-         As Rome fell, Constantinople, the capitol of the eastern Roman Empire, remained.

-         Can’t prevent German ‘barbarians’ from sacking Rome and carving up Italy by following the path of least resistance

-         However, their own dominions (lands) remain intact

-         Theodosius, last Roman emperor in the West, is forced from power in 476 A.D.

-         Eastern emperors nothing special until…


Reign of Justinian (527-565 A.D.)


-         “Emperor who never sleeps”

-         Three aims: 1. great emperor, 2. great lawgiver, 3. great restorer of civilization

-         wife, Theodora, consults on affairs of state

-         HANDOUT

-         Destroys, under General Belisarius, the Vandal kingdom in North Africa

-         Also overthrows Ostrogoths in Sicily and Italy

-         Mediterranean once more becomes a “Roman sea”


Code of Justinian


-         Codifies Roman law

-         Uses commission of legal scholars

-         Result: Corpus Juris Civilis (“Body of Civil Law”) <online at>

-         Influences British common law and then American jurisprudence


Great Builder


-         Roads, bridges, acqueducts repaired

-         Massive fortifications on the exposed frontiers

-         Splendid palaces

-         Many monestaries and churches

-         Hagia Sophia Church (Church of the Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople (HANDOUT)


Restorer of Civilization


-         Schools built

-         Commerce and agriculture are encouraged

-         Silk industry begins

-         Won provinces in Asia Minor and the Balkans





Height of the Empire


-         9th and 11th centuries

-         Vast provinces provide vast annual revenue, much of which went for defense (great fleets and fortifications)

-         Merchant ships of Constantinople carry most of the commerce in the Mediterranean and Black Seas during the early Middle Ages

-         Constantinople becomes a great crossroads of trade

-         Byzantine Empire exports silks, embroideries, mosaics, enamels, and metal work

-         From the east come spices, drugs, precious stones

-         From Russia come honey, fur, wax, wool, grain, and slaves

-         12th c. trader – Constantinople is a metropolis “common to all the world, without distinction of country or religion”


Great Schism


-         “From the time of Diotrephes (III John 1:9-10) there have been continual schisms, of which the greater number were in the East. Arianism produced a huge schism; the Nestorian and Monophysite schisms still last. However, the Eastern Schism always means that most deplorable quarrel of which the final result is the separation of the vast majority of Eastern Christians from union with the Catholic Church, the schism that produced the separated, so-called "Orthodox" Church.” (

-         “Michael I Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, closed the Latin (Western) churches in Constantinople and raised serious dogmatic charges against the Roman Church, notably in connection with the Eucharist. Cardinal Humbert attacked the Patriarch in a vitriolic and passionate manner by arguing the case for Roman primacy and also quoting extensively from the forged “Donation of Constantine” (allegedly bestowing sovereignty in the West on the papacy). A legation under Humbert's leadership left for Constantinople in April 1054, but, despite several meetings between Patriarch, Emperor, and legates, no concrete results emerged.” (

-         One summer afternoon in the year 1054 [July 16], as a service was about to begin in the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) at Constantinople, Cardinal Humbert and two other legates of the Pope [Leo IX] entered the building and made their way up to the sanctuary. They had not come to pray. They placed a Bull of Excommunication upon the altar and marched out once more. As he passed through the western door, the Cardinal shook the dust from his feet with the words: 'Let God look and judge.' A deacon ran out after him in great distress and begged him to take back the Bull. Humbert refused; and it was dropped in the street. (