The Byzantine Empire is also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, for it was in fact a continuation of the Roman Empire into its eastern part. At its greatest size, during the 500's AD, Byzantine included parts of southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. The Byzantine people called themselves Romans although they were actually descendants of various ancient peoples and they spoke Greek. The word Byzantine, in fact, comes from "Byzantium," which is the Greek name for a city on the Bosphorus. The Greeks colonized the area first, in the mid-600's BC, even before Alexander the Great brought his troops into Anatolia (334 BC). Greek culture continued its influence long after the region became part of the Roman Empire, in the 100's BC. But it was when Roman emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople (Istanbul today), in 330 AD, that the Byzantine Empire really began. It lasted over 1000 years, ending finally in 1453, when the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. Christianity had a strong influence on Byzantine art, music, and architecture. Since Constantinople was the political center of the Empire, it also was the educational center, where future government officials learned to read and write the language of ancient Greece. Thus this period produced remarkable works in history as well as fine poetry, and much religious prose. All the visual arts flourished, too. Most of the artists worked as servants of the court or belonged to religious orders, and they remained anonymous. Ivory carvings, Byzantine crosses, and "illuminations," or small manuscript paintings, attest to their skill. Almost all that survives of the Byzantine architecture are its churches, with their glorious frescoes and mosaics. With Hagia Sophia as an example, their architects and artisans reached heady heights of magnificence, indeed. For 1100 years, the Byzantine's were able to maintain control of their empire, although somewhat tenuously at times; the Empire's expansion and prosperity were balanced by internal religious schisms (such as Nika Riot) and recurring wars with enemies from the outside. Finally, weakened by recurring waves of attack, the Ottomans overcame the exhausted Byzantines and a new era of leadership began. The Byzantine Empire, however, had left its mark on the culture, never to be entirely erased even after the Conquest. Byzantine Emperors Year / Emperor 323–337 Constantine I (The Great) 337–361 Constantius 361–363 Julian (The Apostate) 363–364 Jovianos 364–378 Valens 379–395 Theodosius I (The Great) 395–408 Arcadius 408–450 Theodosius II 450–457 Marcianus 457–474 Leo I 474 Leo II 474–491 Zeno 491–518 Anastasius I 518–527 Justin I 527–565 Justinian I (The Great) 565–578 Justin II 578–582 Tiberius, Constantinus 582–602 Mauritius 602–610 Phocas I 610–641 Heraclius I 641 Constantine III 641 Heracleon 641–668 Constans II 668–685 Constantine IV 685–695 Justinian II 695–698 Leontius II 698–705 Tiberius III, Apsimar 705–711 Justinian II (restored) 711–713 Philippicus 713–715 Anastasius II 715–717 Theodosius III 717–741 Leo III, the Isaurian 741–775 Constantine V, Kopronymus 775–780 Leo IV 780–797 Constantine VI 797–802 Irene 802–811 Nicephorus I 811 Stauracius 811–813 Michael I, Rhangabé 813–820 Leo V, the Armenian 820–829 Michael II 829–842 Theophilus II 842–867 Michael III 842–866 Bardas 867 Theophilus II Macedonian Emperors 867–886 Basil I, the Macedonian 886–912 Leo VI, the Wise 912–913 Alexander III 913–959 Constantine VII, Porphyrogenitus 919–944 Romanus I, Lecapenus 959–963 Romanus II 963–969 Nicephorus II, Phocas 969–976 John I, Tzimisces 976–1025 Basil II, Bulgaroktonus 1025–28 Constantine VIII 1028–50 Zoë 1028–34 Romanus III, Argyrus 1034–41 Michael IV, the Paphlagonian 1041–42 Michael V, Calaphates 1042–54 Constantine IX, Monomachus 1054–56 Theodora 1056–57 Michael VI, Stratioticus 1057–59 Isaac I, Comnenus 1059–67 Constantine X, Dukas 1067 Andronicus 1067 Constantine XI 1067–71 Romanus IV, Diogenes 1071–78 Michael VII, Parapinakes 1078–81 Nicephorus III, Botaniates 1081–1118 Alexius I, Comnenus 1118–43 John IV, Calus 1143–80 Manuel I 1180–83 Alexius II 1182–85 Andronicus I 1185–95 Isaac II, Angelus-Comnenus 1195–1203 Alexius III, Angelus 1203–04 Alexius IV 1204 Alexius V, Dukas Latin Emperors (Crusaders) 1204–05 Baldwin I 1205–16 Henry VI 1216–17 Peter de Courtenay 1218–28 Robert de Courtenay 1228–61 Baldwin II Nicaean Emperors 1206–22 Theodore I, Lascaris 1222–54 John Dukas, Vatatzes 1254–59Theodore II, Lascaris 1258–61, John IV, Lascaris, The Paleologi 1261–82, Michael VIII 1282–1328, Andronicus II 1295–1320, Michael IX 1328–41, Andronicus III 1341–47, John V 1347–54, John VI, Cantacuzene 1355–76, John V (restored) 1376–79, Andronicus IV 1379–91, John V (restored) 1390, John VII 1391–1425, Manuel II 1425–48, John VIII 1448–53, Constantine XI, Dragasesuntil the conquest of Constantinopolis.
MY FAMILY is related to the last ELEVEN emperors who ruled in Constantinople. We are directly descended from 9, the penultimate, John VIII and his brother, the very last. Constantine XI had no children so we are descended from their father, Manuel II through his younger son Theodore, SO that means the last ELEVEN emperors are all directly from my grandmother's family... all ELEVEN.