What is Byzantine?

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Byzantine refers to the empire that ruled much of Europe back in the Middle Ages. It is said to be direct continuation of the original Roman Empire with Constantine as Emperor. The Byzantine Empire was named after the city of Byzantium, the original name of Constantinople, the new capital of the empire. Back then, the whole Roman Empire was said to be divided into western and eastern sections. Much of the western part was fragmented due to civil war and political instability. The eastern section meanwhile remained strong and this is the reason why Emperor Constantine created Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire, replacing Rome in the western part. Byzantium would then be renamed to Constantinople or the “New Rome” and this is now modern day Istanbul in Turkey.

The Byzantine empire prolonged the Roman rule on much of what is Europe today. Borders were also continually changed over several periods and different rulers. Christianity became the Byzantine Empire’s main and official religion at the time of Theodosius. Another ruler named Heraclius provided the Greek-speaking characteristic of the Byzantine Empire. The original Roman Empire adopted Latin as the official language but this was changed to Greek during the rule of Heraclius. The Greek language eventually became the defining characteristic of the entire Byzantine Empire.

In terms of location, choosing Byzantium as the capital city of the new Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire is not only a smart choice but a strategic choice by Emperor Constantine. The city of Byzantium lies somewhere in the middle of the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Most trading activities by Europe with countries and Asia and northern parts of Africa need to pass through Byzantium’s area. The capital city location of the Byzantine Empire basically helped it thrived with wealth and power over several decades of rule in a big part of Europe.

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