Konstantin; Justinian

CKM 2018-19 / Aziz Yardımlı


Konstantin; Justinian

  Constantine the Great (272-337 AD)

— was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity;
— built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople;

— adopted Greek letters;


Roman Emperor Constantine Statue in York, England.

Konstantin Hıristiyanlığa döndüğü zaman ortada henüz kavranması gereken belirgin bir Hıristiyan öğreti bulunmuyor, insanlar dinsel bir türlülük ortamında imgelemlerinde yarattıkları boşinanç nesnelerine tapınmayı sürdürüyorlardı. Hıristiyanlık daha sonraki yüzyıllarda Doğu Roma topraklarında “Ortodoks Hıristiyanlık” olarak bir tür putperest inanç biçimine indirgendi ve başlıca Slav tini tarafından kabul edildi. Batıda ise papalık tarafından ve ‘Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu’ denilen feodal bir kültür tarafından dünyasal bir araç olarak kullanılmaya uyarlandı ve tanrısal bir yetke üstlenen bütünüyle dünyasal Roma Katolik Kilisesi karakteri altında Avrupa’da Karanlık Orta Çağlar denilen 1000 yıllık yeni bir dönemin inanç biçimi oldu. Ancak Reformasyon zamanında ve ancak Avrupa’nın kuzey ülkelerinde insanlığın küçük bir kesimi kurumsal kilisenin pençesinden kurtulmayı başardı, duyunç özgürlüğünü kazandı, ve modern kültürü yaratma ve kürenin egemenleri olma sürecine girdi.

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great (272-337 AD) (306-337 AD) (W)

The Roman Empire in 337, showing Constantine's conquests in Dacia across the lower Danube (shaded purple) and other Roman dependencies (light purple).




Dedicated by the senate and people of Rome to commemorate the victories of the first Christian emperor, to do which they took reliefs from the Arch of Trajan, and built them into an attic which they erected upon the top of the Arch of Isis, re-dedicating the conglomeration as the Triumphal Arch of Constantine. The reliefs which  refer to Trajan can be easily distinguished from those of Constantine (which are very bad) owing to their superior style and the subjects represented.

The designs commence, on the left side, with the triumphal entrance of Trajan by the Porta Capena, after the first Dacian war; then, secondly, commemorate his services in carrying the Appian Way through the Pontine Marshes; thirdly, founding an asylum for orphan children; fourthly, his relations with Parthamasiris, king of Armenia. On the opposite side, dedication of the aqueduct built by Trajan (seen on the left); secondly, audience with the Dacian king Decebalus, whose hired assassins are brought before him; thirdly, with a representation of the emperor haranguing his soldiers; and, fourthly, the emperor offering the suovetaurilia sacrifice of a boar, ram, and bull.

Corresponding with these reliefs, two medallions, representing the private life of the emperor in simple and graceful compositions, are introduced over each of the side arches. The first represents his starting for the chase; the second, a sacrifice to Silvanus, the patron of silvan sports; the third displays the emperor on horseback at a bear-hunt; and the fourth a thank-offering to the goddess of hunting. On the side facing the Colosseum, a bear-hunt, a sacrifice to Apollo, a group contemplating a dead lion, and lastly a consultation of an oracle. Most of these refer to Trajan; we think some refer to Hadrian, because on one of them Antinoüs is represented. On the inside of the arch is a battle-piece, assigned to Constantine by the inscriptions, "To the founder of peace," "To the deliverer of the city." They are older than his time. Over the side arches are some narrow reliefs referring to Constantine, one of which is peculiarly interesting, as it represents that emperor addressing the people from the Rostra ad Palmam, with some of the principal monuments in the Forum in the background.


Colossal head of Constantine (4th century), Capitoline museum, Rome.

Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, town now known as Niš (Serbian Cyrillic: Ниш, located in Serbia), he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer. His mother was Empress Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.

As emperor, Constantine enacted administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire. He restructured the government, separating civil and military authorities. To combat inflation he introduced the solidus, a new gold coin that became the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the Roman frontiers — the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians— even resettling territories abandoned by his predecessors during the Crisis of the Third Century.

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire. He called the First Council of Nicaeain 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on his orders at the purported site of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem and became the holiest place in Christendom. The Papal claim to temporal power in the High Middle Ages was based on the forged Donation of Constantine. He has historically been referred to as the “First Christian Emperor,” and he did heavily promote the Christian Church. Some modern scholars, however, debate his beliefs and even his comprehension of the Christian faith itself.

The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople (now Istanbul) after himself (the laudatory epithet of "New Rome" came later, and was never an official title). It became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, with the later eastern Roman Empire now being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity. Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship.

The empire was split between four unequal rulers to enable the easier governance of the immense territories under their control.

The Tetrarchate, established by Diocletian, served to regain some order and control of the enormous Roman Empire. However it also splintered it, forming a dissolution of identity within a single authority.

Upon their simultaneous abdication of their territories in 305 AD, Diocletian and Maximian handed the rule of East and West to their caesars (lesser rulers). The new Tetrarchy consisted of Galerius as the senior Emperor in this system, taking over Diocletian’s position in the East, and Constantius, who took control of the West. Under them Severus ruled as Constantius’ caesar and Maximinus, Maximian’s son, was caeser to Galerius.



“Emperor Constantine’s reign (from 324 CE to 337 CE) is accepted as the start of the ‘Byzantine’ {!} Empire.”

Bu hipoteze göre Britanya, Galya, Hispanya, Afrika Roma İmparatorluğunun değil, “Bizans” İmparatorluğunun toprakları arasında olacaktır. Yine, “Bizans İmparatorluğu” “Büyük Bölünme”den önce varolacak ve Latin Batı ve Helenik Doğu ayrımı “Bizans İmparatorluğu”nu önceleyecektir.


Başka bir deyişle —


“Bizans İmparatorluğu”nun dili Yunanca ve inancı Ortodoks Hıristiyanlık olarak kabul edilir. Ama bu hipoteze göre, “Bizans İmparatorluğu”nun ne dili Yunanca, ne de dini Ortodoks Hıristiyanlıktıır.

“Bizans İmparatorluğu” ortadan kaldırıldıktan 100 yıl sonra doğdu.


Konstantin yalnızca İmparatorluğun başkentinin yerini değiştirdi (330) ve Roma İmparatorluğu 1453’e dek “Roma İmparatorluğu” olarak sürdü.


Roma İmparatorluğunun tarihsel sürekliliğini tanımayan “Bizans İmparatorluğu” terimi başlıca “Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu” denilen bir Germanik feodal prenslikler konfederasyonuna saygınlık kazandırmak için etnik Germanik tarihçiler tarafından uyduruldu ve pozitivist tarihçilik tarafından bir “realite” yapıldı. Romalılar gibi Osmanlılar da ‘Bizans’ adını hiçbir zaman kullanmadılar ve Konstantinopolis’in fethinden sonra Osmanlı İmpararatorluğunun kendisinin başkenti “Konstantiniyye’ oldu.


Daha sonra, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Edirne Ateşkesinde sözde Kutsal Roma İmparatoru olan ‘İspanya Kralı’ V. Karl ile ‘Roma İmparatoru’ Süleyman olarak anlaşma imzaladı. Batıdaki barbar Germenlerin tersine, Doğuda Osmanlılar Roma İmparatorluğu ile daha yapıcı ilişkiler içinde idiler. Birinciler İmparatorluğun Batısını harabeye çevirdiler. İkinciler bütün bir Avrupa’nın Germanik hordalar tarafından barbarlaştırıldığı bir dönemde Roma İmparatorluğundan kalıt alınan uygarlık alanında Batıda yok edilen moral ve etik yaşam biçimini sürdürdüler.


Germanik Orta Çağlar sözde ‘Karolen Rönesansı’ ve benzerlerine karşın, ‘Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu’ gibi bir sanal devlete karşın, ‘Karanlık Çağlar’ olarak bilinir. Dönem insanlığı sefilleştiren feodalizm ile tanımlanır. Pogromlar ve kitle kıyımları biçiminde başlayan haçlı seferleri ile tanımlanır. Engizisyon ve papalık gibi en son kutsallık kırıntısını da yok eden kurumları ile Roma Katolik Kilisesi tarafından tanımlanır. Özet olarak —

  • Feodalizm hakkın yerini güç ile değiştirir;
  • Roma Katolik Kilisesi insan duyuncunu pençelerine alır ve bir moral düşüklük kültürü yaratır; ve
  • Böyle temeller üzerinde duran Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu etik-politik yaşamın yokluğunu temsil eder.


Böyle belirlenen kültür Avrupa kültürünün şekillenmesinde Roma tininin ‘etkisinden’ çok daha ‘etkili’ oldu. Aslında, modern Avrupa tini tam olarak bu grotesk Orta Çağlar kültürüne tepki olarak doğdu ve Klasik Tin ancak insan duyuncunu özgürleştiren Reformasyonu izleyen yüzyıllar içinde Kuzey Avrupa halkları tarafından tanınmaya ve anlaşılmaya başladı (duyunç hamlığı Marxizm ve Nazizm olarak, yalancı bir liberalizm temeline dayalı sömürgecilik ve kölecilik olarak, ve ‘yararcı etik’ ve legel pozitivizm olarak kendini sergilemeyi sürdürdü).


Roma’nın kalıtı feodalizm ve Charlemagne, Karanlık Orta Çağlar ve engizisyon, papalık ve haçlı seferleri değildi. Roma yalnızca kölelik ve savaş ve boşinanç değildi. Roma tini mimarisinde ve güzel sanatlarında, yasa egemenliğinde ve kentliliğinde, ve hoşgörüsünde ve barışında uygardı. Barbar Germanik tin Roma tini ile süreklilik içinde değildir. Roma tüm uyruklarına yurttaşlık haklarını tanıdı. İnsan özgürlüğünü ve eşitliğini ilkesi olarak alan bir inanç biçimi yarattı. Felsefede, bilimlerde ve güzel sanatlarda Helenik tinin bir adım bile ilerisine gidememesine karşın, insanlığa yasa egemenliğinin özgürlüğün tözü ve etik yaşamın ereği olduğunu gösterdi.


Batı ancak Avrupa’nın bir bölümünü ‘Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu’ndan ve onun bağlaşığı olan Roma Katolik Kilisesinden kurtaran Reformasyon yoluyla modernleşme sürecine girdi ve moral ve etik olarak büyümeye başladı. Osmanlı tini tıpkı kalıt aldığı Roma İmparatorluk tini gibi çoktandır demode idi ve modernleşmeye bütünüyle isteksiz ve yeteneksiz arkaik bir nüfusun özünlü istençsizliği içinde çözülmek ve dağılmak zorundaydı. Batı özgürlüğü öğrenirken ve önce kendinin ve sonra dünyanın egemeni olurken, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu tüm reform ve devrim çabalarına karşın, modern Cumhuriyeti üretmesine karşın, ümmetine egemen ulus olmayı öğretemedi.

“The Baptism of Constantine,” as imagined by students of Raphael. (W)

“Temple of Ceres at Eleusis,” by Joseph Gandy (1818)

Roman copy of Demeter after a Greek original, from the 4the century BC.

“Phryne at the Poseidons celebration (Poseidonia) in Eleusis” (c. 1889) by Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902). Phryne is shown naked, preparing to step into the sea.
(W) (L)

Julian the Apostate abandoned Christianity in favour of a return to the old Roman ways of worship, and is shown being initiated into the Eleusian mysteries.

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece.

📹 Roman Empire and Christianity — Khan Academy (VİDEO)

Roman Empire and Christianity — Khan Academy (LINK)

Overview of the changing relationship between the Roman Empire and Christianity from the time of Jesus to the reign of Theodosius.



Constantinople (W)

  • Builder: Constantine the Great
  • Founded: 11 May 330

Byzantium took on the name of Konstantinoupolis ("city of Constantine", Constantinople) after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital officially as Nova Roma (Νέα Ῥώμη) 'New Rome'. During this time, the city was also called 'Second Rome', 'Eastern Rome', and Roma Constantinopolitana.


The modern Turkish name for the city, İstanbul, derives from the Greek phrase eis tin polin (εἰς τὴν πόλιν), meaning "(in)to the city". This name was used in Turkish alongside Kostantiniyye, the more formal adaptation of the original Constantinople, during the period of Ottoman rule. (W)


The Ottoman constitution of 1876 states that "The capital city of the Ottoman State is İstanbul." İstanbul and several other variant forms of the same name were also widely used in Ottoman literature and poetry. (W)

🕑 Timeline of Constantinople

Timeline of Constantinople (W)

Timeline of Constantinople
Capital of the Byzantine Empire 395-1204 AD; 1261-1453 AD



(Κωνσταντινούπολις, translit. Kōnstantinoúpolis; Latin: Cōnstantīnopolis) was the capital city

until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453-1923).

It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Statue of Constantine by Phillip Jackson at York Cathedral, England, in front of the 3rd century CE battle scene from the “Grande Ludovisi” sarcophagus.

From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe. The city was also famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, and the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares.

The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts. It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross.

Constantinople was famed for its massive and complex defences. The first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, and surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. Later, in the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front. This formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, and it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the 'seven hills' of Rome. Because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, and this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces, domes, and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents (Europe and Asia) and two seas (the Mediterranean and the Black Sea). Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years.

Byzantium 1204. The Latin Empire, Empire of Nicaea, Empire of Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus. The borders are very uncertain.

In 1204, however, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, and its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule.
In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, and after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery.

With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire; after a 53-day siege the city eventually fell to the Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II, on 29 May 1453,[10] whereafter it replaced Edirne (Adrianople) as the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Hagia Sophia.

The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugène Delacroix, 1840.

Mehmed the Conqueror enters Constantinople, painting by Fausto Zonaro.

Siege of Constantinople from Bibliothèque nationale mansucript Français 9087 (folio 207 v). The Turkish army of Mehmet II attacks Constantinople in 1453. Some soldiers are pointing canons to the city and others are pulling boats to the Golden Horn..

Mosaic of Justinianus I
Basilica San Vitale (Ravenna)


  • Βυζάντιον (Byzántion) Megaralı Yunanlılar tarafından İÖ 657 yılında bir koloni olarak kuruldu.
  • Trakyalı (ya da İlliryalı) Kral Byzas Megaralı kolonistlerin önderi ve kentin kurucusu idi.

Coin of Byzantium. (L)

  • Konstantinopolis eski Bizans üzerine kuruldu.
  • “Bizans İmparatorluğu” adı 1555’te Alman hümanist bilgin
    Hieronymos WolfHieronymus Wolf (1516-1580) was a sixteenth-century German historian and humanist, most famous for introducing a system of Roman historiography that eventually became the standard in works of medieval Greek history.
    tarafından getirildi (Wolf kimileri tarafından
    “Alman Bizans İncelemelerinin Babası”
    olarak, aslında “Alman Bizans Tarihinin Babası” olarak görülür).


  • Avrupa tarihçiliğinde ve popüler kültüründe “Bizans” sözcüğü hükümet darbeleri, zehirlenen imparatorlar, saray entrikaları ile dolup taşan bir imparatorluğu tanımlar oldu ve ‘şişmiş bürokrasi,’ ‘kurumlu davranış,’ ‘lüks,’ ‘kurnazlık’ ve ‘hilekarlık’ gibi küçük düşürücü yan anlamlar kazandı.
  • Aydınlanma sırasında yaratılan bu olumsuz izlenim başlıca Voltaire, Montesquieu ve Gibbon tarafından pekiştirildi (bu adlar aynı zamanda ‘Bizans’a duydukları hayranlığı gizlemediler).
  • Nesnel bir çözümlemeye ve olguların bilgisine dayanmaktan çok uzak olan bu ikircimli kötüleme kültürü başlıca Doğu Roma İmparatorluğunun henüz bütünüyle yitmemiş olan görkemine ve büyüklüğüne duyulan hasede bağlıdır, çünkü —
  • Doğu Roma’nın Batı Roma’dan sonraki 1000 yıllık varlığı Avrupa’nın “Orta Çağlar” denilen karanlık dönemine denk düşer ve başlıca Germen kabilelerin barbarlığının ürünü olan bu yıkık dökük çağ Doğu Roma’yı küçük düşüren herşeyi çok geride bırakan yoz “Roma Katolik Kilisesi,” sanal “Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu,” ve feodalizm, haçlı seferleri, engizisyon gibi grotesk fenomenler tarafından tanımlanır.

Roma tarihini "klasik dönem" ve "ortaçağ dönemi" olarak ikiye bölme tutumu yalnızca Klasik Roma kültürü ve Hıristiyanlaşmakta olan Roma kültürü arasındaki yazınsal ayrımları öne çıkarma gereksiniminden doğmaz. “Bizans” İmparatorluğunun Roma İmparatorluğunun bir tür yozlaşması olarak görülmesi imparatorluğun Batıda, Avrupa‘da “Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğu” olarak yeniden kuruluşu tezi için önemli bir aklama sağlar. Charlemagne’ın papa tarafından imparator olarak kutsanması gibi göstermelik ve anlamsız bir olay Osmanlı İmparatorluğunun gelişiminin bir sonucu olarak Germanik dünya için anlam ve önem kazanmaya başlar. “Bizans İmparatorluğu” terminolojisi birincil olarak Roma ve Osmanlı imparatorlukları arasındaki sürekliliği koparacak ve feodal Germanik prenslikler konfederasyonunun Roma İmparatorluğunun meşru ardılı olarak görülmesi için başlıca güçlüğü giderecektir.


Wolf 1557’de çalışmalarını Corpus Historiae Byzantinae başlığı altında yayımladı. Önemli bir tarih çalışması olmaktan çok bir tür metinler derlemi olan yapıtta “Bizans” terimin bu ilk kullanımı batı Avrupalı Katolik bilginler arasında yaygın olarak kabul gördü ve Doğu Roma ile ilgili bağlamlarda “Bizans” terimi “Roma” yerine kullanılmaya başladı. 16’ncı yüzyılda Fransa kralı XIV. Louis tüm “Bizans” yapıtlarının Wolf’un Corpus’u temelinde yeniden toparlanması için batının en iyi bilginlerine çağrıda bulundu. Sonuç koşut Yunanca metin ve Latin çeviri ile 34 ciltlik Corpus Historiae Byzantinae oldu. Çalışma Roma İmparatorluğunun kendisi tarafından hiçbir zaman kullanılmamış olan “Bizans İmparatorluğu” terimini popülerleştirdi.


The Roman Empire in 337, showing Constantine's conquests in Dacia across the lower Danube (shaded purple) and other Roman dependencies (light purple).



Map of Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη) in the style of medieval city maps.

Constantinople in the 13th C. by French Artist Antoine Helbert.


Byzantium (W)

Byzantium or Byzantion (Βυζάντιον, Byzántion) was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul. Byzantium was colonized by the Greeks from Megara in 657 BC.


The etymology of Byzantion is unknown. It has been suggested that the name is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. It may be derived from the Thracian or Illyrian personal name Byzas. Ancient Greek legend refers to King Byzas, the leader of the Megarian colonists and founder of the city. The form Byzantium is a latinisation of the original name.

Much later, the name Byzantium became common in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Its capital Constantinople stood on the site of ancient Byzantium. The name “Byzantine Empire” was introduced by the historian Hieronymus Wolf only in 1555, a century after the empire had ceased to exist. While the empire existed, the term Byzantium referred to only the city, rather than the empire.

The name Lygos for the city, which likely corresponds to an earlier Thracian settlement, is mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History.


Early design of the Byzantine star-and-crescent symbol, modelled after its appearance on a first-century coin

By the late Hellenistic or early Roman period (1st century BC), the star and crescent motif was associated to some degree with Byzantium; even though it became more widely used as the royal emblem of Mithradates VI Eupator (who for a time incorporated the city into his empire).

Byzantine coin (1st century; 19mm, 5.03 g, 6h) with a bust of Artemis on the obverse and an eight-rayed star within a crescent on the reverse side.

Some Byzantine coins of the 1st century BC and later show the head of Artemis with bow and quiver, and feature a crescent with what appears to be an eight-rayed star on the reverse. According to accounts which vary in some of the details, in 340 BC the Byzantines and their allies the Athenians were under siege by the troops of Philip of Macedon. On a particularly dark and wet night Philip attempted a surprise attack but was thwarted by the appearance of a bright light in the sky. This light is occasionally described by subsequent interpreters as a meteor, sometimes as the moon, and some accounts also mention the barking of dogs. However, the original accounts mention only a bright light in the sky, without specifying the moon. To commemorate the event the Byzantines erected a statue of Hecate lampadephoros (light-bearer or bringer). This story survived in the works of Hesychius of Miletus, who in all probability lived in the time of Justinian I. His works survive only in fragments preserved in Photius and the tenth century lexicographer Suidas. The tale is also related by Stephanus of Byzantium, and Eustathius.

Devotion to Hecate was especially favored by the Byzantines for her aid in having protected them from the incursions of Philip of Macedon. Her symbols were the crescent and star, and the walls of her city were her provenance.

It is unclear precisely how the symbol Hecate/Artemis, one of many goddesses would have been transferred to the city itself, but it seems likely to have been an effect of being credited with the intervention against Philip and the subsequent honors. This was a common process in ancient Greece, as in Athens where the city was named after Athena in honor of such an intervention in time of war.

Later, while under the Romans, cities in the Roman Empire often continued to issue their own coinage. "Of the many themes that were used on local coinage, celestial and astral symbols often appeared, mostly stars or crescent moons.” The wide variety of these issues, and the varying explanations for the significance of the star and crescent on Roman coinage precludes their discussion here. It is, however, apparent that by the time of the Romans, coins featuring a star or crescent in some combination were not at all rare.


The origins of Byzantium are shrouded in legend. Traditional legend says Byzas from Megara (a city-state near Athens) founded Byzantium in 667 BC when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea. The tradition tells that Byzas, son of King Nisos (Νίσος), planned to found a colony of the Dorian Greek city of Megara. Byzas consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, which instructed Byzas to settle opposite the “Land of the Blind.” Leading a group of Megarian colonists, Byzas found a location where the Golden Horn, a great natural harbor, meets the Bosporus and flows into the Sea of Marmara, opposite Chalcedon (modern day Kadıköy). He adjudged the Chalcedonians blind not to have recognized the advantages the land on the European side of the Bosporus had over the Asiatic side. In 667 BC he founded Byzantium at their location, thus fulfilling the oracle's requirement.

It was mainly a trading city due to its location at the Black Sea’s only entrance. Byzantium later conquered Chalcedon, across the Bosporus on the Asiatic side.


The location of Byzantium attracted Roman Emperor Constantine I who, in 330 AD, refounded it as an imperial residence inspired by Rome itself. (See Nova Roma.) After his death the city was called Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις, Konstantinoupolis, “city of Constantine”).

This combination of imperialism and location would affect Constantinople's role as the nexus between the continents of Europe and Asia. It was a commercial, cultural, and diplomatic centre. With its strategic position, Constantinople controlled the major trade routes between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea.

On May 29, 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Turks, and again became the capital of a powerful state, the Ottoman Empire. The Turks called the city “Istanbul” (although it was not officially renamed until 1930); the name derives from “eis-ten-polin” (Greek: “to-the-city”). To this day it remains the largest and most populous city in Turkey, although Ankara is now the national capital.

  Justinian I
  • Justinian sought to revive the empire’s greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire.

Justinian I; borders from acession in 527 to conquests in 565 AD.

  • A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis.
  • His building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia.

Justinian I

Justinian I (482-565) (527-565) (W)

Mosaic of Justinianus I
Basilica San Vitale (Ravenna)

Justinian I
(Latin: Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus Augustus; Greek: Φλάβιος Πέτρος Σαββάτιος Ἰουστινιανός, translit. Flávios Pétros Sabbátios Ioustinianós; c. 482 – 14 November 565), traditionally known as Justinian the Great and also Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, and his reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or “restoration of the Empire.”

Because of his restoration activities, Justinian has sometimes been known as the "last Roman" in mid 20th century historiography. This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire.

His general, Belisarius, swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa. Subsequently, Belisarius, Narses, and other generals conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom, restoring Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of rule by the Ostrogoths. The prefect Liberius reclaimed the south of the Iberian peninsula, establishing the province of Spania. These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean, increasing the Empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign, Justinian also subdued the Tzani, a people on the east coast of the Black Sea that had never been under Roman rule before. He engaged the Sasanian Empire in the east during Kavad I's reign, and later again during Khosrow I’s; this second conflict was partially initiated due to his ambitions in the west.

A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia.


Theodora (6th century)

Theodora (6th century) (W)

Byzantine mosaic depicting Empress Theodora (6th century) flanked by a chaplain and a court lady believed to be her confidant Antonina, wife of general Belisarius.

Theodora (Greek: Θεοδώρα; c. 500 – 28 June 548) was empress of the Eastern Roman Empire by marriage to Emperor Justinian I. She was one of the most influential and powerful of the Eastern Roman empresses, albeit from a humble background. Some sources mention her as empress regnant with Justinian I as her co-regent. Along with her spouse, she is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14.


📹 Justinian and the Byzantine Empire — Khan Academy (VİDEO)

Justinian and the Byzantine Empire — Khan Academy (LINK)

Overview of the Byzantine Empire under its greatest strength under Justinian and then eventual slow decline over the next 900 years. Code of Justinian. Hagia Sophia. Empress Theodora's role in putting down the Nika Riots.


  📹 Byzantine Empire: Justinian and Theodora (Extra History — VİDEO)

📹 Byzantine Empire: Justinian and Theodora

📹 Justinian and Theodora (1) From Swineherd to Emperor (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (1)
From Swineherd to Emperor (LINK)

Justinian arose from humble roots, the nephew of an illiterate pig farmer named Justin. Justin joined the army and rose to become leader of the palace guard, then took his nephew under his wing and made sure that he was well educated. When Emperor Anastasius died, Justin used his position (and his standing army inside Constantinople) to claim the crown for himself. His nephew guided the early years of his reign, helping Justin secure support both in the capitol and abroad. When Justin died, rule of the Byzantine Empire passed to the young Justinian, who had grand ambitions to restore its waning glory. It also freed him to marry Theodora, a famous actress who was far beneath his social station, and who would also rise from her humble beginnings to become a revered empress.


📹 Justinian and Theodora (2) The Reforms of Justinian (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (2)
The Reforms of Justinian (LINK)

Justinian wanted to restore the glory of Rome, but many obstacles stood in his way. He brought on talented advisors to help him reform the tax system, the law code, and the military might of the empire. With them he made great strides, but these advisors had very human flaws. His tax collector, John the Cappadocian, centralized tax collection and crushed corruption in his agents, greatly increasing the revenue to the empire - but he also skimmed money off the top to feed his private corruption. Meanwhile, a lawyer named Tribonian took centuries of confusing and even conflicting legal precedents and resolved them into a single code, the Corpis Juris Civilis, which remains the foundation of modern law today. He even made a textbook for students to learn from. But he was also a practicing pagan during an era when Justinian was trying to crack down on pagan rituals. And last, Justinian's chief military commander Belisarius helped the Empire recover its military glory. He defeated the Sassanid Persians in the Battle of Dara, crushing a force of 50,000 men with only 25,000 of his own through clever strategy: he dug a trench to halt their infantry's advance, then baited the Persian cavalry into overextending and sprang a surprise attack on them with Hun mercenaries. Although Belisarius seems to have been an upstanding person, his personal historian Procopius tainted even his clean record. Procopius wrote glowing official histories of the reign of Justinian, but his long lost secret history depicted Justinian as a literal headless demon and Theodora as a debauched monster.


📹 Justinian and Theodora (3) Purple is the Noblest Shroud (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (3)
Purple is the Noblest Shroud (LINK)

A group of monks declared sanctuary for two hooligans from the demes (Constantinople's fanatical chariot racing factions) who had miraculously survived a hanging. The public wanted them pardoned for their crimes, so when Justinian made his public appearance at the next chariot race, they begged him to have mercy. When Justinian refused, the crowd turned on him and became a rioting mob that tore through the streets of Constantinople. During the Nika Riots, they burned down neighborhoods and even the Hagia Sophia cathedral, rampaging until Justinian agreed to pardon the two men from the demes. Now, however, the mob would not accept that. They demanded that he fire his advisors. Then they decided to appoint their own emperor, a man named Hypatius who was related to the previous emperor Anastasius. Assaulted on all sides, Justinian made plans to flee, only to be confronted by Theodora. She gave a now famous speech asking whether he would rather live a failure or die an emperor, announcing that she would choose the latter. Justinian followed her lead and made new plans to retake his city. He called Belisarius and Mundus, his best generals, to marshal a force. He also sent the eunuch Narses to bribe one faction of the demes and begin dismantling their leadership. Then he ordered his forces to invade the Hippodrome, where they cut down some thirty thousand civilians and executed the false emperor Hypatius. Justinian's reign was once again secure.


📹 Justinian and Theodora (4) Vanquishing the Vandals (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (4)
Vanquishing the Vandals (LINK)

Thirty-nine days after the disastrous Nika Riots ended with the slaughter of 30,000 civilians, Justinian directed the city to rebuild the Hagia Sophia. Together, they built an even greater cathedral - but Justinian was not satisfied. He was called a Roman emperor, but he did not rule Rome itself. He resolved to reconquer the west, starting with Carthage in Africa, which had been conquered by Vandal tribes and turned into the seat of their budding empire. When the cousin of the Vandal king overthrew him for being pro-Roman and a follower of Rome's orthodox Christianity, Justinian had his excuse for war. He stirred up rebellion in the Vandal colonies, creating a distraction while he sent his general Belisarius to Carthage with a small army of men. Belisarius landed successfully and moved on Carthage, winning the support of the local people on his way. Gelimer teamed up with his brothers in two separate attempts to crush Belisarius and drive him out of Carthage, but after both of his brothers died, Gelimer lost his will to fight. He broke, and the Vandal resistance broke with him. Justinian awarded Belisarius a triumph, the greatest honor a Roman general could receive, but it would turn out to be the last formal triumph Rome would ever see.


📹 Justinian and Theodora (5) Impossible Burden of Fate (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (5)
Impossible Burden of Fate (LINK)

The conquest of Carthage and the North African provinces was just the beginning for Justinian's ambition. He must have Rome. But like Carthage, he must find a reason to attack the Ostrogoths who now hold it. And like Carthage, this reason is given to him when the Ostrogothic Queen Amalsuntha, his ally, is murdered. But unlike Carthage, Belisarius now has only 7500 men, barely half of what he had for North Africa. He sails out anyway, making his first stop at the island of Sicily. All the cities except Panormus surrender to him, and Panormus he takes quickly by seizing their harbor with his ships. Meanwhile, Justinian has bribed the Franks to invade Italy from the north while another his generals marches from the east. But just when the Ostrogothic king is on the verge of surrender, disaster strikes. The other Byzantine general dies, and Belisarius is forced to return to Carthage to quell a revolt. The conquest loses its momentum and the Ostrogothic king imprisons the Roman ambassador. Justinian will not be stopped, and orders Belisarius to return to Italy once North Africa is secure. Alone, Belisarius marches up the coast of Italy until he meets resistance at Neapolis. With his forces too thinned to mount a siege, he engineers a sneak attack by invading through the pipe of a dried, broken aqueduct. Neapolis falls and the way now lies open to Rome.


📹 Justinian and Theodora (6) Fighting for Rome (VİDEO)

Justinian and Theodora (6)
Fighting for Rome (LINK)

Belisarius has only just taken Neapolis when the king of the Ostrogoths is overthrown. The new king, Vitiges, withdraws from Rome entirely to consolidate his power, allowing Belisarius to take Rome without a fight. But after Vitiges gathers his troops, he marches to retake Rome. He springs a surprise attack on Belisarius at the Salarian Bridge, which the Roman general barely escapes. Now he must survive in a city under siege, invening ship mills to continue producing the grain that feeds the city and training the civilians as soldiers. He holds off the Ostrogoths until reinforcements from Justinian arrive. After an indecisive battle, he agrees to a truce with Vitiges, which gives him time to position his troops. When the Ostrogoths break the truce, Belisarius is ready for them and crushes their force to drive them finally out of Rome.


📹 Justinian & Theodora (7) The Cracks Begin to Spread (VİDEO)

Justinian & Theodora (7)
The Cracks Begin to Spread (LINK)

Belisarius had broken the siege around Rome. Now he wanted to push on to the Ostrogothic capital in Ravenna, so Justinian sent fresh troops with new commanders: Narses and John. Belisarius ordered John to take his cavalry north and secure the route the Ravenna, but John bypassed several cities that seemed too difficult until he was offered a willing surrender by the people of Ariminum. When Belisarius ordered him to return to the main army, John refused, and soon found himself surrounded by the same forces he'd declined to fight earlier. Narses insisted that they rescue him, so Belisarius devised a plan and tricked the Ostrogoths into thinking his force was larger than it really was, so they fled without joining battle. John gave all the credit for his rescue to Narses, and a divide grew between the old guard loyal to Belisarius and the new troops loyal to Narses. Even though Belisarius had a letter from Justinian giving him sole control of the army, Narses argued over the semantics of the order and continued to do as he liked. He roped Belisarius into besieging Urbinus, then decided to abandon his own plan and return to Ariminum. Belisarius took Urbinus by a stroke of luck and wanted to send reinforcements to the Ostrogoth-besieged city of Mediolanum, supposedly under Roman protection, but John would only accept orders from Narses and stalled until after the city fell. When Roman troops finally arrived in Mediolanum, they found the entire city butchered and burned to the ground.


📹 Justinian & Theodora (8) Bad Faith (VİDEO)

Justinian & Theodora (8)
Bad Faith (LINK)

Mediolanum had fallen. Belisarius wrote a furious letter to Justinian explaining what happened, and the emperor immediately recalled Narses and reaffirmed Belisarius's leadership. His army tore through the Ostrogothic territory and soon laid siege to Ravenna, which they brought to the brink of surrender. But the Ostrogothic King Vitiges had written to the Persian Empire urging them to take advantage of Rome's distraction. Sure enough, Justinian found himself faced with a Persian army in the East, and he sent orders to Belisarius to leave Ravenna and return to defend Constantinople. Belisarius hated seeing his victory snatched from him, however, and almost refused to do it. Hearing of his displeasure, the Ostrogoths reached out to him and offered to make him their new king - no surrender necessary. Belisarius accepted their proposal, then immediately turned on them and declared the city for Justinian. Still, his greed cost the empire time. Justinian was furious that Belisarius had disobeyed his orders to return and wasted precious months solidifying control over the Ostrogoths while Persia threatened to overrun the heart of the empire. He could no longer trust his most valued general.


📹 Justinian & Theodora (9) Justinian’s Rival (VİDEO)

Justinian & Theodora (9)
Justinian’s Rival (LINK)

A comet flew over the empire for forty days, heralding bad news to come. Raiders struck from the west, coming within mere miles of Constantinople. But the biggest threat lay in the south, where a border dispute threatened to reignite the war between the Romans and the Persians. Since Belisarius was still in Italy, Justinian had to send other generals to attempt to resolve the matter peacefully. Both failed spectacularly. The Persian king Khosrau seized on this as a pretext for invasion. But instead of laying expensive sieges to the cities, he simply extorted them for tribute in exchange for being left alone by his army. As he advanced north, he took advantage of every opportunity to mock Justinian and remind him how little power he had to push the Persians back. Finally, the city of Antioch refused to surrender to Khosrau and he made quick work of it, convincing Justinian at last of the need to pay his own tribute to the Persians to make them go away. This bought him enough time for Belisarius to return, but even his great general was unable to make much progress. At last, he found himself pinned down in an un-winnable fight... which the Persians mysteriously decided not to engage against him. They did not want to risk contact with the Romans, whom they feared were rife with disease.


📹 Theodora (10) This is My Empire (VİDEO)

Theodora (10)
This is My Empire (LINK)

The first recorded outbreak of the Bubonic Plague occurred in Pelusium, an isolated town in the Egyptian province, but soon it moved on to Alexandria. Alexandria was the breadbasket of the Empire, and ships carrying grain (and plague-bearing rats) spread across the Empire. The Plague reached Constantinople to disastrous effect: 25% of the population died. Justinian set up a burial office but even they couldnt keep up with the demand. When they ran out of burial land, they started piling corpses into ships and setting them afloat; they even packed them into the guard towers along the wall. So few people survived that when word got out that Justinian had contracted the plague, hope seemed lost... until Theodora stepped up. She had always been a force within the Empire, Justinian's co-regent, and now she used that power to fight off the plots against him and keep the Empire together. She dealt ruthlessly with anyone who threatened them, and since many people wanted Belisarius installed on the throne as Justinian's heir, she recalled him and pushed him out of power. She managed to keep the Empire from disintegrating into Civil War and became the symbol of hope and perserverance for a sorely demoralized city. And then, miraculously, Justinian pulled through.


📹 Justinian & Theodora (11) The Emperor Who Never Sleeps (VİDEO)

Justinian & Theodora (11)
The Emperor Who Never Sleeps (LINK)

Theodora had kept the empire together, but it was deeply scarred. The Plague had killed a quarter of the citizens and imperial revenues were in dire straits. In Italy, the Gothic tribes had rebelled again under the united leadership of Totila, while the disorganized Romans failed to mount an effective defense. Italy quickly fell back into Gothic hands, and even when Justinian sent back Belisarius, he could barely raise an army and didn't have the money to support his few conquests. Eventually he had to be recalled to defend Constantinople, and Rome was lost forever. A similar rebellion occurred in Africa, but was mercifully quelled. And then Theodora died. Justinian wept at her casket. He refused to remarry and designated a nephew-in-law as his successor. Even in mourning, he managed to organize a defense against Persian aggression and reorganize the Empire's tax system to bring revenue back into the coffers he'd drained for grand monuments and expensive wars. As his final tribute to Theodora, he attempted to heal the divide between Monophysite and Orthodox Christians, which had been one of her life goals. He went about it by pressuring the Pope to join him in condemning the Nestorian religious leaders who'd championed monophysite beliefs at the Council of Chalcedon. The Pope reluctantly agreed, but as he feared, it did not heal the divide in the east and only created new controversy in the west.


📹 Justinian (12) Caesar I was, and am Justinian (VİDEO)

Justinian (12)
Caesar I was, and am Justinian (LINK)

Faced with a crumbling empire, Justinian remained determined to realize the dreams of his youth - even though he was now over 65 years old and without Theodora by his side. He worked tirelessly to bring revenue back to the empire, and with money in hand he could finally deal with the forces that threatened it. He assembled his last company, an odd selection of leaders for his army, made up of men who were either old, or inexperienced, or even known for failure - yet they succeeded. His instinct for choosing the right person for the job did not fail him, as one by one his last company made peace with Persia, tamed the Balkan threat, and reclaimed Italy from the Ostrogoths. But fate was not yet done with him. A wave of natural disasters and the return of the plague shook the empire while its foundations were still being rebuilt, and left it vulnerable to an invasion by the Bulgars. Justinian turned to his old friend Belisarius, calling him out of retirement for one final campaign. As always, Belisarius succeeded against the odds, but it would be his last fight. One by one, all of Justinian's close friends and advisors died of old age. Increasingly alone, he spent his last years trying to consolidate his empire and struggling to reconcile the Christian church. Finally, after one of the longest reigns in Roman history, Justinian died in 565 CE. His reign was a great "What If:" What if all those disasters hadn't struck? Would his grand amibtions have succeeded? He accomplished so much with the expansion of empire, the construction of the Hagia Sophia, and his overhaul of the legal code. But in the process, he risked - and perhaps lost - everything. He emptied the treasury, overextended the borders, and left the empire vulnerable to the Ottomans years later. Good or bad, his legacy reaches through the centuries to touch our lives today.




  Comnenus family

From “The Alexiad” (Book XII) by Anna Komnene. (LINK)

Alexios I Komnenos

Alexios I Komnenos (1048-1118) (1081-1118) (W)

Portrait of Emperor Alexios I, from a Greek manuscript.

Alexios I Komnenos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός, c. 1048 – 15 August 1118), Latinized Alexius I Comnenus, was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118. Although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans, Alexios was able to curb the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration. The basis for this recovery were various reforms initiated by Alexios. His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that likely contributed to the convoking of the Crusades.



Comnenus family

Comnenus family (1081-1185) (B)

Emperor Alexius Comnenus detail of the mosaic in the south gallery Hagia Sophia 11th century.

Comnenus family
, Comnenus also pelled Komnenos, Byzantine family from Paphlagonia, members of which occupied the throne of Constantinople for more than a century (1081-1185).

Manuel Eroticus Comnenus was the first member of the family to figure in Byzantine history; an able general, he served the emperor Basil II in the East. His son, Isaac I, leader of the military nobles and soldiery of Asia Minor, reigned as emperor from 1057 to 1059. Isaac’s nephew, Emperor Alexius I (1081-1118), founder of the Comnenian dynasty, was succeeded by his son John II (1118-43). John II was followed by Alexius I’s grandson Manuel I (1143–80) and great-grandson Alexius II (1180–83). With the death of Alexius II, the elder line of the family died out. Andronicus I (1183–85), son of John II’s brother Isaac, succeeded Alexius II and was the last Comnenian emperor. The family continued to play an important part in state affairs, however, and was allied by marriage to other ruling families, such as the Angeli and the despots of Epirus. Following the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Andronicus I’s grandsons Alexius and David, with Georgian help, founded the empire of Trebizond, which lasted until 1461, when David Comnenus, its last ruler, was deposed. He was executed some time later by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. The Comnenus Mosaic. Virgin Mary With Jesus, Emperor John II Comnenus And Empress Irene.


Anna Komnene

Anna Komnene (1083-1153) (W)

Anna Komnene (Greek: Ἄννα Κομνηνή, Ánna Komnēn;ḗ 1 December 1083-1153), commonly latinized as Anna Comnena, was a Byzantine princess, scholar, physician, hospital administrator, and historian. She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and his wife Irene Doukaina. She is best known for her attempt to usurp her brother, John II Komnenos, and for her work The Alexiad, an account of her father's reign.

At birth, Anna was betrothed to Constantine Doukas, and she grew up in his mother's household. She was well-educated in “Greek literature and history, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and medicine.”

Anna and Constantine were next in the line to throne until Anna's younger brother, John II Komnenos, became the heir in 1092. Constantine died around 1094, and Anna married Nikephoros Bryennios in 1097. The two had several children before Nikephoros' death around 1136.

Following her father’s death in 1118, Anna and her mother attempted to usurp John II Komnenos. Her husband refused to cooperate with them, and the usurpation failed. As a result, John exiled Anna to the Kecharitomene monastery, where she spent the rest of her life.

Historian and intellectual

In the seclusion of the monastery, Anna dedicated her time to studying philosophy and history. She held esteemed intellectual gatherings, including those dedicated to Aristotelian studies. Anna's intellectual genius and breadth of knowledge is evident in her few works. Among other things, she was conversant with philosophy, literature, grammar, theology, astronomy, and medicine. It can be assumed because of minor errors that she may have quoted Homer and the Bible from memory when writing her most celebrated work, the Alexiad. Her contemporaries, like the metropolitan Bishop of Ephesus, Georgios Tornikes, regarded Anna as a person who had reached “the highest summit of wisdom, both secular and divine.”


Justinian‘Byzantine’ (Roman) Empire (in orange) c. 1180, at the end of the Komnenian period.

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