What were the main differences between the Eastern and Western Roman empires?
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Before the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire, there were two major differences between the two halves of the empire. First, the West was a Latin civilization. In that part of the empire, Latin was spoken and Latin/Roman culture dominated. The East was essentially Greek in its language and in its culture. This difference extended to the second main difference, which was religion. The West was dominated by Roman Catholicism. By contrast, the East followed the Orthodox faith.
Distinctions between the two regions became more pronounced after the fall of the Western Empire. But the two parts of the empire were already growing apart even before Rome fell.
The Western portion of the Roman Empire was centered in the city of Rome in Italy in the mid-Mediterranean. The Eastern portion of the Roman Empire was centered in Constantinople, a city built by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 324.
The story of how they were divided begins with Emperor Diocletian who believed the empire was too big to be governed from Rome. He decided to split Rome up into Western and Eastern Rome, each of which would be ruled by co-emperors.
Despite sharing a political system and military, the two portions of the Roman Empire differed culturally. Eastern Rome picked up the Greek language and cultural elements, while Western Rome maintained Latin as a language. Additionally, Eastern Rome split from Roman Catholicism and practiced Orthodox Christianity.
Once the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, the East continued to rule under the Byzantine Empire, which fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Despite the Roman Empire "continuing" until the 15th century, the Eastern portion had such a different culture that it inevitably became a separate entity from its Western Roman counterpart.
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