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Lecture 3

HIST 2311 Lecture 3: The Post-Classical Era, 500-1000 Questions and Analysis


Department
History
Course Code
HIST 2311
Professor
David Mayes
Lecture
3

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THE POST-CLASSICAL ERA 1
The Post-Classical Era, 500-1000

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THE POST-CLASSICAL ERA 2
1. The Roman Empire had considerably Romanized the Mediterranean world (and
beyond) during the classical period. In your words, and according to your
understanding and analysis of the chapters you read, what happened to that Romanized
world during the postclassical period?
Wary of the ever-present threat of invasion from Persians in the east and from Germans
in the north and east, the remnant of the Roman Empire in the east established a distinct form of
government that can react quickly to sudden threats. It was characterized by being tightly
centralized wherein power totally lies in the hands of a highly revered emperor. This vision of
society was then materially expressed in the ostentatious build up of a new capital that featured
museums, libraries, artistic treasures and magnificent edifices made up of marble. The empire
built a capital to portray wealth and power to intimidate its enemies.
Justinian was an important emperor who further developed the capitol Constantinople
and more importantly established a lasting legal and social order by codifying Roman law into
the Justinian Code 1. Through his brilliant general Belisarius, he was able to re-conquer what was
Western Rome but was not able to retain control due to lack of resources. The Byzantine empire
maintained its size and invincibility in those times.
The religion of Islam and its Arab adherents emerged in the 7th century and threatened
religious conquest of Byzantine. They were able to conquer the eastern and southern territories
of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and north Africa and even reached and laid siege on Constantinople.
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1. Jerry H. Bentley, Herbert F. Ziegler, and Heather E. Streets, Traditions and
Encounters: A Brief Global History. (Columbus, Ohio, USA: McGraw Hill Higher Education,
2008, 183)

Only pages 1-3 are available for preview. Some parts have been intentionally blurred.

THE POST-CLASSICAL ERA 3
The city was able to repulse the attack and reinforced the Byzantine empires military resilience.
It may not be able to expand further its borders but it solidified its hold on Greece and the Balkan
region.
The empire’s military strength and political stability allowed an economy to flourish
undisturbed. Peasants were able to develop a robust agriculture that created surpluses for trade.
Trade and banking was busy from all directions as the empire sits in the middle of the civilized
world. Its Constantinople reached the apex of acclaim as the ultimate in cities in those times.
2. In terms of the course of world historical developments, what role did the Byzantine
Empire play both for what it accomplished within its own borders and in the wider
world beyond them?
Developments in the legal and religious fields in the Empire led to adaptations that heavily
influenced medieval Europe. In the legal field, Justinian’s codification of Roman law produced
the body of work called the ‘corpus iuris civilis’ (Body of the Civil Law) which became the
inspiration and foundation of civil law in most of western Europe. It was in the Empire that the
intertwining of church and state took roots as Caesaropapism 2. It was the emperor Constantine
which adopted Christianity and the following emperors who preserved it as a part of empire. This
model was propagated by the Roman Church into Western Europe but for the most part of the
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3 Jerry H. Bentley, Herbert F. Ziegler, and Heather E. Streets, Traditions and
Encounters: A Brief Global History. (Columbus, Ohio, USA: McGraw Hill Higher Education,
2008, 181)
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