Seller: highrating_lowprice (20,797) 100%, Location: Rego Park, New York, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 231007935880 Item: i30683 Authentic Ancient Coin of: Byzantine - Alexius I Comnenus Emperor of Byzantine Empire 1081-1118 A.D. Hyperpyron 17mm (0.56 grams) Thessalonica mint 1081-1118 A.D. Reference: Sear 1924 Christ enthroned facing, wearing nimbus and raising right hand in benediction. Alexius I standing, facing, wearig crown and holding labarum and globe cross in upper field to right manus Dei. You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus ( 1056 – 15 August 1118—note that some sources list his date of birth as 1048), was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty , it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans , Alexios was able to halt the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration . His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that triggered the Crusades . Life Alexios was the son of the Domestic of the Schools John Komnenos and Anna Dalassena , and the nephew of Isaac I Komnenos (emperor 1057–1059). Alexios' father declined the throne on the abdication of Isaac, who was accordingly succeeded by four emperors of other families between 1059 and 1081. Under one of these emperors, Romanos IV Diogenes (1067–1071), Alexios served with distinction against the Seljuq Turks . Under Michael VII Doukas Parapinakes (1071–1078) and Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078–1081), he was also employed, along with his elder brother Isaac , against rebels in Asia Minor , Thrace , and in Epirus . In 1074, the western mercenaries led by Roussel de Bailleul rebelled in Asia Minor, but Alexios successfully subdued them by 1076. In 1078, he was appointed commander of the field army in the West by Nikephoros III. In this capacity, Alexios defeated the rebellions of Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder (whose son or grandson later married Alexios' daughter Anna) and Nikephoros Basilakes , the first at the Battle of Kalavrye and the latter in a surprise night attack on his camp. Alexios was ordered to march against his brother-in-law Nikephoros Melissenos in Asia Minor but refused to fight his kinsman. This did not, however, lead to a demotion, as Alexios was needed to counter the expected invasion of the Normans of Southern Italy, led by Robert Guiscard . Conspiracy and revolt of the Komnenoi against Botaneiates While the Byzantine troops were assembling for the expedition, Alexios was approached by the Doukas faction at court, who convinced him to join a conspiracy against Nikephoros III. The mother of Alexios, Anna Dalassena, was to play a prominent role in this coup d'état of 1081, along with the current empress, Maria of Alania . First married to Michael VII Doukas and secondly to Nikephoros III Botaneiates , she was preoccupied with the future of her son by Michael VII, Constantine Doukas . Nikephoros III intended to leave the throne to one of his close relatives, and this resulted in Maria's ambivalence and alliance with the Komnenoi. The real driving force behind this political alliance was Anna Dalassene. Already closely connected to the Komnenoi through Maria's cousin Irene to Isaac Komnenos, the Komnenoi brothers were able to see the empress under the pretense of a friendly family visit. Furthermore, to aid the conspiracy Maria had adopted Alexios as her son, though she was only five years older than he Maria was persuaded to do so on the advice of her own "Alans" and her eunuchs, who had been instigated to do his by Isaac Komnenos. Knowing Anna's tight hold on her family, it must have been with her implicit approval that he be adopted. As a result, Alexios and Constantine, Maria's son, were now adoptive brothers and both Isaac and Alexios took an oath that they would safeguard his rights as emperor. By secretly giving inside information to the Komnenoi, Maria was an invaluable ally. As stated in the Alexiad, Isaac and Alexios left Constantinople in mid-February 1081 to raise an army against Botaneiates. However, when the time came, Anna quickly and surreptitiously mobilized the remainder of the family and took refuge in the Hagia Sophia . From there she negotiated with the emperor for the safety of family members left in the capital, while protesting her sons' innocence of hostile actions; under the falsehood of making a vesperal visit to worship at the church, she deliberately excluded the grandson of Botaneiates and his loyal tutor, met with Alexios and Isaac and fled for the forum of Constantine. The tutor found them missing and eventually found them on the palace grounds but she was able to convince him that they would return to the palace shortly. Then to gain entrance to both the outer and inner sanctuary of the church the women pretended to the gatekeepers that they were pilgrims from Cappadocia who had spent all their funds and wanted to worship before starting their return trip. However, before they were to gain entry into the sanctuary, Straboromanos and royal guards caught up with them to summon them back to the palace. Anna then protested that the family was in fear for their lives, her sons were loyal subjects (Alexios and Isaac were discovered absent without leave), and had learned of a plot by enemies of the Komnenoi to have them both blinded and had, therefore, fled the capital so they may continue to be of loyal service to the emperor. She refused to go with them and demanded that they allow her to pray to the Mother of God for protection. This request was granted and Anna then manifested her true theatrical and manipulative capabilities: "She was allowed to enter. As if she were weighed down with old age and worn out by grief, she walked slowly and when she approached the actual entrance to the sanctuary made two genuflections; on the third she sank to the floor and taking firm hold of the sacred doors, cried in a loud voice: "Unless my hands are cuff off, I will not leave this holy place except on one condition: that I receive the emperor's cross as guarantee of safety". Seal of Alexios as "Grand Domestic of the West" Nikephoros III Botaneiates was forced into a public vow that he would grant protection to the family.Straboromanos tried to give her his cross, but for Anna this was not sufficiently large enough so that all bystanders could witness the oath. She also demanded that the cross be personally sent by Botaneiates as a vow of his good faith. He obliged, sending a complete assurance for the family with his own cross. At the emperor's further insistence, and for their own protection they took refuge at the convent of Petrion, where eventually they were joined by Irene Doukaina's mother, Maria of Bulgaria . Botaneiates allowed them to be treated as refugees rather than guests. They were allowed to have family members bring in their own food and were on good terms with the guards from whom they learned the latest news.Anna was highly successful in three important aspects of the revolt: she bought time for her sons to steal imperial horses from the stables and escape the city, she distracted the emperor and gave her sons time to gather and arm their troops and she gave a false sense of security to Botaneiates that there was no real treasonous coup against him. After bribing the Western troops who had guarded the city, Isaac and Alexios Komnenos entered the capital victoriously on April 1, 1081. During this time, Alexios was rumored to be the lover of Empress Maria of Alania , the daughter of King Bagrat IV of Georgia , who had been successively married to Michael VII Doukas and his successor Nikephoros III Botaneiates, renowned for her beauty.Alexios arranged for Maria to stay on the palace grounds, and it was thought that Alexios was considering marrying the erstwhile empress. However, his mother consolidated the Doukas family connection by arranging the Emperor's marriage to Irene Doukaina , granddaughter of the Caesar John Doukas , the uncle of Michael VII, who would not have supported Alexios otherwise. As a measure intended to keep the support of the Doukai, Alexios restored Constantine Doukas , the young son of Michael VII and Maria, as co-emperor and a little later betrothed him to his own first-born daughter Anna , who moved into the Mangana Palace with her fiancé and his mother. However, this situation changed drastically when Alexios' first son John II Komnenos was born in 1087: Anna's engagement to Constantine was dissolved, and she was moved to the main Palace to live with her mother and grandmother. Alexios became estranged from Maria, who was stripped of her imperial title and retired to a monastery, and Constantine Doukas was deprived of his status as co-emperor. Nevertheless, he remained in good relations with the imperial family and succumbed to his weak constitution soon afterwards. Wars against the Normans, Pechenegs and Tzachas Alexios' long reign of nearly thirty-seven years was full of struggle. At the very outset, he had to meet the formidable attack of the Normans (led by Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund ), who took Dyrrhachium and Corfu , and laid siege to Larissa in Thessaly (see Battle of Dyrrhachium ). Alexios suffered several defeats before being able to strike back with success. He enhanced this by bribing the German king Henry IV with 360,000 gold pieces to attack the Normans in Italy, which forced the Normans to concentrate on their defenses at home in 1083–1084. He also secured the alliance of Henry, Count of Monte Sant'Angelo , who controlled the Gargano Peninsula and dated his charters by Alexios' reign. Henry's allegiance was to be the last example of Byzantine political control on peninsular Italy. The Norman danger ended for the time being with Robert Guiscard's death in 1085, and the Byzantines recovered most of their losses. Next, Alexios had to deal with disturbances in Thrace , where the heretical sects of the Bogomils and the Paulicians revolted and made common cause with the Pechenegs from beyond the Danube .Paulician soldiers in imperial service likewise deserted during Alexios' battles with the Normans. As soon as the Norman threat had passed, Alexios set out to punish the rebels and deserters, confiscating their lands. This led to a further revolt near Philippopolis , and the commander of the field army in the west, Gregory Pakourianos, was defeated and killed in the ensuing battle. In 1087 the Pechenegs raided into Thrace and Alexios crossed into Moesia to retaliate but failed to take Dorostolon (Silistra). During his retreat, the emperor was surrounded and worn down by the Pechenegs, who forced him to sign a truce and pay protection money. In 1090 the Pechenegs invaded Thrace again, while Tzachas , the brother-in-law of the Sultan of Rum , launched a fleet and attempted to arrange a joint siege of Constantinople with the Pechenegs.Alexios overcame this crisis by entering into an alliance with a horde of 40,000 Cumans , with whose help he crushed the Pechenegs at Levounion in Thrace on 29 April 1091. This put an end to the Pecheneg threat, but in 1094 the Cumans began to raid the imperial territories in the Balkans. Led by a pretender claiming to be Constantine Diogenes, a long-dead son of the Emperor Romanos IV , the Cumans crossed the mountains and raided into eastern Thrace until their leader was eliminated at Adrianople . With the Balkans more or less pacified, Alexios could now turn his attention to Asia Minor , which had been almost completely overrun by the Seljuq Turks . Byzantine-Seljuq Wars and the First Crusade The map of Europe during the First Crusade in 1097. By the time Alexios ascended the throne, the Seljuqs had taken most of Asia Minor. Alexios was able to secure much of the coastal regions by sending peasant soldiers to raid the Seljuq camps, but these victories were unable to stop the Turks altogether. As early as 1090, Alexios had taken reconciliatory measures towards the Papacy , with the intention of seeking western support against the Seljuqs. In 1095 his ambassadors appeared before Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza . The help which he wanted from the West was simply mercenary forces and not the immense hosts which arrived, to his consternation and embarrassment, after the pope preached the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont later that same year. Not quite ready to supply this number of people as they traversed his territories, the emperor saw his Balkan possessions subjected to further pillage at the hands of his own allies. Alexios dealt with the first disorganized group of Crusaders, led by the preacher Peter the Hermit , by sending them on to Asia Minor, where they were massacred by the Turks in 1096. The second and much more formidable host of crusaders gradually made its way to Constantinople , led in sections by Godfrey of Bouillon , Bohemond of Taranto , Raymond IV of Toulouse and other important members of the western nobility. Alexios used the opportunity of meeting the crusader leaders separately as they arrived and extracting from them oaths of homage and the promise to turn over conquered lands to the Byzantine Empire .Transferring each contingent into Asia, Alexios promised to supply them with provisions in return for their oaths of homage. The crusade was a notable success for Byzantium, as Alexios now recovered a number of important cities and islands. The crusader siege of Nicaea forced the city to surrender to the emperor in 1097, and the subsequent crusader victory at Dorylaion allowed the Byzantine forces to recover much of western Asia Minor. John Doukas re-established Byzantine rule in Chios , Rhodes , Smyrna , Ephesus , Sardis , and Philadelphia in 1097–1099. This success is ascribed by Alexios' daughter Anna to his policy and diplomacy, but by the Latin historians of the crusade to his treachery and falseness. In 1099, a Byzantine fleet of 10 ships were sent to assist the Crusaders in capturing Laodicea and other coastal towns as far as Tripoli . The crusaders believed their oaths were made invalid when the Byzantine contingent under Tatikios failed to help them during the siege of Antioch ; Bohemund, who had set himself up as Prince of Antioch , briefly went to war with Alexios in the Balkans, but was blockaded by the Byzantine forces and agreed to become Alexios' vassal by the Treaty of Devol in 1108. In 1116, though already terminally ill, he conducted a series of defensive operations in Bythinia and Mysia to defend his Anatolian territories against the inroads of Malik Shah the Seljuq Sultan of Iconium. In 1117 he moved onto the offensive and pushed his army deep into the Turkish-dominated Anatolian Plateau, where he defeated the Seljuq sultan at the Battle of Philomelion . Personal life During the last twenty years of his life Alexios lost much of his popularity. The years were marked by persecution of the followers of the Paulician and Bogomil heresies—one of his last acts was to publicly burn at the stake Basil , a Bogomil leader, with whom he had engaged in a theological dispute.In spite of the success of the crusade, Alexios also had to repel numerous attempts on his territory by the Seljuqs in 1110–1117. Alexios was for many years under the strong influence of an eminence grise, his mother Anna Dalassene , a wise and immensely able politician whom, in a uniquely irregular fashion, he had crowned as Augusta instead of the rightful claimant to the title, his wife Irene Doukaina. Dalassena was the effective administrator of the Empire during Alexios' long absences in military campaigns: she was constantly at odds with her daughter-in-law and had assumed total responsibility for the upbringing and education of her granddaughter Anna Komnene. Succession Alexios' last years were also troubled by anxieties over the succession. Although he had crowned his son John II Komnenos co-emperor at the age of five in 1092, John's mother Irene Doukaina wished to alter the succession in favor of her daughter Anna and Anna's husband, Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger . Bryennios had been made kaisar (Caesar) and received the newly-created title of panhypersebastos ("honoured above all"), and remained loyal to both Alexios and John. Nevertheless, the intrigues of Irene and Anna disturbed even Alexios' dying hours. Pretenders and rebels Apart from all of his external enemies, a host of rebels also sought to overthrow Alexios from the imperial throne, thereby posing another major threat to his reign. Due to the troubled times the empire was enduring, he had by far the greatest number of rebellions against him of all the Byzantine emperors.These included: Pre First Crusade Raictor , a Byzantine monk who claimed to be the emperor Michael VII . He presented himself to Robert Guiscard who used him as a pretext to launch his invasion of the Byzantine Empire . A conspiracy in 1084 involving several senators and officers of the army. This was uncovered before too many followers were enlisted. In order to conceal the importance of the conspiracy, Alexios merely banished the wealthiest plotters and confiscated their estates. Tzachas , a Seljuq Turkic emir who assumed the title of emperor in 1092. Constantine Humbertopoulos , who had assisted Alexios in gaining the throne in 1081 conspired against him in 1091 with an Armenian called Ariebes. John Komnenos , Alexios’ nephew, governor of Dyrrachium , accused of a conspiracy by Theophylact of Bulgaria . Theodore Gabras , the quasi-independent governor of Trebizond and his son Gregory . Michael Taronites , the brother-in-law of Alexios. Nikephoros Diogenes , the son of emperor Romanos IV . Pseudo-Diogenes , an impostor who assumed the identity of another of Romanos’ sons, Leo Diogenes. Karykes , the leader of a revolt in Crete . Rhapsomates , who tried to create an independent kingdom in Cyprus . Post First Crusade Salomon , a senator of great wealth who in 1106 engaged in a plot with four brothers of the Anemas family. Gregory Taronites , another governor of Trebizond. The illegitimate descendant of a Bulgarian prince named Aron formed a plot in 1107 to murder Alexios as he was encamped near Thessalonica . The presence of the empress Irene and her attendants, however, made the execution of the plot difficult. In an attempt to have her return to Constantinople , the conspirators produced pamphlets that mocked and slandered the empress, and left them in her tent. A search for the author of the publications uncovered the whole plot, yet Aron was only banished due to his connection of the royal line of Bulgaria, whose blood also flowed in the veins of the empress Irene. Legacy Rare seal of Alexios I with a depiction of the Resurrection Alexios I had stabilized the Byzantine Empire and overcame a dangerous crisis, inaugurating a century of imperial prosperity and success. He had also profoundly altered the nature of the Byzantine government. By seeking close alliances with powerful noble families, Alexios put an end to the tradition of imperial exclusivity and coopted most of the nobility into his extended family and, through it, his government. Those who did not become part of this extended family were deprived of power and prestige. This measure, which was intended to diminish opposition, was paralleled by the introduction of new courtly dignities, like that of panhypersebastos given to Nikephoros Bryennios, or that of sebastokrator given to the emperor's brother Isaac Komnenos. Although this policy met with initial success, it gradually undermined the relative effectiveness of imperial bureaucracy by placing family connections over merit. Alexios' policy of integration of the nobility bore the fruit of continuity: every Byzantine emperor who reigned after Alexios I Komnenos was related to him by either descent or marriage. Family By his marriage with Irene Doukaina , Alexios I had the following children: Anna Komnene , who married the Caesar Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger . Maria Komnene, who married (1) Gregory Gabras and (2) Nikephoros Katakalon . John II Komnenos , who succeeded as emperor. Andronikos Komnenos, sebastokrator . Died in battle 1117 (Battle of Philomelion). Isaac Komnenos , sebastokrator. Eudokia Komnene, who married Michael Iasites. Theodora Komnene , who married (1) Constantine Kourtikes and (2) Constantine Angelos. By him she was the grandmother of Emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos . Manuel Komnenos Zoe Komnene. Labarum of Constantine I, displaying the "Chi-Rho" symbol above. The labarum was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧ , formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi and Rho . It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I . Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ . Later usage has sometimes regarded the terms "labarum" and "Chi-Rho" as synonyms. Ancient sources, however, draw an unambiguous distinction between the two. Etymology Beyond its derivation from Latin labarum, the etymology of the word is unclear. Some derive it from Latin /labāre/ 'to totter, to waver' (in the sense of the "waving" of a flag in the breeze) or laureum [vexillum] ("laurel standard"). According to the Real Academia Española , the related lábaro is also derived from Latin labărum but offers no further derivation from within Latin, as does the Oxford English Dictionary. An origin as a loan into Latin from a Celtic language or Basque has also been postulated. There is a traditional Basque symbol called the lauburu ; though the name is only attested from the 19th century onwards the motif occurs in engravings dating as early as the 2nd century AD. Vision of Constantine A coin of Constantine (c.337) showing a depiction of his labarum spearing a serpent. On the evening of October 27, 312, with his army preparing for the Battle of the Milvian Bridge , the emperor Constantine I claimed to have had a vision which led him to believe he was fighting under the protection of the Christian God . Lactantius states that, in the night before the battle, Constantine was commanded in a dream to "delineate the heavenly sign on the shields of his soldiers". He obeyed and marked the shields with a sign "denoting Christ". Lactantius describes that sign as a "staurogram", or a Latin cross with its upper end rounded in a P-like fashion, rather than the better known Chi-Rho sign described by Eusebius of Caesarea . Thus, it had both the form of a cross and the monogram of Christ's name from the formed letters "X" and "P", the first letters of Christ's name in Greek. From Eusebius, two accounts of a battle survive. The first, shorter one in the Ecclesiastical History leaves no doubt that God helped Constantine but doesn't mention any vision. In his later Life of Constantine, Eusebius gives a detailed account of a vision and stresses that he had heard the story from the emperor himself. According to this version, Constantine with his army was marching somewhere (Eusebius doesn't specify the actual location of the event, but it clearly isn't in the camp at Rome) when he looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα . The traditionally employed Latin translation of the Greek is in hoc signo vinces — literally "In this sign, you will conquer." However, a direct translation from the original Greek text of Eusebius into English gives the phrase "By this, conquer!" At first he was unsure of the meaning of the apparition, but the following night he had a dream in which Christ explained to him that he should use the sign against his enemies. Eusebius then continues to describe the labarum, the military standard used by Constantine in his later wars against Licinius , showing the Chi-Rho sign. Those two accounts can hardly be reconciled with each other, though they have been merged in popular notion into Constantine seeing the Chi-Rho sign on the evening before the battle. Both authors agree that the sign was not readily understandable as denoting Christ, which corresponds with the fact that there is no certain evidence of the use of the letters chi and rho as a Christian sign before Constantine. Its first appearance is on a Constantinian silver coin from c. 317, which proves that Constantine did use the sign at that time, though not very prominently. He made extensive use of the Chi-Rho and the labarum only later in the conflict with Licinius. The vision has been interpreted in a solar context (e.g. as a solar halo phenomenon), which would have been reshaped to fit with the Christian beliefs of the later Constantine. An alternate explanation of the intersecting celestial symbol has been advanced by George Latura, which claims that Plato's visible god in Timaeus is in fact the intersection of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light, a rare apparition important to pagan beliefs that Christian bishops reinvented as a Christian symbol. Eusebius' description of the labarum "A Description of the Standard of the Cross, which the Romans now call the Labarum." "Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre: and these letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the cross-bar of the spear was suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones; and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. This banner was of a square form, and the upright staff, whose lower section was of great length, of the pious emperor and his children on its upper part, beneath the trophy of the cross, and immediately above the embroidered banner." "The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies." Iconographic career under Constantine Coin of Vetranio , a soldier is holding two labara. Interestingly they differ from the labarum of Constantine in having the Chi-Rho depicted on the cloth rather than above it, and in having their staves decorated with phalerae as were earlier Roman military unit standards. The emperor Honorius holding a variant of the labarum - the Latin phrase on the cloth means "In the name of Christ [rendered by the Greek letters XPI] be ever victorious." Among a number of standards depicted on the Arch of Constantine , which was erected, largely with fragments from older monuments, just three years after the battle, the labarum does not appear. A grand opportunity for just the kind of political propaganda that the Arch otherwise was expressly built to present was missed. That is if Eusebius' oath-confirmed account of Constantine's sudden, vision-induced, conversion can be trusted. Many historians have argued that in the early years after the battle the emperor had not yet decided to give clear public support to Christianity, whether from a lack of personal faith or because of fear of religious friction. The arch's inscription does say that the Emperor had saved the res publica INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS MENTIS MAGNITVDINE ("by greatness of mind and by instinct [or impulse] of divinity"). As with his predecessors, sun symbolism – interpreted as representing Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun) or Helios , Apollo or Mithras – is inscribed on his coinage, but in 325 and thereafter the coinage ceases to be explicitly pagan, and Sol Invictus disappears. In his Historia Ecclesiae Eusebius further reports that, after his victorious entry into Rome, Constantine had a statue of himself erected, "holding the sign of the Savior [the cross] in his right hand." There are no other reports to confirm such a monument. Whether Constantine was the first Christian emperor supporting a peaceful transition to Christianity during his rule, or an undecided pagan believer until middle age, strongly influenced in his political-religious decisions by his Christian mother St. Helena , is still in dispute among historians. As for the labarum itself, there is little evidence for its use before 317.In the course of Constantine's second war against Licinius in 324, the latter developed a superstitious dread of Constantine's standard. During the attack of Constantine's troops at the Battle of Adrianople the guard of the labarum standard were directed to move it to any part of the field where his soldiers seemed to be faltering. The appearance of this talismanic object appeared to embolden Constantine's troops and dismay those of Licinius.At the final battle of the war, the Battle of Chrysopolis , Licinius, though prominently displaying the images of Rome's pagan pantheon on his own battle line, forbade his troops from actively attacking the labarum, or even looking at it directly. Constantine felt that both Licinius and Arius were agents of Satan, and associated them with the serpent described in the Book of Revelation (12:9). Constantine represented Licinius as a snake on his coins. Eusebius stated that in addition to the singular labarum of Constantine, other similar standards (labara) were issued to the Roman army. This is confirmed by the two labara depicted being held by a soldier on a coin of Vetranio (illustrated) dating from 350. The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr.Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), and Romania. Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, theemperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. Between 324 and 330,Constantine I (r. 306–337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism. The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-centuryMacedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer". However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071. Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in theFirst and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Early history 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, ranging from primitive to highly sophisticated. Generally speaking, the eastern Mediterranean provinces were more urbanised than the western, having previously been united under the Macedonian Empire and Hellenisedby the influence of Greek culture. The west also suffered more heavily from the instability of the 3rd century AD. 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. Divisions of the Roman Empire In order to maintain control and improve administration, various schemes to divide the work of the Roman Emperor by sharing it between individuals were tried between 285 and 324, from 337 to 350, from 364 to 392, and again between 395 and 480. 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-sharing), for the ultimateimperium was not divisible and therefore the empire remained legally one state—although the co-emperors often saw each other as rivals or enemies rather than partners. In 293, emperor Diocletian created a new administrative system (the tetrarchy), in order to guarantee security in all endangered regions of his Empire. He associated himself with a co-emperor (Augustus), and each co-emperor then adopted a young colleague given the title of Caesar, to share in their rule and eventually to succeed the senior partner. The tetrarchy collapsed, however, in 313 and a few years later Constantine I reunited the two administrative divisions of the Empire as sole Augustus. Loss of the western Roman Empire After the fall of Attila, the Eastern Empire enjoyed a period of peace, while the Western Empire deteriorated in continuing migration and expansion byGermanic nations (its end is usually dated in 476 when the Germanic Roman general Odoacer deposed the titular Western Emperor Romulus Augustulus). In 480 Emperor Zeno abolished the division of the Empire making himself sole Emperor. Odoacer, now ruler of Italy, was nominally Zeno's subordinate but acted with complete autonomy, eventually providing support of a rebellion against the Emperor. Zeno negotiated with the conquering Ostrogoths, who had settled in Moesia, convincing the Gothic king Theodoric to depart for Italy as magister militum per Italiam ("commander in chief for Italy") with the aim to depose Odoacer. By urging Theodoric into conquering 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 in 493, Theodoric ruled Italy on his own, although he was never recognised by the eastern emperors as "king" (rex). In 491, Anastasius I, an aged civil officer of Roman origin, became Emperor, but it was not until 497 that the forces of the new emperor effectively took the measure of Isaurian resistance.Anastasius revealed himself as an energetic reformer and an able administrator. He perfected Constantine I's coinage system by definitively setting the weight of the copper follis, the coin used in most everyday transactions. He also reformed the tax system and permanently abolished the chrysargyron tax. The State Treasury contained the enormous sum of 320,000 lb (150,000 kg) of gold when Anastasius died in 518. Reconquest of the western provinces Justinian I depicted on one of the famous mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna. Justinian I , the son of an Illyrian peasant, may already have exerted effective control during the reign of his uncle, Justin I (518–527). He assumed the throne in 527, and oversaw a period of recovery of former territories. In 532, attempting to secure his eastern frontier, he signed a peace treaty with Khosrau I of Persia agreeing to pay a large annual tribute to the Sassanids. In the same year, he survived a revolt in Constantinople (the Nika riots), which solidified his power but ended with the deaths of a reported 30,000 to 35,000 rioters on his orders. In 529, a ten-man commission chaired by John the Cappadocian revised the Roman law and created a new codification of laws and jurists' extracts. In 534, the Code was updated and, along with the enactements promulgated by Justinian after 534, it formed the system of law used for most of the rest of the Byzantine era. The western conquests began in 533, as Justinian sent his general Belisarius to reclaim the former province of Africa from the Vandals who had been in control since 429 with their capital at Carthage. Their success came with surprising ease, but it was not until 548 that the major local tribes were subdued. In Ostrogothic Italy, the deaths of Theodoric, his nephew and heir Athalaric, and his daughter Amalasuntha had left her murderer,Theodahad (r. 534–536), on the throne despite his weakened authority. Heraclian dynasty The Byzantine Empire in 650 - by this year it lost all of its southern provinces except the Exarchate of Africa. After Maurice's murder by Phocas, Khosrau used the pretext to reconquer the Roman province of Mesopotamia.Phocas, an unpopular ruler invariably described in Byzantine sources as a "tyrant", was the target of a number of Senate-led plots. He was eventually deposed in 610 by Heraclius, who sailed to Constantinople from Carthage with an icon affixed to the prow of his ship. Following the ascension of Heraclius, the Sassanid advance pushed deep into Asia Minor, occupying Damascus andJerusalem and removing the True Cross to Ctesiphon. The counter-attack launched by Heraclius took on the character of a holy war, and an acheiropoietos image of Christ was carried as a military standard (similarly, when Constantinople was saved from an Avar siege in 626, the victory was attributed to the icons of the Virgin that were led in procession byPatriarch Sergius about the walls of the city). The main Sassanid force was destroyed at Nineveh in 627, and in 629 Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in a majestic ceremony. The war had exhausted both the Byzantines and Sassanids, however, and left them extremely vulnerable to the Muslim forces that emerged in the following years. The Byzantines suffered a crushing defeat by the Arabs at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, while Ctesiphon fell in 634. Siege of Constantinople (674–678) The Arabs, now firmly in control of Syria and the Levant, sent frequent raiding parties deep into Asia Minor, and in 674–678 laid siege to Constantinople itself. The Arab fleet was finally repulsed through the use of Greek fire, and a thirty-years' truce was signed between the Empire and the Umayyad Caliphate. However, the Anatolian raids continued unabated, and accelerated the demise of classical urban culture, with the inhabitants of many cities either refortifying much smaller areas within the old city walls, or relocating entirely to nearby fortresses. Constantinople itself dropped substantially in size, from 500,000 inhabitants to just 40,000–70,000, and, like other urban centres, it was partly ruralised. The city also lost the free grain shipments in 618, after Egypt fell first to the Persians and then to the Arabs, and public wheat distribution ceased. The void left by the disappearance of the old semi-autonomous civic institutions was filled by the theme system, which entailed dividing Asia Minor into "provinces" occupied by distinct armies that assumed civil authority and answered directly to the imperial administration. This system may have had its roots in certain ad hoc measures taken by Heraclius, but over the course of the 7th century it developed into an entirely new system of imperial governance. The massive cultural and institutional restructuring of the Empire consequent on the loss of territory in the 7th century has been said to have caused a decisive break in east Mediterranean Romanness and that the Byzantine state is subsequently best understood as another successor state rather than a real continuation of the Roman Empire. The Greek fire was first used by the Byzantine Navy during the Byzantine-Arab Wars (from theMadrid Skylitzes, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid). Isaurian dynasty to the ascension of Basil I Leo III the Isaurian turned back the Muslim assault in 718 and addressed himself to the task of reorganising and consolidating the themes in Asia Minor. His successor, Constantine V, won noteworthy victories in northern Syria and thoroughly undermined Bulgarian strength. Taking advantage of the Empire's weakness after the Revolt of Thomas the Slav in the early 820s, the Arabs reemerged andcaptured Crete. They also successfully attacked Sicily, but in 863 general Petronas gained a huge victory against Umar al-Aqta, the emir of Melitene. Under the leadership of emperor Krum, the Bulgarian threat also reemerged, but in 815–816 Krum's son, Omurtag, signed a peace treaty with Leo V. Macedonian dynasty and resurgence (867–1025) The Byzantine Empire, c. 867. The accession of Basil I to the throne in 867 marks the beginning of the Macedonian dynasty, which would rule for the next two and a half centuries. This dynasty included some of the most able emperors in Byzantium's history, and the period is one of revival and resurgence. The Empire moved from defending against external enemies to reconquest of territories formerly lost. In addition to a reassertion of Byzantine military power and political authority, the period under the Macedonian dynasty is characterised by a cultural revival in spheres such as philosophy and the arts. There was a conscious effort to restore the brilliance of the period before the Slavic and subsequent Arab invasions, and the Macedonian era has been dubbed the "Golden Age" of Byzantium. Though the Empire was significantly smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it had regained significant strength, as the remaining territories were less geographically dispersed and more politically, economically, and culturally integrated. Wars against the Arabs The general Leo Phokas defeats the Arabs atAndrassos in 960, from the Madrid Skylitzes. In the early years of Basil I's reign, Arab raids on the coasts of Dalmatia were successfully repelled, and the region once again came under secure Byzantine control. This enabled Byzantine missionaries to penetrate to the interior and convert the Serbs and the principalities of modern-dayHerzegovina and Montenegro to Orthodox Christianity. An attempt to retake Malta ended disastrously, however, when the local population sided with the Arabs and massacred the Byzantine garrison. By contrast, the Byzantine position in Southern Italy was gradually consolidated so that by 873 Bari had once again come under Byzantine rule,and most of Southern Italy would remain in the Empire for the next 200 years.On the more important eastern front, the Empire rebuilt its defences and went on the offensive. The Paulicians were defeated and their capital of Tephrike (Divrigi) taken, while the offensive against the Abbasid Caliphatebegan with the recapture of Samosata. The military successes of the 10th century were coupled with a major cultural revival, the so-called Macedonian Renaissance. Miniature from the Paris Psalter, an example of Hellenistic-influenced art. Under Michael's son and successor, Leo VI the Wise, the gains in the east against the now weak Abbasid Caliphate continued. However, Sicily was lost to the Arabs in 902, and in 904 Thessaloniki, the Empire's second city, was sacked by an Arab fleet. The weakness of the Empire in the naval sphere was quickly rectified, so that a few years later a Byzantine fleet had re-occupied Cyprus, lost in the 7th century, and also stormed Laodicea in Syria. Despite this revenge, the Byzantines were still unable to strike a decisive blow against the Muslims, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the imperial forces when they attempted to regain Crete in 911. Wars against the Bulgarian Empire Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025). The traditional struggle with the See of Rome continued through the Macedonian period, spurred by the question of religious supremacy over the newly Christianised state of Bulgaria. Ending eighty years of peace between the two states, the powerful Bulgarian tsar Simeon I invaded in 894 but was pushed back by the Byzantines, who used their fleet to sail up the Black Sea to attack the Bulgarian rear, enlisting the support of theHungarians. The Byzantines were defeated at the Battle of Boulgarophygon in 896, however, and agreed to pay annual subsidies to the Bulgarians. Leo the Wise died in 912, and hostilities soon resumed as Simeon marched to Constantinople at the head of a large army. Though the walls of the city were impregnable, the Byzantine administration was in disarray and Simeon was invited into the city, where he was granted the crown ofbasileus (emperor) of Bulgaria and had the young emperor Constantine VII marry one of his daughters. When a revolt in Constantinople halted his dynastic project, he again invaded Thrace and conquered Adrianople. The Empire now faced the problem of a powerful Christian state within a few days' marching distance from Constantinople, as well as having to fight on two fronts. A great imperial expedition under Leo Phocas and Romanos I Lekapenos ended with another crushing Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Achelous in 917, and the following year the Bulgarians were free to ravage northern Greece. Adrianople was plundered again in 923, and a Bulgarian army laid siege to Constantinople in 924. Simeon died suddenly in 927, however, and Bulgarian power collapsed with him. Bulgaria and Byzantium entered a long period of peaceful relations, and the Empire was now free to concentrate on the eastern front against the Muslims. In 968, Bulgaria was overrun by the Rus' under Sviatoslav I of Kiev, but three years later, John I Tzimiskes defeated the Rus' and re-incorporated Eastern Bulgaria into the Byzantine Empire. The extent of the Empire under Basil II. Bulgarian resistance revived under the rule of the Cometopuli dynasty, but the new emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025) made the submission of the Bulgarians his primary goal. Basil's first expedition against Bulgaria, however, resulted in a humiliating defeat at the Gates of Trajan. For the next few years, the emperor would be preoccupied with internal revolts in Anatolia, while the Bulgarians expanded their realm in the Balkans. The war dragged on for nearly twenty years. The Byzantine victories of Spercheios and Skopje decisively weakened the Bulgarian army, and in annual campaigns, Basil methodically reduced the Bulgarian strongholds. At the Battle of Kleidion in 1014 the Bulgarians were annihilated: their army was captured, and it is said that 99 out of every 100 men were blinded, with the hundredth man left with one eye so he could lead his compatriots home. When Tsar Samuil saw the broken remains of his once gallant army, he died of shock. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had surrendered, and the country became part of the Empire. This victory restored the Danube frontier, which had not been held since the days of the emperor Heraclius. Relations with the Kievan Rus' Rus' under the walls of Constantinople (860). Between 850 and 1100, the Empire developed a mixed relationship with the new state of the Kievan Rus', which had emerged to the north across the Black Sea. This relationship would have long-lasting repercussions in the history of the East Slavs, and the Empire quickly became the main tradingand cultural partner for Kiev. The Rus' launched their first attack against Constantinople in 860, pillaging the suburbs of the city. In 941, they appeared on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, but this time they were crushed, an indication of the improvements in the Byzantine military position after 907, whenonly diplomacy had been able to push back the invaders. Basil II could not ignore the emerging power of the Rus', and, following the example of his predecessors, he used religion as a means for the achievement of political purposes. Rus'–Byzantine relations became closer following the marriage of the Anna Porphyrogeneta to Vladimir the Great in 988, and the subsequent Christianisation of the Rus'. Byzantine priests, architects, and artists were invited to work on numerous cathedrals and churches around Rus', expanding Byzantine cultural influence even further, while numerous Rus' served in the Byzantine army as mercenaries, most notably as the famous Varangian Guard. Even after the Christianisation of the Rus', however, relations were not always friendly. The most serious conflict between the two powers was the war of 968–971 in Bulgaria, but several Rus' raiding expeditions against the Byzantine cities of the Black Sea coast and Constantinople itself are also recorded. Although most were repulsed, they were often followed by treaties that were generally favourable to the Rus', such as the one concluded at the end of the war of 1043, during which the Rus' gave an indication of their ambitions to compete with the Byzantines as an independent power. Apex Constantinople became the largest and wealthiest city in Europe between the 9th and 11th centuries. By 1025, the date of Basil II's death, the Byzantine Empire stretched from Armenia in the east to Calabria in Southern Italy in the west. Many successes had been achieved, ranging from the conquest of Bulgaria to the annexation of parts of Georgia and Armenia, and the reconquest of Crete, Cyprus, and the important city of Antioch. These were not temporary tactical gains but long-term reconquests. Leo VI achieved the complete codification of Byzantine law in Greek. This monumental work of 60 volumes became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law and is still studied today. Leo also reformed the administration of the Empire, redrawing the borders of the administrative subdivisions (the Themata, or "Themes") and tidying up the system of ranks and privileges, as well as regulating the behavior of the various trade guilds in Constantinople. Leo's reform did much to reduce the previous fragmentation of the Empire, which henceforth had one center of power, Constantinople. However, the increasing military success of the Empire greatly enriched and empowered the provincial nobility with respect to the peasantry, who were essentially reduced to a state of serfdom. Under the Macedonian emperors, the city of Constantinople flourished, becoming the largest and wealthiest city in Europe, with a population of approximately 400,000 in the 9th and 10th centuries. During this period, the Byzantine Empire employed a strong civil service staffed by competent aristocrats that oversaw the collection of taxes, domestic administration, and foreign policy. The Macedonian emperors also increased the Empire's wealth by fostering trade with Western Europe, particularly through the sale of silk and metalwork. Split between Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism (1054) Mural of Saints Cyril and Methodius, 19th century, Troyan Monastery, Bulgaria. The Macedonian period also included events of momentous religious significance. The conversion of the Bulgarians, Serbs and Rus' to Orthodox Christianity permanently changed the religious map of Europe and still resonates today. Cyril and Methodius, two Byzantine Greek brothers from Thessaloniki, contributed significantly to the Christianization of the Slavs and in the process devised the Glagolitic alphabet, ancestor to the Cyrillic script. In 1054, relations between the Eastern and Western traditions within the Christian Church reached a terminal crisis, known as the Great Schism. Although there was a formal declaration of institutional separation, on July 16, when three papal legates entered the Hagia Sophia during Divine Liturgy on a Saturday afternoon and placed a bull of excommunication on the altar, the so-called Great Schism was actually the culmination of centuries of gradual separation. Crisis and fragmentation The Empire soon fell into a period of difficulties, caused to a large extent by the undermining of the theme system and the neglect of the military. Nikephoros II Phokas (reigned 963–969), John Tzimiskes and Basil II changed the military divisions (τάγματα, tagmata) from a rapid response, primarily defensive, citizen army into a professional, campaigning army increasingly manned by mercenaries. Mercenaries, however, were expensive and as the threat of invasion receded in the 10th century, so did the need for maintaining large garrisons and expensive fortifications. Basil II left a burgeoning treasury upon his death, but neglected to plan for his succession. None of his immediate successors had any particular military or political skill and the administration of the Empire increasingly fell into the hands of the civil service. Efforts to revive the Byzantine economy only resulted in inflation and a debased gold coinage. The army was now seen as both an unnecessary expense and a political threat. Therefore, native troops were cashiered and replaced by foreign mercenaries on specific contract. Komnenian dynasty and the crusaders Alexios I , founder of the Komnenos dynasty. The period from about 1081 to about 1185 is often known as the Komnenian or Comnenian period, after the Komnenos dynasty. Together, the five Komnenian emperors (Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I) ruled for 104 years, presiding over a sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire. Though the Seljuk Turks occupied the Empire's heartland in Anatolia, it was against Western powers that most Byzantine military efforts were directed, particularly the Normans. The Empire under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, which Alexios I had helped bring about, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea under John and Manuel. Contact between Byzantium and the "Latin" West, including the Crusader states, increased significantly during the Komnenian period. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers (there were an estimated 60,000 Latins in Constantinople alone, out of a population of three to four hundred thousand), and their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel helped to spread Byzantine technology, art, literature and culture throughout the Latin West, while also leading to a flow of Western ideas and customs into the Empire. In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Komnenian period was one of the peaks in Byzantine history, and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in terms of size, wealth, and culture. There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek. Byzantine art and literature held a pre-eminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west during this period was enormous and of long lasting significance. Alexios I and the First Crusade After Manzikert, a partial recovery (referred to as the Komnenian restoration) was made possible by the efforts of the Komnenian dynasty. The first emperor of this dynasty was Isaac I (1057–1059) and the second Alexios I. At the very outset of his reign, Alexios faced a formidable attack by the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund of Taranto, who captured Dyrrhachium and Corfu, and laid siege to Larissa in Thessaly. Robert Guiscard's death in 1085 temporarily eased the Norman problem. The following year, the Seljuq sultan died, and the sultanate was split by internal rivalries. By his own efforts, Alexios defeated the Pechenegs; they were caught by surprise and annihilated at the Battle of Levounion on 28 April 1091. Having achieved stability in the West, Alexios could turn his attention to the severe economic difficulties and the disintegration of the Empire's traditional defences. However, he still did not have enough manpower to recover the lost territories in Asia Minor and to advance against the Seljuks. At the Council of Piacenza in 1095, Alexios' envoys spoke toPope Urban II about the suffering of the Christians of the East, and underscored that without help from the West they would continue to suffer under Muslim rule. Urban saw Alexios' request as a dual opportunity to cement Western Europe and reunite the Eastern Orthodox Churcheswith the Roman Catholic Church under his rule. On 27 November 1095, Pope Urban II called together the Council of Clermont, and urged all those present to take up arms under the sign of the Cross and launch an armed pilgrimage to recover Jerusalem and the East from the Muslims. The response in Western Europe was overwhelming. John II, Manuel I and the Second Crusade Medieval manuscript depicting the Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. Alexios's son John II Komnenos succeeded him in 1118, and ruled until 1143. John was a pious and dedicated Emperor who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered at the Battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier. Famed for his piety and his remarkably mild and just reign, John was an exceptional example of a moral ruler, at a time when cruelty was the norm. For this reason, he has been called the ByzantineMarcus Aurelius. In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the West, decisively defeated the Pechenegs at theBattle of Beroia, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the East, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the peninsula. He also thwarted Hungarian, and Serbian threats during the 1120s, and in 1130 allied himself with the German emperor Lothair IIIagainst the Norman king Roger II of Sicily. In the later part of his reign, John focused his activities on the East. He defeated the Danishmend emirate of Melitene, and reconquered all of Cilicia, while forcing Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch, to recognise Byzantine suzerainty. In an effort to demonstrate the Emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into the Holy Land at the head of the combined forces of the Empire and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the treachery of his Crusader allies. In 1142, John returned to press his claims to Antioch, but he died in the spring of 1143 following a hunting accident. Raymond was emboldened to invade Cilicia, but he was defeated and forced to go to Constantinople to beg mercy from the new Emperor. 12th-century Renaissance 'The Lamentation of Christ' (1164), a fresco from the church of Saint Panteleimon in Nerezi near Skopje. It is considered a superb example of 12th century Komnenian art. John and Manuel pursued active military policies, and both deployed considerable resources on sieges and on city defences; aggressive fortification policies were at the heart of their imperial military policies. Despite the defeat at Myriokephalon, the policies of Alexios, John and Manuel resulted in vast territorial gains, increased frontier stability in Asia Minor, and secured the stabilisation of the Empire's European frontiers. From circa 1081 to circa 1180, the Komnenian army assured the Empire's security, enabling Byzantine civilisation to flourish. This allowed the Western provinces to achieve an economic revival that continued until the close of the century. It has been argued that Byzantium under the Komnenian rule was more prosperous than at any time since the Persian invasions of the 7th century. During the 12th century, population levels rose and extensive tracts of new agricultural land were brought into production. Archaeological evidence from both Europe and Asia Minor shows a considerable increase in the size of urban settlements, together with a notable upsurge in new towns. Trade was also flourishing; the Venetians, the Genoese and others opened up the ports of the Aegean to commerce, shipping goods from the Crusader kingdoms of Outremer and Fatimid Egypt to the west and trading with the Empire via Constantinople. In artistic terms, there was a revival in mosaic, and regional schools of architecture began producing many distinctive styles that drew on a range of cultural influences. During the 12th century, the Byzantines provided their model of early humanism as a renaissance of interest in classical authors. In Eustathius of Thessalonica, Byzantine humanism found its most characteristic expression. In philosophy, there was resurgence of classical learning not seen since the 7th century, characterised by a significant increase in the publication of commentaries on classical works.In addition, it is during the Komnenian period that there occurs the first transmission of classical Greek knowledge towards the West. Decline and disintegration Dynasty of the Angeloi Manuel's death on 24 September 1180 left his 11-year-old son Alexios II Komnenos on the throne. Alexios was highly incompetent at the office, but it was his mother, Maria of Antioch, and her Frankish background that made his regency unpopular. Eventually, Andronikos I Komnenos, a grandson of Alexios I, launched a revolt against his younger relative and managed to overthrow him in a violent coup d'état. Utilizing his good looks and his immense popularity with the army, he marched on to Constantinople in August 1182, and incited a massacre of the Latins. After eliminating his potential rivals, he had himself crowned as co-emperor in September 1183. He eliminated Alexios II, and took his 12-year-old wife Agnes of France for himself. Iconium was won by the Third Crusade. Andronikos began his reign well; in particular, the measures he took to reform the government of the Empire have been praised by historians. According to George Ostrogorsky, Andronikos was determined to root out corruption: Under his rule, the sale of offices ceased; selection was based on merit, rather than favouritism; officials were paid an adequate salary so as to reduce the temptation of bribery. In the provinces, Andronikos's reforms produced a speedy and marked improvement. The aristocrats were infuriated against him, and to make matters worse, Andronikos seems to have become increasingly unbalanced; executions and violence became increasingly common, and his reign turned into a reign of terror. Andronikos seemed almost to seek the extermination of the aristocracy as a whole. The struggle against the aristocracy turned into wholesale slaughter, while the Emperor resorted to ever more ruthless measures to shore up his regime. Despite his military background, Andronikos failed to deal with Isaac Komnenos, Béla III of Hungary (r. 1172–1196) who reincorporated Croatian territories into Hungary, and Stephen Nemanja of Serbia (r. 1166–1196) who declared his independence from the Byzantine Empire. Yet, none of these troubles would compare to William II of Sicily's (r. 1166–1189) invasion force of 300 ships and 80,000 men, arriving in 1185. Andronikos mobilised a small fleet of 100 ships to defend the capital but other than that he was indifferent to the populace. He was finally overthrown when Isaac Angelos, surviving an imperial assassination attempt, seized power with the aid of the people and had Andronikos killed. The reign of Isaac II, and, still more, that of his brother Alexios III, saw the collapse of what remained of the centralised machinery of Byzantine government and defence. Although, the Normans were driven out of Greece, in 1186 the Vlachs and Bulgars began a rebellion that led to the formation of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The internal policy of the Angeloi was characterised by the squandering of the public treasure, and fiscal maladministration. Imperial authority was severely weakened, and the growing power vacuum at the center of the Empire encouraged fragmentation. There is evidence that some Komnenian heirs had set up a semi-independent state in Trebizond before 1204. According to Alexander Vasiliev, "the dynasty of the Angeloi, Greek in its origin, ... accelerated the ruin of the Empire, already weakened without and disunited within." Fourth Crusade The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugène Delacroix (1840). In 1198, Pope Innocent III broached the subject of a new crusade through legates and encyclical letters.The stated intent of the crusade was to conquer Egypt, now the centre of Muslim power in the Levant. The crusader army that arrived at Venice in the summer of 1202 was somewhat smaller than had been anticipated, and there were not sufficient funds to pay the Venetians, whose fleet was hired by the crusaders to take them to Egypt. Venetian policy under the ageing and blind but still ambitious Doge Enrico Dandolo was potentially at variance with that of the Pope and the crusaders, because Venice was closely related commercially with Egypt. The crusaders accepted the suggestion that in lieu of payment they assist the Venetians in the capture of the (Christian) port of Zara in Dalmatia (vassal city of Venice, which had rebelled and placed itself under Hungary's protection in 1186). The city fell in November 1202 after a briefsiege. Innocent, who was informed of the plan but his veto disregarded, was reluctant to jeopardise the Crusade, and gave conditional absolution to the crusaders—not, however, to the Venetians. Map to show the partition of the empire following the Fourth Crusade, c. 1204. After the death of Theobald III, Count of Champagne, the leadership of the Crusade passed to Boniface of Montferrat, a friend of the HohenstaufenPhilip of Swabia. Both Boniface and Philip had married into the Byzantine Imperial family. In fact, Philip's brother-in-law, Alexios Angelos, son of the deposed and blinded Emperor Isaac II Angelos, had appeared in Europe seeking aid and had made contacts with the crusaders.Alexios offered to reunite the Byzantine church with Rome, pay the crusaders 200,000 silver marks, join the crusade and provide all the supplies they needed to get to Egypt. Innocent was aware of a plan to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and forbade any attack on the city, but the papal letter arrived after the fleets had left Zara. Crusader sack of Constantinople (1204) The crusaders arrived at the city in the summer of 1203 and quickly attacked, started a major fire that damaged large parts of the city, and seized control of it (first of two times). Alexios III fled from the capital, and Alexios Angelos was elevated to the throne as Alexios IV along with his blind father Isaac. However, Alexios IV and Isaac II were unable to keep their promises and were deposed by Alexios V. Eventually, the crusaders took the city a second time on 13 April 1204 and Constantinople was subjected to pillage and massacre by the rank and file for three days. Many priceless icons, relics, and other objects later turned up in Western Europe, a large number in Venice. According to Choniates, a prostitute was even set up on the Patriarchal throne. When Innocent III heard of the conduct of his crusaders, he castigated them in no uncertain terms. But the situation was beyond his control, especially after his legate, on his own initiative, had absolved the crusaders from their vow to proceed to the Holy Land. When order had been restored, the crusaders and the Venetians proceeded to implement their agreement; Baldwin of Flanders was elected Emperor and the Venetian Thomas Morosini chosen as Patriarch. The lands divided up among the leaders included most of the former Byzantine possessions, however resistance would continue through the Byzantine remnants of the Nicaea, Trebizond, and Epirus. Fall Empire in exile After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Latin crusaders, two Byzantine successor states were established: the Empire of Nicaea, and the Despotate of Epirus. A third one, the Empire of Trebizond was created a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople by Alexios I of Trebizond. Of these three successor states, Epirus and Nicaea stood the best chance of reclaiming Constantinople. The Nicaean Empire struggled, however, to survive the next few decades, and by the mid-13th century it lost much of southern Anatolia. The weakening of the Sultanate of Rûm following the Mongol Invasion in 1242–43 allowed many beyliks and ghazis to set up their own principalities in Anatolia, weakening the Byzantine hold on Asia Minor. In time, one of the Beys, Osman I, created an empire that would eventually conquer Constantinople. However, the Mongol Invasion also gave Nicaea a temporary respite from Seljuk attacks allowing it to concentrate on the Latin Empire only north of its position. Reconquest of Constantinople The Empire of Nicaea, founded by the Laskarid dynasty, managed to reclaim Constantinople from the Latins in 1261 and defeat Epirus. This led to a short-lived revival of Byzantine fortunes under Michael VIII Palaiologos, but the war-ravaged Empire was ill-equipped to deal with the enemies that now surrounded it. To maintain his campaigns against the Latins, Michael pulled troops from Asia Minor, and levied crippling taxes on the peasantry, causing much resentment. Massive construction projects were completed in Constantinople to repair the damages of the Fourth Crusade, but none of these initiatives was of any comfort to the farmers in Asia Minor, suffering raids from Muslim ghazis. Rather than holding on to his possessions in Asia Minor, Michael chose to expand the Empire, gaining only short-term success. To avoid another sacking of the capital by the Latins, he forced the Church to submit to Rome, again a temporary solution for which the peasantry hated Michael and Constantinople. The efforts of Andronikos II and later his grandsonAndronikos III marked Byzantium's last genuine attempts in restoring the glory of the Empire. However, the use of mercenaries by Andronikos II would often backfire, with the Catalan Company ravaging the countryside and increasing resentment towards Constantinople. Rise of the Ottomans and fall of Constantinople The siege of Constantinople in 1453 according to a 15th-century French miniature. Things went worse for Byzantium during the civil wars that followed after Andronikos III died. A six-year long civil war devastated the empire, allowing the Serbian ruler Stefan IV Dushan (r. 1331–1346) to overrun most of the Empire's remaining territory and establish a short-lived "Serbian Empire". In 1354, an earthquake at Gallipoli devastated the fort, allowing the Ottomans (who were hired as mercenaries during the civil war by John VI Kantakouzenos) to establish themselves in Europe. By the time the Byzantine civil wars had ended, the Ottomans had defeated the Serbians and subjugated them as vassals. Following the Battle of Kosovo, much of the Balkans became dominated by the Ottomans. The Byzantine emperors appealed to the West for help, but the Pope would only consider sending aid in return for a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the See of Rome. Church unity was considered, and occasionally accomplished by imperial decree, but the Orthodox citizenry and clergy intensely resented the authority of Rome and the Latin Rite. Some Western troops arrived to bolster the Christian defence of Constantinople, but most Western rulers, distracted by their own affairs, did nothing as the Ottomans picked apart the remaining Byzantine territories. Constantinople by this stage was underpopulated and dilapidated. The population of the city had collapsed so severely that it was now little more than a cluster of villages separated by fields. On 2 April 1453, Sultan Mehmed's army of some 80,000 men and large numbers of irregulars laid siege to the city. Despite a desperate last-ditch defence of the city by the massively outnumbered Christian forces (c. 7,000 men, 2,000 of whom were foreign),Constantinople finally fell to the Ottomans after a two-month siege on 29 May 1453. The last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, was last seen casting off his imperial regalia and throwing himself into hand-to-hand combat after the walls of the city were taken. Culture Economy The Byzantine economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Europe, in particular, was unable to match Byzantine economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia andNorth Africa, in particular being the primary western terminus of the famous Silk Road. Until the first half of the 6th century and in sharp contrast with the decaying West, Byzantine economy was flourishing and resilient. The Plague of Justinian and the Arab conquests would represent a substantial reversal of fortunes contributing to a period of stagnation and decline. Isaurian reforms and, in particular, Constantine V's repopulation, public works and tax measures, marked the beginning of a revival that continued until 1204, despite territorial contraction. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury and travellers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital. The Fourth Crusade resulted in the disruption of Byzantine manufacturing and the commercial dominance of the Western Europeans in the eastern Mediterranean, events that amounted to an economic catastrophe for the Empire. The Palaiologoi tried to revive the economy, but the late Byzantine state would not gain full control of either the foreign or domestic economic forces. Gradually, it also lost its influence on the modalities of trade and the price mechanisms, and its control over the outflow of precious metals and, according to some scholars, even over the minting of coins. One of the economic foundations of Byzantium was trade, fostered by the maritime character of the Empire. Textiles must have been by far the most important item of export; silks were certainly imported into Egypt, and appeared also in Bulgaria, and the West. The state strictly controlled both the internal and the international trade, and retained the monopoly of issuing coinage, maintaining a durable and flexible monetary system adaptable to trade needs. The government exercised formal control over interest rates, and set the parameters for the activity of the guilds and corporations, in which it had a special interest. The emperor and his officials intervened at times of crisis to ensure the provisioning of the capital, and to keep down the price of cereals. Finally, the government often collected part of the surplus through taxation, and put it back into circulation, through redistribution in the form of salaries to state officials, or in the form of investment in public works. Science, medicine, law The frontispiece of the Vienna Dioscurides, which shows a set of seven famous physicians. The writings of Classical antiquity never ceased to be cultivated in Byzantium. Therefore, Byzantine science was in every period closely connected with ancient philosophy, and metaphysics. Although at various times the Byzantines made magnificent achievements in the application of thesciences (notably in the construction of the Hagia Sophia), after the 6th century Byzantine scholars made few novel contributions to science in terms of developing new theories or extending the ideas of classical authors. Scholarship particularly lagged during the dark years of plague and the Arab conquests, but then during the so-called Byzantine Renaissance at the end of the first millennium Byzantine scholars re-asserted themselves becoming experts in the scientific developments of the Arabs and Persians, particularly in astronomy and mathematics. The Byzantines are also credited with several technological advancements, particularly in architecture (e.g. the pendentive dome) and warfare technology (e.g. Greek fire). In the final century of the Empire, Byzantine grammarians were those principally responsible for carrying, in person and in writing, ancient Greek grammatical and literary studies to early Renaissance Italy. During this period, astronomy and other mathematical sciences were taught in Trebizond; medicine attracted the interest of almost all scholars. In the field of law, Justinian I's reforms had a clear effect on the evolution of jurisprudence, and Leo III's Ecloga influenced the formation of legal institutions in the Slavic world. In the 10th century, Leo VI the Wise achieved the complete codification of the whole of Byzantine law in Greek, which became the foundation of all subsequent Byzantine law, generating interest to the present day. Religion The survival of the Empire in the East assured an active role of the Emperor in the affairs of the Church. The Byzantine state inherited from pagan times the administrative, and financial routine of administering religious affairs, and this routine was applied to the Christian Church. Following the pattern set by Eusebius of Caesarea, the Byzantines viewed the Emperor as a representative or messenger of Christ, responsible particularly for the propagation of Christianity among pagans, and for the "externals" of the religion, such as administration and finances. As Cyril Mango points out, the Byzantine political thinking can be summarised in the motto "One God, one empire, one religion". The imperial role in the affairs of the Church never developed into a fixed, legally defined system. With the decline of Rome, and internal dissension in the other Eastern Patriarchates, the Church of Constantinople became, between the 6th and 11th centuries, the richest and most influential center of Christendom. Even when the Empire was reduced to only a shadow of its former self, the Church continued to exercise significant influence both inside and outside of the imperial frontiers. As George Ostrogorsky points out: The Patriarchate of Constantinople remained the center of the Orthodox world, with subordinate metropolitan sees and archbishoprics in the territory of Asia Minor and the Balkans, now lost to Byzantium, as well as in Caucasus, Russia and Lithuania. The Church remained the most stable element in the Byzantine Empire. The official state Christian doctrine was determined by the first seven ecumenical councils, and it was then the emperor's duty to impose it to his subjects. An imperial decree of 388, which was later incorporated into the Codex Justinianus, orders the population of the Empire "to assume the name of Catholic Christians", and regards all those who will not abide by the law as "mad and foolish persons"; as followers of "heretical dogmas". Despite imperial decrees and the stringent stance of the state church itself, which came to be known as the Eastern Orthodox Church or Eastern Christianity, the latter never represented all Christians in Byzantium. Mango believes that, in the early stages of the Empire, the "mad and foolish persons", those labelled "heretics" by the state church, were the majority of the population.Besides the pagans, who existed until the end of the 6th century, and the Jews, there were many followers – sometimes even emperors – of various Christian doctrines, such as Nestorianism,Monophysitism, Arianism, and Paulicianism, whose teachings were in some opposition to the main theological doctrine, as determined by the Ecumenical Councils. Another division among Christians occurred, when Leo III ordered the destruction of icons throughout the Empire. This led to a significant religious crisis, which ended in mid-9th century with the restoration of icons. During the same period, a new wave of pagans emerged in the Balkans, originating mainly from Slavic people. These were gradually Christianised, and by Byzantium's late stages, Eastern Orthodoxy represented most Christians and, in general, most people in what remained of the Empire. Jews were a significant minority in the Byzantine state throughout its history, and, according to Roman law, they constituted a legally recognised religious group. In the early Byzantine period they were generally tolerated, but then periods of tensions and persecutions ensued. In any case, after the Arab conquests, the majority of Jews found themselves outside the Empire; those left inside the Byzantine borders apparently lived in relative peace from the 10th century onwards. Art and literature Miniatures of the 6th-century Rabula Gospeldisplay the more abstract and symbolic nature of Byzantine art. Surviving Byzantine art is mostly religious and with exceptions at certain periods is highly conventionalized, following traditional models that translate carefully controlled church theology into artistic terms. Painting in fresco, illuminated manuscripts and on wood panel and, especially in earlier periods, mosaic were the main media, and figurative sculpture very rare except for small carved ivories. Manuscript painting preserved to the end some of the classical realist tradition that was missing in larger works.Byzantine art was highly prestigious and sought-after in Western Europe, where it maintained a continuous influence on medieval art until near the end of the period. This was especially so in Italy, where Byzantine styles persisted in modified form through the 12th century, and became formative influences on Italian Renaissance art. But few incoming influences affected Byzantine style. By means of the expansion of the Eastern Orthodox church, Byzantine forms and styles spread to all the Orthodox world and beyond. Influences from Byzantine architecture, particularly in religious buildings, can be found in diverse regions from Egypt and Arabia to Russia and Romania. In Byzantine literature, therefore, four different cultural elements must be reckoned with: the Greek, the Christian, the Roman, and the Oriental. Byzantine literature is often classified in five groups: historians and annalists, encyclopaedists (Patriarch Photios, Michael Psellus, and Michael Choniates are regarded as the greatest encyclopaedists of Byzantium) and essayists, and writers of secular poetry (The only genuine heroic epic of the Byzantines is the Digenis Acritas). The remaining two groups include the new literary species: ecclesiastical and theological literature, and popular poetry. Of the approximately two to three thousand volumes of Byzantine literature that survive, only three hundred and thirty consist of secular poetry, history, science and pseudo-science. While the most flourishing period of the secular literature of Byzantium runs from the 9th to the 12th century, its religious literature (sermons, liturgical books and poetry, theology, devotional treatises etc.) developed much earlier with Romanos the Melodist being its most prominent representative. Legacy King David in robes of a Byzantine emperor. Miniature from the Paris Psalter. Byzantium has been often identified with absolutism, orthodox spirituality, orientalism and exoticism, while the terms "Byzantine" and "Byzantinism" have been used as bywords for decadence, complex bureaucracy, and repression. In the countries of Central and Southeast Europe that exited theEastern Bloc in late 80s and early 90s, the assessment of Byzantine civilisation and its legacy was strongly negative due to their connection with an alleged "Eastern authoritarianism and autocracy." Both Eastern and Western European authors have often perceived Byzantium as a body of religious, political, and philosophical ideas contrary to those of the West. Even in 19th-century Greece, the focus was mainly on the classical past, while Byzantine tradition had been associated with negative connotations. This traditional approach towards Byzantium has been partially or wholly disputed and revised by modern studies, which focus on the positive aspects of Byzantine culture and legacy. Averil Cameron regards as undeniable the Byzantine contribution to the formation of the medieval Europe, and both Cameron and Obolensky recognise the major role of Byzantium in shaping Orthodoxy, which in turn occupies a central position in the history and societies of Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia and other countries. The Byzantines also preserved and copied classical manuscripts, and they are thus regarded as transmitters of the classical knowledge, as important contributors to the modern European civilisation, and as precursors of both the Renaissance humanism and the Slav Orthodox culture. As the only stable long-term state in Europe during the Middle Ages, Byzantium isolated Western Europe from newly emerging forces to the East. Constantly under attack, it distanced Western Europe from Persians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, and for a time, the Ottomans. From a different perspective, since the 7th century, the evolution and constant reshaping of the Byzantine state were directly related to the respective progress of Islam. Following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II took the title "Kaysar-i-Rûm" (the Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome), since he was determined to make the Ottoman Empire the heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. According to Cameron, regarding themselves as "heirs" of Byzantium, the Ottomans preserved important aspects of its tradition, which in turn facilitated an "Orthodox revival" during the post-communist period of the Eastern European states. Frequently Asked Questionss How long until my order is shipped? Depending on the volume of sales, it may take up to 5 business days for shipment of your order after the receipt of payment. How will I know when the order was shipped? After your order has shipped, you will be left positive feedback, and that date should be used as a basis of estimating an arrival date. USPS First Class mail takes about 3-5 business days to arrive in the U.S., international shipping times cannot be estimated as they vary from country to country. I am not responsible for any USPS delivery delays, especially for an international package. What is a certificate of authenticity and what guarantees do you give that the item is authentic? 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