The city of Constantinople | Justinian's War for Trinity Worship in Italy and North Africa | King Khosrau against a weakened Byzantine Empire | Mob slaughters Emperor Maurice and Family and Gregory applauds | Byzantium weakens and the Sassanid Empire disintegrates
Europe circa 500 CE
Justinian. He sent his armies out to
unify the Roman Empire – God's Empire –
in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.
There would be a lot of killing but no Second Coming
and only a short and incomplete unification.
By 500 CE, power was distributed in North Africa and Western Europe among the Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals. From Constantinople a so-called Roman emperor ruled the eastern half of what remained of the ancient Roman Empire, to be known also as the Byzantine Empire. This empire included Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, which were tied together by trade. Constantinople also traded to the coasts of Gaul, Spain, Africa, India and China, and it was a prosperous city which drew diplomats, merchants, sailors and other travelers from many parts of the globe. It was a city populated by Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, a few Arabs and others. Constantinople's soldiers were largely German and some were Huns. By the 500s most of Constantinople spoke Greek, with Latin being used only for religious, formal and official occasions. And people of the city were united by their common Roman citizenship and their Christian faith.
The emperor Justinian (527-65), saw himself as the rightful heir of a rule handed down from as far back as Augustus Caesar, a rule he claimed was created by God. God, he said, had displayed his love by bestowing two gifts: the priesthood and the imperial dignity. Faithful subjects viwed the emperor at Constantinople as God's vicar on earth and ruler by divine right. The emperor's Germanic subjects seem to have been most impressed, viewing the emperor as almost a god in his own right.
As a Christian city, Constantinople had many churches, monasteries and convents. It had free hospitals for the sick staffed by monks and nuns. There were alms houses for the needy and the old – free accommodation for the homeless. The city subsidized orphanages. And in times of increased need rationing was often introduced to help the poor.
Many of Constantinople's Christians saw the world as a vale of tears in which one should not place trust or hope. But the people of Constantinople were generally enthusiastic about chariot racing. From early in the morning, young and old people and priests from all over Constantinople would converge on the city's circus to view and gamble on the chariot races.
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