A map that Constantinople attracted in 1422 by a Cartographer the the name Cristoforo Buondelmonti. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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The situation of the third century had beaten Rome and also then beaten she again. Disease, polite wars, and invasions were adhered to by one extra-large offer of more disease more civil wars more invasions, some peasant rebellions, and some financial instability, just to make sure that your problems were not only physical but additionally financial. That would have truly been a miserable ar to have lived. Practically no component of the empire was left unscathed. As soon as Constantine, aged 32, assured there to be no more challenges to his regime as emperor in 312 ad at the battle at the Milvian bridge, and also ending the tetrarchy a couple of years, he set about doing every he might consolidate remnants of the realm that Aurelian had saved, and also Diocletian stabilised.

During his reign, Constantine made countless important changes, yet two stand out together having adhered to the Roman realm for the remainder of its days. The an initial is he introduced and sponsored Christianity, proclaiming himself a Christian. The second is moving the capital city far from its birthplace that Rome, come the city that Byzantium, soon renamed come Nova Roma (New Rome) and also then Constantinople ~ the emperor himself. Why go Constantine execute this? Rome had actually housed the great men that produced the empire, men such together Scipio, the Gracchi, Caesar, and also Augustus how might he forsake the to move? Well, the is what we shall it is in looking in ~ in this article.

Threats from every sides

One of the largest problems Rome had endured during the crisis, and also before was the of invading barbarians crossing the Danube, and Persians crossing the Euphrates. Those coming from Germania made the as much as lower Iberia in their travels v the empire. This is maybe the most vital thing to keep in mind when considering the switch in location. Rome, if itself reasonably well safeguarded by the Alps in the phibìc (unless of course you happen to it is in a very upset male with part elephants, or involved think of it, a unique committed barbarian) was too far away from any kind of of the frontiers of battle. The quantity of time taken for news to with the emperor of one invasion, the emperor to muster the legions, and then relocate to avoid the intrusion was often sufficient 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 extreme example, just camped the end at the frontiers or at the very least sent out their many talented generals to carry out so for them — however this in itself led to issues. Soldier in the phibìc of Gaul far away native the home province of Italia were totally dependent upon your generals for clothes, food, and also since soldiers were paid indigenous the pockets the the general, money as well. This expected that in ~ the slightest authorize of weakness remote legions were susceptible to declare their commander emperor and also à la Caesar march on the capital, which, because legions were greatly stationed in the provinces the men were born in, most of lock did no care about anyways.

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

By relocating his resources to Constantinople Constantine closeup of the door the distance between his seat of power and also the difficult frontiers of the Danube, Euphrates, and also Dacia, enabling for faster solution o crisis, and much more imperial visibility on far-off legions. While that did street him native Iberia and also much of northern Africa both the these districts were rather of a backwater in ~ the time compared to Greece and Egypt, with possibly Carthage (now included salt) gift a remarkable exception.

Given that by 300 ad the eastern was far an ext prosperous 보다 the west it additionally made tactical feeling on one more level. While frontiers to be a huge part that moving, everyone looking in ~ a map can see the the height of the Rhine is more from modern-day Istanbul 보다 Rome. Relocating would have actually hindered Constantine’s ability to respond to an ext distant threats, the payoff being that it let the respond much faster to hazards that looked to destroy the prosperous eastern over the relatively derelict west.

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


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A section of revived Theodosian wall surfaces taht defended Constantinople. Source: Wikimedia Commons.Shiny Coins

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

The very first was cruising a ship, this was minimal by seasonal winds and could be expensive relying on the lot of cargo you to be carrying. No to cite prone to pirates. The 2nd option was to walk, which intended you had to overcome the Hellespont, moving through Constantinople.

Since the eastern part of the empire was richer than the west, partly due to the fact that raids during the dilemm of the third and due to the fact that the main populace centres that the empire were in the eastern (though this in chin is a subject that could constitute entire books), there was a most money adhering to through byzantine even before Constantine relocated his resources there.

After relocating his resources to the newly named Constantinople, Constantine went on a safety spree, building new churches, aqueducts, sewers, and also all other kinds of infrastructure to generate jobs and entice people to live in the city. If Augustus found Rome a city that brick and also left that a city of marble, Constantine turn Constantinople from a city of marble to one of gold, fine arts, and strong Christian morals (something, it has actually been noted, the emperor lacked self in a couple of instances).

Maybe no so Greco-Roman, simply Greco

“Conquered Greece take it captive her savage conqueror and brought her arts into rustic Latium.”— Horace, Epsitle, book two currently 156–157.

The thing around Greece, especially ancient Greece, is that if you’re part uncultured Latin guy who’s just dream is to own some farmland and not dice of a an illness (a significant issue in old Rome as it was built on a marsh) they more than likely seem rather clever. They have actually these big marble buildings, a varied pantheon of god — perfect for taking ‘inspiration’ from — and these old men who sit about all day arguing about why the skies is blue and also humans have actually ten toes instead of eleven or twelves which, for some reason, everyone considers really really smart. Meh, what carry out you recognize thought? You’re just a guy paid to stab people. But, because you desire to seem fairly clever too(who doesn’t?), you begin to copy them. You also get to have actually sex through the cute young boys as well, an excellent success!

In every seriousness though, Greek culture is for this reason rich and also diverse the it was virtually as lot of a pester as something coming the end of the Pontine Marshes, many old Romans assumed so too. While ancient Romans were greatly a nationalistic, stoic people, the Greeks to be far more into the good arts, literature, and also things of the like (of course this is a pistol simplification, lumping Sparta and Corinth together removes any kind of nuance, and also they room nothing favor the Indo-Greeks). One such doubter was Cato the Elder that lived around 200 BC, a complete 500 years before Constantine moved to Constantinople, more famous because that his hate of Carthage, Cato left a little piece that detest because that the Romans who had been corrupted by Greek culture.

So, by the time Constantine came around the influence of greek on Rome had been immense. That was typical for young aristocrats to go there come learn, Romans speak Greek the same means 18th and also 19th century Europeans would have talked French, and many contemporary peoples recognize English. When Greek was no the main language of the empire until 610 advertisement it had actually a clear affect on the roman people, Emperor Hadrian who ruled from 117 ad to 138 advertisement well well-known for his love that Greek culture. This do Constantinople, just a short walk indigenous the mainland of Greece and even an ext imbued v Greek society than Rome, the perfect ar to placed up camp.

Religion and Corruption

The final major reason Constantine determined to relocate was religion and corruption. In the centre of Rome to be temples constructed by Caesar, Augustus, and other emperors, except, lock were constructed to worship 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 under old holy places was not a good idea, and certainly would certainly not please the neighborhood senators and politicians, who, though essentially powerless after reforms of Diocletian, had actually proven many times in the past that now a male is an ext powerful 보다 a knife.


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The Hagia Sofia, first built together a church under Justinian in 532, constructed on the exact same sight together basilicas developed by Constantine the second and Theodosius the second, is now a mosque in the heart of Istanbul. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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In Constantinople, Constantine had actually somewhat that a clean slate. That could develop churches and anything else he enjoyment without having actually to worry around people rioting in defiance, and he can give away land come Christian families on the condition they move right into the city come work. While he did pay because that Senators come come and also join him, they to be even more powerless there 보다 in Rome.