The author is professor of biology, University of California, Santa Barbara. This article is based on a presidential address presented before the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Utah State University, Logan, 25 June
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would rarely be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts.
Imperium Romanum, Imperium Romanorum; Greek: Res Publica Romana; Greek: Imperium Graecorum in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum Emperor of the Greeks  were also used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West.
Needing Charlemagne's support in his struggle against his enemies in Rome, Leo used the lack of a male occupant of the throne of the Roman Empire at the time to claim that it was vacant and that he could therefore crown a new Emperor himself. History of the Byzantine Empire Early history The Baptism of Constantine painted by Raphael 's pupils —, frescoVatican City, Apostolic Palace ; Eusebius of Caesarea records that as was common among converts of early Christianity Constantine delayed receiving baptism until shortly before his death  The Roman army succeeded in conquering many territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and coastal regions in southwestern Europe and north Africa.
These territories were home to many different cultural groups, both urban populations and rural populations.
Generally speaking, the eastern Mediterranean provinces were more urbanised than the western, having previously been united under the Macedonian Empire and Hellenised by the influence of Greek culture.
This distinction between the established Hellenised East and the younger Latinised West persisted and became increasingly important in later centuries, leading to a gradual estrangement of the two worlds.
Byzantium under the Constantinian and Valentinian dynasties To maintain control and improve administration, various Short essay on corruption in public life to divide the work of the Roman Emperor by sharing it between individuals were tried between andfrom tofrom toand again between and Although the administrative subdivisions varied, they generally involved a division of labour between East and West.
Each division was a form of power-sharing or even job-sharingfor the ultimate imperium was not divisible and therefore the empire remained legally one state—although the co-emperors often saw each other as rivals or enemies.
Inemperor Diocletian created a new administrative system the tetrarchyto guarantee security in all endangered regions of his Empire. He associated himself with a co-emperor Augustusand each co-emperor then adopted a young colleague given the title of Caesarto share in their rule and eventually to succeed the senior partner.
The tetrarchy collapsed, however, in and a few years later Constantine I reunited the two administrative divisions of the Empire as sole Augustus. The western part collapsed in the s while the eastern part ended with the capture of Constantinople Constantine introduced important changes into the Empire's military, monetary, civil and religious institutions.
As regards his economic policies in particular, he has been accused by certain scholars of "reckless fiscality", but the gold solidus he introduced became a stable currency that transformed the economy and promoted development.
Constantine established the principle that emperors could not settle questions of doctrine on their own, but should summon instead general ecclesiastical councils for that purpose.
His convening of both the Synod of Arles and the First Council of Nicaea indicated his interest in the unity of the Church, and showcased his claim to be its head. In and he issued a series of edicts essentially banning pagan religion.
Pagan festivals and sacrifices were banned, as was access to all pagan temples and places of worship.
Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West, once again dividing Imperial administration. In the 5th century the Eastern part of the empire was largely spared the difficulties faced by the West—due in part to a more established urban culture and greater financial resources, which allowed it to placate invaders with tribute and pay foreign mercenaries.
This success allowed Theodosius II to focus on the codification of Roman law and further fortification of the walls of Constantinoplewhich left the city impervious to most attacks until To fend off the HunsTheodosius had to pay an enormous annual tribute to Attila.
His successor, Marcianrefused to continue to pay the tribute, but Attila had already diverted his attention to the West. After Attila's death inthe Hun Empire collapsed, and many of the remaining Huns were often hired as mercenaries by Constantinople.
Odoacer, now ruler of Italy, was nominally Zeno's subordinate but acted with complete autonomy, eventually providing support to a rebellion against the Emperor.
By urging Theodoric to conquer Italy, Zeno rid the Eastern Empire of an unruly subordinate Odoacer and moved another Theodoric further from the heart of the Empire. After Odoacer's defeat inTheodoric ruled Italy de facto, although he was never recognised by the eastern emperors as "king" rex.
He introduced a new coinage system of the copper follisthe coin used in most everyday transactions. The Justinian dynasty was founded by Justin Iwho though illiterate, rose through the ranks of the military to become Emperor in Inthe Corpus was updated and, along with the enactments promulgated by Justinian afterformed the system of law used for most of the rest of the Byzantine era.
Belisarius contributed immensely to the expansion of the empire. Inattempting to secure his eastern frontier, Justinian signed a peace treaty with Khosrau I of Persiaagreeing to pay a large annual tribute to the Sassanids. In the same year, he survived a revolt in Constantinople the Nika riotswhich solidified his power but ended with the deaths of a reported 30, to 35, rioters on his orders.
Although Agapetus failed in his mission to sign a peace with Justinian, he succeeded in having the Monophysite Patriarch Anthimus I of Constantinople denounced, despite empress Theodora 's support and protection. The Ostrogoths were soon reunited under the command of King Totila and captured Rome in Belisarius, who had been sent back to Italy inwas eventually recalled to Constantinople in Despite continuing resistance from a few Gothic garrisons and two subsequent invasions by the Franks and Alemannithe war for the Italian peninsula was at an end.
The empire held on to a small slice of the Iberian Peninsula coast until the reign of Heraclius. Tribes of Serbs and Croats were later resettled in the northwestern Balkans, during the reign of Heraclius.
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