Constantinople In 324, Byzantium surrendered
to Constantine, Emperor of the west. Over the next two years he
re-established the Roman Empire with Byzantium as its capital and within
four years he had completed his new capital which was five times as large
as before. There were three different reasons why the emperor
abandoned Rome as its capital: German intrusions, chaos in economy, chaos in
administration. His choice was Byzantium. The name changed to
Constantinople, the city of Constantine in November 26th 326 A.D. Emperor
Constantine added a lot of important monuments to the city, palace,
senate. He enlarged the first Christian house of worship, the Hagia Eirene
and founded the Hagia Sophia and a number of churches. He founded two
theatres, 160 baths, 50 pillared halls, 8 aqueducts, and 5000 houses.
After Constantine's death Rome fell, and Constantinople became the sole
capital of the Roman Empire.
The Emperor Justinian came to power between (527-565).
He was of Spanish descent, He rebuilt St. Sophia which was totally
destroyed in the Nika Riot, but Justinian, one of the greatest of East
Roman rulers and, as Hadrian had been, a prolific builder, reconstructed
the city on a magnificent scale. He was the founder of the largest
underground cistern. The rapid growth of Christianity led to the
construction of large buildings for worship. His brilliant generals Belisarius and Narses regained
most of Italy, Spain and the North African provinces for the empire,
though the cost of doing so was to damage irrevocably the economic
resilience of the state. Some historians base the switch from Roman Empire
to Byzantine during the reign of Justinian. He codified the laws that
until that time had existed only in decrees. He recognized the
predominance of Greeks among the empire's citizens by making Greek an
official language of state along with Latin, and later Greek became the
empire's sole official language. Throughout the ensuing centuries
Constantinople successfully repulsed many assaults, from Goths, Alans,
Serbs, Bulgarians, Russians and seventh-century Arabs. Its defenses held,
reinforced by new walls built in the fifth century under Theodosias II.
(Standing to the west of the walls that Constantine built, they are the
ones that can be seen there today.)
In the 12th century, though, the knights and soldiers of the Fourth
Crusade attacked and took the city, establishing a Latin Empire and
occupying it until 1261 when the Byzantines reoccupied it. They continued
in possession, warding off a serious and sustained late 13th-century
Ottoman assault by Beyazit I, until Mehmet's assault and victory of 1453.