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The Byzantine Empire Portal

Animated map showing the territorial evolution of the Byzantine Empire (in yellow).
Animated map showing the territorial evolution of the Byzantine Empire (in yellow).

The Byzantine Empire, (Full article...)

Selected articles

  • Image 1Hesychasm (/ˈhɛsɪkæzəm, ˈhɛzɪ-/; Greek: Ησυχασμός) is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Based on Jesus's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that "whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you", hesychasm is the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God (see Theoria). (Full article...)
    Hesychasm (/ˈhɛsɪkæzəm, ˈhɛzɪ-/; Greek: Ησυχασμός) is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Based on Jesus's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that "whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you", hesychasm is the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God (see Theoria). (Full article...)
  • Image 2The Byzantine Empire underwent a revival during the reign of the Greek Macedonian emperors of the late 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries, when it gained control over the Adriatic Sea, Southern Italy, and all of the territory of the Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria.The cities of the empire expanded, and affluence spread across the provinces because of the newfound security. The population rose, and production increased, stimulating new demand while also helping to encourage trade. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine Empire underwent a revival during the reign of the Greek Macedonian emperors of the late 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries, when it gained control over the Adriatic Sea, Southern Italy, and all of the territory of the Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria.

    The cities of the empire expanded, and affluence spread across the provinces because of the newfound security. The population rose, and production increased, stimulating new demand while also helping to encourage trade. (Full article...)
  • Image 3Byzantine currency, money used in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the West, consisted of mainly two types of coins: the gold solidus and a variety of clearly valued bronze coins. By the end of the empire the currency was issued only in silver stavrata and minor copper coins with no gold issue.The East Roman or Byzantine Empire established and operated several mints throughout its history. Aside from the main metropolitan mint in the capital, Constantinople, a varying number of provincial mints were also established in other urban centres, especially during the 6th century. Most provincial mints except for Syracuse were closed or lost to invasions by the mid-7th century. After the loss of Syracuse in 878, Constantinople became the sole mint for gold and silver coinage until the late 11th century, when major provincial mints began to re-appear. Many mints, both imperial and, as the Byzantine world fragmented, belonging to autonomous local rulers, were operated in the 12th to 14th centuries. Constantinople and Trebizond, the seat of the independent Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461), survived until their conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-15th century. (Full article...)
    Byzantine currency, money used in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the West, consisted of mainly two types of coins: the gold solidus and a variety of clearly valued bronze coins. By the end of the empire the currency was issued only in silver stavrata and minor copper coins with no gold issue.

    The East Roman or Byzantine Empire established and operated several mints throughout its history. Aside from the main metropolitan mint in the capital, Constantinople, a varying number of provincial mints were also established in other urban centres, especially during the 6th century. Most provincial mints except for Syracuse were closed or lost to invasions by the mid-7th century. After the loss of Syracuse in 878, Constantinople became the sole mint for gold and silver coinage until the late 11th century, when major provincial mints began to re-appear. Many mints, both imperial and, as the Byzantine world fragmented, belonging to autonomous local rulers, were operated in the 12th to 14th centuries. Constantinople and Trebizond, the seat of the independent Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461), survived until their conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-15th century. (Full article...)
  • Image 4Byzantine law was essentially a continuation of Roman law with increased Orthodox Christian and Hellenistic influence. Most sources define Byzantine law as the Roman legal traditions starting after the reign of Justinian I in the 6th century and ending with the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. Although future Byzantine codes and constitutions derived largely from Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis, their main objectives were idealistic and ceremonial rather than practical. Following Hellenistic and Near-Eastern political systems, legislations were tools to idealize and display the sacred role and responsibility of the emperor as the holy monarch chosen by God and the incarnation of law "nómos émpsychos", thus having philosophical and religious purposes that idealized the perfect Byzantine king.Though during and after the European Renaissance Western legal practices were heavily influenced by Justinian's Code (the Corpus Juris Civilis) and Roman law during classical times, Byzantine law nevertheless had substantial influence on Western traditions during the Middle Ages and after. (Full article...)
    Byzantine law was essentially a continuation of Roman law with increased Orthodox Christian and Hellenistic influence. Most sources define Byzantine law as the Roman legal traditions starting after the reign of Justinian I in the 6th century and ending with the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. Although future Byzantine codes and constitutions derived largely from Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis, their main objectives were idealistic and ceremonial rather than practical. Following Hellenistic and Near-Eastern political systems, legislations were tools to idealize and display the sacred role and responsibility of the emperor as the holy monarch chosen by God and the incarnation of law "nómos émpsychos", thus having philosophical and religious purposes that idealized the perfect Byzantine king.

    Though during and after the European Renaissance Western legal practices were heavily influenced by Justinian's Code (the Corpus Juris Civilis) and Roman law during classical times, Byzantine law nevertheless had substantial influence on Western traditions during the Middle Ages and after. (Full article...)
  • Image 5The Byzantine Empire was ruled by emperors of the Komnenos dynasty for a period of 104 years, from 1081 to about 1185. The Komnenian (also spelled Comnenian) period comprises the reigns of five emperors, Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I. It was a period of sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire.Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. The Komnenian emperors, particularly John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine Empire was ruled by emperors of the Komnenos dynasty for a period of 104 years, from 1081 to about 1185. The Komnenian (also spelled Comnenian) period comprises the reigns of five emperors, Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I. It was a period of sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire.

    Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. The Komnenian emperors, particularly John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about. (Full article...)
  • Image 6The Battle of Dyrrhachium took place on October 18, 1081 between the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118), and the Normans of southern Italy under Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria. The battle was fought outside the city of Dyrrhachium (present-day Durrës in Albania), the major Byzantine stronghold in the western Balkans, and ended in a Norman victory.Following the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy and Saracen Sicily, the Byzantine emperor, Michael VII Doukas (r. 1071–1078), betrothed his son to Robert Guiscard's daughter. When Michael was deposed, Robert took this as an excuse to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081. His army laid siege to Dyrrhachium, but his fleet was defeated by the Venetians. On October 18, the Normans engaged a Byzantine army under Alexios I Komnenos outside Dyrrhachium. The battle began with the Byzantine right wing routing the Norman left wing, which broke and fled. Varangian mercenaries joined in the pursuit of the fleeing Normans, but became separated from the main force and were massacred. Norman knights in the centre attacked the Byzantine centre and routed it, causing the bulk of the Byzantine army to rout. (Full article...)
    The Battle of Dyrrhachium took place on October 18, 1081 between the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118), and the Normans of southern Italy under Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria. The battle was fought outside the city of Dyrrhachium (present-day Durrës in Albania), the major Byzantine stronghold in the western Balkans, and ended in a Norman victory.

    Following the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy and Saracen Sicily, the Byzantine emperor, Michael VII Doukas (r. 1071–1078), betrothed his son to Robert Guiscard's daughter. When Michael was deposed, Robert took this as an excuse to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081. His army laid siege to Dyrrhachium, but his fleet was defeated by the Venetians. On October 18, the Normans engaged a Byzantine army under Alexios I Komnenos outside Dyrrhachium. The battle began with the Byzantine right wing routing the Norman left wing, which broke and fled. Varangian mercenaries joined in the pursuit of the fleeing Normans, but became separated from the main force and were massacred. Norman knights in the centre attacked the Byzantine centre and routed it, causing the bulk of the Byzantine army to rout. (Full article...)
  • Image 7The Byzantine Iconoclasm (Greek: Εικονομαχία, romanized: Eikonomachía, lit. 'image struggle', 'war on icons') were two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The First Iconoclasm, as it is sometimes called, occurred between about 726 and 787, while the Second Iconoclasm occurred between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images promulgated by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of religious images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The Papacy remained firmly in support of the use of religious images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified European Church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of the Italian Peninsula.Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction within a culture of the culture's own religious images and other symbols or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, Greek for "breakers of icons" (εἰκονοκλάσται), a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogmata or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are derisively called "iconolaters" (εἰκονολάτρες). They are normally known as "iconodules" (εἰκονόδουλοι), or "iconophiles" (εἰκονόφιλοι). These terms were, however, not a part of the Byzantine debate over images. They have been brought into common usage by modern historians (from the seventeenth century) and their application to Byzantium increased considerably in the late twentieth century. The Byzantine term for the debate over religious imagery, "iconomachy," means "struggle over images" or "image struggle". Some sources also say that the Iconoclasts were against intercession to the saints and denied the usage of relics, however it is disputed. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine Iconoclasm (Greek: Εικονομαχία, romanizedEikonomachía, lit.'image struggle', 'war on icons') were two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The First Iconoclasm, as it is sometimes called, occurred between about 726 and 787, while the Second Iconoclasm occurred between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images promulgated by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of religious images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The Papacy remained firmly in support of the use of religious images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified European Church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of the Italian Peninsula.

    Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction within a culture of the culture's own religious images and other symbols or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, Greek for "breakers of icons" (εἰκονοκλάσται), a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogmata or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are derisively called "iconolaters" (εἰκονολάτρες). They are normally known as "iconodules" (εἰκονόδουλοι), or "iconophiles" (εἰκονόφιλοι). These terms were, however, not a part of the Byzantine debate over images. They have been brought into common usage by modern historians (from the seventeenth century) and their application to Byzantium increased considerably in the late twentieth century. The Byzantine term for the debate over religious imagery, "iconomachy," means "struggle over images" or "image struggle". Some sources also say that the Iconoclasts were against intercession to the saints and denied the usage of relics, however it is disputed. (Full article...)
  • Image 8The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first defeating the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army's 1202 siege of Zara and the 1204 sack of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire, rather than Egypt as originally planned. This led to the partitioning of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusaders.In exchange for building a dedicated fleet and providing sea transport, the Republic of Venice instructed the Crusaders to pay them for the fleet. However, since not all Crusaders sailed from Venice, the Crusaders could not pay fully the price of the fleet. The Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo hence asked that the Crusaders help them capture Zadar (or Zara), on the Adriatic Sea. This led in November 1202 to the siege and sack of Zara, the first attack against a Catholic city by a Catholic Crusader army. The city was then brought under Venetian control. When the Pope heard of this, he excommunicated the Crusader army. (Full article...)
    The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first defeating the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army's 1202 siege of Zara and the 1204 sack of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire, rather than Egypt as originally planned. This led to the partitioning of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusaders.

    In exchange for building a dedicated fleet and providing sea transport, the Republic of Venice instructed the Crusaders to pay them for the fleet. However, since not all Crusaders sailed from Venice, the Crusaders could not pay fully the price of the fleet. The Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo hence asked that the Crusaders help them capture Zadar (or Zara), on the Adriatic Sea. This led in November 1202 to the siege and sack of Zara, the first attack against a Catholic city by a Catholic Crusader army. The city was then brought under Venetian control. When the Pope heard of this, he excommunicated the Crusader army. (Full article...)
  • Image 9Hagia Sophia (lit. 'the Holy Wisdom'; Ancient Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, romanized: Agía Sofía; Turkish: Ayasofya), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque (Turkish: Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally built by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, and designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, it was formally called the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Greek: Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας, romanized: Naós tis Ayías tou Theoú Sofías) and was then the world's largest interior space and among the first to employ a fully pendentive dome. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture". The present Justinianic building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, as the prior one had been destroyed in the Nika riots. As the episcopal see of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. Beginning with subsequent Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic Orthodox church form, and its architectural style was emulated by Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox civilization. (Full article...)
    Hagia Sophia (lit. 'the Holy Wisdom'; Ancient Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, romanizedAgía Sofía; Turkish: Ayasofya), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque (Turkish: Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Originally built by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, and designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, it was formally called the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Greek: Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας, romanizedNaós tis Ayías tou Theoú Sofías) and was then the world's largest interior space and among the first to employ a fully pendentive dome. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture". The present Justinianic building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, as the prior one had been destroyed in the Nika riots. As the episcopal see of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. Beginning with subsequent Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic Orthodox church form, and its architectural style was emulated by Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox civilization. (Full article...)
  • Image 10The Sack of Amorium by the Abbasid Caliphate in mid-August 838 was one of the major events in the long history of the Arab–Byzantine Wars. The Abbasid campaign was led personally by the Caliph al-Mu'tasim (r. 833–842), in retaliation to a virtually unopposed expedition launched by the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (r. 829–842) into the Caliphate's borderlands the previous year. Mu'tasim targeted Amorium, an Eastern Roman city in western Asia Minor, because it was the birthplace of the ruling Byzantine dynasty and, at the time, one of Byzantium's largest and most important cities. The caliph gathered an exceptionally large army, which he divided in two parts, which invaded from the northeast and the south. The northeastern army defeated the Byzantine forces under Theophilos at Anzen, allowing the Abbasids to penetrate deep into Byzantine Asia Minor and converge upon Ancyra, which they found abandoned. After sacking the city, they turned south to Amorium, where they arrived on 1 August. Faced with intrigues at Constantinople and the rebellion of the large Khurramite contingent of his army, Theophilos was unable to aid the city.Amorium was strongly fortified and garrisoned, but a traitor revealed a weak spot in the wall, where the Abbasids concentrated their attack, effecting a breach. Unable to break through the besieging army, Boiditzes, the commander of the breached section privately attempted to negotiate with the Caliph without notifying his superiors. He concluded a local truce and left his post, which allowed the Arabs to take advantage, enter the city, and capture it. Amorium was systematically destroyed, never to recover its former prosperity. Many of its inhabitants were slaughtered, and the remainder driven off as slaves. Most of the survivors were released after a truce in 841, but prominent officials were taken to the caliph's capital of Samarra and executed years later after refusing to convert to Islam, becoming known as the 42 Martyrs of Amorium. (Full article...)
    The Sack of Amorium by the Abbasid Caliphate in mid-August 838 was one of the major events in the long history of the Arab–Byzantine Wars. The Abbasid campaign was led personally by the Caliph al-Mu'tasim (r. 833–842), in retaliation to a virtually unopposed expedition launched by the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (r. 829–842) into the Caliphate's borderlands the previous year. Mu'tasim targeted Amorium, an Eastern Roman city in western Asia Minor, because it was the birthplace of the ruling Byzantine dynasty and, at the time, one of Byzantium's largest and most important cities. The caliph gathered an exceptionally large army, which he divided in two parts, which invaded from the northeast and the south. The northeastern army defeated the Byzantine forces under Theophilos at Anzen, allowing the Abbasids to penetrate deep into Byzantine Asia Minor and converge upon Ancyra, which they found abandoned. After sacking the city, they turned south to Amorium, where they arrived on 1 August. Faced with intrigues at Constantinople and the rebellion of the large Khurramite contingent of his army, Theophilos was unable to aid the city.

    Amorium was strongly fortified and garrisoned, but a traitor revealed a weak spot in the wall, where the Abbasids concentrated their attack, effecting a breach. Unable to break through the besieging army, Boiditzes, the commander of the breached section privately attempted to negotiate with the Caliph without notifying his superiors. He concluded a local truce and left his post, which allowed the Arabs to take advantage, enter the city, and capture it. Amorium was systematically destroyed, never to recover its former prosperity. Many of its inhabitants were slaughtered, and the remainder driven off as slaves. Most of the survivors were released after a truce in 841, but prominent officials were taken to the caliph's capital of Samarra and executed years later after refusing to convert to Islam, becoming known as the 42 Martyrs of Amorium. (Full article...)
  • Image 11The Great Palace of Constantinople (Greek: Μέγα Παλάτιον, Méga Palátion; Latin: Palatium Magnum, Turkish: Büyük Saray), also known as the Sacred Palace (Greek: Ἱερὸν Παλάτιον, Hieròn Palátion; Latin: Sacrum Palatium), was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), in modern Turkey. It served as the main Imperial residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors until 1081 and was the centre of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day. (Full article...)
    The Great Palace of Constantinople (Greek: Μέγα Παλάτιον, Méga Palátion; Latin: Palatium Magnum, Turkish: Büyük Saray), also known as the Sacred Palace (Greek: Ἱερὸν Παλάτιον, Hieròn Palátion; Latin: Sacrum Palatium), was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), in modern Turkey. It served as the main Imperial residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors until 1081 and was the centre of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day. (Full article...)
  • Image 12Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Islamic states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.A number of contemporary states with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it without actually being part of it (the "Byzantine commonwealth"). These included the Rus, as well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice, which separated from the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century, and the Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire and had also been a Byzantine territory until the 10th century with a large Greek-speaking population persisting into the 12th century. Other states having a Byzantine artistic tradition, had oscillated throughout the Middle Ages between being  part of the Byzantine Empire and having periods of independence, such as Serbia and Bulgaria. After the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453, art produced by Eastern Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire was often called "post-Byzantine." Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day. (Full article...)
    Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Islamic states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.

    A number of contemporary states with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it without actually being part of it (the "Byzantine commonwealth"). These included the Rus, as well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice, which separated from the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century, and the Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire and had also been a Byzantine territory until the 10th century with a large Greek-speaking population persisting into the 12th century. Other states having a Byzantine artistic tradition, had oscillated throughout the Middle Ages between being part of the Byzantine Empire and having periods of independence, such as Serbia and Bulgaria. After the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453, art produced by Eastern Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire was often called "post-Byzantine." Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day. (Full article...)
  • Image 13Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire.The Byzantine era is usually dated from 330 AD, when Constantine the Great moved the Roman capital to Byzantium, which became Constantinople, until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. However, there was initially no hard line between the Byzantine and Roman empires, and early Byzantine architecture is stylistically and structurally indistinguishable from earlier Roman architecture. This terminology was introduced by modern historians to designate the medieval Roman Empire as it evolved as a distinct artistic and cultural entity centered on the new capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) rather than the city of Rome and its environs. (Full article...)
    Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire.

    The Byzantine era is usually dated from 330 AD, when Constantine the Great moved the Roman capital to Byzantium, which became Constantinople, until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. However, there was initially no hard line between the Byzantine and Roman empires, and early Byzantine architecture is stylistically and structurally indistinguishable from earlier Roman architecture. This terminology was introduced by modern historians to designate the medieval Roman Empire as it evolved as a distinct artistic and cultural entity centered on the new capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) rather than the city of Rome and its environs. (Full article...)
  • Image 14The Byzantine–Ottoman wars were a series of decisive conflicts between the Ottoman Turks and Byzantines that led to the final destruction of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. In 1204 the Byzantine capital of Constantinople was sacked and occupied by the Fourth Crusaders, an important moment of the Christian East–West Schism. The Byzantine Empire, already weakened by misrule, was left divided and in chaos.Taking advantage of the situation, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum began seizing territory in Western Anatolia, until the Nicaean Empire was able to repulse the Seljuk Turks from the remaining territories still under Roman rule. Eventually Constantinople was re-taken from the Latin Empire in 1261 by the Nicaean Empire. The position of the Byzantine Empire in Europe remained uncertain due to the presence of the rival kingdoms of the Despotate of Epirus, Serbia and the Second Bulgarian Empire. This, combined with the reduced power of the Sultanate of Rum (Byzantium's chief rival in Asia) led to the removal of troops from Anatolia to maintain Byzantium's grip on Thrace. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine–Ottoman wars were a series of decisive conflicts between the Ottoman Turks and Byzantines that led to the final destruction of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. In 1204 the Byzantine capital of Constantinople was sacked and occupied by the Fourth Crusaders, an important moment of the Christian East–West Schism. The Byzantine Empire, already weakened by misrule, was left divided and in chaos.

    Taking advantage of the situation, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum began seizing territory in Western Anatolia, until the Nicaean Empire was able to repulse the Seljuk Turks from the remaining territories still under Roman rule. Eventually Constantinople was re-taken from the Latin Empire in 1261 by the Nicaean Empire. The position of the Byzantine Empire in Europe remained uncertain due to the presence of the rival kingdoms of the Despotate of Epirus, Serbia and the Second Bulgarian Empire. This, combined with the reduced power of the Sultanate of Rum (Byzantium's chief rival in Asia) led to the removal of troops from Anatolia to maintain Byzantium's grip on Thrace. (Full article...)
  • Image 15The Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 717 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna, and lost influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks.The Isaurian dynasty is chiefly associated with Byzantine Iconoclasm, an attempt to restore divine favour by purifying the Christian faith from excessive adoration of icons, which resulted in considerable internal turmoil. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 717 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna, and lost influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks.

    The Isaurian dynasty is chiefly associated with Byzantine Iconoclasm, an attempt to restore divine favour by purifying the Christian faith from excessive adoration of icons, which resulted in considerable internal turmoil. (Full article...)
  • Image 16The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or the Rite of Constantinople, identifies the wide range of cultural, liturgical, and canonical practices that developed in the Eastern Christian Church of Constantinople.The canonical hours are very long and complicated, lasting about eight hours (longer during Great Lent) but are abridged outside of large monasteries. An iconostasis, a partition covered with icons, separates the area around the altar from the nave. The sign of the cross, accompanied by bowing, is made very frequently, e.g., more than a hundred times during the divine liturgy, and there is prominent veneration of icons, a general acceptance of the congregants freely moving within the church and interacting with each other, and distinctive traditions of liturgical chanting. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or the Rite of Constantinople, identifies the wide range of cultural, liturgical, and canonical practices that developed in the Eastern Christian Church of Constantinople.

    The canonical hours are very long and complicated, lasting about eight hours (longer during Great Lent) but are abridged outside of large monasteries. An iconostasis, a partition covered with icons, separates the area around the altar from the nave. The sign of the cross, accompanied by bowing, is made very frequently, e.g., more than a hundred times during the divine liturgy, and there is prominent veneration of icons, a general acceptance of the congregants freely moving within the church and interacting with each other, and distinctive traditions of liturgical chanting. (Full article...)
  • Image 17The Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347, sometimes referred to as the Second Palaiologan Civil War, was a conflict that broke out in the Byzantine Empire after the death of Andronikos III Palaiologos over the guardianship of his nine-year-old son and heir, John V Palaiologos. It pitted on the one hand Andronikos III's chief minister, John VI Kantakouzenos, and on the other a regency headed by the Empress-Dowager Anna of Savoy, the Patriarch of Constantinople John XIV Kalekas, and the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos. The war polarized Byzantine society along class lines, with the aristocracy backing Kantakouzenos and the lower and middle classes supporting the regency. To a lesser extent, the conflict acquired religious overtones; Byzantium was embroiled in the Hesychast controversy, and adherence to the mystical doctrine of Hesychasm was often equated with support for Kantakouzenos.As the chief aide and closest friend of Emperor Andronikos III, Kantakouzenos became regent for the underage John V upon Andronikos's death in June 1341. While Kantakouzenos was absent from Constantinople in September the same year, a coup d'état led by Alexios Apokaukos and the Patriarch John XIV secured the support of Empress Anna and established a new regency. In response, Kantakouzenos' army and supporters proclaimed him co-emperor in October, cementing the rift between himself and the new regency. The split immediately escalated into armed conflict. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347, sometimes referred to as the Second Palaiologan Civil War, was a conflict that broke out in the Byzantine Empire after the death of Andronikos III Palaiologos over the guardianship of his nine-year-old son and heir, John V Palaiologos. It pitted on the one hand Andronikos III's chief minister, John VI Kantakouzenos, and on the other a regency headed by the Empress-Dowager Anna of Savoy, the Patriarch of Constantinople John XIV Kalekas, and the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos. The war polarized Byzantine society along class lines, with the aristocracy backing Kantakouzenos and the lower and middle classes supporting the regency. To a lesser extent, the conflict acquired religious overtones; Byzantium was embroiled in the Hesychast controversy, and adherence to the mystical doctrine of Hesychasm was often equated with support for Kantakouzenos.

    As the chief aide and closest friend of Emperor Andronikos III, Kantakouzenos became regent for the underage John V upon Andronikos's death in June 1341. While Kantakouzenos was absent from Constantinople in September the same year, a coup d'état led by Alexios Apokaukos and the Patriarch John XIV secured the support of Empress Anna and established a new regency. In response, Kantakouzenos' army and supporters proclaimed him co-emperor in October, cementing the rift between himself and the new regency. The split immediately escalated into armed conflict. (Full article...)
  • Image 18Nea Moni (Greek: Νέα Μονή, lit. "New Monastery") is an 11th-century monastery on the island of Chios that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on the Provateio Oros Mt. in the island's interior, about 15 km from Chios town. It is well known for its mosaics, which, together with those at Daphni and Hosios Loukas, are among the finest examples of "Macedonian Renaissance" art in Greece. (Full article...)
    Nea Moni (Greek: Νέα Μονή, lit. "New Monastery") is an 11th-century monastery on the island of Chios that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on the Provateio Oros Mt. in the island's interior, about 15 km from Chios town. It is well known for its mosaics, which, together with those at Daphni and Hosios Loukas, are among the finest examples of "Macedonian Renaissance" art in Greece. (Full article...)
  • Image 19Byzantine medicine encompasses the common medical practices of the Byzantine Empire from about 400 AD to 1453 AD. Byzantine medicine was notable for building upon the knowledge base developed by its Greco-Roman predecessors. In preserving medical practices from antiquity, Byzantine medicine influenced Islamic medicine as well as fostering the Western rebirth of medicine during the Renaissance.Byzantine physicians often compiled and standardized medical knowledge into textbooks. Their records tended to include both diagnostic explanations and technical drawings. The Medical Compendium in Seven Books, written by the leading physician Paul of Aegina, survived as a particularly thorough source of medical knowledge. This compendium, written in the late seventh century, remained in use as a standard textbook for the following 800 years. This tradition of compilation continued from around the tenth century into the twentieth through the genre of medical writings known as iatrosophia. (Full article...)
    Byzantine medicine encompasses the common medical practices of the Byzantine Empire from about 400 AD to 1453 AD. Byzantine medicine was notable for building upon the knowledge base developed by its Greco-Roman predecessors. In preserving medical practices from antiquity, Byzantine medicine influenced Islamic medicine as well as fostering the Western rebirth of medicine during the Renaissance.

    Byzantine physicians often compiled and standardized medical knowledge into textbooks. Their records tended to include both diagnostic explanations and technical drawings. The Medical Compendium in Seven Books, written by the leading physician Paul of Aegina, survived as a particularly thorough source of medical knowledge. This compendium, written in the late seventh century, remained in use as a standard textbook for the following 800 years. This tradition of compilation continued from around the tenth century into the twentieth through the genre of medical writings known as iatrosophia. (Full article...)
  • Image 20The Byzantine economy was among the most robust economies in the Mediterranean for many centuries. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Eastern Roman Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. The Arab conquests, however, would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of decline and stagnation. Constantine V's reforms (c. 765) marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. All this changed with the arrival of the Fourth Crusade, which was an economic catastrophe. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces.One of the economic foundations of the empire was trade. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage. Constantinople remained the single most important commercial centre of Europe for much of the Medieval era, which it held until the Republic of Venice slowly began to overtake Byzantine merchants in trade; first through tax exemption under the Komnenoi, then under the Latin Empire. (Full article...)
    The Byzantine economy was among the most robust economies in the Mediterranean for many centuries. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the Eastern Roman Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. The Arab conquests, however, would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of decline and stagnation. Constantine V's reforms (c. 765) marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. All this changed with the arrival of the Fourth Crusade, which was an economic catastrophe. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces.

    One of the economic foundations of the empire was trade. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage. Constantinople remained the single most important commercial centre of Europe for much of the Medieval era, which it held until the Republic of Venice slowly began to overtake Byzantine merchants in trade; first through tax exemption under the Komnenoi, then under the Latin Empire. (Full article...)
  • Image 21The Arab–Byzantine wars were a series of wars between a number of Muslim Arab dynasties and the Byzantine Empire between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. Conflict started during the initial Muslim conquests, under the expansionist Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs, in the 7th century and continued by their successors until the mid-11th century.The emergence of Muslim Arabs from Arabia in the 630s resulted in the rapid loss of Byzantium's southern provinces (Syria and Egypt) to the Arab Caliphate. Over the next fifty years, under the Umayyad caliphs, the Arabs would launch repeated raids into still-Byzantine Asia Minor, twice besiege the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, and conquer the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. The situation did not stabilize until after the failure of the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople in 718, when the Taurus Mountains on the eastern rim of Asia Minor became established as the mutual, heavily fortified and largely depopulated frontier. Under the Abbasid Empire, relations became more normal, with embassies exchanged and even periods of truce, but conflict remained the norm, with almost annual raids and counter-raids, sponsored either by the Abbasid government or by local rulers, well into the 10th century. (Full article...)
    The Arab–Byzantine wars were a series of wars between a number of Muslim Arab dynasties and the Byzantine Empire between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. Conflict started during the initial Muslim conquests, under the expansionist Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs, in the 7th century and continued by their successors until the mid-11th century.

    The emergence of Muslim Arabs from Arabia in the 630s resulted in the rapid loss of Byzantium's southern provinces (Syria and Egypt) to the Arab Caliphate. Over the next fifty years, under the Umayyad caliphs, the Arabs would launch repeated raids into still-Byzantine Asia Minor, twice besiege the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, and conquer the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. The situation did not stabilize until after the failure of the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople in 718, when the Taurus Mountains on the eastern rim of Asia Minor became established as the mutual, heavily fortified and largely depopulated frontier. Under the Abbasid Empire, relations became more normal, with embassies exchanged and even periods of truce, but conflict remained the norm, with almost annual raids and counter-raids, sponsored either by the Abbasid government or by local rulers, well into the 10th century. (Full article...)
  • Image 22A Hodegetria, or Virgin Hodegetria, is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture.  In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the wife of emperor Theodosius II (408–450), and to have been painted by Saint Luke the apostle himself. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium". (Full article...)
    A Hodegetria, or Virgin Hodegetria, is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.

    The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the wife of emperor Theodosius II (408–450), and to have been painted by Saint Luke the apostle himself. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium". (Full article...)
  • Image 23The Empire of Nicaea or the Nicene Empire is the conventional historiographic name for the largest of the three Byzantine Greek rump states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade, an event known as the Sack of Constantinople. Like other Byzantine rump states that formed after the 1204 fracturing of the empire, such as the Empire of Trebizond and the Empire of Thessalonica, it was a continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire that survived well into the medieval period. A fourth state, known in historiography as the Latin Empire,  was established by the Crusaders and the Republic of Venice after the capture of Constantinople and the surrounding environs. It claimed to be the rightful continuation of the Roman Empire, despite having no meaningful connection to it.Founded by the Laskaris family, it lasted from 1204 to 1261, when the Nicenes restored the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople. (Full article...)
    The Empire of Nicaea or the Nicene Empire is the conventional historiographic name for the largest of the three Byzantine Greek rump states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade, an event known as the Sack of Constantinople. Like other Byzantine rump states that formed after the 1204 fracturing of the empire, such as the Empire of Trebizond and the Empire of Thessalonica, it was a continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire that survived well into the medieval period. A fourth state, known in historiography as the Latin Empire, was established by the Crusaders and the Republic of Venice after the capture of Constantinople and the surrounding environs. It claimed to be the rightful continuation of the Roman Empire, despite having no meaningful connection to it.

    Founded by the Laskaris family, it lasted from 1204 to 1261, when the Nicenes restored the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople. (Full article...)
  • Image 24The Emirate of Crete (Arabic: إقريطش, romanized: Iqrīṭish or إقريطية, Iqrīṭiya; Greek: Κρήτη, romanized: Krētē) was an Islamic state that existed on the Mediterranean island of Crete from the late 820s to the reconquest of the island by the Byzantine Empire in 961. Although the emirate recognized the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate and maintained close ties with Tulunid Egypt, it was de facto independent.A group of Andalusian exiles led by Abu Hafs Umar al-Iqritishi conquered Crete in either 824 or 827/828, and established an independent Islamic state. The Byzantines launched a campaign that took most of the island back in 842-43 under Theoktistos, but the reconquest was not completed and would soon be reversed. Later attempts by the Byzantine Empire to recover the island failed, and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the emirate was one of the major foes of Byzantium. Crete commanded the sea lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean and functioned as a forward base and haven for Muslim corsair fleets that ravaged the Byzantine-controlled shores of the Aegean Sea. The emirate's internal history is less well known, but all accounts point to considerable prosperity deriving not only from piracy but also from extensive trade and agriculture. The emirate was brought to an end by Nikephoros Phokas, who successfully campaigned against it in 960–961. (Full article...)
    The Emirate of Crete (Arabic: إقريطش, romanizedIqrīṭish or إقريطية, Iqrīṭiya; Greek: Κρήτη, romanizedKrētē) was an Islamic state that existed on the Mediterranean island of Crete from the late 820s to the reconquest of the island by the Byzantine Empire in 961. Although the emirate recognized the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate and maintained close ties with Tulunid Egypt, it was de facto independent.

    A group of Andalusian exiles led by Abu Hafs Umar al-Iqritishi conquered Crete in either 824 or 827/828, and established an independent Islamic state. The Byzantines launched a campaign that took most of the island back in 842-43 under Theoktistos, but the reconquest was not completed and would soon be reversed. Later attempts by the Byzantine Empire to recover the island failed, and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the emirate was one of the major foes of Byzantium. Crete commanded the sea lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean and functioned as a forward base and haven for Muslim corsair fleets that ravaged the Byzantine-controlled shores of the Aegean Sea. The emirate's internal history is less well known, but all accounts point to considerable prosperity deriving not only from piracy but also from extensive trade and agriculture. The emirate was brought to an end by Nikephoros Phokas, who successfully campaigned against it in 960–961. (Full article...)
  • Image 25The Kariye Mosque (Turkish: Kariye Camii), and formerly known as the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Greek: Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωτῆρος ἐν τῇ Χώρᾳ), was a medieval Greek Orthodox church, now used as a mosque, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. The building is an example of Byzantine architecture. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, it was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1945, and was turned back into a mosque in 2020 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Its desecularization has, however, been halted as of January 2021 due to lack of Islamic cultural significance and clerical interest in the site, compared to the Hagia Sophia. The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine Christian mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum. (Full article...)
    The Kariye Mosque (Turkish: Kariye Camii), and formerly known as the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Greek: Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Ἁγίου Σωτῆρος ἐν τῇ Χώρᾳ), was a medieval Greek Orthodox church, now used as a mosque, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. The building is an example of Byzantine architecture. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, it was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1945, and was turned back into a mosque in 2020 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Its desecularization has, however, been halted as of January 2021 due to lack of Islamic cultural significance and clerical interest in the site, compared to the Hagia Sophia. The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine Christian mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum. (Full article...)

Selected biographies

  • Image 1Alexios I Megas Komnenos (Greek: Αλέξιος Κομνηνός; c. 1182 – 1 February 1222) or Alexius I Megas Comnenus was, with his brother David, the founder of the Empire of Trebizond and its ruler from 1204 until his death in 1222. The two brothers were the only male descendants of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos I, who had been dethroned and killed in 1185, and thus claimed to represent the legitimate government of the Empire following the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Although his rivals governing the Nicaean Empire succeeded in becoming the de facto successors, and rendered his dynastic claims to the imperial throne moot, Alexios' descendants continued to emphasize both their heritage and connection to the Komnenian dynasty by later referring to themselves as Megas Komnenos ("grand Komnenos").While his brother David conquered a number of Byzantine provinces in northwestern Anatolia, Alexios defended his capital Trebizond from an unsuccessful siege by the Seljuk Turks around the year 1205. Further details of his reign are sparse. Muslim chroniclers record how, in 1214, Alexios was captured by the Turks in the field while defending Sinope; despite sending an envoy to seek their surrender the city refused to capitulate to Sultan Kaykaus I, and Alexios was tortured in sight of the Sinopians. The city submitted to Kaykaus and Alexios was freed after becoming Kaykaus' vassal. Alexios died at the age of forty. (Full article...)
    Alexios I Megas Komnenos (Greek: Αλέξιος Κομνηνός; c. 1182 – 1 February 1222) or Alexius I Megas Comnenus was, with his brother David, the founder of the Empire of Trebizond and its ruler from 1204 until his death in 1222. The two brothers were the only male descendants of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos I, who had been dethroned and killed in 1185, and thus claimed to represent the legitimate government of the Empire following the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Although his rivals governing the Nicaean Empire succeeded in becoming the de facto successors, and rendered his dynastic claims to the imperial throne moot, Alexios' descendants continued to emphasize both their heritage and connection to the Komnenian dynasty by later referring to themselves as Megas Komnenos ("grand Komnenos").

    While his brother David conquered a number of Byzantine provinces in northwestern Anatolia, Alexios defended his capital Trebizond from an unsuccessful siege by the Seljuk Turks around the year 1205. Further details of his reign are sparse. Muslim chroniclers record how, in 1214, Alexios was captured by the Turks in the field while defending Sinope; despite sending an envoy to seek their surrender the city refused to capitulate to Sultan Kaykaus I, and Alexios was tortured in sight of the Sinopians. The city submitted to Kaykaus and Alexios was freed after becoming Kaykaus' vassal. Alexios died at the age of forty. (Full article...)
  • Theophilus, in the Chronicle of John Skylitzes
    Theophilus, in the Chronicle of John Skylitzes
  • Theodora in the Monomachus Crown
    Theodora in the Monomachus Crown
  • Image 4Anna Dalassene (Greek: Ἄννα Δαλασσηνή; ca. 1025/30 – 1 November 1100/02) was an important Byzantine noblewoman who played a significant role in the rise to power of the Komnenoi  in the eleventh century. As Augusta, a title bestowed upon her by her son, Alexios I Komnenos, rather than his empress-consort, her son Alexios was easily and completely for many years under her influence, she also administered the empire as regent during his many absences from Constantinople in long military campaigns during the early part of his reign. As empress-mother, she exerted more influence and power than the empress-consort, Irene Doukaina, a woman whom she hated because of past intrigues with the Doukai. (Full article...)
    Anna Dalassene (Greek: Ἄννα Δαλασσηνή; ca. 1025/30 – 1 November 1100/02) was an important Byzantine noblewoman who played a significant role in the rise to power of the Komnenoi in the eleventh century. As Augusta, a title bestowed upon her by her son, Alexios I Komnenos, rather than his empress-consort, her son Alexios was easily and completely for many years under her influence, she also administered the empire as regent during his many absences from Constantinople in long military campaigns during the early part of his reign. As empress-mother, she exerted more influence and power than the empress-consort, Irene Doukaina, a woman whom she hated because of past intrigues with the Doukai. (Full article...)
  • Image 5John Kourkouas (Greek: Ἰωάννης Κουρκούας, romanized: Ioannes Kourkouas, fl. c. 900–946), also transliterated as Kurkuas or Curcuas, was one of the most important generals of the Byzantine Empire. His success in battles against the Muslim states in the East reversed the course of the centuries-long Arab–Byzantine wars and set the stage for Byzantium's eastern conquests later in the century.Kourkouas belonged to a family of Armenian descent that produced several notable Byzantine generals. As commander of an imperial bodyguard regiment, Kourkouas was among the chief supporters of Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920–944) and facilitated the latter's rise to the throne. In 923, Kourkouas was appointed commander-in-chief of the Byzantine armies along the eastern frontier, facing the Abbasid Caliphate and the semi-autonomous Muslim border emirates. He kept this post for more than twenty years, overseeing decisive Byzantine military successes that altered the strategic balance in the region. (Full article...)
    John Kourkouas (Greek: Ἰωάννης Κουρκούας, romanizedIoannes Kourkouas, fl.c. 900–946), also transliterated as Kurkuas or Curcuas, was one of the most important generals of the Byzantine Empire. His success in battles against the Muslim states in the East reversed the course of the centuries-long Arab–Byzantine wars and set the stage for Byzantium's eastern conquests later in the century.

    Kourkouas belonged to a family of Armenian descent that produced several notable Byzantine generals. As commander of an imperial bodyguard regiment, Kourkouas was among the chief supporters of Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920–944) and facilitated the latter's rise to the throne. In 923, Kourkouas was appointed commander-in-chief of the Byzantine armies along the eastern frontier, facing the Abbasid Caliphate and the semi-autonomous Muslim border emirates. He kept this post for more than twenty years, overseeing decisive Byzantine military successes that altered the strategic balance in the region. (Full article...)
  • Image 6 Theophanes the Confessor (Greek: Θεοφάνης Ὁμολογητής; c. 758/760 – 12 March 817/818) was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release. Theophanes the Confessor, venerated on 12 March in both the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches, should not be confused with Theophanes of Nicaea, whose feast is commemorated on 11 October. (Full article...)
  • Underdrawing of Basil I in the Paris Gregory, c. 879–883
    Underdrawing of Basil I in the Paris Gregory, c. 879–883
  • 15th-century portrait of Constantine XI (from a 15th-century codex containing a copy of the Extracts of History by Joannes Zonaras)
    15th-century portrait of Constantine XI (from a 15th-century codex containing a copy of the Extracts of History by Joannes Zonaras)
  • Image 9Bardanes, nicknamed Tourkos, "the Turk" (Greek: Βαρδάνης ὁ Τοῦρκος, romanized: Bardanēs ho Tourkos, fl. 795–803), was a Byzantine general of Armenian origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802–811) in 803. Although a major supporter of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens (r. 797–802), soon after her overthrow he was appointed by Nikephoros as commander-in-chief of the Anatolian armies. From this position, he launched a revolt in July 803, probably in opposition to Nikephoros's economic and religious policies. His troops marched towards Constantinople, but failed to win popular support. At this point, some of his major supporters deserted him and, reluctant to engage the loyalist forces in battle, Bardanes gave up and chose to surrender himself. He retired as a monk to a monastery he had founded. There he was blinded, possibly on Nikephoros's orders. (Full article...)
    Bardanes, nicknamed Tourkos, "the Turk" (Greek: Βαρδάνης ὁ Τοῦρκος, romanizedBardanēs ho Tourkos, fl. 795–803), was a Byzantine general of Armenian origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802–811) in 803. Although a major supporter of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens (r. 797–802), soon after her overthrow he was appointed by Nikephoros as commander-in-chief of the Anatolian armies. From this position, he launched a revolt in July 803, probably in opposition to Nikephoros's economic and religious policies. His troops marched towards Constantinople, but failed to win popular support. At this point, some of his major supporters deserted him and, reluctant to engage the loyalist forces in battle, Bardanes gave up and chose to surrender himself. He retired as a monk to a monastery he had founded. There he was blinded, possibly on Nikephoros's orders. (Full article...)
  • Solidus of Emperor Maurice
    Solidus of Emperor Maurice
  • Belisarius may be this bearded figure on the right of Emperor Justinian I in the mosaic in the Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, which celebrates the reconquest of Italy by the Roman army.
    Belisarius may be this bearded figure on the right of Emperor Justinian I in the mosaic in the Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, which celebrates the reconquest of Italy by the Roman army.
  • Gold tetarteron of Isaac I Komnenos, showing the Emperor wielding a globus cruciger and holding a sheathed sword
    Gold tetarteron of Isaac I Komnenos, showing the Emperor wielding a globus cruciger and holding a sheathed sword
  • Manuscript miniature of Manuel I (part of double portrait with Maria of Antioch, Vatican Library, Rome)
    Manuscript miniature of Manuel I (part of double portrait with Maria of Antioch, Vatican Library, Rome)
  • Seal of Michael I Komnenos Doukas in a coin (early 1200s, reconstruction by Gustave Schlumberger in 1884)
    Seal of Michael I Komnenos Doukas in a coin (early 1200s, reconstruction by Gustave Schlumberger in 1884)
  • Donor portrait of the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, from a collection of the "Works of Hippocrates" commissioned by him in the early 1340s. Alexios is depicted in the garb of his office, wearing a richly decorated kabbadion and the skaranikon, a ceremonial headdress depicting the reigning emperor.
    Donor portrait of the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, from a collection of the "Works of Hippocrates" commissioned by him in the early 1340s. Alexios is depicted in the garb of his office, wearing a richly decorated kabbadion and the skaranikon, a ceremonial headdress depicting the reigning emperor.
  • Image 16Anna Komnene (Greek: Ἄννα Κομνηνή, romanized: Ánna Komnēnḗ; 1 December 1083 – 1153), commonly Latinized as Anna Comnena, was a Byzantine princess and author of the Alexiad, an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos. The Alexiad is the most important primary source of Byzantine history of the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Although she is best known as the author of the Alexiad, Anna played an important part in the politics of the time and attempted to depose her brother, John II Komnenos, as emperor and seize the throne herself.At birth, Anna was betrothed to Constantine Doukas, and she grew up in his mother's household. She was well-educated in "Greek literature and history, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and medicine." Anna and Constantine were next in the line to throne until Anna's younger brother, John II Komnenos, became the heir in 1092. Constantine died around 1094, and Anna married  Nikephoros Bryennios in 1097. The two had several children before Nikephoros' death around 1136. (Full article...)
    Anna Komnene (Greek: Ἄννα Κομνηνή, romanizedÁnna Komnēnḗ; 1 December 1083 – 1153), commonly Latinized as Anna Comnena, was a Byzantine princess and author of the Alexiad, an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos. The Alexiad is the most important primary source of Byzantine history of the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Although she is best known as the author of the Alexiad, Anna played an important part in the politics of the time and attempted to depose her brother, John II Komnenos, as emperor and seize the throne herself.

    At birth, Anna was betrothed to Constantine Doukas, and she grew up in his mother's household. She was well-educated in "Greek literature and history, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and medicine." Anna and Constantine were next in the line to throne until Anna's younger brother, John II Komnenos, became the heir in 1092. Constantine died around 1094, and Anna married Nikephoros Bryennios in 1097. The two had several children before Nikephoros' death around 1136. (Full article...)
  • Mosaic of John II at the Hagia Sophia
    Mosaic of John II at the Hagia Sophia
  • Miniature of Michael VIII Palaiologos from the manuscript of Georgius Pachymeres' Historia, c. 14th century
    Miniature of Michael VIII Palaiologos from the manuscript of Georgius Pachymeres' Historia, c. 14th century
  • Solidus of Leo III. The inscription reads .mw-parser-output span.smallcaps{font-variant:small-caps}.mw-parser-output span.smallcaps-smaller{font-size:85%}d no leon pa mul.
    Solidus of Leo III. The inscription reads d no leon pa mul.
  • Image 20Basil Lekapenos (Greek: Βασίλειος Λεκαπηνός, romanized: Basíleios Lekapēnós; c. 925 – c. 985), also called the Parakoimomenos (ό παρακοιμώμενος) or the Nothos (ό Νόθος, "the Bastard"), was an illegitimate child of the Byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos. He served as  the parakoimomenos and chief minister of the Byzantine Empire for most of the period 947 to 985, under emperors Constantine VII (his brother-in-law), Nikephoros II Phokas, John I Tzimiskes, and Basil II (his great nephew). (Full article...)
    Basil Lekapenos (Greek: Βασίλειος Λεκαπηνός, romanizedBasíleios Lekapēnós; c. 925c. 985), also called the Parakoimomenos (ό παρακοιμώμενος) or the Nothos (ό Νόθος, "the Bastard"), was an illegitimate child of the Byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos. He served as the parakoimomenos and chief minister of the Byzantine Empire for most of the period 947 to 985, under emperors Constantine VII (his brother-in-law), Nikephoros II Phokas, John I Tzimiskes, and Basil II (his great nephew). (Full article...)
  • 15th-century portrait of Alexios V (from a 15th-century codex containing a copy of the Extracts of History by Joannes Zonaras)
    15th-century portrait of Alexios V (from a 15th-century codex containing a copy of the Extracts of History by Joannes Zonaras)
  • Photios baptising the Bulgarians
    Photios baptising the Bulgarians
  • Greek icon (14th century)
    Greek icon (14th century)
  • Image 24Nikephoros Phokas (Greek: Νικηφόρος Φωκᾶς, romanized: Nikēphoros Phōkas; died 895/6 or c. 900), usually surnamed the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, was one of the most prominent Byzantine generals of the late 9th century, and the first important member of the Phokas family. As a youth he was taken into the personal retinue of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian, rising quickly to the posts of protostrator and then governor of Charsianon, whence he fought with success against the Arabs. In c. 886 he led a major expedition in southern Italy, where his victories laid the foundation for the Byzantine resurgence in the peninsula. After his return, he was raised to the post of Domestic of the Schools, in effect commander-in-chief of the army, which he led with success against the Arabs in the east and the Bulgarians of Tsar Simeon in the Balkans. He died either in 895/6 or, less likely, sometime c. 900. Contemporaries and later historians lauded him for his military ability and character. Both of his sons later succeeded him as Domestics of the Schools. His grandsons Nikephoros and Leo were likewise distinguished generals, while the former became emperor in 963–969, spearheading the recovery of several lost provinces from the Arabs. (Full article...)
    Nikephoros Phokas (Greek: Νικηφόρος Φωκᾶς, romanizedNikēphoros Phōkas; died 895/6 or c. 900), usually surnamed the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, was one of the most prominent Byzantine generals of the late 9th century, and the first important member of the Phokas family. As a youth he was taken into the personal retinue of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian, rising quickly to the posts of protostrator and then governor of Charsianon, whence he fought with success against the Arabs. In c. 886 he led a major expedition in southern Italy, where his victories laid the foundation for the Byzantine resurgence in the peninsula. After his return, he was raised to the post of Domestic of the Schools, in effect commander-in-chief of the army, which he led with success against the Arabs in the east and the Bulgarians of Tsar Simeon in the Balkans. He died either in 895/6 or, less likely, sometime c. 900. Contemporaries and later historians lauded him for his military ability and character. Both of his sons later succeeded him as Domestics of the Schools. His grandsons Nikephoros and Leo were likewise distinguished generals, while the former became emperor in 963–969, spearheading the recovery of several lost provinces from the Arabs. (Full article...)
  • Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas
    Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas

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