By Sidney Painter
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Extra resources for A History of the Middle Ages 284–1500
Meager indeed would be our knowledge of the pre-Christian eras had the Byzantine Empire never existed. During the first period of Byzantine history, 565-717, the empire almost succumbed to the foes who beset it on every side. In the north the most dangerous of these were the A vars, a fierce Turkish people much like the later Magyars. The center of the A var power was in the Hungarian plain and the country west of the Danube and east of the Alps. Near them lived many Slavic tribes that were inclined to join them in their assaults on the empire.
An incompetent ruler was likely to be deposed before he could do too mud. harm. But frequently the leader of the successful revolt was no better, and several times the empire was cursed by a series of incompetent rulers. The Byzantine emperor was a sacred person appointed by God to rule over men. He was crowned and anointed in solemn ceremonies and everything connected with him was holy. Heraclius recognized 42 CHAPTER n: Eastern Orthodox Civilization that he was a ruler in the tradition of the semidivine Hellenistic kings by taking the title basileus.
The Germans did not want to overthrow the Roman Empire. They simply wanted to share its obvious wealth. The gradual Germanization of the western provinces of the Empire, and the Romanization of the Germanic peoples that marked the third and fourth centuries were greatly accelerated in the fifth century by a new series of German migrations. D. :1s. They represented a general southward and westward migration of the Germanic peoples. The Germans entered the empire under widely varying circumstances.