Thursday, November 15, 2007


Outline (Lecture 1)
The Byzantine Empire: from Constantine the Great to the Age of Justinian

1-Preliminary remarks about the Byzantine Empire, a bridge between Antiquity and the Middle Ages

2-Terminology: “Byzantine Empire” is a later term introduced by German humanists in the 16th cent. The Byzantines considered themselves “Romans” and called their state the “Empire of the Romans”

3-The age of Constantine the Great (r. 306/324-337):
- The foundation of Constantinople
- Nature and meaning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity

4-Transformation of Christianity from a tolerated, legitimate religion into the official state religion between the reigns of Constantine I and Theodosius I – Co-existence of Christianity and paganism in the early Empire

5-Different balance of state-church relations in Byzantium and in medieval Europe

Vocabulary & Dates (Lecture 1)
Byzantine Empire (330-1453)
Konstantinoupolis = “Constantine’s city” = Constantinople
Emperor Constantine I (r. 306/324-337)
Foundation and dedication of Constantinople (330)
Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305)
Nikomedeia (mod. İzmit)
Edict of Milan (313)
Hagia Sophia / Hagia Eirene / church of the Holy Apostles
Acropolis / pagan temples dedicated to Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite etc.
Emperor Theodosius I (r. 379-395)
Emperor Julian the Apostate (r. 361-363)
sol invictus (“the invincible sun”, title used for the sun-god Apollo)
polytheism / monotheism
Patriarch of Constantinople
First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (325)


Outline (Lecture 2)
Byzantine Society from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages

1-Byzantine imperial ideology & concept of imperial authority

2-The age of Justinian I (r. 527-565):
- Wars of reconquest in the West
- Codification of Roman law
- Hagia Sophia and other building projects
- Nika riot (532)
- Justinianic plague (542)

3-Consequences and aftermath of Justinian’s reign

4-The 7th-century transformation of Byzantium from a late antique into a medieval society

Vocabulary & Dates (Lecture 2)
Justinian I (r. 527-565) / Theodora (Justinian’s wife)
Empress Irene (r. 797-802) / Empress Zoe (11th c.)
Corpus Juris Civilis (“Body of Civil Law”)=Justinian’s Code
Nika riot (532)
basilica vs. domed church
Sassanids of Persia
Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641)
polis (“city”)
theme system (thema / pl. themata)

Outline (Lecture 3)
From the Iconoclastic Controversy to the Great Schism: Christianity Divides

1-Period of Iconoclasm (726-843)

2-Conflicts with the Papacy:
- Pope’s coronation of Charlemagne as “Roman Emperor” (800)
- The Great Schism (1054)

3-The Macedonian dynasty (867-1059):
- Military victories (esp. against Arabs & Bulgars)
- Conversion of Russia and Serbia to Orthodox Christianity
- Growing power of the landowning military aristocracy, etc.

Vocabulary & Dates (Lecture 3)
Iconoclasm (726-843)
Emperor Leo III (r. 717-741)
icon / idolatry / iconoclast vs. iconodule (=iconophile)
Coronation of Charlemagne as Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III (800)
Great Schism (1054)
Macedonian dynasty (867-1059)
Emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonos (“Bulgar-slayer”)(r. 976-1025)
Baptism of Prince Vladimir of Kiev (988)
Cyril and Methodius


Outline (Lecture 4)
1.New external challenges in the mid-11th century: Normans and Seljuks
2.Rise of the crusading movement
3.The Fourth Crusade and the Latin capture of Constantinople (1203/4)
4.Restoration of Constantinople to Byzantine rule (1261)
5.Byzantium as an Ottoman vassal (ca. 1371/2)
6.The fall of Constantinople (1453)
7.Concluding remarks

Vocabulary and Dates (Lecture 4)
Venice / Pisa /
kommerkion / commercium
Komnenian dynasty (1081-1185)
Norman capture of Bari (1071)
Battle of Manzikert/Malazgirt (1071)
Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081-1118)
First Crusade (1095-1098) / Pope Urban II
Anna Komnena’s Alexiad
Fourth Crusade (1203/4)
Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1261)
Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1261-1282)
Palaiologan dynasty (1261-1453)
Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos (1391-1425)
Monastery of Chora (Kariye) / Theodore Metochites
Gennadios Scholarios, Greek Orthodox Patriarch under Mehmed II