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The Western and Eastern Roman Empire

How and why was the history of the eastern half of the Roman Empire so different from the western half? What factors contributed to the growth of a distinctive Western European culture?

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The Western Roman Empire refers to the western half of the Roman Empire, from its division by Diocletian in 286; the other half of the Roman Empire became known as the Eastern Roman Empire, today widely known as the Byzantine Empire. The capital of the Western Roman Empire was in Mediolanum (modern Milan), until it was moved to Ravenna in 402.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the eastern Byzantine Empire laid claims on areas of the West which had been occupied by several tribes. In the 6th century, the Byzantine Empire managed to reconquer large areas of the former Western Roman Empire. The most successful were the campaigns of the Byzantine generals Belisarius and Narses on behalf of Emperor Justinian I from 533 to 554. The Vandal-occupied former Roman territory in North Africa was regained, particularly the territory centred around the city of Carthage. The campaign eventually moved into Italy and reconquered it completely. Minor territories were taken as far west as the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

It appeared at the time that perhaps Rome could be reconstituted. However, the tribal influence had caused far too much damage to these former Roman provinces, both economically and culturally. Not only were they extremely costly to maintain, the invasion and propagation of the Germanic tribes throughout these territories meant that much of the Roman culture and identity that had ...

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How and why was the history of the eastern half of the Roman Empire so different from the western half; What factors contributed to the growth of a distinctive Western European culture.

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