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Constantine the Great

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Rebecca Manny

on 15 November 2013

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Transcript of Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great
Rome's First Christian Emperor
Born in 288 AD to Constantius I and Helena
His full name was Flavius Valerius Constantinus
Birthplace: Naissus, Moesia (Serbia)
He was raised by the senior emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, Diocletian
His father left his mother, when he became Emperor of the Western Roman Empire
Why was Rome divided in two?
Rome was now a Tetrarchy
In 284 AD Diocletian divided the Roman empire into 2 parts (east and west)
Each side had 2 rulers: Augusti and Caesari
Constantine Becomes Emperor
Constantine was named Augustus (Senior Emperor) of the Western Empire after fathers death
But he was in England when this happened, and his enemy Maxentius declares himself emperor
Constantine marches into Rome in 312 AD to claim the throne
Constantine and Maxentius meet at Milvian Bridge
He defeats his arch enemy
Before their fight it was said that he saw a flaming cross in the sky and the words
"In this sign thou shalt conquer"
Attributes the win of the Western Roman Empire to Jesus

Reunited the Roman Empire
Gave rights to Christians
Moved the Roman capital from Rome to Byzantium, creating the first Christian Capital
Powerful Romans were suspicious of the new religion
Christians refused to worship the emperor & state gods
Nero blamed them for the Great Fire of Rome
As punishment he sent them to an arena with wild animals, so they could die
Diocletian began to execute Christians if they refused to give up the new religion
Government enforced the closing of Christian churches , burning of scriptures and banning of religious meetings
Religious Changes
Constantine saw himself as the "Emperor of the Christian People"
He enforced a more humane policy for Christians
He allowed tolerance for the religion
He grants Christians economic privileges
Builds churches in his new capital
All are key factors in the acceptance of the new religion
Edict of Milan
signed between Constantine and Licinius (Emperor of the East) in 313 AD
Grants tolerance for every religion
Restored any stolen property to Christians that was taken away during the persecutions
Allowed Roman army and people to still worship Pagan gods, but also allows Christians to worship
However this was largely ignored, especially in the East
Reuniting the Empire
Constantine and Licinius's friendship began to deteriorate
fights over borders led to open warfare in 316 AD
Licinius violates Edict of Milan when he launches persecutions of Christians
in 324 AD Licinius declares war on the Western Roman Empire
Constantine defeats him, and becomes sole ruler of the entire Roman Empire
A New Capital
He founds Constantinople in 330 AD (The city of Constantine)
It is "The New Rome"
it was initially founded to protect the empires eastern side from Persians
However it grows into a mighty all Christian capital
He wanted Rome to keep its ancient privileges, so he made sure the senate in his new city was of lower rank
Arianism: relationship and relative divinity between the Son of God (Jesus) and God
this concept was popular at this time
Arius (priest of Alexandria) said Jesus was more inferior than his father
Constantine holds the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD
He helps bishops find common ground: establishes equality of Father and Son
Orthodox Christians agree that Jesus and God are equally divine and made the same
Constantine was planning a campaign against Persia, when he became ill
Treatment failed, and he was forced to return to Constantinople, but only made it to Nicomedia
He intended to be baptized on the way to the frontier in River Jordan
But is baptized right before he dies in Nicomedia
Dies in 337 AD
Constantine's support of the religion, allowed Christians to gain a permanent foothold in the empire
By the time of his death more people worshiped Christ than Pagan gods
Prepared way for growth of Byzantine and Western Medieval culture
He initiated the evolution of an empire
Thank you!!
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