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HistoryByzantine MacedoniaThe dark ages (565-867)

The dark ages (565-867)

The Church
Slavic settlements
The first Bulgarian state

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Justinian II
Wall-painting depicting the entry of Justinian II into Thessalonike after his victory over the Slavs, late 7th to early 8th century, Thessaloniki,basilica of Agios Demetrios.

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Towards the end of the 6th century the Byzantine state was exposed to destructive raids by Slavs, who made their first appearance at this time, and Avars. Apart from the settlement of Slavic tribes in Macedonia during the 7th century in the wake of their penetration as far as southern Greece, these incursions caused the abandonment of towns and economic decline, common occurrences throughout the Empire in the first years of the Middle Byzantine period.

Justinian II
Basilica of Agios Demetrios,
late 7th - early 8th century

These unprecedented conditions accelerated prolonged internal conflicts that were brought to an end by the introduction of the military-cum-administrative institution of 'themata' (themes). Thus, territorial shrinkage (the setting up of the first Bulgarian state in 681, the Arab expansion in the second half of the 7th century, and the crisis brought on by the Iconoclast controversy) led eventually to a greater uniformity of language, dogma, and culture among the population of Byzantium.

The emergence of a new state under Charlemagne in 800 curtailed Byzantine influence in the old territories of the western Roman world. But in the 9th century the Empire was able to undertake the conversion to Christianity of neighbouring peoples and to exert a cultural influence over them, and so to draw them into both its sphere of political influence and its cultural community, the "Byzantine commonwealth".

See Also
History - Late Antiquity (324-565)
Middle Byzantine period (867-1204)
Late Byzantine period (1204-1430)
In Focus - Every day life in Byzantium

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.