BYZANTINE EMPIRE, also styled the East Roman, Eastern. Greek, or Later Roman Empire; but a better name is 'the Empire of New Rome.' On the death of Theodosius (q.v.), in 395. the Roman Empire was divided between his two sons, Arcadius, who had the eastern half, with his capital at Constantinople, and Honorius, who had the western half. This event is gener ally taken for the beginning of the so-called Byzantine Empire, which took its name from Byzantium (q.v.). the ancient name for its capi tal. It came to an end in 1453. when Constanti nople was captfu-ed by the Turks.
Arcadius (395-40S) was weak and wholly un der the domination of his successive ministers, Rutinus. Eutropius, and Gainas, of whom the first and the last were Germans; Gainas, who had murdered Rufinus, was succeeded in power by the Empress Endoxia. Only after her death. in 404, was Arcadius at all independent. He was succeeded by his son Theodosius II.. a boy of 7. who ruled from 408 to 450. During his whole reign the government was ably carried on by his sister Puleheria, who was noted for her rigid virtue. During his reign the Huns under Attila exacted repeated contributions of money and gifts. Attila's demands ceased as soon as they met with a firm refusal from Mar eianus (450-457). whom Puicheria married after the death of Theodosius. Leo the Thracian (457 474) was elevated to the throne by the German general Aspar, who was all-powerful until he was murdered by the Emperor in 471. Zeno (474-491). son-in-la• of Leo, succeeded, although the latter's son Leo IL, a boy of 4. was at first proclaimed Emperor. After the death of Zeno his married Anastasius I. (491-51S), who obtained the Empire through her favor. Justin (51S-527) was an Illyrian peasant, of Slav de scent; as a soldier of fortune he had risen rap idly. lie put an end to the religious troubles which had existed under his predecessors. Leo, Zeno, Anastasius, and .Justin were all men of experience, who pursued a cautious policy, re cruited an army of natives. and made adminis trative and financial reforms, and left the treas ury full, the army strong, and the Empire intact. But for their labors, the reign of Justinian the Great (527-565) would have been impossible. By his conquests and able administration he raised the Empire to a higher degree of prosper ity and power than it \•as ever again to experi ence. 'His entire policy was directed toward unity, and this formed the keynote for the future history of the Byzantine Empire. lie sought to bring all under one State, one Church, and one law. The Roman law' was compiled and pub lished under his auspices in the form of a monu mental code. After his death the Empire declined rapidly. Ilis great enterprises had exhausted the treasury- and necessitated heavy taxation. his successor, Justin Ti. (565-578). without his abil ity. aspired to greater glory. The Persian War, which he provoked needlessly, drained the •e sources of the Empire, taxation became a crush ing burden, the Avars and Slays devastated the northern border, the Lombards overran most of Italy. Inefficient or unfortunate rulers suc
ceeded, Tiherius Constantius (57S-5S2), Mau rice (582-602), and Phocas (602-610)—until, after the death of the last, Heraclius became Em peror (610-641). He humbled Persia, which had been the great opponent of Byzantium, and by 62S he bad restored the Empire to its old su premacy in the East and was hailed as the new Scipio.' But the provinces of the Empire were ex hausted by the long wars and had suffered from the hostile occupation. Consequently, when the Arabs began their great missionary conquests the emperors were too weak to oppose them success fully and were forced to see one after another of their provinces wrested from their grasp. The house of Heraclius furnished two other able emperors—Constans 11. (641.668) and his son, Constantine (66S-685), who fought bravely against the Mussulmans and checked their ad vance. But the reign of Justinian 11. (685-695 and 705-711) was disastrous, and after his death anarchy brought the Empire to the verge of ruin. The rebel. Leo the Isaurian (717-741), saved the State. Ile defended Constantinople during the long siege by the Saracens, and reorganized the Empire, which. in spite of the efforts and ability of Heraelius and his grandson and great-grand son, had been steadily decaying. Leo's descend ants are remembered chiefly for their efforts to restrict the worship of images. (See IcoNo CLASAI.) But this is not just, as the Empire gained in strength and prosperity under the Isaurian dynasty. Constantine Copronymus (741-775) was a great warrior and extended the boundaries of the Empire both in Asia and Europe. He reformed the administration, plant ed colonies along the frontiers. and encouraged commerce. His son, Leo IV. (775-780), was able, but he was succeeded by his son. Constantine (7S0-797), a boy of 9. The latter was under the guardianship of his mother, Irene, until he was 21. Then the two reigned conjointly until 797, when Irene had her son blinded and deposed. Her five years of rule (797-S02) were very disastrous to the Empire. Nicepho•us I. (802-811) was compelled to pay tribute to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in order to make peace with him. and was slain by the Bulgarians. After two years of disaster, Leo the Armenian (813-S20) defeated the Bulgarians and began a prosperous reign, only to be murdered by conspirators. Under Michael the Amorian (820-829) the Saracens conquered Crete and began the subjugation of Sicily. His son, Theophilus (S29-842), was en gaged in almost constant warfare, bloody but indecisive, with the Caliphs. His reign, however, was prosperous at home, and he was renowned for his justice and the great buildings which he constructed. The Empire in his time was wealthy, and Constantinople was the centre of European trade. Ilis son. Michael III. (5-12 867), was only 4 years old when he became Em peror. He grew- up a drunkard, and no one at tempted to revenge his death when Basil the Macedonian (S67-SS6), whom he had made cos Emperor, caused him to be murdered.