Timeline: Late Rome and Early Byzantium (4th to 6th Cent.)
Constantine I becomes sole Roman Emperor
A period of civil war concludes with Constantine I as sole emperor
of the eastern and western Roman Empire. He commences construction of
New Rome (Constantinople) on the site of the old Greek city of Byzantium.
Constantine instigates a series of legislative changes that favour
Christians within the Roman Empire.
The Council of Nicaea
Constantine is not prepared to tolerate divisions within the
Christian Church, a threat to Roman stability that he regards as
"formidable as any war or battle".
An ecumenical ("world –wide") council of church leaders is convened
at Nicaea to debate Arianism; a popular religious doctrine,
which holds that Jesus Christ ("the Son"), is inferior to God ("the Father").
The Council counters Arianism with the Nicene Creed,
a theological formulation which includes the statement that the Son and Father are
of the same substance and therefore equal.
Although the Council apparently 'solves' the problem of Arianism,
the heresy continues to exist and gain many adherents over the next two
centuries, including some of Constantine’s successors.
Constantinople formally dedicated as Roman Capital
330 is often treated as a convenient starting point for referring to the
Roman Empire in the East as the "Byzantine Empire" or
Rome is sacked by Alaric the Visigoth
Although Rome, as a capital city, had long ceased to have any
real significance in practical terms, its fall to a tribe of
barbarians marks the irrevocable decline of the Roman Empire
in the West. Western Roman Emperors continue to be appointed
for the next sixty years, but they have little real standing.
Construction of Constantinople’s triple walls begin
Although commonly known as the "Theodosian Walls"
after Theodosios II, the reigning emperor),
the walls were actually built on the orders of Anthemius,
the Empire’s Prefect of the East, to counter an immediate
threat from the Huns.
In conjunction with Constantinople's naturally strong
location, the Theodosian walls will prove their worth against
any number of attacks upon Constantinople through Byzantine history.
They will fall to an attacking army only twice, once during the
chaos of the Fourth Crusade
(1204) and, finally, to the Ottoman Turks, who breach them in 1453
with the help of artillery and overwhelming numbers.
Rome is sacked for the second time.
This time, in a very systematic and controlled manner,
by the Vandals – another tribe of Germanic barbarians.
The Vandals go on to establish a kingdom in the Roman provinces of
North Africa, whilst the Goths establish themselves in Italy and Spain.
Formal end of the Roman Empire in the West.
The last Western Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, is deposed.
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