Constantinople

Byzantium, and especially its capital at Constantinople, was possibly the most diverse and tolerant societies of its time. Sitting at the crossroads of the world, Constantinople boasted a diverse population of 400,000 before the Siege of 1203. The official language of the empire is Greek, though learned Byzantines make a game of showing off the other languages they know.

Byzantium is unique among many other cultures of the time in that anyone can earn high-ranking positions in society if they prove their merit. Foreigners and peasants have held positions in the Imperial court, and even risen to claim the throne themselves. This makes some sense, as Constantinople is a focal point for some of Europe’s greatest minds. The city boasts some of the most prestigious centers of learning in the known world; the finest education is to be had here.

In a practice dating back to the Roman Empire, the people of Constantinople have long enjoyed government-sponsored arts and entertainment, including vicious chariot races in the city’s enormous Hippodrome. Such entertainment was overseen by competing companies, recognized by the colors of their racing team. Such was the competition between these companies and the sway they held that, at the height of their power, a person’s political persuasions could be readily determined by which team’s colors they wore. By the time of the Fourth Crusade, only the Kyanoi (Blues) and the Kloroi (Greens) had maintained their power. Even as the crusaders march, there are few areas of the city which are not distinctly “Blue” or “Green” districts.

Constantinople

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