Society, Religion and Arts

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1 Society, Religion and Arts

2 Despite the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Empire continued to thrive in Constantinople. It would endure for nearly 1,000 years after the Fall of Rome, largely due to the reign of Emperor Justinian ( C.E.). This period has been called Byzantine. The Easter Roman Empire is more commonly known as Byzantium. Justinian and his wife, Theodora, had a peasant background. Theodora was a high-class dancer and prostitute who married well and became the most powerful woman in Byzantine history. Together, they rose in power following the ascension of Justin I ( C.E.), the uncle of Justinian. Justin rose in military significance in Byzantium and usurped the throne in 518 C.E. Justinian was appointed Emperor after the death of his Uncle. Justinian conducted a military campaign in North Africa in 533 C.E. and managed to capture the coastal Mediterranean from Spain to Egypt. Once he consolidated his power, Justinian sent missionaries to Russia and China to spread the Christian faith. Religious conformity was strictly enforced. Byzantine subjects must be Christian. The Patriarch of Constantinople was held under Justinian s power. When Justinian died in 565 B.C.E., the European and North African holdings were conquered by Germanic or Islamic peoples. The Bishop of Rome had the opportunity to develop his own religious and political power since Italy remained broken up into smaller Christian kingdoms. Byzantium contributed innovative architectural designs and mosaics. Like Islam, Byzantine aesthetics are distinct and easily identifiable. Western artists would be influenced by their haloed saints and their extravagant use of golden backgrounds in religious imagery.

3 HAGIA SOPHIA IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY C.E. The Church of Holy Wisdom Hagia Sophia was commissioned by Emperor Justinian around 532 C.E. Anthemius of Tralles and Isodorus of Miletus worked together to construct this one of a kind design. Unlike Roman basilicas, this is a square building with a central dome and two side half domes. Its 112 ft diameter central dome rises 184 feet from the ground. Natural light pours from the dome s windows into the center of the structure. Marble in numerous colors covers the walls and pillars throughout. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks converted it into a mosque. It was made a Turkish museum by Kemal Ataturk the first president of modern Turkey in 1935.

4 THE CHURCH OF SAN VITALE IN RAVENNA, ITALY C.E. San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy is an octagonal domed church. The entrance is through an oval shaped hall adjacent to the octagon. Christ seated on the Earth is above the Apse where the altar is below. Two mosaics of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora are positioned on each side below.

5 Byzantine mosaics were a new art form in the Eastern Roman Empire. They required countless hours of cutting colored stones and placing them strategically to create some of the most beautiful scenes in the Roman world. As an art form, mosaics offer an otherworldliness that is difficult to describe. Mosaics lack representational clarity, but their ability to honor and glorify their subjects outweighs their technical limitations.

6

7 St. Mark s Basilica in Venice, Italy C.E. claims to be the site of burial for St. Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark. It has Byzantine influences with its countless golden mosaics and central dome over the Greek cross shaped floor plan. This is a treasure of the Eastern Roman period. Venice and Constantinople were trade partners since they were two major ports that tied Europe to Asia. Its natural lighting shining through the golden ceiling and walls is ethereal.

8 In the 8 th century C.E. the Roman and Byzantine Christians entered into a debate over the nature of icons in worship. Eastern Byzantine Christians were less favorable toward them since they would be potentially seen as idols. Western Roman Christians saw them as teaching tools to help those who were unable to read. In 717 C.E., Byzantine Emperor Leo III ordered the cessation of icons since it broke the Hebrew commandment against images. The fear was that people could not differentiate the reverence for the persons portrayed in the images and would worship the images themselves. This first wave of iconoclasm lasted for nearly two centuries. It pitted the Byzantine emperors against the Patriarch of Constantinople and Byzantine priests. Emperor Constantine V held an Ecumenical Council at Hieria in 754 C.E. which upheld the iconoclasm of his father Leo III. In response to the Council of Hieria, the Western Roman churches conducted the Second Council of Nicea in 787 C.E. to address the role of icons in worship. It affirmed the artistic depiction of saints and of Christ in order to enhance Christian worship. During the ninth and tenth centuries, the two halves of the Christian world grew increasingly separate. Byzantine Christians renounced their iconoclasm in the 10 th century, but other issues emerged due to differences in theological and practical expressions of the two sides. The Patriarch of Constantinople and the Bishop of Rome had a hard time sharing influence. The two forms of Christianity were shaped by their European and Asian contexts. Russia was converted to Byzantine Christianity through missionaries sent by Emperor Basil II ( C.E.). In 1054 C.E., the two sides made mutual declarations to separate. Afterward, two Christian churches were recognized in the world for the first time. Previously other expressions were considered heretical and denounced as false faith. Catholicism grew from this split in the Western European countries. Eastern Orthodoxy expanded in Eastern Europe and Russia.

9 Islam s emergence in the 7 th century C.E. posed a threat to Byzantine Christianity. Within its first 100 years, Islam spread throughout Persia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Byzantine Empire accepted its losses and maintained holdings in Western Turkey, Greece and southern Italy. Byzantium adopted Greek as its official language and a rebirth of Greek learning occurred after centuries of Christian growth. After the Great Schism, the Byzantine Empire had to call upon its newly rival Christian communities in the West to aid against the Muslim advances in Turkey. In 1095 C.E., the Byzantine Emperor asked Rome for help and one year later the First Crusade commenced. This initial one year journey of Europeans into the Near East opened up 200 years of military expeditions. 1. First 1096 C.E. Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem established 2. Second 1144 C.E. intended to help Edessa in Syria, but it failed 3. Third 1187 C.E. Richard the Lionhearted fought against Saladin of the Seljuk Turks, Acre captured 4. Fourth 1202 C.E. Constantinople conquered, Count Baldwin of Flanders crowned as Latin king 5. Children s Crusade 1212 C.E. children marched from France to Italy, most were kidnapped 6. Fifth C.E. crusade against Egypt 7. Sixth C.E. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II captured Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth 8. Seventh C.E. King Louis IX of France led and was captured in Egypt and later released 9. Eighth C.E. King Edward I of England participated with little success In 1204 C.E., the Western Christians raided Constantinople and setup a Latin kingdom. This facilitated four more crusades over the next seventy years. In 1261 C.E., a Byzantine ruler, Michael Palaeologus, conquered Constantinople and drove out the Western usurpers. The last Latin holdings were lost in 1291 C.E. For 192 years, Byzantine rulers held Constantinople until they were defeated in 1453 C.E. by the Ottoman Empire.

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