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Primary Reasons to Study the Byzantines

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The Byzantine Empire and its capital city of Constantinople thrived for more than one thousand years and helped shape the history of the modern world as we live in. The Byzantines have been largely ignored in classrooms across the nation and it shows. Key reasons to study the Byzantine are their religious influence, preservation of literature, and defense tactics. The question that I am answering is what is the Primary Reason to Study the Byzantines? The primary reason to study the Byzantine is their political foundations.

The Byzantines are very religiously influential. Their main religion was Eastern Orthodox Christian. The percentages of nations populations that are Eastern Orthodox range from ninety­eight percent in Greece to two percent in the United States. (Document C) This shows the Byzantine influence on areas near their origin. The Byzantine religion faced obstacles when spreading to far places such as the United States, hence the small percentage of Eastern Orthodox. (Document C) This shows that distance by water can greatly impact the spread of a religion. The Byzantines preserved classic literature by recopying the works in minuscule  script during the 9th and 10th century. Classics like the Iliad and The Odyssey are among the most widely read poems in American schools and colleges today. (Document E) This shows that without the Byzantines, we wouldn’t have these educationally key classics. The Byzantine are responsible for us having literature and classics to study. Works from great philosophers such as Plato and Socrates were salvaged. (Document E) It is hard for me to imagine English courses without these significant literary works.

Islam dominated eastern and western Europe in 1050. The Byzantines were able to defend and protect the empire from invaders, by building huge walls. These walls were built in the fifth century. (Document A) This shows that if the Arabs captured Constantinople all of America might be Muslim today. Constantinople was the best fortified city in the world. It held out invaders for nearly a thousand years. (Document B) This shows the strength and effort the Byzantine put into protecting their city and their people.

Justinian the first ruled the Byzantines from 527 to 565 CE. He appointed a commission of 10 experts who created a new code of 4,652 laws dealing with everything from property rights to punishment for religious beliefs. These laws were written by hand in fifty books. (Document D) The main idea of Justinian code was to stress equality for all, with the right to happiness.

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