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Thread: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

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    Papay's Avatar Pili Prior
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    Default Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    At 500 AC western roman empire had completely collapsed while the eastern roman empire was as powerfull as ever.My question is how this happened and the western half completely collapsed while the eastern half never experienced serious problems?

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    The eastern half of the empire had several crisises in its history,
    On the western frontier it had to cope with the Huns, Alans and the goths (the same as the western empire), and in the east there was the powerfull persian empire.
    The eastern roman empire still had access to profitable trade routes, and therefore greater financial ressources. While the Huns devastated the western empire, the eastern empire could afford to pay the Huns off.
    The greater financial ressources also meant that eastern rome could afford a standing army reinforced by barbaric mercenaries and foederate (goths, alans), not made up almost completely by foederaty like in the west. And Leo I got rid of overambitous foreign barbarian generals by promoting indigenous barbarians (the isaurians) as a counterweigth. In western rome, foreign barbarian generals got rid of overambitous emperors.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Well the Eastern Empire controlled the richest provinces of the Empire such as Anatolia, Egypt and Syria. Though they did have formiddable enemies such as the Sassanids, they were able to establish long periods of peace with the Sassanids.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Because the East was awesome.

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Homogeneous population and religion.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    At 500 AC western roman empire had completely collapsed while the eastern roman empire was as powerfull as ever.My question is how this happened and the western half completely collapsed while the eastern half never experienced serious problems?
    Well to be fair for a lot of that time the Eastern Empire was a bare shadow of itself let alone the whole Roman empire... for most of that '1000' your are really talking about just Greece and some of Asia Minor (if that).

    and religion
    Hardly the eastern empire was convulsed by religious factionalism - maybe all christians but hardly the same.

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    It also useful to point out that if you control the Black sea and Eastern Med the the core of the Eastern Empire is well protected by geography and also a set of isolated units. By comparison much of the Western empire was one large space more easily overrun except for say Britian which was a comparatily isolated and underpopulated region.
    Last edited by conon394; January 14, 2011 at 05:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    It also useful to point out that if you control the Black sea and Eastern Med the the core of the Eastern Empire is well protected by geography and also a set of isolated units. By comparison much of the Western empire was one large space more easily overrun except for say Britian which was a comparatily isolated and underpopulated region.
    This statement is kinda wrong.
    The Byzantine Empire had two long fronts, one at the Balkans and one in the Middle East (later Asia Minor) which were almost always active.

    At the time of Heraklius there were 2 active fronts later increased to 3 (Avars-Slavs, Sassanids, later Arabs).
    At the time of John Jimiskes there are 2 active fronts (Arabs, Rus).
    At the time of Alexius Komnenos there are 3 active fronts (Pechenegs, Normans, Seljuks).
    At the time of Manuel I Komnenos there were 4 active fronts (Magyars, Seljuks, Normans, Fatimids).
    Last edited by Manuel I Komnenos; January 14, 2011 at 05:38 PM.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Overall the centralization helped since Constantinople was the trade hub of various highly profitable trade routes and grew into the medieval metropolis. In the West the significance of Rome dwindled and one could say the only reason all the tradelanes went to Rome were because it was the Roman capital and not beause it was a natural crossroads for trade like Constantinople. I would guess this immensely helped Eastern Rome's finances if alot of money could be made or lent in the immediate surroundings of the capital. The control of the sealanes also gave good connections to alot of the territories of the Eastern empire, in the west this was only true for parts of Gaul and Spain and Africa while at the same time alot of the routes were longer or more exhausting.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Luck

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erebus26 View Post
    Luck
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    The ERE had more than a few close shaves.

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    1) Geography
    The history of the Eastern Roman Empire would have probably been different had it not been for the sea-zone that separates Europe from Asia.
    The eastern Roman empire controlled Bosposrus and the Dardanelles, which left the provinces of Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt unscathed from northern invaders. The southern frontier was protected by the desert and subsidised vassal/allied Arab tribes such the Ghassanids could efficiently patrol the area. The only real threat came from the Mesopotamian and the Armenian frontiers, which were the battlegrounds against the Sassanids. In economic terms this means that the greatest part of the ERE' tax base, perhaps more than 2/3, was safe and thriving, including Egypt, the breadbasket of the ERE.
    In the WRE the imperial navy could just as well control the narrow strips of sea, but the safe areas, Africa, Sicily and some other islands, were much smaller in size than those of the eastern part and their revenues comprised probably less than 1/3 of the WRE's tax income. What's worse, even these insufficient lands were lost after the Vandals successfully crossed the Girbaltar straights in 429. By 439 they had conquered Carthage and the richest provinces of Africa, one of the two breadbaskets of the WRE, and soon afterwards they initiated a period of raids and conquests that dealt a terrible blow to Sicily, the other breadbasket, and the islands of the western Mediterranean.

    2) Constantinople
    Strategically situated, protected on three sides by sea and strengthened in the 5th century by immense fortifications: the Long Walls some 65km west of the city, which covered the entire peninsula protruding in the Bosporus straights, and the moat and triple line of walls that protected the city itself. Constantinople became the greatest citadel in the Roman world and the breakwater that stopped numerous 'barbarian' incursions, the most serious among them threatening the existence of the empire itself: the Avar siege of 626 and the two massive Arab sieges of 674-678 and 717-718. As long as the Roman navy enjoyed superiority, Constantinople was practically unbreachable and not even worth trying to besiege, as would the Huns, the Bulgarians, the Sassanids and the Rus learn.

    3) Lack of civil strife
    In the ERE the post-Andrianople phenomenon of weak emperors ruling and powerful generalissimos scheming never developed to the extent that it did in the WRE. Also, military and political failures not striking the ERE, there was limited discontent with the imperial rule and thus there was no breeding ground for usurpers. After the quelling of the revolts of Trigibaldus and Gainas in 399-400, the ERE got rid of the thorn of increasingly unruly Gothic foederati and potentially disloyal Germanic generals. With the exception of the Isaurian rebellion of 492, which was crushed after 7 years of anti-guerilla warfare in the mountainous heartlands of southern Asia Minor, there was no substantial internal strife either.
    By contrast, the 5th century witnesses the rise of numerous pretenders to the throne and endless clashes for power encouraged by the instability and confusion in the WRE: Constantine III in Gaul in 407 and some relatives of Honorius in Spain around the same time, the revolution of the Bacaudae that swept through Spain and Gaul from 407 to 448, a certain John again against Honorius, whose rebellion Aetius quashed shortly upon his return, Aetius calling on his Hunnic connections to settle his differences with Bonifacius and Sebastianus in 430, the rapid succession of Avitus, Majorian and Libius severus between 455 and 465, who had been raised to the throne and at least one of them killed by Ricimer, who in 472 enaged in a civil war against Anthemius, a ruler with ERE's blessing, the combatants being divided along ethnic lines. Anthemius was executed, but soon after his victory both Ricimer and his latest puppet emperor, Olybrius, died. The eastern emperor Leo promptly sent his man, Julius Nepos, who appointed Orestes as commander of an expedition to reassert control over Gaul, but the latter turned on the emperor in 475, who named his son Romulus to take his place and fled to Dalmatia. In 476 Romulus was deposed marking the end of the WRE.
    Last edited by Timoleon of Korinthos; January 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erebus26 View Post
    The ERE had more than a few close shaves.
    Yes. Luck is needed too. Still I'd say that the more powerful Eastern economy meant that the ERE could survive such defeats and crises, where as the WRE couldn't. At least not to the same extent.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timoleon of Korinthos View Post
    3) Lack of civil strife
    In the ERE the post-Andrianople phenomenon of weak emperors ruling and powerful generalissimos scheming never developed to the extent that it did in the WRE. Also, military and political failures not striking the ERE, there was limited discontent with the imperial rule and thus there was no breeding ground for usurpers. After the quelling of the revolts of Trigibaldus and Gainas in 399-400, the ERE got rid of the thorn of increasingly unruly Gothic foederati and potentially disloyal Germanic generals. With the exception of the Isaurian rebellion of 492, which was crushed after 7 years of anti-guerilla warfare in the mountainous heartlands of southern Asia Minor, there was no substantial internal strife either.
    By contrast, the 5th century witnesses the rise of numerous pretenders to the throne and endless clashes for power encouraged by the instability and confusion in the WRE: Constantine III in Gaul in 407 and some relatives of Honorius in Spain around the same time, the revolution of the Bacaudae that swept through Spain and Gaul from 407 to 448, a certain John again against Honorius, whose rebellion Aetius quashed shortly upon his return, Aetius calling on his Hunnic connections to settle his differences with Bonifacius and Sebastianus in 430, the rapid succession of Avitus, Majorian and Libius severus between 455 and 465, who had been raised to the throne and at least one of them killed by Ricimer, who in 472 enaged in a civil war against Anthemius, a ruler with ERE's blessing, the combatants being divided along ethnic lines. Anthemius was executed, but soon after his victory both Ricimer and his latest puppet emperor, Olybrius, died. The eastern emperor Leo promptly sent his man, Julius Nepos, who appointed Orestes as commander of an expedition to reassert control over Gaul, but the latter turned on the emperor in 475, who named his son Romulus to take his place and fled to Dalmatia. In 476 Romulus was deposed marking the end of the WRE.
    I assume you're talking about the Early period of the ERE.

    John I Tzimiskes murdered Nikephoros II Phokas with help of Nikephoros' wife. Reminds us of the Late Roman period. Fortunately, John proved a great Emperor as well at a time when the Rus were threatening the ERE.

    At the start of his reign, Basil II had to deal with two rebellions by members of the military aristocracy, Bardas Skleros and Bardas Phokas. These civil wars kept Basil II busy and allowed the Bulgarians to organize their armies and attack in the Balkan provinces of the Empire.

    Romanos IV Diogenes fought against the Doukas family and lost in the civil war that ensued, shortly after his defeat in Matzikert. The civil strife resulted in the loss of most of Asia Minor to the Turks.

    Isaac Angelos, after a failed attempt to capture him by Andronikos I Komnenos took the populace in his side, captured Andronikos and murdered him. Shortly after, a civil war between the Angeloi family ensued which resulted in the Fall of Constantinople in 1204.

    The Palaeologian dynasty that ruled later is known to be full of civil wars.
    Last edited by Manuel I Komnenos; January 15, 2011 at 03:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel I Komnenos View Post
    Homogeneous population and religion.
    If Eastern Roman Empire was anything was surely not its Homogeneus. Religion more or less Christianity dominated all over the Empire.
    Well to be fair for a lot of that time the Eastern Empire was a bare shadow of itself let alone the whole Roman empire... for most of that '1000' your are really talking about just Greece and some of Asia Minor (if that).
    Not at all The Eastern Empire was also a great empire it had its peak and its decline I dont think it was a decline from the star in fact the idea of moving "Rome" to the east was to bring back up again and surely this was a sucess for centuries and centuries.

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by RomanSoldier9001 View Post
    If Eastern Roman Empire was anything was surely not its Homogeneus. Religion more or less Christianity dominated all over the Empire.
    The population of Southern Balkans and Asia Minor had been Hellenized since the time of the Successor Hellenistic Kingdoms. Gaul, Britain and Spain were not Romanized, and in fact not even Italy was Romanized.
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    Jlop985's Avatar Cornicularius
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    How do you explain the presence of the Romance languages in western Europe if Gaul, Spain, and Italy were not Romanized?

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    Londinium's Avatar Pili
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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel I Komnenos View Post
    The population of Southern Balkans and Asia Minor had been Hellenized since the time of the Successor Hellenistic Kingdoms. Gaul, Britain and Spain were not Romanized, and in fact not even Italy was Romanized.
    I can understand the argument that Britain wasn't Romanised but where are you getting the idea that Gaul, Spain and Italy were not. They were amongst the most Romanised provinces in the whole of the unified empire at it's peak. Especially Italy, which outside of the Hellenized south was the epitome of Romanisation.

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    Default Re: Why the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive for 1000 years after the fall of the western roman empire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Londinium View Post
    I can understand the argument that Britain wasn't Romanised but where are you getting the idea that Gaul, Spain and Italy were not. They were amongst the most Romanised provinces in the whole of the unified empire at it's peak. Especially Italy, which outside of the Hellenized south was the epitome of Romanisation.
    What's the relation of medieval , Renaissance and modern Italy to Rome? There's almost zero relation.
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