- Why is it difficult to date the beginning of the Byzantine Empire? What is the justification for
choosing the accession of the emperor Heraclius as a starting point?
- Why was Byzantine political history marked by intrigues and palace revolts?
- How did changes in agriculture and the farming classes affect the welfare of the Byzantine
- Explain the issues in the Iconoclastic Controversy. What were its results.
- What significant differences in religious trends and emphases can you detect between the
Byzantine and Roman churches?
- Considering its constant difficulties, how do you account for the long life of the Byzantine
- If it is true that "what the Byzantines themselves cared about most was usually religion," how
did this attitude affect Byzantine history?
- "The structural design of Santa Sophia was something altogether new in the history of
architecture." Explain the meaning of this statement.
- In what ways was Byzantine civilization superior to that of western Europe?
- Through what channels did Byzantium, both in its own day and later, influence the West?
- What are the main doctrines of the religion of Islam?
- Compare the views of Jesus held by Muhammad and the Apostle Paul.
- What factors other than religion account for the rapidity and extent of the Arab conquests?
- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the three great Simitic religions, are closely related. What
are the main points of difference among them?
- Explain the statement that "the Umayyad caliphate appears to some extent like a Byzantine
- In what ways might it be said that early and medieval Islamic society was more progressive
than most societies of its day? What limitations were there in its democratic or equalitarian
- What were the major elements of Islamic philosophy?
- What were the leading Islamic accomplishments in science and medicine?
- What specific contributions did Islamic mathematicians make to mathematical knowledge?
- "Islamic art often seems more secular and 'modern' than any other art of premodern times."
Why is this the case?
- What, for the West, has been the "legacy" of Islam?
- What contribution did the Frankish monarchy make to the future of Western civilization?
- What did Gregory the Great add to the work of the earlier Latin Church fathers?
- How did papal ambition and the spread of Benedictine monasticism contribute to the growth
of Frankish power and the Carolingian accession?
- Why does Charlemagne rank as one of the most important rulers of the medieval period?
- What was the nature of the "Carolingian Renaissance"? What were its limitations?
- In spite of a relatively low level of civilization in western Europe at the end of the tenth
century, what had been accomplished that held the promise of a brighter future?
- Investigate further any of the following:
a. The migration of the Slavs
b. The architecture of Santa Sophia
c. The Judaic-Christian roots of Islam
d. Arabic science
e. The legacy of Islam to the West
f. The split between the Eastern and Western Churches
g. The coronation of Charlemagne
h. The reign of Alfred the Great
- "If the Byzantines had not prospered and defended Europe, Western Christian civilization
might well have been snuffed out." Explore further what reasons there might be for accepting this
- In what respects are Islam and Christianity contradictory? In what respects are they similar?
- Read History of the Franks by Bishop Gregory of Tours and try to account for the
churchman's apparently complacent attitude toward the crimes of King Clovis.
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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Last revised January 30, 1997
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