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Historical Overview (Proud East Roman Empire)

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At the beginning of the 11th century AD, the Byzantine Empire was the strongest of the European countries. The Macedonian dynasty, having successfully fought the Arabs and the Bulgarians, but also by establishing diplomatic relationships with the Rus, achieved in expanding the Empire from the southern Italian peninsula in the west, to the Danube river and the coast of Venice in the north, to Armenia and Syria in the east.

Some causes of the socioeconomic conditions in the Empire during the 11th century can be traced to the foundation of Constantinople and the establishment of the East Roman Empire. The East Roman Empire was supposed to be the continuum of the old Roman Empire, especially after the disintegration and finally the unavoidable collapse of the West Roman Empire. Constantinople, the capital of the East Roman Empire, was also called the New Rome. Moreover, Constantine the Great had set up the preconditions for the Christian religion to be the cohesive glue of a huge Empire, inhabited by various different peoples and ethnicities so much different from each other.

Byzantium – especially during the first few centuries of its existence, being the continuation of the Roman Empire, was a multinational sovereignty. The Latin language was the official language and a kind of lingua franca along with the Greek language, and the Christian religion, common to all subjects, was the common denominator within the Empire, rather than the common ethnic origins.

Heraclius was the first Emperor to be called “Basileus” (Greek for King) rather than “Augustus” (Latin for Emperor). That fact was due to the beginning of a shift from the Latin to the Greek language. This happened because the Empire lost vast parts of its territories to the Arabs, thus, the Greek element became even more prominent than it already was.

The forthcoming centuries signified the rise and the complete dominance of the Greek element within the country. Alas; these were also centuries of decline for the Byzantine Empire, as the Arabs in the southeast and the Slavic tribes at the north claimed and gained lands that were parts of the Empire for centuries. Furthermore, a religious conflict, Iconoclasm, burst within the Empire.

During the 9th and 10th centuries, however, a Greek Byzantine Empire restored its power and its influence, and at the beginning of the 11th century it was the strongest of the European countries.

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