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Byzantium: The Lost Empire (John Romer)

Here's the complete documentary series, all 4 parts in one video.

The fall of the Roman Empire took place in the 5th century. Or did it not? Well, in fact, half of that Empire survived for 1000 more years in the east, although it became Greek and Christian.

While European civilization collapsed in the West and fell into the Dark Ages, it was untouched in the East and continued thriving with renewed energy becoming the first Empire who tried to rule the earth keeping its eyes in heaven and, at its prime, it spread from Spain to the Middle East.

Today it is known as Byzantium, and for ten centuries it became the light of Europe, until the troops of the Ottoman Empire put its flame out forever in 1453. Nevertheless, its legacy still lives on in half Europe, and Western culture itself was heavily influenced by it. In the centre of it all, Constantinople, and in the very heart of the city Saint Sophia, the greatest building civilization had seen so far.

Discovery channel, honouring its name, will help you discover one of the greatest civilizations from the past, and probably one of the least known too. Byzantium, where ancient Rome and Greece melted together in the fire of Christianity, is sure to seduce you.

 


A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

Most people consider the Roman Empire fell in the year AD 476, but that's a very Western-centric point of view. Before that, in AD 284, the Empire had been divided in two parts: Western Roman Empire (which spoke Latin, capital in Rome) and Easter Roman Empire (which spoke Greek, capital in Byzantium, later called Constantinople). It is the Western part which fell under the Germanic invasions in 476, but the Eastern part was left intact. In fact, while the Western part had been decaying for 2 centuries, the Eastern part was thriving and changing rapidly, but the new Christian culture in the East was a natural evolution of the Roman Empire, not a new culture, so the Byzantine Empire (as historians call it now) always was the Eastern Roman Empire. This Empire fell under the Ottoman arms in 1453, when its capital, Constantinople, was captured, but before that, a piece of the Empire had made its own kingdom by the southern coast of the Black Sea. This forgotten Byzantine kingdom, called Trebizond, was the last part of the Byzantine culture which survived to the Ottomans attack, finally being conquered by them in 1461. At that moment, the Byzantine Empire (and so, the last remain of the Roman Empire) ceased.

For dynastic and cultural reasons, Russia then claimed to be the spiritual heir of the Byzantine Empire, proclaiming Moscow "the New Rome" (or "the Third Rome", being Constantinople the second one), but that new Empire would be to Byzantium like the Holy Roman Empire to Rome, just a Barbarian imitation of its glory, though it is true that by the time of the Byzantine collapse, Russia had assumed much of its culture and civilization. Nevertheless there's a difference, the Germanic peoples in the West tried to revive the Roman Empire creating a new Empire 500 years after the city of Rome had fell and gone, whereas Russia had been deeply "byzantinied" by the time Constantinople fell and was ready to claim continuity (in Russian, "Tsar" means "Caesar").

Nonetheless, if we accept Russia's historical claim over Byzantine heritage, we then could consider that even though Byzantium politically disappeared in 1453 (or 1461), it's civilization somehow survived until the Russian revolution of 1917, when Russia, and soon all the rest of nations with a Byzantine heritage, fell to communism and much of their old culture and traditions destroyed.

So if you have ever wondered what Europe would be if the Roman Empire had lived on for 1000 more years, now you know the answer: Byzantium.

This video will probably help you know much better one of the greatest and most fascinating old civilizations. Strangely enough, most people know so little about Byzantium that we can call it, appropriately, THE LOST EMPIRE.

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