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Constantine the Great

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Nicholas Hegwood

on 15 May 2013

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Transcript of Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great was born sometime around 280 AD. His father was an army officer who eventually rose to Caesar, which at the time was a deputy emperor. His father was sent to the western empire to serve under Augustus Maximian. When his father remarried Constantine was sent to the court of the eastern emperor Diocletian. Humble Beginnings Rise to Power Before Constantine's birth the Roman empire had been divided in two. In the year 305 AD both Diocletian and Maximian handed power to their younger deputy emperors. After both emperors were replaced and Constantine was passed over in the East he headed west at his father's request. Joining with his father in 306 AD they crossed into Britain. Constantine's father lost his life in battle, and the army appointed Constantine emperor. Consolidating Power After his appointment by the army Constantine began his involvement in a series of civil wars. Through a number of alliances and betrayals Constantine assumed more power. In 312 AD he attacked Rome and became the western emperor. In 316 AD Constantine took the Balkans from the eastern emperor Licinius. Finally in 324 AD Constantine routed Licinius in two battles taking control of the eastern empire. Under Constantine the empire was reunited under a single emperor. Conversion Constantine's conversion to Christianity is shrouded in legend. In 312 AD he fought his brother-in-law Maxentius at Milvian bridge near Rome. Although there are many versions of the story it is this battle that changes Constantine forever. While it is possible he had Christians in is family, it was not until this battle that he adopted the faith. According to historians of Constantine he saw a vision in the sky that was followed by a dream. In his dream Constantine saw Christ who told him to put the symbol of Christ on the shields of his soldiers and he would be victorious. Constantine did just this and defeated the larger force of Maxentius. Commitment to Christianity Although his own personal beliefs have been called into question, Constantine supported the growth of Christianity. He co-authored the Edict of Milan and called together the Council of Nicaea. In addition, with his support a number of new churches were constructed. Constantine gave new rights and privileges to the church and clergy. Edict of Milan Council of Nicaea The Edict of Milan gave the people freedom to practice Christianity in the Roman Empire. In February 313 AD Constantine and Licinius reached the agreement in Milan. The edict gave all people the freedom to practice whatever religion they wanted. It gave Christians rights including the right to organize churches. It even gave confiscated land back to Christians. Unlike previous attempts this edict stuck. Meeting in Nicaea in modern day Turkey, the council was the first one of its kind for the Christian church. Constantine called the council together and presided over it despite not being a full member of the church. The council decided on many important beliefs of the church, the most important being the divinity of Christ. The legacy of Nicaea is the Nicaean Creed which is central to the Catholic church. The Chi Rho was the symbol put on the shields. The End of Rule In the years following reuniting the empire Constantine worked hard to spread Christianity. He built churches and expanded the Church's influence. He moved his capitol to the former city of Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople. This further removed the emperor from Rome. In 337 AD while preparing for battle against the Persian empire he fell ill, Constantine died of his illness. Before his death he was finally baptized into the faith. He was placed in a tomb at the church of The Apostles in Constantinople. The death of Constantine would signal the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. Achievements Reunited the Roman Empire. Won many battles across the Roman Empire Triumphal arch of Constantine to commemorate victory over Maxentius. Spread Christianity and rose its place in society. Expanded Constantinople. "And God himself, whom Constantine worshiped, has confirmed this truth by the clearest manifestations of his will, being present to aid him at the commencement, during the course, and at the end of his reign, and holding him up to the human race as an instructive example of godliness. Accordingly, by the manifold blessings he has conferred on him, he has distinguished him alone of all the sovereigns of whom we have ever heard as at once a mighty luminary and most clear-voiced herald of genuine piety."
~Eusebius of Caesarea Bishop and Historian 3) What event is shown in this picture? 7) How do you think the Council of Nicaea changed Christianity? 6) Which part of the Edict of Milan do you think was the most important? 2) Which direction did Constantine move to conquer the empire? 5) Why do you think Constantine was supportive of Christianity? 9) What is being shown in this painting? 11) What advantages did Constantinople have? 4) Describe this symbol. 1) What two rivers marked the northern border of the Empire? 8) Why would the emperor being removed from Rome have created problems? 10) Which cities do you think were the centers of Christianity? Name three. 12) What does Eusebius say about the relationship between God and Constantine? Bibliography

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