A map of Constantinople attracted in 1422 through a Cartographer that the surname Cristoforo Buondelmonti. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

You are watching: Why did constantine move the capital to byzantium

*
The crisis of the 3rd century had actually beaten Rome and also then beaten her again. Disease, civil wars, and invasions were adhered to by an extra-large offer of more an illness more polite wars an ext invasions, part peasant rebellions, and also some economic instability, simply to make sure that your concerns were not just physical but also financial. That would have truly to be a miserable ar to have actually lived. Nearly no part of the realm was left unscathed. When Constantine, aged 32, assured there were no much more challenges come his regime as emperor in 312 advertisement at the battle at the Milvian bridge, and also ending the tetrarchy a few years, he collection about doing every he can consolidate remnants of the empire that Aurelian had actually saved, and Diocletian stabilised.

During his reign, Constantine made many important changes, however two was standing out as having followed the Roman realm for the rest of its days. The first is that introduced and sponsored Christianity, proclaiming himself a Christian. The second is moving the capital city far from that is birthplace that Rome, to the city that Byzantium, soon renamed come Nova Roma (New Rome) and then Constantinople after ~ the emperor himself. Why walk Constantine carry out this? Rome had housed the good men that created the empire, men such together Scipio, the Gracchi, Caesar, and also Augustus how can he forsake the to move? Well, that is what us shall it is in looking at in this article.

Threats from all sides

One that the largest troubles Rome had endured during the crisis, and before was that of invading barbarians cross the Danube, and Persians cross the Euphrates. Those coming from Germania made it as much as reduced Iberia in your travels through the empire. This is probably the most important thing to note when considering the move in location. Rome, while itself fairly well defended by the Alps in the phibìc (unless of course you occur to be a very upset male with part elephants, or concerned think of it, a uniquely committed barbarian) was too much away from any of the frontiers the battle. The quantity of time taken for news to reach the emperor of one invasion, the emperor come muster the legions, and then move to stop the intrusion was often sufficient for the invading armies to irradiate Gaul up favor a candle.


*

*

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

This is why countless emperors, Marcus Aurelius gift the excessive example, simply camped the end at the frontiers or in ~ the very least sent their most talented generals to carry out so for them — however this in itself led to issues. Legions in the phibìc of Gaul much away native the home province of Italia were completely dependent upon your generals for clothes, food, and since soldiers were paid native the pockets that the general, money together well. This supposed that at the slightest authorize of weakness far-off legions were prone to declare their commander emperor and à la Caesar in march on the capital, which, since legions were greatly stationed in the districts the men were born in, most of castle did no care around anyways.

This is how Constantine himself became emperor. He remained in York, Britannia, once his father died, and, although his dad proclaimed him Augustus the was only with the support of the loyal legions offer under him that he regulated to hit off an additional claimant to the throne.

By relocating his funding to Constantinople Constantine closeup of the door the distance in between his seat of power and the troublesome frontiers that the Danube, Euphrates, and Dacia, permitting for faster response o crisis, and an ext imperial visibility on distant legions. While it did street him from Iberia and also much of northern Africa both the these provinces were somewhat of a backwater in ~ the time compared to Greece and also Egypt, with perhaps Carthage (now included salt) being a noteworthy exception.

Given the by 300 advertisement the eastern was far more prosperous than the west it additionally made tactical sense on one more level. If frontiers were a large part that moving, anyone looking at a map deserve to see the the top of the Rhine is more from modern-day Istanbul 보다 Rome. Relocating would have actually hindered Constantine’s ability to answer to an ext distant threats, the payoff being the it let the respond much quicker to threats that looked to damage the prosperous eastern over the relatively derelict west.

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


*

*

A section of revived Theodosian walls taht protected Constantinople. Source: Wikimedia Commons.Shiny Coins

Even the emperor that Rome could always do with an ext money. One of the most notable things around Constantinople is that it is dead in the middle of two really prosperous centres the civilisation. Greece, well-known for its old philosophy and scholars was a favourite place for centres to own second houses and also for wealthy human being to live. Cities such together Athens and also Thebes were prosperous, and areas of Anatolia had actually their same share of yellow to spend. Vendors looking to do money between the 2 places, or from an ext distant regions such together the levant had actually two options.

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

Since the eastern component of the empire was richer 보다 the west, partly since raids during the situation of the 3rd and since the main population centres that the realm were in the east (though this in itself is a topic that can constitute entire books), there was a most money following through byzantium even before Constantine moved his funding there.

After moving his capital to the newly called Constantinople, Constantine went on a safety spree, building brand-new churches, aqueducts, sewers, and also all other kinds of facilities to generate jobs and entice world to live in the city. If Augustus found Rome a city that brick and left that a city of marble, Constantine turn Constantinople from a city of marble to one of gold, well arts, and solid Christian morals (something, it has been noted, the emperor lacked himself in a couple of instances).

Maybe no so Greco-Roman, just Greco

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

The thing about Greece, especially ancient Greece, is the if you’re some uncultured Latin man who’s just dream is to very own some farmland and not die of a disease (a significant issue in ancient Rome together it was constructed on a marsh) they probably seem quite clever. They have these large marble buildings, a diverse pantheon of god — perfect for taking ‘inspiration’ indigenous — and also these old men who sit about all day arguing around why the sky is blue and also humans have actually ten toes rather of eleven or twelves which, for some reason, anyone considers really really smart. Meh, what do you recognize thought? You’re simply a male paid come stab people. But, because you desire to seem fairly clever too(who doesn’t?), you start to copy them. You also get to have sex with the cute young boys as well, great success!

In every seriousness though, Greek culture is for this reason rich and also diverse that it was virtually as lot of a plague as something coming the end of the Pontine Marshes, many ancient Romans believed so too. While ancient Romans were mainly a nationalistic, stoic people, the Greeks were far an ext into the well arts, literature, and things the the like (of food this is a pistol simplification, lumping Sparta and also Corinth together removes any kind of nuance, and 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 relocated to Constantinople, more famous because that his dislike of Carthage, Cato left a little piece of detest because that the Romans who had actually been corrupted by Greek culture.

So, by the moment Constantine came around the affect of greek on Rome had actually been immense. It was common for young aristocrats to walk there to learn, Romans spoke Greek the same method 18th and 19th century Europeans would certainly have talked French, and also many modern-day peoples understand English. When Greek was not the main language the the realm until 610 ad it had actually a clear influence on the roman people, Emperor Hadrian who ruled native 117 advertisement to 138 ad well recognized for his love of Greek culture. This make Constantinople, simply a quick walk from the mainland of Greece and also even much more imbued v Greek society than Rome, the perfect ar to placed up camp.

Religion and Corruption

The final major reason Constantine chose to relocate was religion and corruption. In the centre of Rome to be temples constructed by Caesar, Augustus, and other emperors, except, they were built to prayer the roman pantheon, not the one true god. Provided that Rome was currently a well-developed city (though well past its prime) building brand-new churches and also tearing under old holy places was no a an excellent idea, and certainly would certainly not please the regional senators and politicians, who, though essentially powerless after revolutionary of Diocletian, had actually proven countless times in the previous that now a male is much more powerful 보다 a knife.


*

The Hagia Sofia, an initial built together a church under Justinian in 532, constructed on the exact same sight as basilicas developed by Constantine the 2nd and Theodosius the second, is currently a mosque in the love of Istanbul. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

See more: Define Keep Your Head Above Water, Keep One'S Head Above Water Idiom Definition

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