Spare Chariot Wheels

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Spare Chariot Wheels

Spare Chariot Wheels

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople. It is estimated that the Hippodrome was about 1,476 ft long and 427 ft wide, with stands capable of holding 100,000 spectators. Huge amounts were bet on chariot races, and initially four teams took part in these races, each one financially sponsored and supported by a different political party within the Roman/Byzantine Senate: The Blues, the Greens, the Reds, and the Whites. A total of up to eight chariots (two per team), powered by four horses each, competed on the racing track of the Hippodrome.

On January 13, 532 an angry populace arrived at the Hippodrome for the races. From the start the crowd began hurling insults at Emperor Justinian I. By the end of the day, the partisan chants had changed from "Blue" or "Green" to a unified "Nika", meaning "Win" or "Conquer", and the crowds broke out and began to assault the imperial palace. For the next five days the palace and city was under virtual siege. Justinian, in despair, considered fleeing, but his wife Theodora is said to have dissuaded him, saying, "Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. Never will I see the day when I am not saluted as empress." Justinian rallied and devised a plan involving Narses, a popular eunuch, as well as the generals Belisarius and Mundus. Carrying a bag of gold given to him by Justinian, Narses entered the Hippodrome alone and unarmed, and went directly to the Blues' section, where he approached the important Blues and reminded them that Emperor Justinian supported them over the Greens. He also reminded them that the man they were crowning, Hypatius, was a Green, and then distributed the gold. In the middle of Hypatius's coronation, the Blues stormed out of the Hippodrome. The Greens sat, stunned, and Imperial troops led by Belisarius and Mundus stormed into the Hippodrome, reportedly killing 30,000 remaining rebels.

Location: Turkey
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