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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.
In addition, the imperial army was stretched too thin, and would struggle in vain to maintain the territory conquered during Justinian’s rule.
The term “Byzantine” derives from Byzantium, an ancient Greek colony founded by a man named Byzas.
Located on the European side of the Bosporus (the strait linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean), the site of Byzantium was ideally located to serve as a transit and trade point between Europe and Asia Minor. D., Roman Emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium as the site of a new Roman capital, Constantinople.
In 364, Emperor Valentinian I again divided the empire into western and eastern sections, putting himself in power in the west and his brother Valens in the east.
The fate of the two regions diverged greatly over the next several centuries.