Postclassical era is a period of civilization in Europe also known as the middle Ages. It covers the time after the collapse of the Roman ancient empire, and how civilization later on stretched gradually afar the Mediterranean to other parts of Western Europe. The unified Roman Empire was collapsing gradually and therefore, it was divided into half, the western and eastern blocks, so as to make it easier to govern. The Western Roman Empire was rocked with internal strife, and as a result, it further disintegrated into smaller states. However, the eastern Roman Empire remained extremely stable with its capital city in Constantinople. It was later referred to as the Byzantine Empire. This paper will address the differences between the eastern and western roman empires during the postclassical period.
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During this time, Christianity was the greatest religion in the region. It is worth noting that since the Roman Empire in the east was grounded on the entire roman practices, its followers were also initially Christians. However, later on there were sharp differences based on the manner in which both groups worshiped. The Christian leaders in the east did not agree with the western Rome especially since they found it unecessary to worship icons. Consequently, the first divisions in Christian religion took place; the Western Roman Empire went ahead with their practice of Catholicism whereas those in the eastern Roman Empire practiced Eastern Orthodox (Neiberg, 2001, p 21).
The wider the drift between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires grew, the more their differences became evident. Ways of worship of the Christians in Rome and Constantinople were quite different. Western Romans used to carry out their religious services in Latin language whereas those in Eastern Rome did it in Greek. Furthermore, roman priests used to shave their beards, and they were even not supposed to marry and raise a family (Marelich, 2006, para. 13). On the other hand, those in Byzantine used to wear beards and marry. Another difference between the two dynasties is that church bishops in western Rome were not controlled by the political institutions. However, those in Byzantine Empire headed the church, and at the same time, they had an influential role in the government. Priests in Byzantine were also chosen by the emperor. Emperors in Byzantine were opposed to the idea of popes’ control of the church as it used to occur in the Western Europe (Marelich, 2006, para. 13). Religgion in Byzantine was regarded as more liberal than Catholicism which was the dominant religion in Western Rome.
The Byzantine Empire was located between the Black sea and the Mediterranean Sea, which gave it a strategic position. This allowed the empire to generate a lot of wealth since this was the route by traders from North Africa, Asia and Europe. This can help to explain the reason as to why the empire established itself and developed a strong base in the region (Neiberg, 2001, p 22).
Collapse of the unified Roman Empire was accompanied by successive wars. Consequently, there was total destruction of a lot of resources especially those that had been preserved in the libraries. This was quite disastrous since much of the information on civilization by the Greeks and the Romans was destroyed. However, survival of the eastern Roman Empire allowed for preservation of much of the information on Roman and Greek culture (Neiberg, 2001, p 21). For instance, the Byzantine helped to preserve the coded Roman law by Emperor Justinian, which has served as the platform for most of the current legal structures in the West. Byzantines also facilitated the establishment and development of Muslim faith and culture.
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