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Many great monuments of the empire would be built under Justinian, including the domed Church of Holy Wisdom, or Hagia Sophia (532-37 A. Justinian also reformed and codified Roman law, establishing a Byzantine legal code that would endure for centuries and help shape the modern concept of the state.

At the time of Justinian’s death, the Byzantine Empire reigned supreme as the largest and most powerful state in Europe.

The eastern half of the Roman Empire proved less vulnerable to external attack, thanks in part to its geographic location.

With Constantinople located on a strait, it was extremely difficult to breach the capital’s defenses; in addition, the eastern empire had a much shorter common frontier with Europe.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of the Byzantine Empire was its longevity: It was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age.

The citizens of Constantinople and the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire identified strongly as Romans and Christians, though many of them spoke Greek and not Latin.During the late 10th and early 11th centuries, under the rule of the Macedonian dynasty founded by Michael III’s successor, Basil, the Byzantine Empire enjoyed a golden age.Though it stretched over less territory, Byzantium had more control over trade, more wealth and more international prestige than under Justinian.In the west, constant attacks from German invaders such as the Visigoths broke the struggling empire down piece by piece until Italy was the only territory left under Roman control.In 476, the barbarian Odoacer overthrew the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, and Rome had fallen.

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