The Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire, known to its inhabitants as the Roman Empire, the Empire of the Romans (Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn), Romania (Ῥωμανία, Rhōmanía), or Romais (Ῥωμαΐς Rhōmaís), was the continuation of the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople, and ruled by Emperors in direct succession to the Roman Emperors. The Empire preserved Roman legal traditions, but due to its Hellenization (especially in the later periods), it became known to some of its contemporaries as the Empire of the Greeks. In the Islamic world it was known primarily as روم (Rûm, Rome). The term "Byzantine Empire" postdates the Empire itself, and was popularized by historians during the 16th–19th centuries.
The Eastern Roman Empire's evolution from the ancient Roman Empire is sometimes dated from Emperor Constantine I's transfer of the capital from Nicomedia (in Anatolia) to Byzantium on the Bosphorus, which became Constantinople (alternatively "New Rome"). By the 7th century, the Empire had taken on a distinct character; reforms under Emperor Heraclius (610–641 CE) changed the nature of the Byzantine army and recognized Greek as the official language.
During its thousand-year existence the Empire remained one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe, despite setbacks and territorial losses, especially during the Roman-Persian and Byzantine–Arab Wars. After the Komnenian restoration briefly re-established dominance in the 12th century, the Empire slipped into a long decline, with the Byzantine–Ottoman Wars culminating in the Fall of Constantinople and its remaining territories to the Muslim Ottoman Turks in the 15th century.
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