Why this Byzantine emperor’s death started the fall of Eastern Rome

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The Baptism of Constantine. (Wikipedia)

The Byzantine Empire was the largest and most powerful civilization with roots that point back to 330 A.D. when Constantine first brought forth a New Rome on the area occupied by the ancient Greek Colony. At the time, more than half of the Western Roman Empire had crumbled and fell in 476 A.D, but the eastern Empire was still strong, surviving 100 more years. The Eastern Rome Empire spawned a valued art tradition, literature and learning as well as serving in the military.

Byzantine history indicates misconceptions that the Empire’s history has often been under since its inhabitants would barely accept the term as appropriate to their state and themselves. They considered themselves Romans and the continuation of the Roman Empire. They knew and accepted the Eastern Empire established right before the rise of the Christian era by God’s grace, preparing individuals for the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Christian and Roman heritage were confident that their earthly Empire was an impeccable image of the heavenly kingdom. To identify the difference between Eastern and Western Empires, historians described the medieval Eastern Empire as Byzantine.

Restored section of the Walls of Constantinople. (Wikipedia)

The Fall of Constantinople

Thanks to its geographical location, the Byzantine Empire never succumbed to any alien threats from northwest Europe. With Constantinople situated on a narrow sea channel, it was impossible to break through the metropolis’ fortification, not to mention the tiny border shared with Europe. The Empire was also advantaged by the more robust administrative center, internal political stability and the great wealth that was incomparable to other states in the medieval era. The Byzantine Emperors managed to employ more dominance over the Empire’s financial resources and, most importantly, gained enough workforce to battle the invasion. These supremacies made it possible for the Byzantine Empire to stand tall years later when Rome fell.

During the reign of the Palaiologan emperor, starting with Michael VIII back in 1261, Byzantine’s economy was crippled and never reclaimed its previous status. This was the same Byzantine that was renowned for its stable economy, especially after the fall of the Western Empire. In 1369, the Empire’s leader John V failed when seeking monetary assistance from the West to overthrow the increasing Turkish commination. He was apprehended instead as a bankrupt defaulter in Venice, and after four years, he was coerced into being a liegeman of the powerful Turks.

Since Byzantine was a vassal state, they paid tribute to the sultan and offered him military support. When John’s successors took over, the Empire was relieved from Ottoman oppression, although the rise of Murad II in 1421 set the end of the last respite. Murad repealed all privileges provided to the Byzantines, leading a siege to Constantinople. When Mehmed II succeeded Murad, he finalized the city’s attack, conquering it and converting it to the city’s leading mosque. When Constantinople fell, the Byzantine Empire collapsed too, paving the way for the long-term rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Statue of Constantin. (Wikipedia)

The bequest of the Byzantine Empire

Following the vanquishment of the Ottoman, Byzantine culture stood firm and prospered even as the empire itself fumbled. These were cultures like art, literature, theology and law. Later on, these cultures influenced the Western cognitive custom since scholars from the Italian Renaissance asked for aid from Byzantine scholars. Though Byzantine was under Roman law and political institutions, the official language spoken was Latin. Greek was widely spoken, and Greek history, culture and literature were taught to students. Italian scholars needed to translate Greek pagan and Christian writings, a process that went on even after many scholars fled Constantinople in 1453. The Byzantine culture and civilization impacted countries that practiced its eastern orthodox religion, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Russia.