It is logical enough to discuss the eastern Mediterranean area and the nascent Russian state in the same chapter. The latter had owed its distant origin to Scandinavian settlements on the overland route to Byzantium and at the end of the day Russia, with a Greek Orthodox Church and a language which employed the Greek alphabet, was to inherit some of the ambitions o f the vanished empire of Constantine. Yet for much of the Middle Ages the two areas had little contact and in what follows pride of place will be given to the Greek Empire and its fall, for this at the time directly involved the fortunes o f other European communities.