A map the Constantinople drawn in 1422 through a Cartographer that the surname Cristoforo Buondelmonti. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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The crisis of the 3rd century had beaten Rome and then beaten her again. Disease, civil wars, and also invasions were complied with by one extra-large offer of more disease more polite wars much more invasions, some peasant rebellions, and some economic instability, simply to make certain that your problems were not only physical but likewise financial. That would have actually truly to be a miserable location to have actually lived. Nearly no part of the realm was left unscathed. Once Constantine, aged 32, assured there to be no much more challenges come his power as emperor in 312 advertisement at the fight at the Milvian bridge, and also ending the tetrarchy a few years, he set about doing every he can consolidate remnants of the realm that Aurelian had saved, and Diocletian stabilised.

During his reign, Constantine made countless important changes, however two was standing out together having adhered to the Roman realm for the rest of its days. The very first is he introduced and sponsored Christianity, proclaiming self a Christian. The second is moving the funding city away from that is birthplace the Rome, come the city the Byzantium, shortly renamed to Nova Roma (New Rome) and also then Constantinople after ~ the emperor himself. Why walk Constantine perform this? Rome had actually housed the great men that produced the empire, men such as Scipio, the Gracchi, Caesar, and also Augustus how might he forsake that to move? Well, the is what we shall it is in looking in ~ in this article.

Threats from all sides

One that the largest problems Rome had endured throughout the crisis, and before was that of invading barbarians cross the Danube, and also Persians crossing the Euphrates. Those comes from Germania made that as much as reduced Iberia in their travels through the empire. This is maybe the most vital thing to keep in mind when considering the switch in location. Rome, while itself fairly well protected by the Alps in the north (unless of course you happen to be a very upset guy with part elephants, or concerned think the it, a uniquely committed barbarian) to be too far away from any kind of of the frontiers that battle. The amount of time taken because that news to with the emperor of an invasion, the emperor come muster the legions, and then move to stop the intrusion was often enough for the invading armies to irradiate Gaul up choose a candle.


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A bust of Constantine the Great. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

This is why plenty of emperors, Marcus Aurelius being the too much example, just camped out at the frontiers or in ~ the an extremely least sent out their most talented generals to carry out so because that them — however this in itself brought about issues. Legions in the north of Gaul much away native the home district of Italia were totally dependent upon their generals for clothes, food, and since soldiers were paid native the pockets that the general, money as well. This supposed that at the slightest sign of weakness remote legions were vulnerable to declare their commander emperor and à la Caesar in march on the capital, which, since legions were greatly stationed in the provinces the guys were born in, many of castle did no care around anyways.

This is exactly how Constantine himself came to be emperor. He was in York, Britannia, when his father died, and, although his father proclaimed the Augustus the was just with the assistance of the loyal legions serving under him the he controlled to struggle off an additional claimant to the throne.

By relocating his capital to Constantinople Constantine close up door the distance in between his seat of power and also the troublesome frontiers the the Danube, Euphrates, and Dacia, enabling for faster solution o crisis, and much more imperial existence on far-off legions. While it did street him indigenous Iberia and much of northern Africa both of these districts were somewhat of a backwater at the time contrasted to Greece and Egypt, with perhaps Carthage (now included salt) being a notable exception.

Given the by 300 ad the east was far more prosperous than the west it likewise made tactical sense on another level. When frontiers to be a big part of moving, everyone looking in ~ a map can see that the height of the Rhine is more from contemporary Istanbul than Rome. Relocating would have actually actually hindered Constantine’s capacity to answer to much more distant threats, the payoff being that it let that respond much quicker to dangers that looked to destroy the prosperous east over the reasonably derelict west.

This is that course, not also to mention Constantinople’s geographic advantage when it pertains to defence.


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A section of revived Theodosian walls taht protected Constantinople. Source: Wikimedia Commons.Shiny Coins

Even the emperor of Rome could constantly do with more money. Among the most notable things around Constantinople is that it is dead in the center of two an extremely prosperous centres of civilisation. Greece, known for its old philosophy and scholars was a favourite place for centres come own second houses and for wealthy world to live. Urban such together Athens and Thebes were prosperous, and also areas of Anatolia had their same share of gold to spend. Merchants looking to do money in between the two places, or from much more distant areas such together the levant had two options.

The very first was cruising a ship, this was restricted by seasonal winds and also could be expensive depending upon the amount of cargo you to be carrying. No to point out prone to pirates. The second option was to walk, which expected you had actually to cross the Hellespont, relocating through Constantinople.

Since the eastern part of the realm was richer than the west, partly because raids throughout the dilemm of the third and due to the fact that the main populace centres that the realm were in the east (though this in itself is a subject that could constitute entire books), there was a most money adhering to through byzantine even before Constantine moved his capital there.

After moving his capital to the newly named Constantinople, Constantine went on a security spree, building new churches, aqueducts, sewers, and also all various other kinds of infrastructure to generate jobs and entice world to live in the city. If Augustus discovered Rome a city of brick and left the a city of marble, Constantine rotate Constantinople indigenous a city the marble to one of gold, good arts, and solid Christian morals (something, it has been noted, the emperor lacked himself in a few instances).

Maybe not so Greco-Roman, simply Greco

“Conquered Greece took captive she savage conqueror and also brought her arts right into rustic Latium.”— Horace, Epsitle, publication two currently 156–157.

The thing about Greece, especially old Greece, is the if you’re part uncultured Latin man who’s only dream is to very own some farmland and not dice of a an illness (a significant issue in ancient Rome as it was developed on a marsh) they probably seem fairly clever. They have these huge marble buildings, a varied pantheon of god — perfect for taking ‘inspiration’ indigenous — and also these old men who sit approximately all work arguing about why the sky is blue and also humans have ten toes rather of eleven or twelves which, for some reason, everyone considers really really smart. Meh, what do you understand thought? You’re simply a guy paid to stab people. But, since you desire to seem rather clever too(who doesn’t?), you begin to copy them. You even get to have sex v the cute young boys as well, great success!

In every seriousness though, Greek culture is so rich and diverse that it was virtually as much of a torment as something coming the end of the Pontine Marshes, many ancient Romans believed so too. While old Romans were mostly a nationalistic, stoic people, the Greeks were far more into the fine arts, literature, and things of the favor (of course this is a gross simplification, lumping Sparta and also Corinth together removes any kind of nuance, and also they room nothing choose the Indo-Greeks). One such movie critic was Cato the Elder that lived approximately 200 BC, a full 500 years prior to Constantine moved to Constantinople, much more famous for his dislike of Carthage, Cato left a tiny piece the detest because that the Romans who had actually been corrupted by Greek culture.

So, by the time Constantine came about the affect of greek on Rome had been immense. It was usual for young aristocrats to walk there come learn, Romans speak Greek the same method 18th and also 19th century Europeans would have spoken French, and many modern-day peoples recognize English. While Greek was no the official language the the empire until 610 advertisement it had a clear influence on the roman people, Emperor Hadrian that ruled indigenous 117 advertisement to 138 ad well known for his love that Greek culture. This do Constantinople, simply a brief walk native the mainland the Greece and also even an ext imbued through Greek society than Rome, the perfect location to placed up camp.

Religion and Corruption

The final major reason Constantine determined to move was religion and also corruption. In the centre of Rome to be temples developed by Caesar, Augustus, and other emperors, except, lock were built to praise the roman pantheon, not the one true god. Given that Rome was already a well-developed city (though well previous its prime) building brand-new churches and tearing down old holy places was not a great idea, and also certainly would certainly not you re welcome the local senators and also politicians, who, though essentially powerless after revolutionary of Diocletian, had actually proven many times in the previous that currently a guy is more powerful than a knife.


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The Hagia Sofia, an initial built as a church under Justinian in 532, developed on the exact same sight together basilicas constructed by Constantine the 2nd and Theodosius the second, is currently a mosque in the love of Istanbul. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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In Constantinople, Constantine had actually somewhat of a clean slate. The could build churches and anything else he pleasure without having actually to worry about people rioting in defiance, and also he could give far land come Christian family members on the condition they move into the city to work. While that did pay because that Senators to come and also join him, they to be even much more powerless there than in Rome.