Key Points

The oriental Empire (the Eastern roman Empire) was distinctive from the western Roman empire in several ways; many importantly, the Byzantines were Christians and also spoke Greek instead of Latin.The founder that the oriental Empire and its very first emperor, Constantine the Great, moved the resources of the Roman empire to the city of byzantium in 330 CE, and renamed that Constantinople.Constantine the an excellent also legalized Christianity, which had actually previously to be persecuted in the roman Empire. Christianity would end up being a major element of oriental culture.Constantinople came to be the biggest city in the empire and a major commercial center, if the west Roman empire fell in 476 CE.You are watching: as soon as constantine rebuilt byzantium, it was referred to as "new rome" because constantine



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

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Germanic barbarians

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

Constantine the an excellent and the start of Byzantium

It is a issue of controversy when the Roman realm officially ended and transformed into the byzantine Empire. Many scholars accept that that did not happen at one time, yet that it to be a sluggish process; thus, so late Roman background overlaps v early byzantine history. Constantine i (“the Great”) is usually hosted to it is in the founder that the oriental Empire. He was responsible for several significant changes the would help create a Byzantine culture distinct indigenous the roman inn past.

As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and military revolutionary to combine the empire. The government was restructured and also civil and also military government separated. A brand-new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation. The would become the traditional for Byzantine and European currencies for an ext than a thousand years. As the first Roman emperor to claim conversion come Christianity, Constantine play an influential duty in the development of Christianity together the faith of the empire. In military matters, the Roman military was reorganized to consist of mobile ar units and garrison soldiers qualified of countering internal threats and also barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns versus the people on the roman inn frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and also the Sarmatians—, and also even resettled territories abandoned by his predecessors throughout the turmoil of the previous century.

The period of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the background of the roman Empire. He constructed a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople after himself (the laudatory epithet the “New Rome” came later, and was never ever an main title). It would certainly later become the capital of the empire for end one thousands years; for this reason the later on Eastern empire would come to be recognized as the oriental Empire. His an ext immediate political heritage was that, in leaving the realm to his sons, he replaced Diocletian’s tetrarchy (government whereby power is divided amongst four individuals) v the principle of dynastic succession. His call flourished during the lifetime of his children, and also for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him together a paragon of virtue, when secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the price of imperial legitimacy and also identity.


Constantine the Great. Byzantine Emperor Constantine the an excellent presents a depiction of the city of Constantinople as tribute come an enthroned Mary and Christ boy in this church mosaic. St Sophia, c. 1000 CE.

Constantinople and also Civil Reform

Constantine moved the seat of the empire, and introduced important changes into its polite and spiritual constitution. In 330, he started Constantinople as a second Rome ~ above the site of Byzantium, which was well-positioned astride the profession routes between east and also west; it was a superb base from which come guard the Danube river, and also was reasonably close to the eastern frontiers. Constantine additionally began the structure of the good fortified walls, which to be expanded and rebuilt in subsequent ages. J. B. Ask asserts that “the foundation of Constantinople inaugurated a permanent division between the Eastern and Western, the Greek and the Latin, halves the the empire—a division to which events had already pointed—and impacted decisively the entirety subsequent background of Europe.”

Constantine developed upon the administrative reforms presented by Diocletian. That stabilized the coinage (the gold solidus that he introduced came to be a very prized and stable currency), and also made changes to the framework of the army. Under Constantine, the realm had recovered lot of its military strength and enjoyed a period of stability and also prosperity. He also reconquered southern components of Dacia, after beating the Visigoths in 332, and also he was planning a campaign versus Sassanid Persia as well. To divide administrative responsibilities, Constantine changed the single praetorian prefect, who had actually traditionally worked out both military and also civil functions, with local prefects enjoying civil authority alone. In the food of the fourth century, four great sections emerged from these Constantinian beginnings, and the exercise of separating civil from armed forces authority persisted till the 7th century.

Constantine and also Christianity

Constantine was the first emperor to stop Christian persecutions and to legalize Christianity, and all other religions and also cults in the roman Empire.

In February 313, Constantine met through Licinius in Milan, where they arisen the Edict of Milan. The edict declared that Christians have to be enabled to follow the faith without oppression. This gotten rid of penalties for professing Christianity, under which countless had been martyred previously, and returned confiscated Church property. The edict protected from spiritual persecution not just Christians yet all religions, enabling anyone to prayer whichever divine being they chose.

Scholars conflict whether Constantine adopted Christianity in his youth indigenous his mother, St. Helena,, or even if it is he embraced it progressively over the course of his life. Follow to Christian writers, Constantine was over 40 as soon as he finally declared himself a Christian, writing to christians to make 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, built basilicas, granted privileges to priest (e.g. Exemption from particular taxes), supported Christians to high office, and returned residential or commercial property confiscated throughout the Diocletianic persecution. His most famous structure projects incorporate the Church the the divine Sepulchre, and Old Saint Peter’s Basilica.

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The regime of Constantine developed a precedent for the place of the emperor as having an excellent influence and also ultimate regulation authority in ~ the spiritual discussions involving the at an early stage Christian councils of that time (most notably, the problem over Arianism, and the nature the God). Constantine himself disliked the threats to societal stability that religious disputes and controversies lugged with them, to like where possible to establish an orthodoxy. One method in i beg your pardon Constantine offered his affect over the at an early stage Church councils was to seek to establish a agreement over the oft debated and also argued worry over the nature of God. In 325, that summoned the the supervisory board of Nicaea, effectively the an initial Ecumenical Council. The board of directors of Nicaea is most well-known for its dealing with Arianism and for instituting the Nicene Creed, i beg your pardon is still provided today through Christians.See more: Mythbuster: did Romans have Steel In old Greece and Rome

The autumn of the Western roman Empire

After Constantine, few emperors rule the whole Roman Empire. It was too large and was under strike from too countless directions. Usually, there was an emperor of the western Roman realm ruling from Italy or Gaul, and also an emperor that the eastern Roman realm ruling native Constantinople. While the Western empire was overrun by germanic barbarians (its floor in Italy were conquered by the Ostrogoths, Spain was overcame by the Visigoths, phibìc Africa was overcame by the Vandals, and Gaul was overcame by the Franks), the Eastern realm thrived. Constantinople came to be the biggest city in the empire and also a major commercial center. In 476 CE, the critical Western roman inn Emperor was deposed and also the west Roman empire was no more. Hence the eastern Roman empire was the only Roman realm left standing.