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The Byzantine people (or Eastern Romans) represent a civilization in Civilization VI. They are led by Basil II, under whom their default colors are dark purple and light yellow; and Theodora, under whom their colors are purple and yellow. They are available with the Byzantium & Gaul Pack, which was released on September 24, 2020.

The Byzantines' civilization ability is Taxis, which grants their units additional Strength Combat and Religious Strength Religious Strength for each Holy City (including their own) converted to Byzantium's religion, spreads their religion to nearby cities when they defeat enemy units, and increases Great Prophet Great Prophet points from Holy Sites. Their unique unit is the Dromon (which replaces the Quadrireme), and their unique District District is the Hippodrome (which replaces the Entertainment Complex).


Starting bias: None

Religion and Domination fuse together in a perfect union under the Byzantine banner. If Basil II manages to lead his people to the Medieval Era unscathed, he, assisted by a legion of Tagmata, will charge to the end of the earth and no layer of Walls can ever hold him back.


Bonus to founding a Religion[]

Back in Civilization V, Byzantium had a cool bonus towards Religion but had absolutely no bonus towards founding one, leaving them stranded in an awkward place and a huge part of their gameplay inconsistent and dependent on map generation. That is no longer the case in Civilization VI.

For every Holy Site, Byzantium receives 2 Great Prophet Great Prophet points instead of 1, making them a lot more competitive in the race to found a Religion. Founding a Religion is of utmost importance when playing as Byzantium: if you fail in this, you basically do not have a game on your hands, since both Basil II's leader ability and the civilization ability rely heavily on this (yes, technically you can wait passively until an AI opponent spreads their faith into your empire, but it may be too late by then and no competent player would hand you a gun just so you can shoot them with it). Ideally you would want 2 Holy Sites in your first two cities (recommended), or one Holy Site to run the Holy Site Prayers project a few times. Normally, you do not care whether you can have the first or the last Religion as long as you have one, and the only belief crucial to your game plan as Basil II is Crusade, which is not that heavily contested, unless you are playing multiplayer, then other players will try to snipe that belief from you knowing that Byzantium is in the game.

Crusade goes so well with the Byzantine toolkit, at least under Basil II, that it goes without saying this should be your priority whenever you first found your Religion. Under Basil II, all of your cavalry units can receive 10 Strength Combat Strength from Crusade, even more Strength Combat Strength from this Taxis ability (read more below), and deal full damage to Walls and cities.

In terms of a Follower belief, Choral Music is your best choice as Basil II, since it helps you advance faster on the civic tree to reach Divine Right much earlier than normal (a Shrine and a Temple give you 6 Culture Culture per city, and you will need 2 Temples anyway to trigger the Inspiration Inspiration for Divine Right, which results in at least 12 extra Culture Culture per turn). None of the other Follower beliefs truly benefit a warmonger. Theodora may prefer Work Ethic, as her high-adjacency Holy Sites already grant Culture Culture and with this belief they can grant Production Production too.

You do not really need to evangelize your Religion, but if you do, Founder beliefs are much more beneficial than Worship beliefs, since all Founder beliefs encourage the spread of your Religion, which is something you would do anyway on your path of Domination. Tithe is the best choice of Founder belief for Basil II, since all the units from the Hippodrome still have a maintenance cost, and Byzantium itself does not have any bonuses towards Gold Gold. If Tithe is gone, consider Cross-Cultural Dialogue, Pilgrimage, or World Church, all of which are good for civilizations that spread their faith to a lot of cities. Theodora also benefits from these beliefs, and can choose one when founding her Religion, as Crusade is not central to her gameplay.

Worship beliefs are low priority when playing as Basil II; you are more of a conqueror than a builder, and not all of your cities have to be well-developed. If you have so much Faith Faith on hand that you just want to evangelize your Religion for fun (or to maintain an alliance while still benefiting from Taxis), pick any Worship belief you want or deem appropriate for your situation. The Meeting House can be a decent choice because of its Production Production, but if you want the Mosque to buff up your Missionaries and Apostles, you still can, as there is not much of a difference in the end. Theodora can similarly benefit from either of these beliefs, and may prioritise them more.

Bonus to spreading your Religion[]

Byzantium receives, as detailed above, devastating military bonuses once they establish a religious foothold in the cities of their opponents. As if that was not enough, Byzantium also has an ability that furthers their religious cause: every time they kill a non-Barbarian unit, a burst of 250 Religious Pressure is applied to all cities within 10 tiles. This doesn't stack with Warrior Monk's Disciples promotion. This is slightly higher than a spread by a full-health Missionary (200 Pressure) and a full-health non-Translator Apostle. As Byzantium, killing an enemy unit does not just mark one victorious battle, it acts like a leverage in making subsequent kills easier, by helping them inching closer toward having their Religion established. Also, this ability practically prints Era Score, since the "Enemy City Adopts Our Religion" Historic Moment will trigger repeatedly throughout the war just by killing units, helping Byzantium chain Golden Ages and preventing their massively expanded empire from falling apart in a Dark Age.

A pitfall players can get caught in when playing as Byzantium is an overreliance upon this ability . By no means does this ability replace your religious units completely when you want to spread your Religion, especially in the later stages of the match. First, since military units do not carry religious affiliations when built, they do not cause negative Religious Pressure to nearby cities like when a religious unit is killed in a Theological Combat. Therefore, whenever you kill a military unit, you basically receive a slightly stronger Apostle spread to nearby cities without eroding existing Religions in those cities. It can take an excruciatingly long amount of time to establish your Religion in civilizations which already have a securely founded Religion of their own using solely non-religious combat. Furthermore, by totally relying on this ability, you depend on the number of combat units built by your enemy. You should not neglect Apostles and Missionaries as Byzantium; they are still important, especially as the game progresses into the later stages. Prioritize giving Apostles the following abilities: Chaplain (Apostle also operates as a Medic, which has incredible synergy with Basil II); Debater (Apostle has +20 theological combat strength - combined with Taxis, can often one-shot enemy Missionaries or even Apostles); Proselytizer (Spreading your religion with this unit also reduces/eliminates the influence of competing religions in the city; has powerful synergy with your combat units spreading religion).

Extra Strength Combat Strength for each converted Holy City[]

The final facet of Taxis gives Byzantium a priority target in war: Holy Cities. A Holy City is a city where a religion was founded. It will prove difficult to convert, as in addition to its increased religious pressure it likely has excellent Faith output and will be well-fortified with religious units, but the religious spread from Taxis means that you can simply roll up on its outskirts with military units to condemn those religious units and fight enemy military units to spread your own religion. The returns are well worth the effort: not only have you extinguished the main bastion of an enemy religion, all units will gain +3 Strength Combat Strength for as long as this city follows your religion. Although a Holy City is most likely the Capital Capital of the civilization that founded the Religion, that is not always the case, so be sure to check the religion screen, which displays the Holy City of each religion. If the Holy City is too far off your Domination route, like on another landmass for example, you can send an army of Debater-promoted Apostles, assisted by Gurus, to go and snipe the Religion of this city alone. Considering your opponents will most likely try to convert back their Holy City, this will only provide you a brief period of bonus Strength Combat Strength, you should quickly take advantage of it when you are fighting somewhere else. However, with the massive amount of Strength Combat Strength and bonuses from other sources, this proves to be too laborious for a small extra Strength Combat Strength, and more often than not, it costs a huge amount of Faith Faith and will be easily counteracted shortly after. This bonus should be thought of as a snowballing type of bonus, you gain Strength Combat Strength for every Holy City you conquer, and subsequently convert. Sniping Religions of Holy Cities far from you for a little "win-more" bonus is not worth the time and resources.

This bonus is also very useful for Theodora, even though she's not set up to go on a crusading warpath like Basil II. Just by founding your own Religion, you will gain +3 Strength Combat Strength to all units, and if you convert one other Holy City, that becomes +6. This is bigger than (non-Bull Moose) Teddy Roosevelt's Strength Combat Strength bonus, and across the entire map! Like Teddy, you can use that bonus to take out a nearby rival civ or simply keep it as a defensive bonus.

Porphyrogénnētos (Basil II)[]

At the early day of Civilization VI, cavalry units could somehow still climb on top of Battering Rams and Siege Towers to vault over your Walls as if they were nothing. The imagery of mounted units mounting on top of war machines is clearly ridiculous, but in practice terrifyingly effective: they hit harder than every other class, outmaneuvered them all, and if they were assisted by support units, there was literally nothing holding them back, making any domination civilization that had a unique cavalry unit a total menace. Shortly after the release of the base game, this feature was removed so that only melee (and in Gathering Storm, also anti-cavalry units) can benefit from siege support units. It was thought to be a relic of the past, until Basil II brought it back.

As long as the city you are attacking has converted to your Religion, all your light and heavy cavalry units ignore the damage penalty from Walls (normally it is a whopping 85% damage reduction). The best thing about this ability is that it eliminates the needs for siege and siege support units (Battering Ram and Siege Towers). These units are generally slow, clunky, and vulnerable to instant death if left unguarded. The inclusion of such units will for sure slow down the march of an army that comprises mostly cavalry units. Combined with the fact that the civilization ability, Taxis, allows you to spread your Religion every time you kill a non-Barbarian unit, you basically always have a global Battering Ram buff that is not clunky to move around. However, do not be so comfortable with the Taxis ability that you go on a conquest without bringing Missionaries and Apostles. With the support of religious units, you will have extra freedom to roll from conquest to conquest, since the spreads from Taxis can be unreliable at times (read more below) and can be acted against if your enemy has prepared some Inquisitors. Your number one goal is to always keep foreign cities converted, so there is no reason why you should leave it up to chance. Once your Religion is in place, there is virtually nothing holding you back.

Metanoia (Theodora)[]

Theodora's bonus may not seem to change the landscape of the game as drastically as Basil's, but it gives the civilization some dimensions and versatility. All in all, this is a sweet and simple ability that veers the civilization off a hostile path and towards empire building.

Holy Sites under Theodora[]

While you still want to research Animal Husbandry first to reveal Horses Horses and a bit of yields onto your surrounding tiles, you may want to forgo researching Mining until you've researched Astrology. The Faith Faith and Culture Culture you automatically get, as well as the potential for Work Ethic to give Holy Sites Production Production, make Holy Sites a must in every city. With a Holy Site in the second ring surrounded by Farms, you get an automatic +6 Faith Faith, +6 Culture Culture, and with Work Ethic as a follower belief, +6 Production Production. On top of that, the Great Scientist Great Scientist Hildegard of Bingen gives a single Holy Site Science Science equal to Faith Faith, for a total of +6 Science Science. And this is the bare minimum - natural wonders, especially Pamukkale can boost this number up even higher. Also, all of these yields can be doubled with Scripture.

As Theodora, Holy Sites, and by extension, Farms are the engines of your empire. Prime locations early game will be areas where there are an abundance of contiguous flat land tiles that are not blocked by luxury or strategic resources, suitable for a Holy Site surrounding by Farms. Of course, Farms can be built on Hills after researching Civil Engineering, but since your bonus doesn't scale, it is best to take full advantage of it from the get-go. For those reasons, best spots for Theodora's cities are next to rivers and Floodplains. These spots may have low starting Production Production at first, but after the Holy Site is finished, Production Production from Work Ethic will kick in and alleviate that issue; also, riverside settlements are prime spots for building Aqueduct - Dam - Industrial Zone formation.

Hippodromes under Theodora[]

Interestingly enough, Hippodromes, the replacement for Entertainment Complexes, now also gain 1 Faith Faith per adjacent Farm, making its placement slightly more important than before. However, since the placement of your Holy Site is still prioritized, you are very unlikely to gain high adjacency bonus on your Hippodrome. Also, because you cannot enhance this adjacency with policy cards, it is best not to waste too much time and effort planning around this bonus.

With Theodora, Hippodromes are still important, but for different reasons, compared to Basil. This District District and its buildings still grant a 'free' copy of a heavy cavalry unit, but the efficacy of this ability is significantly weaker, because what makes the Hippodrome so terrifying is Basil's Porphyrogénnētos ability, which grants all cavalry units the ability to ignore Walls' penalty, and to a lesser extent, the Tagma. Since Theodora doesn't have access to this, she will require a much larger army, which in turn requires a much larger starting empire with a lot more cities and Hippodromes, further delaying the start of the conquest. However, if you are lucky to spawn right next to a neighbor who doesn't build Walls, you can easily surprise them with Heavy Chariots and Knights, but if you spawn next to a highly defensive civilization, domination, while still possible, can be incredibly challenging.

For that reason, Hippodromes should be used the way an Entertainment Complex is intended for: to supply Amenities Amenities. Normally, building an Entertainment Complex in every city is highly ill-advised, even for Brazil, with Basil being the sole exception, since the AoE Amenities Amenities of Zoos and Stadiums do not stack, and the amount of Amenities Amenities given by the base District District and Arena are not enough to justify the Production Production. However, a Hippodrome gives 3 times as much Amenities Amenities as a normal Entertainment Complex, allowing you to support an incredibly wide empire while still manage to grow your core cities tall with all your Farms. In this case, while it is not really a priority to fill every city with this District District, it is acceptable to do so. Remember, if you don't have plans to wage wars, delete some units after creation. These 'free' units still cost Gold Gold maintenance, and while you want to have a defensive army, there is no point to keep too many.

Lastly, Hippodromes, just like Entertainment Complexes, give a major adjacency bonus to Theater Squares, incentivizing a cultural game. Coupled with extra Culture Culture from Holy Sites, Theodora can actually race through the civic tree at a blazing speed, allowing a possibility at a cultural victory, even if Holy Sites' adjacencies don't provide Tourism Tourism with Flight.


Religion and choosing which beliefs play a much larger role under Theodora than under Basil. With Basil, as long as you found a religion with Crusade, you're good to go, it almost doesn't matter what the other beliefs are. However, since Theodora is much more flexible, it is important you customize your religion to fit what you need:

  • Pantheon: For reasons explained above regarding Theodora's Holy Sites, River Goddess has a really nice synergy with her. It supplies the necessary Housing Housing and a bit of Amenities Amenities to augment a tall empire. While Desert Folklore and Dance of the Aurora often seem synergistic with Work Ethic, under Theodora, these two choices are terrible, since Farms can be built on neither terrains.
  • Follower: Work Ethic will always be the choice that makes the most sense for Theodora. Also, the AIs dislike this belief, so it is always available for picking.
  • Founder: Tithe for Gold Gold if you want to field a large army and pursue domination, Cross-Cultural Dialogue for Science Science if you want a scientific victory as a backup, or World Church if you want to double down on your Culture Culture generation.
  • Enhancer: Crusade for domination, Religious Colonization if you are looking to establish a mega-wide empire, or Holy Order for good old dependency and usefulness.
  • Worship: Gurdwara for tall play, Meeting House and Wat can also never go wrong. Also, Pagoda is an incredible choice if you have a really wide empire, maybe can even win you a diplomatic victory, since you would want to build the Mahabodhi Temple anyway.


The Tagma is a decent unique unit, neither weak nor outstanding. The only difference it has compared to the standard Knight is that it grants nearby military units and religious units 4 extra Strength Combat Strength or Religious Strength Religious Strength. Note that this bonus does not stack when a unit stands next to multiple Tagmata, nor does a Tagma give it to itself. It slightly helps Byzantium in conquest and religious conversion, as their units will almost always have an edge in battle. Overall, the Tagma's true strength lies in the fact that Byzantium can print out free heavy cavalry units extremely rapidly with the Hippodrome, and they are further assisted by Basil II's and Byzantium's ability, so they are not a strong unit in themselves, but are very well supported by the rest of their civilization's toolkit. Even if Basil II did not have the Tagma as his unique unit, the standard Knight could still do the job well enough, so the Tagma is more like a cherry on top than a key to Byzantine power.

In conjunction with Basil II's ability, the Tagma allows you to pretty much ignore the bottom half of the tech tree in the Medieval and Renaissance Era for a quite a while, since these technologies focus on unlocking siege, melee, and ranged units, which you do not need. You can rush for technologies that improve your empire's Production Production output like Industrialization, and then go back to the technologies at the bottom later to unlock the Cuirassier (in Gathering Storm).


This District District is inarguably what makes Byzantium so fearsome on the battlefield, since it allows them to summon up a gigantic legion of heavy cavalry units in the blink of an eye, ready to sweep away anything that crosses their path. The biggest boon of the Hippodrome is its unique ability to instantly create a resource free heavy cavalry unit every time you complete this district and each building inside it. Along with the cheaper Production Production cost of the district, this allow Byzantium to amass large armies of heavy cavalry units in a blink of an eye, tying in nicely with Basil II's leader ability. If properly utilized, this allows for Byzantium to shred through entire enemy civilizations with ease. Note that these resource-free units received from the Hippodrome will continue to be resource-free when upgraded. A powerful strategy with this district is to build a Hippodrome in every single city of yours, but switch Production Production to something else when you are 1 or 2 turns away, until the Tagma that is unlocked with Divine Right. By doing so, you will instantly create an army of Tagmata, so massive that they are ready to decimate anyone in your way with little to no resistance. Of course, the amount of Amenities Amenities provided by the Hippodrome is triple that of a regular Entertainment Complex, which will also keep your ever-growing empire happy and productive as you continue to add more and more cities to your civilization. Byzantium is probably the only civilization that should build Entertainment Complexes in every city, since the Hippodrome is such a powerful replacement for an otherwise underutilized District District. This District District perfectly pairs with a Domination centered strategy, allowing for constant unit production and high Amenities Amenities to prevent any cities from rebelling.

Just for comparison, a Tagma costs 180 Production Production (220 Production Production in Gathering Storm), while a Hippodrome has a base cost of 27 Production Production, which will scale up to around 100 Production Production in Medieval, even cheaper if you remember to put them down immediately in all cities you have when you unlock the district to lock in the cost. Even the Arena only costs 150 Production Production, which is still a good deal if you can get a Tagma out of it. Since the cost of the Hippodrome scales upward with civic and technology progression, in order to minimize its cost when the Tagma is unlocked, make sure to beeline straight for Games and Recreation (requires 4 civics before it, 7 civics if you detour for Political Philosophy first), and afterward straight for Divine Right without taking any more detours. Also, you want your Culture Culture output to be always ahead of your Science Science output, or at least always have more civics unlocked than technologies unlocked, which can be achieved by strategically researching without completing right away, so not building Campuses is actually recommended, since you do not need Science Science right now, and Science Science will roll in naturally once the conquest starts. In order to actualize your timing push with your Tagmata, save at least one district slot in every city before the Hippodrome is unlocked, and immediately put them down in all cities to lock down the cheap cost as soon as possible, but wait until the Tagma is unlocked to finish construction. (If you want to know the reason why you should keep your Science Science low or put down Hippodromes immediately, read here).

When starting the game from Modern Era or later, all District District costs only 1 Production Production to build, which means you can easily get a great Tank army (without Oil Oil) to crush anyone!


The Dromon brings its famed Greek fire back to Civilization VI in style. It is undoubtedly a powerful unit, but it is also the least utilized piece in the Byzantine arsenal (which really says something about Byzantium's power level), since all in all, Byzantium is still a land domination civilization, with no bonus or infrastructure supporting a naval gameplay.

The Dromon gains 10 Ranged Strength Ranged Strength when attacking both land and naval units, making it ideal on offensive missions against coastal empires. The Dromon also deters even the strongest naval powerhouses like Norway or Phoenicia from launching naval attacks. However, the most important bonus of this unit that sets it apart from the standard Quadrireme is its Range Range of 2. The Quadrireme, overall, is an underused unit that is almost never seen in combat due to its extremely limited reach (which, like all other units with a Range Range of 1, means it cannot focus fire on one enemy well and exposes itself to the front line while doing so). The Dromon removes this limitation completely. Byzantium, by virtue of this unit, has a very early version of the Frigate, which they can wreak havoc with if they choose so. The Dromon, therefore, can engage actively in combat to gain the Bombardment and Rolling Barrage Promotion Promotions when no one else can with their Quadriremes. This will give Byzantium a huge naval power spike in the late Renaissance when the Frigate is unlocked: their Frigates will start with a few sieging Promotion Promotions that will take much longer for other players. Again, unless you choose to hamper your own power level by playing on a water-dominated map, even a most powerful naval unit like the Dromon can be overlooked, since it does not synergize too well with the civilization it comes with.

Surprisingly enough, the Dromon also receives its Strength Combat Strength against units on defense as well! For this reason, the Dromon has no problem standing toe to toe with Galleys (as the Dromon has 30 Strength Combat Strength on defense, same as a Galley). However, you still have to watch out for unique Galleys, the Viking Longship and the Bireme. Although these two units are not that much stronger (35 Strength Combat Strength), they come at half the price of the Dromon (especially when you consider Phoenicia can crank out naval units really fast with their Cothon). One Dromon definitely cannot stand against 2 or 3 Viking Longships or Biremes at the same time.

Victory Types[]

Byzantium under Basil II is clearly geared towards a Religious Victory or a Domination Victory. They do not even have to make a choice, as these are basically two sides of the same coin: you cannot ignore Religion when aiming for a Domination Victory or neglect your army on the Religion path. If the map is so large that a Religious or a Domination Victory may seem tiring, you can switch to any other Victory types just from the sheer number of cities you will have from conquest.

Theodora can certainly compete for Domination, but her cavalry army will be nowhere near as imposing, as they will actually be stopped by Walls (and she also misses out on Tagmata, which is a particular blow as she could rush these even faster than Basil II). Under her, Byzantium become more like Russia or Ethiopia, a Religious/Cultural hybrid civ who can only really compete for Domination by converting Faith Faith into an army with the Grand Master's Chapel. Theodora can unlock that at an accelerated rate due to her potential early Culture Culture output, and just having a Religion at all will give her extra Strength Combat Strength which increases if she can convert Holy Cities, but it's still not her strongest path.

Counter Strategy[]

Byzantium under Basil II is definitely a frontrunner to claim the throne of the strongest Domination civilization in the game. All of their bonuses are highly synergistic with very few exploitable weaknesses, but there are a few things to keep in mind when playing against Byzantium.

First and foremost, you need to have a Religion of your own. By having a Religion in place, Byzantium will most likely have to use Apostles instead of Missionaries to convert your empire, which, in the long run, will cost them more resources. Furthermore, as elaborated above, Taxis ability takes much longer to establish a religious foothold when you have a Religion of your own. Most importantly, having a Religion allows you to purchase Inquisitors, the all-important unit when dealing with Byzantium. In order to purchase Inquisitors, you need to build a Temple and an Apostle needs to Launch an Inquisition. Since Inquisitors are very cheap and can eliminate 75% presence of other Religions (100% if playing in Vanilla or as Philip II), they can instantaneously remove all benefits Byzantium currently has, including Basil II's ability and Crusade belief. Each Inquisitor has 3 Religious Spread Spread charges, but it is recommended you always keep a few Inquisitors handy, and send them to your peripheral cities that are at risk of a Byzantine invasion. Always try to keep your Inquisitors inside the City Centers, and remember to remove Religion at the beginning of every turn to eliminate Byzantium's advantages before doing any fighting. Of course, you can hope that a third civilization with a Religion of their own spreads their faith into your empire so that you can purchase Inquisitors, but when it comes to winning and losing, you do not want to leave it up to chance.

Second, it is important to keep your units alive for as long as possible no matter what civilizations you are playing as or against, but in this case, it is extra crucial, since each military unit's death also has a religious consequence. Aim for Military Tactics and build Pikemen en masse; anti-cavalry units are underwhelming on offense but can actually shine in defense, especially against civilizations that like using cavalries. Surrounding your City Center with Pikemen in a defensive position should keep the enemies at bay and allow you to instantly Condemn Heretics every time Byzantium sends a religious unit in to convert your city. There are two choices of Governors you can go for here: either Victor with Embrasure (in cities with Encampments) or Moksha with Laying On Of Hands (in Gathering Storm only). Moksha is the better choice because you do not need an Encampment to make the most out of it, and he will turn all of your defending Pikemen immortal, since they will heal 100 HP every single turn, as long as they are on tiles belonging to the city he is in. If you are against a two-pronged attack, in the other city you can stack all the healing bonus you can get for your defending Pikemen, like Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi or Chaplain-promoted Apostle (which you can have an increased chance of getting one by purchasing it in a city with Moksha with Patron Saint title).

A bit less important than the previous two points, but cutting off Byzantium's Gold Gold sources is also worth a mention. Similar to Gauls and Scythia, Byzantium likes building a big army, but does not have any Gold Gold bonuses to maintain them (the "free" heavy cavalry units still have Gold Gold maintenance cost). Sending a group of units to their territory and start plundering Trade Route Trade Routes, Commercial Hubs, Harbors and improvements can be helpful. However, this is not very useful when you are the last or next to last target on their Domination path, since they have most likely accrued a gigantic empire with huge treasury, so this only applies when Byzantium just starts their conquest.

Under Theodora, Byzantium pose less of a military threat (although she will still have a very general Strength Combat Strength bonus assuming she has a Religion) but far more of a cultural one. If you spawn next to her, don't be afraid to attack her early, and if you can't take her cities, focus on pillaging her Holy Sites. They provide multiple vital yields at once, so you can really slow her down if you take them out of commission even temporarily. Later on in the game, if her religion is snowballing, she will be a tougher invasion target just because she will have a larger Strength Combat Strength bonus and will likely be able to pray in an army out of nowhere with the Grand Master's Chapel.

Civilopedia entry[]

Byzantium - the Byzantine Empire - refers to the eastern part of the former Roman Empire. Its inhabitants wouldn’t have known the name “Byzantine,” rather, that term is one that came into use by later historians. It refers to the name of the village on which Constantine would found Constantinople (now Istanbul; Constantinople got the works). The east/west divide was one that is founded upon a fundamental cultural, linguistic, and political division within the Mediterranean, and one that is reflected in later schisms between Orthodox (Eastern) and Catholic (Western) Christianity. Byzantium continued the legacy of Rome’s progress and presence in the region until its fall to the Ottomans in 1453 and has had a profound impact upon Eastern Europe.

Rome conquered Greece around 150 BC. But the relationship between the culturally strong but militarily weak Greece and conqueror Rome was complicated. Rome had appropriated Greek religion, philosophy, and learning for its own, but many Romans saw a fundamental difference between themselves and the Greeks. Whereas Rome was martial and expansionist, the Greeks preferred philosophy and poetry. The divide stayed: Latin on one side of the Adriatic, Greek on the other.

As different as the East was, its link to trade routes made it vital to the Empire, a significance marked by the establishment of Constantinople as the capital of Rome in 330 AD. Constantine also was the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity, and both the geographic move and the religious change seemed to mark a new era in Roman history, one that would eventually lead to the Byzantine Empire. In the hundred years following Constantine, the Western empire suffered wave after wave of invasion from European barbarians, but the East remained relatively stable and prosperous – remember those trade routes to Persia, India, and China! By 476 AD, Rome’s last Western emperor had been deposed, and there was not another, marking for most historians Rome’s fall.

But Rome didn’t really fall. Instead, the Roman Empire was now synonymous with Constantinople, and those people that historians (and we) call “Byzantine” just kept calling themselves “Roman.” The culture of the East was markedly different from the West. The East was largely Greek-speaking (although Byzantine subjects also spoke Coptic in Egypt, Syriac in the Near East, and other languages), and Christianity, while important in the West, was to become absolutely central to Byzantium. The Byzantine Emperor was, for his subjects, God’s representative on Earth and the defender of the Orthodox Christian faith.

If Constantine was the spirit behind Byzantium, Justinian (r. 527-565) was the booster rocket that launched it. It almost didn’t take off, as riots by fans of rival chariot teams (each of which had acquired a political overtone) killed tens of thousands of people, left the city in ashes, and nearly killed the emperor. But worse than the chariot fans were the wars that Justinian had inherited: Byzantium had a hostile Sassanid (Persian) Empire on its borders as well as a series of barbarian kingdoms where the Western Empire used to be: Goths in Rome, Vandals in North Africa. Finally, Justinian inherited an empire with a dizzying array of often-contradictory laws and customs.

These were daunting problems, but Justinian tackled them as best he could. In Constantinople, he appointed a council to review the relevant laws and compile a new “Code of Justinian.” He bought peace with the Persians. In Italy, Justinian retook Rome and parts of the Italian peninsula in a long, drawn-out war with the Gothic kingdoms. In North Africa, Justinian devastated the Vandal kingdom in a war that some historians estimate killed nearly five million. The appearance of the bubonic plague – the first such appearance in European or African history - might also have played a hand. In Justinian’s wake, the Empire was not entirely restored, but it was prosperous, and Rome was in Roman (well, Byzantine) hands again. Justinian’s was to be the greatest extent of the Byzantine Empire in history.

But just when it seemed that Byzantium would reclaim Rome’s old title as the dominant power in the Mediterranean, a new player was to enter the game. About fifty years after Justinian’s death, an Arab prophet – Muhammad – arose. Arab powers, aided by their new faith, Islam, quickly expanded. While a unified Caliphate broke apart shortly after Muhammad’s death, the successor states – the Umayyad and Rashidun Caliphates – quickly took back territory that the Byzantines had taken from the Persians and, significantly, the exceedingly important provinces of Syria and Egypt. At the same time, new invaders from Northern Europe – the Slavs – threatened Byzantine holdings in the Balkans.

Arab forces laid siege to Constantinople for the first (and not last) time in 674. They established naval bases nearby and used these to raid the great city for years. But Constantine IV, the then-Byzantine Emperor, and the city’s massive Theodosian walls were not to be undone so easily. He unleashed a new, devastating weapon upon the sea-borne forces: a mixture of oil and quicklime that burned even when floating on water. This new “Greek fire” drove off the besiegers, at least for now.

The Byzantine Empire at this point was in a sad state. Constant raids, the loss of most of the West to barbarian groups, and the loss of much of its holdings in Africa and the Near East meant that much of the empire stagnated. Remember those important trade routes eastward? This gold now flowed to the Arab states. Byzantine cities emptied out, and Constantinople dwindled. The removal of troops from the Balkans in order to fight the Persians and Arabs gave Slavs – themselves retreating from other invasions from the Central Asian steppe – room to expand, and these new Slavic settlements united into Bulgaria, a sometimes-ally, often-enemy of the Byzantines.

In all of this strife, the Umayyad Caliphate, flush with new conquests in Spain, again saw a chance to take the city, and so a second siege of Constantinople was launched. This time, the Arabs aimed to win, and so secured (they thought) the loyalty of an ambitious general, Leo, who had also secured a military pact with the Bulgarians. Leo declared himself Emperor, but, rather than agree to be a vassal of the Umayyads, he closed the gates to them. With the ever-feared Greek fire, and with ingenious defenses (including a chain set up across a strategic waterway – simple, but enough to stop ships… and render them sitting ducks for more Greek fire). Leo set himself up as a new Roman dynasty, and Arab leaders withdrew – indeed, the failure of this siege likely altered the religious and political face of Eastern Europe and Russia as we know it.

Thus far, the story of the Byzantines may seem to be one of decline. But the subsequent years were to be a time of restoration. Under Basil I and Basil II, the Byzantine empire reformed its military, adopting the professional tagma system and new innovations in cavalry. Byzantine forces repelled Arab invasions – now under the Abbasid Caliphate – across the Aegean coast, and Basil II led a brutal campaign to subjugate the Bulgarians, incorporating their remnants into the Empire in 1018 (they would become independent again over a century later). Even far-off events in Scandinavia were to influence Byzantium, as the Rus plundered down the Volga and the Normans threatened the Mediterranean, although, to be fair, some of these groups would also serve in the Byzantine military.

In the 1100s, Byzantium had its final golden age. Arts and literature thrived, and both city and country saw great gains in infrastructure. Religion was vital to Byzantine life, and it was during the Byzantine Empire that the split between Catholicism, based in old Rome and the former West, and Orthodoxy, based in Byzantium, Greece and the East, happened. Influenced by Muslim ideas and drawing from the Biblical ban on creating “graven images,” Orthodox Christians in the 8th and 9th centuries opposed the creation of icons – images of religious figures, while the Roman pope disagreed (and which led to tensions that would mark the final loss of Byzantine Rome in 756). While the wave of this “iconoclasm” was to abate, it created a split that was to last, as the popes in Rome were no longer appointed by Constantinople. This schism became final in 1054, when the Western (Catholic) church split from the Eastern (Orthodox). The argument this time was not over icons, but over whether the pope in Rome held primacy over other cities’ patriarchs, as well as a host of ritual and theological matters. The split was both a symptom of and the cause for the divergence of Eastern and Western Europe, both in matters of script (Cyrillic vs Latin), language (Greek vs Latin), and custom.

Nowhere was this split more evident than in the disastrous Fourth Crusade in 1204. In 1182, a usurper named Andronikos Komnenos entered Constantinople following the unpopular rule of a Latin-speaking and Western-oriented regent, the Princess Maria of Antioch, whom the populace accused of favoring Catholics over Orthodox. As Maria was deposed, the Orthodox crown began a massacre of Catholic, Latin-speaking citizens of Constantinople. This deepened anti-Byzantine sentiment in the West, and a few decades later, Crusaders supposedly en route to Jerusalem sacked and plundered Constantinople instead, setting up a Catholic crusader state based in the former Rome. Though the Crusaders eventually departed, the East/West split was complete.

And yet another power was to enter the scene – Ottoman Turks, a Central Asian people who had previously been employed as mercenaries by Byzantine and Arab rulers, began to fight for their own kingdom. Byzantium slowly lost ground and, in 1453, the fabled walls of Constantinople fell to Ottoman bombards.

Constantinople is now Istanbul. But its legacy extends as far as the Orthodox Church, into Russia, Greece, Egypt, and Eastern Europe. And the remnants of Constantinople’s famous Theodosian walls remain.



Males Females Modern males Modern females
Arcadius Yolanda Konstantinos Konstantina
Damianus Martina Christos Michaela
Ignatios Eulogia Agrim Marialena
Justinian Epiphania Panagiotis Rafaela
Leo Ariadne Stavros Georgia
Niketas Agatha Kostas Alexandra
Phocas Eudocia Alexandros Danae
Theoktistos Joannina Ierotheos Despina
Valens Theodora Nikolas Athina
Stylian Athenais Demetres Evi





Civilization VI - First Look- Byzantium - Civilization VI - New Frontier Pass

First Look: Byzantium

Related achievements[]

One Eye in One Hundred
One Eye in One Hundred
Win a regular game as Basil II.
A reference to the Battle of Kleidion, after which Basil II blinded 99 out of every 100 captured Bulgarians, leaving only a man with one eye to guide them back home.
Rome is Where the Heart is
Rome is Where the Heart is
As Byzantium, take the original capital of Rome while it is following your founded religion.
A play on the phrase 'Home is where the heart is.' The Byzantine Empire was originally the Eastern Roman Empire, which was the last remnant of the whole Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Empire.
The Power Beside the Throne
The Power Beside the Throne
Win a regular game as Theodora.
A common phrase referring to an individual or group that exercises the real power of a high-ranking office, referencing Theodora's great influence over her husband.

See also[]

External links[]

Civilization VI Civilizations [edit]
AmericanArabianAustralian1AztecBabylonian1BrazilianByzantine1Canadian GS-OnlyChineseCree R&F-OnlyDutch R&F-OnlyEgyptianEnglishEthiopian1FrenchGallic1Georgian R&F-OnlyGermanGran Colombian1GreekHungarian GS-OnlyIncan GS-OnlyIndianIndonesian1JapaneseKhmer1KongoleseKorean R&F-OnlyMacedonian1Malian GS-OnlyMāori GS-OnlyMapuche R&F-OnlyMayan1Mongolian R&F-OnlyNorwegianNubian1Ottoman GS-OnlyPersian1Phoenician GS-OnlyPolish1Portuguese1RomanRussianScottish R&F-OnlyScythianSpanishSumerianSwedish GS-OnlyVietnamese1Zulu R&F-Only
1 Requires DLC

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.