Term Paper: Ancient History the Ancient Histories

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[. . .] After serving as consul in the late years of the Republic, Octavius assumed the title of Emperor and was renamed Augustus by the Senate. In 23 CE, Augustus renounced his position of consul to glean more political powers. Rome was already experiencing internal conflicts between the plebeians and the patricians. His reign included some significant reforms such as altering social services and creating a police force. When Augustus died, he named a successor, a starkly different procedure from the elections of the senators and consuls. Tiberius succeeded Augustus and like his predecessor, ruled in a time of relative peace and stability. However, public officials and relatives of both men were murdered.

Caligula and then Claudius followed as emperors. Under Claudius, Rome conquered Britain and some territories east of Rome. His heir, Nero, executed his own mother and soon proved to be an inept ruler. As uprisings occurred throughout the empire, Nero was unable to squelch them. Nero committed suicide, sparking off a civil war. Vespacian eventually assumed the role of emperor.

Until Vespacian's time, Roman Emperors still gave credence to the Senate and allowed some Republican bodies to operate in the government and share administrative duties. However, the emperors following Nero were far more dictatorial. However, Vespacian raised taxes enough to pay off much of Rome's debts and it was he who commissioned the famous coliseum in Rome. Under Vespacian, Rome's powers were solidified in many of its colonies, including Spain and Germany.

When Constantine the Great ruled in 306-337 CE, Christianity became the official religion of Rome for the first time; prior to Constantine, Rome was still a pagan, polytheistic society. With Constantine's reign came a series of disastrous invasions by the Barbarians (including the Goths and the Franks), which led to the gradual decline of the empire. The third century CE was a time of internal crisis within the empire, enabling foreign tribes to launch successful invasions. However, even after Rome was divided into the Eastern and Western Empires by Diocletian in 284, the influence of its culture were still felt in the entire region.

4. Also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire emerged as a powerful continuation of the Roman Empire. The general years of the Byzantine Empire are 395-1453 CE. The Byzantine Empire is historically significant because it marked the transition from the ancient Roman Empire to the medieval one. Furthermore, the creation of the Byzantine Empire was a result of the emperor Diocletian splitting Rome in half during the third century. In the fourth century, Constantine the Great assumed power and moved the capital of the empire to Byzantium, an old Greek colony on Asia Minor. Constantine rebuilt the city and renamed it Constantinople. Much of the Eastern Roman Empire was culturally Greek; however, the people considered themselves to be Roman. Latin remained the official language until the 7th century. The Byzantine Empire was powerful politically, culturally, and religiously, but became increasingly threatened by the rise of Islam as well as by internal strife.

Christianity was at the heart of the Byzantine Empire. Constantine, the first Christian emperor in Rome, established the religion with his reign without officially banning paganism. Gradually, Christianity became more ensconced in the empire. Furthermore, centuries after Constantine's rule, the rift between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires became apparent and significant. While both had adopted Christianity either officially or unofficially, the two regions developed unique theologies and special counsels were formed to deal with them. However, in 1054, the differences were too deep and the Church split along the lines of the Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire, was home to the Orthodox Church. The Western Roman Empire was home to the Roman Catholic Church and became known as the Holy Roman Empire. The Eastern Orthodox Church, therefore, emerged out of Constantinople while the Roman Catholic Church grew in the Western Empire. The Roman Catholic Church would later launch a series of bloody crusades into Eastern territory.

In the seventh century, Muslim invaders began to attack Christian centers at Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. One of the fallouts of the early invasions was the controversy over religious icons. Constantinople officially sided with the iconoclasts, who were probably influenced by the iconoclastic Muslims. The Orthodox Church attempted to ban all religious icons but the decision was later overturned. During the ninth and tenth centuries, the Orthodox Church flourished among the Slavic and Russian peoples of Eastern Europe.

Islam had taken root in much of the Middle East before Muslim crusaders also managed to siege Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire fell to the Muslims in 1453. Before then, the Muslims were not unified or organized enough to launch a successful invasion of Constantinople. Furthermore, the Byzantine Empire was already weakened by the Roman Catholic crusades. In 1204, the Venetians launched a successful attack on Constantinople and established the Latin Empire there. When the Ottoman Turks invaded Constantinople, the Roman Catholic Church offered support in exchange for unifying Eastern Orthodox with Roman Catholic Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox people refused to comply and the Ottomans took over.

The Byzantine Empire significantly transformed the landscape of Eastern Europe and it also influenced the direction and development of Christianity. The schism with the Roman Catholic Church defined the boundaries of Christian theology and set the stage for the Muslim conquest of Constantinople. The Byzantines left their… [END OF PREVIEW]

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