How to reverse decline of an empire? Two Byzantine case studies: Heraclius and Alexios Komnenos



Year of publication 2014
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Empires tend to have similar trajectories to those of living organisms. They are born, they grow, they prosper and flourish, and then they eventually decline and fall. The same observation applies to the Byzantine Empire with its history composed of succession of periods of growth and decline. Yet, the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire, outlasted its Western counterpart by roughly one millennium. There were several deeply critical moments during this time span that threatened its very existence, but somehow the Byzantine Empire recovered and existed until 1453 when it was finally brought to end by Ottoman Turks. In my paper I focus on two such cases. The first crisis occurred during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-641) and the second during the reign of Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118). Both emperors managed to halt and reverse the effects of decline that plagued the Byzantine Empire during their reigns, and even succeeded in restoring its fortune for a while. I will therefore attempt to identify the crucial measures both emperors took and if possible, compare and analyze them.
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