Neighbors- Byzantium and Islam

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History, European
Anthonydi Battista

Chapter 3- Neighbors: Byzantium and Islam, c. 500-1000 From Eastern to Byzantine Empire • Western Empire divided into successor states • Eastern emperors, with their capital Constantinople, retained control of the empire across the eastern Mediterranean • The East had civilization that were older and more deeply rooted, more and larger cities, prosperous peasants enjoyed freedoms that those of the West did not have, Eastern empire was flourishing • East had military strengths, army was small and highly trained. Generals were cunning and cautious • Black Sea protected them • Lost many of its ties to Latin culture by 700 and became more of a Greek state • The emperors who governed Constantinople continued to call themselves “Roman” Byzantine Government • Byzantium took its religion from Christianity and its culture from Greece but its governmental structures were largely Roman • Inherited a political mind-set from the late Roman Empire that emphasized defense and self-preservation • Entrenchment not expansion, caution not daring • The bureaucracy was huge and hated change, seldom took risks, inflexible Byzantium Christianity • Dominant force • Eastern Orthodox Church defined doctrine and authority • Christian faith was a compelling identity that defined the Byzantines’existence • The emperor was seen as God’s vice-regent, a decisive one in all matters regarding Christianity o Protector of Holy Church, army fought to defend Christianity, warriors were crusaders • The emperor’s dominating position in Byzantine Christianity was also a weakness, heresy became a threat to the state o Two sides: Christ was both God and human or single nature of Christ (“Monophysites”) o Quarrel and controversy, Monophysites were taken in by conquering Islamic armies • Icons: Use of holy statues and pictures, useful b/c taught illiterate o Became a conflict, divided Christians, tensions between East and Wesy o Tendency of some to worship icons themselves  unacceptable o Emperor Leo the Isaurian decided to ban icons and promote iconoclasm (icon-smashing), ultimately failed, enmity between Rome and Constantinople o East and West churches started to divide, patriarch and pope excommunicated each other o Schism: Catholic Christians (guided by pope in Rome) VS Eastern Orthodox Christians (guided by patriarch in Constantinople) Byzantine Culture • Influenced by Greek culture • People began studying theology, interested in mystical element, St.Augustine even said that studying the physical sciences was a waste of time • Art did not have perspective or physical realism, rich in color • Most Byzantines spoke Greek as their primary language • Byzantine students studied with Homer, Demosthenes, and Plato The Byzantine Centuries TheAge of Justinian (527-565) • Justinian stands as the last of Roman emperors • His reign witnessed a golden age of Byzantine art and the full development of an imperial autocracy that would endure over the centuries that followed • Determined to conquer the successor states of the West • Aided by his wife and co-ruler, Empress Theodora • He and Theodora brought new energy and boldness to an old, conservative regime o Devoted immense funds to rebuilding Constantinople o Corpus Juris Civilis was created, Justinian’s group of lawyers, helped Roman law return to Western Empire • Small but brilliant armies and generals, Gothic Wars against barbarian of the West, temporarily reunited Roman Empire • Bad times  Theodora dies, Empire goes bankrupt because of wars, series of losses (fighting with Persia), plague, could not hold onto reunited empire Retrenchment (570-850) • 568: Lombards burst into Italian peninsula and devastated the area • Visigoths reconquered Byzantine, NorthAfrica fell to Muslims (former Vandal state) • Persian Empire pressed against Byzantium’s eastern frontier, armies occupied Syria, Palestine, Egypt. Constantinople barely survived siege of Persians • Emperor Heraclius got some of land back from Persians butArab armies took land away • 800: Byzantines only had Constantinople,Asia Minor, and bits of Balkans ad Italian peninsula • Cities declined and disappeared • Byzantine empire was now smaller, poorer, more unified in religion and culture, and more tightly centered around Constantinople which became agrarian The Macedonian Revival (850-1050) • Emperor Basil I: Expanded territories of Byzantium, revitalized cities, supported a rich literary and artistic revival, and converted many Slavs to Eastern Orthodox Christianity • Most celebrated ruler is Basil II: “the Bulgar-slayer”, demolished Bulgarian army in 1014 and eventually crushed all resistance to Byzantine imperial authority • Byzantine missionaries: St. Cyril and St. Methodius, converted Slavs to Eastern Ortho. Christianity • Conversion of Russia to Eastern Ortho. as well The Ascent of Islam • Islamic expansion spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean, shattered Christianity’s hold • Soldiers of Islam annexed the Persian Empire and seized Byzantium’s richest provinces • Islamic conquest of Iberia was especially important for the medieval West • Along with the power of Islamic faith and the might of its soldiers came new technologies, new crops, new products, and new ideas. Medieval Europe was challenged and enriched by Islamic neighbors • Islam could be described as the force in the “awakening” of Europe Arabia and Muhammad (571-632) • Arab city-dwellers and nomads were polytheistic and revered tribal dieties • Greatest trade route ran between the Mediterranean and southernArabia, greatest city was Mecca • Muhammad the prophet was born in Mecca • As a young man he encountered at least three of the most prominent religions of his day: Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism (Persian religion that emphasizes a cosmic battle between good and evil) • Went on a spiritual retreat, had a vision, created Islam which means submission or surrender, his followers became Muslims  “those who surrender” • Had little support at first, forced to flee Mecca with his followers in 622 and settle in Medina • The flight to Medina was called the “Hijra”, momentous turning point in the development of Islam, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar • People of Medina were more accepting, Muhammad built a sacred state in Medina • Merged religion and civil authority, provided a model of religious governance that many great Islamic states in the future would use • Under Muhammad’s guidance, Medina waged war on Mecca. In 630, Mecca was incorporated into Islam. • During the 2 remaining years of his life, Muhammad became a legendary figure and in 632 he had united Arabs into a coherent political-religious group, well organize, well armed, and ispired by a powerful new monotheistic religion Islam • Was a faith supported by written texts • Quran was believed to contain the pure essence of div
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