Team rivalry turned uprising (the Nika riots, 532 AD)
One of the most popular races of early medieval Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) was chariot racing, where four separate factional teams competed with each other.
On January 13, 532, the cheering crowd gathered for further races, and arrived at the Hippodrome in quite a tense mood due to the high taxes and brutality often leading to murder of the corrupt, drunkard and dissipated Byzantine officers.
During the races, the “parties” jeered not at each other but rather at the emperor, and – as their claims were not met – created an alliance and attacked the palace after the 22nd race, and went about destroying their own capital for five days (the Hagia Sophia also fell victim to the arson). The uprising received its name from the shouts of Nika! (Win!) in the arena.
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