Key Points

The byzantine Empire (the Eastern roman Empire) was unique from the western Roman empire in number of ways; many importantly, the Byzantines to be Christians and also spoke Greek rather of Latin.The founder of the oriental Empire and also its very first emperor, Constantine the Great, relocated the funding of the Roman realm to the city of byzantium in 330 CE, and also renamed the Constantinople.Constantine the great also legalized Christianity, which had previously to be persecuted in the roman Empire. Christianity would end up being a major element of oriental culture.Constantinople became the largest city in the empire and also a significant commercial center, when the western Roman empire fell in 476 CE.

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Terms

Christianity

An Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and various scholars who wrote the Christian Bible. It was legalized in the byzantine Empire by Constantine the Great, and also the religion ended up being a major element of oriental culture.

Germanic barbarians

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


Constantine the great and the start of Byzantium

It is a issue of debate when the Roman realm officially ended and also transformed right into the byzantine Empire. Most scholars accept that the did not take place at one time, yet that it was a slow process; thus, late Roman background overlaps v early byzantine history. Constantine i (“the Great”) is usually organized to be the founder the the byzantine Empire. He was responsible because that several significant changes the would help create a Byzantine society distinct indigenous the roman past.

As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to combine the empire. The government was restructured and civil and military government separated. A brand-new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation. That would become the typical for Byzantine and also European currencies for more than a thousand years. As the very first Roman emperor to case conversion to Christianity, Constantine played an influential role in the advance of Christianity as the faith of the empire. In army matters, the Roman army was reorganized come consist the mobile field units and also garrison soldiers qualified of countering inner threats and also barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and also the Sarmatians—, and even resettled regions abandoned by his predecessors during the chaos of the vault century.

The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the roman Empire. He built a brand-new imperial residence in ~ Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople after self (the laudatory epithet that “New Rome” come later, and was never an main title). It would certainly later become the funding of the empire for end one thousands years; hence the later Eastern empire would pertained to be well-known as the byzantine Empire. His more immediate political heritage was that, in leave the realm to his sons, he replaced Diocletian’s tetrarchy (government whereby power is divided among four individuals) v the principle of dynastic succession. His reputation flourished throughout the lifetime of his children, and for century after his reign. The medieval church upheld him together a example of virtue, when secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the price of imperial legitimacy and also identity.


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Constantine the Great. Oriental Emperor Constantine the good presents a representation of the city that Constantinople as tribute come an enthroned Mary and also Christ kid in this church mosaic. St Sophia, c. 1000 CE.


Constantinople and also Civil Reform

Constantine moved the seat of the empire, and introduced important alters into its polite and religious constitution. In 330, he started Constantinople as a second Rome ~ above the website of Byzantium, which was well-positioned astride the trade routes between east and west; it was a superb base from which to guard the Danube river, and also was reasonably close to the east frontiers. Constantine also began the structure of the good fortified walls, which to be expanded and also rebuilt in succeeding ages. J. B. Ask asserts that “the structure of Constantinople <…> inaugurated a permanent department between the Eastern and Western, the Greek and also the Latin, halves the the empire—a division to which events had already pointed—and influenced decisively the totality subsequent history of Europe.”

Constantine built upon the governmental reforms introduced by Diocletian. That stabilized the coinage (the yellow solidus that he introduced ended up being a extremely prized and also stable currency), and also made transforms to the structure of the army. Under Constantine, the realm had recovered lot of its military strength and also enjoyed a duration of stability and also prosperity. He likewise reconquered southern components of Dacia, after beating the Visigoths in 332, and he was planning a campaign against Sassanid Persia as well. Come divide governmental responsibilities, Constantine replaced the single praetorian prefect, who had actually traditionally exercised both military and also civil functions, with local prefects enjoying polite authority alone. In the course of the fourth century, four good sections emerged from this Constantinian beginnings, and also the exercise of separating polite from armed forces authority persisted until the 7th century.

Constantine and Christianity

Constantine to be the an initial emperor to stop Christian persecutions and also to legalize Christianity, as well as all other religions and also cults in the roman inn Empire.

In February 313, Constantine met through Licinius in Milan, whereby they occurred the Edict the Milan. The edict declared that Christians must be allowed to monitor 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 defended from spiritual persecution not just Christians yet all religions, enabling anyone to worship whichever deity they chose.

Scholars dispute whether Constantine adopted Christianity in his youth indigenous his mother, St. Helena,, or even if it is he adopted it slowly over the food of his life. Follow to Christian writers, Constantine was over 40 as soon as he finally claimed himself a Christian, composing to christians to do clear the he believed he owed his successes come the defense of the Christian High God alone. Transparent his rule, Constantine sustained the Church financially, developed basilicas, granted privileges to clergy (e.g. Exemption from specific taxes), supported Christians come high office, and also returned residential or commercial property confiscated during the Diocletianic persecution. His most famous structure projects encompass the Church the the holy Sepulchre, and Old Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The reign of Constantine created a precedent for the place of the emperor together having good influence and ultimate regulatory authority within the religious discussions involving the beforehand Christian councils of the time (most notably, the conflict over Arianism, and the nature the God). Constantine himself disliked the risks to societal security that spiritual disputes and controversies brought with them, preferring where possible to establish an orthodoxy. One way in i m sorry Constantine used his affect over the beforehand Church councils was to look for to create a agreement over the oft debated and argued issue over the nature of God. In 325, that summoned the board of directors of Nicaea, properly the first Ecumenical Council. The the supervisory board of Nicaea is most recognized for its taking care of Arianism and for setting up the Nicene Creed, i m sorry is still supplied today through Christians.

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The fall of the Western roman inn Empire

After Constantine, few emperors rule the whole Roman Empire. It to be too huge and to be under attack from too numerous directions. Usually, there was an emperor the the west Roman realm ruling native Italy or Gaul, and an emperor the the east Roman empire ruling native Constantinople. When the Western realm was overrun by german barbarians (its soil in Italy were overcame by the Ostrogoths, Spain was conquered by the Visigoths, phibìc Africa was conquered by the Vandals, and Gaul was dominated by the Franks), the Eastern realm thrived. Constantinople became the largest city in the empire and a significant commercial center. In 476 CE, the last Western roman Emperor was deposed and the western Roman realm was no more. Hence the east Roman empire was the only Roman realm left standing.