Europe Blog Assignment #1

This is your first blog assignment. Please write 500 (or more) words commenting on what you see in this post and how it relates to the material that has been covered in class. Please make sure that your comment can be easily identified (ie. use a username that is close to your own name or sign the post at the bottom). Feel free to comment on each other’s entries.

Europe classical

28 thoughts on “Europe Blog Assignment #1

  1. To understand how the Greek and Roman Empires occupied such large territorial expanses, one must understand the context in which such institutions formed, expanded and finally declined. I have compiled —from diverse classes— a summary of events that predate the rise of both Empires and chronologically aids the reader to understand the series of events that led to such developments.
    The development of the Mediterranean Empires (Greek and Roman) began as early as the 3rd Millennium BCE. After the collapse of the early civilizations (Ur, Akkadian, Indus, Egyptian) due to a plethora of factors (Global climate changes, soil degradation and salinization, rapid growth of urban populations, external pressure from nomadic groups, and internal divisions) in the late Bronze Age (3rd millennium BCE), there was a reconfiguration and recovery period that led to the emergence of a new form of government during the early 1st Millennium BCE: City States.
    Although not as large as the later developed empires of the late 1st millennium BCE, these were new, larger, multi-ethnic territorial states with a central hub which controlled it all, increased mobility and trade while spreading writing and urbanism. New technologies such as the wheel, chariots and horses added to the expansion. Some of these city states in the Mediterranean were Athens, Thebes, Corinth, Sparta, Tyre, and Sidon (Greek and Phoenician). These maritime Mediterranean city states were coastal -based with the need of expansion to obtain necessary resources to thrive.
    These city states were either Tyrannies, Oligarchies, or Democracies. Organized around a marketplace or Agora instead of a palace or temple, city states were fiercely independent and competitive (frequent wars over trade, resources, land, and religion). The more conflicts the more the necessity for better military technology and training. Such necessity gave rise to better equipment (bronze breastplates, helmets, greaves, and Hoplon) and well as tactics such as the Greek Phalanx.The independent character of city states gave rise to the Greek philosophy and art. During this period there was a increase in Chattel Slavery and a spread of Greek culture across the region.
    The downfall of the Greeks was the Peloponnesian war (431 – 404 BCE) between Athens and Sparta. Such conflict weakened the Greek and enabled King Philip II (also know as Philip of Macedonia) to swiftly conquer the Greek.
    After the death of Philip II in 336 BCE his son Alexander III became the king. Alexander came to be known as Alexander the Great due to the many conquests that expanded from Greece, Egypt and east to India. He subdued the ever forceful Persian threat and controlled the largest area ever ruled by one man. His conquests breached barriers between East and West; followed and accelerated existing paths between regions and enhanced integration and trade; brought large influx of wealth into the Greek city states; introduced Greek monetary exchange systems and cultural ideas into the East which revolutionized and standardized trade and coinage, which later was used by the Roman Empire; laid the foundations for Regional State Systems thus bringing into an end to the City State era.
    Alexander died at age 33 and his successors (main generals) divided the empire into 4 large Territorial States (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Macedonia and Greco-Bactria), Middle size kingdoms (Pergamon) and some Confederacies. These states came to be known as the “Successor States System” and their new rulers modeled themselves on regional rulers (not Greek citizens) and fostered absolute rulership. These new states expanded through incorporation of neighbors as fellow subjects and although warfare continued, diplomacy and treaties were drawn to foster peace and tolerance. Hellenistic culture was maintained as aided in diplomatic relations and trade.
    Rome was founded as an agrarian city state along the Tiber River. It became a territorial state then an Empire. At first, resisted the hellenistic influence but largely embraced it as a sign of superior intellectuality.
    Carthage (Punic Carthage) was located in Tunisia and was the greatest trading city at the time. Established by the Phoenicians, it was a merge of Punic and Hellenistic cultures. It became Rome’s main rival.
    This rivalry lead to the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome from 264 BCE to 146 BCE over total control and expansion of the area. As victorious Rome burns down Carthage to the ground and new power slowly emerges.
    Rome becomes the first mega metropolis with over 1 million inhabitants. Such large quantity of people required an equal large amount of resources to provide continuous growth and sustenance. That meant expansion by conquest. The Roman Empire extended as far as Britannia, the Iberian peninsula, Gallia, Northern Africa and Mesopotamia. It contained a population of up to 60 million people in 3 continents: Africa, Europe and Asia. They constructed cities and connected then through an elaborate road system that allowed prompt communication between Rome and its tributaries and expedited the movement of its militia into new territories. Garrisons were established to maintain order in the new conquered territories.
    The Roman used new technology in warfare and construction as well as borrowed from the Greeks. One of this borrowed technology was the Hepteres or Septireme. Pliny the Elder attribute the creation of the Hepteres to Alexander the Great. It played an important role in the overseas expansion of the Roman Empire.
    The Roman Empire was the longest empire in the history of humanity. From its humble beginnings in 27 BCE to the fall of Constantinople by in 1453 AD the empire lasted almost 1,500 years.
    What caused the fall of the greatest empire known to man? Many factors are attributed to this: the pressure inflicted by people form the north; divisions within Rome itself; corruption; spreading the empire too much and too thin; splitting the empire into Easter and Western portions; the constant threat from the Ottomans, etc…But one thing is for sure, the legacy of the Roman empire lives to this day through its continuous surviving institution: The Roman Universal Church or as most people know it: The Roman “Catholic” Church. I’m not going to get into a discussion about the Roman Catholic Church…I can find better things to discuss about than such institution and its repercussions across the ages.

  2. In class we discussed how Europe is a peninsula of peninsulas. It really is. The Balkan, Italian, Iberian, Scandinavian, and Jutland peninsulas give Europe its signature shape on the map. The way that the landmass of the continent is arranged without a doubt made early travels by land difficult. When one compares Europe with say North or South America it is easy to see that the spread of civilization across these other continents that are mostly east to west or north to south would have been much more natural and less laborious than in Europe.
    The spread and development of human civilization across Europe would not have been possible without one thing: water. Water aided the early people of Europe to disperse themselves across the continent. The unique shape of Europe made the people who called the area home adapt to their surroundings. They had to develop a way to navigate that was quicker and easier than traveling overland. Consider if you were a trader and needed to move goods from Gibraltar to Rome. This trip over land by foot or by beast would have taken months. The same distance by sea is much shorter and with the proper equipment much easier.
    The need for such an innovation gave rise the boats. People used water craft to navigate the large bodies of water that surround the continent as well as the rivers that penetrate the landmass. Take for instance the map of the spread of Christianity. You can definitely see that the initial concentrations of Christianity were at the coast and to a certain extent inland down major rivers. This development shows a definite correlation with an extensive maritime based civilization.
    Boats were most likely primitive to begin with but grew both in size and sophistication over time. This allowed people to travel greater distances across the waters as time progressed. Boats also became a vital part of defense. This is evident in the boat illustration. It shows how boat designs changed over time to become more efficient and stronger to aid in battle. The ability of boats to travel farther distances can be inferred from the map of Christianity progression as well. We can see that the modern day United Kingdom was the last area to be proselytized. This is perhaps because boats had to mature enough to carry the young religion around the Western reaches of the continent and north to the English Island.
    The points made about the Roman Empire in class prove true in these maps as well. We can see that the spread of civilization and thus population centers further in land happened with the maturation of roman occupation. Population centers all throughout France are of obvious Roman origin as evident by their Roman names. The romans obviously brought with them the Christian faith. The red map showing the extent of the Roman Empire would be nearly identical with the blue map showing the extent of Christianity if the two were overlaid. Navigation over water coupled with the development of the Roman Empire arguably shaped the culture, religion and society of early Europe.

    Philip Gardner

  3. Many conclusions can be drawn from the pictures shown in blog one. The roman imperial image is interesting to see how the making of the coins changed over time. Each coinage had something meaningful behind it. The coins were constantly changing. They all had images of important figures on one side from different time periods. They were also made by different materials. Some are gold, silver, copper, or bronze. For example, most coins made in Constantine’s era were bronze. These materials that were used were very significant. Bronze for example was huge because it was used for weapons, jewelry, and obviously coins. As discussed in class, it was manufactured and was used in some of the earliest trading systems used in the first civilizations such as Aegean. It is interesting to see the coinage and whom the emperors were based off of the images compared to the current currency (the euro) talked about in class.
    The image of the Septireme ship was a warship used in Hellenistic times. These were wooden ships that transformed naval warfare by making these boats extremely large and much heavier. There were many others along side the Septireme such as the Quadrireme, Quinquereme, and Hexareme along with a few others. These boats were based off a specific rowing system that a specific amount of men to be on either side of the ship to row in order to keep the boat moving. The development of shipbuilding was a large ordeal because in the Greek Empire they could not go inward because there were no roads. Once the ships were built eventually roads were built also in order to go inland. The Romans eventually took over the Greeks because of their engineering and their ability of coastal sea trade. Their advantage was the military technology they were using.
    The picture showcasing the years of which people were being classified as Christianity shows that it was something that was happening quite quickly. Between 400-600 very large chunks of Europe were being Christianized. However, in class it was discussed that in some places they do not include a census for those that are Atheist because they do not consider it a category. Also said in class is that those who even today who say they are Catholics, for example, do not go to church or practice their religion on a regular basis. It makes it extremely difficult to know if those numbers are accurate especially for a time period so long ago.
    The Amphitheatres picture was a very trying time for Rome. One thing after another kept on happening that pushed the Roman Empire into decline. They had hit their peak but then quickly fell. Rome was a republic that then became an empire. They had a massive land based army, which helped them take down the Greeks. What killed the Romans was the shift of moving from a republic to an empire. Like the picture shows the Roman Empire had grown to be very large and wide but that comes with the cost of having problems of controlling it all as well as the people. Constantine came to power and with that Christianity was promoted more and roman gods were promoted less causing the Roman Empire to crumble even quicker. This made it easier for outside invasions to take place, which led up to its ultimate failure. All of the pictures relate to what is being discussed in class because they put into perspective a visual of what was going on at that time in different areas.

    Jillian Akers

  4. The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Rome is probably not ships and naval battles. Most individuals would instead think of the famous roman roads, or Hadrian’s wall, or the fearsome Roman legions. When considering Roman history, however, I would argue that among all of the events and practices that led to the rise of the empire, the Roman navy, and summarily the Punic Wars in which it played a major role, would be the chief determinant of the eventual Roman spread of influence across the entire Mediterranean region, and summarily into the titanic hinterland for which the empire was later noted.
    Starting around the 6th century B.C., Carthage established itself as a city controlling an empire and a trade network that dominated the western Mediterranean. At the time, the only other regional power capable of approaching the Carthaginian influence in the area was Rome. Carthage was noted for its unusual military, consisting of a land army mostly of mercenary companies headed up by native Carthaginian officers, and a formidable homegrown and veteran navy, resultant of the Phoenician ancestry of the Carthaginian Empire. Their primary weapon at sea was the trireme( a variant of which is included in the prompt-a septireme- a slightly modified version of a vanilla trireme), a relatively fast ramming vessel revolutionary in its three-tiered arrangement of oarsmen completed by a lightweight selection of building materials, a vicious, often-bronze-clad front-mounted battering ram just under the surface, and a pair of complementary sails to aid in propulsion. This ship design enabled them to dominate naval conflict in their sphere of influence, and summarily prevent incursion into it, especially by the ambitiously expanding Romans.
    As the first of the Punic Wars began over a dispute centered on the island of Sicily, naval combat obviously played a major role. Luckily for the Romans, they were able to get the jump on the Carthaginians, defending Messina and taking Syracuse before Carthage had mustered their mercenary army. From then on, a back and forth series of battles, both lad erupted with both sides taking tremendous losses. Rome itself was forced to reconstruct its mostly new-found fleet several times over as it was destroyed again and again by both combat and, primarily, storms. In the end, the Romans were able to more or less outspend the Carthaginians and force upon them harsh peace terms in a sort of ancient Treaty of Versailles, the Treaty of Lutatius, which spelled the eventual end of the Carthaginians as the dominant naval and economic power in their original sphere of influence. The Second and Third Punic Wars served to reinforce the Roman’s eventual victory based largely on the strength of their imperial organization and resource supply base, with the second war seeing the rise of Scipio Africanus and the third seeing the taking of Carthage itself.
    As the Roman and Carthaginian empires both existed chiefly on the periphery of the Mediterranean, sea travel, I feel, and the associated resources and technologies involved, were of crucial importance. Given the need to resupply and facilitate trade from outposts often separated by thousands of miles of land travel across oftentimes difficult terrain, in many ways sea travel was more important than land travel, especially as the empire began to expand dramatically. From the garum-producing outpost at Lixus in modern day Morocco, to the innovative Roman Corvus (a boarding device which allowed superior Roman marines to board Carthaginian vessels with relative ease), and especially the all-important Roman assimilation of advanced Carthaginian ship designs that were then used to form a fleet that could hold up to the previously dominant Carthaginians, the dominance of the sea and the varying tactical, economic, and political aspects integral to it were key to the ability of Rome to eventually assert its dominance over the Mediterranean.

  5. The idea of a unified Greece was lost on the squabbling and proud city-states prior to the conquests of Alexander The Great in the 4th century BCE. Through his quasi-imperialistic expansion, Alexander brought elements of Greek culture to Egypt, the Persian Empire, and even as far as India. In many cases, the “empire” he established was little more than leaving an arbitrarily appointed ruler behind in conquered cities, accompanied with a military garrison. Alexander’s major accomplishment was an establishment of an “empire of the mind,” diffusing Greek culture throughout vast tracts of territory. While much of Alexander’s expedition was overland, the use of Greek naval power was fundamental to control over the Mediterranean.
    While the Greeks may not have established a functional empire, the Romans most certainly did. Mimicking and improving upon the most viable aspects of Greek culture, the Romans conquered and maintained territory that included much of modern Western Europe, the “Near East,” and parts of North Africa. One of the most effective strategies utilized by Roman colonizers was the conferment of Roman citizenship on conquered peoples. While glory and a belief in cultural superiority ostensibly played as significant a role for the Romans as it did for the Greeks, the Romans were able to exercise more authority over its territory by placating its inhabitants. One of the conferments of Roman culture was the building of Roman amphitheaters. According to the corresponding map, these amphitheaters could be found throughout the empire.
    Another benefit of Roman expansion was the construction of roads and canals. The innovative transportation and logistics systems constructed by the Romans allowed for more effective communications throughout the empire, which in turn led to enhanced effectiveness of central control. By not limiting the ability to “become” Roman, the empire was able to expand beyond the traditional ethnic and cultural boundaries of the Estruscans, and encompass modern day Europe, Anatolia, North Africa, Egypt, and the British Isles. The development of modern states and the subsequent advent of nationalist movements are converse to the evolution of the Roman empire. Herein we may understand the appeal of Communism in the 20th century as an alternative to nationalism; the appeal of Communist ideology transcended national identity.
    Long before the official doctrines of Marxism made their international impact, another ideological concept bound together peoples across traditional ethnic boundaries: Christianity. When Constantine legalized Christianity in 315 with the Edict of Milan, the burgeoning religion was able to spread at an unprecedented rate, binding its adherence to the direction of the Pope (theoretically.)
    A prerequisite to Christian expansion was ostensibly a mold to fill out. Once established, Christianity structured itself in a tiered and bureaucratic manner consistent with the authority that preceded it. Thence, the Catholic Church was able to survive the deterioration of the Roman Empire.
    Collectively, we can see how each of these concepts lent itself to another, more advanced concept; Alexander spurred on the evolution of a common Greek identity, but lacked the facility or direction to establish a functional empire. The Romans, through conferment of benefits and logistical development were able to develop a Roman identity, AND reap the benefits of territorial acquisition through effective imperial management (for a time.) Christianity, having been first legalized by Constantine, and then “officialized” by Theodosius, was able to spread throughout the Roman Empire, and ensconce its tenants in the inhabitants thereof, thereby surviving the downfall of the Roman Empire.

  6. The wide expanse of both the Greek and Roman Empires lead to spread of religion, culture, political ideas, language, and philosophy on a large scale. How much impact did these Empires leave on the population? First I will give a brief summary of the ways each empire managed to gain control, transportation wise, and how it allowed there cultural imprint to be left on the landscape. I will also expand on the way the fall impacted the Empires culturally. I will start with the Greek Empire and follow up with the Roman Empire.

    The Greek Empire was reliant on their shipbuilding technique, which is depicted in the first image. Due to the physical geography of Greece, most transportation was routed through the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic era warships in the first image were called Septiremes, and were large enough to carry weapons and allowed for a great number of soldiers to propel the ship. This military technology was important in the way the Empire would expand. These routes also lead to the movement of culture and the spread of Greek arts. The Classical styles of architecture, art, and literature traveled along these routes and is still present today.

    The Roman Empire is often accredited with the spread of Christianity. The development of the Roman road system was a key reason for the spread of culture in the Roman Empire. The Empire began with a sea-based trade system and gained power by gradually taking over the Greek colonies. The advantages of the Roman Empire include the impressive military technology, solid engineering based society. In image two, you can see the small areas where Christianity is present in 300, compared to the expanse of the religion in 300-600. This change can be contributed to the Roman ruler Constantine. The reason for Constantine’s conversion is disputed, and a little confusing. He built churches as a way to solidify the spread of the religion and withheld funds to Roman temples. With the backing of Constantine and the overall expanse of the Roman Empire, and ease of communication along transportation routes the religion spread very quickly. Image four shows the location of all the amphitheaters built during the Roman rule. Like the Greek Empire, classical architecture styles flourished in the expansion of the empire. The importance of building techniques in this culture was a key factor in the expansion of classical design and is extremely relevant in today’s culture.

    In conclusion, due to the area each empire conquered: ideas were easily spread throughout various means of transportation over land and sea. Classical architecture, art, religion, philosophy, and political structure flourished in these Empires and leaves a legacy that is still relevant today.

    http://www.leadershipclassics.org/AncientGreekCulture&Civilization.html#Art
    http://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Religion/
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/legitimization.html

  7. Reblogged this on Neverending Wanderlust and commented:
    These images give a brief overview of the classical period in Europe, including the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. Each of these empires had their own respective strengths, which allowed them to dominate the Mediterranean region for centuries.

    The Greek Empire would not have been possible without the development of shipbuilding. Ships allowed the Greeks to trade, travel, build colonies, go to war, etc. Warships, like the trireme and the Hepteres/septireme shown, were crucial to Greek dominance of the Mediterranean. Ancient Greek civilization depended on water for transportation because they did not yet have the technology to build inland transportation networks. This also helps explain why ancient Greek civilization for the most part did not spread very far into the interior of the continent, as Rome did. The colonies established by the Greeks served to export surpluses of goods like olive oil, metals, and luxury items to the main Greek cities. Greek elites had leisure time, which allowed the civilization to develop the rich culture that it is known for today.

    Like the Greeks, the Roman Empire began its history with sea trade across the Mediterranean in the 1st-2nd centuries BCE. The Romans gradually took over the Greek colonies and expanded their territory. Rome, however, had key advantages over the Greeks that allowed it to spread quickly and across vast distances. Roman Emperors focused on military technology/organization and civil engineering, which allowed Rome to gain huge amounts of power and land. Roman engineering is still famous to this day; many Roman ruins, roads, and infrastructure stand to this day. The high quality Roman roads allowed Rome to spread inland (unlike the Greeks), and high quality construction allowed them to build sturdy buildings, like amphitheaters, with ease. The map of Roman amphitheaters, however, shows that there was an extremely high concentration of amphitheaters in the center of the Empire, with very few on the outskirts. Amphitheaters undoubtedly served as reminders of Rome’s power, but they were few and far between on the outskirts of the Empire, where such reminders were needed most. Rome faced many challenges due to its rapid expansion, which caused organizational and bureaucratic headaches for the Empire. Furthermore, the Empire became politically unstable with a rapid succession of Emperors, especially after the split of the Empire and the introduction of the Tetrarchy. The rise of Christianity as shown in the map further weakened the Empire by introducing a new religion that went against traditional Roman religion.

    The Byzantine Empire tried to reclaim the glory of Rome, but ultimately failed. Under Justinian, the Byzantines tried to reclaim the Western Roman Empire, but were unsuccessful. The Byzantines became entangled in the Crusades, which did not work out very well for them. They faced constant pressure from the increasingly powerful Ottomans in Anatolia and were constantly pushed back until the Ottomans finally captured Constantinople in 1453. Although many overlook the Byzantine Empire, it did manage to hang around on its own for about 1000 years, which is quite an impressive feat in history.

  8. The Roman Empire was one of the greatest expanding and conquering groups of people to have traversed the Mediterranean Sea region and Western Europe. But to fully understand the impact that the Romans had on the known world at the time. You can look at this from many different aspects from the history of the Romans to the tactics used to gain power and manpower.
    The Romans were one of the first nations in my eyes to become the idea of nation building. What this means is that the Romans took great pride in defining their borders in ways such as taking towns, people, building monuments and walls. The Romans would take groups of people that they conquered and intertwined into their own population and made the Roman way of life the only way of life. They took great pride in their way of life and knew that they could conquer the world that they were in and would not take no as an answer. They also took the idea of the living body where if they where to stop growing (size, population and wealth) to keep the living body alive.
    When the Romans conquered the whole landmass of Italy, they ran out of reasons to sustain the “body” of Rome, because of the Rocky, stone land that was only really good to grow grapes and trees (nuts). So from this point on for many centuries the Romans spent much of their time conquering lands and different groups of people so that they could start to gain resources from far cities around the Mediterranean Sea. They would use the manpower that they got do farming, growing and also used the manpower as servants within the actual city. But explaining the city boundaries of the nation state could also be viewed by using the knowledge of past people that you have conquered. For example, the Romans used the battle formations of the Spartans by setting the army into groups of 8×10 formation to some extent which mad it very easy to run formations in the open battle fields of Europe which made it very easy to take a smaller amount of troops and conquer a larger army. This would be a key advantage for any group of people that is mobilizing the forces to expand and gain imports for the heart of the city. But even for the Roman Empire this was not as long lived, as the people would have hoped for.
    The Romans expanded all the way to the British Island because they where darning all of the resources that they needed to keep the living body alive. When the Romans got into Britain they build the wall known as Hadrian’s Wall that went across the northern part of the island. It is a known idea that when a group of people stop expanding and gaining resources, the body of the nation will die and this is what happened to the Romans when they put up the wall to keep northerners from getting to lower Britain. Once they stopped expanding and conquering, and went on defending the borders of their nation, they put them self on a path of declining and in the end the end of their empire.

    Bwebb1992

  9. The bottom left table highlights the spread of religion in the Roman Empire: Europe, North Africa and the Levant. The map shows the spread that took place after 300 AD, which is consistent with the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, and Council of Nicea in 235 AD. The Edict of Milan allowed people to practice whatever religion they wanted, where the Council of Nicea called to institutionalize the Church, which set laws and administration. It is pivotal that the height of the Roman Empire was similar to the peak spread of Christianity, because it shows the importance of religion, institutions, and their role in joining people together for a common form of governing. Rome was able to use a pragmatic force, religion, to gather people for a higher cause in order to form a stronger empire. Although North Africans had a different culture, language, and history than the Irish, they were still bound to the same form of belief due to universal religious belief. This underlying vision of morality, allowed the Roman Empire to tap into resources all throughout Europe and North Africa.
    The spread of religion and territorial expansion is also consistent with the advancement in civil engineering. Since the Romans were cable of building ships, they were able to cross the Mediterranean and reap the benefits of coastal networking. This expansion in trade created port, hub cities throughout North Africa in Tangier, Caesarea, Carthage and Alexandria. This allowed for coastal sea trade, and also inland expansion into Africa, with the absorption of smaller agricultural, and public works outposts like Volubilis.
    The inconsistencies that existed within the Empire led to its downfall. The Roman Empire absorbed too much new territory, with little cultural cohesion, which made controlling the Empire extremely difficult. Although the Empire attempted calling for religious acceptance and structure within Christianity, it was unable to hold the entire Empire together.
    The role of a universal truth posed as a unifying factor for the Roman Empire, but when multiple truths rose, issues began to rise. The bottom map shows the rise of a new, competing universal truth in the 7th Century: Islam. The conversion process to Islam was simple; you only had to say a few simple words in order to be considered a convert. The rise of a new, alternative religion, which also institutionalized through taxes and trade, played as an alternate option to Christianity, which eventually led to the Crusades and the Rise of the Ottoman Empire. The Protestant Reformation also played as a competing universal truth, which led to the 30 years war from 1618 to 1648.
    The failure of using religion as an absolute truth for ruling, led for the creation of the modern state with the Treaty of Westphalia. Europe’s ability to recognize the failure of religion and politics as coherent for large, culturally different territories, lead to the notion of sovereignty, where each state would determine what form of Christianity it would practice. This ushered us into a new era of politics, and continues to be a debatable topic. We have already begun talking about the issue of sovereignty within the European Union, and the problems that are currently rising in regards to Greece and the Euro. States are willing to give up part of their sovereignty for mutual self-interest until cost outweighs the benefit.

  10. The pictures are related to the three big empires in early Europe.
    Shipbuilding and navigation techniques allowed the Greek Empire to expand in the Mediterranean and Black Sea area. Ships allowed them to build colonies, trade and transport bigger amounts of things. The Greek Empire was mainly located on the coasts, because their building skills were not that good, so they had a lack of roads to go to the inland. They exported their surplus to other Greek cities. The Greek elite had a lot of leisure time, so they had time to focus on the arts like poetry, painting or theatre. Alexander the Great tried to extend the Roman Empire. His Empire reached from Greece to Egypt in the south and Pakistan and parts of Tadzhikistan in the east. After his death his empire fell.
    After the Greek Empire failed the Romans took over. They started with sea trade and took over the Greek colonies. Other than the Greeks the Romans had good civil engineering skills. So they were able build better roads to go inland. Further the Romans focused on their military technologies. Citizenship was defined by the territory. So everybody who lived in the Roman territory was Roman. So the goal was to extend.
    But also the Roman Empire failed. One of the reasons why was the fast extension, which created organisational difficulties and the fast and many changes Emperors. It was too hard to hold the Empire together so it was divided it. This led to Tetrarchy. Another reason was the rise of Christianity supported by Constantine the Great. The belief in Roman gods held the empire together. Also Constantine shifted the capital to Constantinople, which was named after him. Even today we can still imagine how huge the Roman Empire was and how far they were able to spread their culture, especially when we look at the map about Amphitheatres of the Roman Empire. Also roman ruins are spread all over Europe.
    The Byzantium Empire was the eastern part of the tried to take over the Western Roman Empire under Justinian, but they weren´t successful. It was mainly based in today´s Greece and Turkey. The Byzantium Empire used Greek language instead of Latin and it was Christian-orientated.
    The Byzantium Empire ended in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire.

  11. The island nature of the early Greek city-states necessitated the development of nautical technology. The Cretan mariners were the first to build a small fleet and become a naval power. The ready access to the Mediterranean allowed for the spread of resources and culture through trade, and for the easy establishment of colonies along the Mediterranean coastline. The introduction of the trireme (a galley with three sets of oars on each side of the vessel) allowed Greece to dominate the sea.

    The Roman empire had a distinct advantage over the Greek Empire in its civil engineers. Unlike Greece, which (though it achieved considerable coastal expansion) was limited to the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, the Roman Empire was able to expand inland through its network of roads. Rome offered the peoples it conquered the chance to have citizenship in the Empire—in exchange for service in the Roman army men were given plots of land to retire to, in what would become Romania (it is interesting to note that due to the influence of the roman veterans the Romanian language is the only romance language spoken in Eastern Europe.)

    The map showing distribution of amphitheaters throughout the Roman empire (including three in Rome itself) indicates the rise of an upper class who had resources to spend on entertainment and displays of wealth. The spectacles (including gladiatorial combat, the display of exotic animals, and staged naval battles) that took place in the amphitheaters were designed to showcase the wealth and status of the nobles and officials who were responsible for them. The audience was segregated by social class, which further enforced the authority of the elite.

    The spread of Christianity (shown in the map on the bottom left) as a contribution to the deterioration of the Roman Empire was an idea first introduced by Edward Gibbon. According to this theory, as the Roman gods lost popularity the Empire lost some of its cultural cohesiveness, and the ideals of Christianity prompted people to become less concerned with the preservation of the Empire. It seems that the Roman Empire was already severely weakened and politically unstable due to a number of factors, of which Christianity played only a small part.

    Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople, was the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire under the rule of Constantine. After Rome fell in the 5th century, the Eastern Roman Empire, or the Byzantine Empire as it became known, survived as a primarily Greek-speaking culture, with a state religion of Christianity (although the Byzantine branch of Christianity was distinct from Catholicism.) The empire reached the height of its power and size during the rule of Justinian and his successors. The next few centuries saw the rise of Islam and the Ottoman Empire, which prompted the Catholic church in Rome to begin the Crusades in the 11th century. Constantinople was sacked and burnt during the fourth crusade, which left the empire weakened. The Byzantine Empire continued to decline until 1452, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

  12. The benefits of an empire can also be its demands. Trade requires two things: goods and routes for those goods to travel. Trade routes, more common to sea in the time of the Greeks, became rooted in roadways with the Romans. Expansion of goods also allowed for power projection. The quicker the military can move, the more territory can be taken. By creating an empire that spanned all the known Western world, the Romans had to manage it as well.

    How do you manage people who are foreign, with foreign customs and gods? You manage them with things. Villas exemplifying the Roman lifestyle, filled with Roman citizens idealized the society and nurtured the desire for the inhabitants of foreign, conquered lands to become more Roman themselves. Trade of exotic and unique goods throughout the empire accomplished this, at least at first.

    Standards have to be maintained. In the case of the Romans, this extended beyond that of a specific lifestyle. The military and the empire itself was created and maintained under specific designs. Conquered or newly founded cities were adjusted or modeled to the Roman style of architecture and layouts. Military engineering standardized the Roman navy as well as the army. Functioning as units integrating into a single, whole empire, the military’s composition was like a wall made of Legos with each brick building upon its similar, brother force.

    Deploying this land force required a network of roadways maintained by one of the very things it encouraged. Taxation of trade allowed for maintenance of the empire’s logistics, and as every person living within the empire knew by looking at the coins they needed to buy goods from any passing traders, Rome and the Emperor ruled with both an iron fist via the army, but a copper, silver, and gold one via every monetary transaction.

    Goods only bridge the gap between Roman and foreigner so far though. Unifying the empire was also accomplished through entertainment and later religion. The Roman amphitheater allowed everyone to marvel at the ‘terrifying’ or glorious aspects of the Empire. Beasts and brutes from across the land were thrown together, played with, and slaughtered for the amusement and interest of the crowd. The honorable warriors of the arena proved their worth time and again as gladiators. Their activities perhaps one of the earliest kind of sporting events where the crowds and people knew and heard of the men as though they were sport celebrities, however in truth their blood sport did indeed earn them respect by the mob, if only for a short time.

    United by polytheism, having hundreds of gods only served the empires needs so far. Christianity appealed to many, and as citizens flocked to the faithful, the empire saw this first as a threat to its power, but it later became a solution. Uniting an empire by belief rather than lifestyle, skin color, or place of birth was simpler and cheaper. How much gold does it cost to convince someone that their gods haven’t helped them, but one God might? Are we not still ruled by belief today? Do we not even declare war against ideas such as ‘terror’ and thereby unite ourselves? Perhaps the Romans’ true empire was not in building ships, roads, and armies, but in building the foundation for controlling people via shared thoughts.

  13. These images shown above show elements of territorial and cultural dominance of two of the first great empires/cultures, the Greeks and Romans. The image in the top left is of a military technology that was created and improved by the Greeks to dominate the seas of the ancient world, the trireme. The trireme allowed for further travel by sea, faster travel time, and most importantly, more effective turning ability. All of these attributes of the trireme allowed for the Greeks to build an empire and colonies all along the Mediterranean Sea. Great Greek colonies such as the Phoenician and Mycenaeans could not have be able to flourish without the help of their possession of superior naval technology. This possession of military technology is similar with the utilization of the legion in the Roman army. The rank and structure of the legion allowed for Romans to be better prepared and control vast amounts of territory held be far less sophisticated “barbarian tribes”. The conquering of these peoples allowed for the construction of intercontinental empire that would have a lasting impact on future civilizations to come. The bottom image of the blog post shows all of the Roman Emperors, and the fact that there are so many men shown is a testament to the longevity of the empire’s power.

    The dominance of Roman military might can be seen in the other three images pictured above in the blog. The image on the bottom right and left shows the not only the amount, but the geographic expanse of the Roman culture at the height of the Roman Empire in the 3rd Century. The construction of amphitheaters throughout the empire highlight Roman engineering practices and cultural consumption. Roman engineering is known far and wide. They were amount the first to construct roads, aqueducts, and multi-story buildings. The utilization of these engineering techniques allowed the Romans to instill order on vast amounts of their territorial holdings. The Romans valued order amongst many things, but imposed order on their subjects through architecture and city structure. The image to the left of the amphitheaters map is an image showing the expansion of the Christian religion effectively before and after the rise of Constantine the Great. He made Christianity one of the licit religious of the Roman Empire, and due to the synchronistic nature of the religion, it dominated the empire. The religion eventually began to absorb rites from competing cults, which effectively crushed their competition. It is truly impressive how quickly the religion spread once it became licit within the empire. The Roman Empire fell in the 5th century with the sacking of Rome, but when Constantine became emperor, he moved the capital to Constantinople (Byzantium).

    The Eastern Roman Empire lasted far longer than its counterpart in Rome. The last image shows an image of a map of Byzantium in Anatolia in 632 CE. The Byzantine Empire was founded on the principals of the Greek language and religious base, with a focus in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Great Schism in 1054 led to the establishment of the Orthodox Christian faith as the main doctrine of the Empire. The degrading relationship with the Turks inevitably led to their collapse with the fall of Constantinople in 1452.

    Danny Gadeke

  14. It’s very fascinating how large and extensive the Roman Empire was. The Romans controlled vast amounts of land that were home to unique peoples, cultures, and customs. In 285 AD, the Roman Empire had grown so large that Emperor Diocletian split the Empire into a West and East empire. The empire varied in it’s life in tolerance towards different religions. For a majority of the first part of the empire pagan worship was tolerated and the norm and Christianity and Judaism was persecuted. Ironically, Christianity would go on to become the official religion of the Roman Empire with the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, under Emperor Theodosius. Unlike the Ottoman Empire that would come after the fall of the Roman Empire, Rome was not very tolerant of other cultures, ideas, and lifestyles that were not innately roman. The Ottoman Empire may have learned from the mistakes of the fallen ancient empire, for the Ottomans were more accepting of other cultures and religions as long as taxes were being paid. Tolerant or not, the Romans were explorers and conquerors. Resting on the Mediterranean, the image of the Hepteres reflects how the Romans used the sea to their advantage. At their strongest, the Romans were always taking advantage of trade, cultivating resources, and ruling over their vast empire. They could not have done this without the Mediterranean sea. The map of the amphitheaters in the Roman Empire says a lot about Roman society. The Romans loved politics and debating, theater and art. Public theater was a huge part of the male Roman. Comedies, tragedies, satire, the Romans loved them all. The most interesting part of the whole image might be the coins of all the Roman Emperors at the bottom. Not only are the coins fascinating to look at, the change in color, size, texture, symbols, imagery. But it is amazing to be reminded how many Emperors there were, how long the Roman Empire lasted. There were good emperors and less than stellar emperors, and then there were outright awful emperors like Caligula. Messy politics aside, the Romans were innovators. Many of the aqueducts that brought fresh water to cities and town, sometimes even uphill, the Romans built still stand today. The Romans developed cement and concrete, building the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Newspapers, bound books, government welfare were all developed in some capacity by the Romans. And then there is the famous phrase, “all roads lead to Rome.” The Romans to govern as effectively and fully as possible, they needed quality roads and highways to do so. The image just makes one think about the richness of the history of the Roman Empire, how it was able to survive for so long. Still, the coins of all the emperors may be the most riveting, for it makes one think of the lives of those emperors, who they were, what they were like, and how they governed an entire empire.

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