Constantine the Great (280-337)

Constantine the Great

280-285 It is said that during this period Constantine the Great would have been born at Naissus, Dacia Mediterranea Province (nowadays the Yugoslav city Nis). Constantine was born during a turbulent period for the Roman Empire. Migrants attacked more often and the leaders were fighting for power while the economy badly ran. His father, Constantinus Chlorus, was an officer and his mother, illegitimate wife, was a modest woman, an innkeeper from that area.

It is known that his father was called later to Maximianus’ Court, where he got married to the step-daughter of this, Theodora, and became Caesar of the West in 293. After that, the little Constantine was brought to Emperor Diocletian’s Court, where he lived for more thatn 10 years and got the weapons lessons. When Diocletian willingly left the throne, it was thought that young Constantine would become Caesar, but it was not like that.

306 Constantine had been hostage to Galerius’ Court until this year, when he left to his father, who felt that his end was closer. To his father’s death, Constantine took in possession Britannia and Gallia. To defend Rhine’s border, he succeeded to defeat Frank people’s German tribes.

307 He became Caesar, but Diocletian’s successors started the fights for the throne. During the fights between those who wanted the power, it is said that the next emperor went to a temple of Apollo from Gallia. Here he had a vision that predicted a reign of 30 years. After that, he ordered a coin with his face together with that of Sun God. Because he wanted to be the only leader, Constantine crossed the Alps and defeated many times his enemy, Maxentius, who was killed during the battle from Pons Milvius, Falcon Bridge.

312 On October 29th, Constantine came victorious to Rome. Battle from Pons Milvius remained in the history of Christianity because it is said that in front of Constantine and of his soldiers a Jesus’ monogram appeared. One day before, Constantine had a dream when Jesus had appeared telling him that if he would have the cross on shields and flags, he would win. Constantine did this and won.

Constantine was the only leader in West. Together with the other Roman ruler that he had met at Mediolanum (Milan nowadays) where the so-called Edict of Milan was done, that all religions got freedom of worship, including Christianity of all Roman Empire and that Christian Church received all the seized goods.

314 After a period when Constantine had been sharing the power with Licinius, their relationship broke up and they declared war to each other. After a short agreement and continuous disputes, Constantine had defeated Licinius at Adrianopole and next year killed him.

Being the only leader, Constantine was concerned of the good administration of the empire and continued to be tolerant with Christians. Constantine had been the first emperor who convened a meeting of Christian Bishops, a council, in 314 at Arelate, (Arles nowadays, in the South of France). But there were just the bishops from the West side of the Empire.

324 Constantine had founded a new city, called Constantinople and which became the official capital on May 11th, 330 even if the works extended until 336. Constantinople shown down for a millennium and took over centuries the glory of ancient Rome.

325 Constantine called all bishops to Nicaea, Minor Asia. The emperor himself started the works of this council that adopted important decisions for Christians, including Creed’s text. During council’s works, Constantine celebrated his 20 years of reign and put the diadem on his head, a band of pearls and gemstones which would become imperial symbols.

326 Constantine was to Rome for the last time. He did not come back to the city where he had suffered a lot because of the cruel death of his eldest son, Crispus, and of his wife, Fausta, accused by adultery.

Constantine encouraged too the construction of a Christian church in 326 founding basilica St. Sofia, in front of the imperial palace.

337 He had been leading until this year when on May 22nd he died. It is said that before dying he was baptized by bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. He died in his villa near Nicomedia, at Ancyrona. His body was embalmed, put in a golden coffin and then transported to Constantinople, where he was buried, in Apostles Church that he had built in order to host the relics of the 12 apostles. Together with his mother, Elena, they were switched among saint by Church and Constantine was called “that who is the same like apostles”.[1]






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