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The Byzantine Empire Portal

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The Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire is the historiographical term used since the 19th century to describe the Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople. Whilst it was known as the "Empire of the Greeks" to many of its Western contemporaries (due to the dominance of Medieval Greek language, culture and population), it was referred to by its inhabitants simply as the Roman Empire (Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων) or Romania (Ῥωμανία) and its emperors continued the unbroken succession of Roman emperors; to the Islamic world it was known primarily as روم‎ (Rûm, land of the "Romans").

There is no consensus on exactly when the Byzantine period of Roman history began. Many consider Emperor Constantine I (reigned AD 306–337) to be the first "Byzantine Emperor". It was he who moved the imperial capital in 324 AD from Nicomedia to Byzantium, refounded as Constantinople, or Nova Roma ("New Rome"). The city of Rome itself had not served as the capital since the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Some date the beginnings of the Empire to the reign of Theodosius I (379–395) and Christianity's official supplanting of the pagan Roman religion, or following his death in 395, when the political division between East and West became permanent. Others place it even later in 476, when Romulus Augustulus, traditionally considered the last western Emperor, was deposed, thus leaving sole imperial authority with the emperor in the Greek East. Others point to the reorganization of the empire in the time of Heraclius (ca. 620), when Latin titles and usages were officially replaced with Greek versions.

In any case, the changeover was gradual and by 330, when Constantine inaugurated his new capital, the process of hellenization and increasing Christianization was already under way. The Empire is considered to have ended after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, although Greek monarchies continued to rule over parts of the fallen Empire's territories for several more years, until the fall of Mystras in 1460, Trebizond in 1461, and Monemvasia in 1471.
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Siege of Constantinople.jpg

The Fall of Constantinople refers to the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire which occurred after a siege laid by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Sultan Mehmed II. The siege lasted from Thursday, 5 April 1453 until Tuesday, 29 May 1453 (according to the Julian Calendar), when the city fell to the Ottomans. Constantinople was defended by the army of Emperor Constantine XI. The event marked the end of the political independence of the millennium-old Byzantine Empire, which was by then already fragmented into several Greek monarchies.

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Basil II and Constantine VIII, holding cross. Nomisma histamenon.

Basil II, later surnamed the Bulgar-slayer (Greek: Βασίλειος Β΄ Βουλγαροκτόνος, Basileios II Boulgaroktonos, 958 – December 15, 1025), known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.

The first part of his long reign was dominated by civil war against powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Following their submission, Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the Byzantine Empire's eastern frontier, and above all, the final and complete subjugation of Bulgaria, the Empire's foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. At his death, the Empire stretched from Southern Italy to the Caucasus and from the Danube to the borders of Palestine, its greatest territorial extent since the Muslim conquests, four centuries earlier.

Despite near-constant warfare, Basil also showed himself a capable administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military, and filling the Empire's treasury. Of far-reaching importance was Basil's decision to offer the hand of his sister Anna to Vladimir I of Kiev in exchange for military support, which led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus', and the incorporation of Russia within the Byzantine cultural sphere.

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Constantine's baptism.jpg

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The Baptism of Constantine
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  • ... that the last name of Zoe Karbonopsina, meant literally "the one with the Coal-Black Eyes"?
  • ... that Basil II was also named the Bulgar-slayer?
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