Dating as far back as 330 A.D., Byzantium was formed by the Roman emperor Constantine I, who created "a new Rome" from the early Greek colony of Byzantium. This eastern portion of the Roman Empire surpassed the western half for more than a thousand years; moreover, during this period, a tradition of art, literature, and learning flourished. Very significantly, Byzantium became a military buffer between the threat of invasion from Asia and the European states. This powerful and culturally rich Byzantine Empire eventually fell in 1453 to an Ottoman army, following their storming of Constantinople where Constantine XI ruled.
- Because of its geography, the eastern part of the Roman Empire proved less vulnerable than that of the west and, thus, offered greater protection for the empire.
- Under the rule of Justinian I (527-565 A. D.), many monuments of great architecture were built, including Hagia Sophia.
- Justinian I also modified and codified Roman law, creating a legal code that endured for centuries and helped form the modern concept of the state.
- During the late 10th and early 11th centuries, under the rule of Basil, the Byzantine Empire enjoyed a golden age in which Greek became the official language of the state and ancient Greek literature and history were taught. Basil's imperial government patronized cultural institutions and the arts, and a culture of monasticism began which administered to orphanages, schools, and hospitals.
- Even though the Byzantine Empire was ended by the Ottoman conquest of 1453, the great culture of Byzantium, with its language, literature, art, and theology, yet flourished. This Byzantine culture exerted a tremendous influence upon the Western mind since scholar of the Italian Renaissance turned to Byzantine scholars for assistance in translating Christian and Greek writings.
- Byzantine culture continued its influence upon countries practicing Orthodox religion, such as Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Greece.