Biography of Constantine I, the great | Great Roman Emperor

Founder of Constantinople, the great Roman Emperor was able to restore peace to the Empire and gave a definitive boost to the Christianity.
Around 284 A.d., the Roman Empire seemed doomed to the dissolution. In 50 years there had been twenty-six emperors, and only one of them had died of natural death; Persians and barbarians harassed constantly, and with success, the northern borders, and pests, misery and anarchy presaged a rapidly falling. In 330, year of the inauguration of the new imperial capital Constantinople, the Empire remained United, with borders intact and at peace. That was the result of the Titanic work of two bright and energetic, men who were able to understand the changes that brought the history: the emperors Diocletian and Constantino I, called the great.
Son of Constancio Cloro and his mistress Elena, Cayo Flavio Valerio Aurelio Constantino was born in Naissus (the current Nis, Yugoslavia), a partnership of not sure what year, but historians do not hesitate to place it among the 270 and the 288, in full period of «military misrule» of the Roman Empire. The reforms of Diocletian attempted to stabilize the situation through the appointment of two emperors or augustos and their respective successors (or Caesars). His father, Constancio Cloro, was appointed successor of Maximian and separated from Elena to marry Theodora, adoptive daughter of his Emperor.

Constantine the great
Constantine spent most of his childhood in Roman military camps accompanying his father. When Constancio Cloro was proclaimed Caesar of the Western Alps in the 293, Constantine was sent to the Court of the Emperor Diocleciano, that would accompany on his expedition to Egypt in the year 296. Educated thoroughly in the Court of Diocletian in Nicomedia (the present Izmir in Turkey), he was in contact with many Christians of the imperial court and the cities of the East and was witnessed the persecution unleashed by Diocletian in 303 against the Christians.
When in 305, Diocletian and Maximian abdicated for reasons of age, the father of Constantine, Constancio Cloro, was appointed Augustus of the Western half of the Empire; Galerius was in command of the eastern half. The abdication of Diocletian and Maximian wearing the rise of the Caesars augustos or emperors and the choice of new Caesars, which hindered the expectations of dynastic succession of the children of those who had been promoted to emperors. The situation would result in a complex series of civil wars.
Constantius wanted to appoint his son Constantine Caesar, but Galerius intrigues prevented this appointment. Despite this, Constantine managed Galerius permission to travel to Britain to meet with his father. And, after the death of Constancio Cloro in Ebocarum (York), their topas proclaimed him Augustus in the same city on July 25, 306. But Galerius refused to confirm his appointment as augusto, and Constantine had to accept the title of Caesar in the third Government of the Tetrarchy, while Severus was appointed to the position of Augustus. Allowed Constantine manage assigned Constancio Cloro (Gaul, Britannia, and Hispania) provinces. Would be finally recognized Augustus by the elder Emperor Maximian, who had returned to political life, and with whose daughter Fausta contracted marriage March 31, 307. Usually among historians he set last year as the date in which there was the beginning of the reign of Constantino I.
At the end of the 308, Diocletian, Maximian and Galerius gathered at the Conference of Carnuntum, with the intention of putting in order the political chaos in which the Empire was wrapped. At that time there were five augustos (the legitimate Galerius and Severus, and the usurpers Constantine, Maxentius and Maximian) and a single Caesar, Maximino Daya. During this Conference it dispossessed of the title of Augustus to Constantine, who refused to accept degradation and put every effort in taking control of the Empire. First thing he did was to strengthen their power in Gaul, Britannia, and Hispania. After stop an invasion by the Franks, it managed to defeat Maximian in Gaul, who was handed over to Constantine by officers of its own troops.

The battle of the Milvian Bridge
In the 312 invaded Italy, where ruled Maxentius, son of Maximian and his main rival to take over control of the West of the Empire. The forces of Constantine were winners in Turin and Verona. The troops of Constantine and Maxentius fought on 28 October of that same year at the battle of the Milvian Bridge, on the outskirts of Rome; the confrontation ended with victory for the troops of Constantine. Maxentius was killed to drowning in the Tiber in his escape and Constantine could take the title of Max augusto although their domain only covered the West of the Empire.
According to the tradition collected by Eusebio of Nicomedia, the day before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine saw a sign in the sky: a cross accompanied by the legend in hoc sign vinces (with this sign conquer). Constantine, who probably professed a solar monotheism, had maintained contacts with Christianity and was aware of the force that creed was in the Empire, which no doubt would influence its policy after. To commemorate this victory he built the famous Arch of Constantine, which attributed the victory over Maxentius to the protection of the deity, without specifying what in the 315 in the Forum of Rome. Subsequently, Christian historiography called the victory of Milvian Bridge as the first battle won by a Roman emperor with the help of God.
This victory left Constantine as sole emperor of Occident; Thus would ratify it the Senate, recognizing him as senior Emperor. At the same time the situation is also normalized in the East, where Licinius, who had signed an Alliance Constantine in the spring of 313, which had agreed to divide up the Empire, managed to defeat to Maximino Daya. In order to strengthen relations between both augustos Licinius married the sister of the Emperor of the West, record.

Marriage of Licinius and constancy
Licinius and Constantine enacted jointly in the 313 the edict of Milan, which is decreed freedom of cults throughout the Empire. Christians has been recognized the right to celebrate their cults and church property were restored. Constantine granted important privileges to the Christian clergy, many of them entering part of the administration of Rome, at the same time and participated decisively in the Councils of Arles (314, against the donatism) and, many years later, at the Nicea (325), which would condemn the Arianism. However, the fact that Arius held that the divinity of Dios Padre was higher than the de Dios Hijo (principle that allowed you to set degree differences between the men and justified that the Emperor had a rank higher than other human and was the intercessor of these before God), led to that Constantine would give their support to this doctrine that it was going to be great political utility in the construction of a system of monarchy of divine right to the style of which was forged in the East.
Hostilities between Constantine and Licinius began in the 314. The first was winner in the battles of Adrianople and Cibales. The peace treaty that was signed then allowed Licinius retain Asia, Egypt and Thrace, although he had to deliver his rival most of its possessions in Europe. In the year 315 Constantine invested is the Consulate together with his colleague in the East, Licinius. That same year both fought together at the border against the Goths and the sarmatae; so between both emperors began a period of collaboration that would last for almost a decade.

Statue of Constantine in York (England)
In the year 317 proclaimed cesares Crispus (son of his first wife Minervina), her other son Constantine and Licinius, his nephew and son of the Augustus of the East. Collaboration with Licinius ended abruptly in the 323: Constantine attacked Licinius with the excuse of the persecution that the Emperor of the East had unleashed against the Christians, and ended up defeating him in Crisopolis, on September 18 the 323. Licinius was banished to Thessaloniki and executed a year later; Finally, Constantine became the sole emperor of Rome.
The following year began the construction of ancient Byzantium, the city of Constantinople, that would go on to occupy a privileged place in the Empire. A year later, the Emperor granted the title of augusta Elena, his mother, and in the 326 developed a family drama that apparently was at the origin of Elena's journey to the Holy Land, where is credited with the discovery of the Holy Sepulchre and the invention of the true cross: Fausta, wife of Constantine, got her husband to mandara run Crispus firstborn of been Emperor from his previous marriage to Minervina; soon after Fausta was accused of adultery and Constantine made her run. Such sentences were accompanied by the killing of several members of the Court, produced it a deep wave of indignation among the population of Rome.
On 11 may the year 330 inaugurated the new capital of the Empire, Constantinople. The city, which was adorned with monumental buildings and public works, offered the advantage of its exceptional situation, in the union between Asia and Europe. Most of the Greek cities were deprived of their major works of art to be carried to the new capital; his Senate would soon replace the Rome. Among the 332 and the 334 held a successful campaign against the Goths, who got expelled beyond the Danube. At 333 named cesar his son constant, and, in the 335, to Dalmacio, one his nephews.

Death of Constantine
Despite his public defence of Christianity and its intervention into theological debates (probably his interest was mainly political), Constantine had never received baptism. On his deathbed he changed his imperial clothes by the white robe of the neophyte and it was baptized by Eusebius, Bishop of Constantinople. He died May 22, 337, and was buried in the Church of the Apostles in Constantinople. It kept the Empire divided between his three sons, Constantino II the young, constant I and Constancio II, and his two nephews, Dalmacio and Hannibalianus, but conflicts among them forced that, after his death, Constantine remained nominally reigning for several months. Dalmacio took control of the area of Constantinople and the Balkans; Constantine II, the eldest of the brothers, controlling the western part of the Empire, to Trier. Constantius II was the owner of the Eastern to Antioquia, while constant was in charge of the Government of Italy, Illyria and Africa and finally another nephew, Hannibalianus, ruled the eastern part of Asia minor with the title of King.

Chronology of Constantine I, the great

c. 280Born in Naissus.
293His father, Constancio Cloro, is named Caesar or successor of Maximiano, augusto or Emperor of the Western Empire.
305After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, Galerius, and Constancio Cloro become August.
306Death of Constancio chlorine. Constantine is proclaimed Augustus by his troops.
308Diocletian, Maximian and Galerius gather at the Conference of Carnuntum, which invalidates the title of Augustus Constantine.
312It defeated Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge and remains as the sole owner of the Western Empire.
313Licinius defeats Maximiano Daya and becomes Augustus of the Eastern Empire. Together with Licinius promulgates the edict of Milan, which granted religious freedom to the Christians and returned them the confiscated property.
314He convened the Council of Arles, against the donatism.
323Defeats Licinius in the battle of Crisopolis and becomes sole emperor.
325He convened the Council of Nicaea, which condemned Arianism.
326The construction of the future imperial capital, Constantinople embarks in ancient Byzantium.
330Inauguration of Constantinople.
332-34Victorious campaign against the Goths.
337It is baptized shortly before dying in Nicomedia.

Legacy of Constantine I, the great

Of the Tetrarchy with the Christian Empire

Constantino el Grande corresponds, among other merits, the to restore the order and unity of the Roman Empire after a prolonged period of decline and anarchy. The situation of reigning decomposition was accurate, indeed, a reorganization of the Empire, work that Diocletian and subsequently Constantine and the Constantinian family members surrendered first. Since the year 284, Diocletian had tried to carry out a profound reorganization, whose fundamental elements were the tetrarquico system and the reform of the central administration.
The Tetrarchy, form of Government that had been given in other civilizations (such as Thessaly, Syria or Palestine) was conceived as a redistribution of tasks that responsibility to the Emperor; so, instead of one, there were four rulers. Two were augustos or emperors, and each of them was accompanied by a Caesar or younger successor, joined by religious and family ties: Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius (father of Constantine), and Galerius.

Bust of Constantine
The new political and administrative system had to ensure a secure estate (every twenty years) order and eliminate the danger of the encroachments: Although there is theoretically a four emperors, the unity of the Empire was safeguarded, since they were part of a school headed by Diocletian, and all measurements were taken on behalf of the school; However, each emperor was dedicated to the defence of a region, which earned their income, and was at the same time responsible for their expenses.
The system lasted little time: the ruin of the Tetrarchy took place over a period of nearly twenty years, starting with uprisings by the succession as August and Caesars in the eastern part of the Empire (Maximino Daya and Galerius) and also in the Western (Constantine and Maxentius, son of Maximian). Although the interview of Carnuntum and the appointment of Licinius as Augustus, in the year 308, calmed somewhat tempers, displeasure emerged in the confrontation between Maxentius and Constantine and ended with the defeat and death at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. The triumph of Constantine was an obvious, if not definitive, to Christianity victory, since the edict of Milan, issued shortly afterwards, contained a policy of general tolerance for the Christian communities.
While tensions, sometimes latent and other gross, were going to keep for many years between Constantine and Licinius, the victory of the son of Constantius in the year 323 definitely restored the unit imperial, giving rise to a new phase in the history of Rome, the so-called Christian Empire, due to rooting that took the religion among the legitimate emperors except with Julian the apostate.

The Administration

Constantine completed the administrative reforms of Diocletian, which meant the definitive separation of civil and military power. The number of charges followed increasing, and multiplied in a rigid ceremonial Court functions. Despite this, Roman central Government was not different in his time largely from the corresponding to the time of Diocletian, except with regard to the Quaestor of Palace and the magister officiorum. The consistory held the post of Advisor to the Prince; This institution formed part of, among others, high, four characters who can be considered, bridging the gap, as true Ministers: the head of the imperial Chancery, who had under his command various negotiated by a master, but also to the secret police or agents in rebus and the personal guard of the emperor or schola; the Quaestor of Palace, whose duties consisted of preparing the Imperial discourses, to enforce its decisions and chairing the session in the absence of the Emperor; and the two Ministers of Finance: the comes privatae rei, which dealt with the administration of the property of the Emperor, and the comes sacrarum largitionum, directing financial administration.

The Roman Empire under Constantine
The Prefecture of the praetorium underwent profound changes in the time of Constantine as a result of the licensing of the Praetorian, to become a purely civilian judiciary cohorts. Altogether, the fourth century would know three great prefectures of the praetorium: Gaul, Italy and East. Between the prefect of the praetorium and the governors were the vicars of the prefect of the praetorium, located at the head of the diocese, under the same conditions as in the time of Diocletian: they depended on the Emperor and his powers were reduced to the financial plan, specifically to the supervision of taxation. The Diocese of East constitute a particular case, as in front of it was the comes Orientis, civil servant whose authority on the Egyptian provinces was limited by the presence in Alexandria between prefect.
The provinces were ruled by Governors in a strict hierarchical order: the proconsuls, consular, corrective and simple praesides; their essential functions were judicial in nature. Along with the prefects of the praetorium, vicars, and Governors, had administrative services, forming an officium, comprising members appointed by the State. Only some provinces would achieve escape occasionally to the principle of separation of civil and military powers that had prevailed during the fourth century; due to issues of Defense each of them had a military commander (dux or comes rei militaris), which brought civil charges of Governor and military leader of the troops.

Constantinople and Rome

Still in the field of administrative reforms, it should not be forgotten that, in 330, Emperor inaugurated the new capital, Constantinople, built on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium on the Bosphorus. It had a strategic location, and since it could be to better serve the Affairs of the East. Installation facilities were given to people from the most diverse social status and were granted special rights to its inhabitants. The city prospered economically and had accused Christian imprint against old Rome, cradle of paganism.
Constantine created in Constantinople very similar to the Roman institutions, although the new city would not reach the prestige of the former capital of the Empire. The administration of Rome, whose population had decreased significantly, remained as a task in the hands of the senatorial aristocracy: to his forehead was the prefect of the city with judicial functions, who also was responsible for public order and the provisioning, also President of the Senate, a task in which he was assisted by the prefect of the annona and by the prefect of the night surveillance whose importance had been declining.

Representation of Constantine in
a mosaic of the Church of Santa Sofia
While the elections had disappeared completely, judiciaries and the Senate remained in force, although its functions were already simple remnants of the past. Did the appointment of such judges (praetorite, Quaestors, etc.) initially the emperor to the Senate and, subsequently, the same Senate proposal. To be part of the Senate of Rome was must have played the pretura or be appointed by an imperial codicil ratified by the Senate. This old House came to become a kind of municipal Council of the city, which explains his presidency ran in charge of prefect; In contrast to its low power, its prestige and its members continued to be large, which is a good example the fact that the Emperor chose to provincial governors including.

Religion and the State

Constantine seemed to inherit from his father a military daring beyond all doubt and an unwavering faith in the Sun God, whom he considered deus summus, i.e., an invisible and supreme deity. To tell the truth, the cult henotheistic maintained its hegemony in the 3rd century the length and width of the Roman Empire. Its conversion to a faith like Christianity, which since its inception and until now had been the subject of repression by almost all those who had worn the Imperial laurels, led to assume that only a revelation would explain the sudden conversion of the young emperor to Christianity.
That signal would have occurred in the year 312, when Constantine hoped, at the gates of Rome, the moment to confront the powerful army of Maxentius, Governor of the city and declared enemy of the Christians. Constantine, intuiting scarce possibilities of triumph, would have invoked the God of the Christians so to illuminate, to him and his men, the road to victory. Still had not finished the emperor to pray their prayers when he saw over his head an immense celestial body shape of crucifix that shone in the sky and on which was written the following legend: In hoc signo vinces ("with this sign conquer").

The vision of Constantine
As it had been predicted to him, the next day the hosts of the Emperor cornered to Maxentius separating it from the bulk of his army. The event took place on the Milvian Bridge, which crosses the Tiber, and that at that time delimiting the domains of Constantine and those of his rival. As a sign of gratitude, the sovereign ordered to cross between its emblems for, a year later, promulgate the edict of Milan by which Christians not only ceased to be persecuted, they were granted freedom of worship and Assembly and property confiscated by the Empire were restored to them.
According to many historians, Constantine's conversion did not occur from one day to the morning; the sign in the sky that would have led to the emperor to his victory over Maxentius was not as decisive as some, especially the hierarchy, have wanted to see. It is even of the descent that St. Helena, mother of the Emperor, who had secretly converted to Christianity in 307, had on his son. This influence would be directly related to the episode that the Emperor lived only a few months before the decisive battle of the Milvian Bridge. Apparently, Constantine saw in dreams Jesus Christ: he wore a cross and repeated the slogan that soon would lead to victory: "With this sign conquer".
The only thing obvious is that under his reign began the expansion of Christianity, until then a restricted and clandestine worship. To see radical change is enough to sign the fourth edict of Diocletian forced all Christians without exception (not only, as hitherto, to the clergy and civil servants and soldiers) to offer sacrifices to the gods under penalty of death, which would unleash a great Chase. The resignation of the Emperor, in the year 305, meant the cessation or at least the relaxation of the implementation of the measures in the Western Territories. And very soon after, in the year 313, Constantine promulgating the edict of Milan.
Whether or not a divine vision, the root of the change, the Emperor understood that he could not govern and hold together the Empire opposed by Christians. From then not treated Christianity as one religion, but it granted him, increasingly more pronounced way, a preferential treatment that made it almost official religion. Though Paganism was still strength and freedom of action, the Emperor sought to put all the moral and economic influence of the Church and Christians at the service of the State. Constantine, who in his relations with the Church had as a trusted advisor to the cordovan Bishop Osio, laid the Foundation of what would become, henceforth, a remarkable imperial intervention in religious affairs. It adopted measures in favour of Christianity (right to receive inheritances, episcopal jurisdiction and immunities) and took part in the internal quarrels of the Church.
Constantine convened the first Ecumenical Council at Nicea (325) to resolve the dispute that arose in Alexandria between Arius, who argued that Christ was of different substance than God, and Bishop Athanasius, who defended the doctrine that were of the same substance. The Council drew up a profession of faith favourable to Athanasius, approved certain guns giving a pre-eminent position (Patriarchs) Metropolitan Bishops of Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome (then extended to Constantinople), and took disciplinary provisions. Constantine was executor of the Conciliar decisions. Many years before, in Arles (314), another Synod had been convened to solve the problem of the donatistic schism and the emperor also had a prominent role. A phenomenon that was becoming increasingly more boom within the Church was the monasticism, which attracted popular oppressed sectors.

The Council of Nicaea
Frequently, the extent of religious changes has overshadowed other positive aspects of his reign. Thus, it is noteworthy that the Constantinian era recorded a remarkable cultural progress. In law, he stressed Berytos school; in medicine, that of Alexandria. Between the philosophical currents if Neoplatonism. The rhetoric was an important eastern, with Libânio. In Latin literature excelled distinguished representatives (Símmaco, Ausonius, Amiano Marcelino), also flourishing Christian literature. Christian art began to offer outstanding manifestations, combining pagan influences and Oriental contributions. A relative tranquility inside and outside favored this development. Although Constantine had to make war against the Alamanni and Goths, arrived with the latter an agreement so that they kept the Danubian frontier of new invasions and provide auxiliary troops. There were also tensions with Persia because of the already contentious long by Armenia.

The Constantinian dynasty

Constantine died in the 337, and the Empire is partitioned among its sons as Augusto's Copacabana: Constantino II received the prefectures of Italy and Gaul, Constancio II won East and constant was left Illyria and parts of Africa. While Constantius guerreaba against Persia, where reigned Sapor II, the conflict between his two brothers emerged in the West. Constantine, who had attacked constant, was killed at Aquileia. Its provinces were constant, which had to fight against the Franks and alemanni. It also radicalized the anti-pagan legislation. In the 350, revolted the you eat Magnentius, who attracted most of West and liquidated to constant. He was defeated by Constantius, who remained as sole owner of the Empire. Appointed his nephew Galo cesar in the East, but he executed for his violent actions. Then he chose as Caesar to a half-brother of Gaul, the future Emperor Julian, who commissioned against Franks and alemanni.
Julian (361-363), known as "the apostate" by his determined attempt to restore paganism, was an enlightened, loving man's philosophy, which suppressed the abuses of management, reduced taxes, abolished many privileges and became interested in justice and municipal politics. In sum, he tried to give ethical height to its management. Formed in the neoplatonic doctrine, Julian issued a law which tolerated all the cults and returned his possessions to the pagan temples. Sacrifices, mysteries and oracular activities are promoted, and organized a pagan clergy modeled Christian (with charitable institutions and convents). He purged the Administration and the army, replacing those who were favourable to Christianity. It diminished the privileges of the Church, against which were unleashed persecution in some areas (Syria, Egypt), and allowed the return of the exiles by religious quarrels, that remained neutral. In return, it adopted a policy favorable to the Jews, that the Christian communities had frequent problems (as in Alexandria).

Julian the apostate
After their successes with the Franks, Julian undertook a campaign against Persia (363), reaching Ctesiphon, but was killed when he had the Tigris to the aid of a part of his army. The legacy of Constantine became extinct with him. The soldiers elected Emperor Jovian, who immediately signed an ignominious peace with Persia, ceding Mesopotamia and Armenia and paying a tribute. The Roman troops had a painful withdrawal.
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