The term “Byzantine” derives from Byzantium, an ancient Greek colony founded by a man named Byzas. Located on the European side of the Bosporus (the strait linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean), the site of Byzantium was ideally located to serve as a transit and trade point between Europe and Asia Minor. In 330 A.D., Roman Emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium as the site of a new Roman capital, Constantinople. Five years earlier, at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine had established Christianity (once an obscure Jewish sect) as Rome’s official religion. The citizens of Constantinople and the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire identified strongly as Romans and Christians, though many of them spoke Greek and not Latin.The origins of the great civilization known as the Byzantine Empire can be traced to 330 A.D., when the Roman emperor Constantine I dedicated a “new Rome” on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium. Though the western half of the Roman Empire crumbled and fell in 476, the eastern half survived for 1,000 more years, spawning a rich tradition of art, literature and learning and serving as a military buffer between the states of Europe and the threat of invasion from Asia. The Byzantine Empire finally fell in 1453, after an Ottoman army stormed Constantinople during the reign of Constantine XI.
Write a three-paragraph response describing how the Byzantine Empire was both similar to and different from the Roman Empire. In what ways was the Byzantine Empire a continuation of the Roman Empire, and in what ways did it represent a new society? Hint: Think about the rise and fall of each civilization. What was unique about the way they developed and ended? What ultimately happened to the Byzantine Empire? Be sure to clearly develop and organize your ideas and support your answer with evidence from the course.