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When learning about the many transitional periods of the Roman Empire, one can see that there were many struggles to keep a certain status. The Byzantine Empire became what it was back in ancient times because of the way the Roman Empire collapsed, the transitional period helping out with getting it to the top, and it maintaining an amazing status. It stayed at the top until its unfortunate end.
The Fall of the Roman Empire, also known as the Western Roman Empire, was a devastation to many, and it all happened over four centuries of time. It all started off with the final division of the Western Roman Empire that occurred on September 4, 476 CE with many events coming afterwards. Firstly, the last Emperor named Romulus Augustus was thrown out by Odoacer, a Germanic chieftain. This happened because Julius Nepos, a West Roman Emperor, decided to continue living in Dalmatia and didn’t come back to do his job. He was later assassinated in 480, four years after the final division. The Ostrogoths recognized themselves as keepers of the direct line of Roman traditions because they were successors, and the Eastern Roman Empire was going on to a different course. Now going back a bit, there were more events that led to such a tragic ending of the Roman Empire. Starting it off was the Battle of Adrianople in 378, and then the death of Theodosius the first in 395 which was also the last time the Roman Empire was politically unified. In 406 there was the crossing of the Rhine by barbaric, Germanic tribes, and in 408 a very high-ranking general by the name of Stilicho was executed. The first sack of Rome happened in 410. The death of Constantius the third in 421, and of Aetius in 454. The second sack of Rome happened in 455, and lastly, the death of Majorian happened in 461.
As the rise of the Byzantine Empire began to come into play, the transition period was trying to finish up. The Eastern half of the Roman Empire (later Byzantine Empire) survived the split and the Fall of the Roman Empire during the 5th century, and it continued to grow and exist for 1000 more years until the conquest of the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Byzantine Empire became the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe during most of its existence. From centuries 4-6, there were many events that encouraged the transitional period for division of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. To start, emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire’s administration into Eastern and Western halves. Between 324 and 330, Constantine the first moved the main capital from Rome to Byzantium which was later known as Constantinople, and then when Theodosius the first was Roman emperor, Christianity became the Empire’s official state religion. Lastly, under rule of Heraclius, the Empire’s military and administration were reorganized and accepted Greek for official use instead of Latin. To summarize, Byzantium can differ from ancient Rome in that it adapted towards Greek and Orthodox Christianity rather than Latin culture and Roman polytheism and Catholicism.
After the transition, the Byzantine Empire began to rise to the top. In the beginning, the Empire’s borders changed a lot during its existence because it went through many phases of decline and improvement. During the rule of Justinian the first (527-565), the Empire reached its greatest height once it reconquered most of the Western Mediterranean coast which included North Africa, Italy, and Rome. Rome was held for an additional 200 years. During the rule of Maurice (582-602), the Empire’s eastern boundary expanded and the north remained. When he was killed, it created a 20-year war with the Sassanids of Persia, and this used up much of the Empire’s resources and was responsible for major territorial losses during the Islamic conquests of the 7th century. During the Macedonian dynasty (10th-11th centuries), the Empire expanded again and went through a rebirth that lasted 200 years but came to an end with losing most of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. This let the Turks have a chance to settle in the Asia Minor as a home. The final centuries of the Byzantine Empire showed a common trend. Though it worked hard to redeem itself in the 12th century, it was given a setback during the 4th crusade (when Constantinople got sacked, disappeared, and divided into Greek and Latin branches who continuously competed against one another). Even though there was the future recovery of Constantinople and return of the Empire in 1261, it only kept one of the many rival states in the area for the last two centuries. This unpredictable period led to its growing inclusion by the Ottoman Turks over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. After this conquest, the Ottomans arose as the Ottoman Empire.
The Byzantine Empire collapsed slowly. It maintained a status that cannot be reached by many states today. The Byzantine Empire will definitely always be remembered.
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