern Mediterranean base after Roman decline. Although it inherited and continued some of Rome’s patterns, the eastern Mediterranean state developed its own form of civilization. The Origins of the Empire. Separate emperors ruled from it even before Rome fell. The empire benefited from the high level of civilization in the former Hellenistic world and from the region's prosperous commerce. Justinian's Achievements. The military efforts weakened the empire as Slavs and Persians attacked frontiers, and they also created serious financial pressures. The code later spread Roman legal concepts throughout Europe. Arab Pressure and the Empire's Defenses. Justinian's successors concentrated on the defense of their Eastern territories. The empire henceforth centered in the Balkans and western and central Turkey, a location blending a rich Hellenistic culture with Christianity. The free rural population, the provider of military recruits and taxes, was weakened. Aristocratic estates grew larger, and aristocratic generals became stronger. Byzantine Society and Politics. Byzantine political patterns resembled the earlier Chinese system. An emperor, ordained by god and surrounded by elaborate court ritual, headed both church and state. A careful military organization defended...
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