Byzantine Empire

Why Did it Collapse - Caitlin Hevesy and Quinn Hays

Thesis

Although the Byzantine empire lasted from 330 to 1453, its unavoidable fall was caused by economic and political problems.
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Economic

By the end of the empire, the trade and industry was controlled by the government making the only profitable form of investment, the private enterprise of obtaining land. This caused the aristocrats to buy up land from peasants and soldiers creating little variation in the amount of land owners. And because the army wasn't need and the soldiers had become farmers, once their land was bought, they no longer had a reason to be loyal to the empire.

In 1453, Emperor Constantine XI felt it was secure inside the city walls and refused to capitulate to the Turks. The cannons that the invaders brought were no match to Constantinople's walls, and they collapsed. The fall of Constantinople shocked many and Monarchs began to look for new trade routes. With the fall of Constantinople, Europe began to involve themselves with other trade routes to India and China and pretty much considered Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire out of the picture.

Environment

The Byzantine Empire was mainly based in parts of Europe and Asia Minor. The Byzantine Empire consisted of the once powerful civilization Greece, and after 565, consisted of Italy where Rome once thrived more than any other culture at the time. The Byzantine Empire had access to water for trade and also had natural barriers in Greece with the mountains. The Empire was large, so hard to maintain and with the Empires unfriendly neighbors, even more difficult to supremacy over. Back when Greece thrived, the city states were hard to unite because of the mountains and seas separating the many islands together. Now that it was part of the Byzantine Empire, it made the Empire hard to unite. When the crusaders took over Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace, the empire was spilt up into city states making it extremely hard to unify again. The Byzantine Empires location was the center of Hellenistic Age and a flourishing civilization. Even though it was a fantastic location, other empires were trying to expand and proposer there too. When the Byzantine Empire collapsed, the Ottoman Turks were able to expand and thrive. With the falling and rising of empires it changed the geography of the empire constantly.

Political

Throughout the history of the Byzantine Empire, they endured through struggles and disputes considering the political aspect of the empire. With the help of rulers like Justinian I and Theodora, power of the Byzantine Empire grew. Even with indomitable like leaders, there were still attacks that greatly effected the government. In the Early Centuries under the reigns of many different rulers, there were attacks from the Huns, the Slavs, the Bulgars, and the Persians. Even with all of these struggles, Constantinople remained the center of Greek and Roman civilization. All of this started to change though when the decline of the Byzantine Empire started to occur. With Zoë ruling (1028-50), the Seljuk turks frequented their attacks. Asia Minor was officially lost form the Byzantine Empire in 1071. Venice started to take main power after this as the Byzantine Empire was lessening. After the loss of Asia Minor, Alexius I was able to take some land of Asia Minor back during the First Crusade. During the Fourth Crusade though, the crusaders took control of Constantinople and set up a new empire in its place constructed in Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece. These controls later lead to the empire breaking into independent city states. Even through the attacks and conquering, the Byzantine Empire was able to stand back up. With its last bit of power remaining, it was struck and attacked by Naples, Venice, the Ottoman Turks, and other powerful new kingdoms. While the attacks from the outside were flooding in, arguments were happening within. The Capital was disputing with the provinces. Wealthy people were becoming greedy and demanding more as the church and states were rivaling for power. The Turks surrounding the empire finally lead to its fall.

The Byzantine Empire's neighbors were the main reason for its long descend to ultimately falling. With its neighbors, the Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire endeavored through much. After 1,100 years of power, the Empire that inspired Latin West and Islamic East, combined Roman politics, and spread Christian beliefs had fallen.

Bibliography

Works Cited

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Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. "Byzantine Empire (historical Empire, Eurasia)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.


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