Byzance (in Greek old Βυζάντιον / Byzántion , in Latin Byzantium ) is old a quoted Greek, capital of the Thrace, located at the entry of the the Bosphorus on part of current the Istanbul. The city will be rebuilt by Constantin and, re-elected Constantinople in 330 a. J. - C., it will become the capital of the Roman Empire, then of the Roman Empire of the East.
Foundation of the city
The majority of the sources allot the foundation of Byzance to Byzas which, according to Etienne de Byzance, was wire of the Keroessa nymph, itself girl of Io and Poséidon. It is generally allowed that the city was a colony mégarienne but nothing indicates that the quota of the oikists (founders) was not also made up of citizens of other cities. Eusèbe de Césarée advances an exact date for the foundation of the city: “the third year of the thirtieth Olympiad”, which would give 667 av. J. - C. Diodore, as for him, mentions the city quickly whereas he tells the epopee of Argonautes, in his historical Bibliothèque (IV, 49,1) :
Velleius Paterculus (II, 15) allots the foundation of the city to the Milésiens and Ammien Marcellin (XXI, 8) with the inhabitants of the Attique. These two last explanations are not accepted any more. The use of the dialect dorien, the presence of common divinities as well as the iconography of the standard monetarists of use in the city of the Bosphorus - very similar to the iconography mégarienne- seems to have to attest this assumption.
The toponym would derive from the verb buzō which means: " resserrer" , and would be an allusion to the aspect of the the Bosphorus which is well a " passage ( poros ) tightened ( buzō ) ". One should not however draw aside a probable influence thrace, the toponym which can derive from the local Onomastique, and meaning shore then, borders .
Periods antiquated, traditional and hellenistic
Byzance produced grains and fruits in quantity. According to Polybe, Greece withdrew from them leather, slaves, honey, wax and saltings, and gave him in exchange of oil and the wine. In spite of this prosperity, it makes a sad table of the ends to which the city was often reduced. Surrounded by enemy tribes of Thrace, it was unceasingly exposed to their incursions, and saw his devastated territory and the products of its ground destroyed or plundered by the Barbare S of which the tribe of Astes, based in Bizyè. Though located in the middle of the barbarians, Byzance was regarded as Greek, according to its origin and its manners. It was one of the Hellenic cities of the Hellespont. Its happy situation at the entry of the Bosphorus, from which it was the key, conferred to him the role of warehouse of the Greek world because it was a stage impossible to circumvent for the ships charged with corn of the Euxine Sea. Its function of bolt of the Bosphorus - and by extension, of the road of the corn pontique- explains why Athens and Sparte disputed its alliance, and that the princes who wanted to cut down these powers and to exert an influence on Greece sought to secure its possession. Byzance, whose particular history is as little known as the other small States of Greece, had a great political role however with
The Ionie NS, vassal of the Persian king of Darius, take the city in 504. It is taken again by Otane, one of the generals of Darius. Pausanias seizes the city after the seat of Sestos in 477. In the revolt of Samos in 439, Byzance follows the destiny of this city, which, revolted against the Athenians, of which it was tributary, falls down in their capacity after nine months an obstinate seat.
During the Peloponnesian War, Byzance, in prey with the two factions which supported the interests of Sparte and Athens, subjected with the other cities of Hellespont, with the influence of these two powers in turn victorious. Initially, it is subjugated by successes of Sparte, then taken by Alcibiade in 408. Lastly, after the Battle of Aigos-Potamos and the catch of Athens, which reflect fine with the Peloponnesian War, it is forced by the Spartan Lysandre to return the Athenian garrison, and to receive, like all the cities of Greece, a commander lacédémonien or Harmoste, invested at the same time civil authority and military.
Cléandre was harmoste with Byzance, when the Ten Thousand which had engaged with the service of Cyrus the Young person against his brother Artaxerxès, having crossed, after thousand dangers, part of Asia under the control of Xénophon, arrived on the coasts of the Bithynie opposite Byzance. Anaxibius, ordering fleet lacédémonienne, with the request of Artaxerxès, had urged the Greeks to pass the strait, promising the pay to them which was due for them as well as vivres when they would be in Byzance ; but with their approach, it made close the doors of the city. Irritated this perfidy, the Greeks broke the doors and entered the city: only Xénophon saved it plundering and it resisted those which pressed it to take possession of Byzance and its richnesses.
Leagued with Rhodos and Chios, Byzance had been freed from the despotic yoke of Athens in 364. After one period of the social war where Charès tries to make it return in the row (357), Athens is forced to recognize its independence in 355. Little time after bursts the third War crowned. Philippe, king of Macedonia, aspiring to hegemony on all the States of Greece, tries to seize Byzance in 340 ; but after a long seat, it is forced by the Athenian general Phocion to beat a retreat the following year. It is during this seat that a legend places the intercession of Hécate Phosphoros, which agitated torches in middle of the night and discovered the troops of Philippe. Awaked by the barkings of the dogs of the city which reacted to the wonder, the soldiers of Byzance would then have defended themselves victoriously against the attack Macedonian.
In 279, a Gallic forwarding, having penetrated as far as Thrace under the control of Comontorius, came to be established in the surroundings of Byzance and reduces its inhabitants at the last ends. To repurchase their grounds of the devastations of which the barbarians threatened them, they had to pay them nearly ten thousand gold coins and an annual tribute of 80 talents, until the time when the Gallic ones were exterminated by Thraces. To provide for these loads, the Byzantines had imagined to charge a right on navigation of the Bosphorus, which led them to a war against Rhodiens consigned by Polybe.
Byzance undergoes, like all Greece, the supervision of Rome. The city knows a certain decline then, when well even the topic of the poverty of the Greek cities of Asia is a commonplace concerning this time. The period antonine constitutes an economic apogee, even if the city does not join again with its last splendor. The correspondence of Trajan with Pline the Young person seems to describe a city developed, cosmopolitan, by the mass of the travellers which is had a presentiment of in the ports and on the markets. The absence of a great number of important cities in Thrace probably justifies the policy of the emperors of IIe S. which aims at urbanizing the interior of this province considered as very vast and especially savage. Old Greek foundation, Byzance then seems one of the poles of local hellenism (with Périnthe, in particular). Thus the emperors seem to take care of the prosperity of these littoral cities at the 2nd century.
Any rocker at the conclusion of the civil war which follows the assassination of at the end of Commode 192. At that time, the Byzantines having probably taken the party to support Pescennius Niger against Severe Septime, this last comes to besiege them. After a three year old seat, memorable by the skill and the obstinacy of the attack, and especially of defense, the Byzantines go. The winner, irritated, makes massacre the garrison and the magistrates, dismantles the city, the skin of all its privileges and leaves it with the state of simple village, subjecting it, with all its territories, in the city close and rival of Périnthe, its metropolis to Constantin.
Severe left Byzance in such a state of ruin and of desolation, that according to Dion Cassius, contemporary historian who visited it at that time, one could have thought that it had been taken not by the Romans, but by the barbarians. However, little time after, the emperor, on the request of his/her son Caracalla, softens the punishment of Byzance: it made some rebuild a great part, embellishes it even new monuments and re-elected it Antoninia , of the nickname of Antoninus taken by Caracalla. The new name hardly had success and hardly Caracalla it had died that the city took again its original name.
The 3rd century is one little documented period of the history of the city, even if the usual sources such as Dion Cassius, Hérodien and the Histoire Auguste refer there sometimes. The city is often on the way of various forwardings against Parthes then against their successors, Persians, carried out by the emperors. It preserves its privilege of monetary striking until the reign of Gallien which removes it to him like with many other cities. This privilege preserved a long time is worth testimony of certain importance of the city. The role of the city is surrounded by mystery during the episode of the Gothic raids (as of 238). Stripped its famous ramparts since 196, Byzance seems without defense against forwardings of the barbarians come by Thrace and the Bosphorus. However, it or is not touched little by these raids, contrary to much of cities to the Propontide. So it is not excluded that the city concludes some arrangement with the invaders. Stake of being able in the tétrarques fights between , Byzance takes successively the party of Maximin Daia and that of Licinius until Constantin remains single emperor, in 324. Consequently, Byzance is not belonged any more, it is acquired with the geographical project of centring of the Empire concretized by Constantin. Between 324 and 330, this one gives freehand to its teams of architects and decorators to embellish the old Greek city and to give him row of imperial residence. Thus the city in building site decorates number of works of art selected and conveyed of all the provinces of the Empire. May 11th, 330, the ceremony of dedication ratifies the creation of the town of Constantin: Constantinopolis/Constantinople.
Byzance after Byzance
It is since Hieronymus Wolf (1557) that one speaks about “Histoire of the Byzantine empire” and of “Byzantine” to indicate the Roman Empire of the East and its inhabitants after 330. Never the interested parties would have thought of being thus called themselves. It is an invention of Western humanistic historiography, committed in the rehabilitation of the philosophical values of the Antiquity, and which, not being able to be caught some directly with the dogmatism of the church Catholique, was caught some with the césaro-papism of Byzance. This terminology was essential only on the 17th century. Montesquieu, for example, employed it. Unfortunately, this combat had an perverse effect by giving of Byzance the vision of an Empire solidified in its dogmatism, intolerant and corrupted, while its heritage scientific, philosophical, literary and scientific is completely allotted to the Arab , as if the Byzantine intermediary had never existed.
Whatever were their native tongues, the “Byzantines” were indicated by the term “Romaioi” (Ρωμαίοι), i.e. “Roman”, because in their eyes the Roman Empire had lost the Occident, but continued in the East. One finds the term among Moslems, who speak about “Roum” (Rûm) and about “Roumi”.
As for the capital of the empire, it was called officially Constantinople, but its inhabitants said simply “polished” (= the city), from which the Turkish name “Istanbul comes”, deformation of “ eis tên polin ” (= at the city). The Slaves, which admired it, called it “Tsarigrad” ( tsar = César and of grad = the city).
Popular meaningsThe term “Byzance” or “Byzantine” passed in the modern popular culture. Thus the expression “it is Byzance! ” refers to the richness of the Empire and gives an idea of luxury and superfluity. One also speaks about “Byzantine complexity” to indicate something of very complex or muddled in reference to the Institutions of the Byzantine Empire which piled up the reforms and the laws that only a plethoric bureaucracy could clear up.
Angel of Saint-Priest, Encyclopedia of the nineteenth century , 1844 to read in ligne. (Out-of-date).
- L. Bréhier, Dictionary of history and ecclesiastical geography , entered " Byzance".
- Andre Stratos, Byzance in VIIe century. The Heraclius emperor and the Arab expansion , Lausanne, the guild of the book, 1976.
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