BYZANTINES AND ARABS
On May 11, 330, the emperor Constantine dedicated as the new capital of the Roman empire the city of Constantinople, located on the site of ancient Byzantium on the European side of the Bosporus. Its strategic position, relatively secure against the barbarian bands which had made Rome untenable, gave the city economic and military advantages that made it a natural centre about which the eastern provinces could readily cluster. The shift itself indicates a recognition of the preponderance those provinces possessed in wealth and natural resources. The major civilized antagonist of the empire, Persia, lay to the east. The centre of gravity in world affairs was returning eastward after four centuries' sojourn in Italy.
Prior to his foundation of a new capital for the state Constantine gave recognition to a new official religion. Whether his own conversion to Christianity about 312 was one of convenience or of conviction is of no historical consequence. The fact remains that at his command this once persecuted and obscure cult now became the official religion of the empire. As Greece had conquered the minds of the Romans, Syria now conquered their souls. By this time the most influential men in the empire had become followers of Christ, though the majority of the population, including Constantine's foes, were still pagan. Discipline, organization, wealth and enthusiasm were on the side of the minority, to which the emperor now added the power of the state. In 325 he convened an ecumenical council of all the bishops of the empire at Nicaea, the first congress of its kind. In it Arianism was condemned and the Christian faith was definitely codified in what became the Nicene Creed. All