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

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The crisis of the 3rd century had actually bconsumed Rome and also then beaten her again. Disease, civil battles, and also invasions were complied with by an extra-big serving of more illness more civil wars even more invasions, some peasant rebellions, and some financial instcapability, just to make certain that your worries were not just physical but also financial. It would have truly been a miserable place to have actually lived. Althe majority of no component of the empire was left unscathed. When Constantine, aged 32, assured there were no more difficulties 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 collection about doing all he could consolidate remnants of the empire that Aurelian had conserved, and also Diocletian stabilised.

During his reign, Constantine made many kind of vital changes, but 2 stand out as having actually adhered to the Roguy Empire for the remainder of its days. The first is he presented and also sponsored Christianity, proclaiming himself a Christian. The second is moving the capital city away from its birthplace of Rome, to the city of Byzantium, quickly recalled to Nova Roma (New Rome) and also then Constantinople after the emperor himself. Why did Constantine carry out this? Rome had actually hoprovided the good males that created the empire, guys such as Scipio, the Gracchi, Caesar, and Augustus exactly how can he forsake that to move? Well, that is what we shall be looking at in this short article.

Threats from all sides

One of the biggest problems Rome had actually withstood in the time of the crisis, and also before was that of invading barbarians crossing the Danube, and also Persians crossing the Euphrates. Those coming from Germania made it as far as reduced Iberia in their travels through the empire. This is possibly the the majority of essential thing to note when considering the switch in location. Rome, while itself fairly well defended by the Alps in the north (unless of course you happen to be a very upcollection guy via some elephants, or come to think of it, a uniquely committed barbarian) was too far away from any type of of the frontiers of battle. The amount of time taken for news to reach the emperor of an intrusion, the emperor to muster the legions, and also then move to sheight the intrusion was regularly enough for the invading armies to light Gaul up like a candle.



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

This is why many queens, Marcus Aurelius being the too much example, ssuggest camped out at the frontiers or at the exceptionally leastern sent their the majority of talented generals to perform so for them — yet this in itself caused problems. Legions in the north of Gaul much ameans from the house province of Italia were completely dependent upon their generals for garments, food, and given that soldiers were paid from the pockets of the basic, money too. This supposed that at the slightest authorize of weakness far-off legions were at risk to declare their commander emperor and à la Caesar march on the resources, which, because legions were largely stationed in the districts the males were born in, many of them did not care about anyways.

This is exactly how Constantine himself came to be emperor. He was in York, Britannia, as soon as his father died, and, although his father proclaimed him Augustus it was just via the support of the loyal legions serving under him that he controlled to fight off one more claimant to the throne.

By moving his resources to Constantinople Constantine closed the distance between his seat of power and also the troublesome frontiers of the Danube, Euphprices, and also Dacia, allowing for quicker response o crisis, and also more royal existence on far-off legions. While it did distance him from Iberia and much of Northern Africa both of these provinces were rather of a backwater at the moment compared to Greece and Egypt, with possibly Carthage (currently added salt) being a noteworthy exception.

Given that by 300 AD the eastern was far even more prosperous than the west it also made tactical sense on an additional level. While frontiers were a huge part of relocating, anyone looking at a map have the right to check out that the height of the Rhine is better from modern Istanbul than Rome. Moving would certainly have actually actually hindered Constantine’s capability to respond to more far-off hazards, the payoff being that it let him respond much faster to dangers that looked to destroy the prosperous east over the fairly derelict west.

This is of course, not also to mention Constantinople’s geographical advantage once it comes to defence.



A area of recovered Theodosian walls taht defended Constantinople. Source: Wikimedia Commons.Shiny Coins

Even the emperor of Rome might always do through more money. One of the the majority of notable things about Constantinople is that it is dead in the middle of 2 incredibly prosperous centres of civilisation. Greece, known for its prehistoric approach and also scholars was a favourite area for centres to very own second residences and for well-off people to live. Cities such as Athens and also Thebes were flourishing, and also locations of Anatolia had actually their fair share of gold to spend. Merchants looking to make money between the 2 places, or from more distant areas such as the levant had actually two options.

The initially was cruising a ship, this was restricted by seasonal winds and also might be expensive depending upon the amount of cargo you were transferring. Not to cite susceptible to pirates. The second alternative wregarding walk, which expected you had to cross the Hellespont, relocating with Constantinople.

Due to the fact that the eastern component of the empire was richer than the west, partially bereason raids throughout the crisis of the third and bereason the main populace centres of the empire were in the eastern (though this in itself is a topic that might constitute entire books), there was a lot of money following via Byzantium also before Constantine relocated his capital tright here.

After relocating his funding to the newly named Constantinople, Constantine went on a spfinishing spree, structure new churches, aqueducts, sewers, and also all various other kinds of framework to generate tasks and also attract human being to live in the city. If Augustus uncovered Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble, Constantine turned Constantinople from a city of marble to among gold, fine arts, and also solid Christian morals (something, it has been listed, the emperor lacked himself in a couple of instances).

Maybe not so Greco-Romale, simply Greco

“Conquered Greece took captive her savage conqueror and also lugged her arts into rustic Latium.”— Horace, Epsitle, Publication 2 lines 156–157.

The thing about Greece, especially ancient Greece, is that if you’re some uncultured Latin man who’s only dream is to very own some farmland and not die of a condition (a major concern in primitive Rome as it was built on a marsh) they most likely seem rather clever before. They have actually these significant marble structures, a diverse pantheon of gods — perfect for taking ‘inspiration’ from — and also these old men that sit around all day arguing about why the skies is blue and people have ten toes rather of elalso or twelves which, for some factor, everyone considers really really smart. Meh, what carry out you know thought? You’re just a guy passist to stab civilization. But, because you want to seem fairly clever before too(who doesn’t?), you begin to copy them. You also acquire to have actually sex through the cute young boys also, great success!

In all seriousness though, Greek society is so wealthy and varied that it was nearly as a lot of a pester as anypoint coming out of the Pontine Marshes, many type of ancient Romans believed so as well. While primitive Romans were mainly a nationalistic, stoic civilization, the Greeks were much more into the fine arts, literary works, and also things of the choose (of course this is a gross simplification, lumping Sparta and Corinth together clears any kind of nuance, and also they are nothing choose the Indo-Greeks). One such movie critic was Cato the Elder who lived roughly 200 BC, a full 500 years prior to Constantine moved to Constantinople, even more well known for his hate of Carthage, Cato left a tiny item of detest for the Romans that had actually been corrupted by Greek culture.

So, by the moment Constantine came around the affect of Greece on Rome had actually been enormous. It was widespread for young aristocrats to go there to learn, Romans spoke Greek the very same way 18th and also 1ninth century Europeans would certainly have actually spoken French, and many type of modern peoples recognize English. While Greek was not the main language of the empire till 610 ADVERTISEMENT it had actually a clear influence on the Roguy human being, Emperor Hadrian who ruled from 117 ADVERTISEMENT to 138 AD famed for his love of Greek culture. This made Constantinople, simply a brief walk from the mainland also of Greece and also even more imbued through Greek society than Rome, the perfect location to put up camp.

Religion and Corruption

The last major factor Constantine made a decision to relocate was religion and also corruption. In the centre of Rome were holy places developed by Caesar, Augustus, and other emperors, except, they were built to worship the Romale pantheon, not the one true god. Given that Rome was already a well-arisen city (though well previous its prime) structure new churches and also tearing down old temples was not a good idea, and also certainly would certainly not please the local senators and also political leaders, who, though fundamentally powermuch less after reforms of Diocletian, had prrange many type of times in the past that now a man is more powerful than a knife.


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

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In Constantinople, Constantine had somewhat of a clean slate. He can construct churches and also anything else he pleased without having to concern around civilization rioting in defiance, and also he might give ameans land also to Christian family members on the problem they move right into the city to occupational. While he did pay for Senators to come and also sign up with him, they were also even more powermuch less there than in Rome.