HISTORY 230 - Humanities Topics in History
Fall 2022, Section 001 - Byzantine Empire, 4th to 9th Centuries
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected five times for credit.
Primary Instructor:


What has come to be called the “Byzantine” empire was, for its emperors and the peoples within its frontiers, the Roman empire in its second life. If old Rome was an empire centered round the Mediterranean, the new Rome of Constantinople was the lynchpin between the divine and the human. With Christianity now the imperial faith, the emperor was God’s vice-regent on earth. This was a universality that the first Roman emperor, Augustus, never dreamed of. And yet … and yet the Byzantine empire arose from the fracturing of old Rome between East and West; this unifying imperial faith proved to be a major thorn in the side of religious and imperial unity, with one emperor even attempting a return to a philosophical polytheism; where the empire in the sixth century came nearest to recovering a command of both the eastern and western Mediterranean, its frontiers began to give way; and from the seventh century, to be God’s vice-regent on earth meant sharing porous boundaries with another universalist faith, Islam.

The Byzantine empire survived down to 1453, with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. This course will be focused on the first half of that imperial history, from the conversion of Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century to the end of the Amorian dynasty in 867. During these centuries, the Byzantine empire produced codifications of law that are major landmarks in legal history for both Latin West and Greek East. It also was plunged into and came out the other side of the polemical divide between iconoclasts and iconodules. Unity and division, continuity and reform, ambition and saintliness co-exist. We will be trying to understand how these seeming contraries allowed for an empire and its peoples to see themselves as the bejeweled center of the world.

Course Requirements:

Reading and discussion of readings and material covered in lecture, short critical essays, quizzes, and a final project and paper

Intended Audience:

All students are welcome

Class Format:

Lecture and discussion


HISTORY 230 - Humanities Topics in History
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM

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