Katie's 8th Grade History

·         When Constantine first chose the old Greek city of Byzantium as the place for his new capital, he was aware of its advantages

o   Trade, and the great centers of trade lay to the east

·         Byzantium was on the waterway between the Black and Aegean seas.

o   Its harbor offered a safe haven for fishing boats, merchant ships, and warships.

·         The city sat at the crossroads of the trading routes between Europe and Asia.  Its location gave it control of the sea trade between Kievan Rus and the Mediterranean area.

·         The location also favored the city’s defense.

o   The sea protected it on three sides, and a huge wall protected it on the fourth side. 

·         Invaders would not easily take the new capital, which was renamed Constantinople

·         Modeled after Rome.

·         Stood on 7 hills

·         Narrow streets and crowded apartments

·         Constantinople even had an oval arena like the Circus Maximus where races and other events were held

·         The city’s political and social life was patterned on that of Rome too

·         The emperor operated under Roman laws and ruled with the help of highly trained officials, who took charge of building roads, bridges, wells, and caravan shelters.

·         The army followed Roman military customs

·         The poor people of Constantinople received free bread and enjoyed circuses and chariot races put on by the government.

·         The wealthy people lived in town or on large farming estates.

·         Constantine convinced many of the wealthy Romans to move to Constantinople by offering to build them palaces.

·         The family was the center of social life

·         The majority of them made their living through farming, herding, or working as laborers.

·         The big difference between Rome and Constantinople were

o   From the beginning Constantinople was a Christian city.

o   It had been dedicated to God by Constantine, who viewed it as the center of a great Christian empire.

o   Church leaders were consulted about all important events of everyday life and had great influence over the people.

o   Constantinople, a career in the church was considered a very high goal

·         Many Christian churches

·         Government and church leaders gathered relics

·         Relics: valued holy objects from the past, from throughout the Christian world

·         These were placed in public monuments, palaces, and churches

·         The bodies of saints rested in beautiful shrines

·         Thousands of people come to these shrines to pray to God for Cures for their ills.

·         Christian values could be seen in the way needy people were treated

·         Byzantines believed that each Christian was responsible for the well-being of other Christians

·         Wealthy formed organizations to care for the poor, the aged, and the blind

·         About 600,000 people lived in Constantinople during Constantine’s rule

·         There were Greeks, Turks, Italians, Slaves, Persians Armenians, and Jews

·         They spoke Greek among themselves but used Latin, the official language, for government business

·         Most people became Christians and all called themselves Romans.

Justinian I

·         After Constantine died, his sons ruled the empire.

·         In 527, a Macedonian named Justinian came to the throne

o   He was a strong ruler who came to be considered the greatest Byzantine emperor.

·         Justinian had served in the army and was a good general.  He was well trained in law, music, architecture, and theology

·         Theology: or the study of religion

·         The people that served him were chosen for their abilities rather than wealth or social positions

·         Justinian served in the army and navy, made the laws, headed the Church and the government, and was supreme judge.

·         He could declare war or make peace

·         The Church taught that the emperor’s acts were inspired by God.

o   What Justinian did could not be questioned


Ø  Theodora

·         Justinian’s wife, the empress Theodora was a great help to him

·         Theodora’s family had been poor and she worked as an actress before meeting Justinian

·         The people of the empire had a low opinion of actresses.

·         There was even a law forbidding marriages between them and high government officials.

·         After Justinian became emperor he abolished the law and made Theodora his empress.

·         Theodora only entertained guests and attended palace ceremonies.

·          She had later began taking interested in politics

·         Soon she was helping Justinian fill government and church offices

·         She also convinced Justinian to allow women more rights

·         For the first time a Byzantine wife could own land equal in value to her dowry

·         Dowry: the wealth she brought with her when she married

·         In 532 Theodora made her first important contribution

o   A group of senators had organized a revolt to protest high taxes

·         They were able to gain much support from both the poor and the rich.

·         The poor were angry because they were receiving less free food and entertainment

·         The rich were angry because for the first time they had to pay taxes

·         The leaders of the revolt were prepared to crown a new emperor.

·         Justinian’s advisers urged him to leave the city

·         Theodora, however, urge him to stay and fight.

·         Justinian and his supporters took Theodora’s advice.

·         They stayed in Constantinople, trapped the rebels, killed 300,000 of them, and crushed the uprising

·         As a result Justinian kept control of the government and became an even stronger ruler


Ø  Law and Public Works

·         Justinian was very interested in law and spent much time reading the laws made by other emperors

·         He decided that the old legal system was too complicated and disorganized.  He chose ten men to work out a simpler and better system.  This group was headed by a legal scholar named Tribonian

·         In six years they had developed a legal code that became the law of the land

·         This code came to name Justinian code

·         It is considered one of Justinian’s greatest achievements

·         Justinian was interested in public works as he was in law

·         He built Churches, Bridges, Monasteries, and forums

·         He also built a system of forts connected by a large network of roads.

·         When an earthquake destroyed Antioch he had the whole city rebuilt

·         One of Justinian’s greatest accomplishments was the church call Hagia Sophia or “Holy Wisdom”

·         Nearly 10,000 workers, watched over by 200 supervisors, labored in shifts to build the church

·         The church had a gold alter and walls of polished marble.

·         Gold and silver ornaments, woven cloth, and colorful mosaics

·         Mosaics: pictures made up of many bits or colored glass or stone

·         Most impressive was the huge dome that rose high over the central part of the church

·         Hagia Sophia was later called St. Sophia


Ø  Conquest

·         Justinian wanted to reunite the eastern and western parts of the empire and restore the glory and power that was Rome’s

·         To do this he needed to conquer the German kingdoms in western Europe and North Africa

·         He appointed an officer named Belisarius to reorganize and lead the Byzantine army

·         Until that time a cavalry had been divided into groups of private soldiers hired by landowning nobles.

·         Foot soldiers who made up the largest part of the army, were called up when needed and then sent back to their homes.

·         When Belisarius took command, he set up a basic group of loyal and heavily armed cavalry soldiers

·         Navy also improved

·         Greek Fire: a chemical mixture that ignited when it came into contact with water.

o   Hard to put out

·         With these improvements the Byzantines were able to control more of the Mediterranean.  They were also able to win back much of Italy and North Africa

·         They defeated the Persians, and ensured the security of the empire’s eastern borders

*The Church

·         Church and government worked closely together in the Byzantine empire.

·         Christianity was the official religion, which meant that everyone in the empire was supposed to be a Christian

·         The Byzantines believed the emperor represented Christ on Earth

·         Emperor head of Church and Government

·         The leader in the Church in Constantinople was called the Patriarch

·         Under him were the metropolitans

·         Metropolitans: of church officials in charge of the empire’s important areas

·         Under them were the bishops and priests. 

·         Monasteries helped the poor and ran hospitals and schools for needy children.

·         They sent missionaries translated parts of the bible and some religious serviced into several eastern Europeans languages

·         They believed more people would become Christians if the Bible and Church ceremonies were in their own language.

·         Cyril – traveled among the Slave, a people who had settled in eastern Europe

·         Missionaries gave Slavs new alphabet based on Greek alphabet

·         Icons: or religious images

·         726 Emperor Leo III ordered a stop to the use of icons in religious worship

·         The fight over icons damaged the empire’s relations with western Europe

·         The council declared that Leo and his supporters were no longer Church members.

·         An argument also developed between the Pope and the Patriarch

·         The Patriarch would not recognize the Pope as head of the Church.

·         The Pope broke his ties with the Byzantine emperor and turned to the Frankish kings for military protection

*The Decline of the Empire

·         The Byzantine empire lasted for about 1,100 years

·         Its capital was the largest, richest, most beautiful city in Europe

·         Its people were among the most educated and creative of that time

·         Greek culture and Roman law

·         They also spread Christianity to peoples in the East.

·         The empire did much to help the growth of trade it also gave the world new techniques in the fine arts.

·         Forces from both inside and outside the empire weakened it and led to its downfall.

·         Counted on farmers to make up the army

·         The emperor decided to cut costs by changing the policy toward farmers

·         Once they had lost their land, the farmers found little reason to remain loyal to the empire

·         The empire also began to have problems with trade

·         When the Vikings conquered Byzantine lands in southern Italy they threatened to attack Constantinople

·         They turned to Ital city-state Venice for help

·         The Venice defeated the Vikings

·         Venetian ships and merchants soon controlled most of the empire’s trade

·         Christians from the West and Muslims from the East attacked the empire

·         Depended on Asia Minor for food and materials as well as soldiers

·         The population dropped to less than 100,000

·         Emperors were poor

·         When Turkish armies with guns and gunpowder attacked Constantinople in 1453 and conquered