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  1. J. B. Bury: History of the Later Roman Empire • Vol. 1 Chap. 3
  2. The Walls of Constantinople
  3. Ancient History: Walls of Constantinople
  4. Download This eBook

Istanbul is divided into two by the Bosphorus strait, with one half in Asia and the other in Europe. The long history, and permanent economic activity in the city is due to its location at the crossroads of two civilisations: the Mediterranean civilisations of Rome and Greece, and the Eastern empires coming from Asia.

Its current name of Istanbul only came into being on the 28th March On the 29th October the Turkish Republic was proclaimed, and the capital of the new country was moved to Ankara. The vast majority of the city's population is Muslim , with minority populations of Christians and Jews.

Byzantium was founded on the European bank in the year B. In the 5th Century B. In B. Constantine the Great began to build a new Rome in and in it was consecrated as Constantinople , becoming the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire. For its inhabitants, it was always a Roman capital.

Built upon seven hills, as Rome was, it was divided into fourteen regions ten of which were inside the walls.

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Due to its strategic position between Europe and Asia, Constantinople controlled the route between these two continents and passage between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. That meant that for centuries it was the major medieval urban centre in Europe, while the Western part of the Roman Empire was engulfed in a profound political, economic and demographic crisis.

The city grew, from 30, inhabitants in the time of Septimus Severus to be home to , during the reign of Justinian. In the 9th and 10th centuries, with the East-West Schism in the Catholic Church, Constantinople began another renaissance period, and the city continued to be an important cultural and commercial centre in the Mediterranean.

J. B. Bury: History of the Later Roman Empire • Vol. 1 Chap. 3

Constantine XI, the last emperor, died defending the city, and it was known as Constantinople until the fall of the Roman Empire in and in Europe until the 20th century, when the name became known as Istanbul. And so, it was that from AD, the empire became divided — the western half was ruled from Rome, while the eastern half was ruled from Byzantium. In the Roman Empire was divided. In year AD, Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople , a new city which he founded on the site of ancient Byzantium.

This city, a place that would play a crucial role in history, was located in a strategic spot, on the trade route between Europe and Asia. Another important decree of Constantine was his tolerance of Christianity, and he eventually became the first emperor to adopt this religion. Emperor Constantine, the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Theodosius I , his successor, went a step further and made Christianity the official religion of the state, setting in motion a new era of history. He was also the last sole emperor to rule the two halves of the empire.

This vastness of the empire, and the eventual emergence of two distinct halves, led to them having totally different problems and obstacles. The Hun Empire , a large threat for the eastern empire, finally collapsed in AD and brought a period of peace. But the Western Roman Empire was not so lucky. This important event left the eastern Emperor Zeno as the sole ruler, the claimant to the title of emperor of the Roman Empire, which would live on in the east.

The Walls of Constantinople

That remainder of the venerable Imperium Romanum, later to be called the Byzantine Empire, would continue for many centuries to come, and would endure a rich history that witnessed some of the most crucial events. In simple terms, the timeline of the Byzantium was a rollercoaster — periods of stability and expansion, followed by disasters and periods of rebuilding.

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But the first glorious chapter of that lengthy tale began with the rule of an exceptional man — it began with Justinian the First. The Justinian dynasty began with the rule of Justin I, a usurper to the throne who ruled for nine years and was succeeded by his nephew, Justinian. The Nika Riots of AD were aimed against him, protesting his reforms and high taxes. The success of these reforms was followed by other accomplishments.

Justinian I ruler of the Byzantine Empire who implemented many reforms. This monumental cathedral was so illustrious and grand, that it was unlike anything built up to that point. An incredible feat of construction, it was a defining, turning point in Byzantine architecture and held the title of the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. Once completed, the Hagia Sophia was a definitive statement of Byzantine power and the wealth of Constantinople. Less than a thousand years after its completion, this majestic building was turned into a mosque, after the fall of Constantinople in Increasing invasions of Lombards saw an almost complete loss of the Italian peninsula, the Franks were pushing from Gaul, and the coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula soon fell to the invading Visigoths.

Centuries that followed saw the ever-shifting political scene — peace treaties were made and broken, kingdoms rose and fell. Gradually Byzantine emperors solidified their rule once again and reclaimed some of the territories they lost.

Mission to Constantinople (Documentary)

Slavs were now a considerable entity in the Balkan peninsula, besides the Bulgarian Empire that would be a constant enemy of the empire until the rule of Basil the Second. They would rule until And during this period, a so-called Macedonian Renaissance was born — a period of flourishing in arts , letters, and culture. The coronation of Basil I as emperor of the Byzantine Empire. The empire expanded and gradually shifted from defending its borders to once again re-conquering lost lands. Born a simple peasant, he eventually entered into service of a relative to the Emperor.

Ancient History: Walls of Constantinople

By means unknown, but easily speculated, Basil gained favor of a wealthy widow — Danielis — one of the richest Byzantine landowners. Eventually, he gained favor with the emperor himself, after marrying his mistress. Once he managed this, he had the emperor murdered, and would rule the Byzantine Empire for nineteen years, with exceptional ability and skill.

In such lengthy histories of mighty empires, no flourishing period lasts forever. The history of the Byzantine Empire fluctuates greatly, and after the ending of the Macedonian dynasty, new centuries came with new rulers. New dynasties ascended to the throne — Komnenid, Doukid, Angelid, Laskarid, and Palaiologian dynasties each had its own ups and downs, with some having more success than others. But the medieval age was a turbulent era and new forces became influential, with the political and religious scene of Europe shifting with increasing volatility.

And this instability quickly spilled over and affected Byzantium, when one of the worst blows in its almost millennium long history was delivered — the sack of Constantinople. The taking of Constantinople. In , joined by Alexios Angelos, the son of the deposed Emperor Isaac II Angelos, a large crusader army took Constantinople and pillaged, burned, looted, and raped for three days completely sacking the town and stealing many precious relics. This catastrophic event forever diminished the relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox churches and saw the temporary end of the Byzantine Empire — it was divided in several Crusader states, mainly the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus, and the Empire of Trebizond.

But, in , Constantinople was recaptured, and the empire once more entered a period of shaky stability — but in truth, it would never fully recuperate from the crippling blow that was the sacking of Constantinople. Decades that followed became increasingly difficult, with numerous temporary solutions, civil unrest and, from to , a ravaging civil war.

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These crippling losses meant that the power of the Byzantine Empire was at an end, and every new emperor had more and more difficulties to stabilize the realm. This Ottoman rise culminated in , when Sultan Mehmed , with a force of 80, men, besieged Constantinople for two whole months. The defenders were only 7, strong. The last ruler of the once mighty Byzantine Empire, Constantine XI Palaiologos, died in hand-to-hand combat in a desperate attempt to defend his city. On May 29th, , Constantinople fell and with that, the Byzantine Empire — the millennium old descendant of Imperium Romanum — was no more.

In its history, Byzantium was often at the forefront of every important cultural renaissance, exerting its art , philosophy, and laws to much of Europe. With its gradual shift from Latin influenced Roman culture, to a Hellenic sphere influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Byzantine Empire developed a distinct style both in art and ruling, and it would dominate the courts of many European kingdoms and empires.

Its heavily religious focus on architecture, music, and art was a crucial separation from the western Latin influence of Catholic Europe and would shape the future of the continent in every way. By far one of the lengthiest, richest tales in our history, the story of the Byzantine Empire is soaked with intrigues, usurpers, ambitious rulers, and conquests — all of which have done little to mar the beauty of the Eastern Roman Empire, or its wealth and splendor.

But time and history are ruthless, and every mighty empire will eventually crack and buckle under the pressure of many enemies that wish to swell its borders and plunder the riches. So it was that an empire that lasted for nearly a millennium — a lifespan almost unheard of in history — met its end at the crucial turning point in history — an end that was fated, dictated by the rapidly changing political scene.

And it was this very end — the tragic fall of the Byzantine Empire - that would leave a long lasting impact on Europe for centuries to follow. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited. Date Unknow. Byzantine Empire Timeline.

Byzantium at War. Osprey Publishing. Jarus, O. History of the Byzantine Empire Byzantium. Live Science. Byzantine Empire. Encyclopaedia Britannica.