The term '''''Byzantine''''' comes from ''Byzantium'', the original name of [[Constantinople]] before it became the capital of the Roman Empire. The term came into general use in Western Europe during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries to describe the Roman Empire after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire in 476.
After [[Constantine the Great |Constantine I]] moved the capital of the Roman Empire from [[Nicomedia]] to Byzantium in 330, renaming it ''Nova Roma'', the empire continued to be referred to by its inhabitants as the ''Roman Empire'' (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων) or ''Romania'' (Greek: Ῥωμανία). After Constantine's death in 337, the city was again renamed, to ''Constantinople''. The [[List of Byzantine Emperors|line of emperors]] continued in an unbroken succession and preserved its Greco-Roman legal and cultural traditions. After the fall of Rome and the lost of the western part of the empire, the empire began to take on a new character, becoming more Hellenic in culture. By the seventh century, Emperor [[Heraclius]] recognized Greek as the official language.