SMC 175 L10.09 - Rome and Constantinople

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University of Toronto St. George
St. Michael's College Courses
Jennifer Harris

SMC 175 – Medieval Civilization J. Harris 10/09/12 **Critical Summary due 10/16 Early Middle Ages: Roman Constantinople - Palestina is an ancient name used for that region since 1500 BC - Term “Roman Catholic” is a way to distinguish Roman church from others during the Protestant Reformation (16 c.) - 392 CE, other eligions were outlawed in Rome but the other Christianities flourished in other parts of the empire (e.g., Syria, Egypt, India) o All sorts of varieties existing at this time even though historians think the empire’s Christianity was homogenous W HY DIDR OME FALL? - Western half of the Roman Empire ends in Italy (Latin) while the Eastern half continued on till the 15 c. o Eastern half became known as Byzantine Empire, after Byzantium (aka Constantinople) - What happened: Roman administration ceased to control the governance of the Western half – collapse pf Roman jurisdiction - Western half = kingdoms of Franks, Lombards, Visigoths, etc. - Edward Gibbon (first modern historian) o Wrote a study – “The Decline and Fall of Rome” (1776-88) o He coined “the Fall” o He attributed the Fall to 3 reasons:  Immoderate Greatness  Effeminacy  Christianity o Supposed first modern historian because he used primary sources as basis of research (as evidence) o His argument  Rome was so great hat there was no other way but down  Greatness, welath and prestige bred laziness – can no longer fight own battles (hire foreign mercenaries – other soldiers)  Great but weak at the core  Christianity made people not care about the present – more otherworldly focused than the traditional Roman religion that is practically identical to citizenship and involved civic duties • Not focused on the well-being of Rome but on what is to come (an afterlife, as promised by Christian ideology) D ISCUSSION - Not effeminacy but decadence - Immoderate greatness – fall – inevitable anyways o Inability to control the large territory - Moral arguments instead of evidentiary ones o Bulk of the evidence is satirical not historical – dubious - Not a “fall” but a transformation – cultural syncretism, migration, etc. - According to Gibbon, the Western Empire fell when the last of the Roman emperors, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed 476 CE o Replaced by Odovacar, who proclaimed himself king - Possible approaches to the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” o Political o Demographics o Economic - Politics o Legacy of the tetrarchy (305, Diocletian) o Constantine moves capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople in 330 CE – near the center of the whole Roman empire  Pushed Rome into the western margins of the empire o Mass migration of the Goths into the empire, 376 CE  Goths gradually transformed Rome through their interactions o Move of the Imperial Court from Rome to Ravenna (closer to Constantinople) in 404 CE o City of Rome abandoned by the Imperial court in 440 CE - Demographics o Roman population (city of Rome) was very high (1 million)  Rivaled later on by Victorian London (historically no other city had reached that population size till London)  Became difficult to sustain (needed tons of grains, millions of liters of wine, etc. shipped from overseas) o Loss of local agriculture, dependence on distant sources  Unsustainable at the core = diminished control over outlying territories o Change in climate ca. 300 CE  Up until 300, climate feasible to grow crops and able to be imported
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