Seller: highrating_lowprice (20,183) 100%, Location: Rego Park, New York, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 351008477984 Item: i38379 Authentic Ancient Coin of: Manuel I , Comnenus - Byzantine Emperor: 8 April 1143 - 24 September 1180 A.D. - Bronze Half Tetarteron 17mm (1.80 grams) Struck at Uncertain Greek Mint circa 1143-1180 A.D. Reference: Sear 1980 Bust of St. George facing, beardless, wearing nimbus, tunic, cuirass and sagion, and holding spear and shield; to left, Θ / Γ / Є; to right, WP / ΓI / O / C. MANYHΛ ΔΕCΠΟΤ, Bust of Manuel facing, wearing crown and loros, and holding labarum and globe topped with a cross. You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. Comnenus , or Manuel I Komnenos (Greek: Μανουήλ Α' Κομνηνός, Manouēl I Komnēnos, November 28 , 1118 – September 24 , 1180) was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean . Eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, Manuel pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy. In the process he made alliances with the Pope and the resurgent west, invaded Italy , successfully handled the passage of the dangerous Second Crusade through his empire, and established a Byzantine protectorate over the Crusader kingdoms of Outremer . Facing Muslim advances in the Holy Land , he made common cause with the Kingdom of Jerusalem and participated in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt . Manuel reshaped the political maps of the Balkans and the east Mediterranean, placing the kingdoms of Hungary and Outremer under Byzantine hegemony and campaigning aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east. However, towards the end of his reign Manuel's achievements in the east were compromised by a serious defeat at Myriokephalon , which in large part resulted from his arrogance in attacking a well-defended Seljuk position. Called ho Megas (Greek: ὁ Μέγας, translated as "the Great") by the Greeks , Manuel is known to have inspired intense loyalty in those who served him. He also appears as the hero of a history written by his secretary, John Kinnamos , in which every virtue is attributed to him. Manuel, who was influenced by his contact with western Crusaders, enjoyed the reputation of "the most blessed emperor of Constantinople " in parts of the Latin world as well. Modern historians, however, have been less enthusiastic about him. Some of them assert that the great power he wielded was not his own personal achievement, but that of the dynasty he represented; they also argue that, since Byzantine imperial power declined so rapidly after Manuel's death, it is only natural to look for the causes of this decline in his reign. Labarum of Constantine I, displaying the "Chi-Rho" symbol above. The labarum was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧ , formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi and Rho . It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I . Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ . Later usage has sometimes regarded the terms "labarum" and "Chi-Rho" as synonyms. Ancient sources, however, draw an unambiguous distinction between the two. Etymology Beyond its derivation from Latin labarum, the etymology of the word is unclear. Some derive it from Latin /labāre/ 'to totter, to waver' (in the sense of the "waving" of a flag in the breeze) or laureum [vexillum] ("laurel standard"). According to the Real Academia Española , the related lábaro is also derived from Latin labărum but offers no further derivation from within Latin, as does the Oxford English Dictionary. An origin as a loan into Latin from a Celtic language or Basque has also been postulated. There is a traditional Basque symbol called the lauburu ; though the name is only attested from the 19th century onwards the motif occurs in engravings dating as early as the 2nd century AD. Vision of Constantine A coin of Constantine (c.337) showing a depiction of his labarum spearing a serpent. On the evening of October 27, 312, with his army preparing for the Battle of the Milvian Bridge , the emperor Constantine I claimed to have had a vision which led him to believe he was fighting under the protection of the Christian God . Lactantius states that, in the night before the battle, Constantine was commanded in a dream to "delineate the heavenly sign on the shields of his soldiers". He obeyed and marked the shields with a sign "denoting Christ". Lactantius describes that sign as a "staurogram", or a Latin cross with its upper end rounded in a P-like fashion, rather than the better known Chi-Rho sign described by Eusebius of Caesarea . Thus, it had both the form of a cross and the monogram of Christ's name from the formed letters "X" and "P", the first letters of Christ's name in Greek. From Eusebius, two accounts of a battle survive. The first, shorter one in the Ecclesiastical History leaves no doubt that God helped Constantine but doesn't mention any vision. In his later Life of Constantine, Eusebius gives a detailed account of a vision and stresses that he had heard the story from the emperor himself. According to this version, Constantine with his army was marching somewhere (Eusebius doesn't specify the actual location of the event, but it clearly isn't in the camp at Rome) when he looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα . The traditionally employed Latin translation of the Greek is in hoc signo vinces — literally "In this sign, you will conquer." However, a direct translation from the original Greek text of Eusebius into English gives the phrase "By this, conquer!" At first he was unsure of the meaning of the apparition, but the following night he had a dream in which Christ explained to him that he should use the sign against his enemies. Eusebius then continues to describe the labarum, the military standard used by Constantine in his later wars against Licinius , showing the Chi-Rho sign. Those two accounts can hardly be reconciled with each other, though they have been merged in popular notion into Constantine seeing the Chi-Rho sign on the evening before the battle. Both authors agree that the sign was not readily understandable as denoting Christ, which corresponds with the fact that there is no certain evidence of the use of the letters chi and rho as a Christian sign before Constantine. Its first appearance is on a Constantinian silver coin from c. 317, which proves that Constantine did use the sign at that time, though not very prominently. He made extensive use of the Chi-Rho and the labarum only later in the conflict with Licinius. The vision has been interpreted in a solar context (e.g. as a solar halo phenomenon), which would have been reshaped to fit with the Christian beliefs of the later Constantine. An alternate explanation of the intersecting celestial symbol has been advanced by George Latura, which claims that Plato's visible god in Timaeus is in fact the intersection of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light, a rare apparition important to pagan beliefs that Christian bishops reinvented as a Christian symbol. Eusebius' description of the labarum "A Description of the Standard of the Cross, which the Romans now call the Labarum." "Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre: and these letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the cross-bar of the spear was suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones; and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. This banner was of a square form, and the upright staff, whose lower section was of great length, of the pious emperor and his children on its upper part, beneath the trophy of the cross, and immediately above the embroidered banner." "The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies." Iconographic career under Constantine Coin of Vetranio , a soldier is holding two labara. Interestingly they differ from the labarum of Constantine in having the Chi-Rho depicted on the cloth rather than above it, and in having their staves decorated with phalerae as were earlier Roman military unit standards. The emperor Honorius holding a variant of the labarum - the Latin phrase on the cloth means "In the name of Christ [rendered by the Greek letters XPI] be ever victorious." Among a number of standards depicted on the Arch of Constantine , which was erected, largely with fragments from older monuments, just three years after the battle, the labarum does not appear. A grand opportunity for just the kind of political propaganda that the Arch otherwise was expressly built to present was missed. That is if Eusebius' oath-confirmed account of Constantine's sudden, vision-induced, conversion can be trusted. Many historians have argued that in the early years after the battle the emperor had not yet decided to give clear public support to Christianity, whether from a lack of personal faith or because of fear of religious friction. The arch's inscription does say that the Emperor had saved the res publica INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS MENTIS MAGNITVDINE ("by greatness of mind and by instinct [or impulse] of divinity"). As with his predecessors, sun symbolism – interpreted as representing Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun) or Helios , Apollo or Mithras – is inscribed on his coinage, but in 325 and thereafter the coinage ceases to be explicitly pagan, and Sol Invictus disappears. In his Historia Ecclesiae Eusebius further reports that, after his victorious entry into Rome, Constantine had a statue of himself erected, "holding the sign of the Savior [the cross] in his right hand." There are no other reports to confirm such a monument. Whether Constantine was the first Christian emperor supporting a peaceful transition to Christianity during his rule, or an undecided pagan believer until middle age, strongly influenced in his political-religious decisions by his Christian mother St. Helena , is still in dispute among historians. As for the labarum itself, there is little evidence for its use before 317.In the course of Constantine's second war against Licinius in 324, the latter developed a superstitious dread of Constantine's standard. During the attack of Constantine's troops at the Battle of Adrianople the guard of the labarum standard were directed to move it to any part of the field where his soldiers seemed to be faltering. The appearance of this talismanic object appeared to embolden Constantine's troops and dismay those of Licinius.At the final battle of the war, the Battle of Chrysopolis , Licinius, though prominently displaying the images of Rome's pagan pantheon on his own battle line, forbade his troops from actively attacking the labarum, or even looking at it directly. Constantine felt that both Licinius and Arius were agents of Satan, and associated them with the serpent described in the Book of Revelation (12:9). Constantine represented Licinius as a snake on his coins. Eusebius stated that in addition to the singular labarum of Constantine, other similar standards (labara) were issued to the Roman army. This is confirmed by the two labara depicted being held by a soldier on a coin of Vetranio (illustrated) dating from 350. Saint George (c. 275/281 – 23 April 303 AD) was a Greek who became an officer in the Roman army. His father was the Greek Gerondios from Cappadocia Asia Minor and his mother was from the city Lydda . Lydda was a Greek city in Palestine from the times of the conquest of Alexander the Great (333 BC). Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian . He is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography , Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites ), Anglican , Eastern Orthodox , and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers . His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints . Many Patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including: Georgia , England , Egypt , Bulgaria , Aragon , Catalonia , Romania , Ethiopia , Greece , India , Iraq, Israel , Lebanon , Lithuania , Palestine , Portugal , Serbia , Ukraine and Russia , as well as the cities of Genoa , Amersfoort , Beirut , Botoşani , Drobeta Turnu-Severin , Timişoara , Fakiha , Bteghrine , Cáceres , Ferrara , Freiburg im Breisgau , Kragujevac , Kumanovo , Ljubljana , Pérouges , Pomorie , Preston , Qormi , Rio de Janeiro , Lod, Lviv, Barcelona , Moscow and Victoria, as well as of the Scout Movement  and a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers. Life of Saint George Historians have argued the exact details of the birth of Saint George for over a century, although the approximate date of his death is subject to little debate. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him. The work of the Bollandists Danile Paperbroch , Jean Bolland and Godfrey Henschen in the 17th century was one of the first pieces of scholarly research to establish the historicity of the saint's existence via their publications in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca and paved the way for other scholars to dismiss the medieval legends. Pope Gelasius stated that George was among those saints "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God." The traditional legends have offered a historicised narration of George's encounter with a dragon : see "St. George and the Dragon" below. The modern legend that follows below is synthesised from early and late hagiographical sources , omitting the more fantastical episodes, to narrate a purely human military career in closer harmony with modern expectations of reality. Chief among the legendary sources about the saint is the Golden Legend , which remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton 's 15th-century translation. It is likely that Saint George was born to a Greek Christian noble family in Lydda, Palestine, during the late third century between about 275 AD and 285 AD, and he died in the Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. His father, Gerontios, was a Greek, from Cappadocia, Asia Minor, officer in the Roman army and his mother, Polychronia, was a Greek from the city Lydda, Palestine. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici , so the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him Georgios (Greek), meaning "worker of the land" (i.e., farmer). At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother, Polychronia, died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and Theobaste. Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Martorell Then George decided to go to Nicomedia , the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Gerontius — one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia. In the year AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius ) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted. Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.:166 Although the above distillation of the legend of George connects him to the conversion of Athanasius, who according to Rufinus was brought up by Christian ecclesiastical authorities from a very early age, Edward Gibbon  argued that George, or at least the legend from which the above is distilled, is based on George of Cappadocia , a notorious Arian bishop who was Athanasius' most bitter rival, who in time became Saint George of England. According to Professor Bury, Gibbon's latest editor, "this theory of Gibbon's has nothing to be said for it." He adds that: "the connection of St. George with a dragon-slaying legend does not relegate him to the region of the myth". In 1856 Ralph Waldo Emerson published a book of essays entitled "English Traits." In it, he wrote a paragraph on the history of Saint George. Emerson compared the legend of Saint George to the legend of Amerigo Vespucci , calling the former "an impostor" and the latter "a thief." The editorial notes appended to the 1904 edition of Emerson's complete works state that Emerson based his account on the work of Gibbon, and that current evidence seems to show that real St. George was not George the Arian of Cappadocia. Merton M. Sealts also quotes Edward Emerson , Ralph Waldo Emerson's youngest son as stating that he believed his father's account was derived from Gibbon and that the real St. George "was apparently another who died two generations earlier." Saint George and the dragon Eastern Orthodox depictions of Saint George slaying a dragon often include the image of the young maiden who looks on from a distance. The standard iconographic interpretation of the image icon is that the dragon represents both Satan (Rev. 12:9) and the Roman Empire. The young maiden is the wife of Diocletian , Alexandra . Thus, the image as interpreted through the language of Byzantine iconography, is an image of the martyrdom of the saint. The episode of St. George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance . The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventh-century Cappadocia (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church , George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text. White George on the coat of arms of Georgia . In the fully developed Western version, which developed as part of the Golden Legend , a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene in Libya or the city of Lydda in the Holy Land , depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess . The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross , slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity. The dragon motif was first combined with the standardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais ' encyclopaedic Speculum Historiale and then in Jacobus de Voragine 's "Golden Legend", which guaranteed its popularity in the later Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject. The parallels with Perseus and Andromeda are inescapable. In the allegorical reading, the dragon embodies a suppressed pagan cult . The story has other roots that predate Christianity. Examples such as Sabazios , the sky father , who was usually depicted riding on horseback, and Zeus 's defeat of Typhon the Titan in Greek mythology , along with examples from Germanic and Vedic traditions , have led a number of historians, such as Loomis, to suggest that George is a Christianized version of older deities in Indo-European culture. In the medieval romances, the lance with which St George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, named after the city of Ashkelon in the Levant . Veneration as a martyr A church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine I (reigned 306–37), was consecrated to "a man of the highest distinction", according to the church history of Eusebius of Caesarea ; the name of the patron was not disclosed, but later he was asserted to have been George. By the time of the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, a basilica dedicated to the saint in Lydda existed. The church was destroyed in 1010 but was later rebuilt and dedicated to Saint George by the Crusaders . In 1191 and during the conflict known as the Third Crusade (1189–92), the church was again destroyed by the forces of Saladin , Sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (reigned 1171–93). A new church was erected in 1872 and is still standing. During the fourth century the veneration of George spread from Palestine through Lebanon to the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire – though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium  – and Georgia . In Georgia the feast day on November 23 is credited to St Nino of Cappadocia , who in Georgian hagiography is a relative of St George, credited with bringing Christianity to the Georgians in the fourth century. By the fifth century, the cult of Saint George had reached the Western Roman Empire as well: in 494, George was canonized as a saint by Pope Gelasius I , among those "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to [God]." In England the earliest dedication to George, who was mentioned among the martyrs by Bede , is a church at Fordington , Dorset, that is mentioned in the wars of Alfred the Great . He did not rise to the position of "patron saint", however, until the 14th century, and he was still obscured by Edward the Confessor , the traditional patron saint of England, until 1552 when all saints' banners other than George's were abolished in the English Reformation .  An apparition of George heartened the Franks at the siege of Antioch , 1098, and made a similar appearance the following year at Jerusalem. Chivalric military Order of St. George were established in Aragon (1201), Genoa , Hungary , and by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor , and in England the Synod of Oxford, 1222 declared St George's Day a feast day in the kingdom of England. Edward III put his Order of the Garter under the banner of St. George, probably in 1348. The chronicler Froissart observed the English invoking St. George as a battle cry on several occasions during the Hundred Years' War . In his rise as a national saint George was aided by the very fact that the saint had no legendary connection with England, and no specifically localized shrine, as of Thomas Becket at Canterbury: "Consequently, numerous shrines were established during the late fifteenth century," Muriel C. McClendon has written, "and his did not become closely identified with a particular occupation or with the cure of a specific malady." The establishment of George as a popular saint and protective giant in the West that had captured the medieval imagination was codified by the official elevation of his feast to a festum duplex at a church council in 1415, on the date that had become associated with his martyrdom, 23 April. There was wide latitude from community to community in celebration of the day across late medieval and early modern England, and no uniform "national" celebration elsewhere, a token of the popular and vernacular nature of George's cultus and its local horizons, supported by a local guild or confraternity under George's protection, or the dedication of a local church. When the Reformation in England severely curtailed the saints' days in the calendar, St. George's Day was among the holidays that continued to be observed. Sources The coat of arms of Volodymyr is the oldest known Ukrainian city emblem. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia , the earliest text preserving fragments of George's narrative is in an Acta Sanctorum identified by Hippolyte Delehaye of the scholarly Bollandists to be a palimpsest of the fifth century. However, this Acta Sancti Georgii was soon banned as heresy by Pope Gelasius I (in 496). The compiler of this Acta, according to Hippolyte Delehaye "confused the martyr with his namesake, the celebrated George of Cappadocia , the Arian intruder into the see of Alexandria and enemy of St. Athanasius ". A critical edition of a Syriac Acta of Saint George, accompanied by an annotated English translation was published by E.W. Brooks (1863–1955) in 1925. The hagiography was originally written in Greek. In Sweden, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army. Several sculptures of Saint George battling the dragon can be found in Stockholm, the earliest inside Storkyrkan ("The Great Church") in the Old Town. The façade of architect Antoni Gaudi 's famous Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain depicts this allegory. In Islamic cultures Saint George is somewhat of an exception among saints and legends, in that he is known and respected by Muslims , as well as venerated by Christians throughout the Middle East , from Egypt to Asia Minor. His stature in these regions derives from the fact that his figure has become somewhat of a composite character mixing elements from Biblical, Quranic and folkloric sources, at times being partially identified with Al-Khidr . He is said to have killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut and at the beginning of the 20th century Muslim women used to visit his shrine in the area to pray for him. Feast days In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calendar it was given the rank of "Semidouble". In Pope Pius XII 's 1955 calendar this rank is reduced to "Simple". In Pope John XXIII 's 1960 calendar the celebration is further demoted to just a "Commemoration" . In Pope Paul VI 's 1969 calendar it is raised to the level of an optional "Memorial". In some countries, such as England , the rank is higher. St George is very much honoured by the Eastern Orthodox Church , wherein he is referred to as a "Great Martyr", and in Oriental Orthodoxy overall. His major feast day is on April 23 (Julian Calendar April 23 currently corresponds to Gregorian Calendar May 6). If, however, the feast occurs before Easter , it is celebrated on Easter Monday instead. The Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates two additional feasts in honour of St. George: one on November 3 commemorating the consecration of a cathedral dedicated to him in Lydda during the reign Constantine the Great (305–37). When the church was consecrated, the relics of the St. George were transferred there. The other feast on November 26 for a church dedicated to him in Kiev, ca. 1054. In Egypt the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria refers to St George as the "Prince of Martyrs" and celebrates his martyrdom on the 23rd of Paremhat of the Coptic Calendar equivalent to May 1. The Copts also celebrate the consecration of the first church dedicated to him on 7th of the month of Hatour of the Coptic Calender usually equivalent to 17 November. Patronages A highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches, a large number of Patronages of Saint George exist throughout the world. St. George is the patron saint of England. His cross forms the national flag of England , and features within the Union Flag of the United Kingdom , and other national flags containing the Union Flag, such as those of Australia and New Zealand . Traces of the cult of Saint George in England pre-date the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century; by the fourteenth century the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the royal family. St George's monument in Tbilisi , Georgia . The country of Georgia , where devotions to the saint date back to the fourth century, is not technically named after the saint, but is a well-attested backward derivation of the English name. However, a large number of towns and cities around the world are. Saint George is one of the patron Saints of Georgia; the name Georgia (Sakartvelo in Georgian) is an anglicisation of Gurj, derived from the Persian word for the frightening and heroic people in that territory. However, chronicles describing the land as Georgie or Georgia in French and English, date from the early Middle Ages "because of their special reverence for Saint George", but these accounts have been seen as folk etymology ; compare Land of Prester John . There are exactly 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after Saint George according to the number of days in a year. According to myth, St. George was cut into 365 pieces after he fell in battle and every single piece was spread throughout the entire country. According to another myth, Saint George appeared in person during the Battle of Didgori to support the Georgian victory over the Seldjuk army and the Georgian uprising against Persian rule. Saint George is considered by many Georgians to have special meaning as a symbol of national liberation. Devotions to Saint George in Portugal date back to the twelfth century, and Saint Constable attributed the victory of the Portuguese in the battle of Aljubarrota in the fourteenth century to Saint George. During the reign of King John I (1357–1433) Saint George became the patron saint of Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image on the horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession. In fact, the Portuguese Army motto means Portugal and Saint George, in perils and in efforts of war. Saint George is also one of the patron saints of the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. In a battle between the Maltese and the Moors, Saint George was alleged to have been seen with Saint Paul and Saint Agata, protecting the Maltese. Besides being the patron of Victoria where St. George's Basilica, Malta is dedicated to him, St George is the protector of the island Gozo. Interfaith Shrine There is a tradition in the Holy Land of Christians and Muslim going to an Eastern Orthodox shrine of St. George at Beith Jala , Jews also attend the site in the belief that the prophet Elijah was buried there. This is testified to by Elizabeth Finn in 1866, where she wrote, "St. George killed the dragon in this country Palestine ; and the place is shown close to Beirut (Lebanon). Many churches and convents are named after him. The church at Lydda is dedicated to St. George: so is a convent near Bethlehem, and another small one just opposite the Jaffa gate; and others beside. The Arabs believe that St. George can restore mad people to their senses; and to say a person has been sent to St. George's, is equivalent to saying he has been sent to a madhouse. It is singular that the Moslem Arabs share this veneration for St. George, and send their mad people to be cured by him, as well as the Christians. But they commonly call him El Khudder —The Green—according to their favourite manner of using epithets instead of names. Why he should be called green, however, I cannot tell—unless it is from the colour of his horse. Gray horses are called green in Arabic." A possible explanation for this colour reference is Al Khidr , the erstwhile tutor of Moses, gained his name from having sat in a barren desert, turning it into a lush green paradise. William Dalrymple reviewing the literature in 1999 tells us that J. E. Hanauer in his 1907 book Folklore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish "mentioned a shrine in the village of Beit Jala, beside Bethlehem, which at the time was frequented by all three of Palestine's religious communities. Christians regarded it as the birthplace of St. George, Jews as the burial place of the Prophet Elias. According to Hanauer, in his day the monastery was "a sort of madhouse. Deranged persons of all the three faiths are taken thither and chained in the court of the chapel, where they are kept for forty days on bread and water, the Eastern Orthodox priest at the head of the establishment now and then reading the Gospel over them, or administering a whipping as the case demands.' In the 1920s, according to Taufiq Canaan 's Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine, nothing seemed to have changed, and all three communities were still visiting the shrine and praying together." Dalrymple himself visited the place in 1995. "I asked around in the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem, and discovered that the place was very much alive. With all the greatest shrines in the Christian world to choose from, it seemed that when the local Arab Christians had a problem – an illness, or something more complicated: a husband detained in an Israeli prison camp, for example – they preferred to seek the intercession of St George in his grubby little shrine at Beit Jala rather than praying at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem." He asked the priest at the shrine "Do you get many Muslims coming here?" The priest replied, "We get hundreds! Almost as many as the Christian pilgrims. Often, when I come in here, I find Muslims all over the floor, in the aisles, up and down." The Encyclopædia Britannica quotes G.A. Smith in his Historic Geography of the Holy Land p. 164 saying "The Mahommedans who usually identify St. George with the prophet Elijah, at Lydda confound his legend with one about Christ himself. Their name for Antichrist is Dajjal, and they have a tradition that Jesus will slay Antichrist by the gate of Lydda. The notion sprang from an ancient bas-relief of George and the Dragon on the Lydda church. But Dajjal may be derived, by a very common confusion between n and l, from Dagon, whose name two neighbouring villages bear to this day, while one of the gates of Lydda used to be called the Gate of Dagon." Colours and flag St George's cross The "Colours of Saint George", or St George's Cross are a white flag with a red cross, frequently borne by entities over which he is patron (e.g. the Republic of Genoa and then Liguria , England , Georgia , Catalonia , Aragon , etc.). This was formerly the banner attributed to St. Ambrose . Adopted by the city of Milan (of which he was Archbishop) at least as early as the 9th century, its use spread over Northern Italy including Genoa.[dubious – discuss ] Genoa's patron saint was St. George and while the flag was not associated with George in Genoa itself, it is possibly[clarification needed] the cause of the use of the design as the attributed arms of Saint George in the 14th century.[dubious – discuss ] The same colour scheme was used by Viktor Vasnetsov for the façade of the Tretyakov Gallery , in which some of the most famous St. George icons are exhibited and which displays St. George as the coat of arms of Moscow over its entrance. In 1606, the flag of England (St. George's Cross), and the flag of Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross), were joined together to create the Union Flag . Iconography and models Byzantine icon of St. George, Athens Greece St. George is most commonly depicted in early icons , mosaics and frescos wearing armour contemporary with the depiction, executed in gilding and silver colour, intended to identify him as a Roman soldier . After the Fall of Constantinople and the association of St George with the crusades , he is more often portrayed mounted upon a white horse . At the same time St George began to be associated with St. Demetrius , another early soldier saint . When the two saints are portrayed together mounted upon horses, they may be likened to earthly manifestations of the archangels Michael and Gabriel . St George is always depicted in Eastern traditions upon a white horse and St. Demetrius on a red horse St George can also be identified in the act of spearing a dragon, unlike St Demetrius, who is sometimes shown spearing a human figure, understood to represent Maximian . A 2003 Vatican stamp issued on the anniversary of the Saint's death depicts an armoured Saint George atop a white horse, killing the dragon. During the early second millennium, George came to be seen as the model of chivalry , and during this time was depicted in works of literature , such as the medieval romances . Jacobus de Voragine , Archbishop of Genoa , compiled the Legenda Sanctorum, (Readings of the Saints) also known as Legenda Aurea (the Golden Legend ) for its worth among readers. Its 177 chapters (182 in other editions) contain the story of Saint George. Modern Russians interpret the icon not as a killing but as a struggle, against ourselves and the evil among us. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity it is possible to find Icons of St.George riding on Black horse, as well, there are various examples in Russian Iconography, like the Icon in British Museum Collection. In the eastern Christian tradition, Saint George is portrayed as a martyr in the classical orthodox icon style; he is either portrayed as a soldier with his weapons, or in the more famous setting of him riding a white horse and slaying the dragon. One exception to this icon tradition exists in the Saint George Church for Melkite Catholics, in the Lebanese village of Mieh Mieh in south Lebanon, where you can find hanging on its walls the only icons in the world (drawn according to the eastern icon style) portraying the whole life of Saint George as well as the scenes of his torture and martyrdom. This unique set was completed for the church’s 75th jubilee in 2012, under the guidance of Mgr Sassine Gregoire. The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr.Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), and Romania. Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, theemperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330,Constantine I (r. 306–337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism. The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-centuryMacedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer". However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071. Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in theFirst and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Early history The Baptism of Constantine painted byRaphael's pupils (1520–1524, fresco, Vatican City,Apostolic Palace). Eusebius of Caesarea records that (as was common among converts of early Christianity) Constantine delayed receiving baptismuntil shortly before his death. The Roman army succeeded in conquering many territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and coastal regions in southwestern Europe and north Africa. These territories were home to many different cultural groups, ranging from primitive to highly sophisticated. Generally speaking, the eastern Mediterranean provinces were more urbanised than the western, having previously been united under the Macedonian Empire and Hellenisedby the influence of Greek culture. The west also suffered more heavily from the instability of the 3rd century AD. This distinction between the established Hellenised East and the younger Latinised West persisted and became increasingly important in later centuries, leading to a gradual estrangement of the two worlds. Divisions of the Roman Empire In order to maintain control and improve administration, various schemes to divide the work of the Roman Emperor by sharing it between individuals were tried between 285 and 324, from 337 to 350, from 364 to 392, and again between 395 and 480. Although the administrative subdivisions varied, they generally involved a division of labour between East and West. Each division was a form of power-sharing (or even job-sharing), for the ultimateimperium was not divisible and therefore the empire remained legally one state—although the co-emperors often saw each other as rivals or enemies rather than partners. In 293, emperor Diocletian created a new administrative system (the tetrarchy), in order to guarantee security in all endangered regions of his Empire. He associated himself with a co-emperor (Augustus), and each co-emperor then adopted a young colleague given the title of Caesar, to share in their rule and eventually to succeed the senior partner. The tetrarchy collapsed, however, in 313 and a few years later Constantine I reunited the two administrative divisions of the Empire as sole Augustus. Loss of the western Roman Empire After the fall of Attila, the Eastern Empire enjoyed a period of peace, while the Western Empire deteriorated in continuing migration and expansion byGermanic nations (its end is usually dated in 476 when the Germanic Roman general Odoacer deposed the titular Western Emperor Romulus Augustulus). In 480 Emperor Zeno abolished the division of the Empire making himself sole Emperor. Odoacer, now ruler of Italy, was nominally Zeno's subordinate but acted with complete autonomy, eventually providing support of a rebellion against the Emperor. Zeno negotiated with the conquering Ostrogoths, who had settled in Moesia, convincing the Gothic king Theodoric to depart for Italy as magister militum per Italiam ("commander in chief for Italy") with the aim to depose Odoacer. By urging Theodoric into conquering Italy, Zeno rid the Eastern Empire of an unruly subordinate (Odoacer) and moved another (Theodoric) further from the heart of the Empire. After Odoacer's defeat in 493, Theodoric ruled Italy on his own, although he was never recognised by the eastern emperors as "king" (rex). In 491, Anastasius I, an aged civil officer of Roman origin, became Emperor, but it was not until 497 that the forces of the new emperor effectively took the measure of Isaurian resistance.Anastasius revealed himself as 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 lb (150,000 kg) of gold when Anastasius died in 518. Reconquest of the western provinces Justinian I depicted on one of the famous mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna. Justinian I , the son of an Illyrian peasant, may already have exerted effective control during the reign of his uncle, Justin I (518–527). He assumed the throne in 527, and oversaw a period of recovery of former territories. In 532, attempting to secure his eastern frontier, he signed a peace treaty with Khosrau I of Persia agreeing to pay a large annual tribute to the Sassanids. In the same year, he survived a revolt in Constantinople (the Nika riots), which solidified his power but ended with the deaths of a reported 30,000 to 35,000 rioters on his orders. In 529, a ten-man commission chaired by John the Cappadocian revised the Roman law and created a new codification of laws and jurists' extracts. In 534, the Code was updated and, along with the enactements promulgated by Justinian after 534, it formed the system of law used for most of the rest of the Byzantine era. 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, his nephew and heir Athalaric, and his daughter Amalasuntha had left her murderer,Theodahad (r. 534–536), on the throne despite his weakened authority. Heraclian dynasty The Byzantine Empire in 650 - by this year it lost all of its southern provinces except the Exarchate of Africa. After Maurice's murder by Phocas, Khosrau used the pretext to reconquer the Roman province of Mesopotamia.Phocas, an unpopular ruler 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, occupying Damascus andJerusalem and removing the True Cross to Ctesiphon. The counter-attack launched by 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 that were led in procession byPatriarch 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 Byzantines and Sassanids, however, and left them extremely vulnerable to the Muslim forces that emerged in the following years. The Byzantines suffered a crushing defeat by the Arabs at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, while Ctesiphon fell in 634. Siege of Constantinople (674–678) The Arabs, now firmly in control of Syria and the Levant, sent frequent raiding parties deep into Asia Minor, and in 674–678 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 the Umayyad Caliphate. However, 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, and, like other urban centres, it was partly ruralised. The city also lost the free grain shipments in 618, after Egypt fell first to the Persians and then to the Arabs, and public wheat distribution ceased. The void left by the disappearance of the old semi-autonomous civic institutions was filled by the theme system, which entailed dividing Asia Minor into "provinces" occupied by distinct armies that 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 massive cultural and institutional restructuring of the Empire consequent on the loss of territory in the 7th century has been said to have caused a decisive break in east Mediterranean Romanness and that the Byzantine state is subsequently best understood as another successor state rather than a real continuation of the Roman Empire. The Greek fire was first used by the Byzantine Navy during the Byzantine-Arab Wars (from theMadrid Skylitzes, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid). Isaurian dynasty to the ascension of Basil I The Byzantine Empire at the accession of Leo III, c. 717. Striped area indicates land raided by the Arabs. Leo III the Isaurian turned back the Muslim assault in 718 and 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 Bulgarian strength. Taking advantage of the Empire's weakness after the Revolt of Thomas the Slav in the early 820s, the Arabs reemerged andcaptured Crete. They also successfully attacked Sicily, but in 863 general Petronas gained a huge victory against Umar al-Aqta, the emir of Melitene. Under the leadership of emperor Krum, the Bulgarian threat also reemerged, but in 815–816 Krum's son, Omurtag, signed a peace treaty with Leo V. Macedonian dynasty and resurgence (867–1025) The Byzantine Empire, c. 867. The accession of Basil I to the throne in 867 marks the beginning of the Macedonian dynasty, which would rule for the next two and a half centuries. This dynasty included some of the most able emperors in Byzantium's history, and the period is one of revival and resurgence. The Empire moved from defending against external enemies to reconquest of territories formerly lost. In addition to a reassertion of Byzantine military power and political authority, the period under the Macedonian dynasty is characterised by a cultural revival in spheres such as philosophy and the arts. There was a conscious effort to restore the brilliance of the period before the Slavic and subsequent Arab invasions, and the Macedonian era has been dubbed the "Golden Age" of Byzantium. Though the Empire was significantly smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it had regained significant strength, as the remaining territories were less geographically dispersed and more politically, economically, and culturally integrated. Wars against the Arabs The general Leo Phokas defeats the Arabs atAndrassos in 960, from the Madrid Skylitzes. In the early years of Basil I's reign, Arab raids on the coasts of Dalmatia were successfully repelled, and the region once again came under secure Byzantine control. This enabled Byzantine missionaries to penetrate to the interior and convert the Serbs and the principalities of modern-dayHerzegovina and Montenegro to Orthodox Christianity. An attempt to retake Malta ended disastrously, however, when the local population sided with the Arabs and massacred the Byzantine garrison. By contrast, the Byzantine position in Southern Italy was gradually consolidated so that by 873 Bari had once again come under Byzantine rule,and most of Southern Italy would remain in the Empire for the next 200 years.On the more important eastern front, the Empire rebuilt its defences and went on the offensive. The Paulicians were defeated and their capital of Tephrike (Divrigi) taken, while the offensive against the Abbasid Caliphatebegan with the recapture of Samosata. The military successes of the 10th century were coupled with a major cultural revival, the so-called Macedonian Renaissance. Miniature from the Paris Psalter, an example of Hellenistic-influenced art. Under Michael's son and successor, Leo VI the Wise, the gains in the east against the now weak Abbasid Caliphate continued. However, Sicily was lost to the Arabs in 902, and in 904 Thessaloniki, the Empire's second city, was sacked by an Arab fleet. The weakness of the Empire in the naval sphere was quickly rectified, so that a few years later a Byzantine fleet had re-occupied Cyprus, lost in the 7th century, and also stormed Laodicea in Syria. 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. Wars against the Bulgarian Empire Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025). The traditional struggle with the See of Rome continued through the Macedonian period, spurred by the question of religious supremacy over the newly Christianised state of Bulgaria. Ending eighty years of peace between the two states, the powerful Bulgarian tsar Simeon I invaded in 894 but was pushed back by the Byzantines, who used their fleet to sail up the Black Sea to attack the Bulgarian rear, enlisting the support of theHungarians. The Byzantines were defeated at the Battle of Boulgarophygon in 896, however, and agreed to pay annual subsidies to the Bulgarians. Leo the Wise died in 912, and hostilities soon resumed as Simeon marched to Constantinople at the head of a large army. Though the walls of the city were impregnable, the Byzantine administration was in disarray and Simeon was invited into the city, where he was granted the crown ofbasileus (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. The Empire now faced the problem of a powerful Christian state within a few days' marching distance from Constantinople, as well as having to fight on two fronts. A great imperial expedition under Leo Phocas and Romanos I Lekapenos ended with another crushing Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Achelous in 917, and the following year the Bulgarians were free to ravage northern Greece. Adrianople was plundered again in 923, and a Bulgarian army laid siege to Constantinople in 924. Simeon died suddenly in 927, however, and Bulgarian power collapsed with him. Bulgaria and Byzantium entered a long period of peaceful relations, and the Empire was now free to concentrate on the eastern front against the Muslims. In 968, Bulgaria was overrun by the Rus' under Sviatoslav I of Kiev, but three years later, John I Tzimiskes defeated the Rus' and re-incorporated Eastern Bulgaria into the Byzantine Empire. The extent of the Empire under Basil II. Bulgarian resistance revived under the rule of the Cometopuli dynasty, but the new emperor Basil II (r. 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 dragged 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. At the Battle of Kleidion in 1014 the Bulgarians were annihilated: their army was captured, and it is said that 99 out of every 100 men were blinded, with the hundredth man left with one eye so he could 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. Relations with the Kievan Rus' Rus' under the walls of Constantinople (860). Between 850 and 1100, the Empire developed a mixed relationship with the new state of the Kievan Rus', which had emerged to the north across the Black Sea. This relationship would have long-lasting repercussions in the history of the East Slavs, and the Empire quickly became the main tradingand cultural partner for Kiev. The Rus' launched their first attack against Constantinople in 860, pillaging the suburbs of the city. In 941, they appeared on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, but this time they were crushed, an indication of the improvements in the Byzantine military position after 907, whenonly diplomacy had been able to push back the invaders. Basil II could not ignore the emerging power of the Rus', and, following the example of his predecessors, he used religion as a means for the achievement of political purposes. Rus'–Byzantine relations became closer following the marriage of the Anna Porphyrogeneta to Vladimir the Great in 988, 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, while numerous Rus' served in the Byzantine army as mercenaries, most notably as the famous Varangian Guard. Even after the Christianisation of the Rus', however, 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 often followed by treaties that were generally favourable to the Rus', such as the one concluded at the end of the war of 1043, during which the Rus' gave an indication of their ambitions to compete with the Byzantines as an independent power. Apex Constantinople became the largest and wealthiest city in Europe between the 9th and 11th centuries. By 1025, the date of Basil II's death, the Byzantine Empire 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, and the reconquest of Crete, Cyprus, and the important city of Antioch. These were not temporary tactical gains but long-term reconquests. Leo VI achieved the complete codification of Byzantine law in Greek. This monumental work of 60 volumes became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law and is still studied today. Leo also reformed the administration of the Empire, redrawing the borders of the administrative subdivisions (the Themata, or "Themes") and tidying up the system of ranks and privileges, as well as regulating the behavior of the various trade guilds in Constantinople. Leo's reform did much to reduce the previous fragmentation of the Empire, which henceforth had one center of power, Constantinople. However, the increasing military success of the Empire greatly enriched and empowered the provincial nobility with respect to the peasantry, who were essentially reduced to a state of serfdom. Under the Macedonian emperors, the city of Constantinople flourished, becoming the largest and wealthiest city in Europe, with a population of approximately 400,000 in the 9th and 10th centuries. During this period, the Byzantine Empire employed a strong civil service staffed by competent aristocrats that oversaw the collection of taxes, domestic administration, and foreign policy. The Macedonian emperors also increased the Empire's wealth by fostering trade with Western Europe, particularly through the sale of silk and metalwork. Split between Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism (1054) Mural of Saints Cyril and Methodius, 19th century, Troyan Monastery, Bulgaria. The Macedonian period also included events of momentous religious significance. The conversion of the Bulgarians, Serbs and Rus' to Orthodox Christianity permanently changed the religious map of Europe and still resonates today. Cyril and Methodius, two Byzantine Greek brothers from Thessaloniki, contributed significantly to the Christianization of the Slavs and in the process devised the Glagolitic alphabet, ancestor to the Cyrillic script. In 1054, relations between the Eastern and Western traditions within the Christian Church reached a terminal crisis, known as the Great Schism. 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 Phokas (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 skill 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. Komnenian dynasty and the crusaders Alexios I , founder of the Komnenos dynasty. 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. Though the Seljuk Turks occupied the Empire's heartland in Anatolia, it was against Western powers that most Byzantine military efforts were directed, particularly the Normans. The Empire under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, which Alexios I had helped bring about, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea under John and Manuel. Contact between Byzantium and the "Latin" West, including the Crusader states, increased significantly during the Komnenian period. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers (there were an estimated 60,000 Latins in Constantinople alone, out of a population of three to four hundred thousand), and their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel helped to spread Byzantine technology, art, literature and culture throughout the Latin West, while also leading to a flow of Western ideas and customs into the Empire. In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Komnenian period was one of the peaks in Byzantine history, and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in terms of size, wealth, and culture. There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek. Byzantine art and literature held a pre-eminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west during this period was enormous and of long lasting significance. 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 Byzantine Empire and the Sultanate of Rûm before the First Crusade. 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 toPope 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 Churcheswith the Roman 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. John II, Manuel I and the Second Crusade Medieval manuscript depicting the Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. Alexios's son John II Komnenos succeeded him in 1118, and ruled 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 ByzantineMarcus 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 theBattle 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 IIIagainst 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. The Byzantine Empire in orange, c. 1180, at the end of theKomnenian period. 12th-century Renaissance 'The Lamentation of Christ' (1164), a fresco from the church of Saint Panteleimon in Nerezi near Skopje. It is considered a superb example of 12th century Komnenian art. 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 circa 1081 to circa 1180, the Komnenian army assured the Empire's security, enabling Byzantine civilisation to flourish. This allowed the Western provinces to achieve an economic revival that 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. In philosophy, there was resurgence of classical learning not seen since the 7th century, characterised by a significant increase in the publication of commentaries on classical works.In addition, it is during the Komnenian period that there occurs the first transmission of classical Greek knowledge towards the West. Decline and disintegration 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 took his 12-year-old wife Agnes of France for himself. Iconium was won by the Third Crusade. 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 of Hungary (r. 1172–1196) who reincorporated Croatian territories into Hungary, and Stephen Nemanja of Serbia (r. 1166–1196) who declared his independence from the Byzantine Empire. Yet, none of these troubles would compare to William II of Sicily's (r. 1166–1189) 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 led 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." Fourth Crusade The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugène Delacroix (1840). 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 briefsiege. 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. Map to show the partition of the empire following the Fourth Crusade, c. 1204. After the death of Theobald III, Count of Champagne, the leadership of the Crusade passed to Boniface of Montferrat, a friend of the HohenstaufenPhilip 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. Crusader sack of Constantinople (1204) The crusaders arrived at the city in the summer of 1203 and quickly attacked, started a major fire that 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 Empire in exile 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. 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 Muslim 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 grandsonAndronikos 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. Rise of the Ottomans and fall of Constantinople The siege of Constantinople in 1453 according to a 15th-century French miniature. 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 (r. 1331–1346) 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 Eastern Mediterranean just before the fall of Constantinople. 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. Political aftermath By the time of the fall of Constantinople, the only remaining territory of the Byzantine Empire was the Despotate of the Morea (Peloponnese), which was ruled by brothers of the last Emperor, Thomas Palaiologos and Demetrios Palaiologos. The Despotate continued on as an independent state by paying an annual tribute 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. Demetrios asked the Ottomans to invade and drive Thomas out. Thomas fled. The Ottomans moved through the Morea and conquered virtually the entire Despotate by the summer. Demetrios thought the Morea would be restored to him to rule, but it was incorporated into the Ottoman fold. A few holdouts remained for a time. The island of Monemvasia refused to surrender and it was first ruled for a short time by a Catalan corsair. When the population drove him out they obtained the consent of Thomas to place themselves under the Pope's protection before the end of 1460. The Mani Peninsula, on the Morea's south end, resisted under a loose coalition of the local clans and then that area came under Venice's rule. The very last holdout was Salmeniko, in the Morea's northwest. Graitzas Palaiologos was the military commander there, stationed at Salmeniko Castle. While the town eventually surrendered, Graitzas and his garrison and some town residents held out in the castle until July 1461, when they escaped and reached Venetian territory. The Empire of Trebizond, which had split away from the Byzantine Empire just weeks before Constantinople was taken by the Crusaders 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 14 August 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last remnant of the Roman Empire was extinguished. The nephew of the last Emperor, Constantine XI, Andreas Palaiologos claimed to have inherited the title of Byzantine Emperor. He lived in the Morea 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. Since the office of emperor had never been technically hereditary, Andreas' claim would have been without merit under Byzantine law. However, the Empire had vanished, and Western states generally followed the Roman church sanctioned principles of hereditary sovereignty. Seeking a life in the west, Andreas 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. 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. They considered that they had simply shifted its religious basis as Constantine had done before. 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 successive Third Rome was kept alive until its demise with the Russian Revolution. Culture Economy 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 andNorth Africa, in particular being the primary western terminus of the famous Silk Road. Until the first half of the 6th century and in sharp contrast with the decaying West, Byzantine economy was flourishing and resilient. The Plague of Justinian and the Arab conquests would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of stagnation and decline. Isaurian reforms and, in particular, Constantine V's repopulation, public works and tax measures, marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204, despite territorial contraction. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury and travellers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. The Fourth Crusade resulted in the disruption of Byzantine manufacturing and the commercial dominance of the Western Europeans in the eastern Mediterranean, events that amounted to an economic catastrophe for the Empire. 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 Byzantium was trade, fostered by the maritime character of the Empire. 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, maintaining a durable and flexible monetary system adaptable to trade needs. 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. Science, medicine, law The frontispiece of the Vienna Dioscurides, which shows a set of seven famous physicians. 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 thesciences (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. The Byzantines are also credited with several technological advancements, particularly in architecture (e.g. the pendentive dome) and warfare technology (e.g. Greek fire). 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. In the 10th century, Leo VI the Wise achieved the complete codification of the whole of Byzantine law in Greek, which became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law, generating interest to the present day. 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. As Cyril Mango points out, the Byzantine political thinking can be summarised in the motto "One God, one empire, one religion". The imperial role in the affairs of the Church never developed into a fixed, legally defined system. With the decline of Rome, and internal dissension in the other Eastern Patriarchates, the Church of Constantinople became, between the 6th 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 continued to exercise significant 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. The official state Christian doctrine was determined by the first seven ecumenical councils, and it was then the emperor's duty to impose it to his subjects. An imperial decree of 388, which was later incorporated into the Codex Justinianus, orders the population of the Empire "to assume the name of Catholic Christians", and regards all those who will not abide by the law as "mad and foolish persons"; as followers of "heretical dogmas". Despite imperial decrees and the stringent stance of the state church itself, which came to be known as the Eastern Orthodox Church or Eastern Christianity, the latter never represented all Christians in Byzantium. Mango believes that, in the early stages of the Empire, the "mad and foolish persons", those labelled "heretics" by the state church, were the majority of the population.Besides the pagans, who existed until the end of the 6th century, and the Jews, there were many followers – sometimes even emperors – of various Christian doctrines, such as Nestorianism,Monophysitism, Arianism, and Paulicianism, whose teachings were in some opposition to the main theological doctrine, as determined by the Ecumenical Councils. Another division among Christians occurred, when Leo III ordered the destruction of icons throughout the Empire. This led to a significant religious crisis, which ended in mid-9th century with the restoration of icons. During the same period, a new wave of pagans emerged in the Balkans, originating mainly from Slavic people. These were gradually Christianised, and by Byzantium's late stages, Eastern Orthodoxy represented most Christians and, in general, most people in what remained of the Empire. Jews were a significant minority in the Byzantine state throughout its history, and, according to Roman law, they constituted a legally recognised religious group. In the early Byzantine period they were generally tolerated, but then periods of tensions and persecutions ensued. In any case, after the Arab conquests, the majority of Jews found themselves outside the Empire; those left inside the Byzantine borders apparently lived in relative peace from the 10th century onwards. Art and literature Miniatures of the 6th-century Rabula Gospeldisplay the more abstract and symbolic nature of Byzantine art. Surviving Byzantine art is mostly religious and with exceptions at certain periods is highly conventionalized, following traditional models that translate carefully controlled church theology into artistic terms. Painting in fresco, illuminated manuscripts and on wood panel and, especially in earlier periods, mosaic were the main media, and figurative sculpture very rare except for small carved ivories. Manuscript painting preserved to the end some of the classical realist tradition that was missing in larger works.Byzantine art was highly prestigious and sought-after in Western Europe, where it maintained a continuous influence on medieval art until near the end of the period. This was especially so in Italy, where Byzantine styles persisted in modified form through the 12th century, and became formative influences on Italian Renaissance art. But few incoming influences affected Byzantine style. By means of the expansion of the Eastern Orthodox church, Byzantine forms and styles spread to all the Orthodox world and beyond. 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 must be reckoned with: the Greek, the Christian, the Roman, and the Oriental. Byzantine literature is often classified in five groups: historians and annalists, encyclopaedists (Patriarch Photios, Michael Psellus, and Michael Choniates are regarded as the greatest encyclopaedists 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 9th 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. Legacy King David in robes of a Byzantine emperor. Miniature from the Paris Psalter. Byzantium has been often identified with absolutism, orthodox spirituality, orientalism and exoticism, while the terms "Byzantine" and "Byzantinism" have been used as bywords for decadence, complex bureaucracy, and repression. In the countries of Central and Southeast Europe that exited theEastern Bloc in late 80s and early 90s, the assessment of Byzantine civilisation and its legacy was strongly negative due to their connection with an alleged "Eastern authoritarianism and autocracy." Both Eastern and Western European authors have often perceived Byzantium as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas contrary to those of the West. Even in 19th-century Greece, the focus was mainly on the classical past, while Byzantine tradition had been associated with negative connotations. This traditional approach towards Byzantium has been partially or wholly disputed and revised by modern studies, which focus on the positive aspects of Byzantine culture and legacy. Averil Cameron regards as undeniable the Byzantine contribution to the formation of the medieval Europe, and both Cameron and Obolensky recognise the major role of Byzantium in shaping Orthodoxy, which in turn occupies a central position in the history and societies of Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia and other countries. The Byzantines also preserved and copied classical manuscripts, and they are thus regarded as transmitters of the classical knowledge, as important contributors to the modern European civilisation, and as precursors of both the Renaissance humanism and the Slav Orthodox culture. 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. From a different perspective, since the 7th century, the evolution and constant reshaping of the Byzantine state were directly related to the respective progress of Islam. 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. According to Cameron, regarding themselves as "heirs" of Byzantium, the Ottomans preserved important aspects of its tradition, which in turn facilitated an "Orthodox revival" during the post-communist period of the Eastern European states. 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. 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