posted on 11 April 2017
Written by Frank Li
After comparing Ancient China with Ancient Greece (Ancient Greece vs. Ancient China) and Ancient Rome (Ancient Rome vs. Ancient China), let me now compare it with the era of the Byzantine Empire. It is an era because it spans about 1,000 years, involving many historical events that have implications for the ultimate purpose of this series of comparisons: helping my fellow Americans better understand China.
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1. Roman Empire vs. Byzantine Empire
2. Timelines: the era of the Byzantine Empire vs. China
The image below highlights the era of the Byzantine Empire and Ancient China in timelines.
Let's briefly examine these two timelines one by one.
3. Timeline: the era of the Byzantine Empire
With the end of the Roman Empire in 476, Western Europe went into a Dark Age, lasting several hundred years. This gave the Roman Catholic Church a great opportunity to gain enormous power, because "church" was the only pillar of support for people, while "state", the other pillar (Church vs. State), was very weak most of the time.
In contrast, the Byzantine Empire thrived, including the wide-spreading of Christianity throughout its vast territories. Unfortunately for the Roman Catholic Church, this also resulted in the birth of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which split from the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the first millennium.
Moreover, the Arab world countered the Byzantine Empire with its own power and prosperity, including the birth of Islam (Wikipedia - History of Islam) and some world-changing inventions, as shown by the video below.
A few highlights from the timeline:
4. Timeline: Ancient China
In parallel with the era of the Byzantine Empire, there were three great dynasties in China:
Unlike the Byzantine Empire, which still chased the illusive Roman dream of "one state, one society, and one ideology (i.e. Christianity)", especially under its greatest Emperor Justinian I, the Chinese lived on a much more realistic and achievable dream: "one state, one society, and no religion", thanks to the solid foundation laid by the First Emperor: "one written language, one culture, one people, and one emperor"!
The Byzantine Empire ended in 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. The Chinese Empire lived on for a few hundred more years ...
6. Origins of Christianity and Islam
Two informative readings:
The more I study the Romans, including the Byzantine Empire, the more I think it is very likely that the Romans indeed created both Christianity, as we know it today, and Islam, the original version. For more discussion on this subject, stay tuned for my future publications.
7. History repeats itself
Three examples in America:
Once again, the main purpose of comparing China with the West historically is to help my fellow Americans better understand China. With Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire in sequence, do you have an improved understand of China now? Stay tuned for more comparisons following the Byzantine Empire ...
Now, please sit back and enjoy the short video below.
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