Russian professor and writer considered an authority on the history of the Byzantine Empire.
Alexander A. Vasiliev
History of the Byzantine Empire
This is a page dedicated to all aspects of life in the Byzantine Empire, from the founding of Constantinople in 330 to its fall to the Ottoman Turks on May 29, 1453.
From this date, precisely, darkness reigned for the true history of the ancient Empire (and its particular inhabitants), which was during the following centuries considered by the West an example of decadence and corruption.
For a few years now, some historians have realized this great error, and began to investigate a past that will soon seem fascinating to them, rich in all the topics of the life of a Roman and Hellenic State. Very particular Christian.
That is why we propose that, once and for all, there is light!
Comment for the understanding of this work.
I must begin by clarifying that the Byzantine Empire should never have been called that: it should be known to all as the Roman Empire, but French historians of the centuries following its fall decided that they would call it Byzantine, with an obvious intention to take it as something foreign to Rome, and with incredible impudence they told their story as a succession of corrupt, worthless and totally decadent emperors and officials.
Its purpose was fulfilled, that is why the Empire, which we must call Byzantine because if it would not cause confusion, it is ignored by many people who enjoy the history of Rome until the year 476, and do not continue investigating more ahead.
Very well, for me the Roman Empire is still alive until 1453, despite the enormous changes that occur over time.
The reason for this thought is obvious: if the same inhabitants of the Empire considered themselves Romans, heirs of Rome, what right do we have to call them differently, or to consider that with the changes a different Empire was produced.
Was not Rome radically different when comparing its society in 500 BC, in 200 BC, in 70 AD or in 284 AD?
If Rome evolved so much and had so many changes, can we consider that after 330, or 564, or 641 or 717, it transformed into something else?
This thinking is absolutely artificial, so in this work it will be called the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium so as not to confuse the readers, but let it be clear that we are talking about the Roman Empire.
On the other hand, the beginning of the Byzantine Empire is always discussed, and dates are generally given such as those of the founding of Constantinople 330), the fall of the Western Empire (476), the death of Justinian, considered by many last Roman emperor (564), the death of Heraclius after losing Syria, Palestine and Egypt (641), or the defense of Constantinople against the Arabs by Leon III in 717.
For me this question is irrelevant, precisely because the Byzantine Empire is an “invention” of unscrupulous historians, so I consider that the fact of the founding of Constantinople as the capital of the Roman world is the cornerstone of a new edifice. Historical for Rome, that is why for me history begins at that moment and ends in 1453 with the taking of this capital by the Ottoman Empire, which transforms it into the capital of a completely different world.
This with respect to the official history of Byzantium, since as the Empire was based on the Idea of the Empire of men on earth in the likeness of the Empire of God in Heaven, and ideas never die, I consider that the Empire is still alive in many souls, but that is another story.
Now, speaking of the innumerable changes that the Roman Empire had in those more than 1,100 years, we can speak of different times based on events that marked its people: it is not the same to speak of Constantinople recently. n founded in 330 where there used to still be many pagan temples, than the beleaguered capital in 717 about to fall to Arab soldiers, or the flourishing 10th century city under the great Macedonian dynasty, or the defeated and destroyed Constantinople of 1204, or even the poor, decadent and semi-abandoned city of 1453. And I take Constantinople as a reflection of the Empire, despite the large number of referent cities, because it was a truth for the citizen Byzantine that as long as the capital was standing, they could never with him.
Another error of historians, even of the very contemporaries of the Empire, is to have repeatedly called it the Greek Empire.
Although it is true that Greek was spoken, it was spoken in different ways depending on whether it was the European or Asian area, and even within certain areas it was spoken differently from others, and if we talk about races, the This diversity was even greater, since the Empire coexisted with Greeks, Slavs, Bulgarians, Armenians, Syrians and many other peoples, which gave it a multiracial character. Very difficult problems for the Empire to reconcile such different interests, but it is also what characterizes it most strongly: a Universal Empire for all the inhabitants of Byzantium, regardless of their race, as long as they accept the emperor, the Orthodox church and speak Greek more or less well.
One of the great differences that the Byzantines had with the Latins was that they considered the emperor the representative of God on earth, and the most sacred person, while the patriarch was reduced to representing the church itself. ; Latins, on the other hand, considered the Pope as the representative of God and the rulers were subject to the designs of the church. That is why the history of Byzantium is the history of the competition between the Byzantine emperors and the Papacy based in Rome, until the final break in 1054.
Later, the Byzantine church sees its power grow while the emperors see theirs shrink, so much so that after 1453 it is the Orthodox church that will keep alive the tradition of the Empire, its ideas and its culture, until the present day. to today.
I hope that this page serves to learn the truth about the Empire, its culture, its people and its life, and that those who read it know that its facts are as interesting as all those that marked the history of Rome, and that its Civilization was the most advanced in the middle ages, when the West was only a shadow lost in ignorance.Rolando Castillo.
Preface to the Spanish edition.
A progression that is worth a historical constant wants the cultural foci to follow one another in time, following the path of the sun. According to this law, which is singularly evident in the coastal towns, and especially in the Mediterranean, for the eastern, the western is rustic and inexperienced, and vice versa: for those from here, those of the other, children of older civilizations, they seem decadent and effeminate. To the extent that Byzantine and Byzantinism are words that in our everyday language sound like something banal or excessive subtlety. Our tradition of Western men, of Franks, tends to warn us against anything that refers to Byzantium. Clinging to the comfortable expedient of dating the fall of the Roman Empire in 476; Including the multicellular task of the formation of our nationalities and of making the Church independent of civil power, we often forget that this Empire lasted yet a thousand years, bravely defending itself against the young nations. You come who harassed him from the four cardinal points. This laborious gestation of the Western world, and the consequent splitting of the Church, led to the Crusades, in a movement that, if not in the minds of its promoters in its development, was to prove fatal for the maintenance of the New Rome Empire. The aid of Europe did not reach Constantinople thus put in a trance of death, but (although in vain, before the Ottoman impetus) to those nations cut off in the mantle of the old Empire. We often forget that this Empire lasted yet a thousand years, bravely defending itself against the young nations that beset it from the four cardinal points. This laborious gestation of the Western world, and the consequent splitting of the Church, led to the Crusades, in a movement that, if not in the minds of its promoters in its development, was to prove fatal for the maintenance of the New Rome Empire. The aid of Europe did not reach Constantinople thus put in a trance of death, but (although in vain, before the Ottoman impetus) to those nations cut off in the mantle of the old Empire. We often forget that this Empire lasted yet a thousand years, bravely defending itself against the young nations that beset it from the four cardinal points. This laborious gestation of the Western world, and the consequent splitting of the Church, led to the Crusades, in a movement that, if not in the minds of its promoters in its development, was to prove fatal for the maintenance of the New Rome Empire. The aid of Europe did not reach Constantinople thus put in a trance of death, but (although in vain, before the Ottoman impetus) to those nations cut off in the mantle of the old Empire. They led to the Crusades, in a movement that, if not in the minds of its promoters in its development, was to be fatal for the maintenance of the Empire of New Rome. The aid of Europe did not reach Constantinople thus put in a trance of death, but (although in vain, before the Ottoman impetus) to those nations cut off in the mantle of the old Empire. They led to the Crusades, in a movement that, if not in the minds of its promoters in its development, was to be fatal for the maintenance of the Empire of New Rome. The aid of Europe did not reach Constantinople thus put in a trance of death, but (although in vain, before the Ottoman impetus) to those nations cut off in the mantle of the old Empire.
This is a lesson that the historian cannot forget.And it is curious that, while the Franks themselves in struggle with the Byzantines ended up assimilating Eastern civilization, the memory of the Crusades continues to figure, in the West, the determinants of our from towards Byzantium to the way as the fall of Constantinople, and the consequent diaspora of the wise men of the imperial city, was not worth to spread the Byzantine culture but to reinforce the study of the Greek classics . It had been necessary to reach the Finlays, the Bury, the Krumbacher, the French school presided over by Schlumberger and above all by Charles Diehl, the great recently deceased orientalist, for the Byzantine civilization to acquire in our eyes the place highlighted that corresponds to it. Nevertheless, A considerable branch of Byzantine studies remained to be incorporated into the Western heritage: that of the plethora of Slavic chroniclers and researchers, and specifically those of that Russia which is considered, not without reason, the daughter and heir of Byzantium. That void has been filled with the magnificent work of Alejandro Vas liev that today we have the honor to present to Spanish-language readers. For the first time the results achieved by Slavic science are here added to the fruits of modern Western research. With this, not only are many points of view renewed, but an overall vision has been achieved that can hardly be modified, except in the details. Through the hands of Vasilev, all that has been written about Byzantium has passed; everything has been put by the contribution,
However, it is not believed that the universality of the author’s knowledge makes the arguments prolix and the exposition stiff. In love with the subject of his studies, the Russian author brilliantly draws the picture of the existence of Byzantium, even with passion. Which leads him, perhaps perhaps, to present the things of the West in a way that does not agree with our ideas on the matter. Only in these cases and without the least censorship of the author, we have allowed ourselves to bring other points of view at the bottom of the page, in case it helps the reader to have a total vision of the problem.
We have also deemed it appropriate to accompany the text of this exemplary work with a set of illustrations, probably the most extensive that to date has been published in Spain on Byzantium; with a name index, and with some chronological tables, sadly incomplete. With this and the recommendation, to the not specially prepared reader, to leave until the end the reading of the first chapter of Vas liev in which the current state of Byzantine studies is exposed with as much clarity as competence we put point to this note.
Juan Ramón Masoliver
BRIEF EXAMINATION OF WORKS ON BYZANTINE HISTORY IN THE WEST
The true creator of the scientific Byzantine was the 14th century France works of classical Greek and Roman literature. Byzantine literature was almost unknown in Italy, and there was no great interest in knowing it. However, the continuous trips that were made to the East, in order to search for Greek manuscripts and study the Greek language, made it necessary, little by little, to renounce that suspicious and suspicious attitude towards medieval Greek literature. The first studies on Greek writers, both classical and Byzantine, consisted of translations of Greek texts into the Latin language. In any case, the interest that manifested itself in Byzantine literature in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was only accidental and was entirely overshadowed by the attention devoted to the classical world.
In the 16th and early 17th centuries, the attitude towards Byzantine history and literature changed, and a whole series of Byzantine authors, although chosen at random and of unequal importance among themselves, were published in Germany (for example , by Jer nimo Wolf), in the Netherlands (by Meursius) and in Italy (here by two Greeks: Alemannus and Allatius [Leon]).
Role of France in the Byzantine. The time of Du Cange.
The Italian Renaissance era was mainly interested in the 17th century. Then, when French literature, in the brilliant time of Louis XIV, became a model for all of Europe; then, when kings, ministers, bishops and individuals founded, in emulation, libraries and collected manuscripts; then, when distinguished sages were showered with honor and esteem, it was then that the study of Byzantine history found a unique place in France.
Louis XIII, the immediate predecessor of the Great King, learned Greek and translated the Precepts of the Deacon Agapitus to the Emperor Justinian into French. Cardinal Mazarin, a great librarian and tireless collector of manuscripts, created a magnificent library, rich in numerous Greek manuscripts, which after the cardinal’s death passed to the Royal Library of Paris, today the National Library , and whose true founder had been King Francis I in the 16th century. Colbert, the illustrious minister of Louis XIV, administered the Royal Library at the same time, devoting his care to increasing its scientific treasures and acquiring manuscripts abroad.
Colbert’s rich private library, in which he had collected a fairly large number of Greek manuscripts, was bought by the king in the 18th century to join the Royal Library. Cardinal De Richel eu had founded in Paris a royal typeface (the Louvre typeface), intended to publish the works of eminent writers in a manner worthy of them. The Greek characters of the Royal Press were distinguished by their beauty. Finally, in 1648, and under the auspices of Louis XIV, the first volume of the first Compilation of Byzantine Historians came out of the royal typography, and successively, until 1711, thirty-four folio volumes appeared. of that publication, something remarkable for the time and that has not yet been equaled, not even today. The year the first volume of that Compilation was printed, In Paris, the French sage Labb (Labbaeus), published a Call (Protrepticon) to fans of Byzantine history, pointing out the particular interest of the history of the Eastern Greek Empire tan astonishing for the number of its events, so attractive for its multiplicity, so remarkable for the solidity of its monarchy. Labb tried to persuade, with all his warmth, the European sages to seek and publish the documents buried under the dust of the libraries, promising to all the collaborators of that great work the eternal glory, more solid than the world. Marble and bronze. so attractive for its multiplicity, so remarkable for the solidity of its monarchy. Labb tried to persuade, with all his warmth, the European sages to seek and publish the documents buried under the dust of the libraries, promising to all the collaborators of that great work the eternal glory, more solid than the world. Marble and bronze. so attractive for its multiplicity, so remarkable for the solidity of its monarchy. Labb tried to persuade, with all his warmth, the European sages to seek and publish the documents buried under the dust of the libraries, promising to all the collaborators of that great work the eternal glory, more solid than the world. Marble and bronze.
At the head of the scientific selection of seventeenth-century France is the famous scholar Du Cange (1610-1688), whose various and multiple works have preserved their vigor and importance to this day. He was born in Amiens in 1610 and was sent by his parents to the Jesuit college. After spending a few years in Orleans and Paris, where he studied law, he returned to his hometown and got married there. From his marriage he had ten children. Forced to leave Amiens in 1668, as a result of a plague epidemic, he went to settle in Paris, where he lived until his death on October 23, 1688. Historian and philologist, archaeologist and A numismatist, Du Cange, in all his scientific disciplines revealed himself to be an extraordinary connoisseur, a tireless worker, an excellent editor, a penetrating researcher. However,
Thus he executed his gigantic work in the last thirty-three years of his life. It would not be believed that he would have been able to write so much if not all his manuscripts had reached us, in his own handwriting. His biographer writes: “ A wise man of the 18th century exclaimed, in a singular rush of enthusiasm: ‘How can one have read so much, thought so much, written so much and have been married and father for fifty years? of a large family?
Among the works of Du Cange that concern the history of Byzantium, the History of the Empire of Constantinople under the French emperors should be noted above all (at the end of his life Du Cange modified this work, which has not been published in its second edition but in the 19th century); the De Familiis Byzantinis, where extremely rich genealogical elements are gathered, and the Constantinopolis Christiana, where the balance is established of all the precise and detailed data that are possessed on the topography of Constantinople up to 1453. These two Last works bear the common title of Byzantine History duplici commentary illustrata. Three months before his death, Du Cange published in two folio volumes the Dictionary of the Greek Language of the Middle Ages ( Glossary ad scriptores mediae et infimae graecitatis ), work,
VG Vasilievsky, “ unequal and in which it seems that a large society of wise men must have worked. ” This is the last work that Du Cange published in life, and also the only one of his that was not published in Paris, but in Lyon.
The Glossary of Du Cange is, even today, an indispensable aid, not only for those concerned with the history of Byzantium, but for those interested in the history of the Middle Ages in general. Also belonging to Du Cande is the publication, remarkable in every way, of a series of works by important Byzantine historians, with extremely scholarly commentaries. Finally, it must be pointed out the great importance that, in terms of Byzantine history, the immense work of Du Cange entitled Dictionary of the Latin of the Middle Ages, in three folio volumes ( Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infimae latinitatis ).
Du Cange, who had always been in perfect health, suddenly fell ill in June 1688 and died on October 23 of that year, at the age of 78, surrounded by his wife, children and friends. He was buried in the church of San Gervasio. No trace remains of his grave. A narrow and secluded street in Paris is still called Ru Ducange .
But Du Cange was not the only one who then worked those disciplines. At the same time, Mabillon published his immortal Diplom tica ( De re diplom tica ), with which he founded a completely new science, based on documents and acts. At the beginning of the 18th century, Montfaucon published a capital work, which has not lost importance in our days: the Greek Palaeography. Also dating back to the first half of the 18th century is the great work of the Benedictine Banduri, who lived and wrote in Paris, The Empire of the East (Imperial Empire Orient) and also the important work of the Dominican Le Quien, El Oriente Cristiano (Orriens Christianus), where very rich data are gathered on the history – and especially on the history of the Church – of the Christian East.
Thus, until the middle of the 18th century, France was, without question, at the head of the Byzantine, and several works of its sages of that time have maintained their importance to this day.