Byzantine Empire, called also the Roman empire of the East, the Eastern empire, the Greek empire, and the Lower empire. On the death of Theodosius the Great, A. D. 395, the division of the great Roman empire into East and West became permanent. The eastern portion, with Constantinople, the ancient Byzantium, for its capital, was bequeathed to the elder son Arcadius, with whom the line of Byzantine emperors properly commences. The Byzantine empire, beginning in 395, ended in 1453, with the Mojiammedan conquest of Constantinople. At its inception it consisted of two prefectures, namely: 1, the Orient, including five dioceses, Oriens (proper), Egypt, Asia, Pontus, and Thrace, and embracing all the Asiatic regions to the Euphrates and independent Armenia, and Egypt and the African coast west of it to the Greater Syrtis; 2, Illyri-cum, with the two dioceses of Macedonia and Dacia, embracing Upper and Lower Mcesia, Eastern Illyria, the whole of ancient Macedonia, Hellas, Crete, and the islands of the AEgean, as well as possessions in the Tauric Chersonesus (Crimea). The line of demarcation between the empires of the East and the "West, commencing a little above Pesth, followed the Danube, the Save, and the Drina, and was continued by a line drawn from the town of Scodra, now Scutari, near the Adriatic, toward the Greater Syrtis off the coast of Cyrenaica in Africa. Rufinus was guardian for the young Arcadius; after the overthrow of the former by Stilicho, the minister of the Western empire, the eunuch Eutropius, and later Gainas, the murderer of Rufinus, succeeded to the premiership.
During this period the Goths ravaged Greece. After the death of Gainas in a civil war excited by his ambition, the empire was ruled by the immoral and avaricious wife of Arcadius, Eudoxia, till her death in 404. The young son of Arcadius, Theodosius II., succeeded to the throne in 408. Anthemius administered the government for him till 415, and then his sister, the princess Pulcheria, became regent. Pulcheria assumed the title of Augusta, governed the empire ably, and excluded her brother from any participation in its administration. Under her sway a successful war was carried on against the Persians, and the western empire was conquered by the Byzantines for Valentinian III., who ceded the province of Western Illyria, including Panno-nia, Dalmatia, and Noricum, as a recompense therefor. On the other hand, Thrace and Macedonia were ravaged with impunity by Attila and his Huns, and Pulcheria was obliged to purchase peace by the payment of an annual tribute to the barbarians. The Codex Theodo-sianus was drawn up in this reign. After the death of her brother, Pulcheria was called to the throne, 450. She was the first female who ever attained to this dignity. She gave her hand to the aged senator Marcian, whose prudence and valor averted the attacks of the Huns from his empire.
Shelter was given in this reign to the Germans and Sarmatians, who fled before the Huns. Marcian persuaded Attila to wreak his thirst for bloodshed and destruction upon Italy and the West, instead of the East; yet the yearly tribute was raised by At-tila from 700 pounds of gold to 2,100, and a district to the southward of the Danube was ceded to him. Pulcheria died in 453, and Marcian reigned four years after her death. Leo I., a Thracian of obscure origin, was appointed emperor (457-474). His expedition against the Vandals was unsuccessful. His coronation by the patriarch of Constantinople is said to be the earliest example of a coronation by the Christian clergy. Leo helped the Romans against the Vandals, and enjoyed great popularity and influence at Rome, which .extended even to nominating their rulers. His grandchild, Leo II., aged three years, was his successor, but died shortly afterward. Zeno the Isaurian (474-491) succeeded him. Basiliscus drove him away from his capital shortly after his accession and made himself emperor. At this period a fire took place which consumed the library of Constantinople, containing 120,-000 manuscripts, the treasures of classical literature. By the help of his fellow provincials, Zeno soon regained the throne.
In his reign serious and bloody disputes arose about the nature of Christ between the Monophysites and the orthodox. Zeno sided temperately with the latter, and issued the Henoticon (482), which restored outward harmony to the church. He protected his empire against Theo-doric and his Goths by presents and by persuading them to march upon Italy. At his death his widow Ariadne married and raised to the throne the minister Anastasius (491-518). A new enemy appeared in the Bulgarians, against whom he protected the peninsula in which Constantinople lies by building across it the celebrated "long walls." His favorable disposition toward the Monophysites caused formidable insurrections against his rule. After his death Justin I., a Thracian and commander of the body guard, was nominated emperor by the soldiers (518-527). He adopted his nephew Justinian as his heir. He persecuted the Monophysites, and received the powerful support .of the orthodox clergy. Justinian I. succeeded him (527-565). Under him the Byzantine empire attained the summit of its glory.
His general Belisarins overthrew the empire of the Vandals and acquired the whole of northern Africa, repelled the Persians at the Euphrates, conquered Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic isles, and defended Constantinople against the Bulgarians. Narses followed up the victories of Belisarius, destroyed the Ostrogothic power in Italy in 555, and restored Italy and Sicily to the sceptre of Byzantium. Italy was governed by a Greek exarch, whose residence was Ravenna, the last capital of the former emperors of the West. Industry flourished, the silk culture was introduced into Europe, civilization advanced, and intellect developed itself, in the long reign of Justinian. The code of civil law then drawn up has been ever since a leading authority among the jurists of all civilized nations. The race-course factions of blues, greens, reds, and whites now acquired a dangerous license. As the emperor sided with the blues, the greens rose in tumult, and were only put down after committing fearful ravages in the capital. The Monophysite quarrel also agitated the empire. The consular government of the capital was abolished, and the last schools of the pagan philosophers in Athens were shut up by im-perial command.
Justinian's successor was the unfortunate Justinus II. (565-578). The Lombards wrested from the Byzantines a large part of Italy (568); Justinus was unsuccessful against the Persians, and the Avars plundered the provinces on the Danube. The Byzantine government in this reign allied itself for the first time with the Turks beyond the Caspian sea against their common enemy, the Persians, and received an ambassador from their khan. Tiberius II. (578-582) purchased peace from the Avars, and was fortunate against Chosroes I., king of the Persians. His general, Mauri-cius, who gained his victories for him, was appointed his successor, or the Caesar, and reigned from 582 to 602. Mauricius reinstated Chosroes II., who had been driven away by his subjects, upon the throne of Persia, and made an advantageous peace with him. His army mutinied as he was marching against the Avars, who had increased the tribute payable to them by treaty. The soldiery elected Phocas as his successor (602-610), and the "green" faction of the metropolis rose and murdered Mauricius and his sons.
The people, growing weary of the tyrannical rule of Phocas, called to their aid the governor of the imperial prefecture of Africa. The governor sent his son Heraclius, who took Constantinople. Phocas was torn in pieces by the multitude, and Heraclius made emperor (610-641). The Persians conquered from him Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor, and pressed him so hard that he thought of leaving Constantinople for ever, and making Carthage his capital. From this step he was dissuaded by the patriarch, and between 622 and 627 he recovered all the booty, including the holy cross, which Siroes, the monarch of Persia, had taken from Jerusalem. In 626 the Avars made an unsuccessful attack upon Constantinople. From this time forth we hear nothing more of the wars between the Byzantine empire and the Persian monarchy. The Arabs, under Mohammed and his successors, now appear as the most formidable foe of the Greeks. They conquered the country bordei'ing on the Euphrates, Syria, Judea, and all the Byzantine possessions in Africa, 635-641. The Byzantines were weakened by their intestine religious controversy about Mo-nothelitism, or the one will of Christ. On the Danube a number of Slavic kingdoms arose, which soon threw off all dependence upon the empire.
Constantine III., son of the preceding, died in 641; his stepbrother, Heracleonas, lost the throne by an insurrection, and was banished. Constans H. became emperor (641- 668). In his reign the empire lost Cyprus and Rhodes to the Saracens, and suffered defeat at the hands of the Lombards in southern Italy. Constans became the victim of a conspiracy at Syracuse, in Sicily, while endeavoring to protect the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean from the Saracens. He published the Typos, an edict intended to quiet the controversy between the orthodox and the Monothe-lites. Pope Martin I. condemned the edict, and was thrown into prison by the eastern emperor. He was succeeded by his son Constan-tine IV., Pogonatus (668-685). The Moslems now repeatedly besieged Constantinople by sea, but were forced to retire by the terrible Greek fire. On the other hand, the government was compelled to pay tribute to the Bulgarians, who had conquered and founded a kingdom in ancient Moesia. Justinian II., Rhinotmetus, or Shorn Nose, succeeded his father (685-711). His tyranny caused an insurrection which cost him his nose and ears and an exile to the Crimea. During his exile Leontius and Tiberius III., two generals, reigned successively. Justinian returned and was assassinated.
With him the race of Heraclius beoame extinct. Philippicus Bardanes, his general, succeeded him. Next came Anastasius II., whose troops mutinied as he was leading them against the Saracens. He resigned his authority and took refuge in a cloister, and was succeeded by Theodosius III. Leo III., the Isaurian, reigned from 718 to 741. He beat back the Arabs from Constantinople, but not till after they had ravaged Thrace. The image controversy now became violent. Leo sided with the innovators, and ordered the removal and afterward the destruction of all images in the churches. This iconoclasm roused the island population of the Cyclades to revolt, but Leo repressed the sedition. This position of Leo weakened the Byzantine power in Italy, and the year 728 saw the last of the exarchate of Ravenna. His son Constantino V. succeeded him (741-775). He was as much of an iconoclast as his father, and a more fortunate general. The dislike between him and the monks was mutual. He shut up many of the monasteries and convents, because he alleged that the inmates were sluggards and corrupted the people.
He reconquered from the Arabs a part of Syria and Armenia, and destroyed their fleet off Cyprus. In 759 he drove out of the Peloponnesus 200,000 Slavs, and ended his successful career by victories over the Bulgarians. Leo IV., the Khazar, his son, succeeded him (775-780). The boundaries of the empire were well maintained against numerous foes. Constantine VI. succeeded under the guardianship of his mother Irene. She was an image-worshipper, and assembled the second council of Nice, whereat the iconoclasts were condemned by 370 bishops. Eventually she put out her son's eyes (797), and occupied the imperial throne in his stead. She now desired to marry the new emperor of the West, Charlemagne; but this idea of reuniting the Eastern and Western empires was so repugnant to popular opinion, that an insurrection took place which ended in her dethronement (802). Nicephorus, the high treasurer, was proclaimed emperor. He made a treaty with Charlemagne, which constituted the free territory of Venice as the limit of the two empires, became tributary to Haroun al-Rashid, and fell in an engagement against the Bulgarians (811). To him succeeded Stauracius and Michael I., who fought unhappily against the Bulgarians. Leo V., the Armenian, a reputable general, succeeded (813). Krumn, khan of the Bulgarians, devastated Thrace, took Adrianople, and laid siege to Constantinople, when a sudden death surprised him.
Leo then drove the barbarians back and forced them to a 30 years' truce. He ruled ably, but his dislike to the use of images raised up enemies and cost him his life (820). Michael II., the Stammerer, reigned from 820 to 829. About 824 the Saracens of Spain wrested from the empire the island of Crete, and in 827 the Aglabite Saracens seized Sicily. The same reign witnessed the loss of Dalmatia to the Bulgarians. The public-spirited Theophi-lus, son of the preceding (829-842), fought long and bravely against the Arabs, but on the whole fruitlessly. After some reverses he died of grief, leaving Constantinople much strengthened and embellished. He favored the iconoclasts. His son, Michael III., succeeded (842-867), at first under the guardianship of his mother Theodora, who put an end for ever to the iconoclast controversy by the restoration of images, which was ratified by the council of Constantinople (842). In his reign the Russians first appear as enemies of the empire, and the patriarch Photius quarrelled with the pope, Nicholas I., and laid the foundation for the separation of the eastern and western churches. The Paulician schismatics were persecuted.
After Michael came Basil L, the Macedonian (867-886), founder of the Macedonian dynasty, which lasted till 1057. In 877 he published a compilation of laws, completed by his son, which, under the name of Basilica, formed the code of the empire. In foreign relations, he beat the Saracens in the East and crossed the Euphrates triumphantly, protected Dalmatia and Ragusa from the Aglabites, and reestablished the Byzantine power in Apulia and Calabria, which the Saracens had occupied. On the other hand, the Saracens completed the conquest of Sicily by the capture of Syracuse, and ravaged the Peloponnesus. His son Leo VI., the Philosopher (886-911), was an author and a patron of the arts and sciences; but his reign was disastrous in a military point of view. He called in the aid of the Turks against the Saracens; this showed the former the way into the Byzantine empire, and they captured the island of Samos for themselves. In the same way Leo called in the aid of the Hungarians against the Bulgarians. The Russians appeared before Constantinople with a large fleet, but effected nothing.
The Lombard dukes took from the Byzantines the greater part of what remained to them in Italy. The Arabs took Thessa-lonica, but were driven back by Ducas; Leo then sent an army into Asia, which penetrated into Mesopotamia, and achieved an advantageous peace. After Leo reigned his son Constantino VII., Porphyrogenitus (911-959), at first jointly with his brother Alexander, who soon died. His mother Zoe then administered affairs, and protected the empire from the Bulgarians for seven years. Romanus Lecapenus (919) then obtained a share in the government, and subsequently associated with himself his three sons, Christopher, Stephen, and Constantino VIII. They fought against the Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Russians. In 945 they were obliged to retire and give place to the empress Helen, who governed while her husband Constantino VII. studied. At this period Russian and Hungarian princes came to Constantinople, were baptized, took Byzantine women in marriage, and spread Christianity in their native lands. Constantine's son Romanus II. succeeded (959-963). Crete was recaptured from the Saracens by Nicephorus Phocas, the emir of Aleppo was forced to pay tribute, and the Russians were driven back.
Nicephorus II., Phocas, succeeded (963-969), after marrying Theophano, the widow of Romanus. He was defeated in Sicily, but recaptured from the Saracens Syria and Cilicia, and the island of Cyprus. His wife had him murdered, and gave her hand to his successor, the victorious general John Zimisces (969-976). He fought victoriously against the Arabs in Asia Minor, and against the Russians and Bulgarians in Europe. He extinguished for a time the political independence of the latter. His successor, Basil II., son of Romanus (976-1025), was for a long time occupied in combating two rebellious generals, Bardas Phocas and Bardas Sclerus. In 1018 the Bulgarian kingdom was annihilated and Bulgaria became a Greek province, and remained so till 1186. It was he who put out the eyes of 15,000 Bulgarian prisoners and sent them back to their king, who fell down senseless at the spectacle, and soon afterward died. Constantine IX., his brother, reigned from 1025 to 1028. Then followed in succession Romanus III. (1028-'34) and Michael IV. (1034-'41), both husbands of Zoe, the daughter of Constantine IX. Michael V. succeeded, and was driven out by the people because he would not marry Zoe. In 1042 Zoe and her sister Theodora were joint empresses, until Zoe married Constantine X. (1042-'54). During this period the Russians, Petchenegs, and Arabs ravaged the empire.
The Seljuk Turks appeared as formidable enemies, and the Norman adventurers wrested from the Byzantines all their remaining possessions in lower Italy, except the city and territory of Otranto. After Constantine, Theodora again became empress (1054-'56.) In 1054 occurred the total separation of the Greek from the Latin church. "With Michael VI., Stratioticus, the Macedonian dynasty became extinct (1057). Isaac Comnenus, the first of the Comneni, reigned from 1057 to 1059. To him succeeded Constantine XL, Ducas (1059-'67). The Seljuks invaded the empire on the east and south, and the Scythian Uzes on the north. The latter were defeated. Eudoxia, widow of Constantine XL, married Romanus IV., Diogenes (1067-'7l). He defeated the Seljuks under Alp Arslan in three campaigns in Cilicia and Cappadocia, but in the fourth was taken prisoner. During his absence Michael VII., with Andronicus I. and Constantine XII., his brothers, was proclaimed emperor (107l-'78). The Serbs and Seljuks invaded the empire, the latter conquering almost all Asia Minor. Michael resigned, and his successor Nicephorus III., Botaniates (1078-81), had a stormy reign, troubled by numerous rival claimants to the imperial dignity.
His general, Alexis Comnenus, dethroned him, and reigned from 1081 to 1118. His administration is remarkable for its relations to the western crusaders. Robert Guiscard, the Norman duke of Calabria, advancing the claims of his relative Michael VII., defeated Alexis in Epirus, who, however, gained brilliant victories over the Petchenegs and the Kumans. The encroachments of Mohammedan power, and the dangers that threatened all Christendom therefrom, now drew the attention of western Europe to this complication of affairs. The Turks had invaded Bithynia, and Alexis called the courts of the West to his aid. Pope Urban II. authorized the preaching of the first crusade. The first host of crusaders left an unfavorable impression upon the Byzantines. With the second a treaty was concluded; Alexis was to furnish a number of troops, and the crusaders were to hold the provinces reconquered from the Moslems as fiefs of the empire. Neither party kept faith. Bohemond, the son of Robert Guiscard, laid siege to Durazzo, but shortly afterward concluded a peace with the emperor.
His son, John or Kalo-Joannes Comnenus, succeeded him (1118-'43). He fought victoriously against the Seljuks, reconquered many towns, defeated the Petchenegs and the Hungarians, and reconquered Lesser Armenia. He was succeeded by his son Manuel Comnenus (1143-'80), who was victorious over the sultan of Iconium, and over Raymond of Toulouse, the Christian prince of Antioch. In 1147 a new army of crusaders arrived at Constantinople, to the consternation of the inhabitants. Manuel conquered the island of Corfu from the king of Sicily, in retaliation for an invasion of Greece by the latter. Between 1180 and 1183 reigned Alexis Comnenus II., son of the preceding. Andronicus, the last of the Comneni, occupied the throne two years, and was succeeded by Isaac IL, Angelus (1185-'95). In his reign the king of Sicily undertook the conquest of the Byzantine empire, but was eventually beaten back. The Bulgarians recovered their independence in 1186. He was dethroned by Alexis III. (1195-1203). Isaac's son, Alexis the Young, supplicated the aid of the crusaders, then assembled at Venice, and obtained it in return for a promise to pay 200,000 marks of silver. The crusaders captured Constantinople, July 18, 1203, and restored Isaac, who with his son was put to death the next year.
Nicholas Canabus succeeded, and was in turn deposed by Alexis Ducas (Murzufle), the leader of the revolt against Isaac. The crusaders again captured the city in April, 1204. The Latin empire of Romania was established (1204-'61), and Count Baldwin of Flanders elected first emperor. The European possessions of the empire were divided into four parts: 1. The imperial domain, including one fourth part of the city of Constantinople, the other three parts being divided between the French and Venetians, Thrace, some castles on the Asiatic coast, the islands at the mouth of the Hellespont, and the suzerainty over the feudal dependencies of the empire. 2. The kingdom of Thessalonica was carved out for Boniface, marquis of Montferrat, and included Macedonia and a part of Greece. 3. The republic of Venice obtained the coast lands of the Adriatic and the AEgean, a portion of the Morea, many of the Cyclades and Spo-rades, the islands of Crete and Negropont, and the territory of Gallipoli on the Thracian Chersonese. 4. Many other fiefs were given to French knights, of which the principal were the duchy of Athens and Boeotia, and the principality of Achaia and the Morea. The Greek empire still survived in Asia Minor. Theodore Lascaris, who had been elected emperor by the senate in Constantinople, established his capital at Nicaea, whence the Greek empire of Nicaea received its name; it consisted of Bithynia, Mysia, Ionia, and part of Lydia. On the S. E. shores of the Black sea, from Sinope to the river Phasis, the Comnenian empire of Trebi-zond arose.
The Comnenian princes, Alexis and David, declared their independence at the fall of the old Byzantine empire, and one of their successors assumed the imperial title. In Epirus, AEtolia, and Thessaly, Michael Ange-lus established a Greek principality. Returning to the history of the principal fragments of the Byzantine empire, we find that the Greeks called in the aid of John, king of the Bulgarians, who defeated Baldwin and took him prisoner. Henry, brother of Baldwin, succeeded him (1206-16). He fought with success against Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea, and brought the king of the Bulgarians to terms. He gave honors and offices of trust to the Byzantines, and protected them against the oppressions of the Latin clergy. Peter de Courtenay succeeded him (1216). He was soon afterward captured by Theodore, independent prince of Epirus, in a vain attempt to take Durazzo for the Venetians. His younger son, Robert, succeeded him after an interregnum (1221-'28). During his reign John III., the Greek emperor of Nicaea, and Theodore, the prince of Epirus, reduced the territory of the Latin emperors of Romania almost to the peninsula on which Constantinople stands.
Jean de Brienne, titular king of Jerusalem, next took the reins of power as regent for Baldwin II. (1228-37). The Bulgarians made an alliance with the emperor of Nicaea and threatened the existence of the Latin empire. Jean de Brienne saved Constantinople, and the allies turned their arms against each other. Baldwin II. then reigned unaided (1237-'61). He implored men, arms, and money of the potentates and nations of the West, but they made no adequate response to his entreaties. The consequence was that Michael Palaeologus, emperor of Nicaea, with the help of the Genoese navy, which was driven to the Greek alliance by hatred of Venice, obtained possession of Constantinople, July 25, 1261. The Genoese were rewarded by liberal mercantile privileges. The Latin empire of Romania now vanished, although many of the Latin principalities, such as the duchy of Athens, survived until the final downfall of the restored Byzantine empire in the 15th century. With Michael Palaeologus (1261-'82) commenced the dynasty of the Palaeologi, which endured until the Turkish conquest. By his endeavors to reunite the Greek and Latin churches he gained the hatred of his clergy and people. Andronicus II., his son, succeeded (1282-1328), and immediately restored the Greek ritual.
To defend his empire against the Turks, he took into pay a body of Catalan troops (1303); the Catalans beat back the enemy, and then began to pillage Greece and settle down upon estates got and held by the right of the sword. He abdicated in favor of his grandson, Andronicus III. (1328-'41). The Turks took Nicaea and Nicomedia in 1339, and plundered the coasts of Europe. Andronicus unsuccessfully opposed them, and made a barren alliance against them with the pope, the king of France, and other western powers. His son John V. or VI. succeeded him (1341-'91). It cost him a civil war of ten years to rid himself of his guardian, Joannes Can-tacuzenus. During this war the Turks first acquired territory in Europe. Gallipoli was seized by them in 1357; in 1361 Sultan Amu-rath took Adrianople, and made it his residence. John appealed to the pope to aid him in his extremity, offering to reunite the eastern with the western church, but to no purpose. Subsequently Amurath conquered Macedonia and part of Albania, when John signed a treaty acknowledging himself the vassal of the sultan, and covenanting to pay tribute.
Philadelphia, the last possession of the Byzantines in Asia, capitulated to Bajazet, successor Of Amurath. When the sultan ordered that the emperor's son should accompany him in his wars, John Palaeologus died of a broken heart. Manuel, son of the preceding, escaped from the court of Sultan Bajazet, where he was a hostage, at the news of his father's death, and was proclaimed emperor (1391- 1425). Bajazet laid siege to Constantinople, but raised it to levy war upon the Hungarians. He returned in 1397, but made peace through fear of another western crusade. In 1400 he made a third attempt upon the metropolis; but the invasion of Tamerlane, which threatened the existence of the Turkish empire, recalled Bajazet into Asia, and saved the Byzantine empire for a time. Manuel recovered some lost ground while the sons of Bajazet were quarrelling. Yet in 1422 Sultan Amu-rath II. appeared before the walls of Constantinople, and employed cannon, for the first time in eastern wars. Another fraternal quarrel on the part of the Turks brought about the return of peace.
During this reign a Turkish cadi was established and a royal mosque erected in Constantinople. John VI. or VII., son of Manuel, succeeded (1425-48). Seeing that he was unable to defend his empire from the Turks, he endeavored to effect a reconciliation between the eastern and western churches, on the condition of a new western crusade in his favor. For this purpose he went to the council of Ferrara and Florence, which was presided over by Pope Eugenius IV. The reunion was proclaimed at Florence, but it did not take effect in the East. In 1444 Amurath reduced the Byzantine empire to the city and suburbs of Constantinople, and out of generosity allowed the emperor to end his days in peace, on condition of paying tribute. His brother, Constantine XIII. (1448-'53), was the last of the Byzantine emperors. He made a last appeal to the princes of the West, and to the prince of Georgia, whose daughter he had married. Giovanni Giustiniani, a Genoese nobleman, with 2,000 Genoese and Venetian auxiliaries, and four Genoese ships of war, were the sole results of Constantine's appeal. The total garrison did not exceed 8,000 soldiers.
The Turks appeared before the walls of Constantinople April 6, 1453, with an army of 400,000. They were not able to break the ohain which protected the entrance of the harbor, but Sultan Mohammed II. had his fleet carried on rollers 10 miles overland, and launched into the inner gulf. Both sides fought bravely, but after a siege of 53 days Constantinople fell, May 29, 1453. Constantine died heroically in the breach. The city was delivered over to rapine, and the mass of the inhabitants sold into slavery. The brothers of Constantine, Demetrius and Thomas, held out for a short season in the Morea. This with the rest of the Latin principalities, which had acknowledged a loose feudal subjection to the Byzantine emperor, had fallen by 1460. David, the last of the Comneni and the last emperor of Trebizond, submitted in 1461. Thus perished an empire which had kept the light of letters and civilization burning through all the night of the dark ages, when western Europe, including even Italy, lay prostrate at the feet of barbarian conquerors, with whom the will of the strongest was the sole law.
The Byzantine empire was divided for administrative purposes into prefectures, dioceses, and themes or provinces. The power of the emperor was absolute. He claimed to inherit the rights of the Roman emperors, and to be the lawful ruler of the West. He was anointed and crowned by the patriarchs of Constantinople. As has been seen, the influence of women, favorites, and the clergy was great. The ceremonial of the Byzantine court was carefully elaborated and rigidly maintained. The consulate became extinct in the 6th century, and the senate and the last forms of municipal self-government in the 10th. The emperor was advised by a council of state, in which none found admittance except at his pleasure. The functionaries of government were divided into many classes, and each class had distinctive privileges. Eunuchs enjoyed high rank, and to them was intrusted the immediate attendance upon the holy person of the emperor. The major domns of the East was called first curopalates, and afterward pro-tovestiarius. The body guard of the emperors began in the 10th century to be composed of Germans and Northmen. The commandant of the fleet was the megas dux. - The original sources of Byzantine history are the Byzantine historians themselves, who wrote in corrupt Greek. Only a few of these have been translated into any of the modern languages.
Of the authorities in the modern tongues, we cite Le Beau, Histoire du Bas Empire; Zink-eisen, Geschichte Griechenlands; Fallmerayer, Geschichte des Kaiserthums Trapezunt; Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; " Finlay's "History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires" (London, 1854); and for the Latin settlement in the East, Buchon's Histoire des conquetes et de l'etablissement des Frangais dans les Etats de Vancienne Grece (Paris, 1846). Du Cange's work in Latin, Eistoria Byzantina (Paris, 1680), was before Gibbon the only authority generally consulted. An interesting work on the Byzantine empire is Muralt's Essai de chronographie Byzantine (St. Petersburg, 1855).