Territorial evolution of the Eastern Roman Empire [Byzantine Empire]

Territorial evolution of the Eastern Roman Empire [Byzantine Empire]

‘In a lot of ways, the Byzantine Empire is perhaps the most mysterious in world history, in its fragility.

The Empire went from being a medieval European superpower in 1050, to losing half of its territory (Anatolia) by 1096, the year of the First Crusade. After the Commenian Restoration, the empire again became the pre-eminent force in Christendom by around 1150, and then the Fourth Crusade knocked it out in Constantinople itself in 1204, with apparently not too much trouble.

These huge swings in imperial power were often accompanied by internal strife and treachery. All the major disasters for the Empire - Manzikert, the Turkic conquest of Anatolia, and the 1204 capture of Constantinople - were all made possible due to Byzantine civil wars, emperors and pretenders selling out the empire, and outright betrayals. Thus the impossible happened, and the Greek nation that has dominated Anatolia for 1500 years was completely displaced by the Turks.

I love the Byzantine Empire, but it’s hard to have sympathy for the way that they fell. Especially considering that the Turks managed to create a world empire out of the exact same territory, all the while being a ruling minority trying to keep down a Christian majority (the Ottoman state being majority-Christian at least until their conquest of Syria and Egypt).

And it is a lesson for us as well; civilizations are only as strong as its people, not the geopolitical circumstances given to it’–Successful-Tension