Seller: highrating_lowprice (20,164) 100%, Location: Rego Park, New York, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 350834877329 Item: i33407 Authentic Ancient Coin of: Byzantine - Latin Rulers of Constantinople 1204-1261 A.D. Billon Trachea 27mm (2.98 grams) Constantinople mint: 1204-1261 A.D. Reference: Sear 2026 Christ enthroned. Emperor left, crowed by Virgin right. You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. Mary variously called Saint Mary, Mother Mary, the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos , the Blessed Virgin Mary , Mary, Mother of God , and, in Islam , as Maryam , mother of Isa ', was an Israelite Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee who lived in the late 1st century BC and early 1st century AD, and is considered by Christians to be the first proselyte to Christianity . She is identified in the New Testament and in the Qur'an as the mother of Jesus through divine intervention . Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e. the messiah ) and God the Son Incarnate (see Trinitarian monotheism ), whereas Muslims regard Jesus as the messiah and the most important prophet of God sent to the people of Israel (and the second-most-important prophet of all, lesser than Muhammad alone). The canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin (Greek παρθένος, parthénos). Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit . Muslims believe that she conceived by the command of God. This took place when she was already betrothed to Saint Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem , where Jesus was born. In keeping with Jewish custom, the betrothal would have taken place when she was around 12, and the birth of Jesus about a year later. The New Testament begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. Church tradition and early non-biblical writings state that her parents were an elderly couple, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne . The Bible records Mary's role in key events of the life of Jesus from his conception to his Ascension. Apocryphal writings tell of her subsequent death and bodily assumption into heaven. Christians of the Catholic Church , the Eastern Orthodox Church , Oriental Orthodox Church , Anglican Communion , and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos , literally Bearer of God. Mary has been venerated since Early Christianity . Throughout the ages she has been a favorite subject in Christian art, music, and literature. There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church has a number of Marian dogmas , such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Perpetual Virginity of Mary , and the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Catholics refer to her as Our Lady and venerate her as the Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Church ; most Protestants do not share these beliefs. Many Protestants see a minimal role for Mary within Christianity, based on the brevity of biblical references. In ancient sources New Testament The Annunciation by Eustache Le Sueur , an example of 17th century Marian art . The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary her pregnancy with Jesus and offers her White Lillies The New Testament account of her humility and obedience to the message of God have made her an exemplar for all ages of Christians. Out of the details supplied in the New Testament by the Gospels about the maid of Galilee, Christian piety and theology have constructed a picture of Mary that fulfills the prediction ascribed to her in the Magnificat (Luke 1:48): "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed." — "Mary." Web: 29Sep2010 Encyclopædia Britannica Online. The Icon of Our Lady of the Sign (Greek: Panagia or Παναγία; Old Church Slavonic : Ikona Bozhey Materi "Znamenie"; Polish : Ikona Bogurodzicy "Znak" ') is the term for a particular type of icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), facing the viewer directly, depicted either full length or half, with her hands raised in the orans position, and with the image of the Child Jesus depicted within a round aureole upon her breast. Our Lady of the Sign (18th century, iconostasis of the Transfiguration church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia). The icon depicts the Theotokos during the Annunciation at the moment of saying, "May it be done to me according to your word."(Luke 1:38). The image of the Christ child represents him at the moment of his conception in the womb of the Virgin. He is depicted not as a fetus, but rather vested in divine robes, and often holding a scroll, symbolic of his role as teacher. Sometimes his robes are gold or white, symbolizing divine glory; sometimes they are blue and red, symbolizing the two natures of Christ (see Christology ). His face is depicted as that of an old man, indicating the Christian teaching that he was at one and the same time both a fully human infant and fully the eternal God, one of the Trinity. His right hand is raised in blessing. The term Virgin of the Sign or Our Lady of the Sign is a reference to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 : "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ". Such an image is often placed in the apse of the sanctuary of an Orthodox church above the Holy Table (altar). As with most Orthodox icons of Mary, the letters ΜΡ ΘΥ (short for ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΟΥ, "Mother of God") are usually placed on the upper left and right of the head of the Virgin Mary. This type of icon is also sometimes called the Platytéra (Greek: Πλατυτέρα, literally wider or more spacious); poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb , Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon (Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών): "More spacious than the heavens". The Platytéra is traditionally depicted on the half-dome that stands above the altar . It is visible high above the iconostasis , and facing down the length of the nave of the church. This particular depiction is usually on a dark blue background, often adorned by golden stars. History The depiction of the Virgin Mary with her hands upraised in prayer ("orans") is of very ancient origin in Christian art . In the mausoleum of St Agnes in Rome is a depiction dating to the 4th century which depicts the Theotokos with hands raised in prayer and the infant Jesus sitting upon her knees. There is also an ancient Byzantine icon of the Mother of God "Nikopea" from the 6th century, where the Virgin Mary is depicted seated upon a throne and holding in her hands an oval shield with the image of "Emmanuel". Icons of the Virgin, known as "The Sign", appeared in Russia during the 11th to 12th centuries. The icon became highly venerated in Russia because of what Orthodox Christians believe to be the miraculous deliverance of Novgorod from invasion in the year 1170. Among the more famous variants of this genre are the Icons of the Mother of God of Abalatsk , Kursk-Root , Mirozh , Novgorod , Sankt Petersburg , Tsarskoye Selo and Vologda . The Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka , one of Chicago 's famed Polish Cathedrals , is home to a 9-foot-wide (2.7 m) Iconic Monstrance of Our Lady of the Sign as part of the planned Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy that is being constructed adjacent to the church. The Monstrance will be found within the sanctuary's adoration chapel which will be the focus of 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration and where there will be no liturgies or vocal prayers, either by individuals or groups as the space will be strictly meant for private meditation and contemplation. The English name "Mary" comes from the Greek Μαρία, which is a shortened form of Μαριάμ. The New Testament name was based on her original Hebrew name מִרְיָם or Miryam . Both Μαρία and Μαριάμ appear in the New Testament. Specific references Luke's gospel mentions Mary most often, identifying her by name twelve times, all of these in the infancy narrative. Matthew's gospel mentions her by name five times, four of these in the infancy narrative and only once outside the infancy narrative. Mark's gospel names her only once (6:3) and mentions her as Jesus' mother without naming her in 3:31 . John's gospel refers to her twice but never mentions her by name. Described as Jesus' mother, she makes two appearances in John's gospel. She is first seen at the wedding at Cana of Galilee which is mentioned only in the fourth gospel. The second reference in John, also exclusively listed this gospel, has the mother of Jesus standing near the cross of her son together with the (also unnamed) "disciple whom Jesus loved. John 2:1-12 is the only text in the canonical gospels in which Mary speaks to (and about) the adult Jesus. In the Book of Acts, Luke's second writing, Mary and the "brothers of Jesus" are mentioned in the company of the eleven who are gathered in the upper room after the ascension. In the Book of Revelation,[12:1,5-6] John's apocalypse never explicitly identifies the "woman clothed with the sun" as Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus. However, some interpreters have made that connection. Family and early life The New Testament tells little of Mary's early history. The 2nd century Protoevangelium of James is the first source to name her parents as Joachim and Anne . According to Luke, Mary was a cousin of Elizabeth , wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah , who was herself part of the lineage of Aaron and so of the tribe of Levi. Some of those who consider that the relationship with Elizabeth was on the maternal side, consider that Mary, like Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, was of the House of David and so of the tribe of Judah, and that the genealogy of Jesus presented in Luke 3 from Nathan, third son of David and Bathsheba , is in fact the genealogy of Mary, while the genealogy from Solomon given in Matthew 1 is that of Joseph. (Aaron's wife Elisheba was of the tribe of Judah, so all his descendents are from both Levi and Judah.) The Virgin's first seven steps mosaic from Chora Church , c. 12th century. Mary resided in "her own house" in Nazareth in Galilee , possibly with her parents, and during her betrothal – the first stage of a Jewish marriage – the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah by conceiving him through the Holy Spirit. After a number of months, when Joseph was told of her conception in a dream by "an angel of the Lord", he was surprised; but the angel told him to be unafraid and take her as his wife, which Joseph did, thereby formally completing the wedding rites. Since the angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth - having previously been barren - was then miraculously pregnant, Mary hurried to see Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah in "Hebron, in the hill country of Judah". Mary arrived at the house and greeted Elizabeth who called Mary "the mother of my Lord", and Mary spoke the words of praise that later became known as the Magnificat from her first word in the Latin version. After about three months, Mary returned to her own house. According to the Gospel of Luke, a decree of the Roman emperor Augustus required that Joseph return to his hometown of Bethlehem to be taxed . While he was there with Mary, she gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for them in the inn, she used a manger as a cradle. After eight days, he was circumcised according to Jewish law, and named "JESUS" in accordance with the instructions that the angel had given to Mary in Luke 1:31 , and Joseph was likewise told to call him Jesus in Matthew 1:21 . After Mary continued in the "blood of her purifying" another 33 days for a total of 40 days, she brought her burnt offering and sin offering to the temple, so the priest could make atonement for her sins, being cleansed from her blood. They also presented Jesus – "As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord" . After the prophecies of Simeon and the prophetess Anna in Luke 2:25-38 concluded, Joseph and Mary took Jesus and "returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.". Sometime later, the "wise men" showed up at the "house" where Jesus and his family were staying, and they fled by night and stayed in Egypt for awhile, and returned after Herod died in 4 BC and took up residence in Nazareth. Mary in the life of Jesus Stabat Mater in the Valle Romita Polyptych by Gentile da Fabriano , c. 1410-1412 Mary is involved in the only event in Jesus' adolescent life that is recorded in the New Testament. At the age of twelve Jesus, having become separated from his parents on their return journey from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem , was found among the teachers in the temple. After Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and his temptations by the devil in the desert, Mary was present when, at her suggestion, Jesus worked his first Cana miracle during a marriage they attended, by turning water into wine . Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with James , Joseph, Simon, and Judas , called Jesus' brothers, and unnamed "sisters". Following Jerome , the Church Fathers interpreted the words translated as "brother" and "sister" as referring to close relatives. There is also an incident in which Jesus is sometimes interpreted as rejecting his family. "And his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, they sent in a message asking for him[ 3:21Mk] ... And looking at those who sat in a circle around him, Jesus said, 'These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.'" Mary is also depicted as being present among the women at the crucifixion during the crucifixion standing near "the disciple whom Jesus loved" along with Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene ,[ 19:25-26Jn] to which list Matthew 27:56 adds "the mother of the sons of Zebedee", presumably the Salome mentioned in Mark 15:40 . This representation is called a Stabat Mater . Mary, cradling the dead body of her Son, while not recorded in the Gospel accounts, is a common motif in art, called a "pietà" or "pity". After the Ascension of Jesus In Acts 1:26, especially v. 14, Mary is the only one to be mentioned by name other than the eleven apostles , who abode in the upper room , when they returned from mount Olivet. (It is not stated where the later gathering of about one hundred and twenty disciples was located, when they elected Matthias to fill the office of Judas Iscariot who perished.) Some speculate that the "elect lady" mentioned in 2 John 1:1 may be Mary. From this time, she disappears from the biblical accounts, although it is held by Catholics that she is again portrayed as the heavenly woman of Revelation . Her death is not recorded in the scripture. However, Catholic and Orthodox tradition and doctrine have her assumed (taken bodily) into Heaven . Belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is universal to Catholicism , in both Eastern and Western Catholic Churches , as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church . Coptic Churches , and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglican Churches . Later Christian writings and traditions The Dormition : ivory plaque, late 10th-early 11th century (Musée de Cluny). According to the apocryphal Gospel of James Mary was the daughter of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne . Before Mary's conception Anna had been barren. Mary was given to service as a consecrated virgin in the Temple in Jerusalem when she was three years old, much like Hannah took Samuel to the Tabernacle as recorded in the Old Testament . Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph Mary was 12–14 years old, and he was ninety years old, but such accounts are unreliable. According to Sacred Tradition , Mary died surrounded by the apostles (in either Jerusalem or Ephesus ) between three days and 24 years after Christ's ascension . When the apostles later opened her tomb, they found it to be empty and they concluded that she had been assumed into Heaven . Mary's Tomb , an empty tomb in Jerusalem, is attributed to Mary. The Roman Catholic Church teaches Mary's assumption , but does not teach that she necessarily died. Hyppolitus of Thebes claims that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her Son, dying in 41 AD. The earliest extant biographical writing on Mary is Life of the Virgin attributed to the 7th century saint, Maximus the Confessor which portrays her as a key element of the early Christian Church after the death of Jesus. In the 19th century, a house near Ephesus in Turkey was found, based on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich , an Augustinian nun in Germany It has since been visited as the House of the Virgin Mary by Roman Catholic pilgrims who consider it the place where Mary lived until her assumption. The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved identified as John the Evangelist . Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in their histories that John later went to Ephesus, which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John. Christian devotion 2nd to 5th centuries Christian devotion to Mary goes back to the 2nd century and predates the emergence of a specific Marian liturgical system in the 5th century, following the First Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council itself was held at a church in Ephesus which had been dedicated to Mary about a hundred years before. In Egypt the veneration of Mary had started in the 3rd century and the term Theotokos was used by Origen , the Alexandrian Father of the Church. The earliest known Marian prayer (the Sub tuum praesidium , or Beneath Thy Protection) is from the 3rd century (perhaps 270), and its text was rediscovered in 1917 on a papyrus in Egypt. Following the Edict of Milan in 313, by the 5th century artistic images of Mary began to appear in public and larger churches were being dedicated to Mary, e.g. S. Maria Maggiore in Rome. Middle Ages The Middle Ages saw many legends about Mary, and also her parents and even grandparents. Since the Reformation Key articles on Mariology General perspective Mother of Jesus Specific views Anglican • Eastern Orthodox • Lutheran • Marian veneration • Muslim • Protestant • Roman Catholic Prayers & devotions Hymns to Mary • Hail Mary • Rosary Ecumenical Ecumenical views This box: view talk edit Over the centuries, devotion and veneration to Mary has varied greatly among Christian traditions. For instance, while Protestants show scant attention to Marian prayers or devotions, of all the saints whom the Orthodox venerate, the most honored is Mary, who is considered "more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious than the Seraphim ." Orthodox theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote: "Love and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the soul of Orthodox piety. A faith in Christ which does not include his mother is another faith, another Christianity from that of the Orthodox church." Although the Catholics and the Orthodox may honor and venerate Mary, they do not view her as divine, nor do they worship her. Catholics view Mary as subordinate to Christ, but uniquely so, in that she is seen as above all other creatures. Similarly Theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote that although the Orthodox view Mary as "superior to all created beings" and "ceaselessly pray for her intercession" she is not considered a "substitute for the One Mediator" who is Christ. "Let Mary be in honor, but let worship be given to the Lord" he wrote. Similarly, Catholics do not worship Mary, but venerate her. Catholics use the term hyperdulia for Marian veneration rather than latria that applies to God and dulia for other saints. The definition of the three level hierarchy of latria, hyperdulia and dulia goes back to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. Devotions to artistic depictions of Mary vary among Christian traditions. There is a long tradition of Roman Catholic Marian art and no image permeates Catholic art as does the image of Madonna and Child . The icon of the Virgin is without doubt the most venerated icon among the Orthodox. Both Roman Catholics and the Orthodox venerate images and icons of Mary, given that the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 permitted their veneration by Catholics with the understanding that those who venerate the image are venerating the reality of the person it represents, and the 842 Synod of Constantinople established the same for the Orthodox. The Orthodox, however, only pray to and venerate flat, two-dimensional icons and not three-dimensional statues. The Anglican position towards Mary is in general more conciliatory than that of Protestants at large and in a book he wrote about praying with the icons of Mary, Rowan Williams , the Archbishop of Canterbury said: "It is not only that we cannot understand Mary without seeing her as pointing to Christ; we cannot understand Christ without seeing his attention to Mary". Titles Eleusa Theotokos with scenes from the life of Mary, 18th century Titles to honor Mary or ask for her intercession are used by some Christian traditions such as the Eastern Orthodox or Catholics , but not others, e.g. the Protestants . Common titles for Mary include Mother of God (Theotokos), The Blessed Virgin Mary (also abbreviated to "BVM"), Our Lady (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora, Nossa Senhora, Madonna) and the Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli). Specific titles vary among Anglican views of Mary , Ecumenical views of Mary , Lutheran views of Mary , Protestant views on Mary , and Roman Catholic views of Mary , Latter Day Saints' views of Mary , Orthodox views of Mary . In addition to Islamic views on Mary . Mary is referred to by the Eastern Orthodox Church , Oriental Orthodoxy , the Anglican Church , and all Eastern Catholic Churches as Theotokos, a title recognized at the Third Ecumenical Council (held at Ephesus to address the teachings of Nestorius , in 431). Theotokos (and its Latin equivalents, "Deipara" and "Dei genetrix") literally means "Godbearer". The equivalent phrase "Mater Dei", (Mother of God) is more common in Latin and so also in the other languages used in the Western Catholic Church , but this same phrase in Greek (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ), in the abbreviated form of the first and last letter of the two words (ΜΡ ΘΥ), is the indication attached to her image in Byzantine icons. The Council stated that the Church Fathers "did not hesitate to speak of the holy Virgin as the Mother of God". Some titles have a Biblical basis, for instance the title Queen Mother has been given to Mary since she was the mother of Jesus, who was sometimes referred to as the "King of Kings" due to his lineage of King David. The biblical basis for the term Queen can be seen in the Gospel of Luke 1:32 and the Book of Isaiah 9:6, and Queen Mother from 1 Kings 2:19-20 and Jeremiah 13:18-19 . Other titles have arisen from reported miracles, special appeals or occasions for calling on Mary, e.g. Our Lady of Good Counsel , Our Lady of Navigators or Our Lady of Ransom who protects captives. The three main titles for Mary used by the Orthodox are Theotokos , i.e., Mother of God (Greek Θεοτόκος), Aeiparthenos , i.e. Ever Virgin (Greek ἀειπαρθὲνος), as confirmed in the Fifth Ecumenical Council 553, and Panagia , i.e., All Holy (Greek Παναγία). A large number of titles for Mary are used by Roman Catholics, and these titles have in turn given rise to many artistic depictions, e.g. the title Our Lady of Sorrows has resulted in masterpieces such as Michelangelo 's Pietà . Marian feasts The earliest feasts that relate to Mary grew out of the cycle of feasts that celebrated the Nativity of Jesus . Given that according to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22-40), forty days after the birth of Jesus, along with the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple Mary was purified according to Jewish customs, the Feast of the Purification began to be celebrated by the 5th century, and became the "Feast of Simeon " in Byzantium . Village decorations during the Feast of the Assumption in Għaxaq , Malta. In the 7th and 8th centuries four more Marian feasts were established in the Eastern Church . In the Western Church a feast dedicated to Mary, just before Christmas was celebrated in the Churches of Milan and Ravenna in Italy in the 7th century. The four Roman Marian feasts of Purification, Annunciation, Assumption and Nativity of Mary were gradually and sporadically introduced into England by the 11th century. Over time, the number and nature of feasts (and the associated Titles of Mary ) and the venerative practices that accompany them have varied a great deal among diverse Christian traditions. Overall, there are significantly more titles, feasts and venerative Marian practices among Roman Catholics than any other Christians traditions. Some such feasts relate to specific events, e.g. the Feast of Our Lady of Victory was based on the 1571 victory of the Papal States in the Battle of Lepanto . Differences in feasts may also originate from doctrinal issues – the Feast of the Assumption is such an example. Given that there is no agreement among all Christians on the circumstances of the death, Dormition or Assumption of Mary , the feast of assumption is celebrated among some denominations and not others. While the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, some Eastern Catholics celebrate it as Dormition of the Theotokos , and may do so on August 28, if they follow the Julian calendar . The Eastern Orthodox also celebrate it as the Dormition of the Theotokos , one of their 12 Great Feasts . Protestants do not celebrate this, or any other Marian feasts. Christian doctrines There is significant diversity in the Marian doctrines accepted by various Christian churches. The key Marian doctrines held in Christianity can be briefly outlined as follows: Mother of God : holds that Mary, as mother of Jesus is therefore Theotokos (God-bearer), or Mother of God. Virgin birth of Jesus : states that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus by action of the Holy Spirit while remaining a virgin. Dormition : commemorates Mary's "falling asleep" or natural death shortly before her Assumption. Assumption : the doctrine which states that Mary was taken bodily into Heaven either at, or before, her death. Immaculate Conception : states that Mary herself was conceived without original sin . Perpetual Virginity : holds that Mary remained a virgin all her life, even after the act of giving birth to Jesus. The acceptance of these Marian doctrines by Christians can be summarized as follows: Doctrine Church action Accepted by Mother of God First Council of Ephesus , 431 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Virgin birth of Jesus First Council of Nicaea , 325 Roman Catholics , Eastern Orthodox , Anglicans , Lutherans , Protestants , Latter Day Saints Assumption of Mary Munificentissimus Deus encyclical Pope Pius XII , 1950 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, some Anglicans, some Lutherans Immaculate Conception Ineffabilis Deus encyclical Pope Pius IX , 1854 Roman Catholics, some Anglicans, some Lutherans, early Martin Luther Perpetual Virginity Council of Constantinople , 533 Smalcald Articles , 1537 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Some Anglicans, Some Lutherans, Martin Luther , John Wesley The title "Mother of God" (Theotokos) for Mary was confirmed by the First Council of Ephesus , held at the Church of Mary in 431. The Council decreed that Mary is the Mother of God because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. This doctrine is widely accepted by Christians in general, and the term Mother of God had already been used within the oldest known prayer to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium which dates to around 250 AD. The Virgin birth of Jesus has been a universally held belief among Christians since the 2nd century, It is included in the two most widely used Christian creeds , which state that Jesus "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" (the Nicene Creed in what is now its familiar form) and the Apostles' Creed . The Gospel of Matthew describes Mary as a virgin who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 . The authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke consider Jesus' conception not the result of intercourse and assert that Mary had "no relations with man" before Jesus' birth. This alludes to the belief that Mary conceived Jesus through the action of God the Holy Spirit, and not through intercourse with Joseph or anyone else. The doctrines of the Assumption or Dormition of Mary relate to her death and bodily assumption to Heaven . While the Roman Catholic Church has established the dogma of the Assumption, namely that Mary went directly to Heaven without a usual physical death, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the Dormition, i.e. that she fell asleep, surrounded by the Apostles. Roman Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary , as proclaimed Ex Cathedra by Pope Pius IX in 1854, namely that she was filled with grace from the very moment of her conception in her mother's womb and preserved from the stain of original sin. The Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church has a liturgical feast by that name , kept on 8 December. The Eastern Orthodox reject the Immaculate Conception principally because their understanding of ancestral sin (the Greek term corresponding to the Latin "original sin") differs from that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, asserts Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made Man. The term Ever-Virgin (Greek ἀειπάρθενος) is applied in this case, stating that Mary remained a virgin for the remainder of her life, making Jesus her biological and only son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous. Perspectives on Mary Blessed Virgin Mary Annunciation , Philippe de Champaigne , 1644 West: Mother of God , Queen of Heaven , Mother of the Church East: Theotokos Honored in Catholicism , Eastern Orthodoxy , Oriental Orthodoxy , Anglicanism , Lutheranism Canonized Pre-Congregation Major shrine Santa Maria Maggiore (See Marian shrines ) Feast See Marian feast days Attributes Blue mantle, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, roses, woman with child Patronage See Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary Christian perspectives on Mary Christian Marian perspectives include a great deal of diversity. While some Christians such as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have well established Marian traditions, Protestants at large pay scant attention to Mariological themes. Roman Catholic , Eastern Orthodox , Oriental Orthodox , Anglican , and Lutherans venerate the Virgin Mary. This veneration especially takes the form of prayer for intercession with her Son, Jesus Christ. Additionally it includes composing poems and songs in Mary's honor, painting icons or carving statues of her, and conferring titles on Mary that reflect her position among the saints. Anglican view The multiple churches that form the Anglican Communion and the Continuing Anglican movement have different views on Marian doctrines and venerative practices given that there is no single church with universal authority within the Communion and that the mother church (the Church of England ) understands itself to be both "catholic" and "Reformed". Thus unlike the Protestant churches at large, the Anglican Communion (which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States) includes segments which still retain some veneration of Mary. Mary's special position within God's purpose of salvation as "God-bearer" (Theotokos) is recognised in a number of ways by some Anglican Christians. All the member churches of the Anglican Communion affirm in the historic creeds that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, and celebrates the feast days of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple . This feast is called in older prayer books the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 2 February. The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin on March 25 was from before the time of Bede until the 18th century New Year's Day in England. The Annunciation is called the "Annunciation of our Lady" in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer . Anglicans also celebrate in the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin on May 31, though in some provinces the traditional date of July 2 is kept. The feast of the St. Mary the Virgin is observed on the traditional day of the Assumption, August 15. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin is kept on September 8. The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is kept in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, on December 8. In certain Anglo-Catholic parishes this feast is called the Immaculate Conception . Again, the Assumption of Mary is believed in by most Anglo-Catholics, but is considered a pious opinion by moderate Anglicans. Protestant minded Anglicans reject the celebration of these feasts. Prayers and venerative practices vary a great deal. For instance, as of the 19th century, following the Oxford Movement , Anglo-Catholics frequently pray the Rosary , the Angelus , Regina Caeli , and other litanies and anthems of Our Lady that are reminiscent of Catholic practices. On the other hand, Low-church Anglicans rarely invoke the Blessed Virgin except in certain hymns, such as the second stanza of Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones . The Anglican Society of Mary was formed in 1931 and maintains chapters in many countries. The purpose of the society is to foster devotion to Mary among Anglicans.The high-church Anglicans espouse doctrines that are closer to Roman Catholics, and retain veneration for Mary, e.g. official Anglican pilgrimages to Our Lady of Lourdes have taken place since 1963, and pilgrimages to Our Lady of Walsingham have gone on for hundreds of years. Historically, there has been enough common ground between Roman Catholics and Anglicans on Marian issues that in 2005 a joint statement called Mary: grace and hope in Christ was produced through ecumenical meetings of Anglicans and Roman Catholic theologians. This document, informally known as the "Seattle Statement", is not formally endorsed by either the Catholic Church or the Anglican Communion, but is viewed by its authors as the beginning of a joint understanding of Mary. Catholic view Madonna of humility by Domenico di Bartolo , 1433; one of the most innovative Marian images from the early Renaissance . In the Catholic Church , Mary is accorded the title "Blessed," (from Latin beatus, blessed, via Greek μακάριος, makarios and Latin facere, make) in recognition of her ascension to Heaven and her capacity to intercede on behalf of those who pray to her. Catholic teachings make clear that Mary is not considered divine and prayers to her are not answered by her, they are answered by God. The four Catholic dogmas regarding Mary are: Mother of God , Perpetual virginity of Mary , Immaculate Conception (of Mary) and Assumption of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary , the mother of Jesus has a more central role in Roman Catholic teachings and beliefs than in any other major Christian group. Not only do Roman Catholics have more theological doctrines and teachings that relate to Mary, but they have more festivals, prayers, devotional, and venerative practices than any other group. The Catholic Catechism states: "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." For centuries, Roman Catholics have performed acts of consecration and entrustment to Mary at personal, societal and regional levels. These acts may be directed to the Virgin herself, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Immaculata . In Catholic teachings, consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God. Following the growth of Marian devotions in the 16th century, Catholic saints wrote books such as Glories of Mary and True Devotion to Mary that emphasized Marian veneration and taught that "the path to Jesus is through Mary". Marian devotions are at times linked to Christocentric devotions, e.g. the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary . The chapel based on the claimed House of Mary in Ephesus Key Marian devotions include: Seven Sorrows of Mary , Rosary and scapular , Miraculous Medal and Reparations to Mary . The months of May and October are traditionally "Marian months" for Roman Catholics, e.g. the daily Rosary is encouraged in October and in May Marian devotions take place in many regions. Popes have issued a number of Marian encyclicals and Apostolic Letters to encourage devotions to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Catholics place high emphasis on Mary's roles as protector and intercessor and the Catholic Catechism refers to Mary as the "Mother of God to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs" Key Marian prayers include: Hail Mary , Alma Redemptoris Mater , Sub Tuum Praesidum , Ave Maris Stella , Regina Coeli , Ave Regina Coelorum and the Magnificat . Mary's participation in the processes of salvation and redemption has also been emphasized in the Catholic tradition, but they are not doctrines. Pope John Paul II 's 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater began with the sentence: "The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation." In the 20th century both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have emphasized the Marian focus of the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote: It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that "truth about Jesus Christ," "truth about the Church" and "truth about man". when he suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the "whole truth about Mary". Orthodox view Our Lady of Vladimir , one of the holiest medieval representations of the Theotokos Orthodox Christianity includes a large number of traditions regarding the Ever Virgin Mary, the Theotokos . The Orthodox believe that she was and remained a virgin before and after Christ's birth. The Theotokia (i.e. hymns to the Theotokos ) are an essential part of the Divine Services in the Eastern Church and their positioning within the liturgical sequence effectively places the Theotokos in the most prominent place after Christ. Within the Orthodox tradition, the order of the saints begins with: The Theotokos, Angels, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, Martyres, etc. giving the Virgin Mary precedence over the angels. She is also proclaimed as the "Lady of the Angels". The views of the Church Fathers still play an important role in the shaping of Orthodox Marian perspective. However, the Orthodox views on Mary are mostly doxological , rather than academic: they are expressed in hymns, praise, liturgical poetry and the veneration of icons. One of the most loved Orthodox Akathists (i.e. standing hymns ) is devoted to Mary and it is often simply called the Akathist Hymn . Five of the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodoxy are dedicated to Mary.The Sunday of Orthodoxy directly links the Virgin Mary's identity as Mother of God with icon veneration. A number of Orthodox feasts are connected with the miraculous icons of the Theotokos. The Orthodox view Mary as "superior to all created beings", although not divine. The Orthodox venerate Mary as conceived immaculate and assumed into heaven, but they do not accept the Roman Catholic dogmas on these doctrines. The Orthodox celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos , rather than Assumption. The Protoevangelium of James , an extra-canonical book, has been the source of many Orthodox beliefs on Mary. The account of Mary's life presented includes her consecration as a virgin at the temple at age three. The High Priest Zachariah blessed Mary and informed her that God had magnified her name among many generations. Zachariah placed Mary on the third step of the altar, whereby God gave her grace. While in the temple, Mary was miraculously fed by an angel, until she was twelve years old. At that point an angel told Zachariah to betroth Mary to a widower in Israel, who would be indicated. This story provides the theme of many hymns for the Feast of Presentation of Mary , and icons of the feast depict the story. The Orthodox believe that Mary was instrumental in the growth of Christianity during the life of Jesus, and after his Crucifixion, and Orthodox Theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote: "The Virgin Mary is the center, invisible, but real, of the Apostolic Church" Theologians from the Orthodox tradition have made prominent contributions to the development of Marian thought and devotion. John Damascene (c 650─c 750) was one of the greatest Orthodox theologians. Among other Marian writings, he proclaimed the essential nature of Mary's heavenly Assumption or Dormition and her mediative role. It was necessary that the body of the one who preserved her virginity intact in giving birth should also be kept incorrupt after death. It was necessary that she, who carried the Creator in her womb when he was a baby, should dwell among the tabernacles of heaven. From her we have harvested the grape of life; from her we have cultivated the seed of immortality. For our sake she became Mediatrix of all blessings; in her God became man, and man became God. More recently, Sergei Bulgakov expressed the Orthodox sentiments towards Mary as follows: Mary is not merely the instrument, but the direct positive condition of the Incarnation, its human aspect. Christ could not have been incarnate by some mechanical process, violating human nature. It was necessary for that nature itself to say for itself, by the mouth of the most pure human being: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word." Protestant view Protestants in general reject the veneration and invocation of the Saints. Protestants typically hold that Mary was the mother of Jesus, but was an ordinary woman devoted to God. Therefore, there is virtually no Marian veneration, Marian feasts, Marian pilgrimages, Marian art, Marian music or Marian spirituality in today's Protestant communities. Within these views, Roman Catholic beliefs and practices are at times rejected, e.g., theologian Karl Barth wrote that "the heresy of the Catholic Church is its Mariology ". Some early Protestants venerated and honored Mary. Martin Luther wrote that: "Mary is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil". However, as of 1532 Luther stopped celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary and also discontinued his support of the Immaculate Conception . In the text of the Magnificat (recorded in Luke 1:46-55 ), Mary proclaims "My soul rejoices in God my Savior". The personal need of a savior is seen by Protestants as expressing that Mary never thought herself "sinnless". John Calvin said, "It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. However, Calvin firmly rejected the notion that anyone but Christ can intercede for man. Although Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli honored Mary as the Mother of God in the 16th century, they did so less than Martin Luther. Thus the idea of respect and high honor for Mary was not rejected by the first Protestants; but, they came to criticize the Roman Catholics for venerating Mary. Following the Council of Trent in the 16th century, as Marian veneration became associated with Catholics, Protestant interest in Mary decreased. During the Age of the Enlightenment any residual interest in Mary within Protestant churches almost disappeared, although Anglicans and Lutherans continued to honor her. Protestants acknowledge that Mary is "blessed among women" but they do not agree that Mary is to be venerated. She is considered to be an outstanding example of a life dedicated to God. In the 20th century, Protestants reacted in opposition to the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary . The conservative tone of the Second Vatican Council began to mend the ecumenical differences, and Protestants began to show interest in Marian themes. In 1997 and 1998 ecumenical dialogs between Catholics and Protestants took place, but to date the majority of Protestants pay scant attention to Marian issues and often view them as a challenge to the authority of Scripture . Lutheran view Stained glass of Jesus leaving his mother in a Lutheran Church , South Carolina. Despite Martin Luther 's harsh polemics against his Roman Catholic opponents over issues concerning Mary and the saints, theologians appear to agree that Luther adhered to the Marian decrees of the ecumenical councils and dogmas of the church. He held fast to the belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin and the Theotokos or Mother of God . Special attention is given to the assertion that Luther, some three-hundred years before the dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854, was a firm adherent of that view. Others maintain that Luther in later years changed his position on the Immaculate Conception, which, at that time was undefined in the Church, maintaining however the sinlessness of Mary throughout her life. For Luther, early in his life, the Assumption of Mary was an understood fact, although he later stated that the Bible did not say anything about it and stopped celebrating its feast. Important to him was the belief that Mary and the saints do live on after death. "Throughout his career as a priest-professor-reformer, Luther preached, taught, and argued about the veneration of Mary with a verbosity that ranged from childlike piety to sophisticated polemics. His views are intimately linked to his Christocentric theology and its consequences for liturgy and piety." Luther, while revering Mary, came to criticize the "Papists" for blurring the line, between high admiration of the grace of God wherever it is seen in a human being, and religious service given to another creature. He considered the Roman Catholic practice of celebrating saints ' days and making intercessory requests addressed especially to Mary and other departed saints to be idolatry . His final thoughts on Marian devotion and veneration are preserved in a sermon preached at Wittenberg only a month before his death: Therefore, when we preach faith, that we should worship nothing but God alone, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we say in the Creed: 'I believe in God the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ,' then we are remaining in the temple at Jerusalem. Again,'This is my beloved Son; listen to him.' 'You will find him in a manger'. He alone does it. But reason says the opposite: "What, us? Are we to worship only Christ? Indeed, shouldn’t we also honor the holy mother of Christ? She is the woman who bruised the head of the serpent. Hear us, Mary, for thy Son so honors thee that he can refuse thee nothing. Here Bernard went too far in his Homilies on the Gospel: Missus est Angelus. God has commanded that we should honor the parents; therefore I will call upon Mary. She will intercede for me with the Son, and the Son with the Father, who will listen to the Son. So you have the picture of God as angry and Christ as judge; Mary shows to Christ her breast and Christ shows his wounds to the wrathful Father. That’s the kind of thing this comely bride, the wisdom of reason cooks up: Mary is the mother of Christ, surely Christ will listen to her; Christ is a stern judge, therefore I will call upon St. George and St. Christopher. No, we have been by God’s command baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews were circumcised. Certain Lutheran churches such as the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church however, continue to venerate Mary and the saints in the same manner that Roman Catholics do, and hold all Marian dogmas as part of their faith. Methodist view The Black Madonna of Częstochowa , Poland. The United Methodist Church , as well as other Methodist churches, have no official writings or teachings on the Virgin Mary except what is mentioned in Scripture and the ecumenical Creeds, mainly that Christ was conceived in her womb through the Holy Spirit and that she gave birth to Christ as a virgin . John Wesley , the founder of the Methodist Movement within the Church of England , which later led to the Methodist Church , believed that the Virgin Mary was a perpetual virgin , meaning she never had sex. Many Methodists reject this concept, but some Methodists believe it. The church does hold that Mary was a virgin before, during, and immediately after the birth of Christ. John Wesley stated in a letter to a Roman Catholic friend that: "The Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as when she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin." Article II of the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church states that: The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men. From this, the Virgin Mary is believed to be the Theotokos , or Mother of God, in the Methodist Church, although the term is usually only used by those of High Church and Evangelical Catholic tradition. Article II of The Confession of Faith from The Book of Discipline states: “We believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, in whom the divine and human natures are perfectly and inseparably united. He is the eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As ministering servant he lived, suffered and died on the cross. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to be with the Father, from whence he shall return. He is eternal Savior and Mediator, who intercedes for us, and by him all persons are to be judged.” From this statement, Methodists reject the Catholic ideas of Mary as a Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of the Faith. The Methodist Churches disagree with veneration of saints , of Mary, and of relics; believing that reverence and praise are for God alone. However, studying the life of Mary and the biographies of saints is deemed appropriate, as they are seen as heroes and examples of good Christians. The Methodist churches reject the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary , stating that Christ was the only person to live a sinless life and to ascend body and soul into Heaven. Latter Day Saints In the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830), Mary was referred to as "the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh," a reading that was changed to "the mother of the Son of God" in all subsequent editions (1837–). Nontrinitarian view Nontrinitarians , such as Unitarians , Christadelphians and Jehovah's Witnesses consider Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ . Because they do not consider Jesus as God, they do not consider Mary as the Mother of God or the Theotokos. Since Nontrinitarian churches are typically also mortalist , the issue of praying to Mary, whom they would consider "asleep," awaiting resurrection, does not arise. Swedenborg says God as he is in himself could not directly approach evil spirits to redeem those spirits without destroying them (Exodus 33:20, John 1:18), so God impregnated Mary, who gave Jesus Christ access to the evil heredity of the human race, which he could approach, redeem and save. Islamic perspective Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned as Maryam, more in the Qur'an than in the entire New Testament . She enjoys a singularly distinguished and honored position among women in the Qur'an . A Sura (chapter) in the Qur'an is titled "Maryam" (Mary), which is the only Sura in the Qur'an named after a woman, in which the story of Mary (Maryam) and Jesus (Isa) is recounted according to the Islamic view of Jesus. Maryam (Mary) with her son Isa (Jesus), Persian miniature. She is mentioned in the Qur'an with the honorific title of "our lady" (syyidatuna) as the daughter of Imran and Hannah. She is the only woman directly named in the Qur'an; declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a Sign of God to mankind; as one who "guarded her chastity"; an obedient one; chosen of her mother and dedicated to God whilst still in the womb; uniquely (amongst women) Accepted into service by God;cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zacharias); that in her childhood she resided in the Temple and uniquely had access to Al-Mihrab (understood to be the Holy of Holies ), and was provided with heavenly 'provisions' by God. Mary is also called a Chosen One a Purified One;] a Truthful one; her child conceived through "a Word from God"; and "exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes (the material and heavenly worlds)". The Qur'an relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places Sura 3 and Sura 19 These state beliefs in both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin birth of Jesus. The account given in Sura 19 of the Qur'an is nearly identical with that in the Gospel according to Luke , and both of these (Luke, Sura 19) begin with an account of the visitation of an angel upon Zakariya (Zecharias) and Good News of the birth of Yahya (John), followed by the account of the annunciation. It mentions how Mary was informed by an angel that she would become the mother of Jesus through the actions of God alone. In the Islamic tradition, Mary and Jesus were the only children who could not be touched by Satan at the moment of their birth, for God imposed a veil between them and Satan. According to author Shabbir Akhtar, the Islamic perspective on Mary's Immaculate Conception is compatible with the Catholic doctrine of the same topic The Qur'an says that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth. The most detailed account of the annunciation and birth of Jesus is provided in Sura 3 and 19 of The Qur'an wherein it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin. Other views Pagan Rome From the early stages of Christianity, belief in the virginity of Mary and the virgin conception of Jesus, as stated in the gospels, holy and supernatural, was used by detractors, both political and religious, as a topic for discussions, debates and writings, specifically aimed to challenge the divinity of Jesus and thus Christians and Christianity alike. In the 2nd century, as part of the earliest anti-Christian polemics, Celsus suggested that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Panthera. The views of Celsus drew responses from Origen , the Church Father in Alexandria, Egypt who considered it a fabricated story. How far Celsus sourced his view from Jewish sources remains a subject of discussion. In Judaism The issue of the parentage of Jesus in the Talmud affects also the view of his mother. However the Talmud does not mention Mary by name and is considerate rather than only polemic. The story about Panthera is also found the Toledot Yeshu , the literary origins of which can not be traced with any certainty and given that it is unlikely to go before the 4th century, it is far too late to include authentic remembrances of Jesus. The Blackwell Companion to Jesus states that the Toledot Yeshu has no historical facts as such, and was perhaps created as a tool for warding off conversions to Christianity. The name Panthera may be a distortion of the term parthenos (virgin) and Raymond E. Brown considers the story of Panthera a fanciful explanation of the birth of Jesus which includes very little historical evidence. Robert Van Voorst states that given that Toledot Yeshu is a medieval document and due to its lack of a fixed form and orientation towards a popular audience, it is "most unlikely" to have reliable historical information. 4th-century Arabia According to the 4th century heresiologist Epiphanius of Salamis the Virgin Mary was worshipped as a Mother goddess in the heretical Christian sect Collyridianism , which was found throughout Arabia sometime during the 300s AD. Collyridianism was made up mostly of women and even had women priests. They were known to make bread offerings to the Virgin Mary, along with other practices. The group was condemned as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis , who wrote about the group in his writings titled Panarion . Study of the historical Jesus To date, scholars continue to debate the accounts of the birth of Jesus from several perspectives, including textual analysis, historical records and post-apostolic witnesses. Bart D. Ehrman has suggested that the historical method can never comment on the likelihood of supernatural occurrences (meaning that miracles can never be considered historical facts). The statement in Matthew 1:25 that "Joseph did not know Mary until she has given birth to a son" has been debated among scholars, some suggesting that she did not remain perpetually virgin . Other scholars contend that the Greek word hoes (i.e. until) denotes a state up to a point, but does not mean that the state ended after that point, and that Matthew 1:25 does not confirm or deny the virginity of Mary after the birth of Jesus. Other biblical verses have also been debated, e.g. that the reference in Romans 1:3 of Jesus coming "of the seed of David according to the flesh" may be hypothesized as St. Joseph being the father of Jesus. However, most scholars reject this interpretation in the context of virgin birth given that Paul used the Greek word genomenos (i.e. becoming) rather than the word gennetos and the reference to "seed of David" is likely to Mary's lineage. Cinematic portrayals Mary has been portrayed in various films, including: Das Mirakel (as a statue which comes to life) Saint Mary (Iranian film) Mary Mother of Christ Mary, Mother of Jesus Jesus of Nazareth Color of the Cross Ben-Hur (1959 film) The Last Temptation of Christ (film) The Greatest Story Ever Told The Living Christ Series The Nativity Story The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople (original Latin name: Imperium Romaniae, "Empire of Romania ") is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire . It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261. The Latin Empire was intended to supplant as titular successor to the Roman Empire in the east, with a Western Roman Catholic emperor enthroned in place of the Eastern Orthodox Roman emperors . Baldwin IX , Count of Flanders , was crowned the first Latin emperor as Baldwin I on 16 May 1204. The Latin Empire failed to attain political or economic dominance over the other Latin powers that had been established in former Byzantine territories in the wake of the Fourth Crusade, especially Venice , and after a short initial period of military successes it went into a steady decline. Weakened by constant warfare with the Bulgarians and the unconquered sections of the empire, it eventually fell when Byzantines recaptured Constantinople under Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261. The last Latin emperor, Baldwin II , went into exile, but the imperial title survived, with several pretenders to it, until the 14th century. Name The original name of this state in the Latin language was Imperium Romaniae ("Empire of Romania"). This name was used based on the fact that the common name for the Roman Empire in this period had been Romania (Ῥωμανία, "Land of the Romans"). The names Byzantine and Latin were not contemporary terms. They were invented much later by historians seeking to differentiate between the classical period of the Roman Empire , the medieval period (label the Byzantine Empire ) and the late medieval Latin Empire, all of which called themselves "Roman." The term Latin has been used because the crusaders (Franks, Venetians, and other westerners) were Roman Catholic and used Latin as their liturgical and scholarly language. It is used in contrast to the Eastern Orthodox locals who used Greek in both liturgy and common speech. History Creation By arrangement among the crusaders, Byzantine territory was divided: in the Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae , signed on 1 October 1204, three eighths — including Crete and other islands — went to the Republic of Venice . The Latin Empire claimed the remainder, and did exert control over areas of Greece , divided into vassal fiefs : the Kingdom of Thessalonica , the Principality of Achaea , the Duchy of Athens , the Duchy of the Archipelago and the short-lived duchies of Nicaea , Philippopolis , and Philadelphia . The Doge of Venice did not rank as a vassal to the Empire, but his position in control of 3/8 of its territory and of parts of Constantinople itself, ensured Venice's influence in the Empire's affairs. However, much of the former Byzantine territory remained in the hands of rival successor states led by Byzantine Greek aristocrats, such as the Despotate of Epirus , the Empire of Nicaea , and the Empire of Trebizond , which were bent on reconquest from the Latins. The crowning of Baldwin and the creation of the Latin Empire had the curious effect of creating three so-called Roman Empires in Europe at the same time, the others being the Holy Roman Empire and the remnants of the Byzantine Empire (the direct successor of the ancient Roman Empire), none of which actually controlled the city of Rome, which was under the temporal authority of the Pope. In Asia Minor Capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. The initial campaigns of the crusaders in Asia Minor resulted in the capture of most of Bithynia by 1205, with the defeat of the forces of Theodore I Laskaris at Poemanenum and Prusa. Latin successes continued, and in 1207 a truce was signed with Theodore, newly proclaimed Emperor of Nicaea. The Latins inflicted a further defeat on Nicaean forces at the Rhyndakos river in October 1211, and three years later the Treaty of Nymphaeum (1214) recognized their control of most of Bithynia and Mysia . The peace was maintained until 1222, at which point the resurgent power of Nicaea felt sufficiently strong enough to challenge the Latin Empire, by that time weakened by constant warfare in its European provinces. At the battle of Poimanenon in 1224, the Latin army was defeated, and by the next year Emperor Robert of Courtenay was forced to cede all his Asian possessions to Nicaea, save Nicomedia and the territories directly across Constantinople. Nicaea turned also to the Aegean , capturing the islands awarded to the empire. In 1235, finally, the last Latin possessions fell to Nicaea. In Europe Unlike in Asia, where the Latin Empire faced only an initially weak Nicaea, in Europe it was immediately confronted with a powerful enemy: the Bulgarian tsar Kaloyan . When Baldwin campaigned against the Byzantine lords of Thrace , they called upon Kaloyan for help. At the Battle of Adrianople on 14 April 1205, the Latin heavy cavalry and knights were crushed by Kaloyan's troops, and Emperor Baldwin was captured. He was imprisoned in the Bulgarian capital Tarnovo until his death later in 1205. Kaloyan was murdered a couple of years later (1207) during a siege of Thessalonica , and the Bulgarian threat conclusively defeated with a victory the following year, which allowed Baldwin's successor, Henry of Flanders , to reclaim most of the lost territories in Thrace until 1210, when peace was concluded with the marriage of Henry to Maria of Bulgaria , tsar Kaloyan's daughter. At the same time, another Greek successor state, the Despotate of Epirus , under Michael I Komnenos Doukas , posed a threat to the empire's vassals in Thessalonica and Athens. Henry demanded his submission, which Michael provided, giving off his daughter to Henry's brother Eustace in the summer of 1209. This alliance allowed Henry to launch a campaign in Macedonia , Thessaly and Central Greece against the rebellious Lombard lords of Thessalonica. However, Michael's attack on the Kingdom of Thessalonica in 1210 forced him to return north to relieve the city and to force Michael back into submission. In 1214 however, Michael died, and was succeeded by Theodore Komnenos Doukas , who was determined to capture Thessalonica. On 11 June 1216, while supervising repairs to the walls of Thessalonica, Henry died, and was succeeded by Peter of Courtenay , who himself was captured and executed by Theodore the following year. A regency was set up in Constantinople, headed by Peter's widow, Yolanda of Flanders until 1221, when her son Robert of Courtenay was crowned Emperor. Distracted by the renewed war with Nicaea, and waiting in vain for assistance from Pope Honorius III and the King of France Philip II , the Latin Empire was unable to prevent the final fall of Thessalonica to Epirus in 1224. Epirote armies then conquered Thrace in 1225–26, appearing before Constantinople itself. The Latin Empire was saved for the time by the threat posed to Theodore by the Bulgarian tsar Ivan II Asen , and a truce was concluded in 1228. Decline and fall After Robert of Courtenay died in 1228, a new regency under John of Brienne was set up. After the disastrous Epirote defeat by the Bulgarians at the Battle of Klokotnitsa , the Epirote threat to the Latin Empire was removed, only to be replaced by Nicaea, which started acquiring territories in Greece. Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea concluded an alliance with Bulgaria, which in 1235 resulted in joint campaign against the Latin Empire, and an unsuccessful siege of Constantinople the same year. In 1237, Baldwin II attained majority and took over the reins of a much-diminished state. The empire's precarious situation forced him to travel often to Western Europe seeking aid, but largely without success. In order to gain money, he was forced to resort to desperate means, from removing the lead roofs of the Great Palace and selling them, to handing over his only son, Philip, to Venetian merchants as a guarantee for a loan. By 1247, the Nicaeans had effectively surrounded Constantinople, with only the city's strong walls holding them at bay, and the Battle of Pelagonia in 1258 signaled the beginning of the end of Latin predominance in Greece. Thus, on 25 July 1261, with most of the Latin troops away on campaign, the Nicaean general Alexios Strategopoulos found an unguarded entrance to the city, and entered it with his troops, restoring the Byzantine Empire for his master, Michael VIII Palaiologos . Titular claimants For about a century thereafter, the heirs of Baldwin II continued to use the title of Emperor of Constantinople, and were seen as the overlords of the various remaining Latin states in the Aegean . They exercised effective authority in Greece only when actually ruling as princes of Achaea , as in 1333–83. Although they are generally regarded as titular emperors, the continued existence of Latin states in the Aegean that recognized them as their suzerains makes the term a misnomer; a more accurate description would be emperors-in-exile. Organization and society Administration The empire was formed and administrated on Western European feudal principles, incorporating some elements of the Byzantine bureaucracy. The emperor was assisted by a council, composed of the various barons, the Venetian podestà and his six-member council. This council had a major voice in the governance of the realm, especially in the periods of regency, where the Regent (moderator imperii) was dependent on their consent to rule. The podesta, likewise, was an extremely influential member, being practically independent of the emperor. He exercised authority over the Venetian quarters of Constantinople and Pera and the Venetian dominions within the empire, assisted by a separate set of officials. His role was more that of an ambassador and vicegerent of Venice than a vassal to the empire. Economy The Latins did not trust the professional Greek bureaucracy, and in the immediate aftermath of the conquest completely dismantled the Greek economic administration of the areas they controlled. The result was disastrous, disrupting all forms of production and trade. Almost from its inception the Latin Empire was sending requests back to the papacy for aid. For a few years, the major commodities it exported from the surrounding region of Thrace were wheat and furs, as well as profit from Constantinople's strategic location on major trade routes. While the empire showed some moderate vitality while Henry was alive, after his death in 1216 there was a major deficit in leadership. By the 1230s, Constantinople - even with its drastically reduced population - was facing a major shortage of basic foodstuffs. In several senses, the only significant export on which the economy of the Latin Empire had any real basis was the sale of relics back to Western Europe which had been looted from Greek churches. For example, Emperor Baldwin II sold the relic of the Crown of Thorns while in France trying to raise new funds. The Byzantine Empire (or Byzantium) was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages , centred on the capital of Constantinople . Known simply as the "Roman Empire" (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, Basileia Rhōmaiōn) or Romania (Ῥωμανία) to its inhabitants and neighbours, it was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State and maintained Roman state traditions. Byzantium is today distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek culture , characterised by Christianity rather than Roman paganism and was predominantly Greek-speaking rather than Latin-speaking . As the distinction between Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire is largely a modern convention, it is not possible to assign a date of separation, but an important point is Emperor Constantine I's transfer in 324 of the capital from Nicomedia (in Anatolia ) to Byzantium on the Bosphorus , which became Constantinople, "City of Constantine" (alternatively "New Rome").[n 1] The Roman Empire was finally divided in 395 AD after the death of Emperor Theodosius I (r. 379–395), thus this date is also very important if the Byzantine Empire (or Eastern Roman Empire) is looked upon as completely separated from the West. The transition to Byzantine history proper finally begins during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641), since Heraclius effectively established a new state after reforming the army and administration by introducing themes and by replacing the official language of the Empire from Latin to Greek. The Byzantine Empire existed for more than a thousand years, from its genesis in the 4th century to 1453. During most of its existence, it remained one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe, despite setbacks and territorial losses, especially during the Roman-Persian and Byzantine-Arab Wars . The Empire recovered during the Macedonian dynasty , rising again to become a preeminent power in the Eastern Mediterranean by the late 10th century, rivalling the Fatimid Caliphate . After 1071, however, much of Asia Minor , the Empire's heartland, was lost to the Seljuk Turks . The Komnenian restoration regained some ground and briefly reestablished dominance in the 12th century, but following the death of Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (r. 1183–1185) and the end of the Komnenos dynasty in the late 12th century the Empire declined again. The Empire received a mortal blow in 1204 from the Fourth Crusade , when it was dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261 , under the Palaiologan emperors, Byzantium remained only one of many rival states in the area for the final 200 years of its existence. However, this period was the most culturally productive time in the Empire. Successive civil wars in the 14th century further sapped the Empire's strength, and most of its remaining territories were lost in the Byzantine-Ottoman Wars , which culminated in the Fall of Constantinople and the conquest of remaining territories by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. The designation of the Empire as Byzantine began in Western Europe in 1557, when German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources. The term comes from Byzantium , the name of the city of Constantinople before it became the capital of Constantine . This older name of the city would rarely be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts. The publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre (Corpus Scriptorum Historiæ Byzantinæ), and in 1680 of Du Cange 's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of Byzantine among French authors, such as Montesquieu . The term then disappears until the 19th century when it came into general use in the Western world . Before this time, Greek had been used for the Empire and its descendants within the Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the Roman Empire, the Empire of the Romans (Latin: Imperium Romanum, Imperium Romanorum, Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn, Ἀρχὴ τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Arche tôn Rhōmaíōn), Romania 2][n (Latin: Romania, Greek: Ῥωμανία, Rhōmanía), the Roman Republic (Latin: Res Publica Romana, Greek: Πολιτεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Politeίa tôn Rhōmaíōn), Graikía (Greek: Γραικία), and also as Rhōmaís (Greek: Ῥωμαΐς). Although the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries' with its increasingly predominant Greek element . The occasional use of the term Empire of the Greeks (Latin: Imperium Graecorum) in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum (Emperor of the Greeks) were also used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. The authority of the Byzantine emperor as the legitimate Roman emperor, was challenged by the coronation of Charlemagne as Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III in the year 800. Needing Charlemagne's support in his struggle against his enemies in Rome, Leo used the lack of a male occupant of the throne of the Roman Empire at the time to claim that it was vacant and that he could therefore crown a new Emperor himself. Whenever the Popes or the rulers of the West made use of the name Roman to refer to the Eastern Roman Emperors, they preferred the term Imperator Romaniæ instead of Imperator Romanorum, a title that Westerners maintained applied only to Charlemagne and his successors. No such distinction existed in the Persian , Islamic , and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world it was known primarily as روم (Rûm "Rome"). In modern historical works, the Empire is usually called the Eastern Roman Empire in the context of the period 395 to 610, before Emperor Heraclius changed the official language from Latin to Greek (already the language known by the great majority of the population). In contexts after 610, the term Byzantine Empire is used more regularly. History Early history of the Roman Empire The Roman army succeeded in conquering a vast collection of territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and much of Western Europe . These territories consisted of many different cultural groups, ranging from primitive to highly sophisticated. Generally speaking, the eastern Mediterranean provinces were more urbanised and socially developed, having previously been united under the Macedonian Empire and Hellenised by the influence of Greek culture. In contrast, the western regions had mostly remained independent from any single cultural or political authority, and were still largely rural and less developed. This distinction between the established Hellenised East and the younger Latinised West persisted and became increasingly important in later centuries. In 293, Diocletian created a new administrative system, (the tetrarchy ). He associated himself with a co-emperor, or Augustus . Each Augustus was then to adopt a young colleague given the title of Caesar , to share in their rule and eventually to succeed the senior partner. After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian , however, the tetrarchy collapsed, and Constantine I replaced it with the dynastic principle of hereditary succession. Constantine moved the seat of the Empire and introduced important changes into its civil and religious constitution. In 330, he founded Constantinople as a second Rome on the site of Byzantium, which was well-positioned astride the trade routes between East and West. Constantine built upon the administrative reforms introduced by Diocletian.He stabilised the coinage (the gold solidus that he introduced became a highly prized and stable currency), and made changes to the structure of the army. Under Constantine, the Empire had recovered much of its military strength and enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity. Under Constantine, Christianity did not become the exclusive religion of the state, but enjoyed imperial preference, because the Emperor supported it with generous privileges . Constantine established the principle that emperors should not settle questions of doctrine, but should summon general ecclesiastical councils for that purpose. The Synod of Arles was convened by Constantine, and the First Council of Nicaea showcased his claim to be head of the Church. The state of the Empire in 395 may be described in terms of the outcome of Constantine's work. The dynastic principle was established so firmly that the emperor who died in that year, Theodosius I , bequeathed the imperial office jointly to his sons: Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over the undivided empire. The Eastern Empire was largely spared the difficulties faced by the West in the 3rd and 4th centuries, due in part to a more established urban culture and greater financial resources which allowed it to placate invaders with tribute and pay foreign mercenaries . Theodosius II further fortified the walls of Constantinople , leaving the city impervious to most attacks. The walls were not breached until 1204. In order to fend off the Huns , Theodosius paid a tribute (purportedly 300 kg (661.39 lb) of gold). His successor, Marcian , refused to continue to pay this exorbitant sum. Fortunately Attila had already diverted his attention to the Western Roman Empire . After he died in 453, the Hunnic Empire collapsed; many of the remaining Huns were often hired as mercenaries by Constantinople. After the fall of Attila, the Eastern Empire enjoyed a period of peace, while the Western Empire collapsed (its end is usually dated in 476 when the Germanic Roman general Odoacer deposed the titular Western Emperor Romulus Augustulus ). To recover Italy, Emperor Zeno negotiated with the invading Ostrogoths , who had settled in Moesia . He sent the Gothic King Theodoric to Italy as magister militum per Italiam ("commander in chief for Italy") in order to depose Odoacer. By urging Theodoric into conquering Italy, Zeno rid the Eastern Empire of an unruly subordinate and gained at least a nominal form of supremacy over Italy. After Odoacer's defeat in 493, Theodoric ruled Italy on his own. In 491, Anastasius I , an aged civil officer of Roman origin, became Emperor, but it was not until 498 that the forces of the new emperor effectively took the measure of Isaurian resistance. Anastasius revealed himself to be an energetic reformer and an able administrator. He perfected Constantine I's coinage system by definitively setting the weight of the copper follis , the coin used in most everyday transactions. He also reformed the tax system and permanently abolished the chrysargyron tax. The State Treasury contained the enormous sum of 320,000 lbs (145,150 kg) of gold when Anastasius died in 518. Justinian I depicted on one of the famous mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale , Ravenna . Justinian I , who assumed the throne in 527, oversaw a period of recovery of former territories. Justinian, the son of an Illyrian peasant, may already have exerted effective control during the reign of his uncle, Justin I (518–527). In 532, attempting to secure his eastern frontier, Justinian signed a peace treaty with Khosrau I of Persia agreeing to pay a large annual tribute to the Sassanids . In the same year, Justinian survived a revolt in Constantinople (the Nika riots ) which ended with the deaths of a reported 30,000 to 35,000 rioters, on his orders. This victory solidified Justinian's power. Pope Agapetus I was sent to Constantinople by the Ostrogothic king Theodahad , but failed in his mission to sign a peace with Justinian. However, he succeeded in having the Monophysite Patriarch Anthimus I of Constantinople denounced, despite Empress Theodora 's support. The western conquests began in 533, as Justinian sent his general Belisarius to reclaim the former province of Africa from the Vandals who had been in control since 429 with their capital at Carthage. Their success came with surprising ease, but it was not until 548 that the major local tribes were subdued. In Ostrogothic Italy , the deaths of Theodoric the Great , his nephew and heir Athalaric , and his daughter Amalasuntha had left her murderer Theodahad on the throne despite his weakened authority. In 535, a small Byzantine expedition to Sicily was met with easy success, but the Goths soon stiffened their resistance, and victory did not come until 540, when Belisarius captured Ravenna , after successful sieges of Naples and Rome. The Ostrogoths were united under the command of King Totila and captured Rome on 17 December 546. Justinian eventually called back Belisarius to Constantinople in early 549 from Ravenna. The arrival of the Armenian eunuch Narses in Italy (late 551) with an army of some 35,000 men marked another shift in Gothic fortunes. Totila was defeated at the Battle of Busta Gallorum and his successor, Teia, was defeated at the Battle of Mons Lactarius (October 552). Despite continuing resistance from a few Gothic garrisons and two subsequent invasions by the Franks and Alamanni , the war for the Italian peninsula was at an end. In 551, Athanagild ,a noble from Visigothic Hispania , sought Justinian's help in a rebellion against the king, and the emperor dispatched a force under Liberius , a successful military commander. The Empire held on to a small slice of the Iberian Peninsula coast until the reign of Heraclius . In the east, the Roman-Persian Wars continued until 561 when Justinian's and Khosrau's envoys agreed on a 50-year peace. By the mid-550s, Justinian had won victories in most theatres of operation, with the notable exception of the Balkans , which were subjected to repeated incursions from the Slavs . In 559, the Empire faced a great invasion of Kutrigurs and Sclaveni . Justinian called Belisarius out of retirement and defeated the new Hunnish threat. The strengthening of the Danube fleet caused the Kutrigur Huns to withdraw and they agreed to a treaty which allowed them safe passage back across the Danube. In 529, a ten-man commission chaired by Tribonian revised the ancient Roman legal code and created the new Codex Justinianus, a condensed version of previous legal texts. In 534, the Codex Justinianus was updated and reorganised into the system of law used for the rest of the Byzantine era. These legal reforms, along with the many other changes to the law became known as the Corpus Juris Civilis . During the 6th century, the traditional Greco-Roman culture was still influential in the Eastern empire with prominent representatives such as the natural philosopher John Philoponus . Nevertheless, Christian philosophy and culture were dominant and began to replace the older culture. Hymns written by Romanos the Melodist marked the development of the Divine Liturgy , while architects and builders worked to complete the new Church of the Holy Wisdom , Hagia Sophia , which was designed to replace an older church destroyed during the Nika Revolt. The Hagia Sophia stands today as one of the major monuments of Byzantine architectural history. During the 6th and 7th centuries, the Empire was struck by a series of epidemics , which greatly devastated the population and contributed to a significant economic decline and a weakening of the Empire. After Justinian died in 565, his successor, Justin II refused to pay the large tribute to the Persians. Meanwhile, the Germanic Lombards invaded Italy; by the end of the century only a third of Italy was in Byzantine hands. Justin's successor, Tiberius II , choosing between his enemies, awarded subsidies to the Avars while taking military action against the Persians. Though Tiberius' general, Maurice , led an effective campaign on the eastern frontier, subsidies failed to restrain the Avars. They captured the Balkan fortress of Sirmium in 582, while the Slavs began to make inroads across the Danube. Maurice, who meanwhile succeeded Tiberius, intervened in a Persian civil war, placed the legitimate Khosrau II back on the throne and married his daughter to him. Maurice's treaty with his new brother-in-law brought a new status-quo to the east territorially, enlarged to an extent never before achieved by the Empire in its six century history, and much cheaper to defend during this new perpetual peace – millions of solidi were saved by the remission of tribute to the Persians alone. After his victory on the eastern frontier, Maurice was free to focus on the Balkans, and by 602 after a series of successful campaigns he had pushed the Avars and Slavs back across the Danube. Shrinking borders After Maurice's murder by Phocas , Khosrau used the pretext to reconquer the Roman province of Mesopotamia . Phocas, an unpopular ruler who was invariably described in Byzantine sources as a "tyrant", was the target of a number of Senate-led plots. He was eventually deposed in 610 by Heraclius , who sailed to Constantinople from Carthage with an icon affixed to the prow of his ship. Following the ascension of Heraclius, the Sassanid advance pushed deep into Asia Minor, also occupying Damascus and Jerusalem and removing the True Cross to Ctesiphon . The counter-offensive of Heraclius took on the character of a holy war, and an acheiropoietos image of Christ was carried as a military standard. (similarly, when Constantinople was saved from an Avar siege in 626, the victory was attributed to the icons of the Virgin which were led in procession by Patriarch Sergius about the walls of the city). The main Sassanid force was destroyed at Nineveh in 627, and in 629 Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in a majestic ceremony. The war had exhausted both the Byzantine and Sassanid Empire , and left them extremely vulnerable to the Arab Muslim forces which emerged in the following years. The Romans suffered a crushing defeat by the Arabs at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, and Ctesiphon fell in 634. The Arabs, now firmly in control of Syria and the Levant , sent frequent raiding parties deep into Anatolia, and between 674 and 678 laid siege to Constantinople itself. The Arab fleet was finally repulsed through the use of Greek fire , and a thirty-years' truce was signed between the Empire and Ummayyad Caliphate . The Anatolian raids continued unabated, and accelerated the demise of classical urban culture, with the inhabitants of many cities either refortifying much smaller areas within the old city walls, or relocating entirely to nearby fortresses. Constantinople itself dropped substantially in size, from 500,000 inhabitants to just 40,000–70,000, as the city lost the free grain shipments in 618 after the loss of Egypt to the Persians (province was regained in 629, but lost to Arab invaders in 642). The void left by the disappearance of the old semi-autonomous civic institutions was filled by the theme system , which entailed the division of Anatolia into "provinces" occupied by distinct armies which assumed civil authority and answered directly to the imperial administration. This system may have had its roots in certain ad hoc measures taken by Heraclius, but over the course of the 7th century it developed into an entirely new system of Imperial governance. The withdrawal of large numbers of troops from the Balkans to combat the Persians and then the Arabs in the east opened the door for the gradual southward expansion of Slavic peoples into the peninsula, and, as in Anatolia, many cities shrank to small fortified settlements. In the 670s, the Bulgarians were pushed south of the Danube by the arrival of the Khazars , and in 680 Byzantine forces which had been sent to disperse these new settlements were defeated. In the next year, Constantine IV signed a treaty with the Bulgarian khan Asparukh , and the new Bulgarian state assumed sovereignty over a number of Slavic tribes which had previously, at least in name, recognised Byzantine rule. In 687–688, the emperor Justinian II led an expedition against the Slavs and Bulgarians which made significant gains, although the fact that he had to fight his way from Thrace to Macedonia demonstrates the degree to which Byzantine power in the north Balkans had declined. The final Heraclian emperor, Justinian II , attempted to break the power of the urban aristocracy through severe taxation and the appointment of "outsiders" to administrative posts. He was driven from power in 695, and took shelter first with the Khazars and then with the Bulgarians. In 705, he returned to Constantinople with the armies of the Bulgarian khan Tervel , retook the throne, and instituted a reign of terror against his enemies. With his final overthrow in 711, supported once more by the urban aristocracy, the Heraclian dynasty came to an end. Leo III the Isaurian turned back the Muslim assault in 718, and achieved victory with the major help of the Bulgarian khan Tervel, who killed 32,000 Arabs with his army. He also addressed himself to the task of reorganising and consolidating the themes in Asia Minor. His successor, Constantine V , won noteworthy victories in northern Syria, and thoroughly undermined Bulgar strength. Taking advantage of the Empire's weakness after the revolt of Thomas the Slav in the early 820s, the Arabs captured Crete , and successfully attacked Sicily, but on 3 September 863, general Petronas gained a huge victory against Umar al-Aqta , the emir of Melitene . Under the leadership of Bulgarian Emperor Krum , the Bulgarian threat also reemerged, but in 814 Krum's son, Omortag , arranged a peace with the Byzantine Empire. The 8th and 9th centuries were also dominated by controversy and religious division over Iconoclasm . Icons were banned by Leo and Constantine, leading to revolts by iconodules (supporters of icons) throughout the empire. After the efforts of Empress Irene , the Second Council of Nicaea met in 787, and affirmed that icons could be venerated but not worshipped. Irene is said to have endeavoured to negotiate a marriage between herself and Charlemagne , but, according to Theophanes the Confessor , the scheme was frustrated by Aetios, one of her favourites. In 813, Emperor Leo V the Armenian restored the policy of iconoclasm, but in 843 Empress Theodora restored the veneration of the icons with the help of Patriarch Methodios . Iconoclasm played its part in the further alienation of East from West, which worsened during the so-called Photian Schism , when Pope Nicholas I challenged Photios 's elevation to the patriarchate. Macedonian dynasty and resurgence Byzantines, c. 700-1000. The Byzantine Empire reached its height under the 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 Samuel. The cities of the Empire expanded, and affluence spread across the provinces because of the new-found security. The population rose, and production increased, stimulating new demand while also helping to encourage trade. Culturally, there was considerable growth in education and learning (the "Macedonian Renaissance"). Ancient texts were preserved and patiently re-copied. Byzantine art flourished, and brilliant mosaics graced the interiors of the many new churches.Though the Empire was significantly smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it was also stronger, as the remaining territories were less geographically dispersed and more politically and culturally integrated. By 867, the Byzantine Empire had re-stabilised its position in both the east and the west, and the efficiency of its defensive military structure enabled its emperors to begin planning wars of reconquest in the east. The process of reconquest began with mixed fortunes. The temporary reconquest of Crete (843) was followed by a crushing Byzantine defeat on the Bosporus , while the emperors were unable to prevent the ongoing Muslim conquest of Sicily (827–902). Using present day Tunisia as their launching pad, the Muslims conquered Palermo in 831, Messina in 842, Enna in 859, Syracuse in 878, Catania in 900 and the final Byzantine stronghold, the fortress of Taormina , in 902. These drawbacks were later counterbalanced by a victorious expedition against Damietta in Egypt (856), the defeat of the Emir of Melitene (863), the confirmation of the imperial authority over Dalmatia (867), and Basil I's offensives towards the Euphrates (870s). Unlike the deteriorating situation in Sicily, Basil I handled the situation in southern Italy well enough and the province would remain in Byzantine hands for the next 200 years. In 904, disaster struck the Empire when its second city, Thessaloniki , was sacked by an Arab fleet led by the Byzantine renegade Leo of Tripoli . The Byzantine military responded by destroying an Arab fleet in 908, and sacking the city of Laodicea in Syria two years later. Despite this revenge, the Byzantines were still unable to strike a decisive blow against the Muslims, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the imperial forces when they attempted to regain Crete in 911. The situation on the border with the Arab territories remained fluid, with the Byzantines alternatively on the offensive or defensive. The Varangians , who attacked Constantinople for the first time in 860 , constituted another new challenge. In 941, they appeared on the Asian shore of the Bosporus, but this time they were crushed, showing the improvements in the Byzantine military position after 907, when only diplomacy had been able to push back the invaders . The vanquisher of the Varangians was the famous general John Kourkouas , who continued the offensive with other noteworthy victories in Mesopotamia (943): these culminated in the reconquest of Edessa (944), which was especially celebrated for the return to Constantinople of the venerated Mandylion . The soldier-emperors Nikephoros II Phokas (reigned 963–969) and John I Tzimiskes (969–976) expanded the empire well into Syria , defeating the emirs of north-west Iraq and reconquering Crete and Cyprus . At one point under John, the Empire's armies even threatened Jerusalem , far to the south. The emirate of Aleppo and its neighbours became vassals of the Empire in the east, where the greatest threat to the empire was the Fatimid caliphate. After much campaigning, the last Arab threat to Byzantium was defeated when Basil II rapidly drew 40,000 mounted soldiers to relieve Roman Syria. With a surplus of resources and victories thanks to the Bulgar and Syrian campaigns, Basil II planned an expedition against Sicily to re-take it from the Arabs there. After his death in 1025, the expedition set off in the 1040s and was met with initial, but stunted success. Emperor Basil II the Bulgar Slayer (976–1025). The traditional struggle with the See of Rome continued, spurred by the question of religious supremacy over the newly Christianised Bulgaria. This prompted an invasion by the powerful Tsar Simeon I in 894, but this was pushed back by Byzantine diplomacy, which called on the help of the Hungarians. The Byzantines were in turn defeated, however, at the Battle of Bulgarophygon (896), and obliged to pay annual subsides to the Bulgarians. Later (912), Simeon even had the Byzantines grant him the crown of basileus (emperor) of Bulgaria and had the young emperor Constantine VII marry one of his daughters. When a revolt in Constantinople halted his dynastic project, he again invaded Thrace and conquered Adrianople . A great imperial expedition under Leo Phocas and Romanos Lekapenos ended again with a crushing Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Acheloos (917), and the following year the Bulgarians were free to ravage northern Greece as far as Corinth . Adrianople was captured again in 923 and in 924 a Bulgarian army laid siege to Constantinople. The situation in the Balkans improved only after Simeon's death in 927. In 968, Bulgaria was overrun by the Rus' under Sviatoslav I of Kiev , but three years later, Emperor John I Tzimiskes defeated the Rus' and re-incorporated eastern Bulgaria into the Byzantine Empire. Bulgarian resistance revived under the rule of the Cometopuli dynasty , but the new emperor Basil II (reigned 976–1025) made the submission of the Bulgarians his primary goal. Basil's first expedition against Bulgaria, however, resulted in a humiliating defeat at the Gates of Trajan . For the next few years, the emperor would be preoccupied with internal revolts in Anatolia , while the Bulgarians expanded their realm in the Balkans. The war was to drag on for nearly twenty years. The Byzantine victories of Spercheios and Skopje decisively weakened the Bulgarian army, and in annual campaigns, Basil methodically reduced the Bulgarian strongholds. Eventually, at the Battle of Kleidion in 1014 the Bulgarians were completely defeated. The Bulgarian army was captured, and it is said that 99 out of every 100 men were blinded, with the remaining hundredth man left with one eye so as to lead his compatriots home. When Tsar Samuil saw the broken remains of his once gallant army, he died of shock. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had surrendered, and the country became part of the Empire. This victory restored the Danube frontier, which had not been held since the days of the emperor Heraclius. Between 850 and 1100, the Empire developed a mixed relationship with a new state that emerged to the north across the Black Sea , that of the Kievan Rus' . This relationship would have long-lasting repercussions in the history of the East Slavs . The Empire quickly became the main trading and cultural partner for Kiev, but relations were not always friendly. The most serious conflict between the two powers was the war of 968–971 in Bulgaria, but several Rus' raiding expeditions against the Byzantine cities of the Black Sea coast and Constantinople itself are also recorded. Although most were repulsed, they were concluded by trade treaties that were generally favourable to the Rus'. Rus'-Byzantine relations became closer following the marriage of the porphyrogenita Anna to Vladimir the Great , and the subsequent Christianisation of the Rus' : Byzantine priests, architects and artists were invited to work on numerous cathedrals and churches around Rus', expanding Byzantine cultural influence even further. Numerous Rus' served in the Byzantine army as mercenaries, most notably as the famous Varangian Guard . The Byzantine Empire then stretched from Armenia in the east to Calabria in Southern Italy in the west. Many successes had been achieved, ranging from the conquest of Bulgaria , to the annexation of parts of Georgia and Armenia, to the total annihilation of an invading force of Egyptians outside Antioch . Yet even these victories were not enough; Basil considered the continued Arab occupation of Sicily to be an outrage. Accordingly, he planned to reconquer the island, which had belonged to the Roman world since the First Punic War . However, his death in 1025 put an end to the project. The 11th century was also momentous for its religious events. In 1054, relations between the Eastern and Western traditions within the Christian Church reached a terminal crisis. Although there was a formal declaration of institutional separation, on July 16, when three papal legates entered the Hagia Sophia during Divine Liturgy on a Saturday afternoon and placed a bull of excommunication on the altar, the so-called Great Schism was actually the culmination of centuries of gradual separation. Crisis and fragmentation The Empire soon fell into a period of difficulties, caused to a large extent by the undermining of the theme system and the neglect of the military. Nikephoros II (reigned 963–969), John Tzimiskes and Basil II changed the military divisions (τάγματα, tagmata ) from a rapid response, primarily defensive, citizen army into a professional, campaigning army increasingly manned by mercenaries. Mercenaries , however, were expensive and as the threat of invasion receded in the 10th century, so did the need for maintaining large garrisons and expensive fortifications. Basil II left a burgeoning treasury upon his death, but neglected to plan for his succession. None of his immediate successors had any particular military or political talent and the administration of the Empire increasingly fell into the hands of the civil service. Efforts to revive the Byzantine economy only resulted in inflation and a debased gold coinage. The army was now seen as both an unnecessary expense and a political threat. Therefore, native troops were cashiered and replaced by foreign mercenaries on specific contract. At the same time, the Empire was faced with new enemies. Provinces in southern Italy faced the Normans , who arrived in Italy at the beginning of the 11th century. During a period of strife between Constantinople and Rome which ended in the East-West Schism of 1054, the Normans began to advance, slowly but steadily, into Byzantine Italy. Reggio , the capital of the tagma of Calabria, was captured in 1060 by Robert Guiscard , followed by Otranto in 1068. Bari, the main Byzantine stronghold in Apulia, was besieged in August 1068 and fell in April 1071 . The Byzantines also lost their influence over the Dalmatian coastal cities to Peter Krešimir IV of Croatia in 1069. It was in Asia Minor, however, that the greatest disaster would take place. The Seljuq Turks made their first explorations across the Byzantine frontier into Armenia in 1065 and in 1067. The emergency lent weight to the military aristocracy in Anatolia who, in 1068, secured the election of one of their own, Romanos Diogenes , as emperor. In the summer of 1071, Romanos undertook a massive eastern campaign to draw the Seljuks into a general engagement with the Byzantine army. At Manzikert , Romanos not only suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Sultan Alp Arslan , but was also captured. Alp Arslan treated him with respect, and imposed no harsh terms on the Byzantines. In Constantinople, however, a coup took place in favour of Michael Doukas , who soon faced the opposition of Nikephoros Bryennios and Nikephoros Botaneiates . By 1081, the Seljuks expanded their rule over virtually the entire Anatolian plateau from Armenia in the east to Bithynia in the west and founded their capital at Nicaea , just 90 km from Constantinople. Komnenian dynasty and the crusaders The period from about 1081 to about 1185 is often known as the Komnenian or Comnenian period, after the Komnenos dynasty. Together, the five Komnenian emperors (Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I) ruled for 104 years, presiding over a sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire. The Empire 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. Moreover, it was during the Komnenian period that contact between Byzantium and the "Latin" Christian West, including the Crusader states, was at its most crucial stage. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers (60–80,000 'Latins' in Constantinople alone), and their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel in particular helped to spread Byzantine technology, art, literature and culture throughout the Roman Catholic west. Above all, the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west at this period was enormous and of long lasting significance. The Komnenoi also made a significant contribution to the history of Asia Minor. By reconquering much of the region, the Komnenoi set back the advance of the Turks in Anatolia by more than two centuries. In the process, they planted the foundations of the Byzantine successor states of Nicaea, Epirus and Trebizond. Meanwhile, their extensive programme of fortifications has left an enduring mark upon the Anatolian landscape, which can still be appreciated today. Alexios I and the First Crusade After Manzikert, a partial recovery (referred to as the Komnenian restoration ) was made possible by the efforts of the Komnenian dynasty . The first emperor of this dynasty was Isaac I (1057–1059) and the second Alexios I. At the very outset of his reign, Alexios faced a formidable attack by the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund of Taranto , who captured Dyrrhachium and Corfu , and laid siege to Larissa in Thessaly . Robert Guiscard's death in 1085 temporarily eased the Norman problem. The following year, the Seljuq sultan died, and the sultanate was split by internal rivalries. By his own efforts, Alexios defeated the Pechenegs ; they were caught by surprise and annihilated at the Battle of Levounion on 28 April 1091. The very brief first coinage of the Thessaloniki mint, which Alexios opened as he passed through in September 1081 on his way to confront the invading Normans under Robert Guiscard. Having achieved stability in the West, Alexios could turn his attention to the severe economic difficulties and the disintegration of the Empire's traditional defences. However, he still did not have enough manpower to recover the lost territories in Asia Minor and to advance against the Seljuks. At the Council of Piacenza in 1095, Alexios' envoys spoke to Pope Urban II about the suffering of the Christians of the East, and underscored that without help from the West they would continue to suffer under Muslim rule. Urban saw Alexios' request as a dual opportunity to cement Western Europe and reunite the Eastern Orthodox churches with the Catholic Church under his rule. On 27 November 1095, Pope Urban II called together the Council of Clermont , and urged all those present to take up arms under the sign of the Cross and launch an armed pilgrimage to recover Jerusalem and the East from the Muslims. The response in Western Europe was overwhelming. Alexios had anticipated help in the form of mercenary forces from the West, but was totally unprepared for the immense and undisciplined force which soon arrived in Byzantine territory. It was no comfort to Alexios to learn that four of the eight leaders of the main body of the Crusade were Normans, among them Bohemund. Since the crusade had to pass through Constantinople, however, the Emperor had some control over it. He required its leaders to swear to restore to the empire any towns or territories they might conquer from the Turks on their way to the Holy Land. In return, he gave them guides and a military escort. Alexios was able to recover a number of important cities and islands, and in fact much of western Asia Minor. Nevertheless, the crusaders believed their oaths were invalidated when Alexios did not help them during the siege of Antioch (he had in fact set out on the road to Antioch, but had been persuaded to turn back by Stephen of Blois , who assured him that all was lost and that the expedition had already failed). Bohemund, who had set himself up as Prince of Antioch , briefly went to war with the Byzantines, but agreed to become Alexios' vassal under the Treaty of Devol in 1108, which marked the end of Norman threat during Alexios' reign. John II, Manuel I and the Second Crusade Alexios's son John II Komnenos succeeded him in 1118, and was to rule until 1143. John was a pious and dedicated Emperor who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered at the Battle of Manzikert , half a century earlier. Famed for his piety and his remarkably mild and just reign, John was an exceptional example of a moral ruler, at a time when cruelty was the norm. For this reason, he has been called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius . In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the West, decisively defeated the Pechenegs at the Battle of Beroia , and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor . John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the East, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the peninsula. He also thwarted Hungarian, and Serbian threats during the 1120s, and in 1130 allied himself with the German emperor Lothair III against the Norman king Roger II of Sicily . In the later part of his reign, John focused his activities on the East. He defeated the Danishmend emirate of Melitene , and reconquered all of Cilicia , while forcing Raymond of Poitiers , Prince of Antioch , to recognise Byzantine suzerainty. In an effort to demonstrate the Emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into the Holy Land at the head of the combined forces of the Empire and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the treachery of his Crusader allies. In 1142, John returned to press his claims to Antioch, but he died in the spring of 1143 following a hunting accident. Raymond was emboldened to invade Cilicia, but he was defeated and forced to go to Constantinople to beg mercy from the new Emperor. John's chosen heir was his fourth son, Manuel I Komnenos , who campaigned aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east. In Palestine, he allied himself with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and sent a large fleet to participate in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt . Manuel reinforced his position as overlord of the Crusader states, with his hegemony over Antioch and Jerusalem secured by agreement with Raynald , Prince of Antioch, and Amalric , King of Jerusalem respectively. In an effort to restore Byzantine control over the ports of southern Italy, he sent an expedition to Italy in 1155, but disputes within the coalition led to the eventual failure of the campaign. Despite this military setback, Manuel's armies successfully invaded the Kingdom of Hungary in 1167, defeating the Hungarians at the Battle of Sirmium . By 1168, nearly the whole of the eastern Adriatic coast lay in Manuel's hands. Manuel made several alliances with the Pope and Western Christian kingdoms, and successfully handled the passage of the Second Crusade through his empire. In the east, however, Manuel suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Myriokephalon , in 1176, against the Turks. Yet the losses were quickly made good, and in the following year Manuel's forces inflicted a defeat upon a force of "picked Turks". The Byzantine commander John Vatatzes, who destroyed the Turkish invaders at the Battle of Hyelion and Leimocheir , not only brought troops from the capital but also was able to gather an army along the way; a sign that the Byzantine army remained strong and that the defensive program of western Asia Minor was still successful. Twelfth century Renaissance John and Manuel pursued active military policies, and both deployed considerable resources on sieges and on city defences; aggressive fortification policies were at the heart of their imperial military policies. Despite the defeat at Myriokephalon, the policies of Alexios, John and Manuel resulted in vast territorial gains, increased frontier stability in Asia Minor, and secured the stabilisation of the Empire's European frontiers. From c.1081 to c.1180, the Komnenian army assured the empire's security, enabling Byzantine civilisation to flourish. This allowed the Western provinces to achieve an economic revival which continued until the close of the century. It has been argued that Byzantium under the Komnenian rule was more prosperous than at any time since the Persian invasions of the 7th century. During the 12th century, population levels rose and extensive tracts of new agricultural land were brought into production. Archaeological evidence from both Europe and Asia Minor shows a considerable increase in the size of urban settlements, together with a notable upsurge in new towns. Trade was also flourishing; the Venetians, the Genoese and others opened up the ports of the Aegean to commerce, shipping goods from the Crusader kingdoms of Outremer and Fatimid Egypt to the west and trading with the Empire via Constantinople. In artistic terms, there was a revival in mosaic , and regional schools of architecture began producing many distinctive styles that drew on a range of cultural influences. During the 12th century, the Byzantines provided their model of early humanism as a renaissance of interest in classical authors. In Eustathius of Thessalonica , Byzantine humanism found its most characteristic expression. Dynasty of the Angeloi Manuel's death on 24 September 1180 left his 11-year-old son Alexios II Komnenos on the throne. Alexios was highly incompetent at the office, but it was his mother, Maria of Antioch , and her Frankish background that made his regency unpopular. Eventually, Andronikos I Komnenos , a grandson of Alexios I, launched a revolt against his younger relative and managed to overthrow him in a violent coup d'état . Utilizing his good looks and his immense popularity with the army, he marched on to Constantinople in August 1182, and incited a massacre of the Latins. After eliminating his potential rivals, he had himself crowned as co-emperor in September 1183; he eliminated Alexios II and even took his 12-year-old wife Agnes of France for himself. Andronikos began his reign well; in particular, the measures he took to reform the government of the Empire have been praised by historians. According to George Ostrogorsky , Andronikos was determined to root out corruption: Under his rule, the sale of offices ceased; selection was based on merit, rather than favouritism; officials were paid an adequate salary so as to reduce the temptation of bribery. In the provinces, Andronikos's reforms produced a speedy and marked improvement. The aristocrats were infuriated against him, and to make matters worse, Andronikos seems to have become increasingly unbalanced; executions and violence became increasingly common, and his reign turned into a reign of terror. Andronikos seemed almost to seek the extermination of the aristocracy as a whole. The struggle against the aristocracy turned into wholesale slaughter, while the Emperor resorted to ever more ruthless measures to shore up his regime. Despite his military background, Andronikos failed to deal with Isaac Komnenos , Béla III who reincorporated Croatian territories into Hungary, and Stephen Nemanja of Serbia who declared his independence from the Empire. Yet, none of these troubles would compare to William II of Sicily 's invasion force of 300 ships and 80,000 men, arriving in 1185. Andronikos mobilised a small fleet of 100 ships to defend the capital but other than that he was indifferent to the populace. He was finally overthrown when Isaac Angelos , surviving an imperial assassination attempt, seized power with the aid of the people and had Andronikos killed. The reign of Isaac II, and, still more, that of his brother Alexios III , saw the collapse of what remained of the centralised machinery of Byzantine government and defence. Although, the Normans were driven out of Greece, in 1186 the Vlachs and Bulgars began a rebellion that was to lead to the formation of the Second Bulgarian Empire . The internal policy of the Angeloi was characterised by the squandering of the public treasure, and fiscal maladministration. Imperial authority was severely weakened, and the growing power vacuum at the center of the Empire encouraged fragmentation. There is evidence that some Komnenian heirs had set up a semi-independent state in Trebizond before 1204. According to Alexander Vasiliev , "the dynasty of the Angeloi, Greek in its origin, accelerated the ruin of the Empire, already weakened without and disunited within." In 1198, Pope Innocent III broached the subject of a new crusade through legates and encyclical letters . The stated intent of the crusade was to conquer Egypt , now the centre of Muslim power in the Levant . The crusader army that arrived at Venice in the summer of 1202 was somewhat smaller than had been anticipated, and there were not sufficient funds to pay the Venetians, whose fleet was hired by the crusaders to take them to Egypt. Venetian policy under the ageing and blind but still ambitious Doge Enrico Dandolo was potentially at variance with that of the Pope and the crusaders, because Venice was closely related commercially with Egypt. The crusaders accepted the suggestion that in lieu of payment they assist the Venetians in the capture of the (Christian) port of Zara in Dalmatia (vassal city of Venice, which had rebelled and placed itself under Hungary's protection in 1186). The city fell in November 1202 after a brief siege . Innocent, who was informed of the plan but his veto disregarded, was reluctant to jeopardise the Crusade, and gave conditional absolution to the crusaders—not, however, to the Venetians. After the death of Theobald III, Count of Champagne , the leadership of the Crusade passed to Boniface of Montferrat , a friend of the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia . Both Boniface and Philip had married into the Byzantine Imperial family. In fact, Philip's brother-in-law, Alexios Angelos , son of the deposed and blinded Emperor Isaac II Angelos , had appeared in Europe seeking aid and had made contacts with the crusaders. Alexios offered to reunite the Byzantine church with Rome, pay the crusaders 200,000 silver marks, join the crusade and provide all the supplies they needed to get to Egypt. Innocent was aware of a plan to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and forbade any attack on the city, but the papal letter arrived after the fleets had left Zara. The crusaders arrived at the city in the summer of 1203 and quickly attacked, started a major fire which damaged large parts of the city, and seized control of it (first of two times). Alexios III fled from the capital, and Alexios Angelos was elevated to the throne as Alexios IV along with his blind father Isaac. However, Alexios IV and Isaac II were unable to keep their promises and were deposed by Alexios V. Eventually, the crusaders took the city a second time on 13 April 1204 and Constantinople was subjected to pillage and massacre by the rank and file for three days. Many priceless icons, relics, and other objects later turned up in Western Europe , a large number in Venice. According to Choniates, a prostitute was even set up on the Patriarchal throne. When Innocent III heard of the conduct of his crusaders, he castigated them in no uncertain terms. But the situation was beyond his control, especially after his legate, on his own initiative, had absolved the crusaders from their vow to proceed to the Holy Land. When order had been restored, the crusaders and the Venetians proceeded to implement their agreement; Baldwin of Flanders was elected Emperor and the Venetian Thomas Morosini chosen as Patriarch. The lands divided up among the leaders included most of the former Byzantine possessions, however resistance would continue through the Byzantine remnants of the Nicaea , Trebizond , and Epirus . Fall After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Latin Crusaders , two Byzantine successor states were established: the Empire of Nicaea , and the Despotate of Epirus . A third one, the Empire of Trebizond was created a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople by Alexios I of Trebizond . Of these three successor states, Epirus and Nicaea stood the best chance of reclaiming Constantinople. The Nicaean Empire struggled, however, to survive the next few decades, and by the mid-13th century it lost much of southern Anatolia. The weakening of the Sultanate of Rûm following the Mongol Invasion in 1242–43 allowed many Beyliks and ghazis to set up their own principalities in Anatolia, weakening the Byzantine hold on Asia Minor. In time, one of the Beys, Osman I , created an empire that would eventually conquer Constantinople. However, the Mongol Invasion also gave Nicaea a temporary respite from Seljuk attacks allowing it to concentrate on the Latin Empire only north of its position. Reconquest of Constantinople The Byzantine Empire c. 1263. The Empire of Nicaea, founded by the Laskarid dynasty , managed to reclaim Constantinople from the Latins in 1261 and defeat Epirus. This led to a short-lived revival of Byzantine fortunes under Michael VIII Palaiologos , but the war-ravaged Empire was ill-equipped to deal with the enemies that now surrounded it. In order to maintain his campaigns against the Latins, Michael pulled troops from Asia Minor, and levied crippling taxes on the peasantry, causing much resentment. Massive construction projects were completed in Constantinople to repair the damages of the Fourth Crusade, but none of these initiatives was of any comfort to the farmers in Asia Minor, suffering raids from fanatical ghazis. Rather than holding on to his possessions in Asia Minor, Michael chose to expand the Empire, gaining only short-term success. To avoid another sacking of the capital by the Latins, he forced the Church to submit to Rome, again a temporary solution for which the peasantry hated Michael and Constantinople. The efforts of Andronikos II and later his grandson Andronikos III marked Byzantium's last genuine attempts in restoring the glory of the Empire. However, the use of mercenaries by Andronikos II would often backfire, with the Catalan Company ravaging the countryside and increasing resentment towards Constantinople. Things went worse for Byzantium during the civil wars that followed after Andronikos III died. A six-year long civil war devastated the empire, allowing the Serbian ruler Stefan IV Dushan to overrun most of the Empire's remaining territory and establish a short-lived "Serbian Empire". In 1354, an earthquake at Gallipoli devastated the fort, allowing the Ottomans (who were hired as mercenaries during the civil war by John VI Kantakouzenos ) to establish themselves in Europe. By the time the Byzantine civil wars had ended, the Ottomans had defeated the Serbians and subjugated them as vassals. Following the Battle of Kosovo , much of the Balkans became dominated by the Ottomans. The Byzantine emperors appealed to the West for help, but the Pope would only consider sending aid in return for a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the See of Rome . Church unity was considered, and occasionally accomplished by imperial decree, but the Orthodox citizenry and clergy intensely resented the authority of Rome and the Latin Rite . Some Western troops arrived to bolster the Christian defence of Constantinople, but most Western rulers, distracted by their own affairs, did nothing as the Ottomans picked apart the remaining Byzantine territories. Constantinople by this stage was underpopulated and dilapidated. The population of the city had collapsed so severely that it was now little more than a cluster of villages separated by fields. On 2 April 1453, Sultan Mehmed's army of some 80,000 men and large numbers of irregulars laid siege to the city. Despite a desperate last-ditch defence of the city by the massively outnumbered Christian forces (c. 7,000 men, 2,000 of whom were foreign), Constantinople finally fell to the Ottomans after a two-month siege on 29 May 1453. The last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, was last seen casting off his imperial regalia and throwing himself into hand-to-hand combat after the walls of the city were taken. By the time of the fall of Constantinople, the only remaining territory of the Byzantine Empire was the Despotate of the Morea , which was ruled by brothers of the last Emperor and continued on as a tributary state to the Ottomans. Incompetent rule, failure to pay the annual tribute and a revolt against the Ottomans finally led to Mehmed II 's invasion of Morea in May 1460; he conquered the entire Despotate by the summer. The Empire of Trebizond , which had split away from the Byzantine Empire in 1204, became the last remnant and last de facto successor state to the Byzantine Empire. Efforts by the Emperor David to recruit European powers for an anti-Ottoman crusade provoked war between the Ottomans and Trebizond in the summer of 1461. After a month long siege, David surrendered the city of Trebizond on August 14, 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last remnant of the Roman Empire was extinguished. The nephew of the last Emperor, Constantine XI, Andreas Palaeologos had inherited the title of Byzantine Emperor . He lived in the Morea (Peloponnese) until its fall in 1460, then escaped to Rome where he lived under the protection of the Papal States for the remainder of his life. He styled himself Imperator Constantinopolitanus ("Emperor of Constantinople"), and sold his succession rights to both Charles VIII of France and the Catholic Monarchs . However, no one ever invoked the title after Andreas's death, thus he is considered to be the last titular Byzantine Emperor. Mehmed II and his successors continued to consider themselves heirs to the Roman Empire until the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. Meanwhile, the Danubian Principalities (whose rulers also considered themselves the heirs of the Eastern Roman Emperors) harboured Orthodox refugees, including some Byzantine nobles. At his death, the role of the emperor as a patron of Eastern Orthodoxy was claimed by Ivan III , Grand Duke of Muscovy . He had married Andreas' sister, Sophia Paleologue , whose grandson, Ivan IV , would become the first Tsar of Russia (tsar, or czar, meaning caesar , is a term traditionally applied by Slavs to the Byzantine Emperors). Their successors supported the idea that Moscow was the proper heir to Rome and Constantinople. The idea of the Russian Empire as the new, Third Rome was kept alive until its demise with the Russian Revolution of 1917 . The Byzantine economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Europe, in particular, was unable to match Byzantine economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa, in particular being the primary western terminus of the famous silk road . Some scholars argue that, up until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the 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 twelfth, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travellers 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. Gradually, it also lost its influence on the modalities of trade and the price mechanisms, and its control over the outflow of precious metals and, according to some scholars, even over the minting of coins. One of the economic foundations of the Empire was trade. Textiles must have been by far the most important item of export; silks were certainly imported into Egypt, and appeared also in Bulgaria, and the West. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage . The government exercised formal control over interest rates, and set the parameters for the activity of the guilds and corporations, in which it had a special interest. The Emperor and his officials intervened at times of crisis to ensure the provisioning of the capital, and to keep down the price of cereals . Finally, the government often collected part of the surplus through taxation, and put it back into circulation, through redistribution in the form of salaries to state officials, or in the form of investment in public works. The writings of Classical antiquity never ceased to be cultivated in Byzantium. Therefore, Byzantine science was in every period closely connected with ancient philosophy , and metaphysics . Although at various times the Byzantines made magnificent achievements in the application of the sciences (notably in the construction of the Hagia Sophia ), after the 6th century Byzantine scholars made few novel contributions to science in terms of developing new theories or extending the ideas of classical authors. Scholarship particularly lagged during the dark years of plague and the Arab conquests, but then during the so-called Byzantine Renaissance at the end of the first millennium Byzantine scholars re-asserted themselves becoming experts in the scientific developments of the Arabs and Persians, particularly in astronomy and mathematics . In the final century of the Empire, Byzantine grammarians were those principally responsible for carrying, in person and in writing, ancient Greek grammatical and literary studies to early Renaissance Italy . During this period, astronomy and other mathematical sciences were taught in Trebizond; medicine attracted the interest of almost all scholars. In the field of law, Justinian I 's reforms had a clear effect on the evolution of jurisprudence , and Leo III's Ecloga influenced the formation of legal institutions in the Slavic world. Religion As a symbol and expression of the universal prestige of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Justinian built the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia , which was completed in the short period of four and a half years (532–537). The survival of the Empire in the East assured an active role of the Emperor in the affairs of the Church. The Byzantine state inherited from pagan times the administrative, and financial routine of administering religious affairs, and this routine was applied to the Christian Church . Following the pattern set by Eusebius of Caesarea , the Byzantines viewed the Emperor as a representative or messenger of Christ , responsible particularly for the propagation of Christianity among pagans, and for the "externals" of the religion, such as administration and finances. The imperial role, however, in the affairs of the Church never developed into a fixed, legally defined system. Christianity was never fully united and the Christians in the Byzantine Empire were diverse throughout the Empire's history. The state church of the Roman Empire , which came to be known as the Eastern Orthodox Church , never represented all Christians in the Empire. Nestorianism , a view promoted by Nestorius who was a 5th century Patriarch of Constantinople , split from the imperial church leading to what is today the Assyrian Church of the East . In a greater schism during the 6th century the Myaphysite churches split from the imperial church over the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon . Aside from these communions, Arianism and other Christian sects existed in the early Empire, although by the time of Rome's fall in the 5th century Arianism was mostly confined to the Germanic peoples of Western Europe. By the Empire's late stages, though, Eastern Orthodoxy represented most Christians in what remained of the Empire. Jews were a significant minority in the Empire throughout its history. Despite periods of persecution, they were generally tolerated, if not always embraced, during most periods. With the decline of Rome, and internal dissension in the other Eastern Patriarchates, the Church of Constantinople became, between the sixth and 11th centuries, the richest and most influential center of Christendom . Even when the Empire was reduced to only a shadow of its former self, the Church, as an institution, had never exercised so much influence both inside and outside of the imperial frontiers. As George Ostrogorsky points out: The Patriarchate of Constantinople remained the center of the Orthodox world, with subordinate metropolitan sees and archbishoprics in the territory of Asia Minor and the Balkans, now lost to Byzantium, as well as in Caucasus , Russia and Lithuania . The Church remained the most stable element in the Byzantine Empire. Art and literature Byzantine art is almost entirely concerned with religious expression and, more specifically, with the impersonal translation of carefully controlled church theology into artistic terms. Byzantine forms were spread by trade and conquest to Italy and Sicily, where they persisted in modified form through the 12th century, and became formative influences on Italian Renaissance art. By means of the expansion of the Eastern Orthodox church, Byzantine forms spread to eastern European centres, particularly Russia. Influences from Byzantine architecture, particularly in religious buildings, can be found in diverse regions from Egypt and Arabia to Russia and Romania. In Byzantine literature, therefore, four different cultural elements are to be reckoned with: the Greek , the Christian, the Roman , and the Oriental. Byzantine literature is often classified in five groups: historians and annalists, encyclopedists (Patriarch Photios, Michael Psellos , and Michael Choniates are regarded as the greatest encyclopedists of Byzantium) and essayists, and writers of secular poetry (The only genuine heroic epic of the Byzantines is the Digenis Acritas ). The remaining two groups include the new literary species: ecclesiastical and theological literature, and popular poetry. Of the approximately two to three thousand volumes of Byzantine literature that survive, only three hundred and thirty consist of secular poetry, history, science and pseudo-science. While the most flourishing period of the secular literature of Byzantium runs from the ninth to the 12th century, its religious literature (sermons, liturgical books and poetry, theology, devotional treatises etc.) developed much earlier with Romanos the Melodist being its most prominent representative. In the Byzantine state, the emperor became the sole and absolute ruler, and his power was regarded as having divine origin. The Senate ceased to have real political and legislative authority but remained as an honorary council with titular members. By the end of the 8th century, a civil administration focused on the court was formed as part of a large-scale consolidation of power in the capital (the rise to pre-eminence of the position of sakellarios is related to this change). The most important reform of this period is the creation of themes , where civil and military administration is exercised by one person, the strategos . Despite the occasionally derogatory use of the word "Byzantine" , the Byzantine bureaucracy had a distinct ability for reinventing itself in accordance with the Empire's situation. The Byzantine system of titulature and precedence makes the imperial administration look like an ordered bureaucracy to modern observers. Officials were arranged in strict order around the emperor, and depended upon the imperial will for their ranks. There were also actual administrative jobs, but authority could be vested in individuals rather than offices. In the 8th and 9th centuries, civil service constituted the clearest path to aristocratic status, but, starting in the 9th century, the civil aristocracy was rivalled by an aristocracy of nobility. According to some studies of Byzantine government, 11th century politics were dominated by competition between the civil and the military aristocracy. During this period, Alexios I undertook important administrative reforms, including the creation of new courtly dignities and offices. After the fall of Rome, the key challenge to the Empire was to maintain a set of relations between itself and its neighbours. When these nations set about forging formal political institutions, they often modelled themselves on Constantinople. Byzantine diplomacy soon managed to draw its neighbours into a network of international and inter-state relations. This network revolved around treaty making, and included the welcoming of the new ruler into the family of kings, and the assimilation of Byzantine social attitudes, values and institutions. Whereas classical writers are fond of making ethical and legal distinctions between peace and war, Byzantines regarded diplomacy as a form of war by other means. For example, a Bulgarian threat could be countered by providing money to the Kievian Rus . The Orthodox Church also maintained a diplomatic function, and the spread of Orthodox Christianity was a key diplomatic goal of the Empire. Diplomacy in the era was understood to have an intelligence-gathering function on top of its pure political function. The Bureau of Barbarians in Constantinople handled matters of protocol and record keeping for any matters dealing with "Barbarians", and thus had, perhaps, a basic intelligence function itself. J. B. Bury believed that the office exercised supervision over all foreigners visiting Constantinople, and that they were under the supervision of the Logothete of the Course . While on the surface a protocol office—its main duty was to ensure foreign envoys were properly cared for and received sufficient state funds for their maintenance, and it kept all the official translators—it clearly had a security function as well. On Strategy, from the 6th century, offers advice about foreign embassies: "[Envoys] who are sent to us should be received honourably and generously, for everyone holds envoys in high esteem. Their attendants, however, should be kept under surveillance to keep them from obtaining any information by asking questions of our people." Byzantines availed themselves of a number of diplomatic practices. For example, embassies to the capital would often stay on for years. A member of other royal houses would routinely be requested to stay on in Constantinople, not only as a potential hostage, but also as a useful pawn in case political conditions where he came from changed. Another key practice was to overwhelm visitors by sumptuous displays. According to Dimitri Obolensky , the preservation of civilisation in Eastern Europe was due to the skill and resourcefulness of Byzantine diplomacy, which remains one of Byzantium's lasting contributions to the history of Europe. The original language of the government of the Empire, which owed its origins to Rome, had been Latin and this continued to be its official language until the 7th century when it was effectively changed to Greek by Heraclius . Scholarly Latin would rapidly fall into disuse among the educated classes although the language would continue to be at least a ceremonial part of the Empire's culture for some time. Additionally, Vulgar Latin continued to be a minority language in the Empire, and among the Thraco-Roman populations it gave birth to the (Proto-)Romanian language. Likewise, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea , another neo-Latin vernacular developed, which would later give rise to the Dalmatian language . In the Western Mediterranean provinces temporarily acquired under the reign of Emperor Justinian I , Latin (eventually evolving into Italian ) continued to be used both as a spoken language and the language of scholarship. Apart from the Imperial court, administration and military, the primary language used in the eastern Roman provinces even before the decline of the Western Empire had always been Greek, having been spoken in the region for centuries before Latin. Indeed early on in the life of the Roman Empire, Greek had become the common language in the Christian Church, the language of scholarship and the arts, and, to a large degree, the lingua franca for trade between provinces and with other nations. The language itself for a time gained a dual nature with the primary spoken language, Koine , existing alongside an older literary language with Koine eventually evolving into the standard dialect. Many other languages existed in the multi-ethnic Empire as well, and some of these were given limited official status in their provinces at various times. Notably, by the beginning of the Middle Ages, Syriac and Aramaic had become more widely used by the educated classes in the far eastern provinces. Similarly Coptic , Armenian , and Georgian became significant among the educated in their provinces, and later foreign contacts made the Slavonic , Vlach, and Arabic languages important in the Empire and its sphere of influence. Aside from these, since Constantinople was a prime trading center in the Mediterranean region and beyond, virtually every known language of the Middle Ages was spoken in the Empire at some time, even Chinese . As the Empire entered its final decline, the Empire's citizens became more culturally homogeneous and the Greek language became integral to their identity and their religion. King David in robes of a Byzantine emperor. Miniature from the Paris Psalter . As the only stable long-term state in Europe during the Middle Ages, Byzantium isolated Western Europe from newly emerging forces to the East. Constantly under attack, it distanced Western Europe from Persians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, and for a time, the Ottomans. The Byzantine-Arab Wars, for example, are recognised by some historians as being a key factor behind the rise of Charlemagne , and a stimulus to feudalism and economic self-sufficiency . Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II took the title "Kaysar-i-Rûm" (the Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome) since he was determined to make the Ottoman Empire the heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. Since the early 20th century, the terms Byzantine and Byzantinism have been used as bywords for decadence, duplicitous politics and complex bureaucracy . There was also a strongly negative assessment of Byzantine civilisation and its legacy in Southeastern Europe . Byzantinism in general was defined as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas which ran contrary to those of the West Frequently Asked Questions How long until my order is shipped?: Depending on the volume of sales, it may take up to 5 business days for shipment of your order after the receipt of payment. How will I know when the order was shipped?: After your order has shipped, you will be left positive feedback, and that date should be used as a basis of estimating an arrival date. After you shipped the order, how long will the mail take? USPS First Class mail takes about 3-5 business days to arrive in the U.S., international shipping times cannot be estimated as they vary from country to country. I am not responsible for any USPS delivery delays, especially for an international package. What is a certificate of authenticity and what guarantees do you give that the item is authentic? 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