Byzantine social structure was very hierarchical, meaning that it was governed by ecclesiastical rulers. The Byzantine Empire was ruled at the top by Constantine, who was a baptized Christian. The hierarchical structure consisted of different levels of leadership. The emperor was in charge of everything political, but he also played an important role in the church and the decisions it made.
At the pinnacle of the empire stood the emperor himself, the man of wisdom who would shelter the state from whatever mishaps fortune had darkly hidden. The emperor alone could provide this protection since, as the embodiment of all the virtues, he possessed in perfection those qualities displayed only imperfectly by his individual subjects.
The emperor was held to be ordained by God, head of church as well as state. He appointed church bishops and passed religious and secular laws. The elaborate court rituals symbolized the ideals of a divinely inspired, all-powerful ruler, though they also often immobilized rulers and inhibited innovative policy. At key points women held the imperial throne, while maintaining the ceremonial power of the office.
Byzantine bureaucrats could be recruited from all social classes. Bureaucrats were specialized into various offices, with officials close to the emperor being mainly eunuchs. Provincial governors were appointed from the center and charged with keeping tabs on military authorities. An elaborate system of spies helped preserve loyalty, while also creating intense distrust even among friends.
It is small wonder that the word Byzantine came to refer to complex and convoluted institutional arrangements. At the same time, the system was sufficiently successful to constitute one of the cements that preserved the longest-lived single government structure the Mediterranean world has ever known.
The Byzantine Empire was made up of three different classes. The first of the three, or the high class, was comprised of the aristocratic class, landowners with large amounts of land, highly ranked military officers, and functionaries of the state. The second class or middle class, was made up of owners of medium size land, merchants, and industrialists. The third class or lower class consisted of poor people and the low wage earners.
The clergy did not form a distinct class, despite the fact that they enjoyed special privileges; they were distributed throughout all the social levels. Slaves did exist, although the state preferred their redemption to their subjugation.
The chariot races reflected the social and class division in Byzantine society for teams of Chariots would race. There were two teams the Greens and the Blues. The Greens represented the merchants, artisans and bureaucrats, while the Blues represented the landed aristocracy.
The organized guilds of craftsmen and artisans in the towns produced goods destined for demanding purchasers. Daily life, profoundly influenced by the commandments of the Christian religion, revolved around the home, in which women devoted themselves to the upbringing of their children, and various public places, where men sought relaxation in their leisure hours.