In what ways was Byzantium different from Rome?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, Byzantium differed greatly from Rome in geography and culture; more specifically, there was a Latin West and a Greek East that had a much larger population with many more large cities, more commerce, industry and wealth, as well as a richer heritage of art, literature, and philosophy. In addition, the Roman empire itself experienced division while the Byzantine was unified and well-organized. In during the 500's, the emperor Justinian attempted to reconquer the West that was divided between two rulers, but after the great strides that Justinian made in cultural, military, and government, there were weaker leaders in Byzantium, making it vulnerable to Turkish raiders in the North, Normans in Italy, and Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor. Internally, Byzantium was weakened by conflicts between the administrative nobility in Constantinople and the feudal nobility outside the capital and in the provinces.

Religiously, there was also a great divide between Byzantium and Rome. Whereas Rome felt that it should be the seat of religious rule, Byzantium disagreed and broke from Rome in Nicea in the 1054 with the Great Schism. Of course, the Ottoman assault upon Byzantium in 1453 caused the fall of this great empire. Nevertheless, as the only stable long-term state in Europe during the Middle Ages, Byzantium isolated Western Europe from influences from the far East and it contributed greatly to the Italian Renaissance.