Notes Monday 9/28/2015 - Byzantium and the Successors of...

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Byzantium and the Successors of Rome: The Roman Empire was ruled by a single Emperor, but with the death of Constantine in 337, civil war erupted among his three sons, dividing the empire into three parts. The West was reunified in 340, and the complete reunification of the whole empire occurred in 353, with Constantius II. While the West was experiencing a huge economic decline throughout the late empire, the East was not so economically decadent, especially as Emperors like Constantine the Great and Constantius II began pouring vast sums of money into the eastern economy. The first period of the empire, which embraces the dynasties of Theodosius, Leo I, Justinian, and Tiberius, is politically still under Roman influence. In the second period the dynasty of Heraclius in conflict with Islam, succeeds in creating a distinctively Byzantine State. The third period, that of the Syrian (Isaurian) emperors and of Iconoclasm, is marked by the attempt to avoid the struggle with Islam by completely orientalizing the land. The fourth period exhibits a happy equilibrium. The Armenian dynasty, which was Macedonian by origin, was able to extend its sway east and west, and there were indications that the zenith of Byzantine power was close at hand. In the fifth period the centrifugal forces, which had long been at work, produced their inevitable effect, the aristocracy of birth, which had been forming in all parts of the empire, and gaining political influence, at last achieved its firm establishment on the throne with the dynasties of the Comneni and Angeli.
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