site's logo and link back to the English-speaking home page decorative picture arrow back

Geopolitics from 400 A.D. to 1000 A.D.

pages decorative bandeau, reminder of the one of the main entry home page and the localized home page

European civilization, generally was founded on that of the East. A number of cultural items like food-plants, writing, the beginnings of art and science, or the higher forms of state organization and religion, came from western Asia and Egypt as Greece transmitted these on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and southern Italy. Rome after that, from its core location, brought that to western and northern Europe uniting the world into a empire. Even Christianity came from the East. Scholars had a view they lived on a continent called Europe, distinct from Asia and Africa. The believers, as far as they were concerned, were told they belonged to a continent chosen by Divine Providence to be the hearth of true faith. Some historians sustain that the idea of belonging to Europe appeared during the Renaissance only. One of the consequences of the definitive settlement -and the christianization- of German people of the Great Invasions was that they at last could live with the aborigenal peoples and not beside them, like before as they were even to found first 'national states" on the Continent, like Wisigothic Spain, Frankish Gauls, etc. Carolingians, finally, after that the West of the former Roman empire was shattered and diversified, were to represent unity -both political and religious and the restored Empire! From that, renewed invasions -Northmen, Arabs, Magyars- undid that endeavor to unity. Frankish Greats could not efficiently fight against those new ennemies which translated into devastations and one century of insecurity. Carolingian times were the ones of the passage from a West-East conflict between Rome and Byzance to a North-South one between Europe and Muslims. Three areas existed indeed at the time with northwestern and Frankish Europe, Byzance a intermediate world, and the Muslim lands. The time also is the one when they passed from the memory of the Western Roman empire which had deteriorated into the Germanic kingdoms, to the concept of the European, medieval Christendom, Charlemagne turned the champion of which. Charlemagne confronted himself to three powers, the Slavic pagans, the Byzantines with their specific Christendom, and Islam to the South as those three cultural areas had contacts between themselves through war or diplomacy. Since Herodotus, one kept not knowing what Europe exactly was and even from the point of view of its mythological origins, the latter were not clear. Strabo only, by the 1st century A.D., under the Romans, used that term of Europe because the limes and the focusing of the Roman civilization upon the Mediterranean did put a end to that reference. It was only one Rome passed into Constantinople and with the victory of gathered 'Europeans' over Attila by 451 A.D. that Europe reappeared. It however get germanized through the Barbaric peoples as those albeit featured some Rome. Since 754, the concept of Europe made progress and was to supplant that of Romanity in the future. The battle of Tours was seen like a victory of 'Europeans' against the 'Arabs,' which kept on shifting Europe to northwest of the continent, separating it from Romanity which remained South. Charlemagne was a Frank, he dreamt of Rome as Europe still was vague. He was eventually to give birth to Christendom and the Western Empire, or, finally, the Holy Roman Empire

General Background

From ancient times to the early 16th century A.D. generally, the first phase of the Old Word history was shaped by the pivotal encounter between nomadic and sedentary societies across the Eurasian steppes, marked by the unpredictable rhythms of warfare and trade. By about 400 A.D., the world is seen compartimented into three main civilizational areas. As the Roman empire is about to fall, two other sets of a same importance are extant, India, and Chine. India, by the end of the Gupta dynasty is likely in control of one-third of the world's wealth as China, drawn into the disorders of the Han dynasty, closed upon itself. Rome passed to Christianity since one century then as India is Hinduist, Jainist or Buddhist. China is Confucianist. Each of those civilization are holding about 50 million inhabitants. Mobile and turbulent peoples are dwelling At their margins, from Germans to peoples of Central Asia. Moves or attacks of such peoples already have, by intervals, come to disturb great empires. As far as relations between those areas are concerned, they had not developed that far. Rome, above all, had not really been a commercial nation as it mostly was Rome, a capital-city where ressource of the Empire flowed, which had founded a mainly Mediterranean economy. Most wealthy parts of the Roman empire were Asia Minor and Egypt as such trade circuits swiftly entered crisis by the Low Empire, which left to survive a trade of luxuous wares only as economy, generally, took refuge into large rural domains. Guptas and Han only had developed trade routes but, by 400 A.D., they nearly had achieved their decline. Miscellaneous views are extant in terms of how history passed from the Roman empire to the Carolingian times, for example. Gibbon, in the 18th century A.D. talked of a Roman empire based on unsound foundations (a economy of plunder, state socialism, civil wars, epidemics, overall welfare of Germans, peak of mines production for coins, lead poisoning) and bound to fall -that increased with the 'barbarization.' Catastrophists speak of too much stress applied to Rome from diverse factors (Germanic or even Persian prevalence mainly as the structures of the Empire kept at the time in fairly good shape, the elites turning to Rome instead of local, the Hunnic migration, all which would have been enough at any time for a collapse of a given society). Transformists, like Henri Pirenne in the 1920's, prefer to see that the Roman world morphed into the Middle Ages through 'Late Antiquity.' Barbarians came in to take part into the benefits of the Empire as no real break occurred before the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. with the Arabic invasions which severed trade between the East and West; that eventually brought to the solely agrarian Carolingian times with no trade. Views which are temperated by some others (Mediterranean trade routes kept on with Islamic currencies keeping into the Carolingian dominions, a hint that some goods kept going out like slaves, timber, weapons, or other local goods, for example). A other view of the Pirenne school is that a struggle occurred between Rome and the Germanic world between the 3rd and the 8th centuries A.D. The Roman empire did not fall but transformed and so did the Germans at the contact of Rome. Pirenne thesis proponents mostly seen the Middle Ages like a synthesis between the Graeco-Roman world and Germanic civilizations. Some of that school even state that the roots of the medieval culture was already contained in Roman culture and that a gradual process, not a break, occurred. They also argue that Roman towns were fragile excresenses of the dominant countryside and not prone to any sense of a crisis. They also note further how the Eastern empire kept during a further thousand years, which hints that the varied considerations about the end of the Empire in the West did not had the same hold unto the East. Late Antiquity views are also to be linked to the rise of the postmodern tradition, which rejects periodization concepts, or 'metanarrative.' A school of thought thinks too that the settlement of Barbarians in the Western Roman empire was not a true rupture as the Justinian reconquest answered to a form of abeyance in a part of the peoples there. Justinian however could not retake the whole of Italy as Spanish meseta or Gauls remained out of reach, a evidence that the irreparability of the presence of Germans had settled in the West. The passage of Barbarians, who were Arians, or pagans, to Roman catholicism reinforced that move along with the plague who above all struck cities between 540 and 600 A.D. Such diverging views are eventually explained because there is a notable lack of evidence from the 4th and 5th centuries, opening for endless interpretation. Also, the Antonine (or Galenic) Plague, about 180 A.D., with 10 percent of the Roman Empire population wipped out or the Marcomannic Wars, about that same time, against Germanic tribes between the Bohemia-Moravia area and the Pontic steppes, which prefigured Great Invasions of the 5th century A.D., are considered to have weakened Rome and likely heralding the 3nd-century crisis, which in turn began to destabilize Rome

->Stages of the Fall of Rome
It was between 350 and 550 A.D., over a period of 2 centuries, that the Roman Empire ceased to exist. The West remained attached to the Arian heresy until 457 A.D. while Byzantium was until 480 as the German generals and their contingents of mercenaries had then already been controlling the Empire since a long time. Two Arians, Aspar, a Alain, maker of kings for the East between 400 and 460 A.D. and Ricimer, a Suevian, the one for the West from 456 to 472, brought to a term the consequences of the Barbaric presence. Around 455 A.D., the unity of the Empire was legally restored because of the death of Leo III and Constantinople, who proceded with a ethnic reaction, with the Isaurians from Anatolia, against German mercenaries, considered the strong men in the West only like Patrices of the East as that brought to Romulus Augustulus and the official end of the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Emperor applied since then the same policy for Italy and Rome, with Ostrogothic Odoacer ousted by Theodoric aother Ostrogothic, all of whom acted by Constantinople. But it was not until 565 A.D, or the end of the reign of Justinian, that a real "low-Empire " settled in the East: a Byzantine Empire of Greek culture, Persians, Avars, Arabs, heresies

Thence, dynamics which run down to the Carolingian era were dynammics of interconnection, and triple ones! Germans were to destroy the Western part of the Roman empire as the eastern part managed to survice under the form of the Byzantine empire. Arab Islam, a empire of trademen, was to conquer lands from Spain to Central Asia, as the Chinese Tang dynasty was to re-deploy China's grandeur. Christendom then split into the Eastern, and Western Churches. China endured a important Buddist increase and, above all, in terms of religion, that era saw the rise of Islam. In terms of trade, Constantinople constituted a terminal point of the Asiatic routes and it opened to Italie through the Adriatic Sea as the Danube River road had been closed by Avars. The Arab Caliphate invented a first wolrd industrial and commercial civilization which reached to India and Indonesia. The Chine, under the Tang, opened again the Silk Roads along with the maritime routes in the China Sea, which reached too into Melanesia. India, which had turned kingdomes, was a point of passage of land and sea trade routes. As far as the West is concerned, which developed like a farming area only, the sole links it maintained with large trade consisted into, sinc about 680 A.D., Jewish merchants called Radhanites, which traded slaves and European furs against Eastern perfumes and silk. Sub-Saharian Africa, albeit the Garamantes alreday were making a link during the previous era, only is opening progressively through Arab caravans. Ethiopia, for a while, was a stable kingdom linked to Byzantium and large trade. Americas, as far as they are concerned, remained, some hypothetical journeys, unknown to Europe until Viking navigations

Then came the time of the Carolingian decline as that time of large interconnections came to a stop. Europe finished individualizing itself as it divided in the same time. The Empire was transmitted to Germans, the West fell into feudality, England asserted itself along with Slavs or Russians as Magyars settled in the Danube' area and Vikins turned a northern power which discovered North America. The Byzantine empire endured a renewal phase but that occurred in a area which it considered now like its own, in Asia Minor, Balkans and Southern Italy. The Islamic world turned parcellized as Abbasids declined under the Turks, Moorish Spain stood firm and progressed North, and the Saharian trade routes reached to the first large Sahelian empires. Bantu in Africa ended their migration. China, which had fallen back into troubles, is renewed by the Song dynasty as Japan reach its grandeur and Khmers are in Indochina and Rajputs in India. Large trade now faded as they renewed by the same time, in any case. As Radhanites disappeared new merchants centers are being born again everywhere in Europe. Compartimentations in terms of religion also strengthened as the Easter Church, in Constantinople, definitively split from Rome and the West, the Cluniac monasticism got inserted into Ottonian Reichskirche. In the Arab world, Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis, Spanish Moors differentiated themselves stronger still as neo-Confucianism -Confucianism renewed by Buddhism- rose in China, or the Japanese religion in Japan

main civilizational areas at work in the geopolitics from 400 A.D. to 1000 A.D.main civilizational areas at work in the geopolitics from 400 A.D. to 1000 A.D.

The Relations Between Western Kingdoms, Papacy and the Byzantine Empire into 800 A.D.

Proponents of Byzantium, as far as the medieval era is concerned, point out that the Byzantine centralized state, the Caesaropapism or the politics of playing Barbarians the ones against others held to that Byzantium was lying at the border of Asia. The State had to be strong, always looking after the frontier. Church could convert Barbarians with the help of the State only as the complicated and monetary politics of Byzantium were the sole weapon against the treachery of the nomads of central Asia. Byzantium eventually was to the Slavic and Eastern world what Rome was to Germans. During 2 centuries following the Lombardic invasion, Lombards and Byzantines confronted themselves in Italy as the papacy, albeit theoretically under the control of Byzance, made the most of it to have its territories emancipated. By 730 A.D. eventually, the Pope turned to the Franks, that power which, further, was not a immediate neighbour. As far as what interests us is concerned, it is obvious that the specific geopolitics which brings from the Roman empire to Carolingians inscribes itselfs into both a Mediterranean, and European space, or the space of the former Roman empire, and the one of the Germanic kingdoms which had been born from the Barbaric Invasions. Religion is also obviously important. The Christendom area, by 400 A.D., comprised both the previous ones as peoples, from Ireland to Asia Minor, the Near East and Egypt are Christians. Since the beginnings of time, which is, for that part of the world, since the Neolithics settled in the Fertile Crescent, Europe was the westernmost extremity of that world only as great empires were found in the Middle East like Sumer, Babylone, Egypt, the Assyrians or Persians. With the Greeks, after that, the world began to shift West. Alexander the Great however is back to the East, on a other hand. Rome, at last, a power from central Italy, eventually confirms that westwards move! Since the 3rd century A.D. crisis, Rome entered a deep decline as, under Emperor Diocletian, inconsciously it tended to have no common interest anymore as far as some of its components were concerned. The East or the German border, for exemple, really look like they have a logics of their own, or even Greece and Italy self. Christianity, on a other hand, spilled into the Roman empire as it came to add, through the question of heresies, additional factors of tension and Emperor Constantine I the Great founded the city of Constantinople by 330 A.D. A sluggish economy brought to large villae which grew at the detriment of free peasants, or a crisis of the civilian administration and in the military too. All those ferments of troubles were soon to turn into a accelerated crisis when the Huns abruptly came out of Central Asia by 375 A.D.! As they unsettled the Ostrogoths, those in turn unsettled the Wisigoths who eventually crossed the Roman border and defeated Emperor Valens by 378 in the battle of Andrinople. German tribes invaded the Western halve of the Empire as they rendred Roman authority there nominal during a duration of time of 50 years only. Odoacer, a Herule ruler just sent back the imperial symbols to the Eastern emperor in Constantinople by 472 A.D. putting a end to the reign of Romulus-Augustulus, the last puppet Western emperor. The Franks then, who turned Christians and imposed true Christianity to other German kingdoms. Those, until then, had remained attached to the Arian heresy as they had opposed to Christians not much from a theological point of view than because they saw them like Romans, hence ennemies. Under such a crisis, the separation between Greek East and Roman West, which had been a weighing point of Roman history, surfaced again like, for example, the culture of Celts already had done before. The Roman empire came to be parted definitively between a Eatern, and a Western Roman Empires by 395 A.D. It is from that time that a Byzantine revendication of the whole of the former Roman empire originated as that deed of 395 did not consider a real -each of the 'Augustus,' East and West, were co-emperors nor a definitive split. Of note too is that recent historians endeavoured to re-assess the history of Byzantium relative to the one of the West, when the one of Byzantium had been slightly undertoned

A period of transition took place since the invasion of 406 A.D. The Germanic borders then just turned a loose limit which was respected only between two Barbaric pushes as the western part of the Roman empire got changed quite immediately. German kings and their elites of warriors ruled and considered themselves like the heirs to Rome. They kept using the Roman bureaucratic framework and the civil servants of it. Celtic people kept being farmers. Romans only reacted few against such new realities because they only margin they had was the more or less degree of acculturation of the Germanic peoples. Twice only did they endeavoured to check what was happening. By 390 A.D., Stilicon, a Vandal turned general for the West, tried to manipulate the Visigoths as Aetius, about 440 A.D., a general who ruled in the name of Emperor of the East, Valentinian III, tried to play the Huns against Germans. In both case however the Eastern emperors did not support such efforts nor did the unfolding of events saved Rome like, for example varied projects, assassinations, weak Roman rulers, the Vandals took control of North Africa, the granary of the Roman empire, slaves and peasants rallied the Germanic invaders, religious questions due to the Arianism of the Germans, ill-fated events, etc. Stilicon was killed by order of Emperor Honorius who whished to start a purely Roman reaction against the invasions and the German mercenaries as the Visigoths besieged Rome many times and eventually managed to plunder the city by 410 A.D., a resounding event as far as that 8-century old city was concerned. Aetius, as far as he was concerned, was murdered by Valentinian III, who feared his power and the general's proponents in turned assassinated the emperor by 454 A.D., which ended the lineage of the Emperors of the West. Of interest alos was that the Church pragmatically rallied the new rulers -those Arianists included- a Church which was finally the sole bearess of a project and the last holdress of a still efficient organization. Since the dead of Valentinian, the West endured several puppet-emperors until by 476, which were under the control of German mercenaries and, at that date, Romulus Augustulus, the last western emperor, was deposed as, by the late 4th century, Italy only, under the Ostrogothic Theodoric, who had rallied Constantinople, remained faithfull to the eastern emperor. The general attempt of a reconquest of the West, which occurred under eastern Emperor Justinian and lasted during 20 years since 533 A.D. was a failure because it occurred too late. During the 40-year reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565), however a short respite was brought to Italy as far as it is concerned in terms of the troubles, hungers and epidemics plaguing it. Upon that and with the emperor shouldering, papacy strengthened as it developed its two-face power, the spiritual and the temporal ones, upon Rome and its territories. Rome even, through the 'Pragmatique Sanction' in 554 A.D., enforced the Justinian Code, in terms of law, the souvenir of which was to be perpetuated until its rebirth by the 12th and 13th centuries Clovis, King of the Franks, had let himself to be baptized in 496 and had founded the Frankish kingdom as the Lombards had conquered northern Italy, threatening the imperial reconquest. That epoch of transition had learned the Germanic kings the pointlessness of keeping considering themselves like the agents to the Eastern emperors. The Pope, as far as he was concerned, in Rome, considered the unity of Christendom essential. Bridges with the old world had then broken off

->The Estrangement Between the East and West
Since 500 A.D., relations of estangement between the West and the East were one of Byzantium, a 'hindered giant', constantly hampered by schisms, further magnified by cesaropapism, and peoples' movements -as it however remains a model as far as finearts are concerned- and of Rome and the West, a 'humble mediocrity,' which are moving towards the medieval Christianity. The East -or the Byzantine empire- is greek, autocratic, cesaropapist, ritualist, urban and divided by schisms. The West is latin, papal, rural, Roman, german and celt. As far, pecularily, as the relations between the popes in Rome and the cesaropapist Byzantium are concerned, Rome and southern Italy are funding the Byzantine empire, the pope is the leader of Romans (like bishops were of cities in the Germanic kingdoms), Romans dislike Byzantines, Byzantine monks who took refuge in Rome are developing there the influence of the East (mostly during the second half of the 7th century A.D.), popes keep concerned about unity of Christendom under Peter's authority, and, eventually, popes need that the Byzantine emperor defend them against troubles waged by Lombards in Italy. It will eventually take 3 centuries -those centuries which were those of the passage of Antiquity to Middle Ages- to that both powers, the one of the Byzantine emperor and the one of the popes, drive their difference until a split. Popes in Rome are asserting that they hold the imperial 'auctoritas' since Emperor Constantine the Great as they delegate the Franks to the empire, a one which was not to be a renewal of the Western Roman empire that much, but a Christian empire better. The split which began by 700 A.D. was to last until the early reign of Charlemagne

The Eastern Roman empire remained the sole survivor of the lost Roman idea. Since the 4th century A.D. all the activity of Rome had passed to Constantinople, the great theological controversies included. Byzantium was to survive during one millenium as it perpetuated the idea of a Empire. Byzantium too was the defensor of the Greco-Latin civilization against Asia. The Eastern Roman empire by 400 A.D. was still remaining the largest power in the area and the place where the idea of the Empire's unity is still subsisting -among the people included- as Latin remained the language of the administration as Greek the one of culture. Papacy in Rome tended to comfort such views as it worried about unity of both halves of Christendom. Constantinople however soon turned cesaropapist and Eastern emperors were obliged, in terms to kept a sovereignty upon some regions of their empire, to favour some heresies and schisms compared to others, which brought to the first theological conflicts and oppositions with the popes. The Byzantine empire also confronted itself to specific troubles and thus a specific destiny as fighting the Arabic or Slav invasions brought to a decline of cultural life and the influence of Constantinople. Byzantium was both a 'admired model and a rejected example.' The East further was not able anymore to protect the popes in Italy as papacy remained isolated facing the Barbaric kingdoms. It thus increased in prestige et imposed itself like the sole spiritual point of reference. Questionments in the matter of theology, on a other hand, are already not the same anymore in the East and West. Rome is thinking about ecclesiology and the question of the grace and liberty as Byzantium about political theology and christology. Rome also turned the turning place for the West as it made the link between the Western Churches between themselves. Decisions in terms of religion which are now taken in Constantinople, are without any intervention of papacy and popes are defending their Roman primacy and pose the question of the relationships between State and Church. Any unity then, which may exist between the Eastern and Western Churches were compromises only which were imposed by Byzantium upon Rome, as they were never the emanation of the free will of any pope

Between 450 and 600 A.D., a Christianization of the West took place. The west, albeit it might be considered then like having less importance in terms of apparent power than the East, progressed in terms it was the West, and defining the West. As some are speaking about a 'humble mediocrity' of Rome, the Eastern Roman empire, which was then turning the Byzantine empire, and Greek, really look like a 'hindered giant.' Eastern emperor Justinian indeed, by 500 A.D., is turning back to the idea of the supermacy of the East as the reconquest he performed however was unuseful -North Africa and a part of Italy excepted- as some Byzantine provinces split. Lombards since 550 A.D. did settle in Italy and they took 200 years to draw Byzantines away. Avars, Persians and Slaves are a threat and, above all, the thundering conquests of Arabs were to begin by 632 A.D. The whole East is passing to those as they reached to Spain by 711. Byzantium thus turned to the East and become the Byzantine empire and the dam somehow of the West against the wandering people of Asia. The Byzantine empire is militarizing itself and passed to the Greek language as the 'imperator' turned 'basileus.' Byzantium however was to keep a powerful empire as the Church of Constantinople kept with a influlence and a dynamism in the East. The East was the world of culture, art and cities and the one of the Greco-Latin heritage too. The West, as far as it is concerned, turned towards the Germanic kingdoms as soon as under Pope Gregory the Great, by 600 A.D. The Western dynamism owed to that the peoples had been eventually christianized and that Christendom had settled in Germany and among Western Slavs. The West also was the place of monasticism, which was well adapted to that area which had turn to the countryside only. Monasticism further ceased to be of Eastern influence since 600 A.D. through Irisk monks -which passed from the ideal of Eastern monks of personal perfection to their of missionarizing- and even the first Benedictines. After Justinian had imposed to papacy the control of papal elections -as Byzantium considered its relations with Rome mostly in terms of political control and taxes- popes however could not resolve themselves to the split of Church between a Eastern, and Western halve. Pope Gregory the Great thus, by 600 A.D., wished to be the ruler of Christendom and he imposed papacy in Italy when confronted to the Lombards or he has relations with the Patriarcates of Antioch and Alexandria. Pope Gregory was proud to be a Latin as he was the proponent of a united Church in the diversity of the Eastern and Western Churches. That however was already to officialize the cultural cut which had occurred between both worlds. He was respectful to the Byzantin emperor as Rome officially lied under the rule of him but, at the same time, he inaugurated the independence of papacy! Italian people and Roman noblemen now considered popes like their ruler as they are anti-Greek. Rome too remained then the center of Christendom with Easterners seeing the pope like the Patriarch of Rome and a the ultimate place of appeal as far as theological points were concerned. Varied schisms, moreover, are keeping both areas distant. The Eastern Church is getting distant from the Western Church, which was likely to the detriment of Christian peoples of both civilizational areas. Western Churches however, on their side, turned national mostly and often lost contact with papacy

By the late 7th century, the Byzantine influence increased upon papacy. Popes then are of Greek origin, they are weak and lying between the Byzantine Exarch and the Lombards. Popes of the time thus let Constantinople enounce a certain number of heresies. Since about 680 A.D., the Third Council of Constantinople further put a end to the monothelism, a important heresy, which had been one the reasons which Rome stood against Byzantium. Popes recognized the sovereignty of Constantinople upon Rome as such a political unity however is stained through theological controversies. Rome refused the too much importance Byzantine was taking upon liturgy, doctrine or art, which was a reality. Such a intellectual rebound of papacy eventually allowed the popes to seriously discuss in terms of theology, or their independence, with the Byzantine clerics. To confirm the papal elections passed to the Exarch at that time as that approbation ceased to be required in 752 A.D. That quiet period also made that papacy began to see itself like the ruler of the Universal -Catholic- Church and no more like the one of varied local Churches, the Eastern ones included. As the populations of Rome and Italy took any occasion to uphold the popes against Byzantium, the allegiance of them to the Byzantine empire is basing only upon that Byzantium represents the Christian Empire, the place of culture, a reminder of the Antiquity and, above all also upon that the Byzantine empire is the defendor of papacy in Italy. Popes' strength also relies upon papal domains in Rome and Italy. The Byzantine influence in Rome, since 610 A.D. expressed itself with a flow a numerous monks fleeing from the Balkans and elsewhere as they are Chalcedonians in opinion and they come to reinforce the intellectual potential of papacy. By 700 A.D. Greek clerics are more and more numerous in Rome, there is a influence upon liturgy as such clerics are bilingual Latin-Greek. A whole Byzantine borrough exists in Rome, from the Palatine Hill down to the bank of Tiber near Ste-Maria-in-Cosmedine, with churches, monasteries and a cosmopolitan trading area. Greeks, for example, are the only physicians in Rome. Relations with the Western Churches are lost again now, the one of England excepted. By the end of that period, about 680 A.D., Italiens are enduring Byzantines less and less as a Italian party formed at the papal court

As we now are reaching to the Carolingian era, by the early 8th century A.D., the Arab world turned another power with cities, art and culture they had taken and increased from the Antiquity. The Iconoclastic crisis, above all, since 726 A.D. -which as a confrontation between the Byzantine Emperor and monks- unsettled the Byzantine empire. It is the Iconoclasm which triggered the real split between the popes and the Patriarchs of Constantinople, and the Emperors too. Even if Byzantium at the time kept dreaming about a universal empire, the West passed to the Carolingian reconstruction. Popes ceased to be weak and turned learned back and they rebuilt relations with the West. Since 730 A.D., on the other hand, as they were taken between Lombards and Byzantine heretics, they undertook a 'uncertain or clever' politics. Byzantines were forced to withdraw from Italy by the Lombards as, at the same time, a renewed pressure came from the Arabs. The popes thus perceived Byzantium like on its decline, and incapable of defending Church. Popes, in a remarkable short lapse of time, turned to the West as they definitively cut their relation with the East. Such a rupture however did not mean they cut with the idea of the unity of Church. As far the relation between Church and Charlemagne is concerned, Charles was a cesaropapist too. That view he inherited from his father Pippin who was kin to a reform of the Frankish Church as soon that remained under Frankish control. The Frankish cesaropapism is of Isidorian origin or the political ideas of St. Isidore of Seville, as it is a stand against bad priests or popes, against Byzantium as it is also a worry of the unity of the Frankish kingdom. At the coronation of the year 800 A.D., Charlemagne considered himself a Christian emperor as the pope was considering him like a Roman emperor. Papacy favoured the Carolingian revival but Charlemagne however could not improve the intellectual and moral training of clerics. Monasteries are the ones who beared the weight of the Western Church as Charles, who endeavoured to set the monasteries back under the rule of Frankish bishops, was not especially fond of Benedictine monks. The relations with the Byzantine empire were strained as the revival of the imperial titulature in the West had worried there, Charles performed a reverse alliance with the Abbasids and the theological quarrels about the Filioque and the icons are of importance. Such relations however, they endeavoured to pacify as papacy now tended to pass under the rule of Frankish cesaropapism


By the time of the decline of the Carolingian empire, at last, the Byzantine empire reached a high with the reconquest of territories, a cultural revival as the end of the Iconoclasm, by 847 A.D. was eventually what allowed for the establisment of the Eastern Church's orthodoxy. The fate of both the East and the West however were now separated. Before papacy decline in turn in the Dark Ages, popes posed like rivals of the East in the Slavic marches as the Schism of Photius heralded the final split in 1054 A.D. The decline of the Carolingians, moreover allowed the papacy to set their independency again as popes termed now the Eastern emperor the 'Emperor of the Greeks.' By 1000 A.D. a new world emerged from that whole mutation. The Empire in the West was rattached to Germany, the rest of the West fell into feudalisms, Western trade had been born again and the Carolingian cultural revival perpetuated itself. That was indeed the birth of the West. Like Pope Benedict XVI told during his journey to Germany by September 2001, European culture, had been born like a result from the encounter between Jerusalem -in other worlds, the idea of the unique God, Athens -or the philosophical reason, and Rome -or the juridical thought. It is that encounter which formed the basic identity of Europe. From a other point of view than the one of culture, Europe also is a continent where varied people met in the specific conditions of the Roman empire's collapse, mostly the Celts, Romans, Germans and Slavs. More generally at last, one might ak whether such that nascent European civilization, which was a synthesis of Celtic peoples, German conquerors, the remembrance of Rome, and the Church, is not figuring to the highest point the Neolithic civilization which had been born 10,000 years before, a civilization of farming, pathways and empires which itself had completed the slow evolution of mankind since its inception

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 6/7/2018. contact us at
Free Web Hosting