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But as the centrally located culture, and by far the most stable state, of the Medieval period, Byzantium is of major interest both in itself, and because the development and late history of Western European, Slavic and Islamic cultures are not comprehensible without taking it into consideration."The most powerful periods of the Byzantium Empire were years that were stagnant in terms of advancement of thought, but were highly active in terms of religion. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand. But archeological investigations of Viking sites stretching from Russia to Newfoundland have revealed a more human (if not altogether humane) side to the Viking character. Generally, the Dark Ages referred to the period of time ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire."One of the best Byzantine Studies pages. Western Europeans, who had their own Roman Empire called them Orientals or Greeks... It was, without any doubt, the continuation of the Roman state, and until the seventh century, preserved the basic structures of Late Roman Mediterranean civic culture: - a large multi-ethnic Christian state, based on a network of urban centers, and defended by a mobile specialized army.

The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world. Interview with NOVA and the curator of exhibit on Vikings at the Smithsonian." Explore a Viking village. Byzantine civilization constitutes a major world culture.A vassal could also be a lord, granting portions of the land he held to other free vassals; this was known as "subinfeudation," and often led all the way up to the king.The land granted to each vassal was inhabited by serfs who worked the land for him, providing him with income to support his military endeavors; in turn, the vassal would protect the serfs from attack and invasion.In a feudal society, power is treated as private possession; there is no effective state. In feudal Europe, military might was the primary basis of power.The dominant leaders based their top status on their ability to command this military elite.

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