St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, was a bishop in the Byzantine Empire. During the fourth century, he was known for secret gift giving.
Theodosius II nearly bankrupted the empire trying to buy off Attila. He paid the Huns as much as 2,100 pounds of gold a year.
Legend says that a Byzantine princess who married an Italian nobleman in the 11th century introduced the table fork to Europe
According to legend, Constantinople boasted a collection of sacred Christian relics including the True Cross, and John the Baptist's head.
Narrator: Brilliance and brutality, intellect and intrigue, Christianity and carnage, the Byzantine Empire was a beacon of light with a dark side. Led by rulers who exercised absolute power and architects who pushed beyond Rome's engineering marvels, the Byzantines constructed the ancient world's longest aqueduct, virtual invincible city walls and a colossal domed cathedral that defied the laws of nature. But carrying on a Roman legacy came with a price. They Byzantine Empire was the dominant civilization during the dark ages, but after a millennium of rule, it's engineering feats would betray them as an ancient light was extinguished in the glare of modern warfare.
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