Key Points

The oriental Empire (the Eastern roman Empire) was distinct from the west Roman empire in numerous ways; many importantly, the Byzantines were Christians and also spoke Greek rather of Latin.The founder the the oriental Empire and also its very first emperor, Constantine the Great, relocated the capital of the Roman empire to the city of byzantium in 330 CE, and also renamed that Constantinople.Constantine the an excellent also legalized Christianity, which had actually previously been persecuted in the roman inn Empire. Christianity would come to be a major element of byzantine culture.Constantinople became the largest city in the empire and also a significant commercial center, while the west Roman realm fell in 476 CE.

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An Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and various scholars who wrote the Christian Bible. It to be legalized in the oriental Empire through Constantine the Great, and also the religion came to be a major element of byzantine culture.

Germanic barbarians

An uncivilized or uncultured person, originally compared to the hellenistic Greco-Roman civilization; often connected with fighting or other such shows of strength.

Constantine the great and the start of Byzantium

It is a issue of debate when the Roman empire officially ended and also transformed right into the oriental Empire. Many scholars accept that it did not happen at one time, yet that it was a slow-moving process; thus, late Roman history overlaps with early oriental history. Constantine i (“the Great”) is usually held to it is in the founder that the byzantine Empire. He was responsible for several major changes that would assist create a Byzantine culture distinct from the roman past.

As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and also military reforms to combine the empire. The federal government was restructured and also civil and also military government separated. A brand-new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation. It would become the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for an ext than a thousands years. As the very first Roman emperor to case conversion to Christianity, Constantine play an influential role in the advance of Christianity as the religion of the empire. In army matters, the Roman military was reorganized come consist the mobile ar units and garrison soldiers qualified of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine gone after successful campaigns versus the people on the roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians—, and even resettled territories abandoned by his predecessors throughout the turmoil of the ahead century.

The age of Constantine significant a distinctive epoch in the history of the roman inn Empire. He developed a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople after self (the laudatory epithet the “New Rome” come later, and also was never an official title). It would later come to be the resources of the empire for over one thousands years; therefore the later Eastern empire would pertained to be recognized as the oriental Empire. His an ext immediate political legacy was that, in leaving the realm to his sons, he changed Diocletian’s tetrarchy (government whereby power is divided amongst four individuals) with the principle of dynastic succession. His reputation flourished throughout the life time of his children, and also for centuries after his reign. The middle ages church upheld him together a paragon of virtue, if secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a allude of reference, and also the prize of imperial legitimacy and also identity.


Constantine the Great. Byzantine Emperor Constantine the good presents a depiction of the city that Constantinople together tribute to an enthroned Mary and also Christ son in this church mosaic. St Sophia, c. 1000 CE.

Constantinople and also Civil Reform

Constantine moved the chair of the empire, and introduced important transforms into its civil and spiritual constitution. In 330, he started Constantinople together a 2nd Rome on the website of Byzantium, which was well-positioned astride the profession routes between east and also west; it to be a superb base from which come guard the Danube river, and was reasonably close come the east frontiers. Constantine likewise began the structure of the an excellent fortified walls, which were expanded and rebuilt in subsequent ages. J. B. Bury asserts that “the foundation of Constantinople <…> inaugurated a permanent department between the Eastern and also Western, the Greek and the Latin, halves of the empire—a department to which occasions had currently pointed—and influenced decisively the entirety subsequent background of Europe.”

Constantine constructed upon the administrative reforms presented by Diocletian. He stabilized the coinage (the gold solidus that he introduced came to be a extremely prized and stable currency), and also made changes to the structure of the army. Under Constantine, the empire had recovered much of its military strength and also enjoyed a duration of stability and prosperity. He likewise reconquered southern parts of Dacia, after defeating the Visigoths in 332, and he was planning a campaign against Sassanid Persia together well. To divide bureaucratic responsibilities, Constantine replaced the solitary praetorian prefect, who had actually traditionally worked out both military and also civil functions, with regional prefects enjoying polite authority alone. In the course of the fourth century, four good sections arised from these Constantinian beginnings, and also the practice of separating polite from armed forces authority persisted till the 7th century.

Constantine and Christianity

Constantine to be the an initial emperor to avoid Christian persecutions and to legalization Christianity, as well as all various other religions and cults in the roman Empire.

In February 313, Constantine met v Licinius in Milan, whereby they arisen the Edict that Milan. The edict declared that Christians should be permitted to follow the faith without oppression. This eliminated penalties for professing Christianity, under which plenty of had been martyred previously, and also returned confiscated Church property. The edict safeguarded from religious persecution not just Christians yet all religions, allowing anyone to worship whichever deity they chose.

Scholars dispute whether Constantine embraced Christianity in his youth native his mother, St. Helena,, or whether he adopted it slowly over the course of his life. According to Christian writers, Constantine to be over 40 once he finally declared himself a Christian, composing to believer to do clear the he believed he owed his successes come the defense of the Christian High God alone. Transparent his rule, Constantine supported the Church financially, constructed basilicas, granted privileges to priest (e.g. Exemption from certain taxes), advocated Christians come high office, and returned building confiscated throughout the Diocletianic persecution. His many famous building projects incorporate the Church that the holy Sepulchre, and also Old Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The reign of Constantine developed a precedent for the place of the emperor as having an excellent influence and also ultimate regulatory authority in ~ the religious discussions entailing the beforehand Christian councils of the time (most notably, the problem over Arianism, and the nature the God). Constantine himself disliked the dangers to societal stability that spiritual disputes and also controversies carried with them, to like where possible to develop an orthodoxy. One way in i beg your pardon Constantine used his affect over the early Church councils was to look for to create a agreement over the oft debated and also argued concern over the nature of God. In 325, that summoned the board of directors of Nicaea, properly the very first Ecumenical Council. The board of directors of Nicaea is most known for its handling Arianism and for setting up the Nicene Creed, i beg your pardon is still supplied today by Christians.

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The fall of the Western roman Empire

After Constantine, couple of emperors rule the entire Roman Empire. It to be too big and to be under strike from too many directions. Usually, there to be an emperor that the west Roman empire ruling from Italy or Gaul, and also an emperor the the eastern Roman realm ruling native Constantinople. If the Western empire was overrun by germanic barbarians (its soil in Italy were conquered by the Ostrogoths, Spain was overcame by the Visigoths, phibìc Africa was dominated by the Vandals, and also Gaul was dominated by the Franks), the Eastern realm thrived. Constantinople came to be the biggest city in the empire and a significant commercial center. In 476 CE, the last Western roman Emperor to be deposed and the western Roman realm was no more. Therefore the east Roman realm was the only Roman realm left standing.