July  2010
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Billie Silvey
Constantinople
Crusades
Bridges
Istanbul
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History,
Culture  and the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
The city of Constantinople was a major
world capital almost as long as Rome was,
but most of us don't know it nearly as well.

Aside from history classes, my major
associations with Constantinople come from
literature.

First, it was children’s literature.  I used
to read Dr. Seuss books to my kids.  One of
them ended: “My brothers read a little
bit, little words like
if and it.  My father can
read big words, too, like
Constantinople
and
Timbuktu.�

Those lines stayed with me, and they must
have stayed with my daughter as well.  
When I told her my next website was on
Constantinople, she asked, "and Timbuktu?â
€�

Next, it was Lord Byron, my concentration
in graduate lit studies.  Among his travels, he
visited Constantinople, leaving a colorful
account of the city in his letters and poetry.

Constantine the Great (right), the first
Christian emperor of Rome, saw two
visions
that told him he'd been chosen by Jesus to
become emperor; so he chose Christianity,
among all the religiions available in Rome, to
receive his support.  He issued the
Edict of
Milan, granting freedom of religion after
generations of persecution of Christians.

As Rome declined, Constantine looked for a
second center of government, and in 330
moved his capital east to
Byzantium on the
major road from Germany to Persia. He
renamed the city for himself, and it became
the crossroads of the world—connecting
East and West.

Constantine saw his city as a continuation of
Rome, and his empire as a continuation of
the Roman Empire, but he built
Constantinople to be a Christian city.

After the fall of  Rome in 410,
a later emperor,
Justinian
(above left), launched
campaigns to recapture
Rome and its holdings in
North Africa; built the great
church of
Haigia Sophia, a center of
worship for all Christendom;
and collected and codified
Roman law in the
Justinian
Code.
Constantine the Great
with a model of his city in
a mosaic from the period.
Two views of Constantinople, behind its city walls (top) and
showing its location at the confluence of the Bosphorus (above
right) and the Golden Horn (above left).
Interior (left) and exterior views
(above) of Hagia Sophia, the
Church of Holy Wisdom.
Justinian (above) and
Theodora (below),
from
mosaics in Hagia
Sophia.
Other articles in this website include the impact of the Crusades on the
city, its invasion by the
Turks, and the literal and figurative bridges
across the Bosphorus that now join Europe and Asia.

I hope you'll email me at
b.silvey@sbcglobal.net with your reactions
to the website and your associations with Constantinople (now
Istanbul).