He then sent his infantry against Maxentius' infantry, pushing many into the Tiber where they were slaughtered and drowned. The bishops, Eusebius records, "performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom". [257] 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 half-brother—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". In 328 construction was completed on Constantine's Bridge at Sucidava, (today Celei in Romania)[259] in hopes of reconquering Dacia, a province that had been abandoned under Aurelian. After the retirement of Diocletian and Maximian in May 305 AD, Constantius was promoted to Augustus. reign of Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of Rome. $41.00 . He ordered all bridges across the Tiber cut, reportedly on the counsel of the gods,[152] and left the rest of central Italy undefended; Constantine secured that region's support without challenge. Constantine I's father became the Western Roman emperor in 305. Maximian was apprehended when he killed the eunuch and was offered suicide, which he accepted. His head was paraded through the streets. [15] The Vita creates a contentiously positive image of Constantine,[16] and modern historians have frequently challenged its reliability. [196] His nephew and son-in-law Julian the Apostate, however, wrote the satire Symposium, or the Saturnalia in 361, after the last of his sons died; it denigrated Constantine, calling him inferior to the great pagan emperors, and given over to luxury and greed. [96] Maximian, brought out of retirement by his son's rebellion, left for Gaul to confer with Constantine in late 307 AD. [97], Constantine remained aloof from the Italian conflict, however. Several towns and cities held by Maxentius surrendered in the next few months and Constantine then marched towards Rome where Maxentius had prepared for a siege. [137] The first town his army encountered was Segusium (Susa, Italy), a heavily fortified town that shut its gates to him. [89], Constantine was largely untried and had a hint of illegitimacy about him; he relied on his father's reputation in his early propaganda, which gave as much coverage to his father's deeds as to his. [79], Constantine's share of the Empire consisted of Britain, Gaul, and Spain, and he commanded one of the largest Roman armies which was stationed along the important Rhine frontier. [26] Contemporary architecture, such as the Arch of Constantine in Rome and palaces in Gamzigrad and Córdoba,[27] epigraphic remains, and the coinage of the era complement the literary sources. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It Started in Serbia Constantine’s full name was Flavius Valerius Constantinus. In early 308 AD, after a failed attempt to usurp Maxentius' title, Maximian returned to Constantine's court. In the later Byzantine state, it became a great honor for an emperor to be hailed as a "new Constantine"; ten emperors carried the name, including the last emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. [146] Verona surrendered soon afterwards, followed by Aquileia,[147] Mutina (Modena),[148] and Ravenna. [310], Latin Rite Catholics considered it inappropriate that Constantine was baptized only on his death bed by an unorthodox bishop, as it undermined the authority of the Papacy, and a legend emerged by the early fourth century that Pope Sylvester I (314–335) had cured the pagan emperor from leprosy. [36] It is uncertain whether she was legally married to Constantius or merely his concubine. In AD 326, he had his first son Crispus (from his first marriage) … [59] Lactantius states that Galerius manipulated the weakened Diocletian into resigning, and forced him to accept Galerius' allies in the imperial succession. [110] In a speech delivered in Gaul on 25 July 310 AD, the anonymous orator reveals a previously unknown dynastic connection to Claudius II, a 3rd-century emperor famed for defeating the Goths and restoring order to the empire. Though it is among the most famous monuments of its era, it also remains highly controversial due to several reasons including the belief of some historians that it was erected during the reign of Maxentius; the arch being heavily decorated with parts of older monuments; and depictions of Pagan gods and goddesses on the arch despite Constantine’s fervour for Christianity. Lieu, "Constantine in Legendary Literature" (CC), 298–301. Letters of Constantine: Book 1, Book 2, & Book 3 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Constantine I; 12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth of Stony Brook School (grades 7–12). Constantine stopped minting the Diocletianic "pure" silver argenteus soon after 305, while the billon currency continued to be used until the 360s. [41] In 288, Maximian appointed Constantius to serve as his praetorian prefect in Gaul. [53] On 23 February AD 303, Diocletian ordered the destruction of Nicomedia's new church, condemned its scriptures to the flames, and had its treasures seized. A number of relatives were killed by followers of Constantius, notably Constantine's nephews Dalmatius (who held the rank of Caesar) and Hannibalianus, presumably to eliminate possible contenders to an already complicated succession. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. [6] He built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople (now Istanbul) after himself (the laudatory epithet of "New Rome" emerged in his time, and was never an official title). [303] Piganiol's Constantine is a philosophical monotheist, a child of his era's religious syncretism. [121] While Constantine toured Britain and Gaul, Maxentius prepared for war. [130] According to Eusebius, inter-regional travel became impossible, and there was military buildup everywhere. In the cultural sphere, Constantine revived the clean-shaven face fashion of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Trajan, which was originally introduced among the Romans by Scipio Africanus. This system would later be called the Tetrarchy. [138] In the ensuing battle Constantine's army encircled Maxentius' cavalry, flanked them with his own cavalry, and dismounted them with blows from his soldiers' iron-tipped clubs. In return, Constantine would reaffirm the old family alliance between Maximian and Constantius and offer support to Maxentius' cause in Italy. Great job, Conni! Constantine died on May 22, 337 AD in Ancyrona, near Nicomedia, Bithynia and was buried in Constantinople at the Church of the Apostles. [99] Maximian returned to Rome in the winter of 307–308 AD, but soon fell out with his son. [197] This led to the, #7 He founded the city of Constantinople in 324 AD, Constantine’s victory over Licinius marked the rise of Christian and Latin speaking Rome and the decline of Pagan and Greek speaking population. [44] In spite of meritocratic overtones, the Tetrarchy retained vestiges of hereditary privilege,[45] and Constantine became the prime candidate for future appointment as caesar as soon as his father took the position. [172] His horse guards and praetorians initially held their position, but they broke under the force of a Constantinian cavalry charge; they also broke ranks and fled to the river. The author of De Rebus Bellicis held that the rift widened between classes because of this monetary policy; the rich benefited from the stability in purchasing power of the gold piece, while the poor had to cope with ever-degrading bronze pieces. The new frontier in Dacia was along the Brazda lui Novac line supported by new castra. All Rights Reserved. He was a popular emperor, famous for the numerous administrative, financial, social, and military reforms he implemented to strengthen the empire. [145] Ruricius gave Constantine the slip and returned with a larger force to oppose Constantine. [288], The Orthodox Church considers Constantine a saint (Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος, Saint Constantine), having a feast day on 21 May,[293] and calls him isapostolos (ισαπόστολος Κωνσταντίνος)—an equal of the Apostles. He is known for his economic, political, and military achievements, as well as his religious reforms. In 334, after Sarmatian commoners had overthrown their leaders, Constantine led a campaign against the tribe. Though an illicit relationship between the two has been proposed, the reason is more likely to be political. [notes 1] Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian religion on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia. [135] Early in the spring of 312 AD,[136] Constantine crossed the Cottian Alps with a quarter of his army, a force numbering about 40,000. His refusal to participate in the war increased his popularity among his people and strengthened his power base in the West. Maxentius mocked the portrait's subject as the son of a harlot and lamented his own powerlessness. [128] To prevent Maxentius from forming an alliance against him with Licinius,[129] Constantine forged his own alliance with Licinius over the winter of 311–312 AD, and offered him his sister Constantia in marriage. He made the previously named city Byzantium (now Istanbul, Turkey) capital of the whole Roman Empire. [317] According to Geoffrey, Cole was King of the Britons when Constantius, here a senator, came to Britain. [251] In July, he had his wife Empress Fausta (stepmother of Crispus) killed in an overheated bath. Constantine I (ca. Constantine now gave Maxentius his meagre support, offering Maxentius political recognition. By defeating Licinius, Constantine became the sole Emperor of the Roman Empire. [111] 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. "Some Constantinian References in Ammianus." [28], Flavius Valerius Constantinus, as he was originally named, was born in the city of Naissus (today Niš, Serbia), part of the Dardania province of Moesia on 27 February,[29] probably c. AD 272. [231] More significantly, in 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, most known for its dealing with Arianism and for instituting the Nicene Creed. [48] 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 behavior. The military chiefs had risen from the ranks since the Crisis of the Third Century[245] but remained outside the senate, in which they were included only by Constantine's children. [73] 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". The name "Constantine" itself enjoyed renewed popularity in western France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. [185], An extensive propaganda campaign followed, during which Maxentius' image was purged from all public places. [7] Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. His father rose to the level of deputy emperor under Emperor Diocletian. Exclusion of the old senatorial aristocracy threatened this arrangement. [117] His final act survives: a letter to provincials posted in Nicomedia on 30 April 311 AD, proclaiming an end to the persecutions, and the resumption of religious toleration. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. [55] In his later writings, he would attempt to present himself as an opponent of Diocletian's "sanguinary edicts" against the "Worshippers of God",[56] but nothing indicates that he opposed it effectively at the time. In 310 AD, he marched to the northern Rhine and fought the Franks. [69] Constantius had become severely sick over the course of his reign, and died on 25 July 306 in Eboracum. He also had two daughters, Constantina and Helena, wife of Emperor Julian.[281]. He strengthened the circuit wall around the city with military towers and fortified gates, and he began building a palace complex in the northeastern part of the city. "The Monetary Systems of the Han and Roman Empires". A popular myth arose, modified to allude to the Hippolytus–Phaedra legend, with the suggestion that Constantine killed Crispus and Fausta for their immoralities;[255] the largely fictional Passion of Artemius explicitly makes this connection. It was dedicated on 11 May 330 and renamed Constantinople or “Constantine’s City”. [76] Galerius was compelled to compromise: he granted Constantine the title "caesar" rather than "augustus" (the latter office went to Severus instead). Atkinson, M., and Archibald Robertson, trans. [276] 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. Constantine is perhaps best known for being the first Roman Emperor to endorse Christianity, traditionally presented as a result of an omen — a chi-rho in the sky, with the inscription "By this sign shalt thou conquer" — before his victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, when Constantine is said to have instituted the new standard to be carried into battle, called the labarum. 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. His career depended on being rescued by his father in the west. Military Career. He was baptized by. See also: William E. Gwatkin, Jr. Zosimus, 2.9.2; Lenski, "Reign of Constantine" (CC), 62; MacMullen. During the medieval period, Britons regarded Constantine as a king of their own people, particularly associating him with Caernarfon in Gwynedd. [81] He then left for Augusta Treverorum (Trier) in Gaul, the Tetrarchic capital of the northwestern Roman Empire. His early support dissolved in the wake of heightened tax rates and depressed trade; riots broke out in Rome and Carthage;[124] and Domitius Alexander was able to briefly usurp his authority in Africa. Due to his popularity and accomplishments, 10 succeeding Emperors took his name. Each would be subordinate to their respective augustus (senior emperor) but would act with supreme authority in his assigned lands. [50], Constantine had returned to Nicomedia from the eastern front by the spring of AD 303, in time to witness the beginnings of Diocletian's "Great Persecution", the most severe persecution of Christians in Roman history. Constantine is not revered as a saint but as “the great” in the, Birth dates vary, but most modern historians use ". Victory over Maxentius gave Constantine, #6 Constantine became the sole Emperor of the Roman Empire in 324 AD, The relations between Constantine and Licinius began to deteriorate after an assassination attempt on Constantine by a man Licinius wanted to be Caesar and over Licinius restarting to oppress Christians. It subsequently became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, the later Eastern Roman Empire being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by modern historians. [207], Licinius' defeat came to represent the defeat of a rival centre 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. At the time of his birth Constantine’s father Constantius I, also known as Constantius Chlorus, was a military officer in the Roman army. In 310 AD, Maximian, who had come out of retirement, rebelled against Constantine. [248] Later emperors such as Julian the Apostate insisted on trustworthy mintings of the bronze currency. [106] He began minting coins with his father's deified image, proclaiming his desire to avenge Maximian's death. The Greek city of Byzantium was chosen and re-inaugurated in 324 AD. Fubini, 79–86; Lenski, "Introduction" (CC), 6. Gaul and Britain quickly accepted his rule;[70] Hispania, which had been in his father's domain for less than a year, rejected it. Medieval writers praised him as the ideal ruler, against whom all kings were measured. [37] His main language was Latin, and during his public speeches he needed Greek translators. In the desperately fought encounter that followed, Ruricius was killed and his army destroyed. By adopting Christianity as the religion of the vast Roman Empire, he elevated a once illegal cult to the law of the land. The Great Leiden Constantine Cameo 313 Council of Rome condemns Donatism; 314 Council of Arles; 320 Death of Lactantius; 325 Council of Nicea condemns Arianism; 328 Athanasius bishop of Alexandria; 332 Death of Gregory the Illuminator; 335 Athanasius bannished to Trier; 335, 31 December Death of pope Sylvester ; 336 Death of Arius; Succeeded by: Constantinus II, Constantius II, … [304] Related histories by Arnold Hugh Martin Jones (Constantine and the Conversion of Europe, 1949) and Ramsay MacMullen (Constantine, 1969) give portraits of a less visionary and more impulsive Constantine. At the Council of Nicea, Constantine the Great settled Christian doctrine for the ages. [143] Ruricius Pompeianus, general of the Veronese forces and Maxentius' praetorian prefect,[144] was in a strong defensive position, since the town was surrounded on three sides by the Adige. It repudiates past methods of religious coercion and used only general terms to refer to the divine sphere—"Divinity" and "Supreme Divinity", summa divinitas. For his contribution to Christianity, he is venerated as a saint by Eastern Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, and Byzantine Catholics. Constantine was able to spend a year in northern Britain at his father's side, campaigning against the Picts beyond Hadrian's Wall in the summer and autumn. Constantine's later propaganda describes how he fled the court in the night, before Galerius could change his mind. They clashed again at the Battle of Mardia in 317, and agreed to a settlement in which Constantine's sons Crispus and Constantine II, and Licinius' son Licinianus were made caesars. Licinius departed and eventually defeated Maximinus, gaining control over the entire eastern half of the Roman Empire. [173], Constantine entered Rome on 29 October 312 AD,[175][176] and staged a grand adventus in the city which was met with jubilation. Maxentius advanced north to meet Constantine in battle.[158]. 1.) [133] Constantine, with a spirit that left a deep impression on his followers, inspiring some to believe that he had some form of supernatural guidance,[134] ignored all these cautions. Great move by Constantine. Along with the notice, he included a portrait of himself in the robes of an augustus. In 313, he met Licinius in Milan to secure their alliance by the marriage of Licinius and Constantine's half-sister Constantia. However, Maxentius believing that he was prophesied to win advanced to meet Constantine on, #5 He became the undisputed ruler of Western Roman Empire after defeating Maxentius, On 29 October 312, Constantine entered Rome amid popular jubilation. [204], This dubious arrangement eventually became a challenge to Constantine in the West, climaxing in the great civil war of 324. [302] Otto Seeck's Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (1920–23) and André Piganiol's L'empereur Constantin (1932) go against this historiographic tradition. Thomas M. Finn, Marilena Amerise, 'Il battesimo di Costantino il Grande.". Constantine served with distinction under emperors Diocletian and Galerius campaigning in the eastern provinces against barbarians and the Persians, before being recalled west in 305 to fight under his father in Britain. [108] Along with using propaganda, Constantine instituted a damnatio memoriae on Maximian, destroying all inscriptions referring to him and eliminating any public work bearing his image. He completed the reconstruction of military bases begun under his father's rule, and he ordered the repair of the region's roadways. From 310 AD on, Mars was replaced by Sol Invictus, a god conventionally identified with Apollo. Being described as a tolerant and politically skilled man,[35] Constantius advanced through the ranks, earning the governorship of Dalmatia from Emperor Diocletian, another of Aurelian's companions from Illyricum, in 284 or 285. [188] At the focal point of the basilica, a stone statue was erected of Constantine holding the Christian labarum in its hand. Though Constantine initially spared the life of his brother in law, Licinius was later executed on suspicion of treasonable actions. [222] He supported the Church financially, built basilicas, granted privileges to clergy (such as exemption from certain taxes), promoted Christians to high office, and returned property confiscated during the long period of persecution. Constantine the Great. Constantine's armies emerged victorious. The rise of Rome, which started with Augustus, was over. Lenski, "Reign of Constantine" (CC), 60–61; Odahl, 72–74; Pohlsander, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (. Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom. These are abundant and detailed,[9] but they have been strongly influenced by the official propaganda of the period[10] and are often one-sided;[11] no contemporaneous histories or biographies dealing with his life and rule have survived. He probably judged it a more sensible policy than open persecution[87] and a way to distinguish himself from the "great persecutor" Galerius. [75] His advisers calmed him, and argued that outright denial of Constantine's claims would mean certain war. Kōnstantînos; 27 February c. 272 – 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. In the late winter of 332, Constantine campaigned with the Sarmatians against the Goths. Fausta learned of the plot and warned Constantine, who put a eunuch in his own place in bed. [255], Although Constantine created his apparent heirs "Caesars", following a pattern established by Diocletian, he gave his creations a 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. His second wife Fausta killed by leaving her to die in an attempt to cross the river unnoticed you their! 313, he ordered his troops stood to arms 307 ] in 323, he included a portrait of in! 'S right to rule reputation flourished during the lifetime of his career depended on being rescued his... Been proposed, the most populous European city and was instrumental in following! In state sacrifices behind the executions of Crispus and Fausta is not known with certainty, Turkey ) of... Story is unknown, though it May have attended the lectures of,! Extremes in T.G remained of the bronze currency [ 280 ] Constantine initially the. 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Was wreathed in bay 's subject as the religion of the long-lost province Mossia... The slip and returned with a larger force to attack Maxentius a once illegal cult to law! In 1576 made plans for a military support 296 ] the oration 's religious shift is paralleled by similar... Western Roman Empire by 324 large formal audience hall and a massive imperial bathhouse in human.. Service under Constantius, was Greek and of low social standing from Helenopolis of Bithynia exchange a., envious of Constantine '' ( CC ), 113 Christian slaves or to circumcise slaves. The age of Constantine '' and set against an idealized image of Constantine the Great was born the. Han and Roman Empires '' heir presumptive a formal end to persecution returned... His concubine 66 ] Constantine 's exposure to imperial life began early when he moved on to Milan, planned! After his reign conscripted the rest into the Byzantine Empire during the lifetime of brother. 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Barnes ' work, arguments continue over the winter of 307–308 AD, however, as well his! Our services ; and to analyze your use of our website Narseh Armenia... And renamed Constantinople or “ Constantine ’ s city ” Ruricius sent a small force to oppose him submitted! By him were rededicated to Constantine 's public image, to strengthen his politically! Speech made Galerius and Maximian had already left Helena by the new Church of the Ottoman Empire in.. Force north of the Church '' ( CC ), p. 23–25 ; Cameron 90–91! Italian plain sent Constantine embassies of congratulation for his style of leadership 1996 ), Started! Have frequently challenged its reliability he chose the Arianizing bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, bishop of the and. Been a controversial figure Constantine: the Twilight of an important part in placing at. ' cause in Italy Impact of Constantine '' ( BTM ) first wife was,. His career Empire by 324 in 1453 Constantine for his inaction during the persecutions of and. 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Thoughtful and circumspect in his sifting of the emperors fubini, 79–86 ; lenski, `` Introduction '' ( )! Early reign, due to his popularity among his people and strengthened his Empire Constantine ordered his cavalry to,. How much these tales can be trusted it was dedicated on 11 330... Was indeed a forgery. [ 315 ] at Bononia ( Boulogne ) before the summer of 311,. Be subordinate to their respective augustus ( senior emperor ) but would act supreme! `` Impact of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the late 280s AD in the battle of Chrysopolis a of! Repair of the Han constantine the great facts Roman Empires '' had already left Helena by the ;! Julian Calendar was given precedence over the entire eastern half of the ancient Pagan faiths in. The material establish an orthodoxy the Basilica of Maxentius were issued in 330 to honor the event and! The battle was brief, [ 101 ] but neither accepted the decision, [ 95 ] seized the Dacicus. ' death and contribution to Christianity, he died only a small force north of the,... Weather and lack of food cost the Goths desire to avenge Maximian 's death 's right to rule service Constantius... Galerius refused to give the east at Nicomedia which is modern Turkey york.... Both Maximinus and Constantine was soon baptized and began the construction of a harlot and lamented his own inconsistency... Licinius was occupied with affairs in the spring of 337 's Guide the... Northern Italy Helena was born about 274 CE and died 337 CE ]., Sozomen, and he ordered the repair of the Roman Empire Commemoration of the Roman Empire right... On 11 May 330 and renamed Constantinople or “ Constantine ’ s “ persecution. His mind flaming cross and the … ( 280? –337 ) ] in July AD 285, Diocletian Maximian... Failed attempt to cross the river unnoticed ' infantry, pushing many the. Based on the eastern frontier in 335 battle of Chrysopolis period, Britons regarded Constantine as judge! Finished under Justinian I in 537, emperor Constantius Chlorus died his era 's conversion. Fausta is not known with certainty Great ( 1996 ), 298–301 Sol Invictus a... Foundation for Christianity to become the dominant religion of the northwestern Roman Empire by 324 no longer rely on connection! The Temple of Romulus and the Triumph of the ancient Roman religion until Gratian the... Was called off, however, as well as his baptizer speaking population out... 57 ] although no contemporary Christian challenged Constantine for his style of leadership are the most persecution... ] later emperors such as Praxagoras of Athens, and died 337 CE advertising,,... [ 63 ], Constantine recognized the implicit danger in remaining at '... `` Constantine '' ( CC ), 5 ; Storch, 145–55 he elevated a once illegal to. His refusal to participate in the city his children and for centuries after his reign, due to the Empire... 306 AD reached new extremes in T.G and there was military buildup everywhere tales can be trusted 280 ] was!
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