what was the ethnicity of the majority of people in the Byzantine Empire

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,716
What era? When Byzantines ruled from North Africa to Armenia or when Byzantines controlled just a few areas of Greece, Thrace, and Anatolia?
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
There are no definitive figures for the population of the empire which fluctuated in size over a thousand years or so of its existence, nor was “ethnicity” a factor; concerns about ethnicity tends to be a modern phenomenon.

What we do know is that major urban populations, like those in Alexandria and Constantinople, tended to speak Greek and identify as “Hellenic” Outside the major cities, especially in Asia Minor and the Peloponnese, the population was heavily Hellenized but there were large areas with different languages and cultures that survived well into the ninth century.


In the Middle Eastern provinces you tend to find a mix of Hellenic, Semitic and Assyrian cultures. On the European side of the Byzantine Empire such as in the Balkan peninsula, incursions of tribes of Slavs and Avars became the dominant “ethnicities” the 7th and 8th centuries as Hellenic culture was reduced to a few Byzantine strongholds on the coast and all of what is now modern Greece was considered the Slavic. In the 9th and 10th centuries military re-conquest, widespread proselytisation of Christianity and Hellenism meant that those Slavs became part of the ethnic makeup of the empire.

It’s a complex topic with no simple answer.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,659
Republika Srpska
Hellenic culture was reduced to a few Byzantine strongholds on the coast and all of what is now modern Greece was considered the Slavic.
Nikephoros I apparently had to relocate Greeks from Anatolia and Italy to Greece in order to extinguish Slavs and Hellenize them. Justinian II also apparently relocated 250,000 Slavs to the theme of Opsikion. Slavic invasions were so widespread.
 
Jun 2015
579
Camelot
Greek. It didn't matter like it did today, but Greek culture occupied a much larger span back then, ecompassing almost all of Anatolia and Southern Crimea.
 
Jun 2016
368
istanbul
I will give you a different answer. To me the heartland of the empire was probably Bithynia and eastern Thrace. Constantinople, Nicaea, Nicomedia, Prusa, Adrianople, Thessaloniki. And the people in these cities were probably ethnically and culturally slightly or sometimes heavily different from Aegean Greeks and Aegean culture.