A Tourist in Rome - Constantine
|Birth:||February 27, 272 AD|
|Death:||May 22, 337 AD (natural causes)|
|Emperor:||307 AD - death|
Constantine is responsible during his thirty year reign for the legitimization of Christianity and the creation of Catholic dogma, the construction of great monuments in Rome, including Christian Basilica, the Arch of Constantine and a bath house. He will always be remembered for the foundation of his 'new Rome', Constantinople, over the ancient city of Byzantium, thereby solidifying the gradual divide between East and West.
His victory over the usurper Maxentius at the Milvian bridge in 312 AD remains one of the most important battles in European history. The battle marked the beginning of Constantine's conversion to Christianity. Constantine and his soldiers had a vision of the Christian God promising victory ("by this sign shall ye conquer") if they painted the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek, on their shields. Constantine won the battle and started on the path that led him to end the Tetrarchy and become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. He signed the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which allowed people of all religions to practice freely throughout the empire. On March 7, 321, Sunday was declared an official day of rest on which markets were taken down and offices were closed, as we still observe today. This declaration of Sunday as God's day is the first major implication of the Empire's movement toward becoming wholly Christian.
His three decades of power are almost unprecedented since the second century, and he is the first ruler in two hundred years to institute a dynasty that would last beyond three Emperors. Constantine himself was baptised as a Christian upon his death bed, the first Emperor to be baptised. It is important when viewing Constantine in his 'saintly' mode, to remember that he was foremost a politician and was responsible for the executions of not only his co-Emperor Licinius, but also his first-born son, Crispus, and his wife Fausta. Despite his Christian faith, Constantine's Imperial policy was essentially a conservative one, mixing the new religion with traditional Roman values.