Main SourcebooksAncientMedievalModern

Subsidiary SourcebooksAfricanEast AsianGlobalIndianJewishIslamicLesbian/GayScienceWomen

About IHSP Help Page IHSP Credits

Introduction to the Medieval World: Class 3
Class 3: The Eastern Roman Empire to Heraclius
Assigned Reading:
I.      Introduction

A.      Last Class - Recap

B.      Byzantium

        1.      Why important?

                Survival of Rome in East
                Most important Christina State until c. 1200
                Sister civilization to West
                Important in history of Slavs and Russia
                Survival of classical culture

        2.      Three Elements

                Greek Culture
                - not Athenian, but Hellenistic
                Roman Government
                - late imperial system
                - the people
                Christian Religion

        3.      Renovatio - concept

II.     Constantinople

Founded 324 - East was more vital part of the Empire

Geographical situation.
Size as a city
Relics and impression on outsiders
Dominance of later Byzantine history

III.    Separation of East and West

        A.      Begun by Diocletian
                395 last time united

        B.      Invasions
                Persia - Sassanid
                Germans - Goths - Adrianople 378
                Odovacar - 476
                Theodoric - 495-536

IV.     Development of Institutional Christianity

        A.      Egypt, Anatolia and Rome
                The Pentarchy?

        B.      Rome and Constantinople

V.      Church and Dogmatic Development

Since Byzantium was so explicitly religious, developments
in Christianity had direct social and political consequences.

        A.      Need for Change - Heresy
                Problems in formulations of Trinity and Christology
                No problem, little doctrine, e.g. on Baptism

        B.      Until it was legal main job was to survive, but
                after it became legal - the problem arose.
                Christianity changes from a sect (challenging the world.
                to a church (accommodating to the world.

        C.      The Fathers - Explain concept.
                Athanasius vs. Arius

                Jerome 340-420 - Vulgate
                Augustine 354-430 - City of God, and
                Predestination.  Not cyclic history.
                History as and end.

                Greek Fathers
                Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianus
                Cyril, Maximus, Pseudo-Dionysius

        D.      Heresies

                1.      Donatism - Western
                Response to last persecution. in North Africa

                2.      Arianism - Egypt - firstborn, therefore not God
                Ulfilas and the Goths

        E.      Councils
                Nicea 325 Constantine Presides
                Nicene Creed - Discuss

        F.      Continued Dogmatic Disputes
                Mixed in with ecclesiastical politics
                But also based on genuine cultural differences.

        G.      Church and State - Ambrose and Augustine
                Gelasius - Royal power and priestly power

VI.     Justinian 527-565 - Last Latin speaking emperor

        A.      Attempt to Restore Rome
                Justinian from Illyrium
                The circus; Factions and Nike riots

        B.      Belasarius
                In the East - Persia driven back
                In the West - Reconquest of Italy
                Destruction of classical civilization in Italy

        C.      Theodora - fascination of historians with her.

        D.      Procopius - Main source

        E.      Roman Law - Corpus Iuris Civilis - in Latin

        F.      Religious Policy
                Problem - Mix of Religious and Political
                Chalcedon 451

VII.    Art and Architecture

        A.      Buildings - Hagia Sophia

        B.      Christian Iconography - Naturalistic but Heavenly

        C.      Mosaics

        D.      Ravenna

VIII.   End of Justinian's Reign

        Plague - 541-43, and afterwards - Began in Egypt
        New Invasions - Avars 561
        Persia and Chosroes II - The Sassanids

IX.     Heraclius

        From North Africa  - used to surviving
        628 - Journey to Armenia

X.      The Basileus

        Greek - Union with people of Constantinople

        A.      The Arab Invasions 717-18

        B.      Loss of Egypt and Syria

        First to Persians (millet system.) then to Arabs

        C.      The Greek Empire
                The Balkans and Anatolia
                The Theme System

Return to Introduction to the Medieval World main page

© Paul Halsall, 1996.

This file is not copy-permitted.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 6 October 2023 [CV]