There were many empires in the World throughout history, but one stood out in particular. The Byzantine Empire is long gone today, but we can still see it in Istanbul and many other places. But what was this Empire’s tragic story?

The Byzantine Empire was founded in 385 by Diocletian, Emperor of Rome, because the Roman Empire was overextending its boundaries, and Diocletian couldn’t rule over it all. So instead, he divided the Empire, deciding to rule in the East while a subordinate ruled the West. However, Constantine the Great reunited the Empire in 324, and the Roman Empire’s boundaries reached from India to Britain. But in 395, Theodore I’s death led to the permanent division of the Empire, the West being the Roman Empire, and the East becoming the Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantine Empire reconquered Africa and Italy in the early 500’s after the fall of the Roman Empire, but was soon forced to relinquish its territory to the growing number of “Barbarians” in the West, such as the Franks and the Vandals. The Empire entered a Golden Age, defeating its main enemy, Persia, at the battle of Nineveh in 627. However, a new threat emerged: Islam. The founder of Islam, Muhammad, had united Saudi Arabia into one nation, and his successive caliphs conquered Persia and much Byzantine Territory. In 1071, the Byzantines were decisively defeated and withdrew to their capitol. This was the beginning of the End of the Byzantine Empire. By 1400, Constantinople was all that was left of the once-great empire. When Constantinople fell to the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, it was renamed Istanbul and still thrives today, a prominent reminder of the rise and fall of one of the world’s greatest empires.