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Discovering Byzantium part II

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Emperor John VI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2009 at 20:57
Originally posted by Ivan Asen II Ivan Asen II wrote:

I knew western education was ignorant to the history of Eastern Europe but I am surprised that it  ignored the Eastern Roman Empire as well. The name Byzantium (Byzantine empire) was introduced in history 2-3 centuries after the fall of Constantinople, which means the contemporaries of that time knew it as the heir of the Roman empire. The ultimate goal of its emperors had always been the restoration of the Roman (not Byzantine or Greek) empire to its glory, although the official language was Greek. This had been one of the most magnificent empires, not so much for its territorial expansion, but for its culture and heritage.

I am also surprised so many of you had first heard of Byzantium from computer games. What did you learn in school then?

I am form Bulgaria and the medieval history of my country is very closely related with the history of Byzantium. This was the reason I know it from the time I was 5. But my first view of the world  was shaped from history lessons at school in 4th grade (at the age of 9).





Hi Ivan,

Since you are from Bulgaria, it would be more likely for you to have heard of the Byzantium in school since it formed a part of your historical heritage. 

Being from Singapore, I generally learned about South East Asian history, World War 2 and of course Singaporean history.  I admit I have largely forgotten most of it as I found it boring, except for World War 2 history. :P I suppose the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.

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John VI

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan Asen II Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2009 at 23:10
I was just surprised a lot of people had not heard the name from school, not the history, especially those from USA and UK as they are related to the history of Europe.

For Asian users here, I understand. I don't have much knowledge of Asian history as well. The far our history school books have brought us was Babylon. India, China and Japan, e.g., were only mentioned as part of the ancient times and middle ages lessons.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2009 at 23:42
Originally posted by Ivan Asen II Ivan Asen II wrote:


I am also surprised so many of you had first heard of Byzantium from computer games. What did you learn in school then?


In school we learnt about the East Roman empire - if you payed attention*. So no wonder we hear about Byzantium firstly from games Wink



* many seem to first hear about the Roman Empire from Gladiator.


Edited by Styrbiorn - 19 Aug 2009 at 23:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ivan Asen II Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2009 at 00:11
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:


* many seem to first hear about the Roman Empire from Gladiator.


LOLLOLLOL Unfortunately, you are right.



Edited by Ivan Asen II - 20 Aug 2009 at 00:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SPQR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2009 at 02:18
Yeah there is always a weird difference people try to make between the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Empire, when there isn't. My World History teacher used to always say the Byzantine Empire had no attachment to Rome. He's not all that wrong because language and culture was a bit different but they still called themselves Romans and were the Eastern part.

I just find them interesting because their survival until 1453 actually shows that the Roman Empire in general lasted over 2,000 yrs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Praetor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2009 at 20:12
To answer your question Ivan Asen II, throughout the whole period of my time at school Byzantium was to the best of my knowledge never formally mentioned, it is not covered in any way. I think there was a timeline in either a general history or medieval history text book that mentioned the fall of Constantinople but I don't think it even mentioned the name of the empire that fell when it was taken.

Regards, Praetor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2009 at 05:43
Originally posted by Praetor Praetor wrote:

To answer your question Ivan Asen II, throughout the whole period of my time at school Byzantium was to the best of my knowledge never formally mentioned, it is not covered in any way. I think there was a timeline in either a general history or medieval history text book that mentioned the fall of Constantinople but I don't think it even mentioned the name of the empire that fell when it was taken.

Regards, Praetor.
 
Well, Praetor, histories seldom refer to the "Byzantine Empire" because politically there never was a Byzantine "state" and all references simply speak of the "Eastern" Roman Empire, while Byzantine is usually reserved as a cultural term delineating the distinct society consolidated after the rule of Justinian. In fact, the term Byzantine first surfaced in Scholars Latin (Byzantinae) in 1557, as a descriptive for Greek manuscripts from the early Middle Ages, and in 1599 (Byzantinus) as a descriptive for art characteristic of the Orthodox Church. Yes, in the 17th century French scholars developed the convention of identifying the later and medieval Roman Empire as the "Byzantine Empire", but within modern historiography such usage is an anachronism. Often, the responsible historian will underscore the pejorative characteristics of the appellation, which was entirely foreign to its original usage in 16th century scholar's Latin. That "New Rome" itself never self-identified  as such is evident in all surviving contemporary manuscripts that always employ Basileia ton Rhomaion [Empire of the Romans] when speaking of Constantinople and its politics. This distinction was amply explained by George Ostrogorsky in his History of the Byzantine State (Rutgers U.P., 1986).
 
As for time lines and other such conveniences generated as "memory" devices, imagine the confusion of those delicate little minds if such constructs had Rome "falling" both in AD 476 and AD 1453!Wink


Edited by drgonzaga - 23 Aug 2009 at 03:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Praetor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2009 at 23:32
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Well, Praetor, histories seldom refer to the "Byzantine Empire" because politically there never was a Byzantine "state" and all references simply speak of the "Eastern" Roman Empire, while Byzantine is usually reserved as a cultural term delineating the distinct society consolidated after the rule of Justinian. In fact, the term Byzantine first surfaced in Scholars Latin (Byzantinae) in 1557, as a descriptive for Greek manuscripts from the early Middle Ages, and in 1599 (Byzantinus) as a descriptive for art characteristic of the Orthodox Church. Yes, in the 17th century French scholars developed the convention of identifying the later and medieval Roman Empire as the "Byzantine Empire", but within modern historiography such usage is an anachronism. Often, the responsible historian will underscore the pejorative characteristics of the appellation, which was entirely foreign to its original usage in 16th century scholar's Latin. That "New Rome" itself never self-identified  as such is evident in all surviving contemporary manuscripts that always employ Basileia ton Rhomaion [Empire of the Romans] when speaking of Constantinople and its politics. This distinction was amply explained by George Ostrogorsky in his History of the Byzantine State (Rutgers U.P., 1986).
 
As for time lines and other such conveniences generated as "memory" devices, imagine the confusion of those delicate little minds if such constructs had Rome "falling" both in AD 476 and AD 1054!Wink


When I said there no direct references to Byzantium I was including the term East Roman empire. As for few histories speaking of the Byzantine empire I'm afraid there your incorrect, Treadgold, Norwich, Robert Browning and Steven Runciman all of which I've read all speak of the Byzantine empire while acknowledging that it is really the Eastern Roman empire of which they speak. It is a term of convenience that is widely used even by those who understand the true nature of the Byzantine state and the dubious history of the term Byzantine and it is in this context that I have used it. There is also no scholarly concensus of the Byzantine period if you will begining with Justinian, this view has its adherants as do others that claim it came into being earlier. I am fully aware that The Eastern Romans never called themeselves Byzantine's or thier empire the Byzantine Empire, my extension history project covered naming issues such as these, the fact remains that despite an understanding among scholars in the Byzantine field that there are serius problems with this title the name remains in common usage in their works for purposes of conveniance.

As for timelines if by Rome you are refering to the Empire than only one date is necesary, we just need to change the date most commonly employed, better slightly confused than confidant but dead wrong.

Regards, Praetor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 2009 at 04:45
Ah, the banes of rapid fire exchange...Praetor please note that AD 1054 should read 1453 (or if you wish 1204Wink). I am surprised that in mentioning Browning you neglected that little mental sailing of W. B. Yeats; however, such does not validate erroneous nomenclature devised for the simple purpose of convention rather than political accuracy in narration. I was not being harsh with your post but simply underscoring that refusal to overhaul this common usage outside of Art and Manuscript studies should cease.
 
And here an aside on Justinian and what came after. I did not state that the "Byzantine" begins with Justinian. His "political" language was Latin. More or less, the rule of Justinian (AD 527-565) does mark the close of Late Antiquity and one of the significant political factors after his death was the abandonment of Latin and Latin appellations by the Imperial Court so that by the rule of Heraclius (AD 610-641), Greek became the official language of the state in 620. Not that I am declaring open-season on convenient nomenclature and demanding its execration under repeated anathemas, but instead underlining the pejorative characteristics of the term even in a contemporary setting [e.g. "Byzantine" catholics]. Admittedly, my dislike of the term with respect to History does express a personal quirk because of the negativity it assumed in Western European writing where it becomes almost synonymous with degeneracy and error.
 
PS: Certainly Gibbon had no difficulty in identifying continuity when he penned his famous The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (albeit his thesis of moral decay and Christianity delivering the coup de grace--the barbarism and Christianity posit--is rather tenuous with regard to the East). But then what is decadence in the face of transformation?Big smile


Edited by drgonzaga - 23 Aug 2009 at 05:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Praetor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 21:59
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Ah, the banes of rapid fire exchange...Praetor please note that AD 1054 should read 1453 (or if you wish 1204Wink). I am surprised that in mentioning Browning you neglected that little mental sailing of W. B. Yeats; however, such does not validate erroneous nomenclature devised for the simple purpose of convention rather than political accuracy in narration. I was not being harsh with your post but simply underscoring that refusal to overhaul this common usage outside of Art and Manuscript studies should cease.
 
And here an aside on Justinian and what came after. I did not state that the "Byzantine" begins with Justinian. His "political" language was Latin. More or less, the rule of Justinian (AD 527-565) does mark the close of Late Antiquity and one of the significant political factors after his death was the abandonment of Latin and Latin appellations by the Imperial Court so that by the rule of Heraclius (AD 610-641), Greek became the official language of the state in 620. Not that I am declaring open-season on convenient nomenclature and demanding its execration under repeated anathemas, but instead underlining the pejorative characteristics of the term even in a contemporary setting [e.g. "Byzantine" catholics]. Admittedly, my dislike of the term with respect to History does express a personal quirk because of the negativity it assumed in Western European writing where it becomes almost synonymous with degeneracy and error.
 
PS: Certainly Gibbon had no difficulty in identifying continuity when he penned his famous The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (albeit his thesis of moral decay and Christianity delivering the coup de grace--the barbarism and Christianity posit--is rather tenuous with regard to the East). But then what is decadence in the face of transformation?Big smile


drgonzaga if you have a problem with the negative implications of the term Byzantine then your in good company, however there is a time and a place and this really is not the place, in your previous post you also claimed that histories seldom refer to the Byzantine empire, like it or not thats incorrect. regarding Justinian again there is no concensus in regards to the Byzantine period of the Roman empire begining with his demise, of course the lack of concensus on this matter would be partly due to the term Byzantine being a rather artificial one. You yourself have provided yet another example of an alternative starting point with its own proponents, that being the reign of Heraclius when the official language of the court was changed from Latin to Greek.

Most of this site's Main contributers to topics about the Eastern roman empire have no qualms using the term Byzantine under the understanding that both they and much of their audience know the basic problems with the term, as it is conveniant, and in my humble opinion also sounds pretty cool. By all means open a thread on the matter, it could be helpful in instructing those unaware of this among other purposes, but I see no need for this to have been bought up here.

Regards, Praetor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Aug 2009 at 07:53
How about "Discovering the Medieval Roman Empire"?Wink Certainly the history of the Italian peninsula between AD 568 and 804 becomes unintelligible absent a "Roman" emperor on the shores of the Bosporus. But here is my concern. Revisionists are hard at work muddling historiography with all type of contemporary exigencies, consequently, it often becomes necessary for actual erroneous constructs to undergo correction so as to undermine their facile generalizations. Further, how then can one explain the role of Islam as conduit for the "Hellenism" of the East as it surged forth once more in the West during the 11th century?
 
Now as you well know, I am notorious for the defense of my pet peeves with regard to the negativity carried forth by certain usages. Take a close look at my avatar and then surmise at to the why of my own prejudice concerning the term, byzantine.Embarrassed
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 25 Aug 2009 at 07:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Aug 2009 at 19:33
Eastern Roman Empire. What's so damned complicated about calling it what it was? The Eastern Roman Empire, or perhaps the Greek Roman Empire would fit as well.
 
The term 'Byzantine' is complete nonsense and I use it as little as possible in any language, simply because the term does not mean anything. It is a fictional word with no worthy background. Byzantine does *not* mean the Eastern Roman Empire in any serious way... it is just a made up word because certain people did not know how to call things as they were. Also, with Gibbon the 'Byzantine' became even better because he could glorify the Roman Empire and shed doubt on the Eastern Empire without overly confusing the reader by calling both Roman, while in fact, that is the only thing we have.
 
Hail the Eastern Roman Empire!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Aug 2009 at 05:47
There is nothing wrong with using the term Byzantine Empire as a historiographical term as long as you're aware that's all it is. It is entirely legitimate for a historian to invent new terms for historical phenomena if he/she believes it's more workable than the original name (if such a thing existed).
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