Third Rome

Third Rome

The term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire (the "first Rome") and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire (the "second Rome").

The seeds of this concept were laid by Constantine the Great, when he moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople, which soon came to be referred to as "New Rome".[1]


Russian claims

Coat of arms of the Russian Empire with the double-headed eagle, most commonly associated with the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.

Within decades after the fall of Constantinople to Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on 29 May 1453, some were nominating Moscow as the "Third Rome", or the "New Rome".[2] Stirrings of this sentiment began during the reign of Ivan III of Russia who had married Sophia Paleologue. Sophia was a niece of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor, and Ivan could claim to be the heir of the fallen Byzantine Empire.

The story of "Third Rome" ("the second Constantinople") started in Tver, during the reign of Boris of Tver, when the monk Foma (Thomas) of Tver had written The Eulogy of the Pious Grand Prince Boris Alexandrovich in 1453.[3][4] The idea crystallized with a panegyric letter composed by the Russian monk Philoteus (Filofey) of Pskov in 1510 to their son Grand Duke Vasili III, which proclaimed, "Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom!". Contrary to the common misconception, Filofey explicitly identifies Third Rome with Muscovy (the country) rather than with Moscow (the city). In addition, Moscow is placed on seven hills, as is Rome and Constantinople.

Italian claims

Giuseppe Mazzini, Italian nationalist and patriot promoted the notion of the "Third Rome".[5] He said, "After the Rome of the emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, there will come the Rome of the people", addressing Italian unification and the establishment of Rome as the capital.[6]

In his speeches, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini referred to his Fascist Italy as a "third Rome."[7] Terza Roma (Third Rome; the Fascist Rome after the Imperial and the Papal ones) was also a name for Mussolini's plan to expand Rome towards Ostia and the sea. The EUR neighbourhood was the first step in that direction.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Second Ecumenical Council, 381 AD, Canon III. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. and Henry Wace, D.D., ed. (1994), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14, "The Seven Ecumenical Councils", Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, p. 178 et seq. 
  2. ^ Parry, Ken; David Melling (editors) (1999). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing. p. 490. ISBN 0-631-23203-6. 
  3. ^ Robert Auty, Dimitri Obolensky (Ed.), An Introduction to Russian Language and Literature, p.94, Cambridge University Press 1997, ISBN 0-521-20894
  4. ^ Alar Laats, The concept of the Third Rome and its political implications, p.102
  5. ^ Giuseppe Mazzini
  6. ^ Rome Seminar
  7. ^ Martin Clark, Mussolini: Profiles in Power (London: Pearson Longman, 2005), 136.
  8. ^ Discorso pronunciato in Campidoglio per l'insediamento del primo Governatore di Roma il 31 dicembre 1925, Internet Archive copy of a page with a Mussolini speech.


  • Dmytryshyn, Basil (transl). 1991. Medieval Russia: A Source Book, 850-1700. 259–261. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Fort Worth, Texas.
  • Poe, Marshall. “Moscow, the Third Rome: the Origins and Transformations of a ‘Pivotal Moment.’” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas (2001) (In Russian: “Izobretenie kontseptsii “Moskva—Tretii Rim.” Ab Imperio. Teoriia i istoriia natsional’nostei i natsionalizma v postsovetskom prostranstve 1: 2 (2000), 61-86.)
  • Martin, Janet. 1995. Medieval Russia: 980-1584. 293. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK.

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