|Publication Date||October 16, 2012|
The history of the Byzantine empire divides itself into three periods, strongly marked by distinct characteristics.
The first period commences with the reign of Leo III. in 716, and terminates with that of Michael III. in 867. It comprises the whole history of the predominance of the Iconoclasts in the established church, and of the reaction which reinstated the orthodox in power. It opens with the efforts by which Leo and the people of the empire saved the Roman law and the Christian religion from the conquering Saracen.
The second period commences with the reign of Basil I. in 867, and terminates with the deposition of Michael VI. in 1057. During these two centuries the imperial sceptre was retained by members of the Basilian family, or held by those who shared their throne as guardians or husbands. At this time the Byzantine empire attained its highest pitch of external power and internal prosperity. The Saracens were pursued into the plains of Syria. Antioch and Edessa were reunited to the empire. The Bulgarian monarchy was conquered, and the Danube became again the northern frontier. The Sclavonians in Greece were almost exterminated. Byzantine commerce filled the whole Mediterranean, and legitimated the claim of the emperor of Constantinople to the title of Autocrat of the Mediterranean sea.
The third period extends from the accession of Isaac I. (Comnenus) in 1057, to the conquest of the Byzantine empire by the Crusaders, in 1204. This is the true period of the decline and fall of the Eastern Empire.