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Map Depicting Roman Empire at the Time of Muhammad

Map Depicting Roman Empire at the Time of Muhammad Geography Disasters Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Famous Historical Events Philosophy Social Studies

This map, based on Warren Treadgold's Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081, shows the military organization of the “Eastern Roman Empire” at the death of Emperor Constans II (in 668 A.D.). 

The Emperor died - on the 15th of September, that year - when a chamberlain bashed-in his head with a heavy soapdish.  It was an event which led to world-changing consequences.

By the time of Muhammad, and the rise of Islam (which united the Arabs), the heavily fortified capital city of the “Eastern Roman Empire” (also known as the "Holy Roman Empire" or “Byzantium”) was Constantinople (not Rome).

We can learn more about the make-up of this map from the back cover of Treadgold’s book which summarizes the Army’s role (and power) in Byzantium:

The Byzantium Empire was almost always ready to fight, and often fought for its life.

During much of its history its provinces were military districts called themes, and acclamation by the army, not coronation or inheritance, was what made a man emperor.

The army overthrew twenty-odd rulers, and tried to oust many more.  It was large and expensive but on the whole it served its purpose well.  Over eight centuries, despite losing a number of battles, the army succeeded in preserving both itself and Byzantium.  In view of its importance in Byzantine history, it is surprising that this volume is the first general book on the Byzantine army in any language.

The author traces the army's impact on the Byzantine state and society from the army's reorganization under Diocletian (284-305) until its disintegration in the aftermath of the battle of Mazikert (1071).  He suggests solutions to some major unresolved questions of Byzantine military history:  how big was the army, how was it organized, how much of it was cavalry, how much was it paid, how was it supplied, when and why did it receive land grants in the themes, and why, after surviving so many disasters, did it fail to survive the not particularly disastrous eleventh century?

Click on the image for a better view of the map.  Also see pages 62 and 67 of Treadgold's book for more information on this rendering by Friesian.com.


Media Credits

Map image by Friesian.com, copyright Friesian.com, all rights reserved.  Permission granted, by Friesian.com, to use the map PROVIDED that proper attribution is given and a link to the map page is provided by all subsequent users.

 

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