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Chapter 7: The Transformation of the Roman Empire

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tim hudenburg

on 9 October 2017

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Transcript of Chapter 7: The Transformation of the Roman Empire

Chapter 7: The Transformation of the Roman Empire
Constantine (r. 306-337)
Ended the persecution of the Christians
Religious freedom
Beginning of Christianization of the Roman Empire (and Europe)

Splitting Rome
395 – Emperor Theodosius I split the empire in two West & East
Military and political events provoked social and cultural change
Barbarians created kingdoms and laws based on Roman traditions yet adopted Christianity
Wealthy Romans fled from cities to seek safety in country estates
Transformed political landscape of Western Europe
Eastern Roman Empire
Turkish invaders conquered it in 1453
outlasted the Western Roman Empire by 1000 years.

From Principate to Dominate in the Late Roman Empire 284-395
Diocletian and Constantine
Believed becoming more autocratic would solve problems
Transformed their appearance to make themselves appear more powerful
Taking ideas from Persian Empire to do so
Plan failed – proved impossible to preserve Roman imperial territory from all the internal and external pressures

Diocletian ended the third-century crisis of the Roman Empire
delayed fragmentation
Migration of Barbarians and the Huns weakened Rome
395, Emperor Theodosius I divided empire into west and east
Large-scale violent immigration
Wealthy nobles became self-sufficient
Eastern empire - more successful
maintained Roman culture
unbearable tax rates
312, Constantine converted to Christianity
Memory of Roman power remained influential
Chapter 7: The Transformation of the Roman Empire
The Transformation of the Roman Empire
Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-395)
Kept the Roman Empire from breaking into warring parts
Appointed co-emperor & two assistant emperors
Suspicious of nontraditional worshipers responsible of divine anger
Convinced by Diocletian to persecute the pagan Manicheans

The Political Transformation & Division of the Roman Empire
Born as an uneducated peasant in the Balkans
Army -> emperor 284
Imposed the most autocratic system of rule in Roman history
Roman rule under Diocletian
Emperors recognized no equals
Senator, consul continued but only as posts of honor
Took ideas from Sassanids in Persia
Addressed their king and queen as brother and sister
Roman Empire Broadcasts Their Majesty
Jeweled crowns
Constantine made his emperor-ship known
Wore diadem & purple gem-studded headband
Series of veils separated the palace’s waiting rooms
Officials of rank
Wore special shoes and belts; claimed impressive titles

Roman Law
Emperors made law
Raised punishments
Strengthened the divisions between ordinary people & rich
Diocletian appointed three partners
A co-emperor Maximian
Two assistant emperors
Constantius and Galerius
Made up a tetrarchy
Rule by four

Diocletian created smaller unites “dioceses”
impact on Catholic Church
Under separate governors
Diocletian did not visit Rome until 303
Resigned in 305 for unknown reasons
Tetrarchy fought civil war until 324

Constantine won
End of his reign in 337
Designated his three sons to rule as co-emperors
Waged war against each other
Constantine’s warring sons split empire on a north-south line along the Balkan peninsula
Theodosius made this division permanent in 395
Empire’s halves governed largely as separate territories
Each half had its own capital city
Former Byzantium
Today: Istanbul

Theodosius’ son and successor in the west
Chose the port of Ravenna, Italy as headquarters
Enhanced port with churches covered in multicolored mosaics
Never rivaled Constantinople in size or splendor
The Social Consequences of Financial Pressures
Diocletian imposed price and wage controls and new tax system
Put great financial pressures on both rich and poor
Measures failed
Desperate to reduce the hyperinflation
Hoarding worsened the inflation
301 – Diocletian imposed harsh price and wage controls in the worst areas
Mandate forbade hoarding of goods and set cost ceilings
Failed -Instead, increased financial pressure on everyone
The Social Consequences of Financial Pressures
Emperors increased taxes
Support army
Major sources of revenue
Tax on land
Assessed according to its productivity
Head tax on individuals
Collected some payments in goods and services
Empire too large to enforce the tax system uniformly
Could only work if agricultural production remained stable
The Social Consequences of Financial Pressures
Diocletian restricted movement of tenant farms called coloni (cultivators)
Children were also bound to the family plot
Farming became a hereditary obligation
Bakers could not leave their jobs
Sons of military veterans obliged to serve in the army
Emperors also decreed oppressive regulations for the curial (social elite)
Curial served as Decurions (unsalaried members of the city Senate)
Spend their own funds to support the community
The Social Consequences of Financial Pressures
Depended on property owners to fill local offices in return for honor and favor from emperor
Wealthy people avoided public service to escape debt
Curial could not move away from birth town
Most desperate abandoned homes and property
Restrictions eroded the communal values motivating wealthy Romans
Social discontent among poor
Tax rate on land
Impoverished small farmers

From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
Diocletian in 303 C.E
Launched so-called Great Persecution
Attempt to please gods by suppressing Christianity
Expelled Christians from official posts
Seized their property
Tore down churches
Executed anyone who refused to participate in official religious rituals
From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
Western empire
Official violence against Christians stopped after a year the Eastern empire
Violence continued for a decade
Public executions were so gruesome, they aroused sympathy of polytheists
Great Persecution ultimately failed
Undermined social stability without destroying Christianity

From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
Changed world’s religious history forever by converting to new faith
Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome in 312
Reported experienced a dream promising him God’s support & saw Jesus’ cross in the sky surrounded by the words “In this sign you will you will be the victor”
Constantine ordered soldiers to paint “the sign of the cross of Christ” on their shields
When soldiers won a great victory, Constantine attributed success to God & declared himself a Christian
Did not make polytheism illegal & did not make Christianity the official state religion

From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
He & polytheist co-emperor Licinius enforced religious freedom
Edict of Milan in 313
Enforced free choice of religion for everyone
Satisfy both polytheists & Christians
Attempts to placate traditional polytheists
Ex. Returned all property to Christians that had been taken, but had treasury compensate those who had bought it

From the Great Persecution to Religious Freedom
Edict of Milan 321 C.E
Created Sunday
Blend of Christian & traditional notions, God & the sun
The Lord’s Day of each week
Holy occasion; no official business/manufacturing work
Decorated new capital of Constantinople with statues of traditional gods.
Held office of pontifex maximus (“chief priest”) to respect/hold tradition

The Official Christianization of the Empire
Apostate= “renegade from the faith”
Christianity replaced polytheism
Theodosius I
Ban on privately funded polytheist sacrifices
All polytheist temples had to close (Parthenon in Athens remained open for long time)
Pagan temples converted to churches
Non-Christian schools were not forced to close

The Official Christianization of the Empire
Jews pose problems for Christian emperors
seemed entitled to special treatment (Jesus was a Jew)
but now rulers now imposed legal restrictions
1. banned Jews from holding office- still assumed financial burdens
2. banned Jews from marrying Christians, making wills, receiving inheritances, testifying in court
3. turned Jews into 2nd class citizens but did not destroy Judaism
c. built magnificent synagogues in Palestine
d. Jewish scholarship flourished
1. Talmuds-learned opinions on the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish law
2. Midrash- commentaries on parts of Hebrew scripture

eliminated the Ostrogothic and Vandal kingdoms
huge cost in effort, time –the war in Italy took twenty years-and expense.
successors could not maintain the reunification
Visigoths had taken back all of Spain
indigenous Berber tribes
Within five years of Justinian’s death, however, the Lombards had set up a new kingdom controlling a large section of Italy. Never again would anyone in the ancient world attempt to reestablish a universal Roman Empire.
The eastern empire fared better economically than the western
Eastern emperors attempted to preserve “Romanness”
Roman culture and political traditions.
The financial pressure of wars to reunite the empire drove tax rates to unbearable levels
concentration of authority in the capital weakened local communities


Christians produced their literature in the form of the codes-a book with bound pages
book production: classical Greek and Latin literature barely survived the war-torn world
Knowledge of Greek in the west faded so drastically that by the sixth century almost no one there could read the original versions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
Latin fared better
Jerome knew Rome’s ancient literature extremely well
closing around 530 of the Academy, founded in Athens by Plato
dangers for classical learning
books were expensive and precious objects
Roman Empire. This most famous of classical schools finally went out of business
scholars emigrated to Persia to escape Justinian’s tightened restrictions


Christianization of the late Roman Empire endangered the memory of classical traditions.
Classical Greece & Rome were polytheist
Potentially subversive of Christian belief 1st neglect than suppress.
Some classical texts survived
Non-Christian models, both Latin & Greek
Justinian’s Italian wars caused Latin-speaking scholars to flee to Constantinople
Conserve many ancient Roman texts & preserved classical literature & education
Some knowledge of pre-Christian classics
Liberal studies & classical rhetoric & persuasive arguments
Severe damage to the west’s infrastructure and the east’s finances.
Italy endured the most physical destruction
Eastern empire
Even more taxes to finance his wars and pay the Persian kingdom not to attack.
The tax burden crippled
Constant banditry
Crowds poured into the capital from rural areas
Poverty and robbers and natural disaster (oh my!)
Horrific epidemic killed 1/3 of his empire’s inhabitants; 1/4 of a million died in Constantinople alone
Pandemics killed millions of people
Shortage of army recruits forced emperor to hire expensive mercenaries
Countless farms vacant, reducing tax revenues
Emperor the “living law,”
Hellenistic royal doctrine that the ruler’s decisions defined law
Restore the empire to a unified territory, religion, and culture
His generals defeated the Vandals and Ostrogoths
Enormous cost of lives & money
Restored the boundaries of the Roman Empire as in the time of Augustus
Atlantic to the western edge of Mesopotamia.
His successors, however, would not be able to retain these reconquests.
Reuniting the western and eastern empires
Hagia Sophia
Law code
Byzantine art & mosiacs
Nika Riot in 532
Chariot races, united against the emperor, shouting “Nika! Nika!” (“Win! Win!”)
9 days of violence had left much of Constantinople in ashes, Justinian prepared to flee in panic.
“Once born, no one can escape dying, but for one who has held imperial power it would be unbearable to be a fugitive. May I never take off my imperial robes of purple, nor live to see the day when those who meet me will not greet me as their ruler”
Sent in troops
Ended the rioting by slaughtering thirty thousand rioters, trapped in the racetrack

Most famous eastern emperor by waging war
Imperial rule more autocratic
Costly buildings in Constantinople, & instituting legal and religious reforms
Social order
Hierarchy and maintain divine goodwill
Raise taxes, generating civil strife
Increased social divisions
It provided services according to people’s wealth
Social connections and wealth
Emperors to pay their civil servants tiny salaries and spend imperial funds for other purposes
Extortion, the emperors published and official list of the maximum fees that their employees could charge.
Most women concentrated on their households & minimizing contact with men outside that circle.
Law barred them from performing many public function, such as witnessing wills
Veiled their heads to show modesty.
The strict views of Christian theologians on sexuality & reproduction made divorce more difficult
Discouraged remarriage even for widows.
Sexual offenses carried harsher legal penalties. Female prostitution remained legal and common
The penalties for those who forced girls for female slaves under their control into prostitution
Empress Theorora
High-ranking women
Daughter of a bear trainer & actress with a scandalous reputation
Played a part every aspect of Justinian’s rule
“Superior in intelligence to any man”
The Vandals’ violence hastened decline in urban population
Wealthy Romans built sprawling villas staffed by tenants tied to land like slaves
Self-sufficient; the owners shunned municipal offices & tax collection
Provincial government slowly disappeared--infrastructure of trade – roads & bridges – fell into disrepair with no public-spirited elite
Elite holed up in their fortress-like households
Cassiodorus (c. 490-585)
Listing the books an educated person should read
Ancient classical literature as well as Christian texts

Reviving the Roman name with Gothic vigor
German as restorers of Rome
Social and cultural transformation promoted stability by producing new law codes
Long-term security
Roman law was the most influential precedent
Tribes had never possessed written laws
Required legal codes
Sense of justice and keep order
The Visigothic kings & their “barbarian law code”
Published in Latin in about 475, it made fines and compensation

No Western Roman emperor for nearly twenty years
Gradual fall of the Roman Empire
Hire of foreign officers to lead the defense of Italy
One non-Roman general had come to decide
Serve as a puppet emperor under his control
The last such unfortunate puppet was only a child.
His father, a former aide to Attila
Romulus Augustulus (“Romulus the Little Augustus”) western emperor in 475.
In 476 CE The boy's emperor’s non-Roman soldiers murdered his father and deposed him.
Little Augustus was given refuge and a pension

Last of the Roman Emperors
The Decline

NVCC 11 The Transformation of the Roman Empire chapter 7 Part B

Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312
Christianization of the empire occurred gradually, Christians disagreed among themselves over doctrines of faith
deadly violence
Monastic life
“God’s heroes”
memory of Roman power and culture remained potent
influential inheritance
peoples and states
Rome’s heirs in the next stage of Western civilization.


Diocletian ended the third-century crisis of the Roman Empire
Fragmentation & migrations of barbarians
Huns weakened the Roman imperial government.
Emperor Theodosius I divided the empire into western and eastern halves in 395 to try to improve its administration and defense.
newcomers created kingdoms that eventually replaced Roman rule in the west
Large-scale and violent immigration
wealthy nobles retreated to self-sufficient country estates and shunned municipal office.


Athenian elite increasingly Christianized
The Neoplatonist school at Alexandria, by contrast, continued
John Philoponus, was a Christian wrote commentaries of the works of Aristotle his ideas anticipated those synthesis
a Christian subject of the eastern Roman Empire in sixth-century Egypt, heading a school founded long before the polytheists, works of an ancient Greek philosopher
forward-looking scholarship
Western civilization once again remade itself in medieval times.


Ambrose, bishop of Milan from 374-397
Christian ethics
imitated the great Roman orator Cicero
Christian artists incorporated polytheist traditions in communicating their beliefs and emotions thru paintings, mosaics, and carved reliefs
Christ with a sunburst
radiant Sun as a god
The growth of Christian literature & helped preserve classical literature
sheets of parchment (made from animal skin); paper (made from papyrus scrolls)


Religious purity & zealously enforcing laws against polytheists
Purged heretical Christians opposing his version of orthodoxy
Justinian’s laws made male homosexual relations illegal for the first time in Roman history
Simply taxed male prostitutes
Homosexual activity between married women probably counted as adultery & thus a crime
Reconcile orthodox & Monophysite Christians
Creed of the Council of Chalcedon
Church leaders in Rome and Constantinople could not agree. The eastern & western churches were therefore launched on diverging courses
Formal schism five hundred years later
Constantinople ended in conflict in 553
Jailed Rome’s defiant pope Vigilius while also managing to alienate Monophysite bishops.
Justinian's efforts to impose religious unity only drove Christians further apart and undermined his vision of a restored Roman world
Supremacy & piety
Building program in Constantinople
Hagia Sophia
“Church of the Holy Wisdom”
Huge building on a square plan capped by a dome 107 feet across & 160 feet high
Gold mosaics: “I have defeated you, Solomon”
Autocratic rule reduced the autonomy of cities: imperial officials governed instead of their councils
Imperial administration in the capital
Codified the laws
Codex: 529
Revised version: 534
Expedite legal cases and provide a syllabus for law schools
Codes written in Latin & used by scholars for centuries
Institutes, which appeared in 533
Law-school reading lists until modern times
Romans; most spoke Greek
Used Latin only for government & military communication
Their traditional languages: Phrygian and Cappadocian
Armenian, Syriac, & Aramaic dialects
Constantinople reportedly rang with seventy-two languages
‘Romanness’ definitely included Christianity
Diversity revealed its ethnic and linguistic complexity.
Bitter controversies divided eastern Christians; emperors
Used violence against Christians with different beliefs-
Heretics they called them

The eastern emperors
“Romanness” best defense
Hired foreign mercenaries
Successful campaign to restore Italy to the Roman Empire and reassert control of the western capital
Cooperation between bishops and emperors
The emperors ordered Constantinople’s residents not to wear barbarian-style clothing
Especially heavy boots & furs, instead of traditional Roman attire (sandals or light shoes and cloth robes)
Cultural unity
Widely multilingual & multi-ethnic
Social elite spent freely on luxuries such as silk, precious stones, and pepper and other spices
San Vitale in Ravenna
Soaring domes
Confidence in the Christian God
Its divine protector
Religious festivals
Chariot racing
Competitive factions called Blues and Greens
Racing colors
The eastern Roman Empire
Later called the Byzantine Empire
Trade and agriculture kept the eastern empire from poverty
Emperors used force, diplomacy, & bribery to prevent invasions from north & repel
Attacks by the powerful Sassanian Empire in Persia.
The eastern emperors
Duty to rule a united Roman Empire & prevent barbarians from degrading its culture
JUSTINIAN (r. 527-565) & THEODORA (500-548)
Waged war against barbarian kingdoms in the west
Reunited the empire & restore the imperial glory of the Augustan period
Tried to purify religion
Leadership and God’s favor
Preservation of the memory of classical Greek & Roman culture
Great deal of earlier literature, non-Christian & Christian

Clovis also emphasized written law
His code, also published in Latin between about 507 & 511 promoted social order through clear penalties for specific crimes
system of fines
The payment a murderer had to make as compensation for his crime, to prevent endless cycles of revenge.
Laws indicate social values
Relative values of different categories of people in his kingdom
Migrations of new groups into Roman territory
Harming the empire’s already weakened economy.

Clotilda, a Christian
God had helped him defeat the Alemanni
Orthodox Christian and renounced Arianism
Good relations with the bishops; Christianity holding Europe together
Clovis’s dynasty, called Merovingian after the legendary Frankish ancestor Merovech
Two hundred years background to modern France
Combined their own traditions of military bravery with Roman social and legal traditions.
Location in far western Europe
Out of the reach of the destructive invasions sent against Italy by the eastern emperor Justinian in the sixth century to reunite the Roman world.


Western Roman Empire
Transformed Roman Gaul in Francia (France).
In 507, Clovis (4.485-511)
Overthrew the Visigoth king in Gaul
Emperor named Clovis an honorary consul
Established western Europe’s largest new kingdom in what is today mostly France
The Franks
Odoacer, Roman Senate petition Zeno, the eastern emperor, to recognize his leadership in return for his acknowledging Zeno as sole emperor over west and east
Theodoric established the Ostrogoth kingdom in Italy by eliminating Odoacer
An Aryan Christian, Theororic announced a policy of religious freedom
Ostrogoth's adopted and adapted Roman traditions
Stability of their own rule

Vandals-word vandal(destroyer of property)
In 429, 80 thousand Vandals ferried to N. Africa
Captured region
Received tax payments of grain and vegetable oil
Disrupted importation to Rome
455 sailed to Rome, plundered city
Tremendous hardships b/c confiscated property
Aryan Christians prosecuted N. African Christians
Anglo-Saxons(Angles from Denmark, Saxons from NW Germany)
Invaded Britain after Roman army left to defend Italy
Anglo-Saxons also gained control of land
Celts lost most of their language and Christianity lost ground to paganism except in Wales & Ireland
Ostrogoth's kingdom led by King Theodoric in Italy


Roman Emperor score card-->
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