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Topics: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Middle Ages Pages: 10 (2667 words) Published: March 8, 2015
Jacqueline Lippman, Nitai Patel, Jordan St. Rose
Chapter 9--- Christian Societies Emerge in Europe, 600-1200
Block 7

1Q: How did the decline of the Byzantine Empire correlate with the growth in the power and prestige of the Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe?

A: The decline of the Byzantine Empire correlated with the growth and prestige of the Holy Roman Empire as the Byzantine Empire lost the grandeur, pomp, military might, and legal supremacy of the imperial office while the growth of the Holy Roman Empire entailed a society fueled by struggles such as between popes and kings eventually leading to a powerful military society as can be seen in the successes of the Crusades. Initially, the Byzantine Empire inherited the wealth from the early Roman Empire but even this did not prevent them from going through the demographic crisis of “the plague of Justinian.” As a result, cities decline in population and wealth, barter replaced many transactions, and urban elite class shrank. Economically, the Byzantine Emperors continued the inclination to set prices, organized grain shipments to the capital, and monopolized trade in luxury goods like Tyrian purple cloth. However, this government intervention slowed technological development and economic innovation. The monopolized products were not developed and enhanced technologically and many Byzantine cities suffered from the intense focus on Constantinople. For example, Byzantine farmers used slow ox carts and light scratch plows. The decline of the Byzantine Empire, however, did not come to a halt because, ironically, the inheritance of the Wealth of the early Roman Empire shielded many people from what was happening before their eyes. The wealthy overshadowed Constantinople with extravagant buildings while the dark, dirty places were given to the poor. And because of this unrecognizable slow deterioration of the Byzantine Empire, it slowly declined into a militarily inferior society that lost its prosperity, cultural innovation, and dynamism of its early centuries. Meanwhile, the growth in power and prestige of the Holy Roman Empire was at hand. Built on a feudal society where vassals and serfs gave military and agricultural service to lords and landowners who provided land and protection, the Holy Roman Empire was eventually enhanced militarily and by the rivalry between popes and kings as well as the church’s desire to demonstrate political authority over western Christendom. Having the rise of militarily effective and independent cities in Italy was a cause of this enhancement in the military. In addition, technologies such as the horse collar improved society and population growth became an effect. The disputes between popes and kings such as the investiture controversy led to powerful legal instruments at the time and the unity of military mights during the Crusades demonstrated this might. As more and more territory was lost for the Byzantine Empire it guarded itself from foreign invasion around Constantinople. The fact that Constantinople was finally sacked during the Fourth Crusade demonstrated the superiority of the Holy Roman Empire over the Byzantine Empire.

2Q: Describe the political and economic transformation of Western Europe after the decline of Rome. How did the organization of Medieval European societies differ from that of Rome at its height? A: After the fall of Rome, the disappearance of the old legal framework and the rise of various kings, nobles, and chieftains changed the legal and political environment of Western Europe. The family based traditions of the Germanic people replaced the commands and directives of the Roman Emperors. The society moved from an economy based on the exchange of currency, to an economy based on barter. The practices of the former Roman society changed as people moved away cities and society became composed of manors and villages. It was a time when there were new kingdoms and kings such as the Frankish kings of...
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