39. The Term “Byzantine Empire” Was Coined Generations After the Empire Had Ceased to Exist
The word “Byzantine” is derived from the ancient city of Byzantium, on the European side of the Bosporus Strait separating Balkan Europe from Asia’s Anatolian Peninsula. In 330, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great chose the site of Byzantium to found a new capital city, which he named after himself, Constantinople.
Generations after the Byzantine Empire’s demise, sixteenth century German writer Hieronymus Wolf titled his collection of sources on the vanished empire “Corpus Historiae Byzantinae”, thus introducing the term into scholarship. The term gained acceptance in the West, and eventually “Byzantine” replaced “Roman”, the term the Byzantines used when describing themselves and their state.