- Give examples of how the Byzantine Empire continued to have an impact even after its collapse
- The Byzantine Empire had lasting legacies on many subsequent cultures.
- The Byzantine Empire insulated Europe from enemies and gave it the time it needed to recover from the chaotic medieval period.
- Byzantium’s role in shaping Orthodoxy was also hugely influential; the modern-day Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian church in the world.
- Byzantine architecture, particularly in religious buildings, can be found in diverse regions, from Egypt and Arabia to Russia and Romania.
- Byzantine painting from this period would have a strong influence on the later painters of the Italian Renaissance.
A common language used by people of diverse backgrounds to communicate with one another; often a basic form of speech with simplified grammar.
Byzantium has been often identified with absolutism, orthodox spirituality, orientalism and exoticism, while the terms “Byzantine” and “Byzantinism” have been used as metaphors for decadence, complex bureaucracy, and repression. Both eastern and western European authors have often perceived Byzantium as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas contrary to those of the west. Even in 19th-century Greece, the focus was mainly on the classical past, while Byzantine tradition had been associated with negative connotations.
This traditional approach towards Byzantium has been partially or wholly disputed and revised by modern studies, which focus on the positive aspects of Byzantine culture and legacy. Historian Averil Cameron, for example, regards the Byzantine contribution to the formation of medieval Europe undeniable, and both Cameron and Obolensky recognize the major role of Byzantium in shaping Orthodoxy. The Byzantines also preserved and copied classical manuscripts, and they are thus regarded as transmitters of the classical knowledge, as important contributors to the modern European civilization, and as precursors of both the Renaissance humanism and the Slav Orthodox culture.
Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II took the title “Kaysar-i Rûm” (the Ottoman Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome), since he was determined to make the Ottoman Empire the heir of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Protection of Europe
The Byzantine Empire had kept Greek and Roman culture alive for nearly a thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire in the west. It had preserved this cultural heritage until it was taken up in the west during the Renaissance. The Byzantine Empire had also acted as a buffer between western Europe and the conquering armies of Islam. Thus, in many ways the Byzantine Empire had insulated Europe and given it the time it needed to recover from its chaotic medieval period.
Orthodoxy now occupies a central position in the history and societies of Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia, and other countries. Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 CE, the Ottomans regarded themselves as the “heirs” of Byzantium and preserved important aspects of its tradition, which in turn facilitated an “Orthodox revival” during the post-communist period of the eastern European states. The modern-day Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian church in the world.
Diplomacy and Law
After the fall of Rome, the key challenge to the empire was to maintain a set of relations between itself and its neighbors. When these nations set about forging formal political institutions, they often modeled themselves on Constantinople. Byzantine diplomacy soon managed to draw its neighbors into a network of international and inter-state relations. This network revolved around treaty-making, and included the welcoming of the new ruler into the family of kings, as well as the assimilation of Byzantine social attitudes, values and institutions. The preservation of the ancient civilization in Europe was due to the skill and resourcefulness of Byzantine diplomacy, which remains one of Byzantium’s lasting contributions to the history of Europe.
In the field of law, Justinian I’s reforms to the legal code would come to serve as the basis of not only Byzantine law, but law in many European countries, and continues to have a major influence on public international law to this day. Leo III’s Ecloga influenced the formation of legal institutions in the Slavic world. In the 10th century, Leo VI the Wise achieved the complete codification of the whole of Byzantine law in Greek, which became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law, which generates interest to the present day.
Art and Literature
Influences from Byzantine architecture, particularly in religious buildings, can be found in diverse regions, from Egypt and Arabia to Russia and Romania.
During the Byzantine Renaissance of the Macedonian Dynasty, art and literature flourished, and artists adopted a naturalistic style and complex techniques from ancient Greek and Roman art, mixing them with Christian themes. Byzantine painting from this period would have a strong influence on the later painters of the Italian Renaissance.
The migration waves of Byzantine scholars and émigrés in the period following the sacking of Constantinople and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 is considered by many scholars to be key to the revival of Greek and Roman studies that led to the development of the Renaissance in humanism and science. These émigrés were grammarians, humanists, poets, writers, printers, lecturers, musicians, astronomers, architects, academics, artists, scribes, philosophers, scientists, politicians and theologians. They brought to western Europe the far greater preserved and accumulated knowledge of their own (Greek) civilization.