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Why Was Constantinople Once the Largest City in Europe? Essay

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Constantinople is one of the most influential imperial cities in the history. Constantine the Great declared Constantinople as the capital of his empire in the fourth century while giving a start to the growth and development of the largest city in Europe (Beck 1). Discussing Constantinople’s potential to become the greatest city in the region, it is important to focus on the political and economic factors and areas. Thus, Constantinople became the largest city in Europe because of its political attractiveness as the powerful city having the developed connections and networks in Europe and Asia and because of its strategically important geographic position and economic attractiveness for merchants, traders, and foreigners.

The political importance of Constantinople was based on the centralized government and effective administration which combined the elements of the political and religious impact. The political strength of the Byzantine Empire based on the well-organized administration was one of the main attractive factors important for foreign rulers to develop strong trade and political relations with Constantinople. It was noted by contemporary rulers that the political life in Constantinople was greatly stabilized (Munro par. 5). As a result, the city became attractive for not only citizens of the Byzantine Empire but also for many foreigners.

At the beginning of the fifth century, the emperor decided that Constantinople needed to become expanded because it became the royal capital, the administrative capital, and the religious capital of the Byzantine Empire (Beck 2). The strength of the whole empire was associated with the stability, prosperity, and influence of Constantinople at the political arena. That is why, it was ordered to extend the boundaries of the city and to construct new walls to demonstrate the dominion of the Byzantine Empire in Europe and Asia. The political power of Constantinople was also accentuated with references to the development of army and navy forces in order to oppose numerous attacks and sieges.

The intensive growth of the population in Constantinople and the significant urban development were also caused by a range of economic factors. Constantinople was located on the Bosporus while opening perspectives for the active trade with both the European and Asian traders. The city became the largest port in the region, and this fact contributed to the development of Constantinople as the great commercial center to unite the markets of Europe and Asia. Merchants from different cities of the Christian and Asian world promoted the vibrant trade in Constantinople (Beck 3). The active trade made the city prosperous and contributed to the urban development. Thousands of people came to the famous commercial and industrial center in order to become wealthy. The developed commerce became the characteristic feature of Constantinople, and more attention was paid to improving the urban organization of the city in order to attract and locate more and more foreigners.

The strategic importance of Constantinople, its size, and the level of prosperity made many rulers focus on conquering the largest city in Europe in order to dominate the European and Asian territories. Constantinople became the largest city in Europe because it was a center of the political, economic, and cultural life in the actively developed Byzantine Empire. The city became an example of prosperity and stability based on the effective government and organization for many centuries. Thus, the number of the city’s population grew, and it changed only as a result of devastating sieges.

Works Cited

Beck, Hans-Georg. Constantinople: The Rise of a New Capital in the East. n.d. PDF file. 2014. Web.

Munro, Dana Carleton. Byzantine Empire to 1095. n.d. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Why Was Constantinople Once the Largest City in Europe?" May 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-was-constantinople-once-the-largest-city-in-europe/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Why Was Constantinople Once the Largest City in Europe'. 14 May.

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