Another point worth considering is that notwithstanding the dizzying series of coups, countercoups, blindings, and murders at the Imperial center, by 850, Byzantium had made definitive strides towards political and military stability. None of its hostile neighbors had been able to conquer the state, and had suffered substantial losses in repeated attempts to do so. With the Abbasid decline, the Arabs would never present a threat to Byzantine survival, and the Empire would enjoy 230 years or more when it could determine the balance of power in the East. The Bulgars were violent, but unable to decapitate the state. Further, the Bulgars had entered a process of Christianization according to the Orthodox rite, bringing them into the Greek cultural orbit. Finally, with the Lombard acquisition of Ravenna, Byzantine interest in the West was quickly becoming pro forma. Its identity as a Balkan-Thracian-Anatolian state defending the eastern gates of Christendom against Islam was firmly set. Beyond that, it had preserved an evolved form of Roman culture that was clearly Byzantine, and far more civilized than anything in the West.

Popular pages: High Middle Ages (1000-1200)