Senatvi avctoritatem pristinam reddidisti : the Roman senatorial aristocracy under Constantine and Constantius II
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Classics
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Moser, M. (2013). Senatvi avctoritatem pristinam reddidisti : the Roman senatorial aristocracy under Constantine and Constantius II (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11777
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Under the Constantinian dynasty, the Roman senatorial aristocracy was subject to two major social and political transformations. Firstly, emperors gradually modified the rules for senatorial office-holding, moving away from a hereditary model towards a more flexible system in which rank could be gained through merit (service to the emperor). The number of senatorial posts in the administration was increased, which resulted in the expansion of the senatorial order from outside the hereditary aristocracy. Secondly, Constantine founded Constantinople, where a second senate emerged, prompting the formation of a new eastern senatorial order. Roman senatorial nobles were among the most powerful individuals of the empire. The expansion of their order, the transformation of senatorial office-holding and the foundation of Constantinople did not lead to the reduction of their influence in government. Constantine actively encouraged the involvement of Roman grandees in government as a means of supporting imperial rule, especially in the East. Constantine's son, Constantius II, emperor of the East, continued these policies until 350, when the military and dynastic context forcefully disrupted his relationship with the Roman senate. In this situation, Constantius moved to found a second senate in Constantinople to legitimise his position in the East. Modelled on Rome, the new senate quickly assembled the top echelons of the traditional eastern elite. However, the emergence of this order did not impinge on the authority of the Roman senate, restored to its traditional authority by Constantine. Constantius made it clear that the support of the Roman nobility remained a vital source of political stability and (above all) a necessary means of risk-reduction in the continuing context of the fragility of imperial power.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11777
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