Eastern Roman Empire

As the west would decline during the 5th century, the richer east would be spared much of the destruction, and in the 6th century the Eastern Empire under the emperor Justinian I reconquered the Italian peninsula from the Ostrogoths, North Africa from the Vandals (their kingdom collapsing in 533), southern Spain, and a narrow tract of the Illyrian coast. These gains were lost during subsequent reigns. Of the many accepted dates for the end of the Roman state, the latest is 610. This is when the Emperor Heraclius made sweeping reforms, forever changing the face of the empire. Greek was readopted as the language of government and Latin influence waned. By 610, the Classical Roman Empire had fallen into the rule of the Greeks and evolved into what modern historians now call the Middle Age Byzantine Empire, although the Empire was never called that way by its contemporaries (rather it was called Romania or Basileia Romaion). The Byzantines continued to call themselves Romans until their fall to Ottoman Turks in 1453. That year the Roman empire was ultimately ended by the Fall of Constantinople. Constantine XI, emperor of the Byzantine Empire during 1453 is considered the last Roman emperor. The Greek ethnic self-descriptive name "Romans" survives to this day. Others have claimed the legacy of Rome at various times; the Seljuk Turkish name for the Sultan was Sultan of Rum, indicating their belief they were the legitimate descendants and rulers of the Roman State.

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