Empire dominating Anatolia and southeastern parts of Europe from 395 until 1453, although the process of making it an independent empire started in 330. The Byzantine Empire was a continuation of the Roman Empire, representing its eastern part. It would through the 5th century largely become the only empire in the Mediterranean Sea.
The name Byzantine Empire is an academic term, used to differentiate this empire from the former Roman one. It was derived from the original name of Constantinople: Byzants. The rulers in Constantinope themselves continued the use of the term "Roman," and their subjects were referred to as Rhomaioi, "Romans".
The major language of the empire was Greek, but the original languages of every region were commonly used.
After a number of attacks by Muslim Arabs in the late 7th century, the rulers of Byzantium reformed the army. The army corps administered and taxed their own districts. This would strain the development in the empire, and most cities and towns fell into decline.
The empire saw a period of cultural, territorial and economic advances in the 10th and 11th centuries. Towards the end of the 11th century, the empire started to isolate itself culturally, while Europe states and the Muslim world made new advances in fields of science, military and economics.
Byzantium was originally a Greek colony on the western part of the Bosporus.
330 CE: Byzantium is named Constantinople by the Roman emperor Constantine 1, and made into an administrative city for the eastern part of the empire.
395: Emperor Theodosius divides the Roman Empire between his two sons, as well as making Christianity the only religion of the state.
476: The western part of the former Roman Empire is conquered by the Ostrogoths, ruling out any possible reunification of the two halves.
Middle 6th century: North Africa, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and parts of Spain are conquered by Emperor Justinian 1 and his wife, Theodora. The price of this policy was high, emptying the treasury and making the population suffer from heavy taxation.
Late 6th century: Much of the Italian territory is lost, and the Balkans suffer substantially from foreign raids.
7th century: Most of the Balkans are lost to the Turkic Avars and Slavic tribes.
628: A long period of war with Persia ends with Byzantine victory. Lost lands of Syria, Palestine and Egypt are recovered.
634: Southeastern borders of the empire are attacked by Muslim Arabs. A period of 8 years leads to a number of Muslim victories, during which they take control over Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and Egypt.
670's: Constantinople is besieged by Muslim troops.
717-718: A second siege of Constantinople by Muslim troops.
Early 9th century: Recovery for the Byzantine Empire, as the Muslim advances have halted and Byzantine strategies have been improved.
Early 10th century: Anatolian and Balkan territory is regained.
970's: Bulgaria is occupied.
1054: With the schism between the Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church, many of the cultural ties between Constantinople and Europe are cut.
Late 11th century: Emperor Alexius 1 calls for aid from Europe, as he faces increasing Turkish control in the Middle East. This precipitates 200 years of Crusades.
1204: Constantinople is seized and plundered by Crusaders. They form the Latin Empire of Constantinople. The Byzantine rulers manage to control some regions, most of them distant from Constantinople, but Nicaea (modern Iznik) becomes their capital, just 150 km away.
1261: Constantinople is recaptured by Emperor Michael 8 Palaeologus. The empire controlled little more than than northeastern Anatalolia and modern Greece. Agriculture was inefficient and yielded insignificant tax revenue for the state.
Early 14th century: Emergence of the kingdom of the Ottomans, which would develop into an empire. Initially, they make advances into the Anatolian territories of Byzantium.
Middle 14th century: Most of the Balkan territory is lost to the Ottomans as well.
Around 1400: Byzantium is reduced to a city state, controlling Constantinople and some coastal cities in Greece and the northern Black Sea.
1453: Constantinople falls to the Ottomans, bringing the empire to its final end.