A History of the Middle Ages 284–1500 by Sidney Painter

By Sidney Painter

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In general, however, the Byzantine armies were able to confine the Arab activities to raids into the border themes, and the interior provinces of Asia Minor were rich, flourishing, and prosperous. saurian and Macedonian emperors were obliged to devote most of their attention to their enemies in Eastern Europe and THE BYZANTINE EMPlRE AND ITS FOES 45 Asia, they could not neglect entirely their relations with Western Europe. saurian thought of himself as a Roman Emperor, and he held Venice, parts of southern Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia.

Latin was the language of his court and government. • But the fact that Constantinople was a Greek city and that Greek was the basic language of the major part of the empire is clearly demonstrated by the Greek abridgments of the Code and Digest that appeared almost immediately. And in his building Justinian turned to the styles of the East. His greatest monument, the magnificent church of Santa Sophia, was not a simple, flat-roofed Roman basilica but a vast domed structure designed by Greek architects with ideas developed in Syria.

Although the large lay estates seemed dangerous to Leo, those held by ecclesiastical corporations troubled him even more. The monasteries had vast estates and were rapidly increasing them. Moreover, the monasteries were exempt from taxation and had very extensive rights of jurisdiction. Thus large amounts of land were removed from the tax rolls with serious effects on the hard-pressed imperial treasury. As the monks were in general firm supporters of images, an attack on the latter would serve the purposes of borh religious and land reform.

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