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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Iconoclastic epoch (717-867)

Charles the Great and his significance for the Byzantine Empire 


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

The coronation of Charles is not only the central event of the Middle Ages; it is also one of those very few events of which, taking them singly, it may be said that if they had not happened, the history of the world would have been different. At present this event is important primarily because it concerned the Byzantine Empire.

In the conception of the medieval man the Roman Empire was a single empire, so that in previous centuries two or more emperors were viewed as two rulers governing one state. It is wrong to speak of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the year 476. The idea of a single empire lay behind the militaristic policy of Justinian in the sixth century, and this idea was still alive in the year 800, when the famous imperial coronation of Charles the Great occurred in Rome. While theoretically the conception of a single empire still prevailed in the ideology of the Middle Ages, in actual reality this conception was obsolete. The eastern or Byzantine Graeco-Slavic world of the late eighth century and the western Romano-Germanic world of the same period were, in language, in ethnographical composition, and in cultural problems, two distinctly different, separate worlds. The idea of a single empire was out of date and is a historical anachronism from the modern point of view, though not in the opinion of the Middle Ages.

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A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents

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