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VIDEO COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
1. What territories comprised the Byzantine Empire? How long did the Byzantine Empire last?
The Byzantine Empire lasted for over 1,000 years. At its height, the empire covered territory from Persia to western Europe.
2. What caused Constantine to convert to the Christian faith?
Prior to the Battle of Milivan Bridge, Constantine had a vision in which he saw a cross of light and the words “In this sign, conquer.” He was convinced that God had brought him victory and in A.D. 3l3 he issued the Edict of Milan, which officially ended the persecution of Christians. He was baptized on his deathbed 25 years later.
3. How was the Code of Justinian established?
Emperor Justinian ordered legal scholars to review, organize, and rewrite old Roman laws into a new format, which could be applied to his subjects and their legal concerns. The Code of Justinian served the Byzantines for 900 years and consisted of four sections: (1) the code of 5,000 laws, (2) the digest of opinions, (3) the institutes for study by prospective lawyers, and (4) the novellae of new laws.
4. What was the most famous structure commissioned by Justinian and Theodora?
The Church of St. Sophia or Holy Wisdom was completed in A.D. 537. It is famous for its huge dome, golden icons, and glittering mosaics.
5. Who were the Turkish enemies advancing upon the walls of Constantinople in 1453?
The Ottoman Turks were clans organized under the leadership of Osman in the 13th century. They became one of the world's great Muslim empires and spread Islamic culture throughout eastern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East until the early 20th century.
6. What is the famous technique favored by Byzantine artists who decorated church walls and floors?
Mosaics are images created by the careful placement of tiny fragments of gold or silver leaf, cut stone, or colored glass into plaster. These glorious but sturdy creations have survived the centuries to help us understand much of the Byzantine culture and its abiding Christian faith.
7. Why would hardy Byzantine soldiers carry an icon of the Virgin Mary into battle?
The word icon comes from the Greek word for image. In the Byzantine tradition, these icons of Jesus, the Virgin, and the saints were made in many media and were considered holy or sacred expressions of the importance of the individual portrayed. Icons were used for veneration and prayer. In the eighth century, a dispute over the use of icons erupted because Leo III feared their use amounted to idolatry. This controversy continued sporadically within the empire until the ninth century when the use of icons was restored.
8. How did Constantinople later become known as Istanbul?
In 1453, the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II conquered ancient Constantinople with 125 ships and an infantry of 150,000 men after a five-week siege. The victorious Turks renamed the capital.