It was also one of the greatest commercial centers of Europe during the Middle Ages.
Byzantium gathered all the classical knowledge from the Roman Empire and tried to maintain and develop them. "Its rich historiographical tradition preserved ancient knowledge upon which splendid art, architecture, literature and technological achievements were built" (Wikipedia, 2005, par.19). It is likely that the Renaissance could not have been so prosperous were it not for the foundation laid in Byzantium, and the group of Greek scholars to the West the Empire had fallen. The power of its theologians was large and it influenced many Western scholars, and their subtraction from the "canon" of Western theology in next centuries has only served to weaken the canon and make it poorer (Cantor, 1963). The Byzantine Empire brought common acceptance of Christianity to Western European countries - possibly one of the main aspects of a contemporary Europe's identity.
Under the rule of Emperor Justinian, Byzantium got the body of laws -the Corpus iuris civilis. This was not merely a prominent legal achievement in codifying Roman law, it was also the first organized effort to combine Roman law and jurisprudence with Christianity. Even though Byzantium would finally weaken in power, from the eleventh century, Justinian's Corpus iuris civilis became the basis of all European law and legal practice (except for England). In general, this set of laws prescribed tolerance to foreigners, liberty of thought within the frames of Christian Orthodoxy and general rights of the residents of the Empire. Attitude towards women was tolerant comparing to Islamic tradition. Monogyny was obligatory in Byzantine, while Islamic tradition practiced polygyny. In Byzantine, women were compared to children and seniors: they were the weakest and most vulnerable, so it was necessary to protect them. In Muslim countries, women were nothing but men's property, they were allowed to wear determined kinds of clothes and had to behave according to the certain rules.
Political intolerance predominated in Asian countries: foreigners had restricted rights and were allowed to visit only certain places (except the mosque and so on) and had to be additional taxes, such as jizya poll tax ; they were always treated as strangers and people of 'wrong faith'. Jihad ('holy war') was one of the main aspects of Islamic doctrine, so Muslims were free to deceive, betray (and if necessary kill) people of 'wrong faith' . "Nature guided the Muslims to develop values and ways of behavior such as: repression of the other (since in Asian life, a person either controls or is controlled); constant preparation for war in order to achieve hegemony; living in a patriarchal system; contempt for others and for culture; and an amazing ability to shift loyalties" (Memri, 2005, par.8). On the other hand, Muslims created magnificent culture, developed sciences (algebra, geometry, chemistry) philosophy, architecture and fine arts. Lustered glass was the most obvious Islamic contribution to modern ceramics. Manuscript illumination in Islamic world was famous and greatly respected art, and portrait miniature painting was widespread in Persia.
By 364 AD, the Roman Empire had been completely split into two different states: The Eastern Roman Empire, and the Western Roman Empire. The Western Empire soon fell after the invasion of