, Eastern Roman, Byzantine
, and Ottoman Empire
s. Throughout most of the Middle Ages
, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.
The city was originally founded as a Greek colony under the name of Byzantium
in the 7th century BC. It took on the name of Konstantinoupolis ("city of Constantine", Constantinople) after its re-foundation under Roman emperor Constantine I
, who designated it as his new Roman capital.
330 Byzantium is renamed ''Nova Roma'' during a dedication ceremony, but it is more popularly referred to as Constantinople.
359 Honoratus, the first known Prefect of the City of Constantinople, takes office.
365 Roman usurper Procopius bribes two legions passing by Constantinople, and proclaims himself Roman emperor.
380 Theodosius I makes his ''adventus'', or formal entry, into Constantinople.
437 Valentinian III, Western Roman Emperor, marries Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of his cousin Theodosius II, Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople unifying the two branches of the House of Theodosius
475 Byzantine Emperor Zeno is forced to flee his capital at Constantinople.
475 Basiliscus becomes Byzantine Emperor, with a coronation ceremony in the Hebdomon palace in Constantinople.
532 Nika riots in Constantinople.
532 Nika riots in Constantinople fail.
558 In Constantinople, the dome of the Hagia Sophia collapses. Justinian I immediately orders that the dome be rebuilt.
, Eastern Roman, Byzantine
, and Ottoman Empire
s. Throughout most of the Middle Ages
, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.
NamesThe city was originally founded as a Greek colony under the name of Byzantium
in the 7th century BC. It took on the name of Konstantinoupolis ("city of Constantine", Constantinople) after its re-foundation under Roman emperor Constantine I
, who designated it as his new Roman capital. The modern Turkish name İstanbul derives from the Greek phrase eis tin polin (εις την πόλιν), meaning "in the City" or "to the City". This name was used in Turkish side by side with Kostantiniyye, the more formal Arabic–Persian adaptation of the original Constantinople, during the period of Ottoman rule, while western languages mostly continued to refer to the city as Constantinople until the early 20th century. After the creation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the Turkish government began to formally object to the use of Constantinople in other languages and ask that others use the more common name for the city.
ByzantiumConstantinople was founded by the Roman Emperor
on the site of an already-existing city, Byzantium
, settled in the early days of Greek colonial expansion, probably around 671-662 BC. The site lay astride the land route from Europe
and the seaway
from the Black Sea
to the Mediterranean, and had in the Golden Horn
an excellent and spacious harbour.
, he was well aware that Rome was an unsatisfactory capital. Rome was too far from the frontiers, and hence from the armies and the Imperial courts, and it offered an undesirable playground for disaffected politicians. Yet it had been the capital of the state for over a thousand years, and it might have seemed unthinkable to suggest that the capital be moved to a different location. Nevertheless, he identified the site of Byzantium as the right place: a place where an emperor could sit, readily defended, with easy access to the Danube
or the Euphrates
frontiers, his court supplied from the rich gardens and sophisticated workshops of Roman Asia, his treasuries filled by the wealthiest provinces of the Empire.
Constantinople was built over six years, and consecrated on 11 May 330. Constantine divided the expanded city, like Rome, into 14 regions, and ornamented it with public works worthy of an imperial metropolis. Yet, at first, Constantine's new Rome did not have all the dignities of old Rome. It possessed a proconsul
, rather than an urban prefect. It had no praetors, tribunes, or quaestors. Although it did have senators, they held the title clarus, not clarissimus, like those of Rome. It also lacked the panoply of other administrative offices regulating the food supply, police, statues, temples, sewers, aqueducts, or other public works. The new programme of building was carried out in great haste: Columns, marbles, doors, and tiles were taken wholesale from the temples of the Empire and moved to the new city. In similar fashion, many of the greatest works of Greek and Roman art were soon to be seen in its squares and streets. The Emperor stimulated private building by promising householders gifts of land from the Imperial estates in Asiana
, and on 18 May 332 he announced that, as in Rome, free distributions of food would be made to the citizens. At the time the amount is said to have been 80,000 rations a day, doled out from 117 distribution points around the city.
Constantine laid out a new square at the centre of old Byzantium, naming it the Augustaeum
. The new senate-house (or Curia) was housed in a basilica on the east side. On the south side of the great square was erected the Great Palace
of the Emperor with its imposing entrance, the Chalke
, and its ceremonial suite known as the Palace of Daphne
. Nearby was the vast Hippodrome
for chariot-races, seating over 80,000 spectators, and the famed Baths of Zeuxippus
. At the western entrance to the Augustaeum was the Milion, a vaulted monument from which distances were measured across the Eastern Roman Empire.
From the Augustaeum led a great street, the Mese
(Greek: Μέση [Οδός] lit. "Middle [Street]"), lined with colonnades. As it descended the First Hill of the city and climbed the Second Hill, it passed on the left the Praetorium
or law-court. Then it passed through the oval Forum of Constantine
where there was a second Senate-house and a high column
with a statue of Constantine himself in the guise of Helios
, crowned with a halo of seven rays and looking toward the rising sun. From there the Mese passed on and through the Forum of Taurus and then the Forum of Bous, and finally up the Seventh Hill (or Xerolophus) and through to the Golden Gate in the Constantinian Wall. After the construction of the Theodosian Walls in the early 5th century, it would be extended to the new Golden Gate, reaching a total length of seven Roman miles.
built the Palace of Hebdomon on the shore of the Propontis
near the Golden Gate, probably for use when reviewing troops. All the emperors up to Zeno
were crowned and acclaimed at the Hebdomon. Theodosius I
founded the Church of John the Baptist to house the skull of the saint (today preserved at the Topkapı Palace
in Istanbul, Turkey), put up a memorial pillar to himself in the Forum of Taurus, and turned the ruined temple of Aphrodite
into a coach house for the Praetorian Prefect
built a new forum named after himself on the Mese, near the walls of Constantine.
The importance of Constantinople gradually increased. After the shock of the Battle of Adrianople
in 378, in which the emperor Valens
with the flower of the Roman armies was destroyed by the Visigoths within a few days' march, the city looked to its defenses, and Theodosius II
built in 413–414 the 18-meter (60-foot)-tall triple-wall fortifications
, which were never to be breached until the coming of gunpowder. Theodosius also founded a University
near the Forum of Taurus, on 27 February 425.
, a prince of the Huns
, appeared on the Danube about this time and advanced into Thrace, but he was deserted by many of his followers, who joined with the Romans in driving their king back north of the river. Subsequent to this, new walls were built to defend the city, and the fleet on the Danube improved.
In due course, the barbarian
s overran the Western Roman Empire: Its emperors retreated to Ravenna
, and it diminished to nothing. Thereafter, Constantinople became in truth the largest city of the Roman Empire and of the world. Emperors were no longer peripatetic between various court capitals and palaces. They remained in their palace in the Great City, and sent generals to command their armies. The wealth of the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia flowed into Constantinople.
(527–565) was known for his successes in war, for his legal reforms and for his public works. It was from Constantinople that his expedition for the reconquest of the former Diocese of Africa set sail on or about 21 June 533. Before their departure the ship of the commander Belisarius
anchored in front of the Imperial palace, and the Patriarch offered prayers for the success of the enterprise. After the victory, in 534, the Temple treasure of Jerusalem, looted by the Romans in 70 AD
and taken to Carthage
by the Vandals
after their sack of Rome in 455, was brought to Constantinople and deposited for a time, perhaps in the Church of St. Polyeuctus
, before being returned to Jerusalem
in either the Church of the Resurrection
or the New Church.
Chariot-racing had been important in Rome for centuries. In Constantinople, the hippodrome became over time increasingly a place of political significance. It was where (as a shadow of the popular elections of old Rome) the people by acclamation showed their approval of a new emperor, and also where they openly criticized the government, or clamoured for the removal of unpopular ministers. In the time of Justinian, public order in Constantinople became a critical political issue.
Throughout the late Roman and early Byzantine periods, Christianity was resolving fundamental questions of identity, and the dispute between the orthodox and the monophysites became the cause of serious disorder, expressed through allegiance to the horse-racing parties of the Blues and the Greens. The partisans of the Blues and the Greens were said to affect untrimmed facial hair, head hair shaved at the front and grown long at the back, and wide-sleeved tunics tight at the wrist; and to form gangs to engage in night-time muggings and street violence. At last these disorders took the form of a major rebellion of 532, known as the "Nika" riots
(from the battle-cry of "Victory!" of those involved).
Fires started by the Nika rioters consumed Constantine's basilica of St Sophia, the city's principal church, which lay to the north of the Augustaeum. Justinian commissioned Anthemius of Tralles
and Isidore of Miletus
to replace it with a new and incomparable St Sophia
. This was the great cathedral of the Orthodox Church, whose dome was said to be held aloft by God alone, and which was directly connected to the palace so that the imperial family could attend services without passing through the streets. The dedication took place on 26 December 537 in the presence of the emperor, who exclaimed, "O Solomon
, I have outdone thee!" St Sophia was served by 600 people including 80 priests, and cost 20,000 pounds of gold to build.
Justinian also had Anthemius and Isidore demolish and replace the original Church of the Holy Apostles built by Constantine with a new church
under the same dedication. This was designed in the form of an equal-armed cross with five domes, and ornamented with beautiful mosaics. This church was to remain the burial place of the Emperors from Constantine himself until the 11th century. When the city fell to the Turks in 1453, the church was demolished to make room for the tomb of Mehmet II the Conqueror. Justinian was also concerned with other aspects of the city's built environment, legislating against the abuse of laws prohibiting building within 100 feet (30.5 m) of the sea front, in order to protect the view.
During Justinian I's reign, the city's population reached about 500,000 people. However, the social fabric of Constantinople was also damaged by the onset of Plague of Justinian
between 541–542 AD. It killed perhaps 40% of the city's inhabitants.
Survival, 565–717In the early 7th century the Avars
and later the Bulgars
overwhelmed much of the Balkans
, threatening Constantinople from the west. Simultaneously, the Persian Sassanids overwhelmed the Prefecture of the East and penetrated deep into Anatolia
, son to the exarch
, set sail for the city and assumed the purple. He found the military situation so dire that he is said at first to have contemplated withdrawing the imperial capital to Carthage
, but relented after the people of Constantinople begged him to stay. Constantinople lost its right to free grain in 618, when Heraclius realized that the city no longer could be supplied from Egyptian sources due to the Persian wars. The population of Constantinople dropped substantially in size as a result, from 500,000 inhabitants to just 40,000-70,000.
While the Great City withstood a siege
campaigned deep into Persian territory and briefly restored the status quo in 628 as the Persians surrendered all their conquests. However, the empire was left weakened in the face of subsequent attacks from the Arabs
when the African and south-east Mediterranean provinces were lost for good. During these wars, a first siege of Constantinople by the Muslims lasted from 674 to 678, and a second from 717 to 718. While the Theodosian Walls made the city impregnable from the land, a newly discovered incendiary substance known as "Greek Fire
" allowed the Byzantine navy
to destroy the Arab fleets and keep the city supplied. In the second siege, decisive help was rendered by the Bulgars
. The failure of this siege was a severe blow to the Umayyad Caliphate, and stabilised the Byzantine-Arab equilibrium.
717–1025In the 730s Leo III
carried out extensive repairs of the Theodosian walls, which had been damaged by frequent and violent attacks; this work was financed by a special tax on all the subjects of the Empire.
Theodora, widow of the Emperor Theophilus
(d. 842), acted as regent during the minority of her son Michael III
, who was said to have been introduced to dissolute habits by her brother Bardas. When Michael assumed power in 856, he became known for excessive drunkenness, appeared in the hippodrome as a charioteer and burlesqued the religious processions of the clergy. He removed Theodora from the Great Palace to the Carian Palace and later to the monastery of Gastria, but, after the death of Bardas, she was released to live in the palace of St Mamas; she also had a rural residence at the Anthemian Palace, where Michael was assassinated in 867.
In 860, an attack was made on the city by a new principality set up a few years earlier at Kiev
by Askold and Dir
, two Varangian chiefs: Two hundred small vessels passed through the Bosporus and plundered the monasteries and other properties on the suburban Prince's Islands. Oryphas
, the admiral of the Byzantine fleet, alerted the emperor Michael, who promptly put the invaders to flight; but the suddenness and savagery of the onslaught made a deep impression on the citizens.
In 980, the emperor Basil II
received an unusual gift from Prince Vladimir
of Kiev: 6,000 Varangian warriors, which Basil formed into a new bodyguard known as the Varangian Guard
. They were known for their ferocity, honour, and loyalty. It is said that, in 1038, they were dispersed in winter quarters in the Thracesian
theme when one of their number attempted to violate a countrywoman, but in the struggle she seized his sword and killed him; instead of taking revenge, however, his comrades applauded her conduct, compensated her with all his possessions, and exposed his body without burial as if he had committed suicide. However, following the death of an Emperor, they became known also for plunder in the Imperial palaces. Later in the 11th Century the Varangian Guard became dominated by Anglo-Saxons
who preferred this way of life to subjugation by the new Norman kings of England.
The Book of the Eparch, which dates to the 10th century, gives a detailed picture of the city's commercial life and its organization at that time. The corporations in which the tradesmen of Constantinople were organised were supervised by the Eparch, who regulated such matters as production, prices, import, and export. Each guild had its own monopoly, and tradesmen might not belong to more than one. It is an impressive testament to the strength of tradition how little these arrangements had changed since the office, then known by the Latin version of its title, had been set up in 330 to mirror the urban prefecture of Rome.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, Constantinople had a population of between 500,000 and 800,000.
Iconoclast controversyIn the 8th and 9th centuries, the iconoclast
movement caused serious political unrest throughout the Empire. The emperor Leo III
issued a decree in 726 against images, and ordered the destruction of a statue of Christ over one of the doors of the Chalke, an act that was fiercely resisted by the citizens. Constantine V
convoked a church council in 754
, which condemned the worship of images, after which many treasures were broken, burned, or painted over with depictions of trees, birds or animals: One source refers to the church of the Holy Virgin
as having been transformed into a "fruit store and aviary". Following the death of his son Leo IV
in 780, the empress Irene
restored the veneration of images through the agency of the Second Council of Nicaea
The iconoclast controversy returned in the early 9th century, only to be resolved once more in 843 during the regency of Empress Theodora
, who restored the icons. These controversies contributed to the deterioration of relations between the Western
and the Eastern
Prelude to the Comnenian period, 1025–1081In the late 11th century catastrophe struck with the unexpected and calamitous defeat of the imperial armies at the Battle of Manzikert
in Armenia in 1071. The Emperor Romanus
Diogenes was captured. The peace terms demanded by Alp Arslan
, sultan of the Seljuk Turks, were not excessive, and Romanus accepted them. On his release, however, Romanus found that enemies had placed their own candidate on the throne in his absence; he surrendered to them and suffered death by torture, and the new ruler, Michael VII
Ducas, refused to honour the treaty. In response, the Turks began to move into Anatolia in 1073. The collapse of the old defensive system meant that they met no opposition, and the empire's resources were distracted and squandered in a series of civil wars. Thousands of Turkoman
tribesmen crossed the unguarded frontier and moved into Anatolia. By 1080, a huge area had been lost to the Empire, and the Turks were within striking distance of Constantinople.
, the Empire recovered nearly half of the lost Anatolian lands. In 1090–91, the nomadic Pechenegs reached the walls of Constantinople, where Emperor Alexius I with the aid of the Kipchaks
annihilated their army. The battle of Levounion
in 1091 marked the beginning of a resurgence of Byzantine power and influence that would last for a hundred years. In response to a call for aid from Alexius I Comnenus
, the First Crusade
assembled at Constantinople in 1096, but declining to put itself under Byzantine command set out for Jerusalem on its own account. John II
built the monastery of the Pantocrator (Almighty) with a hospital for the poor of 50 beds.
With the restoration of firm central government, the empire became fabulously wealthy. The population was rising (estimates for Constantinople in the 12th century vary from approximately 100,000 to 500,000), and towns and cities across the realm flourished. Meanwhile, the volume of money in circulation dramatically increased. This was reflected in Constantinople by the construction of the Blachernae palace, the creation of brilliant new works of art, and general prosperity at this time: an increase in trade, made possible by the growth of the Italian city-states, may have helped the growth of the economy. It is certain that the Venetians
and others were active traders in Constantinople, making a living out of shipping goods between the Crusader Kingdoms of Outremer
and the West, while also trading extensively with Byzantium and Egypt
. The Venetians had factories on the north side of the Golden Horn, and large numbers of westerners were present in the city throughout the 12th century. Toward the end of Manuel I's reign, the number of foreigners in the city reached about 60,000-80,000 people out of a total population of about 400,000 people. In 1171, Constantinople also contained a small community of 2,500 Jews.
In artistic terms, the 12th century was a very productive period. There was a revival in the mosaic
art, for example: Mosaics became more realistic and vivid, with an increased emphasis on depicting three-dimensional forms. There was an increased demand for art, with more people having access to the necessary wealth to commission and pay for such work. According to N.H. Baynes (Byzantium, An Introduction to East Roman Civilization):
- "With its love of luxury and passion for colour, the art of this age delighted in the production of masterpieces that spread the fame of Byzantium throughout the whole of the Christian world. Beautiful silks from the work-shops of Constantinople also portrayed in dazzling colour animals - lions, elephants, eagles, and griffins - confronting each other, or represented Emperors gorgeously arrayed on horseback or engaged in the chase."
- "From the tenth to the twelfth century Byzantium was the main source of inspiration for the West. By their style, arrangement, and iconography the mosaics of St. Mark's at Venice and of the cathedral at TorcelloTorcelloTorcello is a quiet and sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. It is considered the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.-History:...
clearly reveal their Byzantine origin. Similarly those of the Palatine ChapelCappella PalatinaThe Palatine Chapel is the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily situated on the ground floor at the center of the Palazzo Reale in Palermo, southern Italy....
, the MartoranaMartoranaThe Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio or San Nicolò dei Greci, commonly called the Martorana, overlooking the renowned Piazza Bellini in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy...
at PalermoPalermoPalermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...
, and the cathedral of Cefalù, together with the vast decoration of the cathedral at Monreale, demonstrate the influence of Byzantium on the Norman Court of SicilySicilySicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...
in the twelfth century. Hispano-Moorish art was unquestionably derived from the Byzantine. Romanesque artRomanesque artRomanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...
owes much to the East, from which it borrowed not only its decorative forms but the plan of some of its buildings, as is proved, for instance, by the domed churches of south-western France. Princes of KievKievKiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....
, Venetian dogesDoge of VeniceThe Doge of Venice , often mistranslated Duke was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. Commonly the person selected as Doge was the shrewdest elder in the city...
, abbots of Monte CassinoMonte CassinoMonte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...
, merchants of AmalfiAmalfiAmalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...
, and the kings of Sicily all looked to Byzantium for artists or works of art. Such was the influence of Byzantine art in the twelfth century, that Russia, Venice, southern Italy and Sicily all virtually became provincial centres dedicated to its production."
, Boniface of Montferrat
and the Doge of Venice
, the Fourth Crusade
was, despite papal excommunication, diverted in 1203 against Constantinople, ostensibly promoting the claims of Alexius son of the deposed emperor Isaac. The reigning emperor Alexius III had made no preparation. The Crusaders occupied Galata
, broke the chain protecting the Golden Horn
and entered the harbour, where on 27 July they breached the sea walls: Alexius III fled. But the new Alexius IV found the Treasury inadequate, and was unable to make good the rewards he had promised to his western allies. Tension between the citizens and the Latin soldiers increased. In January 1204, the protovestiarius Alexius Murzuphlus provoked a riot, it is presumed, to intimidate Alexius IV, but whose only result was the destruction of the great statue of Athena, the work of Phidias
, which stood in the principal forum facing west.
In February, the people rose again: Alexius IV was imprisoned and executed, and Murzuphlus took the purple as Alexius V. He made some attempt to repair the walls and organise the citizenry, but there had been no opportunity to bring in troops from the provinces and the guards were demoralised by the revolution. An attack by the Crusaders on 6 April failed, but a second from the Golden Horn on 12 April succeeded, and the invaders poured in. Alexius V fled. The Senate met in St Sophia and offered the crown to Theodore Lascaris, who had married into the Angelid family, but it was too late. He came out with the Patriarch to the Golden Milestone before the Great Palace and addressed the Varangian Guard. Then the two of them slipped away with many of the nobility and embarked for Asia. By the next day the Doge and the leading Franks were installed in the Great Palace, and the city was given over to pillage for three days.
The great historian of the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, wrote that the sack of Constantinople is “unparalleled in history”.
For the next half-century, Constantinople was the seat of the Latin Empire
. The Byzantine nobility were scattered. Many went to Nicaea
, where Theodore Lascaris set up an imperial court, or to Epirus
, where Theodore Angelus did the same; others fled to Trebizond
, where one of the Comneni had already with Georgian support established an independent seat of empire. Nicaea and Epirus both vied for the imperial title, and tried to recover Constantinople. In 1261, Constantinople was captured from its last Latin ruler, Baldwin II
, by the forces of the Nicaean emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus.
1261–1453Although Constantinople was retaken by Michael VIII, the Empire had lost many of its key economic resources, and struggled to survive. The palace of Blachernae
in the north-west of the city became the main Imperial residence, with the old Great Palace on the shores of the Bosporus
going into decline. When Michael VIII captured the city, its population was 35,000 people, but, by the end of his reign, he had succeeded in increasing the population to about 70,000 people. The Emperor achieved this by summoning former residents having fled the city when the Crusaders captured it, and by relocating Greeks from the recently reconquered Peloponnese
to the capital. In 1347, the Black Death
spread to Constantinople. In 1453, when the Ottoman Turks captured the city
, it contained approximately 50,000 people.
CultureConstantinople was the largest and richest urban center in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea during the late Eastern Roman Empire, mostly as a result of its strategic position commanding the trade routes between the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. It would remain the capital of the eastern, Greek-speaking empire for over a thousand years. At its peak, roughly corresponding to the Middle Ages, it was the richest and largest European city, exerting a powerful cultural pull and dominating economic life in the Mediterranean. Visitors and merchants were especially struck by the beautiful monasteries and churches of the city, in particular, Hagia Sophia
, or the Church of Holy Wisdom: A Russian 14th-century traveler, Stephen of Novgorod, wrote, "As for St Sophia, the human mind can neither tell it nor make description of it."
It was especially important for preserving in its libraries manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors throughout a period when instability and disorder caused their mass-destruction in western Europe and north Africa: On the city's fall, thousands of these were brought by refugees to Italy, and played a key part in stimulating the Renaissance, and the transition to the modern world. The cumulative influence of the city on the west, over the many centuries of its existence, is incalculable. In terms of technology, art and culture, as well as sheer size, Constantinople was without parallel anywhere in Europe for a thousand years.
were, in essence, impregnable to the barbarians coming from south of the Danube river, who found easier targets to the west rather than the richer provinces to the east in Asia. From the 5th century, the city was also protected by the Anastasian Wall
, a 60-kilometer chain of walls across the Thracian
. Many scholars argue that these sophisticated fortifications allowed the east to develop relatively unmolested while Ancient Rome
and the west collapsed. With the emergence of Christianity
and the rise of Islam
, Constantinople became the gates of Christian Europe standing at the fore of Islamic expansion. As the Byzantine Empire was situated in-between the Islamic world and the Christian west, so did Constantinople act as Europe’s first line-of-defence against Arab advances in the 7th and 8th centuries. The city, and the Empire, would ultimately fall to the Ottomans by 1453, but its enduring legacy had provided Europe centuries of resurgence following the collapse of Rome.
in Venice, the basilicas of Ravenna
, and many churches throughout the Slavic East. Also, alone in Europe until the 13th century Italian florin
, the Empire continued to produce sound gold coinage, the solidus
becoming the bezant
prized throughout the Middle Ages. Its city walls were much imitated (for example, see Caernarfon Castle
) and its urban infrastructure was moreover a marvel throughout the Middle Ages, keeping alive the art, skill and technical expertise of the Roman Empire.
ReligiousConstantine's foundation gave prestige to the Bishop of Constantinople, who eventually came to be known as the Ecumenical Patriarch
, vying for honour with the Pope
, a situation that contributed to the Great Schism
that divided Western Catholicism
from Eastern Orthodoxy from 1054 onwards. Constantinople is also of great religious importance to Islam
, as the conquest of Constantinople is one of the signs of the End time in Islam
- Constantinople appears as a city of wondrous majesty, beauty, remoteness, and nostalgia in William Butler YeatsWilliam Butler YeatsWilliam Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...
' 1928 poem "Sailing to ByzantiumSailing to Byzantium"Sailing to Byzantium" is a poem by William Butler Yeats, first published in the 1928 collection The Tower. It comprises four stanzas in ottava rima, each made up of eight ten-syllable lines. It uses a journey to Constantinople as a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and...
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, makes several on-screen appearances in the television miniseries "AttilaAttila (TV Miniseries)Attila was an American TV miniseries set during the waning days of the Western Roman Empire, in particular during the invasions of the Huns in Europe.-Synopsis:...
" as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
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. Graves set much of the novel in the Constantinople of Justinian I.
- Constantinople provides the setting of much of the action in Umberto EcoUmberto EcoUmberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...
's 2000 novel BaudolinoBaudolinoBaudolino is a 2000 novel by Umberto Eco about the adventures of a young man named Baudolino in the known and mythical Christian world of the 12th century.Baudolino was translated into English in 2001 by William Weaver...
- Constantinople's change of name was the theme for a song made famous by The Four LadsThe Four LadsThe Four Lads is a popular Canadian male singing quartet. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the group earned many gold singles and albums. Its million-selling signature tunes include "Moments to Remember," "Standin' on the Corner," "No, Not Much," "Who Needs You," and "Istanbul."The Four Lads makes...
and later covered by They Might Be GiantsThey Might Be GiantsThey Might Be Giants is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. During TMBG's early years Flansburgh and Linnell were frequently accompanied by a drum machine. In the early 1990s, TMBG became a full band. Currently, the members of TMBG are...
and many others entitled "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"Istanbul " is a swing-style song, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy and music by Nat Simon. The tune is reminiscent of "Puttin' on the Ritz," written by Irving Berlin in 1929, but the song is said to be a response to "C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-O-P-L-E," recorded in 1928 by Paul Whiteman and His...
- "Constantinople" was also the title of the opening track of The ResidentsThe ResidentsThe Residents is an American art collective best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. The first official release under the name of The Residents was in 1972, and the group has since released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects and ten DVDs....
' EPExtended playAn EP is a musical recording which contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as a full album or LP. The term EP originally referred only to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play records and LP records, but it is now applied to mid-length Compact...
Duck Stab!Duck Stab/Buster & GlenDuck Stab redirects here. For the 1978 EP, see Duck Stab!Duck Stab/Buster & Glen is an album released in 1978 by The Residents. It is often called Duck Stab, after Duck Stab!, a seven-song EP released earlier in 1978 featuring shorter songs similar to the first side of Fingerprince...
, released in 1978.
- Constantinople under Justinian is the scene of the book "A Flame in Byzantium" (ISBN 0312930267) by Chelsea Quinn YarbroChelsea Quinn Yarbro-Biography:She was born in Berkeley, California. She attended Berkeley schools through high school followed by three years at San Francisco State College .In November 1969 she married Donald Simpson and divorced in February 1982...
, released in 1987.
- "Constantinople" is the title of a song by The DecemberistsThe DecemberistsThe Decemberists are an indie folk rock band from Portland, Oregon, United States, fronted by singer/songwriter Colin Meloy. The other members of the band are Chris Funk , Jenny Conlee , Nate Query , and John Moen .The band's...
- Stephen Lawhead's novel Byzantium (1996) is set in 9th-century Constantinople.
- Filmmaker Peter JacksonPeter JacksonSir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...
said he wanted images of Minas TirithMinas TirithMinas Tirith , originally named Minas Anor, is a fictional city and castle in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It became the heavily fortified capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age...
in his The Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...
trilogy to look like "Constantinople in the morning".
- Folk Metal band TurisasTurisasTurisas is a Finnish folk metal band from Hämeenlinna. It was founded in 1997 by Mathias Nygård and Jussi Wickström and named after an ancient Finnish God of war....
makes multiple references to Constantinople in their song "Miklagard Overture", referring to it as "Konstantinopolis", "Tsargrad", and "Miklagard".
- Constantinople makes an appearance in the MMORPG game SilkroadSilkroad OnlineSilkroad Online is a fantasy MMORPG set in the 7th century AD, along the Silk Road between China and Europe. The game requires no periodic subscription fee, but players can purchase premium items to customize or accelerate gameplay.- Gameplay :...
as a major capital, along with a major Chinese capital.
- Constantinople makes an appearance in the "Rome Total War" expansion "Barbarian InvasionBarbarian InvasionBarbarian Invasion may refer to:* The so-called 'barbarian invasions' contemporaneous with the fall of the Roman Empire* Les Invasions barbares, a movie by Denys Arcand with the English title The Barbarian Invasions;...
" belonging to the Eastern Roman Empire
- Constantinople makes an appearance in the game "Age of Empires II: The Age of KingsAge of Empires II: The Age of KingsAge of Empires II: The Age of Kings is a real-time strategy video game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft. Released in 1999 for the Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems, it was the second game in the Age of Empires series...
" in the fifth scenario of the Barbarossa campaign and again in the third scenario of the Attila the Hun campaign in the expansion pack "Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion".
- Constantinople is the main setting of the game "Assassin's Creed: RevelationsAssassin's Creed: RevelationsAssassin's Creed: Revelations is a video game in the Assassin's Creed franchise developed and published by Ubisoft Montreal. The game was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 15, 2011. For Microsoft Windows, the game is delayed until December 2, 2011...
", the fourth major title in the best-selling "Assassin's CreedAssassin's CreedAssassin's Creed is an award-winning historical third person, stealth action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The bulk of the game takes place during the Third Crusade, with the plot revolving around a sect known as the Secret Order of...
- The sack of Constantinople in 1204 forms the climax of Paul Bentley's The Man Who Came After Hyacinth Bobo - a novel of the Fourth Crusade
Secular buildings and monuments
- AugustaionAugustaionThe Augustaion or, in Latin, Augustaeum, was an important ceremonial square in ancient and medieval Constantinople , roughly corresponding to the modern Aya Sofya Meydanı...
- Column of JustinianColumn of JustinianThe Column of Justinian was a Roman triumphal column erected in Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in honour of his victories in 543...
- Column of Justinian
- Basilica CisternBasilica CisternThe Basilica Cistern , is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul , Turkey...
- Baths of ZeuxippusBaths of ZeuxippusThe Baths of Zeuxippus were popular public baths in the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. They were built between 100 to 200, destroyed by the Nika revolt of 532 and then rebuilt several years later. They were so called because they were built upon the site where a Temple...
- Column of MarcianColumn of MarcianThe Column of Marcian is a Roman honorific column erected in Constantinople in 455 dedicated to the Emperor Marcian. It is made of red-grey Egyptian granite, in two pieces. The basis is quadrilateral, formed by four slabs in white marble, decorated with Chi-Rhos inside medallions on three faces,...
- Forum of ConstantineForum of ConstantineThe Forum of Constantine was built at the foundation of Constantinople immediately outside of the old city walls of Byzantium. It was circular in shape and had two monumental gates to the east and west...
- Column of ConstantineColumn of ConstantineThe Column of Constantine is a Roman monumental column constructed on the orders of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD. It commemorates the declaration of Byzantium as the new capital city of the Roman Empire...
- Column of Constantine
- Great Palace of ConstantinopleGreat Palace of ConstantinopleThe Great Palace of Constantinople — also known as the Sacred Palace — was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as "Old Istanbul", modern Turkey...
- Bucoleon PalaceBucoleonThe Palace of Boukoleon or Bucoleon was one of the Byzantine palaces in Constantinople. It was probably built by Theodosius II in the 5th century.The palace sits on the shore of Marmara Sea. Hormisdas is an earlier name of the place...
- Bucoleon Palace
- Hippodrome of ConstantinopleHippodrome of ConstantinopleThe Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving...
- Horses of Saint MarkHorses of Saint MarkThe Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of St Mark's is a set of bronze statues of four horses, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga , which have been set into the facade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, northern Italy, since the 13th century.-Origins:The sculptures date from late classical...
- Obelisk of TheodosiusObelisk of TheodosiusThe Obelisk of Theodosius is the Ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Tutmoses III re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in the 4th century AD.-History:The obelisk was first set up by Tutmoses III to the south of the seventh pylon...
- Serpent ColumnSerpent ColumnThe Serpent Column — also known as the Serpentine Column, Delphi Tripod or Plataean Tripod — is an ancient bronze column at the Hippodrome of Constantinople in what is now Istanbul, Turkey...
- Walled ObeliskWalled ObeliskThe Walled Obelisk is situated near the Serpentine Column at the southern side of the Hippodrome of Constantinople .- History :...
- Horses of Saint Mark
- Palace of LaususPalace of LaususThe Palace of Lausus or Lausos, also known as the Lauseion , was a 5th-century building located in Constantinople that was acquired and owned by the eunuch Lausus.- Lausus :...
- Cistern of PhiloxenosCistern of PhiloxenosThe Cistern of Philoxenos , or Binbirdirek Cistern, is a man-made subterranean reservoir in Istanbul, situated between the Forum of Constantine and the Hippodrome of Constantinople in the Sultanahmet district...
- Cistern of Philoxenos
- Palace of BlachernaePalace of BlachernaeThe Palace of Blachernae was an imperial Byzantine residence in the suburb of Blachernae, located in the northwestern section of Constantinople...
- Palace of the PorphyrogenitusPalace of the PorphyrogenitusThe Palace of the Porphyrogenitus , known in Turkish as the Tekfur Sarayı , is a 13th-century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople...
- Prison of AnemasPrison of AnemasThe so-called Prison of Anemas is a large Byzantine building attached to the walls of the city of Constantinople, modern Istanbul, Turkey. It is traditionally identified with the prisons named after Michael Anemas, a Byzantine general who rose in unsuccessful revolt against Emperor Alexios I...
- Palace of the Porphyrogenitus
- Valens AqueductValens AqueductThe Valens Aqueduct is a Roman aqueduct which was the major water-providing system of the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople...
- Walls of ConstantinopleWalls of ConstantinopleThe Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople since its founding as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire by Constantine the Great...
Churches, monasteries and mosques
- Atik Mustafa Pasha MosqueAtik Mustafa Pasha Mosque- External links :*...
- Bodrum MosqueBodrum MosqueBodrum Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church was known under the Greek name of Myrelaion .-Location:...
- Chora ChurchChora ChurchThe Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church. The church is situated in Istanbul, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood, which lies in the western part of the municipality of Fatih...
- Church of Saints Sergius and BacchusLittle Hagia SophiaLittle Hagia Sophia , formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus , is a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire....
- Church of St. PolyeuctusChurch of St. PolyeuctusThe Church of St. Polyeuctus was an ancient Byzantine church in Constantinople built by the noblewoman Anicia Juliana and dedicated to Saint Polyeuctus. Intended as an assertion of Juliana's own imperial lineage, it was a lavishly decorated building, and the largest church of the city before the...
- Church of the Holy ApostlesChurch of the Holy ApostlesThe Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...
- Eski Imaret MosqueEski Imaret MosqueEski Imaret Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church has traditionally been identified with that belonging to the Monastery of Christ Pantepoptes , meaning "Christ the all-seeing". It is the only documented 11th-century church in Istanbul which...
- Fenari Isa MosqueFenari Isa MosqueFenâri Îsâ Mosque , in Byzantine times known as the Lips Monastery , is a mosque in Istanbul, made of two former Eastern Orthodox churches.-Location:...
- Gül MosqueGül MosqueGül Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, Turkey converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.- Location :The building is located in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Ayakapı , along Vakif Mektebi Sokak...
- Hagia IreneHagia IreneHagia Irene or Hagia Eirene , often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.-Church:The...
- Hagia SophiaHagia SophiaHagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...
- Hirami Ahmet Pasha MosqueHirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque- External links :*...
- Kalenderhane MosqueKalenderhane Mosque-External links:* * * * *...
- Koca Mustafa Pasha MosqueKoca Mustafa Pasha MosqueKoca Mustafa Pasha Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans, located in Istanbul, Turkey. The church, as the adjoining monastery, was dedicated to Saint Andrew of Crete, and was named Saint Andrew in Krisei or by-the-Judgment...
- Nea EkklesiaNea EkklesiaThe Nea Ekklēsia was a church built by Byzantine Emperor Basil I the Macedonian in Constantinople between the years 876–80. It was the first monumental church built in the Byzantine capital after the Hagia Sophia in the 6th century, and marks the beginning of middle period of Byzantine...
- Pammakaristos ChurchPammakaristos ChurchPammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos , in 1591 converted into a mosque and known as Fethiye Mosque and today partly a museum, is one of the most famous Byzantine churches in Istanbul, Turkey...
- Stoudios MonasteryStoudiosThe Monastery of Stoudios, more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner "at Stoudios" The Monastery of Stoudios, more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner "at Stoudios" The Monastery of Stoudios, more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner "at Stoudios" (Greek Μονή του Αγίου...
- Vefa Kilise MosqueVefa Kilise MosqueVefa Kilise Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church was possibly dedicated to Hagios Theodoros , but this dedication is far from certain...
- Zeyrek MosqueZeyrek Mosque- External links :*...
- Ahmed Bican Yazıcıoğlu
- Byzantine calendarByzantine calendarThe Byzantine calendar, also "Creation Era of Constantinople," or "Era of the World" was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was also the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire from 988 to 1453, and in Russia from c...
- Byzantine silkByzantine silkByzantine silk is silk woven in the Byzantine Empire from about the 4th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.The Byzantine capital of Constantinople was the first significant silk-weaving center in Europe. Silk was one of the most important commodities in the Byzantine economy, used by...
- ByzantiumByzantiumByzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...
- Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
- Eparch of Constantinople (List of eparchs)
- Fall of ConstantinopleFall of ConstantinopleThe Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...
- Golden HornGolden HornThe Golden Horn is a historic inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming the natural harbor that has sheltered Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of...
- IstanbulIstanbulIstanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...
- List of people from Constantinople
- Massacre of the LatinsMassacre of the LatinsThe Massacre of the Latins occurred in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in May 1182. It was a large-scale massacre of the Roman Catholic or "Latin" merchants and their families, who at that time dominated the city's maritime trade and financial sector...
- Nika riotsNika riotsThe Nika riots , or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in AD 532. It was the most violent riot that Constantinople had ever seen to that point, with nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.-Background:The ancient Roman...
- Notitia urbis ConstantinopolitanaeNotitia urbis ConstantinopolitanaeThe Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae is an ancient "regionary", i.e., a list of monuments, public buildings and civil officials in Constantinople during the mid-5th century , during the reign of the emperor Theodosius II...
- Sieges of ConstantinopleSieges of ConstantinopleThere were several sieges of Constantinople during the history of the Byzantine Empire. Two of them resulted in the capture of Constantinople from Byzantine rule: in 1204 by Crusaders, and in 1453 by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed II....
- Third RomeThird RomeThe term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire ....
- University of ConstantinopleUniversity of ConstantinopleThe University of Constantinople, sometimes known as the University of the palace hall of Magnaura in the Roman-Byzantine Empire was founded in 425 under the name of Pandidakterion...
- Constantinople, from History of the Later Roman Empire, by J.B. Bury
- History of Constantinople from the "New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia."
- Monuments of Byzantium - Pantokrator Monastery of Constantinople
- Constantinoupolis on the web Select internet resources on the history and culture
- Info on the name change from the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture
- Welcome to Constantinople, documenting the monuments of Byzantine Constantinople
- Byzantium 1200, a project aimed at creating computer reconstructions of the Byzantine monuments located in Istanbul as of the year 1200 AD.