By Antony Alcock (auth.)
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Extra info for A Short History of Europe: From the Greeks and Romans to the Present Day
8 And near Byzantium a crisis in the Christian church was calling for his attention. As the Church expanded it began to include people and ideas from many different backgrounds. It had to fight pressures from paganism and Judaism, to sort out attitudes to contemporary customs and culture, and decide between beliefs and opinions about issues on which there were no precedents to guide its thinking. When Constantine became master of the East in 324 he found a dispute raging between Alexander, bishop of Alexandria and his presbyter, Arius.
The eastern half, on the other hand, continued for another thousand years. So why did the western half of the Empire collapse and the eastern half survive? Basically the western Empire fell because it was over-extended and there was a palpable collapse in public spirit and morale. First of all the frontiers in the west were vulnerable. Once the tribes broke through across the Rhine or Danube there was no second line of defence except the Alps and the Pyrenees Second, the west - Britain, Gaul and Spain - was less populated, less cultivated and less rich than the east.
The political decline in the status of Rome as a result of Diocletian's division of the Empire and the decision of Maximian to move the western capital to Milan was further accelerated by Constantine's decision to make Byzantium the new, sole capital of the Empire. But paradoxically it contributed to the rise and independence of a strong western Church. The divorce in the West between the temporal and spiritual powers arose from the attitude of the Church to the State and its values. To begin with the western Church accepted the idea of temporal supremacy but it soon moved to propounding equality, before claiming outright church superiority.
A Short History of Europe: From the Greeks and Romans to the Present Day by Antony Alcock (auth.)