How to reverse the decline of an empire? : two Byzantine case studies: Herakleios and Alexios Komnenos

Title: How to reverse the decline of an empire? : two Byzantine case studies: Herakleios and Alexios Komnenos
Author: Meško, Marek
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2016, vol. 21, iss. 1, pp. 119-134
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Empires tend to have similar lives to those of living organisms. They are born, they grow, they prosper and flourish, and eventually they decline and fall. The same observation applies to the Byzantine Empire whose history is composed of a 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; nonetheless, the Byzantine Empire somehow recovered and survived, in albeit much diminished form, until 1453 when it was finally extinguished by the Ottoman Turks. Thus, two questions arise: how did the Byzantines manage to survive in spite of all those reverses and crises? What could be possibly learned from the Byzantine experience in view of crisis management even today? In an attempt to answer these questions two crucial periods of Byzantine history are shortly discussed. The former is an extraordinary crisis which occurred during the reign of emperor Herakleios (610–641), and the latter an attempt for renewal which took place during the reign of Alexios Komnenos (1081–1118). Both emperors managed to stop and reverse the effects of decline that plagued the Empire during their troubled reigns, and were even capable to restore its fortune for a while.
  • This work was supported by the Program of "Employment of Newly Graduated Doctors of Science for Scientific Excellence" (grant number CZ.1.07/2.3.00/30.0009) co-financed from European Social Fund and the state budget of the Czech Republic.
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