The Byzantines (or Eastern Roman Empire) are Middle Eastern civilization in Age of Empires II. They are situated in the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor, along the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean in the modern countries such as Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. In the Attila the Hun campaign, they represent the Western Roman Empire. Only classified as a defensive civilization in-game, they are in practice a very versatile civilization, relying on a wide variety of units of all categories for both offense and defense.
As the medieval stage of the Roman Empire they retain characteristics of their Rise of Rome Roman (Roman and Palmyran) counterparts and Persian neighbors, such as their unique unit, the Cataphract, a type of heavy cavalry that happened to also be present in the original game. Their Imperial Age unique technology is Logistica, referring to the Byzantines' strong military tactics which grants their Cataphracts trample damage to attack multiple enemies at once. The Byzantines had a head start over their European neighbors and arguably reached their zenith while the rest of Europe were in the Dark Age. As a result, they pay less to advance to the Imperial Age.
Constantinople operated as the center of a trading network that extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa, in particular as the primary western terminus of the famous Silk Road. So the Byzantine Empire's economy was among the most advanced in Europe and the Mediterranean for many centuries. Europe, in particular, could not match Byzantines' economic strength until late in the Middle Ages. That is reflected upon in the game with the Byzantines having access to all economic (Lumber camp, Mill, and Mining Camp) upgrades.
The Byzantines were best known for having deflected many invasions implemented by barbarians, Slavs and Arabs, and the famed doubled walls that surrounded their capital of Constantinople almost stood for over a millennium until overran by Ottoman Turks. To reflect this achievement, the Byzantines attain a theme of a defensive civilization and have tougher buildings as the Age progresses. Due to carrying on many of the traditions of Rome such as their naval prowess and being the inventors of Greek fire, an ancient napalm rumored to be able to ignite even on water, their Fire Ship attack faster and their Castle Age unique technology is Greek Fire, granting Fire Ships +1 range. As a defensive civilization, they also get cheaper counter units and Town Watch for free. Being the bastion of Greek Orthodoxy, their Monks heal faster to keep with their defensive theme.
The Byzantines have access to a vast variety of technologies. This makes them hard to anticipate in multiplayer games. Their bonuses grant them advantages for Camels, Pikemen, Skirmishers, and a team bonus for their Monks. In addition, their unique unit, the Cataphract is a heavy cavalry unit which deals bonus damage against infantry. However, they are missing the Siege Onager and the Heavy Scorpion upgrades in their Siege Workshop. They are known to have the strongest buildings in the game, with their buildings getting an extra +10% HP in every single Age, which negates that they cannot research either Masonry or Architecture.
The Byzantines feature in a notable amount of campaigns, but have no campaign on their own. They feature frequently in the Saladin, Barbarossa, and Attila the Hun campaigns, and make a few other appearances, e.g. in Bari or Alaric.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Byzantine AI characters:
Basil the Macedonian (811-886): Byzantine emperor from 867-886. Born a peasant, he rose in the Imperial court and assassinated the emperor to become emperor himself. Turned out to be one of the greatest Byzantine emperors.
Belisarius (505-565): Flavius Belisarius, legendary general of Justinian I. Conquered territories in Italy, Dalmatia, Africa and southern Hispaniola from the Vandals and Goths.
Emp. Alexius IV (1182-1204): Byzantine emperor from 1203-1204. Managed to escape to the Holy Roman Empire after his father was overthrown in a coup. He redirected the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople to claim his throne, but failed to meet his promises to the crusader nations and was deeply unpopular with the citizenry. Eventually imprisoned and strangled.
Emp. Anastasius (431-518): Byzantine emperor from 491-518. Reformer of administration and internal affairs, gained popularity by lowering taxes. Built the Anastasian Wall to protect Constantinople from Huns, Slavs and Bulgars; reinforced the Persian border.
Emp. Constantine (272-337): First Christian Roman Emperor (306-337). Because of his many military successes and extensive system reforms considered to be one of the greatest Roman Emperors. Founder of the city Constantinople (former Byzantium), eventually founding the basis of the Byzantine Empire.
Emp. Justinian (482-565) : Byzantine emperor from 527-565. Sought to revive the Roman Empire’s greatness by conquering former territories in the western Mediterranean, while Byzantine culture and law flourished.
Emp. Leo VI (866-912): “The Wise”, Byzantine emperor from 886-912. A prolific writer, wrote about law, politics, theology and poetry, while his fortune in wars was mixed.
Emp. Mauricius (539-602): Byzantine emperor from 582-602. Victorious in the war against Persia gaining much of Armenia and Georgia, and solidified territory in the Balkans and the western Mediterranean. Executed by the usurper Phocas.
Emp. Michael V (1015-1041): Byzantine emperor for four months. Adoptive son of Empress Zoe, she helped him to become heir to the throne. Determined to rule on his own, he banished Zoe, after which the population revolted and Zoe (with her sister) was reinstalled as empress, while Michael died shortly after.
Emp. Romanus II (938-963): Byzantine emperor from 959-963. Recaptured Crete from the Muslims, captured Arab territory in the east and defended the Balkans from the Magyars. Suddenly became ill on a hunting expedition and died.
Emp. Tiberius III: Byzantine emperor from 698-705. Former Germanic naval officer, decided to ignore Africa and Carthage and focus his efforts on containing the Arab threat in the east.
General Manuel Comnenus (1118-1180): Byzantine emperor from 1143-1180. Sought the return of the glory of the Byzantine Empire: Made alliances with the pope, held campaigns in Hungary and Sicily and also took part in the Second Crusade.
Heraclius the Elder (?-610): Byzantine general. Fought battles against the Persians and quelled an Armenian revolt. Appointed Exarch of Africa, he then helped his son to overthrow the usurper Phocas, but died soon after.
Michael the Stammerer (770-829): Michael II the Amorian, Byzantine emperor from 820-829. Rose from soldier up to high rank and conspired to assassinate the emperor to become emperor himself. Lost Crete to the Saracens and could not prevent the Muslim conquest of Sicily.
Medieval Latin is not pronounced as Romans spoke it (rolled r, French gn, Italian c) and many misspellings appear, as for 'hunter'. Moreover, the Byzantines spoke Greek for the larger part of their history, considering their existence during the Middle Ages, Latin having been kept only in some fields such as administration.
Impero?: The wanted meaning was 'command?'. Then, the word should be Imperium?.
Presto: Praesto in classical Latin, from praestare. It means something like "I am available for you" or "I serve you", or simply "Ready".
Correctus: It means 'corrected, fixed', while it should be recte.
Venatus: This noun means 'hunt'. 'Hunter' must be translated by venator.
Historically, they referred to their empire as the "Roman Empire" or "Romania" and likewise considered themselves as "Romans", due to them being the Eastern branch of the Roman Empire. However, they were known as the "Greeks" in Western Europe due to the language they spoke. Both the terms "Byzantines" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms that refer to the empire, after its fall (in the 15th century because of the invasions of the Ottoman Turks). So the usage of the name "Byzantines" is historically inaccurate in the game.