Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. He ruled from 306 C.E. until his death in 337 C.E. Constantine the Great was responsible for giving new life to the city of Byzantium, which is present-day Istanbul, Turkey.
During his reign known as New Rome, Constantine the Great renamed the city to Constantinople and made the city the new capital of the Roman Empire.
Constantine the Great Facts for Kids
- Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to become Christian.
- He reigned from AD 306 to 337.
- He founded the city of Constantinople.
- He issued the Edict of Milan allowing religious freedom.
- His mother was Saint Helena.
- Constantine’s vision of a cross led to his conversion.
- He united the Roman Empire under his rule.
- He reformed the Roman army.
- His reign is known as the Constantinian dynasty.
- Constantine introduced Sunday as a day of rest.
Constantine the Great, born Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus in 272 C.E., was from Naissus, present-day Serbia. His father, Flavius Valerius Constantius, gained importance under Emperor Diocletian, becoming his second in command in 293 C.E. Constantine was raised in Diocletian’s court, and some historians believe he was held hostage to ensure his father’s loyalty. He received a comprehensive education, learning Latin and Greek, as well as studying mythology, theater, and philosophy.
Constantine joined the Roman army in the east at a young age and quickly rose through the ranks. He fought against barbarians and Persians, eventually becoming tribune of the first order in 305 C.E. During Diocletian’s reign, the Roman Empire was split into East and West, with Constantine’s father, Constantius, taking control of the West. Constantine faced a threat from Galerius in the east but managed to join his father in the west around 306 C.E.
In Britannia, Constantine accompanied his ailing father on a campaign, and upon his father’s death, he was made Caesar of the West. While his father’s forces in Gaul and Britannia accepted him, those in Hispania did not. Initially displeased, Galerius eventually declared Constantine Augustus of the West.
Constantine initially ruled Britain, Hispania, and Gaul, repairing infrastructure and stopping Christian persecution. After Galerius’ death in 311 C.E., civil war erupted in the Roman Empire, with Maxentius proclaiming himself emperor. Constantine marched against him, and with his army sporting Christian symbols, won the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 C.E.
Constantine then agreed to divide the Empire, with Licinius ruling the east. The Edict of Milan in 313 C.E. made Christian persecution illegal. However, when Licinius resumed persecution in 320 C.E., Constantine defeated him in 324 C.E., becoming the Empire’s sole ruler. He later built the Arch of Constantine to commemorate his victory.
Constantine the Great, or Constantine I, significantly transformed the Roman Empire during the early 4th century AD. As a skilled military commander, he navigated complex politics to become the sole ruler of a reunified Empire and initiate political and religious changes.
His conversion to Christianity led to the Empire’s shift from paganism, culminating in the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, granting religious freedom and ending Christian persecution. Constantine also split the Empire into Eastern and Western Roman Empires, establishing Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) as the Eastern capital, contributing to the emergence of the Byzantine Empire. His reign had a lasting impact on the Roman Empire, securing his legacy as a highly influential leader.
Council of Nicaea
Constantine the Great sought unity within the growing Christian community and played a key role in organizing the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This assembly of bishops aimed to resolve theological disputes, particularly the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ, debated by Arian and anti-Arian factions. Constantine aimed for religious consensus and uniform belief across the Roman Empire.
The Council defeated Arianism and established the Nicene Creed, a clear standard of Christian orthodoxy. Constantine’s involvement demonstrated his commitment to fostering a unified Empire where Christianity could thrive under a common doctrine. The Council’s decisions profoundly impacted the future of the Christian faith and marked a defining moment in its history.
Edict of Milan
Constantine the Great, alongside co-emperor Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, granting religious freedom in the Roman Empire and ending Christian persecution. This policy promoted religious tolerance, allowing people to practice their chosen faith without state interference. Constantine’s embrace of Christianity helped transform it into a rapidly growing, influential religion.
By supporting Christians’ rights and restoring confiscated properties, he aimed for harmony and stability within the Empire’s diverse religious landscape. The Edict of Milan greatly contributed to the rise of Christianity and its eventual significance in Roman life and culture.
Constantine the Great’s wide-ranging legacy for the Byzantine Empire includes fostering the growth of Christianity and founding the Eastern Orthodox Church, and by strategically establishing Constantinople as a center for politics, culture, and religion. His efforts formed the base for the Byzantine Empire’s enduring impact and strength throughout its thousand-year existence
Christianity in the Roman Empire
Constantine the Great’s adoption of Christianity and introduction of the Edict of Milan significantly impacted the religion’s status in the Roman Empire. By granting Christians unprecedented religious freedom and facilitating ecclesiastical organization and theological discourse, he played a key role in transforming Christianity into a prominent and enduring force within Roman society.
Ruler of the Roman Empire
While Constantine was the sole Roman Emperor, he was a fair leader. He constructed numerous buildings in Rome, improved the infrastructure of the empire, and he constructed the Circus Maximus and a large basilica inside the Forum. Constantine also made Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire.
Another thing Constantine did as emperor was to move the capital from Rome to Constantinople. In 330 C.E., he converted the city of Byzantium to the capital and renamed the city to Constantinople. The city would later become the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Death of Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great died in 337 C.E. Upon his death bed; he converted to Christianity. His body was laid to rest inside the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.
Important Facts about Constantine the Great
- His real name is Flavius Valerius Constantinus. He was born in 272 C.E. in present-day Serbia. His father was a powerful man for Roman Emperor Diocletian. His mother was Greek.
- Constantine was well educated as a child within the imperial court of Diocletian. He learned how to read and write in Latin and Greek.
- Constantine rose to power through the Roman army. He was a good commander. He fought alongside Diocletian. His father was made Caesar of the Western Roman Empire by Diocletian.
- He joined his father in Britannia and helped fight against barbarians north of Hadrian’s Wall. Upon the death of his father, Constantine was made Caesar of the west.
- He fought a civil war against Maxentius when Galerius died. Constantine had a dream about the Christian Cross and had his soldiers paint the cross on their shields before the battle. He was victorious at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
- Constantine became the sole emperor of Rome with the defeat of Licinius in 324 C.E.
- Constantine stopped the persecution of Christians in Rome. He made Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire.
- He moved the capital from Rome to a new city named Constantinople in 330 C.E.
Who was the Roman Emperor that split the Roman Empire into the west and east?
The Roman Emperor who split the Roman Empire into the West and east was Emperor Diocletian. He believed that the empire had grown too large to be ruled by one person, so he divided it into two parts in 286 AD, with himself ruling the eastern half and appointing a co-emperor to rule the western half. This division lasted until the fall of the western half in 476 AD.
What position did Constantine’s father hold under Diocletian?
Constantine’s father, Flavius Valerius Constantius, held the position of Caesar under Diocletian, which was a junior co-emperor position. He was responsible for governing the western provinces of the Roman Empire, including Gaul and Britain. This position allowed Constantius to gain military experience and political influence, which would later benefit his son, Constantine, in his rise to power.
What sign did Constantine have his soldiers paint on their shield before the Battle of Milvian Bridge?
Before the Battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine had his soldiers paint the Chi-Rho symbol on their shields, which is a monogram of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ. According to legend, Constantine had a vision of the symbol in the sky before the battle and interpreted it as a sign of divine favor, leading to his victory and eventual conversion to Christianity.
What document did Licinius and Constantine sign to stop the persecution of Christians?
Licinius and Constantine signed the Edict of Milan in 313 AD to end the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. This document granted religious freedom to all citizens and restored the confiscated property to Christian communities. The Edict of Milan is considered a significant milestone in the history of Christianity and religious tolerance.
When did Constantine convert to Christianity?
Constantine converted to Christianity in the early 4th century, around 312 AD. This conversion was a pivotal moment in Christian history, as it led to the religion becoming the dominant faith in the Roman Empire and eventually spreading throughout Europe. Constantine’s conversion was influenced by a vision he had before a battle, in which he saw a cross and heard the words “in this sign, conquer.”
What were some of Constantine’s most significant achievements as emperor?
Constantine’s most significant achievements as emperor include legalizing Christianity, founding Constantinople as a new capital city, and implementing military reforms that strengthened the Roman army. He also issued laws that protected farmers and small landowners and established a new system of taxation that helped stabilize the economy. These accomplishments had a lasting impact on the Roman Empire and shaped the course of Western history.
Why did Constantine convert to Christianity?
Historical evidence suggests that Constantine converted to Christianity for political reasons, as it was a way to unify the Roman Empire under one religion. Additionally, he may have had a personal religious experience that led to his conversion. Regardless of the reasons, his conversion had a significant impact on the spread and acceptance of Christianity throughout the empire.
What was the Edict of Milan?
The Edict of Milan was a proclamation issued in 313 AD by Roman Emperor Constantine, granting religious tolerance to Christians throughout the Roman Empire. This edict effectively ended the persecution of Christians and allowed them to practice their faith openly. It was a significant moment in the history of Christianity and paved the way for its eventual acceptance as the dominant religion of the Roman Empire.
What was the significance of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge?
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge was a significant event in Roman history as it marked the beginning of Constantine’s rise to power. It was fought between Constantine and Maxentius in 312 AD, with Constantine emerging victorious. This battle led to Constantine’s conversion to Christianity and the eventual establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.
Why did Constantine move the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople?
Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in 330 AD for strategic and economic reasons. The city was located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, making it a prime location for trade and defense. Additionally, the move allowed Constantine to distance himself from Rome’s corrupt political and social climate, while also solidifying his power as the sole ruler of the empire.
Where and when was Constantine born?
Constantine was born in Naissus, modern-day Niš, Serbia in February 272 AD. He was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman army officer, and Helena, a woman of humble origin who later became a Christian saint. Constantine went on to become a Roman emperor, ruling from 306 to 337 AD, and is best known for his conversion to Christianity and his role in the Edict of Milan, which granted religious tolerance to Christians in the Roman Empire.
Who were Constantine’s parents?
Constantine’s parents were Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman army officer, and Helena, a woman of humble origins who later became a Christian saint. Constantine was born in Naissus, modern-day Serbia, in 272 AD. His father was appointed Caesar, or junior emperor, in 293 AD and Constantine was raised in the imperial court. After his father’s death, Constantine emerged as one of several contenders for the imperial throne and eventually became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire in 324 AD.
What was Constantine’s early life like?
Constantine was born in Naissus, Serbia in 272 AD. He was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman army officer, and Helena, a woman of humble birth. Constantine was raised in the court of Diocletian, where he received a military education and rose through the ranks. He later became emperor of Rome and is known for his conversion to Christianity and his role in the Edict of Milan, which granted religious toleration to Christians.
How did Constantine rise to power?
Constantine rose to power through a combination of military victories and political maneuvering. He was appointed Caesar of the Western Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian in 293 AD, and later became Emperor himself in 306 AD after defeating his rivals in a series of civil wars. Constantine also played a key role in the spread of Christianity, which helped to solidify his power and influence.
What were Constantine’s major military campaigns?
He led several successful military campaigns during his reign. He defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, securing his position as emperor. He also defeated Licinius in 324 AD, becoming the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Constantine’s military campaigns helped to solidify his power and establish Christianity as the dominant religion in the empire.
What were Constantine’s domestic policies?
Constantine’s domestic policies included the promotion of Christianity, the establishment of a new capital in Constantinople, and the reorganization of the Roman government. He also implemented economic reforms, such as the introduction of a new gold coin and the reduction of taxes for farmers. These policies helped to stabilize the Roman Empire and laid the foundation for the Byzantine Empire.
What were Constantine’s religious policies?
Constantine’s religious policies were marked by a shift towards Christianity. He issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which granted religious tolerance to all religions, including Christianity. He also convened the Council of Nicaea in 325, which aimed to establish a unified Christian doctrine and condemned Arianism as heresy. Constantine’s policies helped to establish Christianity as the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.
What were Constantine’s cultural achievements?
Constantine’s cultural achievements include the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, the construction of grand churches and basilicas, and the promotion of Christian art and literature. He also implemented laws protecting the rights of slaves and women and encouraged education and the preservation of ancient Greek and Roman literature.
How did Constantine’s reign affect the future of the Roman Empire?
Constantine’s reign marked a significant turning point in the history of the Roman Empire. He was the first emperor to convert to Christianity and under his rule, Christianity became the dominant religion of the empire. This had a profound impact on the future of the empire as it led to the establishment of a new religious and cultural identity that would shape the course of Western civilization for centuries to come. Additionally, Constantine’s administrative and military reforms helped to stabilize the empire and laid the groundwork for its survival for several more centuries.