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Eastern Roman Empire

Imposing Walls Defended Constantinople For Ten Centuries

As the wealthy capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, Constantinople was a tempting target for many rulers during late antiquity and the Medieval period. For this reason, it was essential to encircle the city with a ring of...

The Greek-Roman Empress Who Did Everything to Stay in Power

Irene of Athens was the first Roman empress to rule in her own right as regent, between 797 and 802 AD. Although she ruled solely for only five years, she left a lasting impact on the foreign policy and...

Digenes Akritas, Hero of the Byzantine Borderlands

Digenes Akritas (Διγενής Ακρίτας) is one of the only surviving epic poems from the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire. It tells the story of the titular character, Basileios, dubbed Digenes Akritas, meaning "two-blood border lord." The epic poem is part of the...

The Giant Whale That Terrorized Constantinople

Under Byzantine (Eastern Roman) rule, the inhabitants of Constantinople faced many threats. The Avars, Sassanids, Slavs, Crusaders, and Ottomans all laid siege to the legendary capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, there was one threat lurking in the waters...

Byzantine-Arab Frontier: The Longest-Running Christian-Muslim Clash

For centuries the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire stood as Christendom's bulwark against the invasions of the Muslims, first of the Arabs and then of the Turks. Nowhere was this clash between the Muslim and Christian worlds more constantly apparent...

The Blood Prophesy of the Byzantine Emperors

During his reign, Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos was transfixed with a prophecy that foretold the survival of his dynasty depended on adherence to the acronym "AIMA." AIMA is also the Greek word for "blood". Anxious for the survival of...

10 Byzantine Inventions Still Used Today

The Byzantine Empire has made numerous useful contributions to the world. From the fourth to the fifteenth century, in the vast territory ruled by the Byzantines, science, technology, and human ingenuity produced remarkable inventions that shaped various aspects of...

How Did the Byzantines Celebrate Christmas?

In the fourth century AD, the Romans abandoned the Classical pagan pantheon for Christianity. This meant swapping Saturnalia festivities for Christmas celebrations. From these early beginnings, the surviving Byzantine Empire would inherit and modify its own Christmas traditions. As the...

Byzantine Warrior With Gold-Threaded Jaw Found in Greece

A Byzantine warrior whose previously-broken jaw was mended with gold thread has been unearthed in Greece; recent scholarship has revealed that he had been operated on using a technique propounded by the Greek physician Hippocrates 1,800 years earlier. Killed on...

The Sports Riot That Nearly Destroyed Constantinople in 532 AD

The Greek world has a troubled past of sports riots, particularly with football hooliganism, but this pervasive history goes back further than one might expect, with one instance nearly leading to the destruction of Constantinople and the overthrow of...