Flourishing for hundreds of years and being one of the greatest and richest empires in history, the Byzantine Empire ran its course and came to a tragic end. Justinian one of the most powerful rulers of the Byzantine Empire, inherited the empire after his uncle’s death. He rose the empire in a time of disorder, he brought back honor to the Byzantine Empire. He expanded the empire into Africa, Europe, and Asia. The economy grew, becoming greater than other empires. Although, he brought riches he did it through unorthodox ways, such as, “He had no scruples about appropriating other people’s property, and did not even think any excuse necessary, legal or illegal, for confiscating what did not belong to him. And when it was his, he was more than ready to squander it in insane display, or give it as an unnecessary bribe to the barbarians.” (Lualdi 155). However, in the long run, all of these improvements did not last and Byzantine Empire vanished, due to, ongoing civil wars and disunity within the empire.
One of the wars that had a great impact on the downfall of the Byzantine empire was the Byzantine civil war of 1321-1328. It took place in Thrace, Macedonia, and Constantinople. This war was fought within the empire between the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and his grandson Andronikos III Palaiologos. They were fighting over who got to control the Byzantine Empire. Andronikos III had many supporters including two governors in Thrace. Andronikos III initiated an uprising, an army was led in the direction of the capital, coercing his grandfather to agree to give him the title of co-emperor. Andronikos II gave his grandson
coercing his grandfather to agree to give him the title of co-emperor. A peace treaty was reached, Andronikos II gave his grandson Thrace and districts in Macedonia. However, this treaty was short lived, one of the governors of Thrace, Syrgiannes that supported Andronikos III did not fell that he has been repaid properly and switched sides on Andronikos II. He influenced Andronikos II to continue the war with his grandson, doing so and failing. Seeing that they had failed his started to plot against Andronikos II to murder him and take his throne. Nonetheless, he failed and was imprisoned. All of the troop movement brought a major change to the Byzantine emperor, it intervened with trade and it also minimized agricultural production. In 1327, Andronikos III fought for Macedonian territories and won, after this victory he decided to obtain his grandfather’s territory Constantinople. In 1328, he went into Constantinople and took over the city. Andronikos III put John Kantakouzenos in charge of the politics of the empire, while he ran the army. This ongoing war reduced the value of their money and drained the empire.
The war that led to the destruction of the Byzantine Empire was the Byzantine and Ottoman wars these wars led to the destruction of the empire and brought the rise of the Ottoman empire. In 1453, the Ottoman’s saw the that the Byzantine Empire was in. They saw the opportunity they had and took over the Byzantine Empire. They took down the Byzantine Empire with their weapons and rampaged in capturing the empire. The Byzantine Emperor had built a great wall that they thought was indestructible, however, they witnessed that with their own eyes when the wall came crumbling down which is why building walls do not work, they ultimately come down.
Another reason for the destruction of this incredible Empire was they disunity within the empire. People are able to see that through the wars between Andronikos II & III, how people took sides and divided literally the empire. Also from Justinian’s action, “he was encouraging civil strife and frontier warfare to confound the Romans, with only one thought in his mind, that the earth should run red with human blood and he more and more booty, he invented a new means of murdering his subjects.” (Lualdi 156). People feared him when a ruler should bring safety to his subject he brought the opposed. People did not stand up to him or dared to look at him weirdly because if they did they would be, “castrated and then exhibited in a public parade” (Lualdi 156). Theodora the empress, the wife of Justinian also shows characteristics of why there was disunity within the empire, “Too her body she gave greater care than was necessary, if less than she thought desirable. For early she entered that bath and late she left it; and having bathed, went to breakfast. After breakfast she rested. At dinner and supper she partook of every kind of food and drink; and many hours she devoted to sleep, by day till nightfall, by nightfall till the rising sun. Though she wasted her hours thus intemperately, what time of the day remained she deemed ample for managing the Roman Empire.” (Lualdi 156). This shows how self-centered Theodora was she left the empire as her last priority, when it should have been her first. For an empire to succeed you need to spend time with your subject so that they can be loyal to you and make them your first priority.
If the Byzantine Empire would have done a few things differently it might have survived a couple hundred more years. It had great riches, however, due to how the rulers ruled the empire it was brought to the downfall of the empire. Major wars and unity of the empire contributed greatly to the downfall bringing a rise to another great empire.