Textual Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire.

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Last updated: September 4, 2019

Textual Evidence suggests that there were numerous instances from 200 AD to 1000 AD that exhibited the presence of both changes and continuities in the political construction on the Mediterranean World. Although the Mediterranean world has seen numerous changes in terms of power shift and political construction, it had its share of continuities.

The most prominent continuity found in the Mediterranean World was the use of Ancient Roman Law for the creation of laws in the Western and the Eastern Roman Empires from 285 AD (split of the Roman Empire) to 1453 AD (Fall of the Byzantine Empire). One of the major changes included the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and the shift of power from the Romans to the Germanic Tribes. The other change included the split of the Roman Empire to form two distinct empires that shared very few traits and were mostly independent, from its creation in 285 AD.In a much broader context, The Roman Empire (in the Classical Period) was eventually split into two major Empires: The Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire.

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Emperor Diocletian made the bold decision of splitting the Empire and moving East in order to prevent the collapse of the entire Roman Empire at the hands of nomadic tribes like the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. Thus, in 476 AD the Western Roman Empire fell to the Visigoths. Even after the city of Rome fell in the 5th Century, contemporary Romans felt that the empire survived by moving East. In this way, Eastern and Western Rome were one in the same. It was only later that historians designated the title Byzantine Empire to the remaining remnants of the Roman Empire in the East. Much like the Western Roman Empire, the Byzantines also had their share of foreign conflict, especially with the Abbasid Caliphate and the Seljuk Turks. Although the Byzantine lasted longer than its western counterpart, it met its demise at the hands of the Ottomans in 1453 AD.

A major change during the time period of 200 AD – 1000 AD was the split of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire, by far, was the largest body that encompassed the Mediterranean and was able to unite the entirety of its extent; from the British Isles all the way to Persia and the Western border of the Modern day India. Sadly this great empire came with its own share of problems.

This huge empire was very difficult to manage under a single monarch and numerous Germanic Tribes tried to invade Rome. This one large Roman Empire became two distinct empires that were able to create their own cultural identities and differences. Although one of the Empires fell to the Germanic Tribes in 476 AD, the Byzantine Empire was able to survive until 1453 AD. Emperor Diocletian, in 285 AD split the Empire into two halves: the West, which he gave to Maximian, and the East, which he took himself. This was a very crucial decision that enabled the survival of the Roman Empire despite losing control over Rome.

The reason why the Roman Empire was split into two separate empires was to have a more manageable empire. The East truly benefited, since its capital Constantinople (est. 310 AD) sat at the heart of the Bosphorus Strait, acting as an intermediary between major trade routes, both land, and sea. The various traders allowed for the East to be more urbanized and diverse.

This resulted in a completely different cultural pattern making the two empires distinctive. The split allowed Diocletian to prevent the fall of the entire Roman Empire, although the west couldn’t be saved.A major continuity during the time period of 200 AD to 1000 AD within the Mediterranean World was the use of Roman Law.

The Roman Law was introduced in the year c. 449 BC with the introduction of the Twelve Tables and Draco’s Law Code. The law was made to find the most appropriate manner to maintain civil order while establishing legal penalties. About 900 years later, in 529 AD, the Roman Law was still used in the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Justinian I used several Roman documents to make The Digest, an 800,000-page law code written in Greek that was also built to maintain basic civil order.

Not only was the Roman Law used in the Byzantine Empire, it was also used in the Western Roman Empire. The reason both the Empires chose to base their law code on the Roman Law was because the purpose of Roman Law was to maintain basic civil order in the most appropriate way possible by establishing legal penalties for crimes and how society functioned. Since both the empires shared their roots, the citizens were readily able to adapt to the modified law code(s).Much like the Roman Empire, the use of Roman Law is evident today as well.

The Napoleonic Code, developed by Napoleon Bonaparte himself in 1804 after the French Revolution, still used by France, was very much similar to that of the Justinian’s The Institutes. The categories of the Napoleonic Code were not drawn from the earlier French laws, but instead from Justinian’s sixth-century codification of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis and within it, the Institutes. Napoleon set out to reform the French legal system in accordance with the ideas of the French Revolution because the old feudal and royal laws seemed confusing and contradictory. Even though the Napoleonic Code was not the first civil code and did not represent the whole of his empire, it was one of the most influential.

It was adopted in many countries occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, and thus formed the basis of the private law systems of Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal (and their former colonies), and Poland (1808–1946). The reason these countries adopted the Napoleonic Code to some extent was that the code aimed to maintain a civil order while finding the most appropriate manner to punish a person for the crimes he or she has committed.A major change during the time period of 200 AD – 1000 AD was the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of small Germanic kingdoms, kinship groups, and empires.

The Western Roman Empire was a very important part of the Ancient Roman Empire. The seat of the Pope being located in Rome made it a very important cultural center for Catholic Christians. But, like every other thing, the empire came to an end at the hands of Germanic Tribes.

After 476 AD the Empire collapsed and the different regions were taken over by various Germanic Tribes. One of the most prominent tribes that based in Italy were the Visigoths. We also see that power continuously shifts from one group to other. After the Visigoths, the Frankish ruler Clovis founded the Merovingian Empire (c. 481-751 AD).

After the Merovingians came the Carolingians (c. 751-888 AD), and the process continued until the entire land was divided amongst lords and no emperors/kings remained. The sack of Rome in 410 AD ultimately led to a chain of events which dealt the final blow on the Western Roman Empire. The reason why the power constantly shifted from one person to another after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD was mainly due to weak decentralized power and the abrupt introduction of the Bubonic and the Pneumonic Plagues. These harsh conditions limited contact and thus trade with foreign powers.

This led to a economic downfall and thus inflation. None of the imperial powers were able to maintain power for a long-term, at least not as long as the Roman Empire.

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