The Byzantine Empire was formed when Emperor Constantine of Rome (pictured below) decided to build a new Rome in 330 AD. Often referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, this new Rome had the city of Constantinople as its capital. One can easily guess who the city was named after. Although it was a part of the Roman Empire at the beginning, later the Byzantine Empire developed its own political and religious practices following the fall of the original Rome. Greek became the official language of the empire and the people mainly practiced Christianity.
The Byzantine Empire was one of the longest-lasting empires of medieval times, lasting for almost a thousand years. According to historians, two of the most important rulers of this empire were Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Justinian was responsible for expanding the empire with his general Belisarius and conquered all the old Roman territories. He even passed his own laws known as the Justinian Code based on the old Roman laws. His wife Theodora also played an active part in politics and looked after foreign affairs. She was probably one of the few women in the medieval era who gained so much importance after the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
Byzantine art and architecture were heavily influenced by Roman art forms. The most iconic of all the Byzantine architecture is the Church of Hagia Sophia (below) which is the biggest church of medieval times (biggest in the world till 16th century) and is known for its glittering mosaics and incredibly beautiful wall paintings.
In the year 1453, the Byzantine Empire fell when it was attacked by the Ottoman Turks who had a long history of war with the Byzantines for more than 100 years. In 1454, the capital city of Constantinople was finally captured by the Ottoman Turks which marked the end of the Byzantine Empire.