Carolingian Empire and Byzantine Empire: Origins, Structures, and Art

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Charles came to the throne when his father died in 768 A.D. and continued to expand his domains in 800 A.D. He was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne's dream was to rebuild the Western Roman Empire and establish his capital in Aquisgranum.

When Charles died in 814, his son Louis the Pious succeeded him. TREATY OF VERDUN: Carolingian Empire was divided into political units.

Political structure:

Governed from the palace with the help of the court. Border provinces that had more military presence were divided into marches, governed by a marquis. Important strategic lands were governed by a duke.

Economy and society:

Disrupted trade between Western and Eastern Europe, making agriculture the only source of wealth. The majority of the population were peasants.

Culture and art:

A unique architectural style was developed, characterized by the use of semicircular arches, stone and brick walls (Palatine Chapel at Aquisgranum).

Byzantine Empire:

Origin: Theodosius I divided the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. Made Byzantium the capital (Constantinople) and grew to its maximum size during the reign of Justinian the Great. In the 7th and 10th centuries, it gradually lost its power.

Political structure: The Byzantine Emperor was the highest political and religious authority. It was divided into themes and each of them was controlled by a stratego. Justinian the Great created the Codex Justinianus, based on Roman law.

Economy: Trade was very important because the Byzantine Empire was at the crossroads of trade between Europe and Asia. Craftsmanship was greatly developed.

Society: There was a deep divide between the landowning nobility and the peasants. Trade resulted in a busy city life.

Religion: In the 8th and 9th centuries, the Iconoclastic wars took place. They began when some Byzantine emperors prohibited the cult of religious images. After centuries of conflict, the images were eventually maintained. Christian Church: The Pope. Differences in opinion between Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael I resulted in the division of the Church. The eastern Christian Church became known as the Orthodox Church.

Art: (Mosaics, paintings, icons, and sculptures)

Use of bright colors, rigidity in frontal pose and lack of expressiveness, religious themes, gold background.

Architecture: Semicircular arches, dome placed on pendentives supported by buttresses, the use of the basilica floor.

Hagia Sophia: Is the most spectacular monument in Byzantine architecture. It has the largest dome built in the whole of the Middle Ages. It has a transversal nave called narthex.

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