What is the Komnenian Restoration?

The Byzantine Empire has a long and interesting history. Originally the Eastern Roman Empire, over time it became clear that as Rome and the Western part of the empire was in decline, the Eastern Empire and it’s capital city would carry on as their own strong empire, but they weren’t without their own struggles.

After a long period of struggles, Albany-like levels of corruption, and decline, The Byzantine Empire was at a place where it needed guidance and leadership to help rebuild back to a stronger and more stable empire. This is where the Komnenian Restoration comes into play, which spanned over three emperors and took place from around 1081 to about 1185.

Wholesale Recovery

Historians view the Komnenian Restoration as a time of major reformation and recovery in financial and military ways. This also led to a stronger economy along with the ability to reclaim lost territory and secure both old and new borders. Many of these changes started with many small important steps, or “minding the details,” that helped shore up a bad situation, and started building a strong foundation. This sometimes meant taking informal provincial properties that were working and formally codifying them while at other times new changes had to be made.

Alexios I 1081-1118

The empire had just suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Seljuk Turks, and the Empire was facing threats from every direction. Alexios started by stopping the habit of hiring expensive mercenaries, bankrupting the treasury, who then often failed to accomplish security on the borders while emptying the treasury.

Alexios reformed the practices of the Byzantine armies to create better soldiers, officers, and more discipline. While this was happening he was able to recognize when tribal threats were too great and he created alliances with other nomadic tribes to help defend the borders successfully. He re-established relationships with the West and successfully convinced the Pope to send Western European forces via crusades which helped the Empire capture lost over the past few centuries and would never have had a chance at capturing otherwise.

Alexios was willing to take desperate measures such as melting down church artifacts and selling church land to resurrect the treasury to a healthy state.

John II Komnenos 1118-1143

John continued the wise policies of Alexios and slowly re-gained more territory by using sieges, guerrilla warfare, and tactics that emphasized a slow steady pressure, avoiding large battles that could result in catastrophe and thus slowly wearing down Turkish held lands. He further encouraged professional training and arms for the army, helping to move them from heavy local militia based to professional soldiers able to hold their own. These slow incremental changes were the steady hand needed until his death.

Manuel Komnenos 1143-1180

Steady work continued as Manuel used the lessons from Alexios and John II to continue improving the Empire. Results were sometimes mixed as a crushing surprise victory over the Kingdom of Hungary made them a vassal state but then a major loss to the Turks made movement into the Middle East slower and more in doubt. However all in all this was a successful continuation of the Komnenian Restoration.

After a succession issue, Andronikos I would end up emperor, and mark the end of the Komnenian Restoration. Hated by the aristocracy, nobility, and alienating the West, a full out revolt and instability followed, leading to the end of Byzantine’s resurgence.

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EDWARD GIBBON AND THE ROMANS

The Roman Empire, when you count the existence of the Byzantine Empire, survived longer than any other empire on Earth, more than 20 centuries. According to one prominent British historian, the decline of the Empire started with the first century of Christianity and lasted well into the Renaissance era of Europe. While it left a very large footprint in civilization, there was not a unified historical record of the Empire until after the Empire fell for good at the hands of the Ottomans.

Pieces of the Roman Empire survived in math, science, medicine, politics, and philosophy, but there was no way to really know an account of the progress and ultimate demise of the Empire. Up until late in the 18th century, much of what happened to the Roman Empire was a mystery – it was hard to know what exactly happened and why.

Edward Gibbon set out to describe it with his most well-known historical work called The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon wrote his six-volume work in the 1770s and 1780s, with volumes published between 1776 and 1790. A British historian who was already of some repute, gained international notoriety from his work about the fall of the Romans, using primary and original source material, which was unusual for the time but soon became a model by which other historians since have been using.

Gibbon had a checkered history, being sick through most of his childhood (even almost dying several times), then becoming heavily involved in French society for a number of years as his health improved, then spending years back in England working on his Roman historical work. He tended to write very objectively and use original or primary sources for much of his information, but he seemed to be consistent with many people of the time – anti-religious, anti-Christian, Anti-Catholic – as he wrote of the Christianity-heavy Dark Ages as an era of superstition.

This was common in the Enlightenment of Gibbon’s time, when it was called the “age of reason” and rational thought. It is possible that that bias may have permeated his Roman history tracts, as he wrote that the decline and fall of the Roman (and Byzantine) Empire could be traced to two main causes:

  1. The acceptance and state sanctioning of Christianity and its inherent pacifism; and
  2. The “outsourcing” of its mercenaries.

Gibbon hypothesized that Romans and Byzantines had gradually become weak as a people and did not adhere to their initial militant and self-determining spirit, instead being willing to farm out all their military mercenary work to others – some of which did not have the same mission or goals as the Romans – and those mercenaries became such a part of the fabric of the Empire that they rotted the Empire from the inside, leaving the Romans themselves as passive and not willing to work or sacrifice for the protection of their community or culture.

As for Christianity, Gibbon said that the pacifism espoused by Christianity as it spread through the Empire further weakened the Romans and their militaristic might, and by the time the Empire was being besieged on all sides, especially by the Turks and the Muslims, the Roman people didn’t seem to have the stomach for fighting.

His work was very detailed for the time and was written in such a way that it set the standard for all future historical works regardless of the topic. Many American historians today use Gibbon as a model for their work, whether they are writing about Jamestown, the Civil War or Seabiscuit.

WHAT IS THE MACEDONIAN DYNASTY?

Do dynasties really exist these days?

Other than the Royal Family in some European countries (including England, which has existed from the start of the United Kingdom), there is talk of what constitutes a dynasty.

The word is mentioned a lot in sports – we’re I the idle of the Patriots dynasty in the NFL, where a team wins a number of championships in a small amount of time; there was the Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls dynasty with six NBA titles in eight years; the North Dakota State dynasty, with five consecutive college-football national championships.

There are some in politics that is claimed, such as the Bush dynasty, where George H.W. and George W. Bush served as president and vice president of the United States for 20 of 28 years. But can there be a dynasty within an Empire?

In Byzantium, there certainly was – called the Macedonian Dynasty.

The Macedonian Dynasty was a period of rule within the Byzantine Empire leadership, when a non-Roman, no-Greek ruler started a bloodline of rulers that lasted nearly 200 years, from the 9th century A.D. into the 11th century. The patriarch of the dynasty was the emperor known as Basil I the Macedonian and carried through 16 emperors and empresses, with one coming to rule and two different times. Basil I’s ethnic origin couldn’t be definitively determined, but it was believed he was either Armenian or Slavic. What was known was that he has Armenians in many key positions within his leadership.

The dynasty was strictly within Basil’s family bloodline, with children and grandchildren rising to power upon deaths or assassination (Nikephoros II in 969; Romanos III in 1034). Basil I ruled the Empire for 19 years before dying in a hunting accident, when the dynastic throne was handed down to his son, Leo VI the Wise in 886 when the boy was 20 years of age. He ruled for 26 years, but he was not the longest-tenured ruler in the dynasty.

Two rulers had reigns of more than 40 years: Constantine VII, son of Leo VI, ruled for 46 years, from 913 to 959 (taking the throne just a year after his father’s death, after Alexander III), then Basil II ruled for 49 years, from 976 to 1025, taking over at age 18 for father Romanos II. The one who served two “terms” was empress Theodora, who spent one year as co-empress with sister Zoe in 1042, then was restored to empress on her own in 1055 following the death of Zoe’s third husband, Constantine IX, and she ruled until her death in 1056.

The dynasty ended with Theodora, as she had no heirs, and picked Michael VI to rule after her. He reigned for one year before being deposed in 1057 and entering the monastery. Theodora was one of two empresses during the Dynasty, as Zoe (daughter of Constantine VIII) ruled for 22 years until her death in 1050.

The Macedonian Dynasty was considered the time of the Byzantine Empire’s greatest expanse, and thus arguably a peak period in the history of the Empire. Nearly two centuries of rule made an impact on Byzantium and moved it forward, but it was the bridge toward the fall of the Empire four centuries later.

Byzantine Symbols

The Byzantine Empire, which was basically the Eastern Roman Empire, existed for about 10 centuries longer than the Roman Empire, and thus had an opportunity to make a long-lasting impression on culture, arts, sciences and philosophy through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance period in Europe, according to personal injury lawyer in Dallas.

As with other empires, Byzantium developed and curated some various symbols and insignia that were used on battle flags, royal robes and other clothing, as well as stool pillows or other accoutrements of the Empire.

Not many of the insignias were unique to Byzantium. One could say that a couple of the more prominent symbols were “stolen” from elsewhere. We’ll take a look at these prominent insignias that were pinned to Byzantium for the rest of history.

The Cross

Known as a tetra grammatic cross, the Byzantine cross was seen on a lot of battle flags and flags that flew over the Empire in various locations.  While not necessarily a “national flag,” the gold or silver cross that bisected the flag and had four “beta” (Greek letter) in each red field in the corners was a prominent look for much of the Empire’s existence.

The cross was not originated in Byzantium, as the cross shape on the flag (which is similar to what you might find on present-day national flags like England, the Dominican Republic, and the United Kingdom) was seen on several Roman Empire flags and banners earlier than the 6th century.

The insignia was very prominent toward the end of the Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries, but it had some roots dating back to the early days of the Roman Empire. The meaning of the cross has been a subject of much debate, as even modern-day scholars can’t seem to agree.

Double-headed Eagle

The eagle symbol, in general, was prominent in the Roman and the Byzantine Empire and was representing power and dominion in both nations. At the time of the breakup of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Byzantine out of Constantinople, the single-headed eagle was prominent, but the Byzantine Empire adopted the double-headed eagle later on, and it was very prominent in the latter days of the Empire.

It is said that in Byzantium the double-headed eagle refers to the two “sides” of the Empire around Constantinople – Europe and the Near East (western Asia). The insignia started to be seen regularly in the 11th century in various artworks, and it wasn’t known to be in connection with the Empire or its leadership until at least a century later. Though the double-headed eagle has remained as a prominent symbol, it’s a bit misleading that it was an actual insignia of Byzantium.

Not only was it late to the Byzantine party yet claimed to be a genuinely Byzantine insignia, it’s supposedly not originally from Byzantium, but rather noted on some rock-carvings from the Hittite era (which is Biblical times, thousands of years before Byzantium).

Byzantium was an important aspect of world history, serving as a bridge from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance in Europe. However, it can be said that Byzantium was more important in transitioning Roman and Greek innovations into more modern times, rather than coming up with much originality – and this can be applied as well to Imperial insignia which didn’t originate in the Empire, but instead was taken from earlier applications.

Can the Bristol Royal Infirmary Chapel Be Saved From Demolition?

In this day and age, it seems we ignore the little insights that history has to offer. We throw away art, fail to teach relevant stories about the past, and we even knock down important works of architecture that offer us a teasing glance into worlds that are now long gone. Bristol, a city in the United Kingdom, plans to demolish the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) Chapel in order to free up enough space for 715 flats for students to use. This chapel happens to be the last surviving piece of the Bristol Byzantine architectural style, and so a campaign has been launched to save it.

The architectural style took inspiration from Italian gothic, Roman, and local aesthetic influences of the time period. SC Fripp was the architect behind its construction in 1859, which itself marked the very beginning stages of this architectural era.

Why the city’s government hasn’t already spared the building from demolition and abandoned what many see as an unnecessary new project for living space is in question. Flats can always be built elsewhere. Why isn’t architecture such as the BRI Chapel considered important enough to preserve? The past is part of the city’s charm, and adds to centuries of culture.

The architectural style isn’t all the building has to offer. There are a number of memorials dedicated to World War I on site, and a stained glass window decorating not only the soldiers but the nurses who died in 1911. Architecture is one thing that a lot of people might not mind seeing thrown away in order to embrace the new, but bypassing remembrance of fallen soldiers is a different thing entirely.

Part of the reason the building is still slated for demolition is bureaucracy. Historic England is in charge of deciding whether or not to protect old forms of architecture or allow their destruction. Not long ago, a structure built on Small Street was graced with a ceiling around 400 years old. Conservations called upon Historic England to intervene, just as they have in the case of the BRI Chapel. Builders demolished it a single day before the organization had planned to inspect the building.

Timing, it seems, is everything.

There was an earlier campaign aimed at preserving the entire BRI building instead of just the chapel, but it failed. Those who inspected the rest of the building decided that the interior had been altered too much to fall under historical protection. The BRI has not been altered, and so there is still a chance it might be saved from demolition.

Even so, the deadline for doing so is approaching fast. Historic England has only until council planners make their final decision on whether or not to accept the application for demolition in November.

Who Was The Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I “The Great”?

After the Roman Empire became too large and began to crumble upon what were once strong foundations, it was split into eastern and western territories. Thus the Eastern Roman Empire was transformed into the Byzantine Empire, while the Western Roman Empire maintained many of its old territories, including Rome itself–which was no more than a pale shadow of its former glory. Theodosius I “The Great” was the emperor both the east and west from 379 A.D. until 395 A.D., but he would go down in history as the last to control both halves of the empire. His two sons each gained a half after his death, and that was that. It was like two separate political and militaristic entities had been created.

During his reign, he launched a brutal campaign against the Goth and barbarian tribes who were at that point invading the empire on a regular basis, slowly ebbing away at the Roman frontiers whose defenses were left in tatters. The campaign ultimately failed in what it set out to do: kill or subjugate every single one of them. His policy for dealing with enemies, or those perceived in animosity, was simple: kill now.

When the Goths finally escaped (perhaps to live to fight another day), they found a new home in Illyricum–which lay within the borders of the Roman Empire. They were a crafty lot, those Goths.

Theodosius, like many Roman emperors, was forced to deal with civil war and rebellion throughout his reign. The Western Roman Empire was under constant threat, especially when Magnus Maximus sought to take it for himself. He had managed to nearly complete the task but for the taking of Italy when Theodosius’s armies finally defeated Maximus at the Battle of the Save in 388. The usurper was promptly executed. Everyone rejoiced.

Perhaps his greatest contribution to the empire was made when he thrust Orthodox Nicene Christianity forward as the official church of the empire. This lay the groundwork for the acts that came later.

Theodosius The Great died in Milan on January 17, 395 from an illness of edema, not personal injury in the New York City area. Early in the history of Rome as a republic, diversity of people, their gods, their rituals and culture all culminated to make the empire what it was: a place where all the little pieces made a greater whole. When Christianity began to slowly gain favor among Romans, all that changed. When Theodosius did nothing to stop the temples of many pagan gods from being desecrated or destroyed, there was an almost universal acceptance that this was the new way of life they had chosen, and Theodosius was honored as such for really cementing the reality into place. He even went so far as to disband the Vestal Virgins, who were a deeply ingrained part of Roman tradition long before Theodosius ever ruled.

Who Was The Roman Emperor Valentinian I?

Oh, he was a swell guy. You often hear of these Roman tragedies about territories that have been split between brothers who would then fight and kill one another in order to accumulate as much wealth and power for themselves, but Valentinian loved his dear brother Valens so much that he made him co-emperor. He did a few other things too, but his reign only lasted about eleven years. Yes, he died in power after a somewhat short reign. You have to love it when that happens.

And that’s always what happens.

He was born in 321 A.D. in what you might know as Croatia, and he lived during the same period as when Constantine I and Constans I ruled the empire. His father was Gratianus Major, a commander in the Roman Empire. Valentinian probably didn’t grow up predicting he would become emperor. When Constans was assassinated in 350, a war began that would decide the future ruler of Rome. A long way into the conflict, the man who ousted Constans finally committed suicide when he realized he was a real bugger and chaos wasn’t getting anyone anywhere.

During a period of further unrest that lasted nearly fifteen years and another assassination or two, Valentinian had risen in the ranks of military service and was now a Tribune in command of an elite regiment of infantry called a Scutarii. When the last ruler in line was perhaps poisoned or perhaps died by accident (yeah right, this is Rome), there was an assembly called to propose candidates for a new emperor. After a couple rejections, Valentinian was chosen. There wasn’t really a great reason for this choice; it was mainly because he was hanging around in the right place at the right time when the other options were either jerks or too far away.

He ascended to the station of Emperor on February 26, 354 A.D.

As any great Roman emperor does, Valentinian fought to keep the empire’s borders as strong as possible for as long as possible. He is noted for sending men to venture across his own borders in order to build outposts in territories occupied his enemies, and also for successful military endeavors against the Sarmatians, Qadi, and Alamanni. In the midst of these conflicts, he also managed to leave the borders with improved fortifications.

During his reign, there was also an African revolt and a strong attack on Britain that he successfully repelled. Because of these acts, many historians believe that Valentinian is one of the last great Roman emperors to have lived. His sons went on to succeed his reign in the western parts of the empire, but the state of the Roman Empire after Valentinian passed away on November 17, 375 A.D. diminished quickly. He died of a burst blood vessel after getting angry with foreign envoys. He was a swell guy–just not very patient.

Second Council of Constantinople

In AD 449, under the authority of Emperor Theodosius II, the Council of Chalcedon had convened and ultimately regarded Pope Leo I’s definition of Christ as possessing two simultaneous natures, both human and divine, to be orthodoxy. This was later known as the Chalcedonian Definition by historians and scholars. Despite the decision of the Council, however, sects existed within the Christian world that still did not accept the idea of two natures existing in one body. Apart from Nestorianism, the belief that the Incarnation of Christ existed effectively as two separate bodies with exclusive natures, there were also groups identified as Monophysites, those that believed that Christ existed with only one will or nature, these groups having segregated themselves after the rejection of Eutychianism that branded Eutyches a heretic in AD 448. Despite being reinstated in 449, he and Monophysitism came under scrutiny again at the Council of Chalcedon after the establishment of the Chalcedonian Definition.

Over 100 years later, following the Three Chapters, a series of writings that opposed Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas that asserted the Chalcedonian Definition as well as Cyrillianism as a whole, Emperior Justinian issued an edict that condemned these writings and reinforced the opposition to Nestorianism. A lesser objective of this tactic was also an attempt to reconcile with Monophysites and bring them back into the fold of the Orthodox Church. These were brought to bear on his authority at the Second Council of Constantinople in AD 553.

While the council was meant to have Pope Vigillus, a resident of Constantinople at the time due to conflict in the West with the Visigoths, Vigillus refused, finding his priorities to be more focused toward trying to sway Justinian to send military aid rather than address the Three Chapters. Vigillus was personally excommunicated and imprisoned within Constantinople, through the entirety of the Second Council, before agreeing to condemn the Three Chapters in December of 553.

During the Council itself, the Three Chapters were condemned without the Pope presiding over the proceedings. The canons that were to follow outlined the Chalcedonian Definition in finer detail: that the two natures it once alluded to were now two sets of exclusive attributes maintained in one person.

The initial response was not felt until the Pope, in his captivity, acquiesced to agree to their condemnation. This sent shockwaves through the Western portions of the empire. As a result, several bishops in Italy broke communion with Rome, arguing strongly against the Pope’s condemnation of the Three Chapters and affirmation of the new Chalcedonian interpretation. This would be known as the Schism of the Three Chapters. These grievances would not be rectified in their entirety until the end of the 7th century, when Aquileia finally accepted the condemnation, although far from willingly.

Before the end of the Schism’s effects, Monophysites had developed compromises to their beliefs in the forms of monoenergism (the belief that Christ existed with two natures, but one “energy”) and monotheletism (the belief that Christ existed with two natures but one divine will). These compromises were not sufficient enough to reunited them with Orthodox Christianity that believed in two distinct natures and wills respectively. The schisms that remained between Monophysites and non-Monophysites would only expand further between the conquests of Muslims as well as the Third Council of Constantinople.

Difference Between Byzantine and Roman Catholic

During its original inception, Christianity was strongly unified in its belief system and the system in which believers participated. As the religion itself became more structured and the Holy Roman Empire expanded, there was also the increasing risk of fracture within Christianity itself. With the establishment of the Byzantine empire (as opposed to the “Eastern Roman” empire), the difference became more and more pronounced until two distinct sects existed within the same religion: Roman Catholic and Byzantine, also known as Greek Orthodox.

One of the greater differences between the Roman Catholic worshipers and those of the Byzantine empire, predominantly, was the sphere of influence. As the Byzantine empire was almost exclusively located in and had existed as the eastern portion of the Holy Roman empire, their sphere of influence was primarily in Asia Minor and portions of the Middle East and North Africa. Because the Holy Roman empire centered around Rome (how appropriate), their influence expanded mostly throughout Italy and Western Europe at the height of their respective powers. Due to this clean-cut divide – better known as the Great Schism around AD 800 – the cultural differences were stark in comparison. While the Roman empire could trace some cultural inheritances from other, older civilizations, the Byzantine empire took on a prominently Greek culture after its separation from the Catholic Church. Even though the two civilizations were on relatively cordial terms with each other after the Schism (up until the beginning of the Crusades), this only served to further the differences between their religious views, even though many of them were more ceremonious than actually pronounced differences in overall Christian faith, according to Timothy Abeel

As was earlier mentioned, the Byzantine empire had taken on a prominently Greek culture, so it is understandable to think one of their most widely-spoken languages was Greek – especially when also considering they identified as the Greek Orthodox Church. Roman Catholic believers resorted to the native language of the Roman people, that being Latin.

Through the evolution of their leadership structure, the Greek Orthodox Church operates as several different autocephalous bodies around the world, run by those in the position of Patriarch. While the church as a whole recognizes the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the Patriarch is by no means a leader of the entirety of the Greek Orthodox Church, rather being dubbed “primus inter pares” (“first among equals”). Whereas in the Roman Catholic leadership structure, the Pope (also known as the Bishop of Rome) is in a superior position to all other bishops and is effectively granted supreme power as he is recognized as the sole Patriarch of the West (divided off after the fracturing of the unified Roman empire, which had previously consisted of five Patriarchs, four of which later resided within the borders of the Byzantine empire).

There are other, minor differences between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox religions. For one, they do not practice inter-Communion between each other; this could potentially be due to the Roman Catholics’ use of unleavened bread as opposed to the Greek Orthodox using leavened bread, among other reasons. Those within the Byzantine empire also emphasized the divine traits of Jesus Christ (while still recognizing his human qualities) while Roman Catholics emphasized the polar opposite in his humanity as opposed to his divinity. Greek Orthodox believers also do not believe in purgatory, the supposed state of being that a soul inhabits after death while still in need of atoning for sins committed in life. One final large difference between Greek Orthodox churches and Roman Catholic churches is that, while Roman Catholic priests are required to take a lifelong vow of celibacy and may never marry throughout their lives, Greek Orthodox priests are allowed to marry before being ordained (though they are not allowed to marry again afterward should a wife precede them in death).

Famous Byzantines

The Byzantine empire, once comprising most of the eastern portions of the Holy Roman empire, broke away (for a number of reasons) and became its own stand-alone civilization, even if it did draw on a lot of inspiration from other peoples. However, their ascension into history would not have been possible were it not for the many figures who managed to stand out among the centuries: prominent rulers and political figures, influential thinkers and iconic artists.

Constantine the Great

Constantine’s first great act came in AD 313 when he issued the Edict of Milan. This proclamation legalized Christian worship throughout the Roman empire, an act which would eventually phase out pagan rituals altogether. Even though his rule was established before the Byzantine empire (in fact, he ruled the western portion of the Roman empire before the eastern), Constantine played a significant role in reuniting the Roman empire (which was ruled by multiple emperors at the time) by defeating Licinius and establishing Christianity as the state religion through the Nicene Creed in AD 325. Constantine was also responsible for the founding of Constantinople, the city that would later serve as the capital of the entirety of the Byzantine empire as well as the center of the later-to-come Orthodox Church.

Justinian I

Undertaking a massive overhaul of construction projects during his 40-year rule, Justinian is likely best known for commissioning what would be the final iteration of the Hagia Sophia among a litany of other churches and structures adding to the fame of the Byzantine empire, as well as being a great patron for Byzantine cultural art in the form of mosaics. He was also responsible for historic military campaigns to reclaim lands previously lost to Germanic invaders, meeting with success as far as Italy and re-establishing Ravenna as a capital. Justinian is also credited with setting the foundation for the modern-day legal system with his Corpus Juris Civilis (“Corpus of Civil Law”). The blemish on his record comes with the Nika riots, an outbreak by the nobility in a vain attempt to overthrow Justinian from power, owing to his modest upbringing. This 9-day period of destruction was one of the main catalysts for rebuilding the Hagia Sophia, a structure that stands to this very day.

Irene of Athens

During an infamous period of Byzantine history known as the Iconoclasm, the veneration of religious figures in the form of idols or artwork featuring their likenesses had been forbidden. This period was initiated by Leo the Isaurian in AD 726 and lasted until 787, when it was revoked by Irene, the acting regent in the stead of her son, Constantine VI upon the death of her husband, Leo IV. Irene reinstated religious iconography and she eventually became the first official Empress of the Byzantine empire following the death of her son in AD 795. Some speculate she was also on the verge of accepting a marriage proposal from Charlemagne after he had declared himself Holy Roman Emperor, which very well might have reunited the whole of Rome and Byzantium into one empire yet again. However, her servants had her deposed and sent to Lesbos before such a marriage could be realized.

Constantine XI Palaiologos

Serving as the last emperor of the Byzantine empire, Constantine XI had succeeded John VIII and oversaw the reoccupation of the Peloponnesus, the first time it had been in the fold of the Byzantine empire in over 200 years. In an effort to muster considerable defenses against a threatening Ottoman empire, Constantine XI finalized a Church union with the Peloponnesus region initialized by his predecessor despite great discord among his subjects on the matter. In the end, little aid came to Constantinople anyway, and Constantine XI died in defense of the city as it came under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, thus officially ending the reign of the Byzantine empire in 1453.