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28

Religion is a great cultural differentiator. People have been killing each other for many millenia, with a preference for targeting other people who belong to a distinct "culture", a rather loose term. From the outside, the god(s) people worship are quite easy to work out; if they are not the same as yours, then these people are "foreigners". Historically, ...


23

Another simple but important reason besides economic changes starting at this time is the spread of printing technique. A scientific community really only works when scholars can cite each other and share their ideas in a cheap and fast way, thats why internet boosted scientific progress in our time. If you study the link, the Gutenberg printing technique ...


23

It did exist but no one is sure what it was. The making of such was split between different orders and each only knew how to make the next step in the chain. It was delivered via tubes and could be "thrown" towards the enemy. Some of those were man-portable, other were ship bound. Sometimes, you could find it in jars. The best guess is that it was a ...


21

I don't think it is possible to idenitify a single point in history as beginning the "slope toward the end". Such thinking results from the simplistic model of an empire's history as consisting of two segements: "growth" and "decline". In reality, the history of the Byzantine empire is a complex sequence of alternating growth and decline. I'd say that the ...


20

The fourth crusade was the turning point. The crusade was high-jacked by Venice to take revenge on the Byzantines for past deeds: imprisonments, break of contract, etc... The crusade was aimed to land in Egypt originally, as it was seen as the main threat to taking Jerusalem back. However, since the crusaders could not pay for the large Venetian feet, it ...


18

The biggest difference between the military threats of the Goths and the Huns compared to Persia was the migratory nature of the former versus the centralised (and thus spatially constrained) government of the latter. Rome and Persia had sparred against each other in the mesopotamian region for centuries, but, though one or the other might gain ascendancy, ...


18

There are many reasons, and I'm going to present the materialistic one championed by the Marxists (collective thud as the audience of History.SE falls off their chairs and faints). One of the requirements for having scientific progress is economic - you need enough surplus to enable the resources devoted to scholarship. This was enabled at the beginning of ...


14

I'm afraid any answer to this question must begin by considering what is understood to be the 'Renaissance' and the 'Scientific Revolution'. And that consideration, in turn, inevitably reveals a number of historiographical difficulties. The first of these is that neither of these were 'events', at least, not in the sense of a war or an assassination. They ...


12

I wrote an essay on him last year, and didn't see a single reference to him dying of unnatural causes in any of the following works: Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders 376-814: Volume 3: The Ostrogothic Invasion 476-535 (New York: Russel & Russel, 1880-1889) S. J. B. Barnish, Cassiodorus: Variae, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1992), 90-93 Mark ...


9

Byzantine Empire was not formally a hereditary monarchy. There was no law which regulated inheritance in Byzantine Empire. Nevertheless the offsprings of the imperial family sold the right to claim the throne to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Spanish monarchs. This was inherited by Charles V, Holy Roman emperor. Yet he never styled himself a ...


9

I'm going to add another answer specifically to address a separate part of your question: why didn't the same thing happen in Islamic world? The answer is plausibly Al-Ghazali. Quoting from Wikipedia: Others have cited his movement from science to faith as a detriment to Islamic scientific progress (source: Sawwaf, A. (1962) al-Ghazali: Etude sur la ...


8

In addition to Anixx's answer, check out Andreas Palaiologos - the oldest newphew of Constantine (the last emperor). Looks like he sold his "rights" to the Byzantine throne twice, both to France and Spain. And his younger brother sold them to... gasp... the Ottomans. Well, they had to get some money for high living. Which brings us to another aspect: Mehmed ...


8

Lars Brownworth discusses the survival of the Eastern Empire and by tangent the fall of the West in "Twelve Byzantine Rulers" in Episode 5: Zeno. His book by the same name presumably discusses the same. The podcast discusses the general situation at the time of the various emperors essentially being puppets of barbarian generals and the like. The fall of the ...


7

Greek fire was used by the Byzantines, often on their war boats, as an incendiary to enemy vessels. The formula likely consisted of some mixture of naptha, sulfur, and niter among other compounds. This was basically a Byzantine napalm and was effective at sea because the fire could continue to burn (due to the underlying subtances being highly flammable and ...


7

As Olybrius' wiki notes, he was the grandson and great-grandson of emperors and a member of the Anicia bloodline. Perhaps this was done for the same reason Olybrius was married to his niece: Anastasius wanted to strengthen his rule through a bond with the House of Theodosius through this marriage. (Furthermore, in 512, the citizens of Constantinople ...


6

It seems that the diminshing use of the Roman three-name practice (which includes the cognomen as the 3rd name) was primarily due to the influence of early Christian & Greek "naming" traditions. Personal Names of the Aristocracy in the Roman Empire During the Later Byzantine Era ... Personal names in the Byzantine era of the Roman Empire ...


5

A prior article mentions the empire of Justinian (and Leo, by extension), but I would argue that these are 'Roman' empires which are terminated by the eruption of Islam over much of the East Roman Empire. This was a pretty traumatic event which led to some serious results. Among them, the abandonment of Latin, abandonment (with some exceptions) of universal ...


5

Different languages have different sounds that flow easily in that language. Names from another language are bound to be slightly mis-pronounced, especially if the new language doesn't have the original sounds easily available. A great example of this is Chinese (Mandarin), which has its set of syllables, and isn't built to handle new ones. When I was in ...


5

Because they were too busy trying to keep the Arabs from capturing Constantinople (in the 700s) and forcing them out of Anatolia (after that). If they had managed that, I'm sure it would have gotten on the agenda. But the Islamic forces remained too strong.


4

I found a number of different sources that all seem to indicate that he died of old age in his own bed in Ravenna. However, it also appears that he was concerned that Justinian might have been trying to have him killed, because he had become increasingly paranoid about conspiracies. He apparently had a man named Boethius imprisoned and executed on charges of ...


4

The Renaissance happened in the Byzantine empire as well, but it was interrupted by the fall of Constantinople. Anyway, Italy remained the most developed and scientifically advanced country throughout the Middle Ages. That is, it was the most scientifically advanced from the times of the Roman empire. It is completely incorrect to claim that the Muslim ...


4

The greek fire certainly did exist, there is a sufficient number of evidences supporting that, including drawings like this one: It was apparently some flammable substance that would be hurled towards enemy boats to ignite them, definitely not an explosive however. The exact formula is lost so you will only find some guesses as to what it might have been. ...


4

I've found that musketeers had large beards to store matches in, an that there is a strong link between small beards and civilization. The books Fighting Techniques of the Napoleonic Age, and, A Most Precocious Thing: Gun Trading and Native Warfare In The Early Contact Period (yes thats the title), both say that the long beards were used to store the long ...


4

Andrew Wheatcroft's The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe contains the argument that both the Habsburg Empire (in the West) and the Ottoman Empire (in the East) considered themselves to be successors of the Roman Empire by the 17th century. Wheatcroft points out that both empires ascended almost in parallel: Frederick III ...


3

Furthermore, the Eastern empire is often said to have been technologically further advanced, had more population and was richer, but I am not sure if or why this would be true. That was indeed the case. Eastern Mediterranean ("Levant") in general had civilization superior to the western part of the Roman Empire (btw there was only one Roman Empire - ...


3

In the "early" going, at least (fourth and fifth century A.D.), part of the differences in the fate of the Roman Empires had to do with the movements of the Goths and Huns. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goths "To make a long story short," the Huns chased the Goths out of Eastern Europe and the Balkans (e.g. HUNgary), and these people in turn migrated to, ...


3

The 'treasury' inside St. Mark's basilica in Venice has a spectacular collection of byzantine artifacts.


3

It is forgotten in our modern age of fiat currencies, but money was historically not just a representation of value, but a physical store of value in itself. Coins contained a certain amount of precious metal, particularly silver or gold. The size of the coin is only indirectly related to its value, because the true value of a coin lay in its total silver ...


3

Declaring a holy war does not magically create additional resources for war. That presupposes the nation had a large reservoir of untapped strength that could be utilised by religious zeal. Christendom had lords and trained armies of professional warriors (knights). The Caliphate united tribes of Arabs and were fortunate enough to find two exhausted empires ...


2

From what I recall from historical texts that I've read in my travels, the event that seems to have started the irreversible decline was the Fourth Crusade, when instead of heading to free Jerusalem, the crusading armies attacked and sacked Constantinople. With large parts of the Empire fragmented into Latin states by the armies that had attacked them, it ...



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