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

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The dilemm of the 3rd century had beaten Rome and then beaten she again. Disease, civil wars, and invasions were adhered to by an extra-large serving of more disease more polite wars much more invasions, part peasant rebellions, and some economic instability, just to make sure that your worries were not only physical but additionally financial. The would have truly to be a miserable ar to have lived. Practically no component of the realm was left unscathed. Once Constantine, age 32, assured there were no much more challenges come his power as emperor in 312 advertisement at the fight at the Milvian bridge, and ending the tetrarchy a few years, he set about doing every he can consolidate remnants that the realm that Aurelian had saved, and Diocletian stabilised.

During his reign, Constantine made many important changes, yet two stand out as having complied with the Roman empire for the remainder of that days. The an initial is the introduced and also sponsored Christianity, proclaiming himself a Christian. The 2nd is moving the funding city away from that is birthplace of Rome, to the city that Byzantium, shortly renamed come Nova Roma (New Rome) and also then Constantinople after ~ the emperor himself. Why go Constantine carry out this? Rome had housed the great men that created the empire, guys such as Scipio, the Gracchi, Caesar, and also Augustus how could he forsake that to move? Well, the is what we shall be looking in ~ in this article.

Threats from all sides

One the the largest problems Rome had actually endured throughout the crisis, and before was the of invading barbarians crossing the Danube, and Persians cross the Euphrates. Those comes from Germania made the as far as reduced Iberia in your travels through the empire. This is maybe the most necessary thing to note when considering the switch in location. Rome, while itself reasonably well safeguarded by the Alps in the phibìc (unless of course you happen to it is in a very upset man with part elephants, or concerned think the it, a unique committed barbarian) was too far away from any kind of of the frontiers of battle. The amount of time taken because that news to reach the emperor of an invasion, the emperor come muster the legions, and then move to prevent the invasion was often enough for the invading militaries to irradiate Gaul up choose a candle.



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

This is why many emperors, Marcus Aurelius being the excessive example, simply camped out at the frontiers or at the really least sent their many talented generals to execute so for them — but this in itself brought about issues. Soldier in the north of Gaul far away native the home province of Italia were completely dependent upon your generals because that clothes, food, and since soldiers were paid native the pockets the the general, money as well. This meant that at the slightest authorize of weakness distant legions were susceptible to declare your commander emperor and à la Caesar in march on the capital, which, due to the fact that legions were mostly stationed in the districts the men were born in, most of them did no care around anyways.

This is just how Constantine himself came to be emperor. He remained in York, Britannia, once his father died, and, back his dad proclaimed the Augustus it was just with the assistance of the faithful legions serving under him that he managed to fight off an additional claimant come the throne.

By moving his capital to Constantinople Constantine closeup of the door the distance in between his chair of power and the troublesome frontiers the the Danube, Euphrates, and also Dacia, enabling for faster response o crisis, and an ext imperial existence on remote legions. While it did distance him from Iberia and also much of north Africa both of these provinces were somewhat of a backwater at the time contrasted to Greece and Egypt, with perhaps Carthage (now included salt) being a remarkable exception.

Given the by 300 ad the east was far much more prosperous 보다 the west it additionally made tactical sense on another level. While frontiers were a big part that moving, anyone looking in ~ a map deserve to see that the optimal of the Rhine is further from contemporary Istanbul than Rome. Relocating would have actually hindered Constantine’s ability to answers to an ext distant threats, the payoff being the it let that respond much quicker to hazards that looked to destroy the prosperous eastern over the relatively derelict west.

This is of course, not even to mention Constantinople’s geographic benefit when it comes to defence.



A ar of restored Theodosian walls taht protected Constantinople. Source: Wikimedia Commons.Shiny Coins

Even the emperor that Rome could always do with much more money. Among the most notable things around Constantinople is that it is dead in the middle of two very prosperous centres the civilisation. Greece, recognized for its old philosophy and also scholars to be a favourite location for centres to own second houses and also for wealthy civilization to live. Cities such as Athens and also Thebes to be prosperous, and also areas the Anatolia had their fair share of gold to spend. Merchants looking to do money between the 2 places, or from more distant areas such as the levant had actually two options.

The an initial was cruising a ship, this was limited by seasonal winds and also could it is in expensive depending on the amount of cargo you were carrying. Not to cite prone come pirates. The 2nd option to be to walk, which supposed you had actually to cross the Hellespont, moving through Constantinople.

Since the eastern component of the empire was richer 보다 the west, partly due to the fact that raids during the situation of the 3rd and since the main population centres that the realm were in the eastern (though this in itself is a subject that could constitute entire books), there to be a most money complying with through byzantine even prior to Constantine relocated his capital there.

After moving his capital to the newly called Constantinople, Constantine went on a safety spree, building new churches, aqueducts, sewers, and all various other kinds of infrastructure to generate jobs and entice world to live in the city. If Augustus found Rome a city the brick and also left it a city the marble, Constantine turned Constantinople native a city of marble to among gold, fine arts, and strong 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 her savage conqueror and brought she arts right into rustic Latium.”— Horace, Epsitle, publication two lines 156–157.

The thing about Greece, especially ancient Greece, is the if you’re some uncultured Latin guy who’s only dream is to own some farmland and also not die of a disease (a major issue in ancient Rome together it was developed on a marsh) they probably seem quite clever. They have actually these huge marble buildings, a varied pantheon of god — perfect for taking ‘inspiration’ from — and these old males who sit roughly all work arguing around why the skies is blue and humans have actually ten toes rather of eleven or twelves which, for part reason, everyone considers really really smart. Meh, what perform you understand thought? You’re just a male paid come stab people. But, because you want to seem quite clever too(who doesn’t?), you start to copy them. You also get to have sex with the cute young boys together well, an excellent success!

In all seriousness though, Greek society is so rich and also diverse the it was almost as lot of a torment as something coming out of the Pontine Marshes, many old Romans believed so too. While ancient Romans were mainly a nationalistic, stoic people, the Greeks to be far more into the well arts, literature, and things that the prefer (of food this is a gross simplification, lumping Sparta and also Corinth together removes any kind of nuance, and also they room nothing like the Indo-Greeks). One such doubter was Cato the Elder who lived around 200 BC, a full 500 years prior to Constantine moved to Constantinople, an ext famous for his hate of Carthage, Cato left a little piece that detest because that the Romans who had actually been corrupted by Greek culture.

So, by the moment Constantine came around the influence of greece on Rome had been immense. It was usual for young aristocrats to walk there come learn, Romans speak Greek the same way 18th and 19th century Europeans would have talked French, and many modern-day peoples recognize English. While Greek was not the main language the the empire until 610 ad it had a clear influence on the roman people, Emperor Hadrian that ruled indigenous 117 advertisement to 138 ad well known for his love the Greek culture. This made Constantinople, simply a short walk indigenous the mainland the Greece and even much more imbued with Greek society than Rome, the perfect location to put up camp.

Religion and Corruption

The final significant reason Constantine chose to relocate was religion and corruption. In the centre of Rome were temples constructed by Caesar, Augustus, and also other emperors, except, lock were built to worship the roman inn pantheon, no the one true god. Given that Rome was already a well-developed city (though well past its prime) building new churches and tearing down old holy places was not a great idea, and certainly would certainly not please the regional senators and also politicians, who, though basically powerless after revolutionary of Diocletian, had actually proven numerous times in the past that currently a man is more powerful than a knife.


The Hagia Sofia, first built together a church under Justinian in 532, developed on the same sight as basilicas built 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 somewhat that a clean slate. That could develop churches and anything else he pleasure without having to worry around people rioting in defiance, and also he could give far land come Christian families on the condition they move right into the city to work. While he did pay because that Senators come come and join him, they to be even more powerless there 보다 in Rome.