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View Poll Results: Who saved the Eastern Roman Empire?
Heraclius (610-641AD) 6 46.15%
Constans II (641-668AD) 1 7.69%
Constantine IV (668-685AD) 2 15.38%
Justinian II (685-711AD) 0 0%
Leo III (717-741AD) 3 23.08%
Constantine V (741-775AD) 1 7.69%
Constantine VI (780-797AD) 0 0%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 27th, 2014, 06:13 AM   #1

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Who saved the (East) Roman Empire?


Who saved the Roman Empire?

Everybody knows the Western Roman Empire fell in 476AD.

However, Henri Pirenne proposed that the real break in ancient Roman history comes in the 7th century, with the Arab conquests of the Eastern Roman Empire.

To explain, if you observe a map of Roman territory in the year 600AD, you can see that the bulk of the Roman heartland around the Mediterranean was still under Roman rule. Roman culture and the Roman way of life also largely continued in Gaul and Spain, as the new ruling class came to take part in Roman life, not to destroy it. The port of Marseille, for example, continued to thrive during the period.

Click the image to open in full size.

But in 602AD, a period of collapse began with the death of the Emperor Maurice. The disastrous Persian Wars followed, devastating Classical civilisation in much of the Near East. The Arab invasions shortly after completed the destruction of Ancient Roman civilisation around the Mediterranean.

By 717AD, virtually everywhere had been overrun. The Arabs had conquered Spain and were penetrating into Gaul from the south, while in the East they had already overrun Palestine, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and much of Anatolia and were now at the gates of Constantinople. It looked as though the Roman Empire was finished.

So who saved the Roman Empire? How did the Eastern Roman state avoid being completely annihilated? Was it the theme system that saved the Empire? Who deserves the credit for saving what was left of Rome?
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Old February 27th, 2014, 06:39 AM   #2

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I want to say Constans II, and Constantine IV. But, later Emperors can be given that title too.

While I do support many aspects of Pirenne's argument, I think it is based too much on the destrutive nature of the Arabs as opposed to their "coup de gras" of the Ancient order, which in my own opinion, they dealt to the powers of the East. The sub-Roman West, however, I agree they can be said to have had a large economic impact on. Africa is the most obvious and striking example, althouth their later raids on Italy and Sicily, their evenutal conquest of the island in a similarly destructive fashion- and of course the re-instatment of pjracy to the West- can privide examples of similar immense consequence.

Again, even in these areas, I think "coup de gras" fits nicely.
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Old February 27th, 2014, 09:36 AM   #3

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The Pirenne thesis. Been a while since I've come across this. Yes, he blamed it on the 8th century Islamic invasion because it supposedly stagnated the Mediterranean. As far as I'm aware though, most historians don't accept the reasoning, but accept that it does provide a methodology for debate.

I think he was famous for his line about Charlemagne needing Mohammed, or something like that, I can't recall specifics, lol.

It's an interesting theory as far as I'm concerned and Leo III would certainly be a Byzantine candidate to have stopped the rot.
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Old February 27th, 2014, 02:51 PM   #4
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Heraclius.
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Old February 27th, 2014, 06:46 PM   #5
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wrong question, not who but what.
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Old February 28th, 2014, 12:54 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangekyou View Post
The Pirenne thesis. Been a while since I've come across this. Yes, he blamed it on the 8th century Islamic invasion because it supposedly stagnated the Mediterranean.
Yes, it wasn't so much that the areas under Arab rule necessarily declined (they didn't), it was more the areas that weren't - i.e. Gaul, Hispania and Germany.

Much of Pirenne's argument builds upon the disappearance from western Europe of items that had to come from outside. For example, the minting of gold coins north of the Alps stopped after the 7th century, indicating a loss of access to wealthier parts of the world. Papyrus, made only in Egypt, no longer appeared in northern Europe after the 7th century; writing reverted to using animal skins, indicating its economic isolation.


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Originally Posted by Mangekyou View Post
I think he was famous for his line about Charlemagne needing Mohammed, or something like that, I can't recall specifics, lol.
"Without Islam, the Frankish Empire would probably never have existed, and Charlemagne, without Muhammad, would be inconceivable."

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Originally Posted by Mangekyou View Post
It's an interesting theory as far as I'm concerned and Leo III would certainly be a Byzantine candidate to have stopped the rot.
What makes Leo III your choice? Because he defeated the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople? Or was there more?
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Old February 28th, 2014, 12:56 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Trajans chariot View Post
wrong question, not who but what.
Can you explain this a bit more? Are you suggesting that climate change, disease or some other factor was at play?
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Old February 28th, 2014, 01:13 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyalHill1987 View Post
[..]




"Without Islam, the Frankish Empire would probably never have existed, and Charlemagne, without Muhammad, would be inconceivable."
Ah yes, that was it, thank you



Quote:
What makes Leo III your choice? Because he defeated the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople? Or was there more?
Well yes, he saved the Byzantines from extinction internally and externally. He was able to bring the Byzantines out of a period of civil strife and instability, and he was able to stop the Umayyads from taking Constantinople, and with the help of the Bulgars, destroyed a huge army.
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Old February 28th, 2014, 01:57 AM   #9

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I do not really see a connection in the decline 'North of the Alps' with the Islamic conquest of North Africa and Spain; I do however see a direct connection in the decline 'North of the Alps' with the ultimate decline/destruction of Roman Italy (Gothic-war/Langobarden rule) as well as with the Avar and Bulgar rule on the Balkans; In that respect the Byzantine Emperors are more responsible in losing than saving anything;
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Old February 28th, 2014, 07:41 PM   #10

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Byzantium doesn't survive without Justinian's work to relay the foundations of the empire. The map from Royal shows the Roman world as restored by Justinian and his generals Narses and Belisarius. Justinian gave the Eastern Roman empire the strength it needed to be able to resist the Arabs later on. Second credit to Leo III, definitely, for beating the Arabs at the high tide of their initial conquests, but the primary credit really has to go to Justinian.
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