10 Interesting Facts About Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire has been in existence for almost 1, 125 years and is one of the most intricate and complex empires in the history. It existed from late antiquity period to the early medieval age. Let us know more about this empire.

byzantine empire Image: historymaps.com

1. Istanbul

hagia sophia

The capital of the empire, Byzantine Empire, was Constantinople, later Byzantium and now, the modern day Istanbul.
Source: listverse.info, Image: wikipedia

2. Genesis

Byzantium was located at the Bosphorus Strait which connected the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea. It was a small town which was first colonized by the Greeks in, long before Alexander the Great brought his troops to Anatolia. It only became a part of the Roman culture when the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium. He renamed the town as Constantinople. This empire survived quite a lot before it succumbed to the attacks of the Ottoman Turks in 1453 who again renamed the capital to Istanbul.
Source: listverse.info

3. Name Story


An accepted version of naming this city is to be believed when a Greek citizen named Byzas, in the 660 BC, consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi since he wanted to find a site where he could establish a new colony. The oracle has been believed to whisper “opposite the blind”. Byzas couldn’t understand the meaning behind the words but still sailed north-east, across the Aegean Sea. When he reached the Bosphorus Strait, he realized what the oracle meant that the founders of the Greek city had been blind for they had not seen the superior site on the other side of the Strait. Byzas built his colony on this superior site and named it after himself- Byzantium.
Source: listverse.info, Image: istanbulhotels.com

4. Geographically Strong

The empire was located on a strait, making it hard to conquer for the foreigners. Despite this, it was considered a rich empire as compared to other empires during the same time period and the empire could invest in a stronger manpower. Consequently, the empire could remain in power for such a long time.
Source: lisovative.com

5. The Role of Justin

justin one

The kingdom under Justin I became more prosperous from 527 to 565. Not only did he conquer many parts of Western Empire but he codified the laws for Byzantine Empire too. Under him, the empire became rich, monetarily, and many monuments were built including the famous Hagia Sophia.
Source: listovative.com, Image: wikipedia

6. Religion

west and east church

Christianity made its way into the lives of people but the earlier followed religion, paganism, wasn’t completely forgotten about. Soon, the churches parted its ways into two kinds: Easter Church, also called the Orthodox Church and the Western church, known as Roman Catholic Church.  Religious, cultural and political differences between the two Churches had been building up for centuries and finally, resulted in the Great Schism. The Eastern Church moved to Moscow because it lost control over the empire.
Source: listovative.com, Image: flickr

7. Greek Influence

The historians believe that the Byzantine Empire was mainly influenced by the Greek culture. Heraclius declared Greek as the official language of the empire. By 650 AD, most of the Roman elements had been over-shadowed by the Greek. In fact, a majority of the population of the Byzantine Empire had a Greek cultural background and even the armies fought in a style which reflected that of the Athenians and Spartans than that of the Roman Legions.
Source: wikipedia

8. Cuisine


Byzantine cuisine, obviously, was a mixture of Greek and Roman traditions. They mainly used those ingredients that were indigenous to the land of the empire like cheese, eggs, olive oil, figs, walnuts, almonds, pears and apples. They were the first ones to use rosemary to flavor roast lamb. They also tended to use saffron in their cooking which had never been done before. The Byzantines were fond of sweets and desserts. They loved gorging on gourta, a type of frumenty, and rice pudding served with honey and cinnamon. Jellies and conserves also came through in the Byzantine Empire.
Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

9. Wine

negev wine

Wine was enjoyed widely by the people of Byzantine. They flavoured wines with absinthe, aniseed, chamomile, gentian, ginger grass, rose, violet, spignel, spikenard, stone parsley, tejpat, yellow flag etc. The “Wine of the Negev” was the most treasured and expensive brew.
Source: wikipedia, Image: flickr

10. “Greek Fire”

greek fire

Greek fire is a composition of chemicals and minerals mixed with liquid. Up until now, many researchers tried to figure out this composition and how it became a lethal weapon. It has been said that many other armies, later in the time, tried to use the same technique but couldn’t use it as efficiently as the Byzantine Army and some even harmed their own army.
Source: listverse.com, Image: flickr