To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The Romans adaptation of Greek philosophy was illustrated by the Stoics and Epicureans. The Stoics held that humanity is determined by the fates of nature, while the Epicureans believed that happiness came from seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Plato was revived by Plotinus and dominated Roman philosophy during the early years of Christianity. Both the missionary zeal of early Christians and the tranquility of Roman administration rapidly spread Christianity. The teachings of Jesus were bolstered by defenders, who gave Christianity form and content. St. Augustine successfully reinterpreted Platonic thought within Christian theology, and the consequent influence on psychology continued well beyond. With the fall of the Western empire, intellectual life came to a virtual halt, and only the monastic movement preserved remnants of Greek and Roman civilization. The papacy assumed a leading role in spiritual direction and civil administration. The power shift to the East saw the Byzantine Empire assume a distinctive Greek character. The rise of Islam threatened the survival of Christianity in the Middle East and in North Africa. But, at the same time, much of the Greek heritage of scholarship was preserved and extended in the great academic centers of medieval Islam.
This article examines how the introduction of western European crusaders and settlers to northern Syria from 490/1097 onwards impacted upon two important mechanisms of regional diplomacy; the ransom of prominent political prisoners and tributary relationships. Discussion begins with a comparison of the capture and ransom of high-ranking captives in northern Syria between 442-522/1050-1128, where it is argued that the establishment of the crusader states led to an increase in both the rate at which prisoners of elite status were ransomed and the financial sums involved in these interactions. This is followed by a reassessment of the various peace treaties, tributary arrangements and condominia or munāṣafa agreements concluded between the rulers of Antioch and Aleppo during the late fifth/eleventh and early sixth/twelfth centuries. Ultimately, this article seeks to place key features of northern Syrian diplomacy from the early crusading period within the context of regional norms in the decades preceding the crusaders’ arrival.
This article looks at the rise of Venice and the expansion of its economic, political and military power in the Adriatic from the early ninth until the fourteenth centuries. It assesses how local, interconnecting commercial networks transformed into more elaborate, intensive and long-distance connections that came about as a result of wider patterns of change not only in the Adriatic, but in the Mediterranean, Europe and beyond during this period. The article examines the relationship between Venice and the coastal towns of Dalmatia and Italy and charts how patterns of co-operation and mutual interest gave way to domination through a deliberate and coherent series of policies adopted by Venice’s leaders. The participation of an increasing number of elements of Venetian society in the commercial and political success of the city played an important role in providing domestic stability on the one hand and in shaping a civic identity on the other, that was also to prove important during the time of the crusades where new markets and opportunities opened up for the city. Financial structures that allowed for – and even prompted – inclusivity played a key role too in eliding the interests of the elites with those of Venice’s citizens.
This chapter discusses some general principles of spatial organisation and perception in the Medieval Roman (“Byzantine”) Empire as can be reconstructed from written sources, furthermore the definition and dynamics of frontiers and the significance of the centre (Constantinople) and its demands for the spatial framework of imperial politics. The chronological focus is on the centuries from the inauguration of Constantinople as new capital (330 CE) up to the Fourth Crusade in 1204 CE. Furthermore, the papers deal more with the frontiers and relations of Byzantium to the East, where also Byzantine authors identified (competing) polities of a similar imperial quality, than with the connections to and conflicts with medieval Western Europe. It aims to demonstrate how specific aspects of Byzantium´s spatial dynamics can be integrated in a more general comparative discussion of empires as spatial phenomena.
North-east Italy (Friuli and Veneto), a key area in the late Lombard period, mantained its importance in the Carolingian period due primarily to military reasons, i.e. the defense of the border against Avars and Slavs. The consequences of the Frankish conquest in the north-east were far more devastating than in other areas of the kingdom, because the Friulian aristocracy was the only one to put up an armed resistance against the Frankish armies. Defeating the Friulians, Charlemagne made many efforts to extend Frankish influence over Venice and Istria, in competion with the Bizantine empire. The eastern regions of Italy remained at the forefront of Carolingian interests even after the Peace of Aachen in 812. The second reason why this area of the kingdom was of such strategic importance for the Carolingians was its commercial traffic. The volume of diplomas issued confirms that the Carolingians attributed great importance to regulating the commercial traffic travelling upriver from the Adriatic. In this frame, the pactum Lotharii of 840 reveals the profound link between the kingdom and the Venitian duchy.
Consecrated as the new capital of the Roman world in the year 330 ce, Constantinople was the ancient city of Byzantion, in origin a colony of Megara in Attica, and renamed the ‘city of Constantine’ by the first Christian emperor of the Roman world. He made it his capital in an effort to establish a new strategic focus for the vast Roman state, as well as to distance himself from the politics of the previous centuries. By the middle of the fifth century, the western parts of the Roman Empire were already in the process of transformation which was to produce the barbarian successor kingdoms, such as those of the Franks, Visigoths and Ostrogoths, and the Burgundians, while the eastern parts remained largely unaffected by these changes. When exactly ‘Byzantine’ begins and ‘late Roman’ ends is a moot point. Some prefer to use Byzantine for the eastern part of the Roman Empire from the time of Constantine I – that is to say, from the 320s and 330s; others apply it to the Eastern Empire from the later fifth or sixth century, especially from the reign of Justinian (527–65). In either case, the term ‘Byzantine’ legitimately covers the period from the late Roman era on, and is used to describe the history of the politics, society, and culture of the medieval East Roman Empire until its demise at the hands of the Ottomans in the fifteenth century.
The Fourth Crusade (1199–1204), culminating in the sack of Constantinople and the conquest of most of the Byzantine empire, is a textbook example of a noble plan gone awry. The original intent was to attack the Ayyubids in Egypt, but along the way financial and other considerations diverted the French and Venetian crusaders to Constantinople where they restored the deposed emperor Isaac II Angelos (r.1185–95, 1203–4) to power. According to an earlier agreement, Isaac was to provide the crusaders with military and financial aid, but fiscal problems within the empire made this impossible. As time passed, anti-Latin sentiment within the city led to a palace coup which overthrew Isaac. The crusaders then seized the city and the empire itself. The Fourth Crusade and the subsequent Latin conquest intensified the anarchy that already existed within the provinces, providing the grace blow to an empire which had become increasingly fragmented to the point of disintegration.
At the beginning of the seventh century, the Byzantine Empire was part of a political configuration focussed on the Mediterranean world, which had been familiar for centuries and was characterised by two factors, one external and the other internal. The administration of the Byzantine Empire, both civil and military, was essentially what had emerged from the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine in the late third and early fourth centuries. The authors describe the life of the Byzantine church in the seventh century emerging from the 102 canons of the Quinisext Synod, called by the emperor Justinian II in 692.The end of the seventh century saw the Byzantine Empire still in a process of transition and redefinition: the Arab threat to Constantinople was to continue well into the eighth century, and Iconoclasm, which is seen as a further stage in the Byzantine Empire's search for its identity and ways of expressing this in the aftermath of crisis of the seventh century.
The biggest player in the sixth- and seventh-century Mediterranean economy was obviously the Byzantine Empire, which alone maintained the means and the motive routinely to encourage the bulk transportation of staple items between regions. Part of the agricultural surplus from the wealthiest of all the lands around the Mediterranean, Egypt, had long been diverted to assure supplies of grain for the imperial capital at Constantinople. The Mediterranean afforded wider opportunities for coastal producers to market their surplus, whether in dealings with the state or independently of it. The annona system may have tied shippers into the regular transport of Egyptian grain to the imperial capital, but not so tightly as to preclude them from the simultaneous pursuit of private profit. At privileged western sites like Rome and Marseilles, or Carthage and Naples, the archaeological evidence suggests that the late antique exchange-network persisted in an etiolated form through to the close of the seventh century.
In 293, two soldiers, Constantius Chlorus and Maximianus Galerius, were raised to the purple as Caesars. The diarchy was transformed into a tetrarchy. With the partition into four areas, the western parts to Maximian and Constantius Chlorus, the eastern to Diocletian himself and Galerius, the centres of decision were brought closer to the more critical frontier zones. It was an attempt to resolve a structural problem in a large territorial Byzantine empire. To strengthen the new regime a new legitimation of imperial power was devised: one that exploited a particular religious climate, while at the same time aiming to trace its roots in the Roman tradition. The administrative reforms, which were connected with the reorganizations of the army, of taxation and even of the coinage, were an effective response to danger from without and to the threat of disintegration. The main feature of Aurelian's reform was the division of the existing provinces into smaller territorial entities.
In 992 Basil II encouraged their activities by reducing the tolls on their ships paid for passage through the Hellespont to Constantinople. The effect was to favour Constantinople's role as the clearing house of Mediterranean trade. It underlined Constantinople's position as the cross-roads of the medieval world. This brought the Byzantine empire great opportunities. In the twenty-five years following Basil II's death the Byzantine empire had lost direction and momentum. The changing political conditions along the Byzantine frontiers would have alerted the imperial government to one of the disadvantages of the military expansionism espoused by Basil II. Constantine Monomachos's reign was pivotal. Education was at the heart of Constantine Monomachos's reforms. By 1095 Alexios had pacified the Balkans, brought peace to the church and restored sound government. Antioch was vital to Alexios' plans for the recovery of Anatolia from the Turks.
This chapter discusses the kingdom of Italy and the papal states in the time of Lothar II and Conrad III. Conrad III deeply involved in the problems of Germany, never went to Italy after succeeding Lothar to the German throne, although he seriously entertained the idea of an Italian campaign to oppose Roger II of Sicily as an ally of the Byzantine empire. The developments in Rome were the most striking indication of the changes which were taking place throughout central and northern Italy to the advantage of the city-states. After the death of the king of Sicily, William II, in the autumn of 1189, a few months before Barbarossa himself perished in the east, Henry claimed the succession to the kingdom of Sicily, as he himself said, 'the ancient right of the Empire', based on the concept of an Italian kingdom, following a tradition going back to the Lombards and the Franks.
In the thirteenth century, the rural societies of the Byzantine empire and the Islamic countries apparently underwent less obvious transformations than those in the west. For some historians, the increase in the rural population brought only misery to the villages, accompanied by a widespread decrease in landholding. Rural societies were strongly aware of the need to defend their cohesive character, and this was something that had to be maintained at all costs, despite the tensions which already existed or were about to erupt in these village micro-societies. The decline of serfdom is very noticeable in numerous areas in the west, but it can now be seen that the thirteenth century did not see the end of serfdom. Social transformation was more profound and happened much faster in those rural regions rendered prosperous through the widespread sale of rural products. In the thirteenth century, the number of areas under the jurisdiction of a single seigneurie became rare in the overpopulated regions.
It was in the words of Byzantine contemporaries a 'cosmic cataclysm'. The Byzantine ruling class was disorientated and uprooted. Michael Autoreianos was duly ordained patriarch at Nicaea on 20 March 1208. His first official act was to crown and anoint Theodore Laskaris emperor on Easter Day. Thus was a Byzantine empire recreated in exile in Nicaea. Theodore Laskaris died in 1221. His death was followed by civil strife, out of which his son-in-law John Vatatzes emerged as victor. Germanos II bowed to one of the facts of Byzantine political life: emperors were always likely to use Orthodoxy as a weapon or a bargaining counter in their foreign policy. The Byzantine emperor sought to counter the Angevin threat in various ways. He strengthened the sea walls of Constantinople. The lesson of the Fourth Crusade was its vulnerability to an attack from the sea. Michael Palaiologos therefore wooed Venice to prevent it from joining the Angevin camp.
In AD 861 the 'Abbasid Caliph Mutawakkil was murdered by the Turkish guard in the imperial capital of Samarra on the Tigris at the instigation of the heir to the throne, his son Muntasir. The Muslim population, including the beduin tribes and the army, was susceptible to agitation on behalf of Shi'ite pretenders. If Ibn Mudabbir's achievements were more than legendary, however, they are obscured by political events. The Fatimids had turned their attention to the west, even though, in 921, the Mahdi had taken up residence in a city built to promote the eastern enterprise. By the middle of the tenth century AD, the troubles which had afflicted both Islam and Christendom over the past hundred years had resulted in a new political order. The efforts of the Ifriqiyan navy had been directed against the western extremity of the Byzantine empire, in southern Italy.
The eastern half of the Roman Empire was economically stronger and more thickly populated than the western half. The predominating feature of rural economy in the early Byzantine period was the great private estate. This chapter lays special emphasis on the fact that in the Byzantine Empire, property and land were always hereditary and individual possessions. Emperor Heraclius turned the course of Byzantine agrarian development into fresh channels. In the middle Byzantine period, the free and freely moving peasantry is the chief factor in agrarian development. The Byzantine emperors imposed a legislation to protect the small landowner from being bought out by the 'powerful' and at the same time to prevent further subdivision. The agrarian history of the late Byzantine period is that of great landowners and their dependants. The course taken by Byzantine agrarian history provides the key to the understanding of the whole historical evolution of Byzantium.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.