The Impact of Christianity in the Byzantine Empire
Christianity had a large impact on the Byzantine Empire and the cities it traded with due to the fact that it constructed a theocracy, fused with Greek literary styles to create a whole new breed of literature, and dictated what was taught in Byzantine schools. The Byzantine Empire was established in 330 C.E. when the western half of the Roman Empire grew more prosperous and successful. Emperor Justinian (527 565) was committed to Christianity and made sure
this was shown throughout his rule. Christianity was an influential and integral element of the Byzantine empire, as is reflected through large religious works such as the Hagia Sophia, along with Byzantine art, literature, education, and bureaucracy. These mediums and outlets of Christianity quickly spread to cities the Empire traded with through cultural diffusion. This echoes the concept that Christianity had a massive impact not only on government and culture, but on the cities with whom the Byzantines interacted with and diffused into as well.
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Christianity was a vital part of life in the Byzantine empire, and was a considerable part of almost every element of existence for inhabitants. This is possibly best emulated by the Byzantine government. This government was a theocracy, which can be defined as a system of government where there is no partition between church and state. As the definition implies, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the government were almost indistinguishable, with each regulating and controlling the other. Emperors would designate those who were to be church leaders, who could be considered their own sector of government. (Charles Hart). This is a prime exemplification of Christianity’s significance in the Empire on account of the fact that it displays how secular life was devoid and spirituality seeped into the ruling and governing of the Byzantine Empire.
In addition to Christianity’s predominance in government, it also played an enormous and distinguished part in Byzantine literature. Concurrently with the time of the institution of the Byzantine Empire, Greek influence in Hellenistic communities was thriving. This lead Greek influence to the vanguard of literature in commonwealths spanning across the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Eventually, Byzantine-Greek elocution had differentiated itself from other Greek forms of literature. This new form of literature fused with Christianity to create a sort of amalgamation of Greek and Christian prestige. (Byzantine Literature). This new variety of literature encompassed everything from ecclesiastical and theological references to religious and non sensical tales. Greco Christian writing expeditiously became extensively diffused, and took root in many cities that interacted with the Byzantine empire through trade. This cultural diffusion perfectly marks the indentation made by Christianity in Byzantine convention as it shows just how substantial Christianity in the Empire was that it was able to be intertwined with a completely different style of literature and leave a lasting effect not only on the Empire itself but on the cities it interacted with.
The determinative paragon of Christian ascendancy in the Byzantine Empire is education. Non-secular concepts metamorphosed into the groundwork and infrastructure on which children were taught in the Byzantine empire. Everything from elementary subjects such as math and reading to less fundamental courses such as philosophy, medicine, and law were conducted from a Christian frame of reference. (Charles Hart) Students were taught to have a Christian outlook on existence and live through the psyche of a pious person. While aristocratic girls did not have a ceremonialistic edification, they did meditate on and contemplate the lives of apostolic dignitaries and Saints. Aristocratic youths were taught in a local school run by a bishop or other religious superintendent. Boys could later go on and study theology in a university or other classical institution. (Mark Cartwright) While not all children received the same schooling and discipline, most males did have comparable opportunities to share their beliefs. Privileged males could join the theocratic government, which was directly tied to religion. Middle class boys could become merchants and disperse their religious theories to those they traded with. This highlights how extensive religious trading could lead to the spread of Christian and Byzantine ideas.
The Byzantine Empire traded assiduously in regions around the Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, as well as with the east and west. (Byzantine Culture and Society). Through this trade, Christian art, literature, architectural styles, and other ideas were spread to become essential parts of other cultures. An estimable example of this concept was how the architectural style of religious buildings was spread to Italy through trade and later went on to become an influential part of Renaissance architectonics. As mentioned before, the popularity of Greco Christian literature within the Byzantine Empire led to its recognition outside of the Empire due to cultural diffusion through trade. These are just a few examples of how Christianity not only impacted the Byzantine Empire, but also those who interacted and traded with it.
Christian influence on the Byzantine Empire and the cities it traded with can be distinguished through the construction of a religiously tied theocracy, holy Greco Christian works, and a god-fearing education. These ideas were massively advanced through trade and interaction with cities in the Mediterranean and beyond.