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Old November 5th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #41

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Strange logic. "Capitals cease after the death of an Emperor." Which is why new Emperors are always waiting in the wings.
The capital for any nation is where the real political power lies. Where the "rules" are made. And it is not always where the capital appears to be designated.
When Rome was ruled by the Senate, it was wherever the Senate was that was the real capital. However, no capital has ever existed without attendants, advisors, functionaries and bureaucrats. These individuals keep any capital operating and carry out whatever actual laws, edicts, orders, etc, that are issued from it. And usually most of these individuals are somewhat stationary. So a certain location is generally considered the capital mainly because of these in situ individuals. However, in the case of an Emperor, he could be anywhere and the rule of law can be changed from that particular location. So wherever an Emperor actually is, the rules or governing of a nation can be conducted and issued. So in a true sense, the "capital" is wherever he or she is. Especially since the projection of real power comes from the Emperor.
I am well aware of the fact that at the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire was in great disarray and there may not have been any single location of a "capital" for it. Only wherever, who was actually running things chose to be located.
We agree that the effective capital is where power is, which is why Antioch is as much of an imperial capital during the middle years of the fourth century as Constantinople was. Or perhaps the Roman road system would also make a good candidate, given how often Constantius II and Valens were on the march.

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However, when Constantine chose Constantinople as his residence and the seat of power for this Empire, Constantinople became the actual capital as long as any Emperor chose to keep it so.
I could just as easily argue that when Galerius chose Thessalonika as his residence it became the actual capital of the empire as long as any emperor chose to keep it so. Or Trier for Constantius I. Or Milan for Valentinian II. This is why we need to look at what defines a Roman capital, which I argued included a praefectus urbi, a regular imperial presence, and the establishment of a bureaucratic apparatus. Constantinople only received the last two of those in roughly the last quarter of the fourth century, and the first ca. 359. In particular, see M. Errington, Rome Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), pp. 95-6, 143-168
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:54 AM   #42

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We agree that the effective capital is where power is, which is why Antioch is as much of an imperial capital during the middle years of the fourth century as Constantinople was. Or perhaps the Roman road system would also make a good candidate, given how often Constantius II and Valens were on the march.



I could just as easily argue that when Galerius chose Thessalonika as his residence it became the actual capital of the empire as long as any emperor chose to keep it so. Or Trier for Constantius I. Or Milan for Valentinian II. This is why we need to look at what defines a Roman capital, which I argued included a praefectus urbi, a regular imperial presence, and the establishment of a bureaucratic apparatus. Constantinople only received the last two of those in roughly the last quarter of the fourth century, and the first ca. 359. In particular, see M. Errington, Rome Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), pp. 95-6, 143-168
A "capital" may be defined in two ways. One: Where the bureaucracy or ruler permanently resides. However, quite often any "bureaucracy" usually follows any ruler around. Wherever Alexander the Great was, was also where his capital was. Two: Where power and the law actually flows from. Traditionally, it has been defined as where the bureaucracy resides. At some in situ location. However, as you so beautifully noted, various locations in Roman history have determined which of these two different definitions of a "capital" was in fact applicable. Once a bureaucracy was established in Constantinople and power and law-making began to flow from it, Constantinople became a capital by definition #1. However, wherever Constatine or any other Roman Emperor was and power or law was issued from that location, it became the capital by definition #2.
Moreover some "capitals" in history were not in situ at all. Among the Mongols, their capital was always wherever the yurt carrying Genghis Khan was (or for that matter any Mongol tribal leader's yurt was). And this yurt was very frequently moving between various locations. That is until Genghis Khan had consolidated his power, expanded his empire and decided to build his "capital" at a permanent site and thus, also acquire an "in situ" bureacracy as well. Prior to this, what Mongol bureaucracy existed travelled along with Genghis Khan in yurts of their own.

Last edited by Zarin; November 7th, 2012 at 10:08 AM.
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