Byzantine Empire was: a a continuation of the old Roman Empire and b ways in which it was a departure

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Analyze the extent to which the Byzantine Empire was: a) A continuation of the old Roman Empire and B) Ways in which it was a departure.

In other words, what parts of the old Roman Empire based in Italy did the Byzantine Empire keep?

What parts of the Byzantine Empire were different from the western (Italian) Roman Empire?


  1. Byzantine leaders saw their Empire as simply a continuation of the old Western Roman Empire.

    1. Beginning date for the Byzantine Empire is 330 C.E. when Roman emperor Constantine makes a new capital, Constantinople, out of the old Greek city of Byzantium.

    2. At the end of the century, the Roman Empire was formally (in writing and law), divided into two halves – eastern and western. The Byzantine Empire was the eastern half.

    3. The western half, based in Italy, collapsed in the fifth century.

    4. The eastern half (Byzantine Empire), kept buzzing along for another thousand years.

  2. Many leaders of the Byzantine Empire hoped to revive the glory and power of the Roman Empire

    1. Emperor Justinian (ruled 527-565 C.E.) led this revival.

    2. He preserved the old Roman system of law.

      1. He ordered his scholars to collect the laws of the Roman Empire.

      2. He put them together (codifies them) into a book called The Justinian Code.

      3. This Justinian Code formed the basis of Byzantine law.

      4. The Code preserved the idea that people should be ruled by laws, not the whims of leaders.

      5. Old Roman Law/Justinian’s Code forms the basis of English civil law, one of the world’s major legal systems.

  3. Much of the Western Roman Empire was adopted and persisted in the eastern Roman Empire/Byzantium/Byzantine Empire.

    1. Roman roads

    2. Roman taxation system

    3. Roman military structures

    4. Roman laws

    5. Roman imperial courts

    6. Roman centralized administration

  4. Byzantium tried consciously to preserve the legacy of classical civilization and the Roman Empire

    1. Constantinople, Byzantium’s capital city, was to be the “new Rome”.

    2. Byzantines referred to themselves as “Romans”.

    3. Byzantine emperors forbade the use of wearing boots, trousers, clothing made of animal skins and long hairstyles because they were all associated with Germanic barbarians.

    4. Instead, emperors insisted that people wear Roman-style robes and sandals.


1. The Eastern Roman Empire, called Byzantium, was richer than its western half had been.

a. The city of Byzantium (now Constantinople) was ancient. It had the heritage of the Greek, Egyptian, Syrian and Anatolian (Asia Minor) civilizations within it.

i. The city was strategically located where Europe meets Asia.

ii. Constantinople is on the edge of the Bosporus Strait.

iii. This allowed Byzantines to control the sea trade routes between Asia and Europe.

iv. Goods from as far away as Scandinavia and China came into Constantinople.

v. Imperial tax policies of goods raised huge government revenues (money).

2. Byzantium (Byzantine Empire) was more urbanized (more cities and more city-centered life.)

3. It was more cosmopolitan (culturally literate – sophisticated).

4. Byzantium’s capital city Constantinople was more easily defended than Rome had been.

i. Constantinople was surrounded by heavy stone walls.

5. The Byzantine Empire had a shorter frontier border to guard.

6. It had access to the Black Sea and command of the eastern Mediterranean.

7. Byzantium (Byzantine Empire) had a stronger navy, army and merchant marine to fight off invasions by the Germanic and Hun invaders who had overwhelmed the Roman Empire.

a. It even used clever diplomacy to fend off these attacks and invasions.

i. Byzantine emperors created alliances with foreign powers by marriage.

8. The Byzantine Empire was never as big as the old Roman Empire.


-The old Roman Empire’s territories were permanently lost to barbarian invaders. Why?

*The rapid Arab/Islamic expansion (7th century) resulted in the loss of Syria/Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa.

* The imperial court of the emperor looked more like an ancient Persian imperial court than one of ancient Rome.

9. Latin, the language of the Christian church and the aristocrats of western Roman culture, was abandoned in favor of Greek.

-Greek became the language of Byzantine education.

10. Byzantine thinkers tried to blend Christian doctrine with Greek philosophical concepts.

-The Byzantine Christian Church did not acknowledge the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church as the supreme head and center of Christianity. Ends in The Great Schism

Describe the Rise of the Ottoman Turks, the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and the subsequent growth of the Ottoman Empire under the sultanate, including Mehmet the Conqueror, and Suleiman the Magnificent.


Who were the Ottomans?

  1. The first Ottomans were Turkish soldiers known as ghazis (means warrior for Islam).

a. They came into Asia Minor (known as Anatolia) with other Turks to escape the Mongols.

i. Remember: Asia Minor/Anatolia was the Byzantine Empire.

2. In the late 1200’s a ghazi leader named Osman successfully fought the Byzantines for territory.

a. This group of Turks became known as the Ottomans.

3. By the 1300’s the Ottomans took over a large part of Anatolia/Asia Minor.

4. They entered Eastern Europe and tried to conquer the city of Constantinople, but failed.

a. Instead, they captured the city of Adrianopolis, the Byzantine Empire’s second most important city.

i. They made this city their capital and renamed it Edirne.

5. By 1396 they had appointed their first Ottoman sultan (the name given to their king).

How were the Ottomans so successful in conquering territory?

  1. They had a tough disciplined army and strong rulers.

  2. The Ottoman sultans created a highly troop of slave solders called Janissaries.

    1. Janissaries were young war captives and Christian slaves from Europe.

    2. These war captives and Christian slaves were schooled in Islamic law and converted to Islam.

    3. Then, these new converts were trained as special soldiers.

      1. Janissaries belonged to the sultan, serving him for life.

    4. Eventually, the Janissaries became an important political group in the Ottoman Empire.

Were all ghazi rulers loyal to the Ottoman Empire and its sultan?


What did some of them do when the Ottomans got near their territory?

  1. Fortunately for these ghazi rulers at the end of the 1300’s, another power player named Timur Lenk (Tamerlane) had shown up.

    1. Timur was born in Uzbekistan and claimed he was descended from the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan.

    2. Timur created an army and built his power first in central Asia.

    3. By the end of the 1300’s, he was close to Ottoman territory though.

  2. Some of the ghazi rulers being threatened by the Ottomans decided to ask Timur for help when the Ottomans conquered their states.

    1. Timur agreed to help the ghazi rulers get their land back from the Ottoman Turks.

    2. In 1404, he invaded Anatolia/Asia Minor where the Ottomans had set up their empire.

    3. Timur defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Ankara and captured the Ottoman sultan.

    4. Timur made the Ottomans return the territory they had taken to the other ghazi rulers.

What effect did this have on the growth of the Ottoman Empire? Nothing too long-lasting.

  1. Timur’s victory over the Ottomans caused a crisis in the Ottoman Empire.

    1. A civil war broke out over who should be the next sultan.

  2. Finally, Murad II became sultan. REMEMBER HIM.

    1. He began a new period of Ottoman conquest and expansion.

    2. In 1444, Murad II’s army defeated the last European Christian crusaders at the Battle of Varna.

    3. In 1453, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror conquered the city of Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. REMEMBER HIM TOO. REMBER THIS IS WHEN CONSTANTINOPLE WAS CAPTURED.

    4. He made Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) the capital of the Ottoman Empire.


Who was the greatest Ottoman ruler?

  1. The greatest Ottoman ruler was Suleiman (Suleyman) who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566. HE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER.

    1. Suleyman (Suleiman) brought the Ottoman Empire to its height of power.

    2. In Europe, people referred to this sultan (king) and “Suleyman the Magnificent”.

    3. In the Ottoman Empire, he was called “Suleyman the Wise”.

  2. Suleyman expanded the Ottoman Empire, conquering Hungary in Eastern Europe in 1526.

  3. Three years later (1529), he captured the city of Vienna (now in Austria).

  4. Vienna marked the limit (end) of Ottoman expansion in Europe.

  5. But, by this time, the Ottoman Empire ruled most of eastern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.

What happened after Suleyman?

  1. Suleyman the Magnificent died in 1566, and his death marks the beginning of a slow decline in Ottoman power and influence.

  2. Why? What happened?

    1. Some European states (France, Spain, Poland) got stronger.

    2. The Ottoman army and navy began to suffer some defeats.

      1. King Phillip II of Spain led a European navy against the Ottomans and defeated them at the Battle of Lepanto, near Greece.

      2. In 1683, Polish King John III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at Vienna.

What else led to the end of the Ottoman Empire’s power?

  1. The Ottoman government faced problems:

    1. The government became increasingly corrupt due to internal power struggles within its growing government bureaucracy (the offices that helped run the government.)

    2. The Janissaries, the Ottomans’ elite military troops (they were still slaves to the emperor) revolted, and this weakened the government.

    3. In the late 1700’s, the Ottomans lost the Crimean Peninsula area of Eastern Europe, and lands around the Black Sea t the Russians.

    4. The French successfully invaded Egypt, an Ottoman territory, in 1798.

    5. Ottoman lands in the Balkan Mountain area of Eastern Europe were lost.

  2. The Ottoman Empire also faced economic problems:

    1. In the 1600’s the Ottoman Empire lost control of the highly profitable silk and spice trades between Europe and Asia.

Why? Because European naval powers opened new sea routes to Asia that bypassed the Ottoman Turks and destroyed their trade monopoly.

When did it all end?

  1. The Ottoman Empire lasted until 1923, struggling to survive.

  2. It officially ended when Turkey established itself as a republic in 1923.

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