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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Later Roman Empire

The reign of Constantine the Great forms the most deep-reaching division in the history of Europe. The external continuity is not broken, but the principles which guided society in the Greek and Roman world are replaced by a new order of ideas. The emperor-worship, which expressed a belief in the ideal of the earthly empire of Rome, gives way to Christianity; this is the outward sign that a mental transformation, which we can trace for 300 years before in visible processes of decay and growth, had reached a crisis.

Besides the adoption of Christianity, Constantine's reign is marked by an event only second in importance, the shifting of the centre of gravity of the Empire from the west to the east by making Byzantium a second capital, a second Rome. The foundation of Constantinople determined the subsequent history of the state; it established permanently the division between the eastern and western parts of the Empire -a principle already introduced-and soon exhibited, though not immediately, the preponderance of the eastern half. The eastern provinces were the richest and most resourceful, and only needed a Rome in their midst to proclaim this fact; and further, it was eastward that the Empire fronted, for here was the one great civilized state with which it was in constant antagonism. Byzantium was refounded on the model of Rome, had its own senate, and presently a praefectus urbi. But its character was different in two ways: it was Christian and it was Greek. From its foundation New Rome had a Christian stamp; it had no history as the capital of a pagan empire. There was, however, no intention of depressing Rome to a secondary rank in political importance; this was brought about by the force of circumstances.

The Christian Roman Empire, from the first to the last Constantine, endured for 1130 years, and during that long period, which witnessed the births of all the great modern nations of Europe, experienced many vicissitudes of decline and revival. In the 5th century it lost all its western provinces through the expansion of the Teutons; but in the 6th asserted something of its ancient power and won back some of its losses. In the 7th it was brought very low through the expansion of the Saracens and of the Sla y s, but in consequence of internal reforms and prudent government in the 8th century was able before the end of the 9th to initiate a new brilliant period of power and conquest. From the middle of the r r th century a decline began; besides the perpetual dangers on the eastern and northern frontiers, the Empire was menaced by the political aggression of the Normans and the commercial aggression of Venice; then its capital was taken and its dominions dismembered by Franks and Venetians in 1204. It survived the blow for 250 years, as a shadow of its former self.

During this long life its chief political role was that of acting as a defender of Europe against the great powers of western Asia. While it had to resist a continuous succession of dangerous enemies on its northern frontier in Europe-German, Slavonic, Finnic and Tatar peoples-it always considered that its front was towards the east, and that its gravest task was to face the powers which successively inherited the dominion of Cyrus and Darius. From this point of view we might divide the external history of the Empire into four great periods, each marked by a struggle with a different Asiatic power: (I) with Persia, ending c. 630 with the triumph of Rome; (2) with the Saracens, who ceased to be formidable in the nth century; (3) with the Seljuk Turks, in the filth and 12th centuries; (4) with the Ottoman Turks, in which the Roman power went down.

Medieval historians, concentrating their interest on the rising states of western Europe, often fail to recognize the position held by the later Empire and its European prestige. Up to the middle of the I 1 th century it was in actual strength the first power in Europe, except in the lifetime of Charles the Great, and under the Comneni it was still a power of the first rank. But its political strength does not express the fulness of its importance. As the heir of antiquity it was confessedly superior in civilization, and it was supreme in commerce. Throughout the whole period (to 1204) Constantinople was the first city in the world. The influence which the Empire exerted upon its neighbours, especially the Slavonic peoples, is the second great role which it fulfilled for Europe-a role on which perhaps the most speaking commentary is the doctrine that the Russian Tsar is the heir of the Roman Caesar.

The Empire has been called by many names- -Greek, Byzantine, Lower (Bas-empire), Eastern (or East-Roman). All these have a certain justification as descriptions, but the only strictly correct name is Roman (as recognized in the title of Gibbon's work). The continuity from Augustus to Constantine XI. is unbroken; the emperor was always the Roman emperor; his subjects were always Romans (`PcoµaIoa: hence Romaic-Modern Greek). " Greek Empire " expresses the fact that the state became predominantly Greek in character, owing to the loss, first of the Latin provinces, afterwards of Syria and Egypt; and from the middle of the 6th century Greek became the official language. " Lower Empire " ( Later is preferable) marks the great actual distinction in character between the development before Constantine (Haut-empire) and after his adoption of Christianity. " Byzantine ' sums up in a word the unique Graeco-Roman civilization which was centred in New Rome. Eastern is a term of convenience, but it has been used in two senses, not to be confused. It has been used, loosely, to designate the eastern half of the Empire during the 80 years or so (from 395) when there were two lines of emperors, ruling formally as colleagues but practically independent, at Rome and Constantinople; but though there were two emperors, as often before, there was only one Empire. It has also been used, justifiably, to distinguish the true Roman Empire from the new state founded by Charles the Great (800), which also claimed to be the Roman Empire; Eastern and Western Empire are from this date forward legitimate terms of distinction. But between the periods to which the legitimate and illegitimate uses of the term " Eastern Empire " apply lies a period of more than 300 years, in which there was only one Empire in any sense of the word.

A chronological table of the dynasties will assist the reader of the historical sketch which follows.

Succession of Emperors arranged in Dynasties. I. Constantinian Dynasty.-A.D. 324-363.

Emperors (founder of dynasty, Constantius I., 305-306): Constantine I. (306, sole emperor since), 324-337.

In west-Constantine II., 337-340; Constans, 337-350. In east-Constantius II., 337- .

Sole emperors: Constantius II., 350-361; Julian, 361-363. Inter-Dynasty.- Jovian, 363-364.

2. Valentinianean Dynasty.-A.D. 364-392.

Emperors: In west-Valentinian I., 364-375; Gratian, 367-383; Valentinian II., 375-392.

In east-Valens, 365-378 (Theodosius I., 379-392).

3. Theodosian Dynasty.-A.D. 392-457.

Emperors: Theodosius I. (379), 392-395.

In east-Arcadius, 395-408; Theodosius II., 408-450; Marcian, 450-457.

In west-Honorius, 395-423; Constantius III., 422; Valentinian III., 425-455; (non-dynastic) Maximus, 455; Avitus, 455-456.

4. Leonine Dynasty.-A.D. 457-518.

Emperors: In east-Leo I., 457-474; Leo II., 474; Zeno, 474-491; Anastasius I., 491-518.

In west-non-dynastic, Majorian, 457-461; Severus, 461-465; (Leo I. sole emperor, 465-467); Anthemius, 4 6 7-47 2; Olybrius, 472; Glycerius, 473-474; Julius Nepos, 474-480; (usurper, Romulus Augustulus, 475 5 Justiniane 476) An Dynasty.-A.D. 518-602.

Emperors: Justin I., 518-527; Justinian I., 527-565; Justin II., 565-578; Tiberius II., 578-582; Maurice, 582-602.

Inter-Dynasty.- PhOCaS, 602-610 6. Heraclian Dynasty.-A.D. 610-711.

Emperors: Heraclius, 610-641; Constantine III., 641; Heracleonas, 641-642; Constans II., 642-668; Constantine IV. (Pogonatus) 668-685; Justinian II. (Rhinotmetus), 685-695; (non-dynastic) Leontius,695698 and Tiberius III. (Apsimar), 698-705; Justinian II. (restored), 705-711. II.

Inter-Dynasty.- Philip Bardanes, 711-713; Anastasius II., 713-716; Theodosius III., 716-717.

7. Isaurian (Syrian) Dynasty.-A.D. 717-802.

Emperors: Leo III., 717-740 (alias, 41); Constantine V. (Copronymus), 740-775; Leo IV. (Khazar), 775-780; Constantine VI., 780-797; Irene, 797-802.

Inter-Dynasty. -Nicephorus I., 802-811; Stauracius (son of Nicephorus), 811; Michael I. (Rhangabe, father-in-law of Stauracius), 811-813; Leo V. (Armenian), 813-820.

8. Phrygian Or Amorian Dynasty -A.D. 820-867.

Emperors: Michael II. (Stammerer), 820-829; Theophilus, 829-842; Michael III. (Drunkard), 842-867.

9. Macedonian Dynasty.-A.D. 867-1057.

Emperors: Basil I. (Macedonian), 867-886; Leo VI. (philosopher) and Alexander, 886-912; Constantine VII.

(Porphyrogennetos), 912-959; Romanus I. (Lecapenus), 9 20 -944; Romanus II., 959-963; Basil II.(Bulgaroctonus) and Constantine VIII., 963-1025; (non-dynastic) Nicephorus II. (Phocas), 963-969, and John Zimisces, 969-976 Constantine VIII., alone, 1025-1028; Romanus III. (Argyros), 1028-1034; Michael IV. (Paphlagonian), 10 341041; Michael V. (Caliphates); 1041-1042; Constantine IX. (Monomachus), 1042-1054; Theodora, 1054-1056; Michael VI. (Stratioticus), 1056-1057.

Inter-Dynasty. - Isaac I. (Comnenus), 1057-1059; Constantine X. (Ducas), 1059-1067; Michael VII. (Parapinaces), Andronicus and Constantine XI., 1067; Romanus IV. (Diogenes), 1067-1071; Michael VII., alone, 1071-1078; Nicephorus III. (Botaneiates), 1078-1081.

IO. Comnenian Dynasty. - A.D. 1081 - 1204.

Emperors: Alexius I. (nephew of Isaac I.), 1081-I118; John II., 1118-1143; Manuel I., 1143-1180; Alexius II., 1180-1183; Andronicus I., 1183-1185; Isaac II. (Angelus), 1185-1195; Alexius III. (Angelus), 1195-1203; Isaac II. and Alexius IV., 1203-1204.

Inter-Dynasty. - Alexius V. (Murtzuphlus), 1204.

Capture of Constantinople and dismemberment of the Empire by the Venetians and Franks, A.D. 1204-1205. II. Lascarid Dynasty. - A.D. 1206-1259.

Emperors: Theodore I. (Lascaris), 1206-1222; John III. (Vatatzes or Batatzes), 1222-1254; Theodore II. (Lascaris), 1254-1259.

12. Palaeologian Dynasty. - A.D. 1259-1453.

Emperors: Michael VIII. (Palaeologus), 1259-1282; Andronicus II. (Elder), 1282-1328;; Andronicus III. (Younger), 1328-1341; John V., 1341-1391; (non-dynastic), John (Cantacuzenus), 1347-1355; Manuel II., 1391-1425; John VI., 1425-1448; Constantine XI., or XII. (Dragases), 1448-1453.

Historical Sketch. - Diocletian's artificial experiment of two Augusti and two Caesars had been proved a failure, leading to twenty years of disastrous civil wars; and when Constantine the Great (q.v.) destroyed his last rival and restored domestic peace, he ruled for the rest of his life with undivided sway. But he had three sons, and this led to a new partition of the Empire after his death, and to more domestic wars, Constans first annexing the share of Constantine II. (340) and becoming sole ruler of the west, to be in turn destroyed by Constantius II., who in 350 remained sole sovereign of the Empire. Having no children, he was succeeded by his cousin, Julian the Apostate (q.v.). This period was marked by wars against the Germans, who were pressing on the Rhine and Danish frontiers, and against Persia. Julian lost his life in the eastern struggle, which was then terminated by a disadvantageous peace. But the German danger grew graver, and the battle of Adrianople, in which the Visigoths, who had crossed the Danube in consequence of the coming of the Huns (see Goths and HuNs), won a great victory,' and the emperor Valens perished (378), announced that the question between Roman and Teuton had entered on a new stage. Theodosius the Great saved the situation for the time by his Gothic pacification. The efforts of a series of exceptionally able and hard-working rulers preserved the Empire intact throughout the 4th century, but the dangers which they weathered were fatal to their weaker successors. 'On the death of Theodosius the decisive moment came for the expansion of the Germans, and they took the tide at the flood. There were three elements in the situation. Besides the Teutonic peoples beyond the frontier there were dependent people who had settled within the Empire (as Visigoths in Moesia, Vandals in Pannonia), and further there were the semi-Romanized Germans in the service of the Empire, some of whom had risen to leading positions (like Merobaudes and Stilicho). A Germanization of the Empire, or part of it, in some shape was inevitable, but, if the rulers of the 5th century had been men of the same stamp as the rulers of the 4th, the process might have assumed a different form. The sons of Theodosius were both incapable; and in their reigns the future of the state which was divided between them was decided. The dualism between the east (under Arcadius) and the west (under Honorious) developed under the rule of these brothers into antagonism verging on hostility. The German danger was averted in the east, but it led in a few years to the loss of many of the western provinces, and at the end of ninety years the immediate authority of the Roman Emperor did not extend west of the Adriatic. The reign of Honorius saw the abandonment of Britain, the establishment of the Visigothic kingdom in Aquitaine, the occupation of a great part of Spain by Vandals and ,Sueves (Suebi). Under Valentinian III. the Vandals founded their kingdom in North Africa, the Visigoths shared Spain with the Sueves, the Burgundian kingdom was founded in S.E. Gaul. The last Roman possession in Gaul passed to the Franks in 486 (see Goths; Vandals; Franks). It is significant that the chief defender of the Empire against the Germans who were dismembering it were men of German race. Stilicho, who defended Italy against Alaric, Aetius, whose great work was to protect the imperial possessions in Gaul, and Ricimer. It was also a German, Fravitta, who played a decisive part in suppressing a formidable Gothic movement which menaced the throne of Arcadius in 399-400. It was characteristic of this transformation of Europe that the Germans, who were imbued with a profound reverence for the Empire and its prestige, founded their kingdoms on Roman soil in the first instance as " federates " of the Emperor, on the basis of formal contracts, defining their relations to the native provincials; they seized their dominions not as conquerors, but as subjects. The double position of Alaric himself, as both king of the Visigoths and a magister militum of the Empire is significant of the situation.

The development of events was complicated by the sudden growth of the transient empire of the Huns (q.v.) in central Europe, forming a third great power, which, reaching from the Rhine to the Caucasus, from the Danube to the Baltic, might be compared in the extent of its nominal supremacy, but in nothing else, to the empires of Rome and Persia. The Huns, whose first appearance had precipitated the Germans on the Empire, now retarded for some years the process of German expansion, while they failed in their own attacks upon the Empire. On Attila's death (453) his realm collapsed, and his German vassals (Ostrogoths, &c.) founded important kingdoms on its ruins.

After the death of Valentinian III., the worst of his house, the Theodosian dynasty expired in the west, and the authority of the western emperors who succeeded him in rapid succession reached little beyond Italy. For most of this period of twenty years the general Ricimer, of German birth, held the scales of power in that peninsula, setting up and pulling down emperors. After his death the western throne was no longer tenable. First there was a usurpation; the general Orestes set up his child-son Romulus Augustulus against the legitimate Augustus, Julius Nepos, who was acknowledged by the eastern emperor; but this temporary government was overthrown (476) by a Germanic military revolution headed by Odoacer, who appropriated part of the soil to his German soldiers and founded an Italian kingdom under the nominal supremacy of the emperor at Constantinople, who, however unwilling, recognized his position (after the death of Julius Nepos).

The escape of the eastern provinces from the fate of the western illustrates the fact that the strength of the Empire lay in the east. These provinces were more populous and presented greater obstacles to the invaders, who followed the line of least resistance. But it was of immense importance that throughout this period the Empire was able to preserve a practically unbroken peace with its great eastern rival. The struggle with Persia, terminated in 364 by the peace of Jovian, was not renewed till the beginning of the 6th century. It was of greater importance that the rulers pursued a discreet and moderate policy, both in financial administration and in foreign affairs; and the result was that at the end of a hundred years the diminished Empire was strong and consolidated. Theodosius II. was a weak prince, but his government was ably conducted by Anthemius, by his sister Pulcheria and by the eunuch Chrysaphius. His reign was important for the Armenian question. Theodosius I. had committed the error of consenting to a division of this buffer state in the Roman and Persian spheres of influence, Persia having much the larger. The Sassanid government tried to suppress the use of the Greek language. But the government of Theodosius II. officially supported the enterprise of translating the Bible into Armenian (Mesrob had just invented the Armenian alphabet), and this initiated the production of an abundant literature of translations from the Greek, which secured the perpetual connexion of Armenia with European culture, and not with Oriental. This reign is also distinguished by the building of the great landwalls of Constantinople, by the foundation of a university there and by the collection of the imperial laws in the Codex Theodosianus, which is a mine of material for the social condition of the Empire. It reveals to us the decline of municipal liberty, the decay of the middle classes in the West, the evils of the oppressive fiscal system and an appalling paralysis of Roman administration which had once been so efficient; it shows how the best-intentioned emperors were unable to control the governors and check their corruption; and discloses a disorganization which facilitated the dismemberment of the Empire by the barbarians.

In the reign of Zeno it seemed probable that an Ostrogothic kingdom would be established in the Balkan peninsula, but the danger was diverted to Italy (see Goths). The kingdom which Theodoric founded there was, in its constitutional aspect, a continuation of Odoacer's regime. He, like Odoacer and Alaric, held the double position of a German king and a Roman official. He was magister militum as well as rex. His powers were defined by capitulations which were arranged with the emperor Anastasius and loyally observed. The right of legislation was reserved to the emperor, and Theodoric never claimed it; but for all practical purposes he was independent.

In the 6th century the emperor Justinian, whose talents were equal to his ambitions, found himself, through the financial prudence of his predecessors, in a position to undertake the reconquest of some of the lost western provinces. The Vandal power had declined, and Africa was won back in one campaign by Belisarius in 533. The conquest of Italy was far more difficult. Begun by Belisarius in 535, it was not completed till 554, by Narses. A portion of southern Spain was also won from the Visigoths, so that the Romans again commanded the western straits. Justinian, possessed by large ideas and intoxicated with the majesty of Rome, aspired to be a great conqueror, a great lawgiver, a great pontiff, a great diplomatist, a great builder, and in each of these spheres his reign holds a conspicuous place in the annals of the Empire. His legal work alone, or the building of Santa Sophia was enough to ensure him immortal fame. But deep shadows balance the splendour. The reconquest of Africa was thoroughly justified and advantageous, but Italy was bought at a ruinous cost. In the first place, the Persian empire was at this time ruled by one of its greatest kings, Chosroes I. (q.v.), who was far from peacefully inclined. Justinian was engaged in a long Persian and a long Gothic war at the same time, and the state was unequal to the strain. In the second place, it was all-important for his western policy to secure the goodwill of the Italian provincials and the Roman bishop, and for this purpose he involved himself in an ecclesiastical policy (see below) which caused the final alienation of the Syrian and Egyptian provinces. The reconquest of the West was purchased by the disunion of the East. Thirdly, the enormous expenses of the Italian and Persian wars, augmented by architectural undertakings, caused a policy of financial oppression which hung as a cloud over all the brilliance of his reign, and led to the decline which ensued upon his death. Nor is it to be forgotten that he had at the same time to fulfil the task of protecting the Danube against the Germans, Slays and Bulgarians who constantly threatened the Illyrian provinces. He spared no expense in building forts and walls. Justinian's name will always be associated with that of the gifted Theodora, an actress of doubtful fame in her early life, who shared his throne. Their mosaic portraits are preserved in the contemporary church of San Vitale at Ravenna. She possessed great political influence, and the fact that she was a heretic (monophysite), while Justinian was devoted to orthodoxy, did not mar their harmony, but only facilitated the policy of extending secret favour to the heretics who were publicly condemned, and enabled the left hand to act without the knowledge of the right. The events of the half-century after Justinian's death exhibited the weakness to which his grandiose policy had reduced the Empire. It was attacked on the west, on the north and on the east, and at all points was unequal to coping with its enemies. (I) Italy fell a victim to the Lombards, and in a few years more than half of the peninsula had passed under their sway. (2) The Avars, a Hunnic people who had advanced from the Caspian, took possession of Pannonia and Dacia, and formed an empire, consisting of Slavonic and Bulgarian subjects, which endured for about sixty years. Their chief occupation was to invade the Illyrian peninsula and extort tribute and ransoms from the emperors. So far as the Avars themselves were concerned, these incursions had no permanent significance, but the Sla y s who overran the provinces did more than devastate. These years saw the beginning of the Slavonic settlements which changed the ethnical character of the peninsula, and thus mark the commencement of a new period. Sla y s occupied Moesia and a large part of Macedonia, even close to Thessalonica, which they besieged; they penetrated southward into Greece and made large settlements in the Peloponnesus (see Greece, History, " Roman period," ad fin.). They occupied the north-western provinces, which became Croatia and Servia, as well as Dalmatia (except some of the coast towns). In the northern part of the peninsula the Slavonic element remained dominant, but in Greece it was assimilated to the Greek (after the gth century) and has left little record of itself except in place names. (3) The Empire was simultaneously engaged in the perennial strife with Persia. A short interval of peace was secured when the emperor Maurice assisted Chosroes II. to dethrone a usurper, but after Maurice's death (602) the final and mortal struggle began (see Persia, History, section viii. " The Sassanian Empire "). Throughout the incompetent reign of Phocas the eastern provinces were overrun by the Persians, as the Illyrian were overrun by the Slays. The unpopular rule of this cruel usurper was terminated in 650 by the intervention of the governor of Africa, whose son Heraclius sailed to Constantinople and, welcomed by an influential party, met with little resistance. Phocas, murderer of Maurice, was murdered by the people, and the victor was crowned emperor to find himself in presence of a desperate situation. Antioch, Damascus and many other great cities were captured by the Persians; and in 654 Jerusalem was destroyed and the Holy Cross, along with the patriarch, carried off to Ctesiphon. This event produced a profound sensation in Christendom. In 656 Egypt was conquered. The army had fallen into utter disorder under Phocas, and Heraclius so deeply despaired of saving Constantinople that he thought of transferring the imperial capital to Carthage. But the extreme gravity of the situation seems to have wrought a moral change among his subjects; the patriarch Sergius was the mouthpiece of a widespread patriotic feeling, and it was not least through his influence that Heraclius performed the task of creating a capable army. His efforts were rewarded in a series of brilliant campaigns (622-28), which, in the emphasis laid on the contrast between Christianity and fire-worship and on the object of recovering the Cross, had the character of crusades. Heraclius recovered his provinces and held Persia at his mercy (decisive battle at Nineveh, end of 627).

This war is remarkable for the attempt of the Persians to take Constantinople (626) in conjunction with the Avars and Slays. Soon afterwards the Avar power began to decay, and the Slays and Bulgarians shook off their yoke. It seemed as if the Roman government would now be able to regain the control in the Illyrian lands which it had almost entirely lost. It seems probable that Heraclius came to terms with the Slays - Croatians and Servians - in the north-west; their position was regularized, as vassals of the Empire. But fate allowed no breathing-time to do more; the darkest hour had hardly passed when a new storm-cloud, from an unexpected quarter, overspread the heavens.

At this point we have to note that the Hellenic element in the state had definitely gained the upper hand before the end of the 6th century, so that henceforward the Empire might be described as Greek. Justinian's mother-tongue was Latin, and he was devoted to the Latin traditions of Rome, but even he found it necessary to publish his later laws in Greek, and from his reign Greek was the official language.

Many of the Latin official terms were already represented by Greek equivalents (inraros =consul, Errapxos = praefectus, &c. ), but they were preserved in great numbers, transliterated and often corrupted (e.g. AayLarpos, ecor?Kprrrr l s = a secretis, KayKeXXaptos, 1rpanroocros, Kv arwp quaestor, 64 x tKLov, 61//1Ktov = obsequium). rex, was always used of barbarian potentates, saatXeus being reserved as =the emperor (but also applied to the Persian king). In military drill many Latin words of command continued to be used.

It is to be noted that the year 630 marks the beginning of a period of literary (and artistic) sterility in the Greek world (see Greek Literature, section Byzantine). With the rise of Islam (see Caliphate; Mahomet) two universal religions, for the first time, stood face to face, each aspiring to win the universe. The struggle therefore which then began was not only a new phase of the " Eternal Question," the strife between Europe and Asia, but was one in which the religious element was fundamental. Fire-worship was only a national religion and did not present the danger of Islam. The creation of the political power of the Mahommedans was so sudden that it took the world by surprise. Bostra, the fortress of Roman Arabia, fell into their hands in 634, and before the death of Heraclius in 641 they had conquered Syria and all Egypt, except Alexandria, which opened its gates to them in 643. The religious alienation of the Syrian and Egyptian peoples from Constantinople, expressing as it did a national sentiment antagonistic to the Greeks, was an important political factor in the Mahommedan (as in the previous Persian) conquest. Thus the Mahommedans definitely cut the Empire short in the East, as the Germans had cut it short in the West; Egypt was never recovered, Syria only for short periods and partially, while the integrity of Asia Minor was constantly menaced and Cilicia occupied for many generations. By their conquest of Persia the Caliphs succeeded to the position of the Sassanids; this led to the conquest of Armenia ( c. 654); while, in the West, Africa was occupied in 647 (though the conquest was not completed till the capture of Carthage and other strong places in 698). Thus within twenty years from the first attack the Empire was girt about by the new aggressive power f rom the precincts of the Caucasus to the western Mediten. mean.

Fortunate 1 ‘, Constans II., grandson of Heraclius, was a man of emineri ability and firmness. The state owed to him the preservation of Asia Minor, and the creation of a powerful fleet (see below) which protected the Aegean coasts and islands against the naval power which the Mahommedans created. He was responsible for completing a new, efficient military organization, which determined the lines of the administrative reforms of Leo III. (see below). In his last years he turned his eyes to Italy and Africa. He dreamed of restoring Old Rome as the centre of the Empire. But he did not succeed in recovering south Italy from the Lombards (Duchy of Beneventum), and having visited Rome he took up his residence in Syracuse, where he was assassinated, having lost two fleets which he sent against the Arabs of Africa. The strain lasted for another fifty years. Constantinople sustained two great sieges, which stand out as crises, for, if in either case the enemy had been successful, the Empire was doomed.

The first siege was in 673-77, under the caliph Moawiya; his fleet blockaded the capital for five years, but all its efforts were frustrated by the able precautions of Constantine IV.; " Greek fire " (see below) played an important part in the defence; and the armada was annihilated on the voyage back to Syria by storms and the Roman fleet. The second crisis was at the accession of Leo III., when the city was besieged by land and sea by Suleiman for a year (717-18), and Leo's brilliant defence, again aided by Greek fire, saved Europe. This crisis marks the highest point of Mahommedan aggression, which never again caused the Empire to tremble for its existence.

The Heraclian dynasty, which had fallen on evil times and rendered inestimable services to the Empire, came to an end in anarchy, which was terminated by the elevation of the Syrian (commonly called Isaurian) Leo III., whose reign opens a new period. His reforming hand was active in every sphere of government, but the ill-fame which he won by his iconoclastic policy obscured in the memory of posterity the capital importance of his work. His provincial organization was revolutionary, and his legislation departed from the Roman tradition (see below). From his reign to the middle of the 10th century the continuous warfare by land with the Caliphs consisted of marauding expeditions of each power into the other's territory, captures of fortresses, guerilla fighting, but no great conquests or decisive battles. The efficiency of the army was carefully maintained, but the neglect of the navy led to the losses of Crete (conquered by Moslem adventurers from Spain 826) and Sicily (conquered by the Saracens of Africa), Panormus taken 832, Syracuse 878 (see Sicily). 1:The Africans also made temporary conquests, including Bari, in south Italy. This period saw the loss of the exarchate of Ravenna to the Lombards (750), the expansion of the Frankish power under Pippin and Charlemagne in Italy, and in close connexion therewith the loss of Old Rome.

The inconoclast emperors pursued a moderate foreign policy, consolidating the Empire within its contracted limits; but under the " Macedonian " dynasty, which was of Armenian descent, it again expanded and became the strongest power in Europe. The 9th century also witnessed a revival of learning and culture which had been in eclipse for 200 years. The reign of Basil I. was marked by an energetic policy in south Italy, where his forces co-operated with the western emperor Louis II. The Saracens were expelled from their strongholds, Bari recovered, Calabria saved, and the new province (Theme) of Longibardia formed. This secured the entrance to the Adriatic, and the increase of dominion here at the expense of the Lombards was a compensation for the loss of Sicily. Leo VI. did much for reorganizing the navy, but his reign was not fortunate; Saracen pirates plundered freely in the Aegean and, under the able renegade Leo of Tripolis, captured Thessalonica and carried off countless captives (904). But a great tide of success began fifty years later. Nicephorus Phocas won back Crete (961) as general of Romanus II., and then as emperor recovered Cilicia and North Syria (with Antioch) 968. Cyprus was also recovered. The tide flowed on under his equally able successor, John Zimisces (of Armenian race) and under Basil II.; these reigns mark the decisive victory of the Empire in the long struggle with the Saracens, whose empire had been broken up into separate states. The eastern frontier was strengthened by the active policy of Basil II. in Armenia, which was more fully incorporated in the Empire under Constantine IX.

The reign of Basil II. marks the culmination of the power of the Eastern Empire, for it also witnessed the triumphant conclusion of another conflict which had lasted almost as long. In the reign of Constantine IV. the Bulgarians (see Bulgaria) had founded a kingdom in Lower AiIoesia, reducing the Slavonic tribes who had occupied the country, but less than two centuries sufficed to assimilate the conquerors to the conquered, and to give Bulgaria the character of a Slavonic state. The reign of Constantine V. was marked by continuous war with this enemy, and Nicephorus I. lost his life in a Bulgarian campaign. This disaster was followed up by Prince Krum, who besieged Constantinople in 815. His death was followed by a long peace. Prince Boris was converted to Christianity (reign of Michael III.); a metropolitan see of Bulgaria was founded, dependent on the patriarch of Constantinople; and the civilization of the Bulgarians, and beginnings of their literature, were entirely under Byzantine influence. The conversion 'was contemporary with the work of the two missionaries Cyril and Methodius, who (while the field of their personal activity was in Great Moravia and Pannonia) laid the south-eastern Sla y s under a deep debt by inventing the Glagolitic, not the so-called " Cyrillic " alphabet (based on Greek cursive) and translating parts of the Scriptures into Slavonic (the dialect of the Slays of Macedonia). The most brilliant period of the old Bulgarian kingdom was the reign of Simeon (893-927), who extended the realm westward to the shores of the Adriatic and took the title " Tsar [i.e. Caesar] of Bulgaria and autocrator of the Romans." The aggression against the Empire which marked his ambitious reign ceased under his successor Peter, who married a daughter of Romanus I., and the Bulgarian Patriarchate founded by Simeon was recognized at Byzantium. But the Byzantine rulers only waited for a favourable time to reduce this formidable Slavonic state. At length Zimisces subjugated eastern Bulgaria and recovered the Danube frontier. But while Basil II. was engaged in contending with rivals, the heroic Samuel (of the Shishmanid family) restored the Bulgarian power and reduced the Servians. After a long and arduous war of fourteen years Basil (called the " Bulgar-slayer ") subdued all Bulgaria western and eastern (1018). He treated the conquered people with moderation, leaving them their political institutions and their autocephalous church, and to the nobility their privileges. Some Bulgarian noble families and members of the royal house were incorporated in the Greek nobility; there was Shishmanid blood in the families of Comnenus and Ducas. Greek domination was now established in the peninsula for more than 150 years. The Sla y s of Greece had in the middle of the 9th century been brought under the control of the government.

In the reign of Basil II. the Russian question also was settled. The Russian state (see Russia) had been founded before the middle of the 9th century by Norsemen from Sweden, who were known in eastern Europe as Russians (`Pcbs), with its centres at Novgorod and Kiev. They did for the eastern Sla y s what the Bulgarians had done for the Sla y s of Moesia. The Dnieper and Dniester gave them access to the Euxine, and the Empire was exposed to their maritime attacks (Constantinople was in extreme danger in 860 and 941), which recall the Gothic expeditions of the 3rd century. In 945 a commercial treaty was concluded, and the visit of the princess Olga to Byzantium (towards the end of the reign of the learned emperor Constantine VII., Porphyrogennetos) and her baptism seemed a pledge of peace. But O]ga's conversion had no results. Sviatoslav occupied Bulgaria and threatened the Empire, but was decisively defeated by Zimisces (971), and this was virtually the end of the struggle. In 988 Prince Vladimir captured Cherson, but restored it to the emperor Basil, who gave him his sister Anna in marriage, and he accepted Christianity for himself and his people. After this conversion and alliance, Byzantium had little to fear from Kiev, which came under its influence. One hostile expedition (1043) indeed is recorded, but it was a failure. Much about the same time that the Russians had founded their state, the Magyars (see Hungary; the Greeks called them Turks) migrated westward and occupied the regions between the Dnieper and the Danube, while beyond them, pressing on their heels, were another new people, the Petchenegs (Patzinaks). The policy of Byzantium was to make use of the Magyars as a check on the Bulgarians, and so we find the Romans (under Leo VI.) and the Magyars co-operating against the tsar Simeon. But Simeon played the same game more effectively by using the Petchenegs against the Magyars, and the result was that the Magyars before the end of the 9th century were forced to move westward into their present country, and their place was taken by the Petchenegs. From their new seats the Magyars could invade the Empire and threatened the coast towns of Dalmatia. The conquest of Bulgaria made the Petchenegs immediate neighbours of the Empire, and during the 11th century the depredations of these irreclaimable savages, who filtered into the Balkan peninsula, constantly preoccupied the government. In 1064 they were driven from the Dniester regions into Little Walachia by the Kumans (or Polovtsi), a people of the same ethnical group as themselves. They were crushingly defeated by Alexius Comnenus in 1091, and exterminated by John Comnenus in 1123.

In the Macedonian period a grave domestic question troubled the government. This was the growth of the large estates of the rich nobles of Asia Minor, at the expense of small properties, to an excess which was politically and economically dangerous. The legislation against the evil began under Romanus I. and was directed to the defence of the poor against the rich, and to protecting the military organization which was based on holdings of land to which the obligation of military service was attached. There was also danger in the excessive influence of rich and powerful families, from which the great military officers were drawn, and which were extensively related by alliances among themselves. The danger was realized in the struggle which Basil II. had to sustain with the families of Sclerus and Phocas. Various kinds of legislation were attempted. Under Romanus I. alienation of property to the large landowners was forbidden. Nicephorus Phocas, whose sympathies were with the aristocracy to which he belonged, holding that there had been enough legislation in favour of the poor, sought to meet the difficulty of maintaining a supply of military lands in the future by forbidding further acquisitions of estates by the Church. Basil II. returned to the policy of Romanus, but, with much greater severity, resorting to confiscation of some of the immense private estates; and he endeavoured to keep down the aristocrats of Asia Minor by very heavy taxation.. Through the recovery of the Balkan provinces he gained in Europe a certain political counterpoise to the influence of Asia Minor, which had been preponderant since the seventh century. Asia Minor meant the army, and opposition to its influence expressed itself in the 11th century in a fatal anti-military policy, which is largely responsible for the conquests of a new enemy, the Seljuk Turks, who now entered into the inheritance of the Caliphs (see Caliphate ad fin. and Seljuks). Constantinople was haunted by the dread of a military usurpation. An attempt of the military hero George Maniaces (who had made a remarkable effort to recover Sicily) to wrest the crown from Constantine IX. had failed; and when Isaac Comnenus, who represented the military aristocrats of Asia Minor, ascended the throne, he found himself soon compelled to abdicate, in face of the opposition. The reign of Constantine X., of the rival family of Ducas, marked the culmination of this antagonism. The senate was filled with men of the lower classes, and the military budget was ruthlessly cut down. This policy reduced the army and stopped the supply of officers, since there was no longer hope of a profitable career. The emperor thought to meet dangers from external enemies by diplomacy. The successes of the Seljuks (after the fall of the great Armenian fortress of Ani in 1064) at length awoke the government from its dream of security. The general Romanus Diogenes was proclaimed emperor. He had to create an army and to train it; he did not spare himself, but it was too late. He was defeated and captured by Alp Arslan on the decisive field of Manzikert (1071). Released by the sultan, who honoured his bravery, he was deposed in favour of Michael Ducas, and falling into the hands of his enemies, was blinded. The east and centre of Asia Minor were thus lost; the Seljuk kingdom of Ram was founded; Nicaea was captured by the Turks in 1080. The provinces which escaped the Seljuk occupation were thoroughly disorganized, a prey to foreign and native adventurers and usurpers (see Seljuks).

Thus in the 'seventies of the 11th century the Empire seemed through incompetence and frivolity to have been brought to the verge of dissolution. The disorder was terminated by the accession of the extraordinarily able statesman Alexius Cornnenus (r081), who effected a reconciliation with the rival family of Ducas, established a strong government and founded a dynasty. He had to deal with three great dangers - the Seljuks, the Petchenegs (see above), and in the west the Normans. The Normans had wrested from East Rome its possessions in South Italy (1041-71; see NoRMANs) - succeeding where German emperors had failed - and throughout the Comnenian period the Empire was threatened by their projects of conquest beyond the Adriatic, projects which aimed at Constantinople itself. Four great attempts against the Empire were made by the Normans; they were unsuccessful, but they heralded the_ Western conquest of 1204. (I) Expedition of Robert Guiscard, 1081-85, repelled by Alexius with help of Venice (2) Bohemond's expedition, 1105-7, foiled by the able strategy of Alexius; (3) the invasion of Greece by Roger of Sicily, 1 147; Venice supported Manuel Comnenus, and the Normans were driven from Corfu, 1149 (4) the expedition of William II. of Sicily, 1185, who succeeded in capturing Thessalonica; the invaders were defeated at Demetritsa, but they gained the islands of Cephallenia and Zacynthus.

The two most important events in the reign of Alexius were the prices which he paid for help against his enemies. (I) He was obliged (1084) to grant to Venice (which had become independent of the Empire in the 9th century; see Venice), in return for her naval aid against the Normans, commercial privileges which practically made the Empire commercially dependent on the Republic. (2) He sought auxiliary forces in western Europe to help him against the Seljuks; the answer of the pope and Latin Christendom was the First Crusade - a succour very different from that which he desired. Through his tact and discretion, the state was safely steered through the dangers with which the disorderly hosts of barbarous allies menaced it, and the immediate results were salutary; large parts of Asia Minor, including Nicaea, were restored to the Empire, which was thus greatly strengthened in the East while the Turks were weakened (see Crusades). But for this help Byzantium might not have recovered the transient strength and brilliance which it displayed under Manuel. In Asia Minor the crusaders kept the terms of their agreement to restore to the emperor what had belonged to him; but on capturing Antioch (1098) they permitted the Norman Bohemond to retain it, in flagrant violation of their oaths; for to Antioch if to any place the emperor had a right, as it had been his a few years before. This was in itself sufficient to cause a breach between Byzantium and the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem (founded 1099). But otherwise the new political situation created by the Crusade was dangerous, ultimately fatal, to the Empire. For its lands and seas became a highway from western Europe to the Latin colonies in Syria; the Byzantine government was forced to take precautions to protect itself against the crusading expeditions which travelled to the Holy Land; and these precautions were regarded by the western powers as a hindrance to the sacred objects of the crusades. The bitter religious antagonism between the Greek and Latin Christians increased the mutual distrust and the danger.

The history of the new relations between East and West dating from the First Crusade is closely connected with the history of the futile attempts at bringing about a reunion between the Greek and Latin Churches, which had severed communion in 1054 (see below). To heal the schism and bring the Greek Church under the domination of Rome was a principal object of papal policy from Gregory VII. forward. The popes alternated between two methods for attaining this, as circumstances dictated: namely, a peaceful agreement - the policy of union; or an armed occupation of the Empire by some western power (the Normans) - the policy of conquest. Their views varied according to the vicissitudes of their political situation and their struggles with the western emperors. The eastern emperors were also constantly preoccupied with the idea of reconciliation, constantly negotiating with a view to union; but they did not care about it for its own sake, but only for political advantages which it might bring, and their subjects were bitterly opposed to it. Manuel Comnenus during the first part of his reign was the close friend and ally of the western emperor Conrad III., but after Conrad's death, he formed the ambitious plan of realizing in Europe a sovereignty like that of Justinian, and hoped to compass it in conjunction with Rome, the enemy of the Hohenstaufen. His forward policy carried war into Italy; he seized Ancona. But his strength was unequal to such designs. His Latin sympathies, no less than his financial extravagance, made him highly unpopular at home; and the national lack of sympathy with his Western policy was exhibited - after the revolution which overthrew his son Alexius and raised his cousin Andronicus I. to the throne - by the awful massacre of the Latin residents at Constantinople in 1182, for which the expedition of William of Sicily (see above) and the massacre of the people of Thessalonica was the revenge. The short reign of the wicked and brilliant Andronicus was in all respects a reaction, prudent, economical and popular. His fall was due to the aristocracy against whom his policy was directed, and the reign of Isaac Angelus undid his efforts and completed the ruin of the state. Oppressive taxation caused a revolt of the Bulgarian and Walachian population in the European provinces; the work of Zimisces and Basil was undone, and a new Bulgarian kingdom was founded by John Asen - a decisive blow to the Greek predominance which the Macedonian emperors seemed to have established.

In the fatal year 1204 the perils with which the eastward expansion of western Christendom (the Crusades, and the commercial predominance and ambitions of Venice) had long menaced the Empire, culminated in its conquest and partition. It was due to a series of accidents that the cloud burst at this moment, but the conditions of such a catastrophe had long been present. Isaac' Angelus was dethroned by his brother Alexius III., and his son escaped (1201) to the west, where arrangements were being made for a new crusade, which Venice undertook to transport to the Holy Land. The prince persuaded Philip of Swabia (who had married his sister) and Boniface of Montferrat to divert the expedition to Byzantium, in order to restore his father and himself to the throne, promising to furnish help to the Crusade and to reconcile the Greek Church with Rome; Venice agreed to the plan; but Pope Innocent III., the enemy of Philip, forbade it. Isaac and his son, Alexius IV., were restored without difficulty in 1203, and the crusading forces were prepared to proceed to Palestine, if Alexius had performed his promises. But the manner of this restoration, under Latin auspices, was intensely unpopular; he was not unwilling, but he was unable, to fulfil his pledges; and a few months later he was overthrown in favour of one who, if an upstart, was a patriot, Alexius V. Then the Crusaders, who were waiting encamped outside the city, resolved to carry out the design which the Normans had repeatedly attempted, and put an end to the Greek Empire. The leaders of the Fourth Crusade must be acquitted of having formed this plan deliberately before they started; it was not conceived before 1204. They first arranged how they would divide the Empire amongst themselves (March); then they captured the city, which had to endure the worst barbarities of war. In partitioning the Empire, which was now to become the spoil of the conquerors, the guiding mind was the Venetian leader, the blind doge, Henry Dandolo. He looked to the interests of Venice from the narrowest point of view, and in founding the new Latin Empire, which was to replace the Greek, it was his aim that it should be feeble, so as to present no obstacles to Venetian policy. The Latin Empire of Romania was a feudal state like the kingdom of Jerusalem; the emperor was suzerain of all the princes who established themselves on Greek territory; under his own immediate rule were Constantinople, southern Thrace, the Bithynian coast, and some islands in the Aegean. But he was hampered from the beginning by dependence on Venice, want of financial resources, and want of a fleet; the feudal princes, occupied with their separate interests, gave him little support in his conflict with Greeks and Bulgarians; at the end of ten years the worthless fabric began rapidly to decline, and the efforts of the popes, for whom it was the means of realizing Roman supremacy in the East, were unavailing to save it from the extinction to which it was doomed in its cradle.

The original Act of Partition (which gave 4 of the Byzantine territory to the future emperor, to Venice, the remaining s to the Crusaders) could hardly be carried out strictly, as the territory was still to be won. The most important vassal state was the kingdom of Thessalonica, including Thessaly, which was assigned to Boniface of Montferrat. But it was conquered by the Greeks of Epirus in 1222. The chief of the territories taken by Venice was Crete. For the Latin states in Greece and the Aegean see Greece. The first Latin emperor, Baldwin of Flanders, was captured and put to death by the Bulgarians in 1205. He was succeeded by his brother Henry, an able statesman, after whose death (1216) the decline began.

Three Greek states emerged from the ruin of the Roman Empire. A member of the Comnenian house had founded an independent state at Trebizond, and this empire survived till 1461, when it was conquered by the Ottomans. A relation of the Angeli maintained in Europe an independent Greek state known as the Despotate of Epirus. But the true representative of the imperial line was Theodore Lascaris, who collected the Byzantine aristocracy at Nicaea and was elected emperor in 1206. He and his successors advanced surely and rapidly against the Latin Empire, both in Europe and Asia. It was a question whether Constantinople would fall to the Walacho-Bulgarians or to the Greeks. But an astute diplomat and general, the emperor Michael Palaeologus, captured it in 1261. His object was to recover all the lost territory from the Latins, but he was menaced by a great danger through Charles of Anjou, who had overthrown the rule of the Hohenstaufens in the two Sicilies, and determined to restore the Latin kingdom of Romania. To avert this peril, Michael negotiated with Pope Gregory X.; he was ready to make every concession, and a formal union of the Churches was actually brought about at the council of Lyons in 1274. The emperor had the utmost difficulty in carrying through this policy in face of clerical opposition; it aroused disgust and bitterness among his subjects; and it was undone by his successor. Meanwhile the pope had with difficulty bridled Charles of Anjou; but in Martin IV. he found a more pliable instrument, and in 1282 he made vast preparations for an expedition against the Greek Empire. It was saved by the Sicilian Vespers (see Sicily), to be the prey of other powers.

The end of the 13th century saw the rise of the Ottoman power in Asia and the Servian in Europe. The Empire was assisted by a band of Spanish mercenaries (the Catalan Grand Company; see Greece, History, "Byzantine Period ") against the advance of the Ottoman Turks in Asia Minor; they distinguished themselves by saving Philadelphia (1304). In 1326 Brusa (Prusa) became the Ottoman capital, while on the other side the Servians (crushing the Bulgarians in 1330) were gradually closing in on Byzantium. Under Stephen Dusan (1331-1355) Servia attained the height of her power. The enemies were strengthened by the domestic struggles within the Empire, first between Andronicus II. and his son, then between John VI. and the usurper Cantacuzenus. But before the fate of Byzantium was settled the two enemies on its flanks came face to face. In 1387 the Servian power was crushed on the field of Kossovo by the Ottomans (who had crossed the Hellespont in 1360 and taken Philippopolis in 1363). Sultan Bayezid I. won Philadelphia, the last Asiatic possession of the Empire, and conquered Trnovo, the Bulgarian capital, in 1393. Constantinople was now surrounded. The Ottoman power was momentarily eclipsed, and the career of conquest checked, by the Mongol invasion of Timur and the great defeat which it sustained in the battle of Angora (1402). Mahommed I. found it necessary to ally himself with the emperor Manuel. But the pause was brief. Murad II. took Adrianople, and tried (1422) to take Constantinople.

It was small compensation that during this time the Palaeologi had been successful against the Franks in Greece. The situation was desperate. The Turks were in possession of the Balkan peninsula, threatening Hungary; there was no chance of rescue, except from western Europe. John VI. and Manuel had both visited the West in search of help. The jeopardy of the Empire was the opportunity of Rome, and the union of the Churches became the pressing question. It was taken up earnestly by Pope Eugenius IV., and the result was the Decree of Union at the council of Florence in 1439. The emperor and the higher clergy were really in earnest, but the people and the monks did not accept it, and the last agony of Byzantium was marked by ecclesiastical quarrels. Eugenius IV. preached a crusade for the rescue of the Empire, and in 1443 an army of Hungarians and Poles, led by the Hungarian king, won a victory over Murad, which was more than avenged in the next year on the memorable field of Varna. The end came nine years later under Murad's successor, Mahommed II. An army of about 150,000 blockaded the city by land and sea, and Mahommed began the siege on the 7th of April. The emperor Constantine XI., Palaeologus, on whom the task of the forlorn defence devolved (and whose position was all the more difficult because he was alienated from his subjects, having embraced the Latin rite), can have had little more than 8000 men at his disposal; he received no help from the Western powers; but an experienced Genoese soldier of fortune, John Justiniani, arrived with two vessels and 400 cuirassiers and aided the emperor with his courage and advice. The resident foreigners, both Venetians and Genoese, loyally shared in the labours of the defence. The final storm of the land walls took place on the night of the 2 9 th of May. All looked to Justiniani for salvation, and when he, severely wounded, retired from the wall to have his wound looked to, a panic ensued. The enemy seized the moment, and the Janissaries in a final charge rushed the stockade which had been constructed to replace a portion of the wall destroyed by the Turkish cannon. This decided the fate of the city. Constantine fell fighting heroically. Soon after sunrise (May 30) the Mahommedan army entered Constantinople (Stambul ='s 77)11 7r6Xt y, " the city "), which was in their eyes the capital of Christendom.

The ultimate responsibility for this disaster is generally imputed to the political adventurers who dismembered the Empire in 1204. It may indeed be said that at that time the Byzantine state seemed already stricken with paralysis and verging to dissolution, and it was menaced by the re-arisen power of Bulgaria. But more than once before (in the 7th century and in the 11th) it had recovered its strength when it was weak and in dire peril; and, considering what the emperors of Nicaea and Michael VIII. accomplished, it seems probable that, if there had been no Fourth Crusade, it might have so revived and consolidated its forces in the course of the 13th century, as to be able to cope successfully with the first advances of the Ottomans. The true statement is that the Fourth Crusade was only an incident (not in itself decisive) in a world-movement which doomed the Eastern Empire to extinction - namely, the eastward movement of western Europe which began in the 1 1th century with the rise of the Normans and the First Crusade. Henceforward the Empire was a middle state, pressed between expanding forces on the east and on the west, and its ultimate disappearance was inevitable.

1 Church and State

2 The Autocracy and its Constitutional Forms

3 Legislation

4 Administration

5 Army and Navy

6 Frontier Defence

7 Diplomacy

Church and State

In making the state Christian, Constantine made the Church a state institution, and therefore under imperial control. Caesaro-papism was the logical consequence. The sacerdotium was united with the imperium in the person of the monarch as in the pagan state. The Church acquiesced, and yet did not acquiesce, in this theory. When a heretical emperor sought to impose his views, champions of ecclesiastical freedom never failed to come forward. At the very beginning Athanasius fought for the independence of the Church against the emperor Constantius. But the political principle which Constantine had taken for granted, and which was an indispensable condition of his adoption of Christianity, was fully recognized under Theodosius I., and, notwithstanding protests from time to time, was permanent. It is significant that Constantinople, which had become a second Rome politically, with its senate and capitol, became then a second Rome ecclesiastically, and that the elevation of the see of Constantinople to patriarchal rank next to the Roman see was due to Theodosius (381), who gave a permanent form to the dualism of the Empire. The patriarch became a state minister for religion. The character of the Church as a state institution is expressed above all in the synods. The general councils are not only summoned by the emperor, but are presided over by him or by his lay deputies. The order of the proceedings is modelled on that of the senate. The emperor or his representative not only keeps order but conducts the deliberations and intervenes in the theological debates. It has been erroneously thought that at the council of Chalcedon (451) the legate of Pope Leo presided; but the acts of that assembly teach us otherwise; the privilege which the Roman legates possessed was that of voting first (the right of the princeps senatus). The first general council at which a churchman presided was the seventh (at Nicaea, 787), at which the emperor (or empress) deputed, not a layman, but the patriarch Tarasius to preside. The resolutions of these ecclesiastical state-councils did not become the law of the Empire till they were confirmed by imperial edicts.

The emperors, in their capacity as heads of the Church, did not confine themselves to controlling it by. controlling the councils. They soon began to issue edicts dealing with theology, by virtue of their own authority. It has been said that the council of Chalcedon closed an epoch of " parliamentary constitutionalism "; a general council was not summoned again for more than one hundred years, though the Empire during that period was seething with religious disunion and unrest. The usurper Basiliscus in his short reign set an example which his successors were not slow to follow. He issued an edict quashing the decision of Chalcedon. Zeno's Henotikon (see below) a few years later was the second and more famous example of a method which Justinian largely used, and of which the Ecthesis of Heraclius, the Type of Constans II. and the iconoclastic edicts of Leo III. are well-known instances. It was a question of political expediency (determined by the circumstances, the intensity and nature of the opposition, &c.) whether an emperor supported his policy or not by an ecclesiastical council.

The emperor was always able to control the election of the patriarch, and through him he directed the Church. Sometimes emperor and patriarch collided; but in general the patriarchs were docile instruments, and when they were refractory they could be deposed. There were several means of resistance open to a patriarch, though he rarely availed himself of them. His participation in the ceremony of coronation was indispensable, and he could refuse to crown a new emperor except on certain conditions, and thus dictate a policy (instances in 812, Michael I.; 969, John Zimisces). There was the power of excommunication (Leo VI. was excommunicated on account of his fourth marriage). Another means of resistance for the Church was to invoke the support of the bishop of Rome, who embodied the principle of ecclesiastical independence and whose see admittedly enjoyed precedence and primacy over all the sees in Christendom. Up to the end of the 8th century he was a subject of the emperor, and some emperors exerted their ecclesiastical control over Rome by drastic measures (Justinian and Constans II.). But after the conquest of Italy by Charles the Great, the pope was outside the Byzantine domination; after the coronation of Charles in Boo he was associated with a rival empire; and when ecclesiastical controversies arose in the East, the party in opposition was always ready to appeal to him as the highest authority in Christendom. Under the iconoclastic emperors the image-worshippers looked to him as the guardian of orthodo

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Later Roman Empire'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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