Byzantine Empire Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

With this lesson plan and resources from, there will be nothing convoluted about your approach to the Byzantine Empire, as well as the split between the Eastern and Western churches.

Lesson Objectives

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Describe the culture and history of the Byzantine Empire
  • Analyze how the Byzantines combined Roman administration with Christian religious views


40 minutes plus 40 minutes for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Terms

Students should focus especially on these terms throughout the lesson:

  • Edict of Milan
  • Great Schism
  • Ottoman Turks


Review with students how Diocletian split the Roman Empire into more manageable administrative districts to be ruled by co-emperors. Also reflect on the differences between the Eastern Roman and Western Roman Empires.


Watch the lesson The Byzantine Empire: History, Culture, & Timeline, stopping to make sure students make note of the above key terms. Also, stop at the following points for discussion.

  • 3:16 - What role did language have in further dividing East and West? What about religion? Do you think differences in language helped to continue this separation? What impact do you think the sacking of Constantinople had on East-West relations?
  • 6:00 - What spurred the Paleologan Renaissance? Also note this picture of the Ottoman army on screen (with the cannon). What does this tell us about the Ottoman Empire that conquered Constantinople? Does this resemble the Crusading armies of 200 years before? Remind students that cannons were a relatively new innovation.

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