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U7Notes - Unit 7 The fall of the Roman Empire in the West...

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Unit 7 The fall of the Roman Empire in the West marks the beginning of what historians call the Middle Ages, or the medieval period. For the next several weeks, we will discuss Western Civilization during the Middle Ages. The fall of the Roman Empire led to the emergence of three new movements: 1. Catholicism in the west 2. Byzantium in the east 3. Islam in the Middle East and North Africa All three of these movements descended from Greco-Roman civilization Byzantium Roman Empire collapses in the west in 476 AD, but it lives on in the east in Byzantium The emperor Diocletian first divided the Roman Empire into two parts at the end third century Shortly after, Constantine moved the capital of the empire from Rome in the West to Constantinople in Byzantium. At the time, the biggest threat to the Roman Empire was not the Barbarians, but rather the Persians There are a couple reasons why the eastern half survives. First, it never bore the brunt of attacks from the Barbarians. Second, since it was the capital and faced the Persian invasions, it was more heavily fortified The most famous emperor of Byzantium is Justinian (527-565) In one sense, historians know a lot about Justinian. He had his historian, Precopius, write about his reign. But after he died, Procopius the Secret History which castigates Justinian as well as his wife, Theodora The problem for historians is that the Secret Life often contradicts what Procopius wrote in the first two books Justinian’s wife, Theodora, is one of the most famous women of the early middle ages. She was a famous actress by the age of 20 and she traveled all over Byzantium. Procopius says she was a prostitute She was also very influential in Justinian’s reign. She was his main advisor and essentially co-ruled Byzantium with him Justinian was bound and determined to re-conquer the western half of the former empire. He wanted to reunify the Roman Empire. He was able to reclaim Spain, Italy and parts of N. Africa
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Christianity in Byzantium developed a little differently than in the west. Whereas the pope ruled supreme over religious matters in the west, the emperor reigned supreme in the east. In the west, the Pope is the leading figure, in the east it’s the emperor The pope and emperors often clashed over religious issues, such as the nature of Jesus. Arians had been exiled to Byzantium after the council of Nicaea in 325, so they exerted more influence there Greek was the language of Byzantium while Latin was spoken in the former western half. Byzantium
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