Constantine I

Constantine I

Overview
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 issued the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance
Religious toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

 of all religions throughout the empire.

The foremost general of his time, Constantine defeated the emperors Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 and Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 during civil wars.
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Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 issued the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance
Religious toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

 of all religions throughout the empire.

The foremost general of his time, Constantine defeated the emperors Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 and Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 during civil wars. He also fought successfully against the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

, Visigoths, and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 during his reign – even resettling parts of Dacia
Roman Dacia
The Roman province of Dacia on the Balkans included the modern Romanian regions of Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia, and temporarily Muntenia and southern Moldova, but not the nearby regions of Moesia...

 which had been abandoned during the previous century. Constantine built a new imperial residence in place of Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, naming it Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, which would later be the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over one thousand years. He is thought of as the founder of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Sources


As the emperor who used Christianity to empower his government
Constantine I and Christianity
During the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine, also known as Constantine I, had a significant religious experience following his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312...

 throughout the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and moved the capital to the banks of the Bosporus
Bosporus
The Bosphorus or Bosporus , also known as the Istanbul Strait , is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles...

, Constantine was a ruler of major historical importance, but he has always been a controversial figure. The fluctuations in Constantine's reputation reflect the nature of the ancient sources for his reign. These are abundant and detailed, but have been strongly influenced by the official propaganda of the period, and are often one-sided. There are no surviving histories or biographies dealing with Constantine's life and rule. The nearest replacement is Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

's Vita Constantini, a work that is a mixture of eulogy
Eulogy
A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...

 and hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

. Written between 335 and circa 339, the Vita extols Constantine's moral and religious virtues. The Vita creates a contentiously positive image of Constantine, and modern historians have frequently challenged its reliability. The fullest secular life of Constantine is the anonymous Origo Constantini. A work of uncertain date, the Origo focuses on military and political events, to the neglect of cultural and religious matters.

Lactantius
Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

' De Mortibus Persecutorum, a political Christian pamphlet on the reigns of Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 and the Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
The term Tetrarchy describes any system of government where power is divided among four individuals, but usually refers to the tetrarchy instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire...

, provides valuable but tendentious detail on Constantine's predecessors and early life. The ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen
Sozomen
Salminius Hermias Sozomenus was a historian of the Christian church.-Family and Home:He was born around 400 in Bethelia, a small town near Gaza, into a wealthy Christian family of Palestine....

, and Theodoret
Theodoret
Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

 describe the ecclesiastic disputes of Constantine's later reign. Written during the reign of Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

 (408–50), a century after Constantine's reign, these ecclesiastic historians obscure the events and theologies of the Constantinian period through misdirection, misrepresentation and deliberate obscurity. The contemporary writings of the orthodox Christian Athanasius and the ecclesiastical history of the Arian Philostorgius
Philostorgius
Philostorgius was an Anomoean Church historian of the 4th and 5th centuries. Anomoeanism questioned the Trinitarian account of the relationship between God the Father and Christ and was considered a heresy by the Orthodox Church, which adopted the term "homoousia" in the Nicene Creed. Very little...

 also survive, though their biases are no less firm.

The epitome
Epitome
An epitome is a summary or miniature form; an instance that represents a larger reality, also used as a synonym for embodiment....

s of Aurelius Victor
Aurelius Victor
Sextus Aurelius Victor was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire.Aurelius Victor was the author of a History of Rome from Augustus to Julian , published ca. 361. Julian honoured him and appointed him prefect of Pannonia Secunda...

 (De Caesaribus), Eutropius (Breviarium), Festus
Festus (historian)
Festus was a Late Roman historian whose breviary was commissioned by the emperor Valens in preparation for war against Persia....

 (Breviarium), and the anonymous author of the Epitome de Caesaribus
Epitome de Caesaribus
The Epitome de Caesaribus is the name for a Latin historical work, written at the end of the 4th century.It is a brief account of the reigns of the emperors from Augustus to Theodosius the Great. It is attributed to Aurelius Victor, but was written by an anonymous author who was very likely a pagan...

offer compressed secular political and military histories of the period. Although not Christian, the epitomes paint a favorable image of Constantine, but omit reference to Constantine's religious policies. The Panegyrici Latini
Panegyrici Latini
The Panegyrici Latini or Latin Panegyrics is a collection of twelve ancient Roman panegyric orations. The authors of most of the speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny the Younger in 100 CE, the other...

, a collection of panegyric
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

s from the late third and early fourth centuries, provide valuable information on the politics and ideology of the tetrarchic period and the early life of Constantine. Contemporary architecture, like the Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312...

 in Rome and palaces in Gamzigrad
Gamzigrad
Gamzigrad is an archaeological site, spa resort and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serbia, located south of the Danube river, near the city of Zaječar. It is the location of the ancient Roman complex of palaces and temples Felix Romuliana, built by Emperor Galerius...

 and Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, epigraphic
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

 remains, and the coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

age of the era complement the literary sources.

Early life


Flavius Valerius Constantinus, as he was originally named, was born in the city of Naissus, Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

, in present-day Niš
Niš
Niš is the largest city of southern Serbia and third-largest city in Serbia . According to the data from 2011, the city of Niš has a population of 177,972 inhabitants, while the city municipality has a population of 257,867. The city covers an area of about 597 km2, including the urban area,...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, on the 27th of February of an uncertain year, probably near 272. His father was Flavius Constantius
Constantius Chlorus
Constantius I , commonly known as Constantius Chlorus, was Roman Emperor from 293 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty. As Caesar he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the...

, a native of Moesia (later Dacia Ripensis
Dacia Ripensis
Dacia Ripensis was the name of a Roman province first established by Aurelian circa 283 AD, south of the Danube River, after he withdrew from Dacia Traiana.-History:...

). Constantius was a tolerant and politically skilled man. Constantine probably spent little time with his father. Constantius was an officer in the Roman army in 272, part of the Emperor Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

's imperial bodyguard. Constantius advanced through the ranks, earning the governorship
Roman governor
A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire...

 of Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

 from Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

, another of Aurelian's companions from Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

, in 284 or 285. Constantine's mother was Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

 (a Bithynian Greek), It is uncertain whether she was legally married to Constantius or merely his concubine.

In July 285, Diocletian declared Maximian
Maximian
Maximian was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent...

, another colleague from Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

, his co-emperor. Each emperor would have his own court, his own military and administrative faculties, and each would rule with a separate praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

 as chief lieutenant. Maximian ruled in the West, from his capitals at Mediolanum
Mediolanum
Mediolanum, the ancient Milan, was an important Celtic and then Roman centre of northern Italy. This article charts the history of the city from its settlement by the Insubres around 600 BC, through its conquest by the Romans and its development into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital...

 (Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

) or Augusta Treverorum (Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

), while Diocletian ruled in the East, from Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

 (İzmit
Izmit
İzmit is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Istanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city center has a population of 294.875...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). The division was merely pragmatic: the Empire was called "indivisible" in official panegyric, and both emperors could move freely throughout the Empire. In 288, Maximian appointed Constantius to serve as his praetorian prefect in Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

. Constantius left Helena to marry Maximian's stepdaughter Theodora
Flavia Maximiana Theodora
Flavia Maximiana Theodora was the stepdaughter of Maximian. Her parents were Flavius Afranius Hannibalianus and wife, divorced before 283, Eutropia, later wife of Maximian. Theodora's father was consul in 292, and praetorian prefect under Diocletian...

 in 288 or 289.

Diocletian divided the Empire again in 293, appointing two Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

s (junior emperors) to rule over further subdivisions of East and West. Each would be subordinate to their respective Augustus
Augustus (honorific)
Augustus , Latin for "majestic," "the increaser," or "venerable", was an Ancient Roman title, which was first held by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus , and subsequently came to be considered one of the titles of what are now known as the Roman Emperors...

 (senior emperor) but would act with supreme authority in his assigned lands. This system would later be called the Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
The term Tetrarchy describes any system of government where power is divided among four individuals, but usually refers to the tetrarchy instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire...

. Diocletian's first appointee for the office of Caesar was Constantius; his second was Galerius
Galerius
Galerius , was Roman Emperor from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by Diocletian, against the Sassanid Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 299. He also campaigned across the Danube against the Carpi, defeating them in 297 and 300...

, a native of Felix Romuliana. According to Lactantius, Galerius was a brutal, animalistic man. Although he shared the paganism of Rome's aristocracy, he seemed to them an alien figure, a semi-barbarian. On 1 March, Constantius was promoted to the office of Caesar, and dispatched to Gaul to fight the rebels Carausius
Carausius
Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Valerius Carausius was a military commander of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. He was a Menapian from Belgic Gaul, who usurped power in 286, declaring himself emperor in Britain and northern Gaul. He did this only 13 years after the Gallic Empire of the Batavian...

 and Allectus
Allectus
Allectus was a Roman usurper-emperor in Britain and northern Gaul from 293 to 296.-History:Allectus was treasurer to Carausius, a Menapian officer in the Roman navy who had seized power in Britain and northern Gaul in 286...

. In spite of meritocratic overtones, the Tetrarchy retained vestiges of hereditary privilege, and Constantine became the prime candidate for future appointment as Caesar as soon as his father took the position. Constantine went to the court of Diocletian, where he lived as his father's heir presumptive.

In the East



Constantine received a formal education at Diocletian's court, where he learned Latin literature, Greek, and philosophy. The cultural environment in Nicomedia was open, fluid and socially mobile, and Constantine could mix with intellectuals both pagan and Christian. He may have attended the lectures of Lactantius, a Christian scholar of Latin in the city. Because Diocletian did not completely trust Constantius — none of the Tetrarchs fully trusted their colleagues — Constantine was held as something of a hostage, a tool to ensure Constantius' best behaviour. Constantine was nonetheless a prominent member of the court: he fought for Diocletian and Galerius in Asia, and served in a variety of tribunates
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

; he campaigned against barbarians on the Danube in 296, and fought the Persians under Diocletian in Syria (297) and under Galerius in Mesopotamia (298–99). By late 305, he had become a tribune of the first order, a tribunus ordinis primi.

Constantine had returned to Nicomedia from the eastern front by the spring of 303, in time to witness the beginnings of Diocletian's "Great Persecution", the most severe persecution of Christians
Persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire
The Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is the religious persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith. It began during the Ministry of Jesus and continued intermittently over a period of about three centuries until the time of Constantine when Christianity was...

 in Roman history. In late 302, Diocletian and Galerius sent a messenger to the oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 at Didyma
Didyma
Didyma was an ancient Ionian sanctuary, the modern Didim, Turkey, containing a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion. In Greek didyma means "twin", but the Greeks who sought a "twin" at Didyma ignored the Carian origin of the name...

 with an inquiry about Christians. Constantine could recall his presence at the palace when the messenger returned, when Diocletian accepted his court's demands for universal persecution. On 23 February 303, Diocletian ordered the destruction of Nicomedia's new church, condemned its scriptures to the flame, and had its treasures seized. In the months that followed, churches and scriptures were destroyed, Christians were deprived of official ranks, and priests were imprisoned.
It is unlikely that Constantine played any role in the persecution. In his later writings he would attempt to present himself as an opponent of Diocletian's "sanguinary edicts" against the "worshippers of God", but nothing indicates that he opposed it effectively at the time. Although no contemporary Christian challenged Constantine for his inaction during the persecutions, it remained a political liability throughout his life.

On 1 May 305, Diocletian, as a result of a debilitating sickness taken in the winter of 304–5, announced his resignation. In a parallel ceremony in Milan, Maximian did the same. Lactantius states that Galerius manipulated the weakened Diocletian into resigning, and forced him to accept Galerius' allies in the imperial succession. According to Lactantius, the crowd listening to Diocletian's resignation speech believed, until the very last moment, that Diocletian would choose Constantine and Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 (Maximian's son) as his successors. It was not to be: Constantius and Galerius were promoted to Augusti, while Severus
Flavius Valerius Severus
Severus , sometimes known as Severus II, was a Western Roman Emperor from 306 to 307.- Officer in the Roman army :Severus was of humble birth, born in the Illyrian provinces around the middle of the third century AD...

 and Maximin
Maximinus
Maximinus II , also known as Maximinus Daia or Maximinus Daza, was Roman Emperor from 308 to 313. He was born of Dacian peasant stock to the half sister of the emperor Galerius near their family lands around Felix Romuliana; a rural area then in the Danubian region of Moesia, now Eastern Serbia.He...

 were appointed their Caesars respectively. Constantine and Maxentius were ignored.

Some of the ancient sources detail plots that Galerius made on Constantine's life in the months following Diocletian's abdication. They assert that Galerius assigned Constantine to lead an advance unit in a cavalry charge through a swamp on the middle Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, made him enter into single combat with a lion, and attempted to kill him in hunts and wars. Constantine always emerged victorious: the lion emerged from the contest in a poorer condition than Constantine; Constantine returned to Nicomedia from the Danube with a Sarmatian captive to drop at Galerius' feet. It is uncertain how much these tales can be trusted.

In the West


Constantine recognized the implicit danger in remaining at Galerius' court, where he was held as a virtual hostage. His career depended on being rescued by his father in the west. Constantius was quick to intervene. In the late spring or early summer of 305, Constantius requested leave for his son, to help him campaign in Britain. After a long evening of drinking, Galerius granted the request. Constantine's later propaganda describes how Constantine fled the court in the night, before Galerius could change his mind. He rode from post-house
Cursus publicus
The cursus publicus was the state-run courier and transportation service of the Roman Empire, later inherited by the Byzantine Empire. It was created by Emperor Augustus to transport messages, officials, and tax revenues from one province to another...

 to post-house at high speed, hamstringing
Hamstringing
Hamstringing is a method of crippling a person or animal so that they cannot walk properly, by cutting the two large tendons at the back of the knees.- Method :...

 every horse in his wake. By the time Galerius awoke the following morning, Constantine had fled too far to be caught. Constantine joined his father in Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

, at Bononia (Boulogne
Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

) before the summer of 305.


From Bononia they crossed the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 to Britain and made their way to Eboracum
Eboracum
Eboracum was a fort and city in Roman Britain. The settlement evolved into York, located in North Yorkshire, England.-Etymology:The first known recorded mention of Eboracum by name is dated circa 95-104 AD and is an address containing the Latin form of the settlement's name, "Eburaci", on a wooden...

 (York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

), capital of the province of Britannia Secunda
Britannia Secunda
Britannia Secunda was one of the provinces of Roman Britain in existence by c. 312 AD and probably created as part of the administrative reforms of the Roman Emperor Diocletian after the defeat of the usurper Allectus by Constantius Chlorus in 296 AD. The governors of Britannia Secunda were of...

 and home to a large military base. Constantine was able to spend a year in northern Britain at his father's side, campaigning against the Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 beyond Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today.The...

 in the summer and autumn. Constantius's campaign, like that of Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 before it, probably advanced far into the north without achieving great success. Constantius had become severely sick over the course of his reign, and died on 25 July 306 in Eboracum
Eboracum
Eboracum was a fort and city in Roman Britain. The settlement evolved into York, located in North Yorkshire, England.-Etymology:The first known recorded mention of Eboracum by name is dated circa 95-104 AD and is an address containing the Latin form of the settlement's name, "Eburaci", on a wooden...

 (York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

). Before dying, he declared his support for raising Constantine to the rank of full Augustus. The Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

c king Chrocus
Chrocus
Chrocus or Crocus, also Croc, Krokus, Crochus or Croscus was a leader of the Alamanni in the late 3rd century. In 260, he led an uprising of the Alamanni against the Roman Empire, traversing the Upper Germanic Limes and advancing as far as Clermont, and possibly as far as Ravenna, and he was...

, a barbarian taken into service under Constantius, then proclaimed Constantine as Augustus. The troops loyal to Constantius' memory followed him in acclamation. Gaul and Britain quickly accepted his rule; Iberia, which had been in his father's domain for less than a year, rejected it.

Constantine sent Galerius an official notice of Constantius's death and his own acclamation. Along with the notice, he included a portrait of himself in the robes of an Augustus. The portrait was wreathed in bay
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

. He requested recognition as heir to his father's throne, and passed off responsibility for his unlawful ascension on his army, claiming they had "forced it upon him". Galerius was put into a fury by the message; he almost set the portrait on fire. His advisers calmed him, and argued that outright denial of Constantine's claims would mean certain war. Galerius was compelled to compromise: he granted Constantine the title "Caesar" rather than "Augustus" (The latter office went to Severus instead). Wishing to make it clear that he alone gave Constantine legitimacy, Galerius personally sent Constantine the emperor's traditional purple robes
Tyrian purple
Tyrian purple , also known as royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a purple-red natural dye, which is extracted from sea snails, and which was possibly first produced by the ancient Phoenicians...

. Constantine accepted the decision, knowing that it would remove doubts as to his legitimacy.

Early rule



Constantine's share of the Empire consisted of Britain, Gaul, and Spain. He therefore commanded one of the largest Roman armies, stationed along the important Rhine frontier. After his promotion to emperor, Constantine remained in Britain, and secured his control in the northwestern diocese
Roman diocese
A Roman or civil diocese was one of the administrative divisions of the later Roman Empire, starting with the Tetrarchy. It formed the intermediate level of government, grouping several provinces and being in turn subordinated to a praetorian prefecture....

s. He completed the reconstruction of military bases begun under his father's rule, and ordered the repair of the region's roadways. He soon left for Augusta Treverorum (Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

) in Gaul, the Tetrarchic capital of the northwestern Roman Empire. The Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, after learning of Constantine's acclamation, invaded Gaul across the lower Rhine over the winter of 306–7. Constantine drove them back beyond the Rhine and captured two of their kings, Ascaric and Merogaisus. The kings and their soldiers were fed to the beasts of Trier's amphitheater in the adventus
Adventus (ceremony)
The adventus was a ceremony in ancient Rome, in which an emperor was formally welcomed into a city either during a progress or after a military campaign, often Rome. The term is also used to refer to artistic depicitions of such ceremonies. Its 'opposite' is the profectio.-External links:*...

(arrival) celebrations that followed.


Constantine began a major expansion of Trier. He strengthened the circuit wall around the city with military towers and fortified gates, and began building a palace complex in the northeastern part of the city. To the south of his palace, he ordered the construction of a large formal audience hall, and a massive imperial bathhouse. Constantine sponsored many building projects across Gaul during his tenure as emperor of the West, especially in Augustodunum (Autun
Autun
Autun is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in Burgundy in eastern France. It was founded during the early Roman Empire as Augustodunum. Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe.-Early history:...

) and Arelate (Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

). According to Lactantius, Constantine followed his father in following a tolerant policy towards Christianity. Although not yet a Christian, he probably judged it a more sensible policy than open persecution, and a way to distinguish himself from the "great persecutor", Galerius. Constantine decreed a formal end to persecution, and returned to Christians all they had lost during the persecutions.

Because Constantine was still largely untried and had a hint of illegitimacy about him, he relied on his father's reputation in his early propaganda: the earliest panegyrics to Constantine give as much coverage to his father's deeds as to those of Constantine himself. Constantine's military skill and building projects soon gave the panegyrist the opportunity to comment favorably on the similarities between father and son, and Eusebius remarked that Constantine was a "renewal, as it were, in his own person, of his father's life and reign". Constantinian coinage, sculpture and oratory also shows a new tendency for disdain towards the "barbarians" beyond the frontiers. After Constantine's victory over the Alemanni, he minted a coin issue depicting weeping and begging Alemannic tribesmen—"The Alemanni conquered"—beneath the phrase "Romans' rejoicing". There was little sympathy for these enemies. As his panegyrist declared: "It is a stupid clemency that spares the conquered foe."

Maxentius' rebellion


Following Galerius' recognition of Constantine as emperor, Constantine's portrait was brought to Rome, as was customary. Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 mocked the portrait's subject as the son of a harlot, and lamented his own powerlessness. Maxentius, jealous of Constantine's authority, seized the title of emperor on 28 October 306. Galerius refused to recognize him, but failed to unseat him. Galerius sent Severus
Flavius Valerius Severus
Severus , sometimes known as Severus II, was a Western Roman Emperor from 306 to 307.- Officer in the Roman army :Severus was of humble birth, born in the Illyrian provinces around the middle of the third century AD...

 against Maxentius, but during the campaign, Severus' armies, previously under command of Maxentius' father Maximian, defected, and Severus was seized and imprisoned. Maximian, brought out of retirement by his son's rebellion, left for Gaul to confer with Constantine in late 307. He offered to marry his daughter Fausta
Fausta
Fausta Flavia Maxima was a Roman Empress, daughter of the Roman Emperor Maximianus. To seal the alliance between them for control of the Tetrarchy, in 307 Maximianus married her to Constantine I, who set aside his wife Minervina in her favour. Constantine and Fausta had been betrothed since...

 to Constantine, and elevate him to Augustan rank. In return, Constantine would reaffirm the old family alliance between Maximian and Constantius, and offer support to Maxentius' cause in Italy. Constantine accepted, and married Fausta in Trier in late summer 307. Constantine now gave Maxentius his meagre support, offering Maxentius political recognition.


Constantine remained aloof from the Italian conflict, however. Over the spring and summer of 307, he had left Gaul for Britain to avoid any involvement in the Italian turmoil; now, instead of giving Maxentius military aid, he sent his troops against Germanic tribes along the Rhine. In 308, he raided the territory of the Bructeri
Bructeri
The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe located in northwestern Germany , between the Lippe and Ems rivers south of the Teutoburg Forest, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia around 100 BC through 350 AD....

, and made a bridge across the Rhine at Colonia Agrippinensium (Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

). In 310, he marched to the northern Rhine and fought the Franks. When not campaigning, he toured his lands advertising his benevolence, and supporting the economy and the arts. His refusal to participate in the war increased his popularity among his people, and strengthened his power base in the West. Maximian returned to Rome in the winter of 307–8, but soon fell out with his son. In early 309, after a failed attempt to usurp Maxentius' title, Maximian returned to Constantine's court.

On 11 November 308, Galerius called a general council at the military city of Carnuntum
Carnuntum
Carnuntum was a Roman army camp on the Danube in the Noricum province and after the 1st century the capital of the Upper Pannonia province...

 (Petronell-Carnuntum
Petronell-Carnuntum
Petronell-Carnuntum is a community of Bruck an der Leitha in Austria. Petronell-Carnuntum takes up about 25,36 square kilometers and 1,158 inhabitants .- External links :*...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

) to resolve the instability in the western provinces. In attendance were Diocletian, briefly returned from retirement, Galerius, and Maximian. Maximian was forced to abdicate again and Constantine was again demoted to Caesar. Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

, one of Galerius' old military companions, was appointed Augustus of the west. The new system did not last long: Constantine refused to accept the demotion, and continued to style himself as Augustus on his coinage, even as other members of the Tetrarchy referred to him as a Caesar on theirs. Maximinus Daia was frustrated that he had been passed over for promotion while the newcomer Licinius had been raised to the office of Augustus, and demanded that Galerius promote him. Galerius offered to call both Maximinus and Constantine "sons of the Augusti", but neither accepted the new title. By the spring of 310, Galerius was referring to both men as Augusti.

Maximian's rebellion



In 310, a dispossessed and power-hungry Maximian rebelled against Constantine while Constantine was away campaigning against the Franks. Maximian had been sent south to Arles with a contingent of Constantine's army, in preparation for any attacks by Maxentius in southern Gaul. He announced that Constantine was dead, and took up the imperial purple. In spite of a large donative pledge to any who would support him as emperor, most of Constantine's army remained loyal to their emperor, and Maximian was soon compelled to leave. Constantine soon heard of the rebellion, abandoned his campaign against the Franks, and marched his army up the Rhine. At Cabillunum (Chalon-sur-Saône
Chalon-sur-Saône
Chalon-sur-Saône is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is the largest city in the department; however, the department capital is the smaller city of Mâcon....

), he moved his troops onto waiting boats to row down the slow waters of the Saône
Saône
The Saône is a river of eastern France. It is a right tributary of the River Rhône. Rising at Vioménil in the Vosges department, it joins the Rhône in Lyon....

 to the quicker waters of the Rhone
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

. He disembarked at Lugdunum
Lugdunum
Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum was an important Roman city in Gaul. The city was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus. It served as the capital of the Roman province Gallia Lugdunensis. To 300 years after its foundation Lugdunum was the most important city to the west part of Roman...

 (Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

). Maximian fled to Massilia (Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

), a town better able to withstand a long siege than Arles. It made little difference, however, as loyal citizens opened the rear gates to Constantine. Maximian was captured and reproved for his crimes. Constantine granted some clemency, but strongly encouraged his suicide. In July 310, Maximian hanged himself.

In spite of the earlier rupture in their relations, Maxentius was eager to present himself as his father's devoted son after his death. He began minting coins with his father's deified image, proclaiming his desire to avenge Maximian's death. Constantine initially presented the suicide as an unfortunate family tragedy. By 311, however, he was spreading another version. According to this, after Constantine had pardoned him, Maximian planned to murder Constantine in his sleep. Fausta learned of the plot and warned Constantine, who put a eunuch in his own place in bed. Maximian was apprehended when he killed the eunuch and was offered suicide, which he accepted. Along with using propaganda, Constantine instituted a damnatio memoriae
Damnatio memoriae
Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory" in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State...

on Maximian, destroying all inscriptions referring to him and eliminating any public work bearing his image.

The death of Maximian required a shift in Constantine's public image. He could no longer rely on his connection to the elder emperor Maximian, and needed a new source of legitimacy. In a speech delivered in Gaul on 25 July 310, the orator reveals a previously unknown dynastic connection to Claudius II
Claudius II
Claudius II , commonly known as Claudius Gothicus, was Roman Emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alamanni and scored a crushing victory against the Goths at the Battle of Naissus. He died after succumbing to a smallpox plague that ravaged the provinces of...

, a third-century emperor famed for defeating the Goths and restoring order to the empire. Breaking away from tetrarchic models, the speech emphasizes Constantine's ancestral prerogative to rule, rather than principles of imperial equality. The new ideology expressed in the speech made Galerius and Maximian irrelevant to Constantine's right to rule. Indeed, the orator emphasizes ancestry to the exclusion of all other factors: "No chance agreement of men, nor some unexpected consequence of favor, made you emperor," the orator declares to Constantine.

The oration also moves away from the religious ideology of the Tetrarchy, with its focus on twin dynasties of Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

 and Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

. Instead, the orator proclaims that Constantine experienced a divine vision of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Victory
Victoria (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Victoria was the personified goddess of victory. She is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Nike, and was associated with Bellona. She was adapted from the Sabine agricultural goddess Vacuna and had a temple on the Palatine Hill...

 granting him laurel wreath
Laurel wreath
A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel , an aromatic broadleaf evergreen. In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head...

s of health and a long reign. In the likeness of Apollo Constantine recognized himself as the saving figure to whom would be granted "rule of the whole world", as the poet Virgil had once foretold. The oration's religious shift is paralleled by a similar shift in Constantine's coinage. In his early reign, the coinage of Constantine advertised Mars
Mars (mythology)
Mars was the Roman god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter, and he was the most prominent of the military gods worshipped by the Roman legions...

 as his patron. From 310 on, Mars was replaced by Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman empire. In 274 Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new...

, a god conventionally identified with Apollo. There is little reason to believe that either the dynastic connection or the divine vision are anything other than fiction, but their proclamation strengthened Constantine's claims to legitimacy and increased his popularity among the citizens of Gaul.

War against Maxentius


By the middle of 310, Galerius had become too ill to involve himself in imperial politics. His final act survives: a letter to the provincials posted in Nicomedia on 30 April 311, proclaiming an end to the persecutions, and the resumption of religious toleration. He died soon after the edict's proclamation, destroying what little remained of the tetrarchy. Maximin mobilized against Licinius, and seized Asia Minor. A hasty peace was signed on a boat in the middle of the Bosphorus. While Constantine toured Britain and Gaul, Maxentius prepared for war. He fortified northern Italy, and strengthened his support in the Christian community by allowing it to elect a new Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 of Rome
Diocese of Rome
The Diocese of Rome is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy. The bishop of Rome is the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church...

, Eusebius
Pope Eusebius
Pope Saint Eusebius was pope in the year 309 or 310....

.

Maxentius' rule was nevertheless insecure. His early support dissolved in the wake of heightened tax rates and depressed trade; riots broke out in Rome and Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

; and Domitius Alexander
Domitius Alexander
Lucius Domitius Alexander , probably born in Phrygia, was vicarius of Africa when Emperor Maxentius ordered him to send his son as hostage to Rome. Alexander refused and proclaimed himself emperor in 308....

 was able to briefly usurp his authority in Africa. By 312, he was a man barely tolerated, not one actively supported, even among Christian Italians. In the summer of 311, Maxentius mobilized against Constantine while Licinius was occupied with affairs in the East. He declared war on Constantine, vowing to avenge his father's "murder". To prevent Maxentius from forming an alliance against him with Licinius, Constantine forged his own alliance with Licinius over the winter of 311–12, and offered him his sister Constantia in marriage. Maximin considered Constantine's arrangement with Licinius an affront to his authority. In response, he sent ambassadors to Rome, offering political recognition to Maxentius in exchange for a military support. Maxentius accepted. According to Eusebius, inter-regional travel became impossible, and there was military buildup everywhere. There was "not a place where people were not expecting the onset of hostilities every day".

Constantine's advisers and generals cautioned against preemptive attack on Maxentius; even his soothsayers recommended against it, stating that the sacrifices had produced unfavorable omens. Constantine, with a spirit that left a deep impression on his followers, inspiring some to believe that he had some form of supernatural guidance, ignored all these cautions. Early in the spring of 312, Constantine crossed the Cottian Alps
Cottian Alps
The Cottian Alps are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between France and Italy...

 with a quarter of his army, a force numbering about 40,000. The first town his army encountered was Segusium (Susa, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

), a heavily fortified town that shut its gates to him. Constantine ordered his men to set fire to its gates and scale its walls. He took the town quickly. Constantine ordered his troops not to loot the town, and advanced with them into northern Italy.

At the approach to the west of the important city of Augusta Taurinorum (Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, Italy), Constantine met a large force of heavily armed Maxentian cavalry. In the ensuing battle
Battle of Turin (312)
The Battle of Turin was fought in 312 between Roman emperor Constantine and the troops of his rival augustus, Maxentius. Constantine won the battle, giving an impressive display of the tactical skill which was to characterise his whole military career...

 Constantine's army encircled Maxentius' cavalry, flanked them with his own cavalry, and dismounted them with blows from his soldiers' iron-tipped clubs. Constantine's armies emerged victorious. Turin refused to give refuge to Maxentius' retreating forces, opening its gates to Constantine instead. Other cities of the north Italian plain sent Constantine embassies of congratulation for his victory. He moved on to Milan, where he was met with open gates and jubilant rejoicing. Constantine rested his army in Milan until mid-summer 312, when he moved on to Brixia
Brixia
Brixia is the Latin name of the modern city of Brescia in Northern Italy.Its location was first settled in the 7th century BC by a tribe of Gauls , which were the inhabitants of this part of Italy before the Roman conquest . The name of the tribe was Cœnomani, and the name of the city comes from...

 (Brescia
Brescia
Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, between the Mella and the Naviglio, with a population of around 197,000. It is the second largest city in Lombardy, after the capital, Milan...

).

Brescia's army was easily dispersed, and Constantine quickly advanced to Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

, where a large Maxentian force was camped. Ruricius Pompeianus, general of the Veronese forces and Maxentius' praetorian prefect, was in a strong defensive position, since the town was surrounded on three sides by the Adige
Adige
The Adige is a river with its source in the Alpine province of South Tyrol near the Italian border with Austria and Switzerland. At in length, it is the second longest river in Italy, after the River Po with ....

. Constantine sent a small force north of the town in an attempt to cross the river unnoticed. Ruricius sent a large detachment to counter Constantine's expeditionary force, but was defeated. Constantine's forces successfully surrounded the town and laid siege. Ruricius gave Constantine the slip and returned with a larger force to oppose Constantine. Constantine refused to let up on the siege, and sent only a small force to oppose him. In the desperately fought encounter
Battle of Verona (312)
The Battle of Verona was fought in 312 between the forces of the Roman emperors Constantine I and Maxentius. Maxentius' forces were defeated, and Ruricius Pompeianus, the most senior Maxentian commander, was killed in the fighting.-Background:...

 that followed, Ruricius was killed and his army destroyed. Verona surrendered soon afterwards, followed by Aquileia
Aquileia
Aquileia is an ancient Roman city in what is now Italy, at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of the lagoons, about 10 km from the sea, on the river Natiso , the course of which has changed somewhat since Roman times...

, Mutina (Modena
Modena
Modena is a city and comune on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy....

), and Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

. The road to Rome was now wide open to Constantine.


Maxentius prepared for the same type of war he had waged against Severus and Galerius: he sat in Rome and prepared for a siege. He still controlled Rome's praetorian guards, was well-stocked with African grain, and was surrounded on all sides by the seemingly impregnable Aurelian Walls
Aurelian Walls
The Aurelian Walls is a line of city walls built between 271 and 275 in Rome, Italy, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian and Probus....

. He ordered all bridges across the Tiber
Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

 cut, reportedly on the counsel of the gods, and left the rest of central Italy undefended; Constantine secured that region's support without challenge. Constantine progressed slowly along the Via Flaminia
Via Flaminia
The Via Flaminia was an ancient Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and due to the ruggedness of the mountains was the major option the Romans had for travel between Etruria, Latium and Campania and the Po Valley...

, allowing the weakness of Maxentius to draw his regime further into turmoil. Maxentius' support continued to weaken: at chariot races on 27 October, the crowd openly taunted Maxentius, shouting that Constantine was invincible. Maxentius, no longer certain that he would emerge from a siege victorious, built a temporary boat bridge across the Tiber in preparation for a field battle against Constantine. On 28 October 312, the sixth anniversary of his reign, he approached the keepers of the Sibylline Books
Sibylline Books
The Sibylline Books or Libri Sibyllini were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and consulted at momentous crises through the history of the Republic and the Empire...

 for guidance. The keepers prophesied that, on that very day, "the enemy of the Romans" would die. Maxentius advanced north to meet Constantine in battle.

Maxentius organized his forces—still twice the size of Constantine's—in long lines facing the battle plain, with their backs to the river. Constantine's army arrived at the field bearing unfamiliar symbols on either its standards or its soldiers' shields. According to Lactantius, Constantine was visited by a dream the night before the battle, wherein he was advised "to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers...by means of a slanted letter X with the top of its head bent round, he marked Christ on their shields." Eusebius describes another version, where, while marching at midday, "he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces or "In this sign, you will conquer"; in Eusebius's account, Constantine had a dream the following night, in which Christ appeared with the same heavenly sign, and told him to make a standard, the labarum
Labarum
The labarum was a vexillum that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi and Rho . It was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I...

, for his army in that form. Eusebius is vague about when and where these events took place, but it enters his narrative before the war against Maxentius begins. Eusebius describes the sign as Chi
Chi (letter)
Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced as in English.-Greek:-Ancient Greek:Its value in Ancient Greek was an aspirated velar stop .-Koine Greek:...

 (Χ) traversed by Rho
Rho (letter)
Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 100. It is derived from Semitic resh "head"...

 (Ρ): ☧, a symbol representing the first two letters of the Greek spelling of the word Christos or Christ. The Eusebian description of the vision has been explained as a type of solar halo called a "sun dog
Sun dog
A sun dog or sundog, scientific name parhelion ; , also called a mock sun or a phantom sun, is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of...

", a meteorological phenomenon which can produce similar effects. In 315 a medallion was issued at Ticinum showing Constantine wearing a helmet emblazoned with the Chi Rho
Chi Rho
The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram, and is used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters chi and rho of the Greek word "ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ" =Christ in such a way to produce the monogram ☧...

, and coins issued at Siscia in 317/18 repeat the image. The figure was otherwise rare, however, and is uncommon in imperial iconography and propaganda before the 320s.


Constantine deployed his own forces along the whole length of Maxentius' line. He ordered his cavalry to charge, and they broke Maxentius' cavalry. He then sent his infantry against Maxentius' infantry, pushing many into the Tiber where they were slaughtered and drowned. The battle was brief: Maxentius' troops were broken before the first charge. Maxentius' horse guards and praetorians initially held their position, but broke under the force of a Constantinian cavalry charge; they also broke ranks and fled to the river. Maxentius rode with them, and attempted to cross the bridge of boats, but he was pushed by the mass of his fleeing soldiers into the Tiber, and drowned.

In Rome


Constantine entered Rome on 29 October. He staged a grand adventus
Adventus (ceremony)
The adventus was a ceremony in ancient Rome, in which an emperor was formally welcomed into a city either during a progress or after a military campaign, often Rome. The term is also used to refer to artistic depicitions of such ceremonies. Its 'opposite' is the profectio.-External links:*...

in the city, and was met with popular jubilation. Maxentius' body was fished out of the Tiber and decapitated. His head was paraded through the streets for all to see. After the ceremonies, Maxentius' disembodied head was sent to Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

; at this Carthage would offer no further resistance. Unlike his predecessors, Constantine neglected to make the trip to the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

 and perform customary sacrifices at the Temple of Jupiter. He did, however, choose to honor the Senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 Curia
Curia Julia
The Curia Hostilia was one of the original senate houses or 'curia' of the Roman Republic. It is believed to have begun as an Etruscan temple where the warring tribes laid down their arms during the reign of Romulus . During the early kingdom, the temple was for the use of the Senators who acted as...

 with a visit, where he promised to restore its ancestral privileges and give it a secure role in his reformed government: there would be no revenge against Maxentius' supporters. In response, the Senate decreed him "title of the first name", which meant his name would be listed first in all official documents, and acclaimed him as "the greatest Augustus". He issued decrees returning property lost under Maxentius, recalling political exiles, and releasing Maxentius' imprisoned opponents.

An extensive propaganda campaign followed, during which Maxentius' image was systematically purged from all public places. Maxentius was written up as a "tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

", and set against an idealized image of the "liberator", Constantine. Eusebius, in his later works, is the best representative of this strand of Constantinian propaganda. Maxentius' rescripts were declared invalid, and the honors Maxentius had granted to leaders of the Senate were invalidated. Constantine also attempted to remove Maxentius' influence on Rome's urban landscape. All structures built by Maxentius were re-dedicated to Constantine, including the Temple of Romulus and the Basilica of Maxentius
Basilica of Maxentius
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine is an ancient building in the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy...

. At the focal point of the basilica, a stone statue of Constantine holding the Christian labarum in its hand was erected. Its inscription bore the message the statue had already made clear: By this sign Constantine had freed Rome from the yoke of the tyrant.

Where he did not overwrite Maxentius' achievements, Constantine upstaged them: the Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire...

 was redeveloped so that its total seating capacity was twenty-five times larger than that of Maxentius' racing complex on the Via Appia. Maxentius' strongest supporters in the military were neutralized when the Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

 and Imperial Horse Guard (equites singulares) were disbanded. Their tombstones were ground up and put to use in a basilica on the Via Labicana
Via Labicana
The Via Labicana was an ancient road of Italy, leading east southeast from Rome. It seems possible that the road at first led to Tusculum, that it was then extended to Labici, and later still became a road for through traffic; it may even have superseded the Via Latina as a route to the southeast,...

. On 9 November 312, barely two weeks after Constantine captured the city, the former base of the Imperial Horse Guard was chosen for redevelopment into the Lateran Basilica
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

. The Legio II Parthica
Legio II Parthica
Legio secunda Parthica was a Roman legion levied by Emperor Septimius Severus in 197, for his campaign against the Parthian Empire, hence the cognomen Parthica. The legion was still active in the beginning of the 5th century...

 was removed from Alba (Albano Laziale
Albano Laziale
Albano Laziale is a comune in the province of Rome, on the Alban Hills, in Latium, central Italy. It is also a suburb of Rome, which is 25 km distant. It is bounded by other communes of Castel Gandolfo, Rocca di Papa, Ariccia and Ardea. Located in the Castelli Romani area of Lazio...

), and the remainder of Maxentius' armies were sent to do frontier duty on the Rhine.

Wars against Licinius


In the following years, Constantine gradually consolidated his military superiority over his rivals in the crumbling Tetrarchy. In 313, he met Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 to secure their alliance by the marriage of Licinius and Constantine's half-sister Constantia
Flavia Julia Constantia
Flavia Julia Constantia was the daughter of the Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus and his second wife, Flavia Maximiana Theodora....

. During this meeting, the emperors agreed on the so-called Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

,
officially granting full tolerance to Christianity and all religions in the Empire.
The document had special benefits for Christians, legalizing their religion and granting them restoration for all property seized during Diocletian's persecution. It repudiates past methods of religious coercion and used only general terms to refer to the divine sphere — "Divinity" and "Supreme Divinity", summa divinitas.
The conference was cut short, however, when news reached Licinius that his rival Maximin had crossed the Bosporus
Bosporus
The Bosphorus or Bosporus , also known as the Istanbul Strait , is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles...

 and invaded European territory. Licinius departed and eventually defeated Maximin, gaining control over the entire eastern half of the Roman Empire. Relations between the two remaining emperors deteriorated, as Constantine suffered an assassination attempt at the hands of a character that Licinius wanted elevated to the rank of Caesar;
in either 314 or 316 the two Augusti fought against one another at the Battle of Cibalae
Battle of Cibalae
The Battle of Cibalae was fought on October 8, 314 , between the two Roman emperors Constantine I and Licinius. The site of the battle was approximately 350 kilometers within the territory of Licinius...

, with Constantine being victorious. They clashed again at the Battle of Mardia
Battle of Mardia
The Battle of Mardia, also known as Battle of Campus Mardiensis or Battle of Campus Ardiensis, was fought, probably at modern Harmanli in Thrace, in late 316/early 317 between the forces of Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius....

 in 317, and agreed to a settlement in which Constantine's sons Crispus
Crispus
Flavius Julius Crispus , also known as Flavius Claudius Crispus and Flavius Valerius Crispus, was a Caesar of the Roman Empire. He was the first-born son of Constantine I and Minervina.-Birth:...

 and Constantine II
Constantine II (emperor)
Constantine II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 340. Co-emperor alongside his brothers, his short reign saw the beginnings of conflict emerge between the sons of Constantine the Great, and his attempt to exert his perceived rights of primogeniture ended up causing his death in a failed invasion of...

, and Licinius' son Licinianus were made caesars
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

.
After this arrangement, Constantine ruled the dioceses of Pannonia and Macedonia and took residence at Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

, from whence he could wage war on the Goths and Sarmatians in 322, and on the Goths in 323.

In the year 320, Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 reneged on the religious freedom promised by the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 in 313 and began to oppress Christians anew,
generally without bloodshed, but resorting to confiscations and sacking of Christian office-holders.
That became a challenge to Constantine in the West, climaxing in the great civil war of 324. Licinius, aided by Goth
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

, represented the past and the ancient Pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 faiths. Constantine and his Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 marched under the standard of the labarum
Labarum
The labarum was a vexillum that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi and Rho . It was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I...

, and both sides saw the battle in religious terms. Outnumbered, but fired by their zeal, Constantine's army emerged victorious in the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople (324)
The Battle of Adrianople was fought on July 3, 324 during a Roman civil war, the second to be waged between the two emperors Constantine I and Licinius; Licinius suffered a heavy defeat.-Background:...

. Licinius fled across the Bosphorus and appointed Martius Martinianus, the commander of his bodyguard, as Caesar, but Constantine next won the Battle of the Hellespont
Battle of the Hellespont
The Battle of the Hellespont, consisting of two separate naval clashes, was fought in 324 between a Constantinian fleet, led by the eldest son of Constantine I, Crispus; and a larger fleet under Licinius' admiral, Abantus...

, and finally the Battle of Chrysopolis
Battle of Chrysopolis
The Battle of Chrysopolis was fought on 18 September 324 at Chrysopolis , near Chalcedon , between the two Roman emperors Constantine I and Licinius. The battle was the final encounter between the two emperors. After his navy's defeat in the Battle of the Hellespont, Licinius withdrew his forces...

 on 18 September 324.
Licinius and Martinianus surrendered to Constantine at Nicomedia on the promise their lives would be spared: they were sent to live as private citizens in Thessalonica and Cappadocia respectively, but in 325 Constantine accused Licinius of plotting against him and had them both arrested and hanged; Licinius's son (the son of Constantine's half-sister) was also eradicated.
Thus Constantine became the sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

Foundation of Constantinople



Licinius' defeat came to represent the defeat of a rival center of Pagan and Greek-speaking political activity in the East, as opposed to the Christian and Latin-speaking Rome, and it was proposed that a new Eastern capital should represent the integration of the East into the Roman Empire as a whole, as a center of learning, prosperity, and cultural preservation for the whole of the Eastern Roman Empire . Constantine rebuilt the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinopolis ("Constantine's City" or Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in English), and issued special commemorative coins in 330 to honor the event. The new city was protected by the relics of the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

, the Rod of Moses
Nehushtan
The Nehushtan , in the Hebrew Bible, was a sacred object in the form of a snake of brass upon a pole.The priestly source of the Torah says that Moses used a 'fiery serpent' to cure the Israelites from snakebites...

 and other holy relic
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

s, though a cameo now at the Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

 also represented Constantine crowned by the tyche
Tyche
In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny....

 of the new city. The figures of old gods were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism
Christian symbolism
Christian symbolism invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas. Christianity has borrowed from the common stock of significant symbols known to most periods and to all regions of the world. Religious symbolism is effective when it appeals to both the intellect and...

. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

 on the site of a temple to Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

. Generations later there was the story that a Divine vision
Vision (religion)
In spirituality, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations...

 led Constantine to this spot, and an angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 no one else could see, led him on a circuit of the new walls. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople".

Religious policy



Constantine is perhaps best known for being the first Christian Roman emperor; his reign was certainly a turning point for the Church. In February 313, Constantine met with Licinius in Milan where they developed the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

. The edict stated that Christians should be allowed to follow the faith of their choosing. This removed penalties for professing Christianity (under which many had been martyred in previous persecutions of Christians
Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land...

) and returned confiscated Church property. The edict protected from religious persecution not only Christians but all religions, allowing anyone to worship whichever deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 they chose. A similar edict had been issued in 311 by Galerius
Galerius
Galerius , was Roman Emperor from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by Diocletian, against the Sassanid Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 299. He also campaigned across the Danube against the Carpi, defeating them in 297 and 300...

, then senior emperor of the Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
The term Tetrarchy describes any system of government where power is divided among four individuals, but usually refers to the tetrarchy instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire...

; Galerius' edict granted Christians the right to practice their religion but did not restore any property to them. The Edict of Milan included several clauses which stated that all confiscated churches would be returned as well as other provisions for previously persecuted Christians.

Scholars debate whether Constantine adopted his mother St. Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life. Constantine would retain the title of pontifex maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

until his death, a title emperors bore as heads of the pagan priesthood, as would his Christian successors on to Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 (r. 375–83). According to Christian writers, Constantine was over 40 when he finally declared himself a Christian, writing to Christians to make clear that he believed he owed his successes to the protection of the Christian High God alone. Throughout his rule, Constantine supported the Church financially, built basilicas, granted privileges to clergy (e.g. exemption from certain taxes), promoted Christians to high office, and returned property confiscated during the Diocletianic persecution. His most famous building projects include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

, and Old Saint Peter's Basilica
Old Saint Peter's Basilica
Old Saint Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, on the spot where the Basilica of Saint Peter stands today in Rome. Construction of the Basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of emperor Constantine I...

.

Constantine did not patronize Christianity alone, however. After gaining victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), a triumphal arch—the Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312...

—was built (315) to celebrate it; the arch is decorated with images of Victoria
Victoria (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Victoria was the personified goddess of victory. She is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Nike, and was associated with Bellona. She was adapted from the Sabine agricultural goddess Vacuna and had a temple on the Palatine Hill...

 and sacrifices to gods like Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, Diana, and Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

, but contains no Christian symbolism.

In 321, Constantine instructed that Christians and non-Christians should be united in observing the venerable day of the sun, referencing the esoteric eastern sun-worship
Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman empire. In 274 Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new...

 which Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

 had helped introduce, and his coinage still carried the symbols of the sun cult until 324. Even after the pagan gods had disappeared from the coinage, Christian symbols appeared only as Constantine's personal attributes: the chi rho
Chi Rho
The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram, and is used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters chi and rho of the Greek word "ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ" =Christ in such a way to produce the monogram ☧...

 between his hands or on his labarum
Labarum
The labarum was a vexillum that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi and Rho . It was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I...

, but never on the coin itself. Even when Constantine dedicated the new capital of Constantinople, which became the seat of Byzantine Christianity for a millennium, he did so wearing the Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

nian sun-rayed Diadem
Diadem
Diadem may refer to:*Diadem, a type of crown-Military:*HMS Diadem was a 64-gun third rate ship of the line in the Royal Navy launched in 1782 at Chatham and participated in the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1787...

.

The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the emperor as having some influence within the religious discussions going on within the Catholic Church of that time, e.g., the dispute over Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. Constantine himself disliked the risks to societal stability that religious disputes and controversies brought with them, preferring where possible to establish an orthodoxy. The emperor saw it as his duty to ensure that God was properly worshiped in his empire, and that what proper worship consisted would be determined by the Church. In 316, Constantine acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the validity of Donatism. After deciding against the Donatists, Constantine led an army of Christians against the Donatist Christians. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

, effectively the first Ecumenical Council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

 (unless the Council of Jerusalem
Council of Jerusalem
The Council of Jerusalem is a name applied by historians and theologians to an Early Christian council that was held in Jerusalem and dated to around the year 50. It is considered by Catholics and Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils...

 is so classified). Nicaea was dealt mostly with Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

. Constantine also enforced the prohibition of the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 against celebrating the Lord's Supper on the day before the Jewish Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 (14 Nisan
Nisan
Nisan is the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month of the civil year, on the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv, referring to the month in which barley was ripe. It is a spring month of 30 days...

) (see Quartodecimanism
Quartodecimanism
Quartodecimanism refers to the custom of some early Christians celebrating Passover beginning with the eve of the 14th day of Nisan , which at dusk is Biblically the "Lord's passover".The modern Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days, starting with the sunset at...

 and Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

).

Constantine made new laws regarding the Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

. They were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise
Brit milah
The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...

 their slaves.

Administrative reforms


Beginning in the mid-3rd century the emperors began to favor members of the Equestrian Order over senators, who had had a monopoly on the most important offices of state. Senators were stripped of the command of legions and most provincial governorships (as it was felt that they lacked the specialized military upbringing needed in an age of acute defense needs), such posts being given to equestrians by Diocletian and his colleagues - following a practice enforced piecemeal by their predecessors. The emperors however, still needed the talents and the help of the very rich, who were relied on to maintain social order and cohesion by means of a web of powerful influence and contacts at all levels. Exclusion of the old senatorial aristocracy threatened this arrangement.

In 326, Constantine reversed this pro-equestrian trend, raising many administrative positions to senatorial rank and thus opening these offices to the old aristocracy, and at the same time elevating the rank of already existing equestrians office-holders to senator, eventually wiping out the equestrian order - at least as a bureaucratic rank - in the process. One could become a senator, either by being elected praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

 or (in most cases) by fulfilling a function of senatorial rank: from then on, holding of actual power and social status were melded together into a joint imperial hierarchy. At the same time, Constantine gained with this the support of the old nobility, as the Senate was allowed itself to elect praetors and quaestors, in place of the usual practice of the emperors directly creating new magistrates (adlectio). In one inscription in honor of city prefect
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

 (336–37) Ceionius Rufus Albinus, it was written that Constantine had restored the Senate "the auctoritas
Auctoritas
Auctoritas is a Latin word and is the origin of English "authority." While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political history of Rome, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the twentieth century expanded the use of the word.In ancient Rome, Auctoritas...

it had lost at Caesar's time".

The Senate as a body remained devoid of any significant power; nevertheless, the senators, who had been marginalized as potential holders of imperial functions during the 3rd century, could now dispute such positions alongside more upstart bureaucrats. Some modern historians see in those administrative reforms an attempt by Constantine at reintegrating the senatorial order into the imperial administrative elite to counter the possibility of alienating pagan senators from a Christianized imperial rule; however, such an interpretation remains conjectural, given the fact that we do not have the precise numbers about pre-Constantine conversions to Christianity in the old senatorial milieu - some historians suggesting that early conversions among the old aristocracy were more numerous than previously supposed.

Constantine's reforms had to do only with the civilian administration: the military chiefs, who since the Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

 had risen from the ranks, remained outside the senate, in which they were included only by Constantine's children.

Monetary reforms


After the runaway inflation of the third century, associated with the production of fiat money
Fiat money
Fiat money is money that has value only because of government regulation or law. The term derives from the Latin fiat, meaning "let it be done", as such money is established by government decree. Where fiat money is used as currency, the term fiat currency is used.Fiat money originated in 11th...

 to pay for public expenses, Diocletian had tried to reestablish trustworthy minting of silver and billon
Billon (alloy)
Billon is an alloy of a precious metal with a majority base metal content . It is used chiefly for making coins, medals, and token coins.The word comes from the French bille....

 coins. Constantine forsook this conservative monetary policy, preferring instead to concentrate on minting large quantities of good standard gold pieces—the solidus
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

, 72 of which made a pound of gold, the standard of silver and billon pieces being further degraded to assure the possibility of keeping fiduciary minting alongside a gold standard. The anonymous author of the possibly contemporary treatise on military affairs De Rebus Bellicis
De Rebus Bellicis
De rebus bellicis is a 4th or 5th century anonymous work about war machines used by the Roman army of the time. It was written after the death of Constantine I , and before the fall of the Western Roman Empire...

held that, as a consequence of this monetary policy, the rift between classes widened: the rich benefited from the stability in purchasing power of the gold piece, while the poor had to cope with ever-degrading billon pieces. Later emperors like Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 tried to present themselves as advocates of the humiles by insisting on trustworthy mintings of the copper currency.

Constantine's monetary policy were closely associated with his religious ones, in that increased minting was associated with measures of confiscation - taken since 331 and closed in 336 - of all gold, silver and bronze statues from pagan temples, who were declared as imperial property and, as such, as monetary assets. Two imperial commissioners for each province had the task of getting ahold of the statues and having them melded for immediate minting - with the exception of a number of bronze statues who were used as public monuments for the beautification of the new capital in Constantinople

Executions of Crispus and Fausta


On some date between 15 May and 17 June 326, Constantine had his eldest son Crispus
Crispus
Flavius Julius Crispus , also known as Flavius Claudius Crispus and Flavius Valerius Crispus, was a Caesar of the Roman Empire. He was the first-born son of Constantine I and Minervina.-Birth:...

, by Minervina, seized and put to death by "cold poison" at Pola (Pula
Pula
Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 62,080 .Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing,...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

). In July, Constantine had his wife, the Empress Fausta
Fausta
Fausta Flavia Maxima was a Roman Empress, daughter of the Roman Emperor Maximianus. To seal the alliance between them for control of the Tetrarchy, in 307 Maximianus married her to Constantine I, who set aside his wife Minervina in her favour. Constantine and Fausta had been betrothed since...

, killed at the behest of his mother, Helena. Fausta was left to die in an over-heated bath. Their names were wiped from the face of many inscriptions, references to their lives in the literary record were erased, and the memory of both was condemned. Eusebius, for example, edited praise of Crispus out of later copies of his Historia Ecclesiastica
Church History (Eusebius)
The Church History of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts...

, and his Vita Constantini contains no mention of Fausta or Crispus at all. Few ancient sources are willing to discuss possible motives for the events; those few that do offer unconvincing rationales, are of later provenance, and are generally unreliable. At the time of the executions, it was commonly believed that the Empress Fausta was either in an illicit relationship with Crispus, or was spreading rumors to that effect. A popular myth arose, modified to allude to Hippolytus
Hippolytus (mythology)
thumb|260px|The Death of Hippolytus, by [[Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema]] .In Greek mythology, Hippolytus was a son of Theseus and either Antiope or Hippolyte...

Phaedra
Phaedra (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Phaedra is the daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, wife of Theseus and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas. Phaedra's name derives from the Greek word φαιδρός , which meant "bright"....

 legend, with the suggestion that Constantine killed Crispus and Fausta for their immoralities. One source, the largely fictional Passion of Artemius, probably penned in the eighth century by John of Damascus
John of Damascus
Saint John of Damascus was a Syrian monk and priest...

, makes the legendary connection explicit. As an interpretation of the executions, the myth rests on only "the slimmest of evidence": sources that allude to the relationship between Crispus and Fausta are late and unreliable, and the modern suggestion that Constantine's "godly" edicts of 326 and the irregularities of Crispus are somehow connected rests on no evidence at all.

Although Constantine created his apparent heirs "Caesars", following a pattern established by Diocletian, he gave his creations an hereditary character, alien to the tetrarchic system: Constantine's Caesars were to be kept in the hope of ascending to Empire, and entirely subordinated to their Augustus, as long as he was alive. Therefore, an alternative explanation for the execution of Crispus was, perhaps, Constantine's desire to keep a firm grip on his prospective heirs, this – and Fausta's desire for having her sons inheriting instead of their stepbrother – being reason enough for killing Crispus; the subsequent execution of Fausta, however, was probably meant as a reminder to her children that Constantine would not hesitate in "killing his own relatives when he felt this was necessary".

Later campaigns



Constantine considered Constantinople as his capital and permanent residence. He lived there for a good portion of his later life. He rebuilt Trajan's bridge across the Danube, in hopes of reconquering Dacia
Roman Dacia
The Roman province of Dacia on the Balkans included the modern Romanian regions of Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia, and temporarily Muntenia and southern Moldova, but not the nearby regions of Moesia...

, a province that had been abandoned under Aurelian. In the late winter of 332, Constantine campaigned with the Sarmatians against the Goths. The weather and a lack of food did the Goths in; nearly one hundred thousand died before they submitted to Roman lordship. In 334, after Sarmatian commoners had overthrown their leaders, Constantine led a campaign against the tribe. He won a victory in the war and extended his control over the region, as remains of camps and fortifications in the region indicate. Constantine resettled some Sarmatian exiles as farmers in Illyrian and Roman districts, and conscripted the rest into the army. Constantine took the title Dacicus maximus in 336.

In the last years of his life Constantine made plans for a campaign against Persia. In a letter written to the king of Persia, Shapur
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

, Constantine had asserted his patronage over Persia's Christian subjects and urged Shapur to treat them well. The letter is undatable. In response to border raids, Constantine sent Constantius to guard the eastern frontier in 335. In 336, prince Narseh invaded Armenia (a Christian kingdom since 301) and installed a Persian client on the throne. Constantine then resolved to campaign against Persia himself. He treated the war as a Christian crusade, calling for bishops to accompany the army and commissioning a tent in the shape of a church to follow him everywhere. Constantine planned to be baptized in the Jordan River before crossing into Persia. Persian diplomats came to Constantinople over the winter of 336–7, seeking peace, but Constantine turned them away. The campaign was called off however, when Constantine fell sick in the spring of 337.

Sickness and death



Constantine had known death would soon come. Within the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantine had secretly prepared a final resting-place for himself. It came sooner than he had expected. Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill. He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother's city of Helenopolis (Altinova), on the southern shores of the Gulf of İzmit. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. Seeking purification, he became a catechumen
Catechumen
In ecclesiology, a catechumen , “‘down’” + ἠχή , “‘sound’”) is one receiving instruction from a catechist in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism...

, and attempted a return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia. He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness. The bishops, Eusebius records, "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom". He chose the Arianizing bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia was the man who baptised Constantine. He was a bishop of Berytus in Phoenicia, then of Nicomedia where the imperial court resided in Bithynia, and finally of Constantinople from 338 up to his death....

, bishop of the city
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

 where he lay dying, as his baptizer. In postponing his baptism, he followed one custom at the time which postponed baptism until old age or death. It was thought Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. Constantine died soon after at a suburban villa called Achyron, on the last day of the fifty-day festival of Pentecost directly following Easter, on 22 May 337.


Although Constantine's death follows the conclusion of the Persian campaign in Eusebius's account, most other sources report his death as occurring in its middle. Emperor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

, writing in the mid-350s, observes that the Sassanian
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

s escaped punishment for their ill-deeds, because Constantine died "in the middle of his preparations for war". Similar accounts are given in the Origo Constantini, an anonymous document composed while Constantine was still living, and which has Constantine dying in Nicomedia; the Historiae abbreviatae of Sextus Aurelius Victor, written in 361, which has Constantine dying at an estate near Nicomedia called Achyrona while marching against the Persians; and the Breviarium of Eutropius, a handbook compiled in 369 for the Emperor Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

, which has Constantine dying in a nameless state villa in Nicomedia. From these and other accounts, some have concluded that Eusebius's Vita was edited to defend Constantine's reputation against what Eusebius saw as a less congenial version of the campaign.

Following his death, his body was transferred to Constantinople and buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

 there. He was succeeded by his three sons born of Fausta, Constantine II
Constantine II (emperor)
Constantine II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 340. Co-emperor alongside his brothers, his short reign saw the beginnings of conflict emerge between the sons of Constantine the Great, and his attempt to exert his perceived rights of primogeniture ended up causing his death in a failed invasion of...

, Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 and Constans
Constans
Constans , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel, resulting in Constans’ assassination in 350.-Career:Constans was the third and...

. A number of relatives were killed by followers of Constantius, notably Constantine's nephews Dalmatius
Dalmatius
Flavius Dalmatius , also known as Dalmatius Caesar, was a Caesar of the Roman Empire, and member of the Constantinian dynasty.Dalmatius was son of another Flavius Dalmatius, censor, and nephew of Constantine I...

 (who held the rank of Caesar) and Hannibalianus
Hannibalianus
Flavius Hannibalianus was a member of the Constantinian dynasty, which ruled over the Roman Empire in the 4th century.Hannibalianus was the son of Flavius Dalmatius, and thus nephew of Constantine I...

, presumably to eliminate possible contenders to an already complicated succession. He also had two daughters, Constantina
Constantina
Constantina , and later known as Saint Constance, was the eldest daughter of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and his second wife Fausta, daughter of Emperor Maximian...

 and Helena
Helena, wife of Julian
Helena was the wife of Julian, Roman Emperor in 360–363. She was briefly his Empress consort when Julian was proclaimed Augustus by his troops in 360. She died prior to the resolution of his conflict with Constantius II.-Family:...

, wife of Emperor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

.

Legacy


Although he earned his honorific of "The Great" ("Μέγας") from Christian historians long after he had died, he could have claimed the title on his military achievements and victories alone. Besides reuniting the Empire under one emperor, Constantine won major victories over the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

 in 306–8, the Franks again in 313–14, the Visigoths in 332 and the Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 in 334. By 336, Constantine had reoccupied most of the long-lost province of Dacia
Dacia
In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—the branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range...

, which Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

 had been forced to abandon in 271. At the time of his death, he was planning a great expedition to end raids on the eastern provinces from the Persian Empire.

In the cultural sphere Constantine contributed to the revival of the clean shaven face fashion of the Roman emperors from Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 to Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

, which was originally introduced among the Romans by Scipio Africanus
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

. This new roman imperial fashion lasted until the reign of Phocas
Phocas
Phocas was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. He usurped the throne from the Emperor Maurice, and was himself overthrown by Heraclius after losing a civil war.-Origins:...

.

The Byzantine Empire considered Constantine its founder and the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 reckoned him among the venerable figures of its tradition. In the later Byzantine state, it had become a great honor for an emperor to be hailed as a "new Constantine". Ten emperors, including the last emperor of Byzantium, carried the name. Monumental Constantinian forms were used at the court of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 to suggest that he was Constantine's successor and equal. Constantine acquired a mythic role as a warrior against "heathens". The motif of the Romanesque equestrian, the mounted figure in the posture of a triumphant Roman emperor, became a visual metaphor in statuary in praise of local benefactors. The name "Constantine" itself enjoyed renewed popularity in western France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Most Eastern Christian churches consider Constantine a saint (Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος, Saint Constantine). In the Byzantine Church he was called isapostolos (Ισαπόστολος Κωνσταντίνος)—an equal of the Apostles
Equal-to-apostles
An equal-to-the-apostles is a special title given to some canonized saints in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is also used by Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that are in communion with Rome...

. Niš airport
Niš Constantine the Great Airport
Niš Constantine the Great Airport , is a Serbian airport that serves southern Serbia and the city of Niš. The airport, which is named for Constantine the Great, is located from the Niš city centre and is Serbia's second international airport.- History :...

 is named Constantine the Great in honor of his birth in Naissus.

Historiography


During his life and those of his sons, Constantine was presented as a paragon of virtue. Even pagans like Praxagoras of Athens
Praxagoras of Athens
Praxagoras of Athens was a pagan historian in the early 4th century AD.He was born in Athens and wrote three historical works, which are all lost: a history of the Kings of Athens, a history of Alexander the Great, and a panegyric biography of the emperor Constantine. A few fragments of the...

 and Libanius
Libanius
Libanius was a Greek-speaking teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school. During the rise of Christian hegemony in the later Roman Empire, he remained unconverted and regarded himself as a Hellene in religious matters.-Life:...

 showered him with praise. When the last of his sons died in 361, however, his nephew Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 wrote the satire Symposium, or the Saturnalia, which denigrated Constantine, calling him inferior to the great pagan emperors, and given over to luxury and greed. Following Julian, Eunapius
Eunapius
Eunapius was a Greek sophist and historian of the 4th century. His principal surviving work is the Lives of the Sophists, a collection of the biographies of twenty-three philosophers and sophists.-Life:He was born at Sardis, AD 347...

 began—and Zosimus
Zosimus
Zosimus was a Byzantine historian, who lived in Constantinople during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I . According to Photius, he was a comes, and held the office of "advocate" of the imperial treasury.- Historia Nova :...

 continued—a historiographic tradition that blamed Constantine for weakening the Empire through his indulgence to the Christians.

In medieval times, when the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 was dominant, Catholic historians presented Constantine as an ideal ruler, the standard against which any king or emperor could be measured. The Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources prompted a re-evaluation of Constantine's career. The German humanist Johann Löwenklau, discoverer of Zosimus' writings, published a Latin translation thereof in 1576. In its preface, he argued that Zosimus' picture of Constantine was superior to that offered by Eusebius and the Church historians, and damned Constantine as a tyrant. Cardinal Caesar Baronius
Caesar Baronius
Cesare Baronio was an Italian Cardinal and ecclesiastical historian...

, a man of the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

, criticized Zosimus, favoring Eusebius' account of the Constantinian era. Baronius' Life of Constantine (1588) presents Constantine as the model of a Christian prince. For his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a non-fiction history book written by English historian Edward Gibbon and published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776, and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, VI in 1788–89...

(1776–89), Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

, aiming to unite the two extremes of Constantinian scholarship, offered a portrait of Constantine built on the contrasted narratives of Eusebius and Zosimus. In a form that parallels his account of the empire's decline, Gibbon presents a noble war hero corrupted by Christian influences, who transforms into an Oriental despot in his old age: "a hero...degenerating into a cruel and dissolute monarch".

Modern interpretations of Constantine's rule begin with Jacob Burckhardt
Jacob Burckhardt
Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the historiography of each field. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history, albeit in a form very different from how cultural history is conceived and studied in academia today...

's The Age of Constantine the Great (1853, rev. 1880). Burckhardt's Constantine is a scheming secularist, a politician who manipulates all parties in a quest to secure his own power. Henri Grégoire
Henri Grégoire (historian)
Henri Grégoire was an eminent scholar of the Byzantine Empire, virtually the founder of Byzantine studies in Belgium.Grégoire spent most of his teaching career at the Université libre de Bruxelles...

, writing in the 1930s, followed Burckhardt's evaluation of Constantine. For Grégoire, Constantine only developed an interest in Christianity after witnessing its political usefulness. Grégoire was skeptical of the authenticity of Eusebius' Vita, and postulated a pseudo-Eusebius to assume responsibility for the vision and conversion narratives of that work. Otto Seeck
Otto Seeck
Otto Seeck was a German classical historian who is perhaps best known for his work on the decline of the ancient world. He was born in Riga....

, in Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (1920–23), and André Piganiol, in L'empereur Constantin (1932), wrote against this historiographic tradition. Seeck presented Constantine as a sincere war hero, whose ambiguities were the product of his own naïve inconsistency. Piganiol's Constantine is a philosophical monotheist, a child of his era's religious syncretism. Related histories by A.H.M. Jones
Arnold Hugh Martin Jones
Arnold Hugh Martin Jones — known as A.H.M. Jones — was a prominent 20th century British historian of classical antiquity, particularly of the later Roman Empire.-Biography:...

 (Constantine and the Conversion of Europe (1949)) and Ramsay MacMullen
Ramsay MacMullen
Ramsay MacMullen is an Emeritus Professor of history at Yale University, where he taught from 1967 to his retirement in 1993 as Dunham Professor of History and Classics...

 (Constantine (1969)) gave portraits of a less visionary, and more impulsive, Constantine.

These later accounts were more willing to present Constantine as a genuine convert to Christianity. Beginning with Norman H. Baynes
Norman H. Baynes
Professor Norman Hepburn Baynes was a noted 20th century British historian of the Byzantine Empire.-Career:Baynes was Professor of Byzantine History at University College London from 1931 until 1942...

' Constantine the Great and the Christian Church (1929) and reinforced by Andreas Alföldi
Andreas Alföldi
András Ede Zsigmond Alföldi was a Hungarian historian, epigraphist, numismatist and archaeologist. He was one of the most productive 20th-century scholars of the ancient world and is considered one of the leading researchers of his time...

's The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome (1948), a historiographic tradition developed which presented Constantine as a committed Christian. T. D. Barnes
Timothy Barnes
Timothy David Barnes is a British classicist.Timothy David Barnes was born in Yorkshire in 1942. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield until 1960, going up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Literae Humaniores, taking his BA in 1964 and MA in 1967...

's seminal Constantine and Eusebius (1981) represents the culmination of this trend. Barnes' Constantine experienced a radical conversion, which drove him on a personal crusade to convert his empire. Charles Matson Odahl's recent Constantine and the Christian Empire (2004) takes much the same tack. In spite of Barnes' work, arguments over the strength and depth of Constantine's religious conversion continue. Certain themes in this school reached new extremes in T.G. Elliott's The Christianity of Constantine the Great (1996), which presented Constantine as a committed Christian from early childhood. A similar view of Constantine is held in Paul Veyne
Paul Veyne
Paul Veyne, born 13 June 1930 in Aix-en-Provence, is a French archaeologist and historian, and a specialist on Ancient Rome. A former student of the École normale supérieure and member of the École française de Rome, he is now honorary professor at the Collège de France.-Biography:From an ordinary...

's recent (2007) work, Quand notre monde est devenu chrétien, which does not speculate on the origins of Constantine's Christian motivation, but presents him, in his role as Emperor, as a religious revolutionary who fervently believed himself meant "to play a providential role in the millenary economy of the salvation of humanity".

Donation of Constantine



Latin Rite Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 considered it inappropriate that Constantine was baptized only on his death-bed and by an unorthodox bishop, as it undermined the authority of the Papacy. Hence, by the early fourth century, a legend had emerged that Pope Sylvester I (314–35) had cured the pagan emperor from leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

. According to this legend, Constantine was soon baptized, and began the construction of a church in the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

. In the eighth century, most likely during the pontificate of Stephen II
Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II was Pope from 752 to 757, succeeding Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen. Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Byzantine Papacy and the Frankish Papacy.-Allegiance to Constantinople:...

 (752–7), a document called the Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

 first appeared, in which the freshly converted Constantine hands the temporal rule over "the city of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and all the provinces, districts, and cities of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and the Western regions" to Sylvester and his successors. In the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

, this document was used and accepted as the basis for the Pope's temporal power, though it was denounced as a forgery by Emperor Otto III
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III , a King of Germany, was the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was elected King in 983 on the death of his father Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 996.-Early reign:...

 and lamented as the root of papal worldliness by the poet Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

. The 15th century philologist Lorenzo Valla
Lorenzo Valla
Lorenzo Valla was an Italian humanist, rhetorician, and educator. His family was from Piacenza; his father, Luciave della Valla, was a lawyer....

 proved the document was indeed a forgery.

Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia


Because of his fame and his being proclaimed Emperor in the territory of Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, later Britons
Britons (historical)
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

 regarded Constantine as a king of their own people. In the 12th century Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon
Henry of Huntingdon , the son of a canon in the diocese of Lincoln, was a 12th century English historian, the author of a history of England, Historia anglorum, "the most important Anglo-Norman historian to emerge from the secular clergy". He served as archdeacon of Huntingdon...

 included a passage in his Historia Anglorum that Constantine's mother Helena was a Briton, the daughter of King Cole
King Cole
King Cole is a figure of British folklore.King Cole may also refer to:*"Old King Cole", nursery rhyme* Old King Cole , a 1933 Disney cartoon about Old King Cole*King Cole , Major League Baseball pitcher...

 of Colchester
Colchester
Colchester is an historic town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in Essex, England.At the time of the census in 2001, it had a population of 104,390. However, the population is rapidly increasing, and has been named as one of Britain's fastest growing towns. As the...

. Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

 expanded this story in his highly fictionalized Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
The Historia Regum Britanniae is a pseudohistorical account of British history, written c. 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It chronicles the lives of the kings of the Britons in a chronological narrative spanning a time of two thousand years, beginning with the Trojans founding the British nation...

, and account of the supposed Kings of Britain from their Trojan
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 origins to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. According to Geoffrey, Cole was King of the Britons when Constantius, here a senator, came to Britain. Afraid of the Romans, Cole submitted to Roman law so long as he retained his kingship. However, he died only a month later, and Constantius took the throne himself, marrying Cole's daughter Helena. They had their son Constantine, who succeeded his father as King of Britain before becoming Roman Emperor.

Historically, this series of events is extremely improbable. Constantius had already left Helena by the time he left for Britain. Additionally, no earlier source mentions that Helena was born in Britain, let alone that she was a princess. Henry's source for the story is unknown, though it may have been a lost hagiography of Helena.

Constantine in popular culture


Constantine was played by Cornel Wilde
Cornel Wilde
Cornel Wilde was an American actor and film director.-Early life:Kornél Lajos Weisz was born in 1912 in Prievidza, Hungary , although his year and place of birth are usually and inaccurately given as 1915 in New York City...

 in the 1962 film Constantine and the Cross
Constantine and the Cross
Constantine and the Cross is a 1962 historical drama film about the early career of the emperor Constantine, who first legalized and then adopted Christianity in the early 4th century...

.

He is also slated to be portrayed by Robert Vincent Jones in the upcoming film Nicholas of Myra.

Constantine: The Miracle of the Flaming Cross is a romanticised, novelised account of Constantine's life written by American author Frank G. Slaughter
Frank G. Slaughter
Frank Gill Slaughter , pen-name Frank G. Slaughter, pseudonym C.V. Terry, was an American novelist and physician whose books sold more than 60 million copies. His novels drew on his own experience as a doctor and his interest in history and the Bible...

 and published in 1965. It largely drew on Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

's history of the Roman Empire as well as Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

's contemporary account, as indicated in the afterword of the original edition.

See also

  • Colossus of Constantine
    Colossus of Constantine
    The Colossus of Constantine was a colossal acrolithic statue of the late Roman emperor Constantine the Great that once occupied the west apse of the Basilica of Maxentius near the Forum Romanum in Rome...

  • Constantinian shift
    Constantinian shift
    Constantinian shift is a term used by Anabaptist and Post-Christendom theologians to describe the political and theological aspects of the 4th-century process of Constantine's legalization of Christianity. The term was popularized by the Mennonite theologian John H...

  • Fifty Bibles of Constantine
    Fifty Bibles of Constantine
    The Fifty Bibles of Constantine were fifty Bibles commissioned in 331 by Constantine I and prepared by Eusebius of Caesarea. They were made for the use of the Bishop of Constantinople in the growing number of orthodox churches. It was described by Eusebius in his Life of Constantine and his account...

  • List of Byzantine Emperors

Ancient sources


  • Athanasius of Alexandria.
  • Apologia conta Arianos (Defence against the Arians) ca. 349.
  • Atkinson, M., and Archibald Robertson, trans. Apologia Contra Arianos. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 14 August 2009.
    • Epistola de Decretis Nicaenae Synodi (Letter on the Decrees of the Council of Nicaea) ca. 352.
  • Newman, John Henry, trans. De Decretis. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 28 September 2009.
    • Historia Arianorum (History of the Arians) ca. 357.
  • Atkinson, M., and Archibald Robertson, trans. Historia Arianorum. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 14 August 2009.
    • Sextus Aurelius Victor
      Aurelius Victor
      Sextus Aurelius Victor was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire.Aurelius Victor was the author of a History of Rome from Augustus to Julian , published ca. 361. Julian honoured him and appointed him prefect of Pannonia Secunda...

      , Liber de Caesaribus (Book on the Caesars) ca. 361.
    • Codex Theodosianus (Theodosian Code) 439.
    • Mommsen, T. and Paul M. Meyer, eds. Theodosiani libri XVI cum Constitutionibus Sirmondianis et Leges novellae ad Theodosianum pertinentes2 (in Latin). Berlin: Weidmann, [1905] 1954. Complied by Nicholas Palmer, revised by Tony Honoré for Oxford Text Archive, 1984. Prepared for online use by R.W.B. Salway, 1999. Preface, books 1–8. Online at University College London and the University of Grenoble. Accessed 25 August 2009.
    • Unknown edition (in Latin). Online at AncientRome.ru. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • Codex Justinianus (Justinianic Code or Code of Justinian).
    • Scott, Samuel P., trans. The Code of Justinian, in The Civil Law. 17 vols. 1932. Online at the Constitution Society. Accessed 14 August 2009.
    • Krueger, Paul, ed. Codex Justinianus (in Latin). 2 vols. Berlin, 1954. Online at the University of Grenoble. Accessed 28 September 2009.
    • Epitome de Caesaribus
      Epitome de Caesaribus
      The Epitome de Caesaribus is the name for a Latin historical work, written at the end of the 4th century.It is a brief account of the reigns of the emperors from Augustus to Theodosius the Great. It is attributed to Aurelius Victor, but was written by an anonymous author who was very likely a pagan...

      (Epitome on the Caesars) ca. 395.
    • Banchich, Thomas M., trans. A Booklet About the Style of Life and the Manners of the Imperatores. Canisius College Translated Texts 1. Buffalo, NY: Canisius College, 2009. Online at De Imperatoribus Romanis. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • De Rebus Bellicis
      De Rebus Bellicis
      De rebus bellicis is a 4th or 5th century anonymous work about war machines used by the Roman army of the time. It was written after the death of Constantine I , and before the fall of the Western Roman Empire...

      (On Military Matters) fourth/fifth century.
    • Eunapius
      Eunapius
      Eunapius was a Greek sophist and historian of the 4th century. His principal surviving work is the Lives of the Sophists, a collection of the biographies of twenty-three philosophers and sophists.-Life:He was born at Sardis, AD 347...

      , History from Dexippus first edition ca. 390, second edition ca. 415. [Fragmentary]
    • Eusebius of Caesarea
      Eusebius of Caesarea
      Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

      .
    • Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) first seven books ca. 300, eighth and ninth book ca. 313, tenth book ca. 315, epilogue ca. 325.
  • Williamson, G.A., trans. Church History. London: Penguin, 1989. ISBN 97801404453350
  • McGiffert, Arthur Cushman, trans. Church History. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 28 September 2009.
    • Oratio de Laudibus Constantini (Oration in Praise of Constantine, sometimes the Tricennial Oration) 336.
  • Richardson, Ernest Cushing, trans. Oration in Praise of Constantine. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 16 August 2009.
    • Vita Constantini (The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine) ca. 336–39.
  • Richardson, Ernest Cushing, trans. Life of Constantine. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 9 June 2009.
  • Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine. 2009. Reprint of Bagster edition [1845]. Evolution Publishing. ISBN 978-1-889758-93-0. http://www.evolpub.com/CRE/CREseries.html#CRE8
  • Cameron, Averil and Stuart Hall, trans. Life of Constantine. 1999. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198149247.
    • Eutropius, Breviarium ab Urbe Condita (Abbreviated History from the City's Founding) ca. 369.
    • Watson, John Henry, trans. Justin, Cornelius Nepos and Eutropius. London: George Bell & Sons, 1886. Online at Tertullian. Accessed 28 September 2009.
    • Rufus Festus
      Festus (historian)
      Festus was a Late Roman historian whose breviary was commissioned by the emperor Valens in preparation for war against Persia....

      , Breviarium Festi (The Abbreviated History of Festus) ca. 370.
    • Banchich, Thomas M., and Jennifer A. Meka, trans. Breviarium of the Accomplishments of the Roman People. Canisius College Translated Texts 2. Buffalo, NY: Canisius College, 2001. Online at De Imperatoribus Romanis. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • Jerome
      Jerome
      Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

      , Chronicon
      Chronicon (Jerome)
      The Chronicle was a universal chronicle, one of Jerome's earliest attempts in the department of history...

      (Chronicle) ca. 380.
    • Pearse, Roger, et al., trans. The Chronicle of St. Jerome, in Early Church Fathers: Additional Texts. Tertullian, 2005. Online at Tertullian. Accessed 14 August 2009.
    • Jordanes
      Jordanes
      Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

      , De origine actibusque Getarum [Getica] (The Origin and Deeds of the Goths) ca. 551.
    • Mierow, Charles C.
      Charles Christopher Mierow
      Charles Christopher Mierow was an American academic.He had a Princeton Ph.D. in classical languages and literature, and was known as a translator. In years the 1923-1924 and 1925-1934 he was president of Colorado College...

      , trans. The Origins and Deeds of the Goths. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1915.
  • Online at the University of Calgary. Accessed 28 September 2009.
  • The Gothic History of Jordanes. 2006. Reprint of 1915 edition. Evolution Publishing. ISBN 978-1-889758-77-0. http://www.evolpub.com/CRE/CREseries.html#CRE2
    • Lactantius
      Lactantius
      Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

      , Liber De Mortibus Persecutorum (Book on the Deaths of the Persecutors) ca. 313–15.
    • Fletcher, William, trans. Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 9 June 2009.
    • Libanius
      Libanius
      Libanius was a Greek-speaking teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist school. During the rise of Christian hegemony in the later Roman Empire, he remained unconverted and regarded himself as a Hellene in religious matters.-Life:...

      , Orationes (Orations) ca. 362–65.
    • Optatus
      Saint Optatus
      Saint Optatus, sometimes anglicized as St. Optate, was Bishop of Milevis, in Numidia, in the fourth century, remembered for his writings against Donatism.-Biography and context:Optatus was a convert, as we gather from St...

      , Libri VII de Schismate Donatistarum (Seven Books on the Schism of the Donatists) first edition ca. 365–67, second edition ca. 385.
    • Vassall-Phillips, O.R., trans. The Work of St. Optatus Against the Donatists. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1917. Transcribed at tertullian.org by Roger Pearse, 2006. Online at Tertullian. Accessed 9 June 2009.
    • Edwards, Mark, trans. Optatus: Against the Donatists. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997.
    • Origo Constantini Imperiatoris (The Lineage of the Emperor Constantine) ca. 340–90.
    • Rolfe, J.C., trans. Excerpta Valesiana, in vol. 3 of Rolfe's translation of Ammianus Marcellinus' History. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1952. Online at LacusCurtius. Accessed 16 August 2009.
    • Orosius, Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII (Seven Books of History Against the Pagans) ca. 417.
    • XII Panegyrici Latini
      Panegyrici Latini
      The Panegyrici Latini or Latin Panegyrics is a collection of twelve ancient Roman panegyric orations. The authors of most of the speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny the Younger in 100 CE, the other...

      (Twelve Latin Panegyircs) relevant panegyrics dated 289, 291, 297, 298, 307, 310, 311, 313 and 321.
    • Philostorgius
      Philostorgius
      Philostorgius was an Anomoean Church historian of the 4th and 5th centuries. Anomoeanism questioned the Trinitarian account of the relationship between God the Father and Christ and was considered a heresy by the Orthodox Church, which adopted the term "homoousia" in the Nicene Creed. Very little...

      , Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) ca. 433.
    • Walford, Edward, trans. Epitome of the Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius, Compiled by Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855. Online at Tertullian. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • Praxagoras of Athens
      Praxagoras of Athens
      Praxagoras of Athens was a pagan historian in the early 4th century AD.He was born in Athens and wrote three historical works, which are all lost: a history of the Kings of Athens, a history of Alexander the Great, and a panegyric biography of the emperor Constantine. A few fragments of the...

      , Historia (History of Constantine the Great) ca. 337. [Fragmentary]
    • Socrates of Constantinople (Socrates Scholasticus), Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) ca. 443.
    • Zenos, A.C., trans. Ecclesiastical History. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 14 August 2009.
    • Sozomen
      Sozomen
      Salminius Hermias Sozomenus was a historian of the Christian church.-Family and Home:He was born around 400 in Bethelia, a small town near Gaza, into a wealthy Christian family of Palestine....

      , Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) ca. 445.
    • Hartranft, Chester D. Ecclesiastical History. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • Theodoret
      Theodoret
      Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

      , Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) ca. 448.
    • Jackson, Blomfield, trans. Ecclesiastical History. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Online at New Advent. Accessed 15 August 2009.
    • Zosimus
      Zosimus
      Zosimus was a Byzantine historian, who lived in Constantinople during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I . According to Photius, he was a comes, and held the office of "advocate" of the imperial treasury.- Historia Nova :...

      , Historia Nova (New History) ca. 500.
    • Unknown, trans. The History of Count Zosimus. London: Green and Champlin, 1814. Online at Tertullian. Accessed 15 August 2009.


Modern sources


  • Alföldi, Andrew. The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome. Translated by Harold Mattingly. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948.
  • Anderson, Perry
    Perry Anderson
    Perry Anderson is a British Leftist intellectual, historian, and political essayist. He is often identified with the post-1956 Western Marxism of the New Left in Europe. He is Professor of History and Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and an editor of the New Left Review. He...

    . Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism. London: Verso, 1981 [1974]. ISBN 0-86091-709-6
  • Arjava, Antii. Women and Law in Late Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-815233-7
  • Armstrong, Gregory T. "Church and State Relations: The Changes Wrought by Constantine." Journal of Bible and Religion 32 (1964): 1–7.
  • Armstrong, Gregory T. "Constantine's Churches: Symbol and Structure." The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 33 (1974): 5–16.
  • Barnes, Timothy D.
    Timothy Barnes
    Timothy David Barnes is a British classicist.Timothy David Barnes was born in Yorkshire in 1942. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield until 1960, going up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Literae Humaniores, taking his BA in 1964 and MA in 1967...

     "Lactantius and Constantine." The Journal of Roman Studies 63 (1973): 29–46.
  • Barnes, Timothy D. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 978-0674165311
  • Barnes, Timothy D. The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982. ISBN 0783722214
  • Barnes, Timothy D. "Constantine and the Christians of Persia." The Journal of Roman Studies 75 (1985): 126–136.
  • Bowman, Alan K. "Diocletian and the First Tetrarchy." In The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII: The Crisis of Empire, edited by Alan Bowman, Averil Cameron, and Peter Garnsey, 67–89. Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-30199-8
  • Cameron, Averil
    Averil Cameron
    Dame Averil Millicent Cameron, DBE, FBA is Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History in the University of Oxford, and was formerly the Warden of Keble College, Oxford between 1994 and 2010....

    . "The Reign of Constantine, A.D. 306–337." In The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII: The Crisis of Empire, edited by Alan Bowman, Averil Cameron, and Peter Garnsey, 90–109. Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-30199-8
  • Cameron, Averil and Stuart G. Hall. Life of Constantine. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. Hardcover ISBN 0-19-814917-4 Paperback ISBN 0-19-814924-7
  • Carrié, Jean-Michel & Rousselle, Aline. L'Empire Romain en mutation- des Sévères à Constantin, 192–337. Paris: Seuil, 1999. ISBN 2-02-025819-6
  • Christol, M. & Nony, D. Rome et son Empire. Paris: Hachette, 2003. ISBN 2-01-14-5542-1
  • Corcoran, Simon
    Simon Corcoran
    Simon Corcoran is an ancient historian and senior research fellow at University College, London. He received his D.Phil from St. John's College, Oxford in 1992...

    . The Empire of the Tetrarchs: Imperial Pronouncements and Government, AD 284–324. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 019815304X
  • Curran, John. Pagan City and Christian Capital. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000. Hardcover ISBN 0-19-815278-8 Paperback ISBN 0-19-925420-6
  • Dagron, Gilbert. Naissance d'une Capitale: Constantinople et ses instititutions de 330 a 451. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1984. ISBN 2-13-038902-3
  • Digeser, Elizabeth DePalma. The Making of A Christian Empire: Lactantius and Rome. London: Cornell University Press, 2000. ISBN 0801435943
  • Downey, Glanville. "Education in the Christian Roman Empire: Christian and Pagan Theories under Constantine and His Successors." Speculum 32 (1957): 48–61.
  • Drake, H. A. "What Eusebius Knew: The Genesis of the "Vita Constantini"." Classical Philology 83 (1988): 20–38.
  • Drake, H. A. "Constantine and Consensus." Church History 64 (1995): 1–15.
  • Drake, H. A. "Lambs into Lions: Explaining Early Christian Intolerance." Past & Present 153 (1996): 3–36.
  • Drake, H. A. Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8018-6218-3
  • Elliott, T. G. "Constantine's Conversion: Do We Really Need It?" Phoenix 41 (1987): 420–438.
  • Elliott, T. G. "Eusebian Frauds in the "Vita Constantini"." Phoenix 45 (1991): 162–171.
  • Elliott, T. G. The Christianity of Constantine the Great . Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 1996. ISBN 0-940866-59-5
  • Elsner, Jás. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press (Oxford History of Art), 1998. ISBN 0-19-284201-3
  • Fowden, Garth. "Between Pagans and Christians." The Journal of Roman Studies 78 (1988): 173–182.
  • Fowden, Garth. "The Last Days of Constantine: Oppositional Versions and Their Influence." The Journal of Roman Studies 84 (1994): 146–170.
  • Fubini, Riccardo. "Humanism and Truth: Valla Writes against the Donation of Constantine." Journal of the History of Ideas 57:1 (1996): 79–86.
  • Gibbon, Edward
    Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

    . Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1952 ("Great Books" collection), in 2 volumes.
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian. How Rome Fell. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009. Hardcover ISBN 978-0-300-13719-4
  • Grant, Robert M. "Religion and Politics at the Council at Nicaea." The Journal of Religion 55 (1975): 1–12.
  • Guthrie, Patrick. "The Execution of Crispus." Phoenix 20: 4 (1966): 325–331.
  • Harries, Jill. Law and Empire in Late Antiquity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Hardcover ISBN 0-521-41087-8 Paperback ISBN 0-521-42273-6
  • Hartley, Elizabeth. Constantine the Great: York's Roman Emperor. York: Lund Humphries, 2004. ISBN 978-0853319283.
  • Heather, Peter J. "Foedera and Foederati of the Fourth Century." In From Roman Provinces to Medieval Kingdoms, edited by Thomas F.X. Noble, 292–308. New York: Routledge, 2006. Hardcover ISBN 0-415-32741-5 Paperback ISBN 0-415-32742-3
  • Helgeland, John. "Christians and the Roman Army A.D. 173–337." Church History 43 (June 1974): 149–163.
  • Jones, A.H.M.
    Arnold Hugh Martin Jones
    Arnold Hugh Martin Jones — known as A.H.M. Jones — was a prominent 20th century British historian of classical antiquity, particularly of the later Roman Empire.-Biography:...

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Citations


Essays from The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine are marked with a "(CC)".

External links