Front Page Titles (by Subject) 9.: PERIODS OF THE LATER EMPIRE, 610 TO 1204 — ( Ch. XLVIII .) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8
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9.: PERIODS OF THE LATER EMPIRE, 610 TO 1204 — ( Ch. XLVIII .) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 8.
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PERIODS OF THE LATER EMPIRE, 610 TO 1204 — (Ch. XLVIII.)
Many readers of the xlviiith chapter, having travelled over the long series of the later Emperors through a period of six hundred years, may come away with a bewildered feeling of having seen much and distinguished little, and with a conviction that it would require an arduous effort of the memory to retain the succession of the princes and the association of each with his own acts. The memory, however, will find the task considerably alleviated, when the whole period is divided into certain lesser periods into which it naturally falls; and it might have been well if Gibbon had added to his lucid exposition of the plan of his own work (in the introduction to this chapter) a brief survey of the six hundred years, according to its divisions. These divisions roughly correspond to dynasties.
(1) Heraclian Dynasty. Seventh century. 610-717.
In this period the Empire declines in power, and the boundaries retreat, through the encroachments of the Saracen and Slavonic invaders. It ends with twenty years of anarchy ( 695-717): Justinian II. being overthrown; followed by two tyrants; restored again to power; killed; and followed by three tyrants.
(2) Iconoclastic Period. Eighth and ninth centuries. 717-867.
This is the period of revival The territorial extent of the Empire is still further reduced, but, within its diminished borders, between the Haemus and the Taurus, it is consolidated and renovated. This is mainly the work of the two great Emperors Leo III. and his son Constantine V. (717-775). On the principle of dynastic division, this period falls into three parts: —
(a) Syrian (commonly called Isaurian) Dynasty. 717-802.
(b) Three Emperors who did not found dynasties. 802-820.
(c) Amorian Dynasty. 820-867.
But it may be more usefully divided into two parts, representing the two triumphs and defeats of iconoclasm.
(a) 717-813. Doctrine of iconoclasm established under the first three Emperors (717-780); reaction against it, and restoration of images, under Irene and Constantine (780-802).
The following Emperor (Nicephorus) is indifferent, and his successor (Michael I.) is an image-worshipper.
(b) 813-867. Iconoclasm re-established by three Emperors (813-842); reaction against it, and restoration of images, under Theodora and Michael III. (842-867). Thus the history of iconoclasm in the ninth century is a replica of its history in the eighth; and observe that in both cases the reaction was carried out under a female sovereign.
(3) Basilian, or Armenian (“Macedonian”), Dynasty. 867-1057.
This period is marked by a reaction against the policy of the Iconoclasts (cp. Appendix 10), and by a remarkable territorial expansion, rendered possible by the consolidation which had been the work of the great Iconoclasts. We may conveniently distinguish three sub-periods: (a) 867-959, marked by great legislative activity, and some attempts to recover lost provinces — successful only in Italy; (b) 959-1025, marked by large acquisitions of long-lost territory, both in Asia and Europe; (c) 1025-1057, stationary.
The succession of these three periods of decline, renovation, and expansion, is illustrated by an exact parallel in the succession of three corresponding but shorter periods, in the fifth and sixth centuries. There we see the decline and territorial diminution of the Empire, in the reigns of Arcadius and Theodosius II., under the stress of the Gothic and Hunnic invasions; the renovation, with financial retrenchment, under Zeno and Anastasius; the brilliant territorial expansion, under Justinian, rendered possible by the careful policy of his predecessors. It is also remarkable that the third period in both cycles is marked by great legislative activity. Further, the last part of the Basilian period ( 1025-1057) corresponds to the reigns of Justin II., Tiberius II., and Maurice.
(4) Comnenian Dynasty. 1057-1204.
At the very beginning of this period, the Empire, undermined by centuries of a pernicious economic system and strained to the utmost by the ambitious policy of the Basilian period, yields to the invasion of the Seljuk Turks and loses territory which it had never lost before. A series of able, nay, brilliant, princes preserve the fabric for another century and a quarter; but, when it passes into the hands of the incapable Angeli, it collapses at the first touch ( 1204).
This period of decline, following on the period of expansion, corresponds to the earlier period of decline in the 7th century, following on the expansion of the 6th. The Persian invasion under Phocas and Heraclius corresponds to the Seljuk invasion under Romanus Diogenes; while Heraclius, Constans II., and Constantine IV. correspond to Alexius, John, and Manuel: we have even a parallel to the wayward Justinian II. in the wayward Andronicus.
The two cycles might be presented thus: —