Constantine's Military Architecture in the Balkans

The elevation, of Constantine I by the military to the Roman imperial throne in 306

signaled the beginning of a new, decisive epoch that, among crucial historical events also witnessed the beginning of the disintegration of the Tetrarchy, the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion, and the creation of a new capital - Constantinople.

From 306, Constantine's decisive activities bore witness to a steady eastward military progress, from the empire's western most frontiers in Britain to the inauguration of Constantinople,the new center of the empire, in 330. Following the defeat of his main adversary, Maxentius, in 312 at the Milvian Bridge, near Rome and the issuing of the celebrated edict In Milan, in 313, Constantine returned to the eastern sphere of the Empire, spending most of his remaining time in his native Balkans.

The second half of Constantine's reign (ca. 314-337), in most respects,was focused on the Balkan Peninsula. His building activity was major, though very little of it survives. Archaeology and written evidence, however, provide clues that substantiate our knowledge of Constantine I, as one of the great emperor-builders. His extensive building program in the Balkans was crowned by his grandest single achievement: the construction of Constantinople, the new capital of the Roman Empire.

A massive urban undertaking, it involved harbor facilities, a network of streets, public buildings, as well as the first circuit of citywalls. Begun after the defeat of his last adversary, Licinius in 324, it was inaugurated six years later. As such, it was one of a series of his 'temporary capitals' in the Balkans, including also Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica), Naissus (Niš),Serdica (Sofia), and Thessalonike. Naissus, Constantine's birthplace, was a major urban center. It was lavishly built and fortified, though nothing of its architecture associated with Constantine remains standing, and relatively little of it has been archaeologically retrieved.

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Author: Slobodan Ćurčić

Article and Image Source: http://www.nisandbyzantium.org.rs/



Slobodan Ćurčić

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