The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire Lesson 33 The Byzantine Empire Part 1

Diocletian took the throne as emperor in 284 A.D. He passed many new laws to try to fix the economy of the Roman Empire. . He tried to restore the status of the emperor by naming himself a son of the chief Roman god. He even divided the empire into

eastern and western halves to make it easier to govern. Many of these changes were continued by Constantine. He became emperor of both halves

of the empire in 324 A.D. Constantine is considered to be the first Roman emperor to officially support

Christianity. On the way to the Battle of Milvian Bridge (10 miles from Rome),

Constantine is said to have seen a sign with the Greek letters XP (the first two letters of Christ) intertwined with it

and an inscription in the sky which read By this sign you shall conquer. Constantine

made his men put the symbol on their shields before going into battle.

He came out victorious over his rival Maxentius, who was competing

with him for the western half of the Roman empire.

Government sanctioned persecution of Christians was officially ended with the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. Constantine, the Western tetrarch, and Licinius, the Eastern tetrarch, issued the edict.

Constantine then met with Licinius (emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire) to issue the Edict of Milan. The Edict did the following: 1. legalized Christianity;

2. Returned Church property that had been confiscated; 3. and established Sunday as a day of worship. Constantine

credited his victory to the Christians God. He ordered the end to any religious

persecution within his realm of power. In 325 A.D., Constantine also ordered the First Council of Nicaea. This council was summoned to

settle the issue of whether Jesus and God were one in the same. There were two opposing views. One group, led by a man named Arius, held the view point of Arianism, (a religious movement, not the same as Aryanism). They believed that Jesus was not God, but

that he was a creation of God. The other group held the viewpoint of Trinitarianism, which believed

that Jesus was both the son and the incarnation of God, and that God also existed as Spirit.

The council decided in favor of the Trinitarians viewpoint.

They stated that any other viewpoint was a heresy, particularly those of the Arians. Heresies are false teachings that were contrary to those of the Churchs. In A.D. 330, the emperor

Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to the east.

He was worried about the growing power of German tribes.

He thought that he could better meet that threat in the east. The site of the new capitol was the old port city of Byzantium. Constantine had the city rebuilt and then renamed it Constantinople. Constantinople became the center of the empire. Power moved eastward.

Constantine made the correct move. The western half

of the Roman Empire was overrun by German tribes. It did not exist

after 476 C.E. In the final days of year 476 CE, the German

general Odovacar (or Odoacer) deposed the "last Roman Emperor," a boy ironically named Romulus

Augustulus.

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