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HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Unit 11: Eastern Europe: Byzantium and Orthodox Europe   Two civilizations emerged in early medieval Europe: the Byzantine Empire in eastern Europe and the diverse cultures of western Europe. The Byzantine Empire was founded when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred to Constantinople in 324 C.E.; it existed until the fifteenth century.  While Byzantium transmitted the classical culture of Greek and Rome, it also developed a unique historical and cultural character that synthesized Greek, Roman, European, and Islamic elements.

In this unit, we will examine the expansion of the Byzantine Empire and the fragile unity it created in the Mediterranean world.  We will also consider the influences that Byzantium had among Slavic and Scandinavian peoples, such as the impact of Orthodox Christianity.

Unit 11 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 11.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 11.2: 2 hours

☐    Unit 11 Assessment: 0.5 hours

Unit11 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify the cultural origins and main characteristics of the Byzantine Empire. - Describe the causes, main events, and consequences of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire. - Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the Byzantine Empire.

11.1 The Byzantine Empire   - Web Media: YouTube.Edu’s “The Byzantine Empire, Part 1” Link: YouTube.Edu’s “The Byzantine Empire, Part 1” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please watch Part I of this video lecture series by Professor Eugen Weber of UCLA (10 minutes) for an introduction to one of the world’s most enduring and influential empires—Byzantium.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History: “Byzantine Civilization,” Lecture 17 Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide:Byzantine Civilization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of the lecture in order to get an overview of the Byzantine Empire.
     
    About the link: This online text was developed by Dr. Steven Kreis as an open educational resource for use in undergraduate history courses.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Byzantine Empire: Introduction” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Byzantine Empire: Introduction” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read “The Byzantine Empire: Introduction” for a concise sketch of the Byzantine Empire.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "The Byzantine Empire: The Empire of New Rome" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "The Byzantine Empire: The Empire of New Rome" (PDF)

    Instructions: Please read this article in its entirety.  Pay special attention to how the Byzantines developed a unique historical and cultural character based on a synthesis of Greek, Roman, and European elements.

11.1.1 The Eastern Roman Empire and Constantinople   - Reading: Fordham University’s Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Battuta’s Travels in Asia and Africa 1324-1354 Link: Fordham University’s Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Battuta’s Travels in Asia and Africa 1324-1354 (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read pages 159-164, which highlight Ibn Battuta’s visit to Constantinople.
 
Note on the text: This text describes the Byzantine city of Constantinople through the eyes of Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan scholar and traveler.  Ibn Battuta arrived in Constantinople in 1333 or 1334 B.C.E., and in this work, he describes his meeting with the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos, urban society, and the great church of Hagia Sophia.
 
Terms of Use: This website, maintained by Professor Paul Halsall of Fordham University, hosts a variety of medieval primary-source texts. Ibn Battuta's Travels in Asia and Africa 1324-1354 is in the public domain.

  • Reading: History World Project: Professor Donald MacGillivray Nicol’s “Byzantium: The Shining Fortress Introduction” Link: History World Project: Professor Donald MacGillivray Nicol’s “Byzantium: The Shining Fortress Introduction” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Please read the entirety of this article to understand the importance of the city of Constantinople.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.1.2 The Byzantines: Religion, Society, and Empire   - Reading: History World Project: Professor Donald MacGillivray Nicol’s “The Byzantine Empire” Link: History World Project: Professor Donald MacGillivray Nicol’s “The Byzantine Empire” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article in order to get a sense of the historical development of Byzantine society, economy, and religion.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.2 Byzantium’s Influence in Eastern Europe   - Reading: Myriobiblios: Dimitry Obolensky’s “The Byzantine Impact on Eastern Europe” Link: Myriobiblios: Dimitry Obolensky’s “The Byzantine Impact on Eastern Europe” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article, which focuses on particular historical figures, in order to illustrate the impact of Byzantium on the Slavic and Rumanian peoples of Eastern Europe.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: American Historical Association: Constructing a Postwar World: The G.I. Roundtable Series in Context: “The Balkans—Many Peoples, Many Problems” Link: American Historical Association: Constructing a Postwar World: The G.I. Roundtable Series in Context: “The Balkans—Many Peoples, Many Problems” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire article, which shows how the Byzantines, and later the Turks, introduced two forms of religion—Orthodox Christianity and Islam—to the Balkans.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

11.2.1 Religion and Language   11.2.2 Culture and Commerce   - Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience: “Chapter 14, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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