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turkish history

 

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The era of Byzantium is an essential chapter in the history of the region. In 330, Constantine, the Roman emperor, transferred his capital from Rome to Byzance. Byzance, at that time a small city founded 1,000 years earlier by the Greeks on the shores of the Bosphorus was henceforth called Constantinople. The center of the Empire thereafter became the Orient, in particular Anatolia, inhabited by the descendants of Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks and others. Byzantium became the Eastern Roman Empire; its official religion was proclaimed to be Christianity in 380 and in 392 paganism was banned. In 476, Rome collapsed and Constantinople remained the sole capital of the empire. Byzantium was both a state and a civilization, built along the lines of the Roman state, the Greek culture and the Christian faith. The emperor enjoyed divine power and relied heavily on the Church.

THE GOLDEN AGE


turkish history

Byzantium knew its first golden age under Justinian. One thousand years of Roman jurisprudence were gathered together in four volumes, a work which had a lasting influence for many centuries. Justinian was also a great builder. The Basilica of St. Sophia (AD 532-7) was constructed during his reign. The history of Byzantium is one of alternating periods of glory and decay, of religious dissent, of conflicts and wars with Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and peoples of the North.

BAD TIMES

By the 13th century, Byzantium was drawing her final breath. After the mortal wound of 1204, when the Crusaders occupied Constantinople, sacked the city, forced the emperor to leave and established a Latin kingdom, she was a small state. Bulgaria declared her independence and a new maritime power, Venice took for herself the whole Aegean complex of islands. In 1261, the Byzantines had regained possession of their capital, but there were new threats.

ENTER THE SELJUK TURKS

In the 11th century, under their leader Tugrul, the Seljuk Turks founded the dynasty of great Seljuks reigning in Iran, Iraq and Syria. In 1071, his nephew Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantians in Malazgirt, near Lake Van. The doors of Anatolia were thus opened to the Turks, and Anatolia went through a profound transformation ethnically, politically, and in the religious, linguistic and cultural spheres. The Seljuk Sultanate in Anatolia continued until the beginning of the 14th century. The zenith of the Seljuk civilization came in the first half of the 13th century with Konya as its political, economic, religious, artistic and literary center. The Seljuks created a centralized administration organized around the Sultan, his ministers and provincial governors. Science and literature blossomed, as did mystic poetry. Anatolia was crossed by the great routes linking the east and west, and many of the caravanserais built along these routes still stand today. Agriculture, industry and handicrafts expanded and the country was suddenly rich in mosques, medreses and caravanserais.

COLLAPSE OF THE SELJUK SULTANATE

The Seljuk Sultanate collapsed due to internal dissent and Mongol invasions. Anatolia was again fragmented into rival independent principalities, one of which came under Ottoman rule. Anatolia, though divided, had been united by language, religion and race, offering an opportunity for statesmanship and courage. This would be the task of Osman and his successors.

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