Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The empire from Constantine the Great to Justinian

Nationality and religion in the fifth century 


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader
Page 3

In Egypt also, in spite of the proximity of Alexandria, the very center of world culture, Hellenism spread among the higher class only, among the people prominent in the social and religious life of the province. The mass of the people continued to speak their native Egyptian (Coptic) language.

The central government found it difficult to manage the affairs of the eastern provinces, not only because of the racially varied composition of the population, but also because the great majority of the population of Syria and Egypt and a certain part of eastern Asia Minor firmly held to Arianism with its subsequent ramifications. The complex racial problem became further complicated in the fifth century by important new developments in the religious life of these provinces.

In the western provinces of the Eastern Empire, that is in the Balkan peninsula, in the capital, and the western part of Asia Minor, the important problem of this period was that of Germanic power, which threatened the very existence of the Empire. After this problem was settled favorably for the government in the middle of the fifth century it seemed for a while that the savage Isaurians would occupy in the capital a commanding position similar to that of the Goths. In the East the struggle with the Persians continued, while in the northern part of the Balkan peninsula the Bulgarians, a people of Hunnic (Turkish) origin, and the Slavs began their devastating attacks.

Arcadius (395-408). Arcadius was only seventeen when he ascended the throne. He possessed neither the experience nor the force of will necessary for his high position, and he soon found himself completely overruled by his favorites, who directed the affairs of the Empire in a manner satisfactory to their own interests and the interests of their respective parties. The first influential favorite was Rufinus, appointed during Theodosius lifetime as general guide of Arcadius. Rufinus was soon murdered and two years later the eunuch Eutropius exerted the greatest influence upon the Emperor. The rapid rise of this new favorite was due primarily to his success in arranging the marriage of Arcadius and Eudoxia, the daughter of a Frank who served as an officer in the Roman army. Honorius, the younger brother of Arcadius, had been placed by his father under the guidance of the gifted chief, Stilicho, a true example of a Romanized Germanic barbarian, who had rendered great service to the Empire during its struggle with his own people.

Previous / First / Next Page of this section

A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents

Next Chapter : Theodosius II, the Younger (408-450)

Previous Chapter : The Church and the state at the end of the fourth century



Medieval West * The Making of Europe
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Learned Freeware

Reference address :