Under the emperors of the Macedonian line the government was strengthened by the regular transmission of the imperial power. In fact, the whole period from 717 to 1057 was a time when the Empire was on the whole prosperous, well administered, and triumphant. Basil was suc cessful in all his wars, except in Sicily, where Syracuse was captured by the Saracens in S7S. Ile had great ability; his code of laws remained in use for centuries. Ilis son, Leo the Wise (886-912), and his grandson. Constantine Por phyrogenitus (912-959), were literary men of no mean ability. Fortunately, the Empire was pros perous and its enemies were weak. ROIIMMIS (959-963), son of Constantine, reeonquered Crete through his able general, Nicephorus Phocas. The latter became Emperor (963-969) by marry ing Romanus's sister, but he ruled the Empire in the name of his two step-sous. Basil IL (963 1023) and Constantine VIII. (963-1025). and the same was done V John Zimisees (969-975), who murdered Nicephorus and married his widow. Like Nicephorus, )John Zimisces was an able sol dier. Ile defeated the Russians and rcconquered Antioch and Edessa from the Saracens. Basil II. succeeded to the Empire, crushed the Bulgarians, and extended his dominions farther than any Emperor since Justinian. Constantine VIII. was sole Emperor from 1025 to 102S. He had taken little part in the government before and was very weak. On his death without a son the husbands-and creatures of his daughter Zoe ruled the Empire for twenty-six years. It was on the whole a very disastrous period. But Theodora, Zoe's sister, who ruled from 1054 to 1057, was able and virtuous. With her the Macedonian line ended.
For twenty-six years there was a succession of emperors of little importance. none of them able to cope with the Seljukian Turks, who rapidly conquered all of the Asiatic possessions of the Empire. Alexis Conmenus ( 1081-111S ) was compelled to face new dangers from the attacks of the Normans and the armies of the Crusaders. He struggled bravely and was successful in many respects. But, unfortunately. the finances of the Empire were seriously impaired by the diversion of commerce from Constantinople occasioned by the growth of the Italian cities and the founda tion of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In addition, the policy of Alexis caused the Greeks to be bitterly hated by the Crusaders. Alexis was succeeded by John the Good (111S-43), who was vigorous and warlike. He was constantly en gaged in fighting the Seljuks, Hungarians, Ser and Armenians. Manuel Comnenus (1143 5n) engaged in many wars for his own personal glory, hut neglected the finances and government, so that he left the Empire in a bad condition. In the next twenty-four years incompetent rulers brought the Empire to the verge of ruin. Cyprus was lost, Bulgaria became independent. and the seljuks threatened to conquer Constantinople. The Venetians were hostile, and allied themselves for an expedition with the Crusaders. who covet
ed the riches of Constantinople, which seemed to them fabulous. In 1204 Constantinople was taken and sacked and the Latin Empire estab lished. This was very weak and lasted only until 1261, when Michael Paheoloyus, the ruler of Niefea, the strongest of the Greek States which had arisen when the capital was captured by the Franks, expelled the Latins and reestablished Byzantine Empire. But this empire Was much smaller than it had been in 1204, and the ruling family. the Pa heologi, were unable to make it powerful. Michael VIII. (1261-S2) attempted to gain allies by offering to bring the Greek Church under the authority Lf the Pope. His son. An dronieus II. (1282-132S), was utterly incompe tent, and the last years of his reign were filled with civil wars. A period of disaster followed. The command of the sea was lost, the finances were in hopeless disorder, and the rulers were weak. The Ottoman Turks were now establish ing their power on the ruins of the Seljukian real n in Asia Minor, and one by one they con quered the provinces of the Empire. Under John V. (1341-91) the Turks made their first perma nent conquest in Europe by seizing Gallipoli in 1354. Manuel 11. (1391-1425) and John V111. (1425-48) were feeble rulers and practically vas sals of the Sultan. Constantine XIII, (144S-53) struggled bravely but n11sIIeIPssfully to retain his capital, the only portion of the Empire which was hit, and finally, in 1453, Constantinople was taken by the Turks. The capture of the capital marks the end of the Byzantine Empire.
Until recently it has been the fashion to treat the Byzantine Empire with contempt. Gibbon described its history as a tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery." Voltaire spoke of it as "a worthless repertory of declamation and miracles, disgraceful to the human mind." Montesquieu wrote: "The history of the Greek Empire, from Phocas on. is merely a succession of revolts, schisms, and treacheries." 'Faille con demned it as "a gigantic moldiness lasting a thousand years." In 1S54 a writer in an Eng lish review "rejoiced over the supposed moment when the last Byzantine historian was blown into the air by our brave allies the Turks." But in the last half-century all this has been changed. Scholars now recognize the inestimable debt which we owe to the Byzantine Empire. They realize that for eight centuries the Roman Em pire, transplanted to New Rome. i.e. Constanti nople, persisted in its task; that law, literature, industry. and commerce did not cease to flourish; that Constantinople stemmed the tide of invasion from the East, which otherwise might have en gulfed all Europe. They have learned that the most striking feature of Byzantine history is "its constant vitality and power of revival•" its "marvelous recuperative energy," shown at every crisis in its history.