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12 - Reinventing Constantinople: Theodosius I's imprint on the imperial city

from PART III - FACES OF THEODOSIUS I

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Scott McGill
Affiliation:
Rice University, Houston
Cristiana Sogno
Affiliation:
Fordham University, New York
Edward Watts
Affiliation:
Indiana University, Bloomington
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Summary

Constantinople was established and embellished as a new Roman imperial city by the emperor Constantine I in the 320s and 330s. He provided “New Rome,” as he called it, with a solid defensive wall stretching from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, inside which he created a splendid and spacious new metropolis with an oval-shaped forum, an imperial palace, baths, and porticoed thoroughfares plus a local senate. His efforts to consolidate and promote his new city met with mixed success and over the succeeding decades its status and fortunes advanced only haltingly. Rather than become a new imperial home as Constantine had intended, Constantinople was treated by his successors more as a transit camp as they progressed back and forth from Gaul and Italy to the eastern limits of the empire in Mesopotamia and its northern limits on the Danube. Between the death of Constantine in 337 and the accession of Theodosius I in 379 emperors spent an average of less than one month per year in the city. Arguably the longest single stretch was from September 365 to May 366, the duration of the unsuccessful usurpation of Procopius, who was proclaimed emperor at Constantinople by capitalizing on his family connection with the city's founder and on local eagerness for a resident ruler. It is one of the many fourth-century episodes that John Matthews was the first to penetrate and elucidate effectively.

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Chapter
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From the Tetrarchs to the Theodosians
Later Roman History and Culture, 284–450 CE
, pp. 241 - 264
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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